Handmade Lampwork Beads
Lampwork beads are handmade one at a time by using a torch and a melting glass to make original glass beads. Occasionally, a bead can be made again, but it's rare that they're ever identical, making each bead one of a kind.
All beads are kiln annealed. Kiln annealing is the process of cooling the bead gradually in order to enhance durability and strengthen the glass. Of course, these beads are still made of glass and should be handled with the utmost care.
Sometimes, lampwork beads are mass-produced. These are made in India and China. Not only is the artistic quality far inferior to handmade lampwork beads, these beads are also made using child labor most of the time. This means that young children are working in factories, often exposed to toxic chemicals, for very long hours, and being paid extremely little for their efforts.
It's worth the few extra dollars to support an artist making these masterpieces by hand, and you'll get more beautiful and unique beads this way.
A Brief History of Making Lampwork Beads in America
Lampwork was initially done by using alcohol lamps. The flame's temperature was increased by using bellows. Since the 14th century, this craft has lived on in Murano, Italy. It was only recently brought to the United States of America. Today artists uses a torch to create lampwork beads.
The craft of lampwork beading was only brought to the United States a few decades ago. Artists who visited Italy were so fascinated and impressed by the glass beads they saw that they wanted to learn how to create these masterpieces themselves. These artists tried to create these beads with the tools they had, but they had limited resources. They used modified torches and used American stained glass during the turn of the century.
This led to some really beautiful and unique beads. If you want to learn more, read The History of Glassmaking in America - Lampwork Beads.