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Lampwork Tutorials

Lampworking Tutorials
Interested in a few lampworking tutorials? These tutorials are in pdf format so you will need Adobe PDF
reader to view them.


These are just little things I have noticed, discovered, or figured out by accident since I started lampworking. Some might be helpful to you, some might not. Some things you will agree with, some you wont. I'll add more tidbits here as I think of them. Notes are listed in no particular order.

Annealed Is Annealed
There is a method to annealing beads. The method has to do with timing and temperature. Beads generally takes 30 minutes to 1 hour soaked at the correct temperature with a slow ramping down process, to be annealed properly. Annealing temperature for soft glass such as Moretti is between 940 and 960 degrees.

I have seen things written like, "kiln annealed overnight for extra strength!". Does that mean you soaked the beads overnight at the correct soak temperature and then you ramped down correctly and shut the kiln off in the morning? If so, all you are doing is running up your electric bill. If you can afford that, go for it! I mean hey, the soak takes less time than overnight but if its your preference, who am I to tell you how long to soak? If you are annealing overnight meaning you use a digital controller so the kiln runs through its whole annealing cycle at night while you sleep ........ well ok (for you, but not for me). Personally, I would lie awake all night wondering ... Is the kiln shorting out and are sparks jumping out of the outlet and catching the house on fire? Is that smoke I smell coming from the result of the kiln shorting out and the house catching on fire or is that the neighbor with his wood burning stove? Is that one of our cats sizzling on top of the kiln or did one of the kids just get up and turn on the water in the kitchen sink? Obviously I like to anneal during the day just to keep my sanity .

Overnight or 1 hour, either way your beads are annealed as long as they soak at the right temp for at LEAST 30 minutes to 1 hour and then ramp down slowly. A bead cannot be "a little bit annealed" nor can you "annealed the carp out of a bead". They're either annealed or they're not. You can't over anneal and you can't under anneal. Annealed is annealed (get my drift here?)! Ok, now that I have gotten that point across......

I have seen things written like "I never batch anneal. My beads go right into the kiln from the flame." This doesn't make the beads any better annealed either. When you anneal them doesn't make any difference. Since annealed is annealed... As long as batch annealed beads are allowed to cool slowly in a fiber blanket or vermiculite before they do get annealed, they will be fine until then. Do I ever sell a bead that has not been annealed? NO way!!! These are little works of art that are meant to last a lifetime! Does annealing mean a bump or spiral or scroll wont ever chip or break off no matter how hard I throw my beads against the wall (WHY?)? Unfortunately not. If a bead is properly annealed, this means the bead is less likely to split in half or explode because annealing relieves stress in the glass, however, annealing does NOT protect those surface decorations from chipping or popping off if the bead is dropped or thrown. Even a bump that has been adhered sufficiently to the surface of the bead will break off if you drop your beads on the floor. Just remember that beads are glass........ handle them with care.

Just a side note:You MAY run the risk of a larger bead or an encased bead cracking before it reaches the kiln by letting the fiber blanket or vermiculite slowly cool it. Then again, I have seen beads large and small that went straight from the flame to the kiln come out cracked in the end too. That is what got me to do more research on annealing. There were probably other factors involved in that cracked bead when you think about it. Maybe you didn't keep it warm enough in the flame when you were working on it or maybe you didn't give it a good dose of final heat in the flame once your bead was finished. Whether you batch anneal, anneal directly, anneal overnight, during the day, soak for an hour or soak for 8 hours... Its all a matter of what you feel comfortable with, what you are able do and what works for you. Just as long as they're annealed baby! By the way, using a fiber blanket or vermiculite is NOT annealing. Only a kiln can be used to anneal.

A Slightly Different Shade.....
Some Moretti colors such as coral tend to come in different shades each time the ship from Italy rolls into dock. We have seen anything from a yellowish color to orange, to (almost) red and even a nice salmon color. All of these are called "coral". Unfortunately we can't say whether these different shades are a permanent part of the glass supply, a limited supply color or if they are an "accidental" color which may not be repeated. The picture below shows you the various shades of coral we have on hand. Can you believe that they are all considered coral?

So when we note (in the wholesale lounge catalog) that we will make a particular set of beads for as long as the color is in stock, what we mean is - as long as Moretti is offering that particular shade as part of their inventory. By the way, coral is just one example of the different shades you get with Moretti glass. There are others.......

That Was Close....
I don't know if you have seen our orphan bead auctions or not. In the description part of our ad we mention how sometimes we grab the wrong color rod when working on a set of beads. The result is a perfectly good bead that doesn't quite match color-wise. So, that bead becomes an "orphan". I'm showing you yellow for this example. The picture below shows what a rod of dark yellow and pastel yellow look like. Can you tell the difference?

Where Orphans Come From...
I don't know how other bead makers determine what qualifies as a bead orphan, I can only tell you how ours come to be. As I stated above, sometimes a bead orphan is the result of the wrong color. Other times they are beads that we made too big or too small for a set we are working on. And sometimes we sit and make beads at random until inspiration kicks in and we think of a good color combination or design to work on. Each orphan bead gets the same treatment as a bead that belongs in a set. They get annealed and cleaned just like other beads. Sometimes we use orphan beads in jewelry just because we were struck by an idea for a design and an "orphan" just happened to fit the bill. Otherwise, we sell the orphans (once we acquire 100 or more in the box), on Ebay. By the way, we don't put beads in our orphan box that are not useable! If there is a misplaced dot or bump or a spiral that turns out a little crooked, those go in the trash.