Tag Archives: lampwork

A dabble with glass

Sorry it’s taken me ages to post this, Royal Mail has been very slow at getting my beads to me and I wanted to be able to show some pictures with this post, so as I got them after work yesterday in the dark, I could photograph them this morning (whilst it was still a bit dark, hence a bit of flash used) to blog now.

Last thursday I went to the house of Lorna of Pixie Willow to learn how to make lampwork beads in a one-to-one session (if you want a go yourself, just drop her an e-mail). It was a bit of a whim thing to be honest, I wanted to have a play without buying all the stuff and potentially burning my house down, it wasn’t too expensive and it was lots of fun! I worked my way quite quickly through the different processes, so in a 4-5 hour session I made more than we were expecting….

Firstly Lorna showed me how to wind the glass around the mandrel to make a basic bead. Here’s hers on the left and mine of the right (bet you can guess which was my first attempt!)

Then dotty, both raised and melted in (again mine on the right)

Then building on the dots to make flowers (mine are much lamer than I remember!)

Then I learned how to put deliberate little bubbles in by poking the molten glass- this looks pretty effective and is probably my best bead.

The swirly ones were a bit scary. Look how beautiful Lorna’s bead is!

Mine is pretty but it will take some practising to get the full effect….

Then we played with some frit and clear glass…

And finally I had a go with a lentil press which takes a bit of trial and error to make sure you have enough glass on it- but not too much! My design was a bit flawed (yeah white spots on white, great idea! Lorna’s is on the left as usual) but the process worked well. I know a lot of people don’t like using presses and they can be a bit tricky but I think this might have been my favourite part!

So I now really want to do this again, to the point where I’m eyeing up one of the starter kits on Tuffnell Glass. I would love to make the Pandora style beads as Christmas presents, and the lovely Georgie has offered to anneal them for me since a kiln is so far off my list of spending priorities right now. I’m actually thinking I may completely give up resin in the new year because of the fumes (and Resin Obsession closing), to focus on other crafts such as my patchwork. If I also take up glass it will mean I can work with the patio doors open without getting cold! Also when I’m all settled and set up I’m thinking about getting a HEDGEHOG to live in my workroom, and s/he won’t want to be living in a cold, fumy environment.

Very exciting, and my workroom is out of bounds for decorating right now, argh!

Spotlight on… Emma Gerard

I spotted these fantastically realistic glass versions of jelly sweets on Etsy at http://emmagerard.etsy.com and had to share with you- aren’t they brilliant?!

Interview with… Crafted Gems


I owe my first magazine article to Caroline,  she gave me the contacts, knowledge and confidence to give it a go and now I have had 2 articles, and I would say it really helped me kick start my book writing too! Not only is she a talented writer, but she makes amazing lampwork!


Who are you and where do you come from?
I’m Caroline Cash and I live in Cheshire with my husband and son.

What do you do in your spare time other than craft?
I’m a full time mum so I don’t get a lot of spare time. I do like watching american crime shows like NCIS and CIS:NY when the little one is in bed and having a girly natter over a coffee while the little one is at Nursery School.

Please tell us a little bit about what you make.
I mainly make lampwork beads. Each one is made by hand at a bench torch. You melt a glass rod in the flame and wind the melted glass round a mandrel dipped in bead release and once made it need to be put in a kiln to be annealled to remove stresses from the glass. I also make a bit of Jewellery out of wire and beads.

What do you enjoy making most?
I like making both. Beads need to be made around my little one so when he is at Nursery or when he’s in bed as I need to pay attention to what I’m doing. Jewellery on the other hand I can make while he’s painting or playing with his toys. I quite like making jewellery while watching TV in the evening with my Hubby.

What part do you dislike the most?
Cleaning beads. Once the beads have been annealled in a kiln, the mandrels need to be soaked in water and the beads removed. Then you clean them with a diamond coated bead reamer to remove all traces of bead release. I use a dremel but cause it needs to be done in water- it ends up everywhere and I’ve knocked the bowl over myself countless times, lol.

What are your main inspirations for making a piece?
I use seasonal colours a lot. My mood can also effect the colours I use and I can get inspiration from anywhere, clothes in the shops to pictures to places I have been.

Do you plan out your designs or do you get stuck in straight away when inspiration strikes?
I have an ‘ideas’ book that has pages and pages of bead ideas, but everytime I sit at my torch, I end up just making what comes to me,  I get a lot of my bead ideas while I’m sat there. It’s a case of ‘I wonder what this, this and this will look like’. Jewellery-wise it’s a mixture really. I try to sketch out ideas but most of the time I just end up going with the flow. I’ve had a few of my jewellery designs published as tutorials, so I make lots of notes while I’m making in case I write it up as a tutorial.

What are you currently making?
I can make up to 4 sets of beads in a 2 hour session so they are not really long term projects. I do have 2 unfinished chainmaille projects next to my laptop. One needs a clasp (i’ve not found the right one) and one because I didn’t make enough jumprings to finish it. There is also 3 wire coils ready for cutting to finish the chainmaille so i need to get my Koil Kutter out and cut them.

Do you make custom orders?
Yes, as long as it’s one I feel comfortable doing and it’s a style I know I can do. For example, I wouldn’t take on a commission to do floral beads as they are not my thing so as long as it’s my style I will. The same for jewellery.

Where can we buy your work?
I have a website, www.craftedgems.co.uk, an Etsy shop, www.CraftedGems.etsy.com and a Folksy shop www.folksy.com/shops/CraftedGems

Spotlight on… CraftedGems

Caroline is a regular contributor to magazines such as “Bead”, and she’s been a great inspiration to me. I thought I’d show you some of her great creations! Her beads look so tasty, I wish I used glass in my work, but I think they’d completely put me to shame! Her lampworked beads can be bought from www.craftedgems.co.uk or www.craftedgems.etsy.com