To fabricate our beads, we mainly use glass that is made on Murano, the famous glassblowers island close to Venice. We enhance their colour palette of about 150 colours with glasses from German and American glass companies.
All of our beads are completely handmade, no part of the fabrication can be mechanized. The making of one single bead can take several hours, therefore lampworked beads are extremely valuable, and this is why they have their price.
The making of beads may be the oldest use of glass, even 3500 B.C. small objects of glass have been made in Egypt and Mesopotamia, including glass beads.
Today, tools and materials are modern while techniques are still the same: a glass rod is molten in the fire until the glass has a consistency like honey. It then can be wound on a mandrel covered with a bead separator. The mandrel has to be wound constantly to ensure the bead gets round. With beforehand prepared stringers the bead can be decorated, with dots, lines, spirals or even flowers that seem to float inside the bead. Or we can encase precious metal leaf or foil or dichroic glass or add layers of transparent glass. The bead can also be manipulated into different shapes using tools made of brass or graphite – the design possibilities are endless.
Whichever design we decided upon – the finished bead has be cooled down slowly and in a controlled manner depending on the size of the bead just very few degrees per minute. This is done in a digitally controlled kiln. Small beads may be cooled down in a special granulate, but they, too, have to be treated in the kiln to ensure that no stress stays in the glass. This ensures that the beads are stable and won´t break easily.
Once the beads come out of the kiln, we have to take them off the mandrels and clean the holes, and then we can combine them with sterling silver, pearls, gemstones, cut beads or lava to turn them into unique pieces of jewelry.
The torch that we use to melt glass. We can wind the molten glass onto a steel mandrel to create our beads.
The glass rods we use.
...and some possible results. In this case, wound hollow beads.