MBR is geared towards attracting new or seasoned artists who enjoy flameworking to make unique, handcrafted items. Flameworking (also called lampworking) differs from traditional glass blowing since a torch is used to melt the glass instead of a furnace. Items made through flameworking also tends to be smaller in scale and more intricate in design.
History of Flameworking
A flameworker’s set up typically involves a single-fuel or fuel+oxygen fed torch that melts various types of glass. The most popular type of glass used in flameworking is “soft” glass, which has a working temperature around 1400 degrees. Boroscillicate (or “hard” glass) is gaining popularity and requires a hotter torch due to a higher working temperature and lower coefficient of expansion.
Pieces made through flameworking are extremely hot, and must be slowly cooled down to prohibit thermal cracking and to increase the strength of the overall piece. As such, kilns are used to “soak” the glass at high temperature, which is slowly decreased to room temperature.
To create a basic bead, a rod of glass is heated by a torch until the end begins to glow and soften. The molten glass is then wrapped around a stainless steel mandrel that has been dipped in a releasing agent (which prevents the glass from permanently adhering to the metal). Using a variety of tools, other glass colors and gravity, the artist will shape and decorate the bead to their liking. Once complete, the bead will go into a programmed kiln until it’s cool. Once the bead can be handled, the artist will remove the bead from the mandrel, which is how the hole is created.