Monday, December 31, 2007

Two Posts in One Day! New Shop Items

Wow,  two posts in a single day.  That's nearly a record for me, but I thought I'd start off the new year with a few new items in my store.

I'll be posting this lovely focal bead, Lava Flows, into my Etsy shop in the morning.  I love the deep, rich colors in this piece, and I'm very happy with how the bead came out. It's a truly remarkable bicone, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did making it.

In the afternoon, I'll be adding this set of blue and tan lentils called Stony Brook.  Its a great pastel color combination for spring designs.  This is a fun little set that has a lot of flexibility in how it is used in your designs.  

I've got more beads to clean tomorrow in new shapes and designs, and I am hoping to get back onto the torch for the new Froggie Focals tomorrow.  It's been a while since I've made them, and they'll be great for Spring and Summer designs.  

If you'd like to ask questions or suggest topics, please do not hesitate to contact me at either of the following web sites:

I can also be reached through this blog, as well.  Just post a comment, and I'll get back to you.

Have a safe and happy  New Year's Eve, and I'll chat with you again next year!

2007 Year In Review (Yes, another one!)

After seeing so many year's in review on TV,  in magazines, newspapers, etc., you were probably thinking, "Not Another One" when you saw the heading.  I know I was when I typed it, but I thought I would be remiss if I didn't take an opportunity to recap the year and it's highlights from an artistic/business perspective.  So, please, bear with me.

Here at Burning Scentsations, 2007 has been quite a year, and I hardly know where to begin.  

Diverse Year Of Beads

I've made a lot of different kinds of beads and jewelry throughout this year.  I've done raised florals, grape beads, encased beads, dot designs, frogs, stone-like organics--the list goes on and on.  I like the challenges that glass affords me and gives me lots of room for more improvement and experimentation.

Attending Custer's Last Stand Art Fair

In the beginning of the year, I started researching art fairs and found, that while I missed deadlines for a few of the shows, I was able to enter the Custer's Last Stand art fair in Evanston, IL.  It fell on two of the hottest days of the year, but we persevered in our tent and met lots of great people including our friend Richard who was also selling at the fair.

Bead and Button

In 2007, I took classes at Bead and Button and stayed in Milwaukee for several days and got really enjoy being in a very artistic and creative atmosphere.  The classes helped me add new techniques to my repertoire and interact with beadmakers and jewelry designers from around the world.  It was a fantastic time, and I cannot wait to go again this year.

New Etsy Shop

I opened my new shop on Etsy in July of 2007 after talking with several people about Etsy during Bead and Button.  It's been a terrific experience, and I've met several nice people and made some new customers through this site.

Art Of Beadwork Show

My most successful show came in early November when The Bead Society Of Greater Chicago had their annual Art of Beadwork show.  Although it was only 5 hours long, I met a number of great people and sold quite a bit of jewelry at the same time.  I cannot believe how well it worked out, and I'm looking forward to next years show.

Additional Shows

After that success, I followed it quickly with shows at work after being urged by coworkers to have an event there.  It was also wildly successful in just a short two-hour time span.  

I also had a couple of showings at the O'Reilly's Stained Glass, in Crystal Lake, IL that also helped boost sales for the year.

Lamp Of Luxury Blog

In late November, as you well know, I started this blog to help keep you up-to-date on upcoming events, new store items, and generally discuss topics that I think will be of use or interest to everyone who loves beads and jewelry.  Whether I've been successful or not in that task is up to you, my readers, but I will continue it into the New Year and see where it leads.

My New Mac

Burning Scentsations was able to purchase a new computer at the end of the year in order to help maintenance of the web site, reduce the time associated with taking pictures and getting them up onto the Internet for viewing.  It has already been a great help in getting my pictures loaded and organized much better and will continue as I work toward a re-design of my web site in the coming weeks.

Review Wrap-Up

This has turned out to be a much longer post than I had intended, but I'm very thankful that there has been so much to review.  As you can probably tell, it's been a great year here, and I hope it has been for you as well.  I couldn't do any of this without the support and patronage of my customers, and I am very grateful for each and everyone of you.  Thank you so much, and I hope to continue our relationship into the New Year.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2007

A Very Productive Friday

Caffeine Fueled Productivity

Despite sleeping in this morning, I actually got quite a bit accomplished including cleaning my beads from last weekend, taking photos, importing more pictures from my old computer and making more focal beads.

