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Tool Tuesday - Essentials (Glass)

Lampwork wouldn't be lampwork without the glass.  One vitally important aspect of glass is Coefficient of Expansion (COE) which is a measurement of the rate that the glass expands and contracts when it is heated and cooled.  If two different glass COE's are mixed the incompatible glass will crack regardless of annealing.

There are exceptions to this rule such as mixing a small amount of furnace glass in a bead.  Furnace glass has a high lead content and allows a bit more flexibility in the glass.

This is my supply of glass rods.  I use COE104 glass which is a relatively soft glass suitable for making beads.  This is just a small sample of the colours available, and the colours that I use most frequently.

I keep used rods on my workbench sorted by colour for easy access when the torch is lit.  The hair thin sticks of glass are called stringers and are used to add fine detail to the bead such as dots or lines.

Glass also comes in powdered form called enamel.  I use enamel to decorate bead surfaces.
The light orange background of this bead was created by dusting the hot bead with enamel then melting it in.

This is an example of frit which is basically crushed glass (often furnace glass).  The combination of colours are endless (I have over 80 different frits) and it can be used in a variety of ways to decorate beads.

This set of beads was created by rolling the soft glass in frit then melting it in and pressing the bead into a pillow shape.