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Mari-Liis Makus

  • Faculty of Design
  • Glass
  • MA
  • Lampwork beads - History and Present
  • Tutor: Anne Ruussaar
  • Glass, lampworking

Glass beads are a mysterious combination of fire and glass. Mankind has been fond of glass beads for thousands of years and they have a long and colorful history. “Lampwork Beads – History and Present” is the topic of this Master’s thesis. As a result of the practical work, the author completed a series of hollow beads, focusing on her experiments with Double Helix silver glasses. The exposed beads demonstrate formation of various colors and iridescent surfaces related to the volume and shape of glass, depending on duration of heating and cooling cycles, reducing or oxidizing flame and on annealing process.

The term flameworking – traditionally known as lampworking – dates back to the times when glass beads were made using oil lamps. Today we use a torch operating on gas and oxygen. Glass rods are melted on a flame to create detailed sculptures, functional vessels, hollow shapes and beads.

Understanding the history of glass beads and the properties and different technologies of glass is a good starting point for working with this material. Skillful use of gravity helps to give the bead the desired shape. Mastering the technique is the key but chance and improvisation also play an important role. A creative person has an inherent instinct to play. They play with things they love. The forms created during the practical work are unique, they all have their own personality and soul.

Glass rods for making beads. Double Helix silver glass.
Blowing a bead.
Lampwork beads. Blowing technique. Double Helix silver glass.
Lampwork bead. Blowing technique. Double Helix silver glass. Size 25 x 35 mm.
Lampwork bead. Blowing technique. Double Helix silver glass. Size 48 x 30 mm.