Thank you Starbucks!  I'm not sure what it is about their frappuccinos, but the Venti Java Chip really fires my creativity.  I get a lot more done when I've had one than when I don't, and I'm much more willing to try things that may be difficult or experimental.  

The new Mac is getting my image libraries more organized than they have ever been and should make the creation of the new web site even simpler yet since I'll know exactly where the pictures are that I want to include.

New Item Coming To Etsy

Anyway, speaking of pictures, here's a pic of the new focal bead I'll be loading into my Etsy shop tomorrow morning.  I was hoping to load this up this morning, but since I didn't get the blog entry up and had other things going on, I thought I'd just wait until tomorrow.

This focal has a really great depth to the colors used in it.  There's a lot of subtle color
 variation and lacing occurring that makes this bicone just magical (at least IMHO).  The colors used in this one were a bit of an experiment, but I'm really happy with how it came out.

This particular style of bead is known as an Organic, which is to say it has a natural stone look and does not have a regular pattern like a floral or other type of bead.  This type of bead is quite fun to make because there are no rules and you never know how they will come out.  

The beads I made today are also organic focals, but they're in very different shapes than this one.  More on those in the next post or two.

Have a great evening, and be sure to check out my web site and shop at:

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Another Christmas Gone - New Store Item

I can hardly believe another Christmas has come and gone, but it has.  It's been a wonderful holiday for us here, and I hope it has been for you too.

The post holiday events, like playing with Christmas presents, shopping with new gift cards, took up a good portion of yesterday, but I did get one new set listed into the shop.

While I do hope to get the sets listed here in my blog first, it just does not always seem to be happening that way, and for that I apologize. 

Tribal Summer was added to my shop yesterday morning, and it is a rich set of 6 lentil beads in bright orange with turquoise blue designs.  It just reminds me of a fun in the sun, and I hope you like them too.  You can view the new set in my shop HERE.

I've got a couple more lentil sets coming later along with several new focal beads that I need to get cleaned and photographed before they can go into the shop.

At any rate, hope your holidays are going nicely and that you have a great rest of the week!  

If you  have any questions or would like to suggest topics, please let me know either through this blog or at the following links:

Have a great day!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

New Hollow Set - Fuchsia Splash - Coming Soon To Etsy

It's raining here today and is a bit dreary, but that does not mean there aren't great things happening here.  Tonight we're heading out to a Christmas Party with friends in Rockford that we don't get to see too often.

In addition, I've got four new sets that will be heading to my Etsy shop over the coming week.  Here's a preview of the first one that being listed--Fuchsia Splash!

This is a set of hollow transparent beads that have been wrapped in bright stripes of pink and voilet.  I used a copper green background on the frit to create a new and cool effect.  I love the interaction between this bright frit and the cool green background, and I hope you do too!

These beads will be stunning in a necklace, and the colors are really great for the upcoming spring season, but will also look fabulous throughout the winter too!  This set will be added to Etsy on Monday morning.

Also, I've just about completed my new Holiday Greeting message that will be going out to all of my customers.  It has a great stationery applied to it with pictures of beads and jewelry all ready to go.  Would you like to see it?  Just forward your e-mail address to, and I'll be happy to send it out to you.

The new Mac is living up to its promise of saving me lots of time.  I was able to import the pictures and have them all color-corrected and named in just a few short minutes.  It used to take hours to process all of the pictures on my PC and get them exported and ready for use.  I cannot wait to see how it will revolutionize my web site.

Don't forget to let me know what you think of my new blog by contacting me either here or through one of the following links:

Have a great evening folks!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Tools Of The Trade Part 3 - Meet The Mandrels

It's time to meet the beadmakers friend, the mandrels.  No, I'm not referring to Barbara Mandrel and her sisters from the 70's TV show, but to the steel rods used when making beads.

"How do you get the holes into beads?  Do you drill them out?"

