Frit is a type of glass material used in various applications, including lampworking, glassblowing, ceramics, and more. It is made by crushing or grinding glass into a powder or small granules, which can then be melted to form a solid glass object or used as a decorative material. This crushed glass can be added to the surface or swirled inside the glass and encased. 

chinz frit lampwork


winsome rose frit lampwork

One of the most important lessons taught to a beginner is that the COE (coefficient) of the glass must match. So, if you use 104 COE glass, you should use 104 COE frit. However, you can use 96 COE in small quantities in your work without issue. The rule of thumb is no more than 20%. In this set below, all the frit is either Val Cox or Glass Diversions 96 COE.

lampwork frit beads

Some frit can be very reactive, and when paired with a reactive base, the results can be surprising. Keep in mind, sometimes there are reactions that are not desired like when you add gold-pink to ivory it just creates a muddy mess. So keep in mind to test a few beads first before committing to too many beads to avoid disappointment the next day. Colors can appear different when they are hot compared to when they come out of the kiln cooled. Sometimes I will test the same frit over many different base glass colors to see how the colors react with each other. You can also test different frit over the same base glass to see what you like best.

lampwork frit beads

Frit is a popular material used in lampworking to add color and texture to glass beads. Here are the steps to use frit in lampwork beads:

  1. Gather your materials: You will need your lampworking torch, mandrel, glass rods, frit, and a kiln.

  2. Prepare your mandrel: Dip your mandrel in bead release to prevent the glass from sticking to it.

  3. Heat your glass rod: Using your torch, heat up your glass rod until it melts. Start further out in the flame to preheat the rod then as the tip turns orange you can bring it closer into the flame. Start making a bead to the desired size. Keep in mind that frit will add additional glass to the bead so try to keep the original footprint the same in each bead so they will be similar sizes when finished.

  4. Add frit: Sprinkle some frit onto the molten glass. You can use a spoon to roll it in or put it in a shallow stainless steel dish and roll it through a mound of frit. Make sure to evenly distribute the frit across the glass. Sometimes less is more with frit. You will notice the size of the frit will impact how much additional glass is added. Chunkier glass pieces will add more glass compared to fine grains of glass.

  5. Heat the frit: Once the frit is added, use your torch to heat the glass again. This will melt the frit and blend it with the glass.

  6. Shape the glass: Now that the frit is melted, you can shape the glass into your desired bead shape. You can use tools like graphite marvers or shaping tools to shape the bead. You can use stringers to twist the frit or use a tool to rake across the bead for different looks.

  7. Anneal the bead: Once you have shaped your bead, place it in a kiln to cool down gradually. This will help prevent cracking or breaking due to thermal shock.

  8. Clean the bead: Once your bead has cooled down, you can remove it from the mandrel and clean it up using a diamond file or other polishing tools.

By following these steps, you can easily use frit to add color and texture to your lampwork beads. You can even add directly to your rod of glass first to make swirl frit beads. You can also make your own stringers out of frit to create very interesting layers in your work.

strawberry brown frit beads

Also, it is a good idea to take notes and include pictures or you will not remember what combination you used when you try to make them again. You can also use rubber bands around then end of mandrels to keep track of which beads are which. I hope this give you some ideas to test frit in your own work. 

May 03, 2023 — Stephanie White

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