Making lampwork beads is actually a form of 'glassblowing', though in this case there is no actual working of the glass by 'blowing'. As it is unlikely that you will have the tools to get started just lying around the garage, so here is a list of what you will need to acquire to get started:
* Torch and gas hoses
* Fuel tank(s) (either MAPP gas or propane/oxygen set- this choice will depend on your torch)
* Kiln or annealing oven
* Bead release
* Glass rod
* Shaping tools (graphite and brass implements work best as they will not melt)
* Long nose pliers (for stringer work)
The process is simple in theory; one simply heats the glass rod at the edges of the torch flame, and slowly works towards the center of the flame until the glass is nearly molten and applies it to a mandrel (this is a long, steel rod) that has been treated with bead release (otherwise the bead would be permanently melted to the mandrel upon cooling). The mandrel is rotated to collect evenly distribute glass from the rod. When the desired size and colors are achieved, the beadmaker can add decorative elements through the addition of ground up glass or stringer (more on this later). When the bead is finished, it is allowed to cool to the point where it is no longer glowing, and placed in the kiln or annealing oven to cool very slowly. The annealing process is very important as it removes stresses that working molten glass causes in your beads. Skipping the annealing process will result in extremely fragile beads that break under the slightest pressure. Once the annealing process is finished, a simple cleaning of the beads will make them ready for artisan use.
Stringing- the process of creating glass strings by pulling molten glass with a pair of pliers to create a thin strand of glass.
Remember to be extremely careful throughout this whole process, as you will be working glass at extremely high temperatures, so be sure to use glass rods of adequate lengths- at least four inches between your hand and the heated end of the rod should keep you safe, though more length is always recommended.