If only had a $1 every time someone asked me this question.  Time to demystify how the holes get into the beads.

While I suppose the glass could be drilled out, that would introduce stress back into the glass and could result in a lot of wasted beads.  The simplest way to the holes into the glass is to make the bead with the hole right there from the start.  Here's where the mandrels come into play.  

As you can see from the picture, the beads are created around the steel rod, so that when the rod is removed, a hole in each bead is already present.  The grayish-white stuff on the mandrels in the picture is called Bead Release, which is a liquid clay-like substance that each rod is dipped into and allowed to dry before the mandrel can be used in the torch.  

If the release is not fully dry before glass is applied, bubbles in the glass can form from the steam leaving the bead release and ruin the bead.  Without having the bead release on the mandrel, the bead would not come off after annealing.

Mandrels come in various sizes from over 1 inch thick (for very large holed beads), down to 1/16th of an inch for very tiny holes.  For beads that require marvering (shaping), I find the 1/16th mandrels are a bit too thin which is why bicones usually have a 3/32nd mandrel hole or larger.

Once the beads come off the mandrels, the bead release inside the beads must be removed.  Since the glass is wrapped onto the mandrels hot, the bead release sticks to the glass.  I use a specially design diamond drill bit to remove bead release and clean the holes so that there is not any release left inside.  

This is especially important for beads made with transparent colors where you can see the hole.

As always, if you have any questions or want to suggest topics, please do not hesitate to contact me either through this blog or on my web site or Etsy store at:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Big MAC Attack Ahead Of Schedule!

Happy Holidays Everyone!  

Welcome to my first blog entry created on my new Mac!  

This year is wrapping up nicely here at Burning Scentsations. I was able to purchase my new computer a bit ahead of schedule, so I have more time to get it setup before I go back to my full-time job.

For those of you who may not be aware, I've recently converted over to Apple from being a die-hard Windows user.  I'm now the proud owner of a new iMac.  It's a breeze to work with and is really going to help me get some new features into my web site.

One of the main reasons for purchasing the new computer is to make the Internet portions of my business be less of a struggle.  For those who may not be aware, keeping up a web site can be a full-time job all by itself, which left me with little time for making beads and jewelry.

So when I have a choice between spending a few hours taking pictures, cropping and sizing them, uploading them, entering descriptions for each into the database and then reviewing the web site or just plain making more shiny, pretty things, I always make more shiny, pretty things.  It's just much for satisfying.

The tools available for making creative tasks simpler and faster on the Mac are just amazing.  I will be able to shoot and edit my own videos for demos on various techniques and let you all get a front-row seat to how beads are created.  I might even just video blog every now and then so you can see that I am an actual person and not a corporate puppet.

I should also be able to keep pictures galleries updated much more simply too thanks to iPhoto all while improving features for my readers and customers.

A complete overhaul of the web site will also be in the works in the coming weeks once I've found the web software that I'll be using.

If you'd like more information on my new computer (don't call it a PC or the Apple police will get you), check out this link HERE.

Tomorrow morning, I'll be back at the torch before heading off to work at the retail job in the afternoon for a few hours. I'll probably focus on doing some focal beads and bead sets, which I will be very happy to show you in the upcoming days.

As always, if you have any questions or want to suggest topics, please do not hesitate to contact me either through this blog or on my web site or Etsy store at:

Have a great night!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

New Hollow Set - Meadow Flora - In Etsy Shop

The holiday rush is in full swing here and life keeps interrupting my beading and blogging, but I'm pushing ahead as best I can at this time of year.

I had meant to get this notice out sooner to you, but later is better than never at all, I suppose. Just posted to my Etsy shop this week is Meadow Flora, a set of five hollow beads that consists of a larger focal bead and four smaller beads all in same great colors.

The frit on this set is my own blend of Iris Yellow and African Violets which react wonderfully together for a rich patina of amber and yellow shades with accents of deep violet. It's close to a tortoise shell appearance, and is very elegant.

I took this set into work and the ladies there just loved the colors, and hopefully you will too.

To see more information on this set, you can take a look at the shop listing by clicking here.

