Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What to look for when purchasing lampwork beads ... part 1

I am a very conscientious lampwork artist.  I take a great deal of pride in my work and have always sought to make the highest quality beads.  I am a perfectionist and I will not sell any beads that I am not 100% happy with.  Each and every bead represents a piece of art that cannot be replicated or copied.  It is a moment of time trapped within the glass.

I thought I would share some examples of what makes a good quality lampwork bead. Whether you are a new lampwork artist learning your craft or someone that is looking to purchase a set of lampwork beads I hope to give you a few tips on what makes a good bead.

Take a close look at the bead holes in the picture above.  You can see that the entrance to the bead hole is smooth and rounded.  There are no jagged edges, no loose pieces of glass .... everything is smooth.  Now, this is a personal preference .... but my lampwork beads always have a smooth glass transition to the bead hole.  If I am selling my lampwork beads then I want them to be of the highest quality possible with no jagged edges or rough splinters of glass.

There are also practical reasons for this.  As you know I also make jewellery using my lampwork beads.  It is important to have a smooth transition to the bead hole ..... you don't want to have rough edges around the bead holes because the jagged pieces of glass will snap off and end up in your jewellery designs and if the edges are too rough they will eventually rub against your stringing material and wear it away.  The answer ..... to create a beautiful dimple around the bead hole with rounded edges and no sharp pieces of glass protruding from the bead.  I am preparing a tutorial on how to achieve this .... if you are new to lampwork.

Whilst still concentrating on the area around the bead hole .... another thing to look for or try to achieve if you are a lampwork artist is to completely encase the bead in clear glass.  Now, next time you are looking through a batch of lampwork beads take a good look at the internal glass surrounding the bead the hole.  Depending on the design (of course) there should be a lovely clean covering of glass right to the bead hole.  You don't want to see a murky line where the colours within the glass have bled into one another.   

Again, this is a personal preference but I prefer to encase beads fully in clear glass right up to the bead hole, as you can see in the photograph above.  It is a difficult skill to master and you can learn a great deal from tutorials and fellow artists but I think you need to find your way of doing it.  We are all different and what works for one person may not be easy for another.  It gives a lovely finish to the lampwork beads and adds a certain amount of depth.

I work very hard to make the most beautiful lampwork beads that I can.  I tend to focus more on the internal details within the beads rather than external designs and I am constantly striving to push the boundaries and make the most intricate beads that I can. It has taken a few years but I have now developed my own signature and style of lampwork beads and this is very important.  If you are a lampwork artist you need to find your speciality and develop this to make it your own.  Don't try to copy someone else's designs and sell them because you are cheating them and yourself.  Be unique, be different and be true to yourself.

I am afraid all of the lampwork beads featured in this blog have been sold.  If you would like to see more of my work then please visit my shop on Etsy - Beadscrumptious

Sarah xx


  1. I usually use semi-precious beads in my jewellery making and I have often looked at lampwork beads but I have never been happy with the quality but I think I have been looking at mass produced beads.
    I can see with the examples that you have shown here that these are of a superior quality and they are beautiful.
    I shall take a look at your shop for some inspiration for my jewellery designs.
    Thank you for your blog as it has been a big help

  2. Hello Jade Jewellery, Thank you for the lovely comments. There are lots of lampwork artists around that make high quality lampwork beads and we do sell our beads at the best price that we can but they obviously end up costing far more than the mass produced beads but ... the quality of our work is exceptional as we are artists and take our work very seriously. I know what you mean though. Perhaps I need to write another post to promote the work of my fellow artists as well. xx