If you have any questions or would like to suggest topics, I can be reached through this blog or through my web site or shop at:

Hope your evening is a merry one!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Bead & Button Show Schedule Has Arrived!


When I came home for lunch this afternoon to let the dogs out into the yard for their mid-day relief, I was greeted to a plastic covered magazine in my mailbox. I took a quick look at it and discovered that is was the schedule for the Bead and Button show in 2008. Since the show does not occur until June, I was a bit surprised that the schedule for all of the classes was out.

I've only just started going through it tonight after work, but let me tell you, there are a ton of great ones listed. I'm not talking just lampwork classes either. There are classes in seed beads, metalworking, PMC (precious metal clay), polymer clay, fusing, felting, marketing, etc. Just about every bead and jewelry design possibility is in there.

Last year was the first year I attended this week-long event and actually took a couple of classes and stayed in Milwaukee, WI (home of Laverne & Shirley) for the show. It was an amazing time, and I cannot wait to repeat that experience again this year.

For more information on the show, just follow this LINK to their show web site. It's truly a great time and a very inspirational and educational experience.

On-line registration opens on January 15th which is why I was so surprised that the schedule came so early. I wasn't planning on checking for their schedule until the New Year, but I guess there's no time like the present.

If you have any questions or would like to suggest topics, I can be reached through this blog or through my web site or shop at:

Excuse my while I continue to review the class schedule.

See you there!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Striking While Iron Is Hot--Easter Festival I Sold!

Today has a been a great day for sales. I sold two sets of custom earrings at work, and I'm so pleased that the set I listed into Etsy this morning has sold! It's only the second time that an item that I've posted has sold the same day. I guess it's all a matter of having the right design at the right time. I'll be shipping out that set tomorrow. I hope you enjoy them Linda!

Since that set has sold, I've decided to put the second part of the set tomorrow morning into my Etsy shop. If you're reading this blog before tomorrow morning, you're a night own, and you're going to know what the second half looks like before it gets listed.
Meet Easter Festival II. This set is also comprised of five hollow lampwork beads that have been colored with a transparent frit. The colors in this set are all different from the last one--no duplicates. The colors in this set (L->R top picture) are Copper Blue, Saffron, Gold Ruby, Sour Apple, and Fuchsia. All very bright and beautiful springtime colors.

This sizes of the beads in this set are all pretty close the beads in the first half, and would look great as a necklace.

If you have any questions or would like to suggest topics, I can be reached through this blog or through my web site or shop at:

Anyway, wish me luck and hopefully these too will be quite popular!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Flaming Success!

Saturday's torching session went very well and I am very pleased that I was able to complete a couple custom orders as well as create several new hollow sets in transparent spring colors for my Etsy shop.

The pictures are from the first set going into the shop in the morning, and as you can see, they are quite a colorful set.

This set is called Easter Festival I, and consists of 5 large hollow beads in the bright transparent colors of (L -> R) Tangerine, Blue Lagoon, African Violet, Apricot Sorbet and Tuscany Olive. The beads were created using clear glass, and then rolled in frits of various transparent colors, which gives them a great mottled texture.

Hollow beads are much lighter than beads of this size would normally, but do not let their delicate nature fool you. These beads are quite strong and can be used in a number of great jewelry designs.

As the set name implies, this is actually just Part I of the Easter Festival set, so stay tuned for part II later in the week!

If you have any questions or would like to suggest topics, I can be reached through this blog or through my web site or shop at:

Have a great evening!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Win This Free Lampwork Bead Set

How would you like to win this set of leaf beads? This little set if the perfect size for earrings or as pendants. They're decorated with two leaves on both sides in different colors. To see the full information on this set, take a peek in my shop here:

How do you enter the drawing, you ask? Well it is really quite simple. I've donated this set to the Creative Glass Guild of Etsy (CGGE) and everyone who signs up in the month of December for their newsletter is automatically entered for the drawing.
Want to sign up? Just visit this page and enter your e-mail address:

Be sure t0 look around the site at all of the wonderful glass creations from the artists who sell their artwork on Etsy as I do.
If you haven't heard of Etsy, then you need to check it out. It's an on-line shopping mall for unique, hand-made items and supplies. You'll find lots of talented folks who work in all mediums on this site. Come take a look at or follow the link for my shop below.

If you have any questions or would like to suggest topics, I can be reached through this blog or through my web site or shop at:

See you there and best of luck in the drawing!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Holiday Crunch Time - Finding Inspiration

December is a busy month for us all, but for an artist who is also working two jobs (not including my glass business), it's especially problematic.

I haven't had any torch time in the last few weeks which is why I haven't been able to add anything new shop lately since I'm working a full-time day job and a retail job in the evenings and weekends. While I've been re-listing items, I really want to create some new beads and get back onto the torch.

How did this drought occur? Well, I had a couple of shows in November where I was able to sell some of the jewelry stock I have made over the past few months which is great. Getting ready for and doing the shows ate up my torch time for most of that month. Now that December is here, it is time to switch gears a bit and start getting ready for spring since jewelry designers need to make their items now in order to get their stock ready for the upcoming art and craft fairs.

Invariably, when I know a show is coming my inspiration disappears as the pressure rises. Likewise when the seasonal change for lampworking comes before the actual season itself. However, now that I've had my break from lampworking, I'm looking forward to getting back onto my torch tomorrow morning!

I've got a couple of custom orders that I will extend into bead sets for my shop, and I should have more hollow bead sets in bright spring colors also in the next week or so. I haven't made hollow beads since early October, so now it's time for new spring colors.

Anyway, send me happy thoughts tomorrow and hopefully there will be lots of new beads in the coming week!

If you have any questions or would like to suggest topics, I can be reached through this blog or through my web site or shop at:

Have great Day!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Glass COE - Why Can't We All Just Get Along

Not all glass is created equal, which means that it is not all compatible either. While this wouldn't be a big deal if I only ever made beads using one color per bead, but that would be very boring for me and for you!

One of the first things new glass artists learn is that the COE, Coefficent Of Expansion, of the glass colors being used must all be the same. What's that, you say?

I know that sounded like a bunch of boring science-speak, so let me boil it down for you. When glass gets hot is expands. As it cools, it contracts. In order for a glass bead or any other object to survive the annealing and cooling process, the amount that each glass expands and contracts must be the same as all of the other glass in the piece.

If one color expands twice as much as the others, it will expand and contract too much, and the beautiful piece of art will crack and sometimes break apart due to the stress this incompatibility causes.

One minor exception is frit if used sparingly. Many of the frits on the market do not match the COE of the soft glass, but they have a secret that will enable them to be compatible when used on the surface of a bead as decoration. What's their secret? The lead content in the glass enables it to be compatible with glass that has a COE that is close to the frit. It is not so compatible that it can be covered with clear glass, a process known as encasing.

However, a thin layer on the surface of the bead can be used quite successfully as long the frit does not comprise more than five percent of the bead's glass. This is called the 5% Rule in glass circles.

If you have any questions or would like to suggest topics, I can be reached through this blog or through my web site or shop at

Have great afternoon!

Monday, December 3, 2007

What the FRIT are you talking about?

There are many decorating techniques available to beadmakers when creating a new bead, and one of the staples of our art form is call Frit. Frit is powdered glass that hot (nearly molten) beads are rolled in to apply a speckled color pattern to the bead.

It can be melted into the bead so that the bead is smooth, or left bumpy on top of the bead. Leaving it bumpy is called Sugaring the bead. This technique works great for transparent frit since it will tend to look like ice crystals on the surface of the bead, but other colors work well too.

Frit comes in a wide range of brilliant colors and sizes from a fine powder up to very large chunks (which are not used for rolling onto a bead or other item). The size of the powder affects how the final design will look.

Rolling a cooler bead in frit will cause less of it to be picked up by the bead which makes give the beadmaker control over how much color they want on their bead.

Frit comes from various suppliers in both single colors or color blends. I use both in my work, but the color blends really add a lot of pizazz. I have also created my own color blends on occasion from jars of the solid colors. Experimentation is the key with this technique and there are no limits to what can be done!

Frit is very useful, versatile and, of course, can be used in many more ways than I have time to mention here. I'll save the additional techniques for a later posting. :)

If you have any questions or would like to suggest topics, I can be reached through this blog or through my web site or shop at

Take Care

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Batch Annealing And You (Because I Won't Do It)

Now that you know a bit about kilns and the annealing process, you should probably know that there are two schools of thought on how to anneal--Immediate and Batch Annealing.

Immediate Annealing

When using immediate annealing, after the bead is created in the torch and has cooled sufficiently to no longer be molten or soft, but is still very hot, it is put directly into pre-heated kiln and starts to anneal, you guessed it, immediately.

In my kiln I have a Kiln Couch (this where I got (scroll down a bit)), which is a rack that allows beads to be placed into the kiln so they do not touch the floor or the other beads. After I've made several more beads or when the racks fill up, I move beads to the floor of the kiln where they can now safely touch each other without any worries.

This is the safest method of annealing since the risk to breaking or cracking of the bead is very low once it has been placed into the kiln. Since I make some very large beads in addition to smaller ones, this method is really my only option in order to ensure that all the beads come out of the kiln as they went in--in one piece.

Batch Annealing

During this type of annealing, the kiln is even turned on while the lampworker is making their beads. When a bead has been completed, it is placed either into a hot crock pot of vermiculite or (worse yet) a fiber blanket.

Both the vermiculite and the fiber blanket slow the cooling of the glass in an effort to prevent the stress from breaking the bead as it cools. While the crock pot does add heat to the vermiculite, it cannot approach the temperature needed to actually anneal the beads.

Once a group of beads is ready for annealing at some point in the future, they are all placed into a kiln which is then slowly heated to the correct temperature for the annealing process. Once the kiln is back at room temperature, the beads have been annealed and are ready for use in jewelry or other applications.

It is not uncommon for this process to result in a few broken beads when the process has completed simply because the stress in the beads could not endure being reheated in the kiln.

This type of batch annealing is most often employed by new lampworkers or lampworkers who do not yet own a kiln of their own., but there are many lampworkers (that also own kilns) who swear by this process. For me, I've never been comfortable with gambling the life of my beads on a crock pot.

If you have a different point of view, have any questions or would like to suggest topics, I can be reached through this blog or through my web site or shop at:

Thanks for stopping by!

He Think's He's SO Funny

When I asked my partner, Robert, if he would like to take a look at my new blog, he responded jokingly wihout ever having read it, "You put the Blah in Blog!"


I can't print my response since hand jesters don't translate well to text.

Hopefully, you won't agree with him, but I thought I'd share his insights with you...

Now, does anyone know where I can get a bag of coal?

Tools Of The Trade Part 2 - The Kiln

When most people think of kilns, pottery and clay jump to mind, but did you know that glass artists also use kilns? While potters use kilns designed for clay objects, glass artists use kilns that are specially designed for our needs.

Kilns come in two basic varieties for glass artists which I'll refer to as Annealers and Fusers.


When working hot glass and turning into a bead, sculpture, vessel or anything else, stress is added to the glass. This stress, if not repaired, can cause the item to crack or break, sometimes they can even explode!

Annealing is the process of keeping the glass at the appropriate temperature for a period of time in order to allow the molecules to align and remove the stress from the glass. Depending upon the type of glass you are using determines the annealing temperature because not all glass is the same, but we'll save that topic for another time.

Annealer kilns do just what their name implies, they are used to anneal the glass and make it strong and durable. They do not get hot enough to actually melt glass or fuse it together, which brings us to the second type of kiln.

My current bead kiln is an annealer that is much larger than my first kiln so I can make more beads in a single session and not have to stop when t he kiln fills up. Here's a picture of my annealing kiln in my basement.


This type of kiln can also be used to anneal glass, but they are not limited to just annealing. They have the ability to melt glass together to create different kinds of objects like plates, bowl, jewelry, etc.

Fusing does not use a torch like lampworking, instead pieces of cut glass are laid into a cold kiln and arranged into the pattern or design desired. The kiln is then heated (slowly to prevent glass breakage) to the glass' melting point where it fuses into a single piece of glass. Once the glass has fused sufficiently for the artist's design, the kiln is cooled down to annealing temperate and allowed to anneal and then cool slowly to room temperature.

The first kiln I bought for beadmaking was a fusing kiln since I thought I might want the flexibility to fuse as well as anneal. It's a great kiln and I still have it. The above picture is of me putting a bead into the kiln for annealing.

As always, if you have any questions or would like to suggest topics, I can be reached through this blog or through my web site or shop at:

Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pucker Up - A Hallmark of Quality

I'm Blogging on my lunch break today, so I'll need to keep this one short.

Today, I'd like to talk about puckered not your end or mine for that matter, but the ends on beads around the hole.

A sure sign of well made bead is that the area around the hole on both ends of the bead are puckered, that is, they dip toward the hole in a smooth curve and there are not points or jagged edges which could possible fray or cut the medium they will eventually be strung onto.

When wrapping glass onto a mandrel, a steel rod that will eventually be removed to create the hole in the bead, the footprint of the bead should be evenly wrapped so that the glass creates this round pucker naturally.

Due to the physics of glass (which I won't bore you with, I promise), it naturally wants to be round and gather toward the center of the mass on the mandrel. When a beads footprint is wider than the amount of glass wrapped, the bead will form a football shape with very sharp ends around the hole.

If the bead is going to be shaped, either in a press or by marvering (rolling the bead on a surface to shape the glass), then this shape is sometimes necessary when wrapping. However, in the final bead when all shaping has been completed, there should not be any sharp or jagged points.

During the summer, I attended an art fair in a lampworker was selling necklaces made of beads that obviously where too wide and had jagged points on their ends. She'd hidden these flaws by using some rather large bead caps in her jewelry.

This is just something to keep an eye out for when buying beads on-line or in finished jewelry that I think everyone should know before putting down your hard earned money. If you get a bad bead from another artist, that may well put you off lampwork from other artists, and that would be a shame.

As always, if you have any questions or would like to suggest topics, I can be reached through this blog or through my web site or shop at:

Have a great day!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tools Of The Trade Part 1 - The Torch

Probably the most important tool (or at least in the top two) for any lampwork artist is their torch. Without this tool, we would be unable to melt the glass and create our work. In my short career as a glass artist, I have used three different types of torches. Allow me to elaborate...

Hot Head Torch

This is the first torch I ever used to melt glass and was one of the tools that I received in the kit that came with my first beadmaking class at O'Reilly's Stained Glass in Crystal Lake.
It uses a single fuel source, a canister of Mapp gas or some other gas, to melt the glass. The design of the head pulls in oxygen from the air in order to create an appropriate flame for working the glass.

It's a very good head for learning how to work the glass because it is just hot enough to melt the glass, but the glass does not get so that it becomes too runny and hard to control. Many lampworkers start off on this particular type of torch, but it does have some drawbacks (at least for me).

I'll just say it outright: I am impatient by nature. I do not like waiting for something or spending large amounts of time on a single task. While I know this torch has a very loyal following (some folks use them for years), I worked with this torch for exactly 3 weeks, and here's why:

Aside from the noise that this torch makes (and it is very noisy), it takes a long time to get enough of the glass melted in order to create the bead I was working on. It would take 5-10 minutes just to get enough glass onto the mandrel for the bead I was making, and I wasn't making large beads yet since I did not have a kiln yet (more on that in a later posting).

In addition, since there is not a separate oxygen fuel source, the flame tends to cause some colors to not come out properly; they may come out in a completely different color than they are supposed to. Oxygen is a key ingredient to working with glass as you will see in upcoming posts since it reacts with the metals in the glass to create the various colors.

Minor Torch

After my three weeks on a Hot Head, I anxiously awaited my tax refund, and then set out to upgrade my equipment. One of the things I purchased was a new Minor torch.

This is a minor torch, and as you can see it is quite different from a Hot Head. First of all you will notice this torch has two knobs, a red one on top and a silver one of the side. That's because this is a dual-fuel torch. It uses two gasses to create the flame for melting and manipulating the glass.

This torch uses propane (which is controlled by the red knob) and oxygen (the silver knob) to create a hotter flame that is much quieter and better suited to melting the glass.

Many glass artists use this type of torch exclusively for their work. I used this torch for about three years of my nearly four years of lampworking.

When using a minor, the glass melts much faster, the bead colors are brighter and the flame can be adjusted to create several effects by adjusting the amount of oxygen in the flame (more on this in a later post also). I enjoyed using my minor, but it too had a few drawbacks such as its lack heat surrounding the flame and the inability to adjust the flame's width for doing detail work like laying down vines or melting in dots onto one of my grapevine beads.

With larger beads, not all of the bead could be in the flame and would tend to cool too quickly on the end outside of the flame which can lead to cracking and/or breakage which can be quite disheartening after working on a bead for twenty or thirty minutes and ending up with nothing to show for it but a pile of broken glass.

Carlisle Mini CC

Which brings me to the third torch, and the one I'm currently using in my glass work.

The Carlisle Mini CC is brass torch which creates an ambient pocket of heat around the flame to help keep the piece warmed enough to reduce the breakage on larger pieces. I still need to work on keeping the whole piece warmed while I work, but this torch does give me a little more wiggle room in that department.

The flame is also a that it does not push against the glass with the force that the flame from my minor did. I know this sounds odd, but once you've worked with glass, you'll know what I mean.

The heat enveloping the torch also comes in handy when pre-heating a glass rod before putting it into the flame for melting which can reduce cracking and shattering of the rod before I can use it.

The cracking of a glass rod when being introduced to the flame is known as Shocking the glass. You may also hear it used as an adjective when describing a particular color as being Shocky (prone to cracking and breaking).

In addition to the ambient heat, the flame on this torch can be adjusted to wider or narrower by adjusting the amount of propane and oxygen supplied to the torch, which is another feature I really enjoy.

I hope you've enjoyed this quick comparison of torch features. If you have any questions, please feel free to post them and I'll try to reply with an answer.

Please feel free to check out my web site and shop at:

Sunday, November 25, 2007

So, who am I, anyway?

For the inaugural post, I'll start with an introduction. (As Julie Andrews Says, The begining is a very fine place to start!)

My name is Lloyd Osborn and I've been working with hot glass for nearly 4 years. I cannot believe how quickly the time has flown by since my first lampworking class where I learned to make simple round beads. I'm known as Burning Scentsations on several auction and forum sites, as well as on my web site:

Before I go any further, let's define Lampworking for those who may not be familiar with the term.

Lampworking is the processes of melting and manipulating glass in a [blow] torch. The term originates back from ancient times where the glass was melted using oil lamps and a bellows which forced oxygen into the flame in order to make it hot enough to melt the glass.

Here's a picture of me making a bead on my original torch (I use a different model now, but I'll save that for a later blog entry).

Now, back to the introduction, already in progress.

I live in Roselle, IL which is a suburb of Chicago with my partner, Robert, and our two dogs, Riley and Trance. I create my glass items in my glass studio in the basement. While I also do stained glass panels and windows, my true passion is working with molten glass to create unique beads and jewelry designs.

My designs are ever changing and evolving, which keeps me engaged in my art. While some artists have a very defined style and work on that one style, I like work in many styles. When I sit down at the torch, I'll have a particular inspiration in mind and will work on that design. Sometimes I'll work in several styles in a single session or in one style for several sessions. It all depends on my mood.

I enjoy taking classes to learn new techniques, which are sometimes glass related and sometimes jewelry related. My next class will probably be Chain Maille since I want to create custom chains for some of my larger beads for both men and women.

I work to create the highest quality items for my customers and am not satisfied with "good enough". This leads me to be very critical of my work and others call me "over critical", but that's just the way it is. Wouldn't you rather patronize an artist who is too picky and always working to improve versus one who is just happy with the status quo?

In this blog...

What you'll find in my blog will will vary a bit, again depending upon my mood, but overall I'll try to provide useful information about lampwork glass, tips on what to look for and news about events that I'll be attending or participating in that will be of interest to you, I hope.

Whether you become a customer of mine or just want to learn about the process, you are very welcome. An educated consumer will benefit all of us in the lampworking community (and there are a lot of us!).

More of Me...

If you want to learn more, please check out my web site and shop: