Monday, February 27, 2012

Jet of the Day - Your Daily Jewels

Following "A"  is for Agate by Shazzabeth a few weeks back, I bring you...

 Is for Borosilicate Glass

Z-Beads by Sarah Moran 
Amazing Lampwork, Here is Sarah's Flickr Feed
Borosilicate glass (Boro) is a unique and specialized variety of glass. Its composition is different from the "soft" glass that is normally used for some beads, paperweights, figurines, art glass bowls, ornaments, etc. It will stand up to a lot of wear and tear without having to treat it as carefully as soft glass jewelry. 

Aqua, Blue, Green and Teal Boro Heart Necklace - SAStudio
Because of its strength, Boro has been used for everything from stovetop cookware to nuclear waste containment. The reason is a high boric oxide content, (at least 5%). This makes the glass resistant to extreme temperatures, and improves its resistance to chemical corrosion. In 1915, a famous line of borosilicate kitchen products  that we all now know and love, was released under the Pyrex label.

Boro Lampwork and Copper Earrings - DesignsbyCher
Orchid Boro Glass Earrings- TheSilverBear

Today, soda-lime  (silica) glass is the glass of choice for kitchenware, due to the fact that it is generally cheaper to produce than borosilicate glass. It is the most prevalent type of glass. Soda-lime glass is prepared by melting the raw materials, such as soda, lime, silica, and alumina  in a glass furnace or kiln  at temperatures up to 1675°C.

Saddle Red Lampwork Necklace - StoutDG2
Glass workers also love the amazing color palette available with borosilicate glass.  Actually, there are fewer colors available to work with but each one is an organic, living color that can be manipulated and shaded with careful torch work and annealing.  The craziest mistakes can be lovely The finished piece appears much more dynamic and vibrant. Also, silver and gold metals may be used to color the glass in unique and amazing ways.

Lampwork Bracelet - Your Daily Jewels
Lampwork and Czech Glass Bracelet - Your Daily Jewels
Borosilicate glass is considered more forgiving to work with, as its lower COE (coefficient of thermal expansion)  makes it less apt to crack during flame-working than soda-lime glass. But it does have  a narrower working temperature range, (and much higher)  than soda-lime glass. 

Red Lampwork Glass Earrings - WillowCreekJewelryStudio

It has fewer available colors, thus, the ability to work with the available colors is a skill that must be honed. At one time, soft (soda lime and lead) and hard (borosilicate) glasses had distinctly different looking palettes, but recent developments have diminished the distinctions between them.  Boro is also considerably more expensive than soft glass. Boro glass is as  lovely as many semi precious gemstones, but it will not necessarily be less expensive! 

Z-Beads by Sarah Moran 
Incredible Boro Beads by Sarah, Read her BLOG here.

So, our beloved “Lampies” can be either Boro or not. These spectacular beauties were made by my friend Gillian Soskin of Gillian Beads on Etsy. Gillian also shares photos of her (very neat) glass shop with us.

Gillian's Facebook Page

GillianBeads Studio

Gillian Soskin at Work (or at play!)
The art of glass bead making is done by winding molten glass (hard or soft) from a rod or a strip, around a steel rod called a mandrel. The molten glass is wound around the mandrel until the desired size and bead style are achieved. 

Once in a molten state,  from small to massive scale, lampworkers form the glass by blowing and shaping with tools and hand movements. Terms used are flameworking or torchworking,  by a hot glass artist or flameworker.

Once a bead is formed and the artist is finished with the actual creation process there are several more steps involved before the bead is ready to be used in fine jewelry. The bead is then placed in a kiln to start the annealing process.
Annealing is the process of slowly reducing the temperature of the hot glass. The annealing process makes glass beads very strong and durable. Beads that have not been annealed will have "stress" in them, which means that on a molecular level, the glass is unstable, and outside forces (falling on the ground, temperature, pressure, etc.) can cause them to develop cracks, stress fractures, or even break.

Blue Hawaii Handmade Lampwork Glass beads - PaulBead 

When a bead is taken out of the kiln it is removed from the mandrel, the holes are cleaned and filed with a Dremel diamond file or similar tool.

Lampwork and Boro beads are one of a kind pieces of wearable art.  The Glass Artist who created your beads actually sat down, chose colors from a palate and created the beautiful designs that came from their soul. This is a long rewarding process that deserves a great deal of respect for the “natural” ability that comes from that artist.  

Pair this with your talented jewelry artisan and you are sure to own an heirloom quality, uniquely beautiful jewelry piece for years to come. 


The best source of all...
SEARCH:  "Jetteam boro",  "Jetteam lampwork", "jetteam Glass beads" on for some of the most gorgeous Boro glass and lampwork jewelry you will find on the Web.

Thanks for reading,

Lampwork Bracelet of Dusty Desert Colors - Your Daily Jewels


ShinyAdornments said...

Great post! I ADORE artisan boro beads. In fact, I'm off to check out some shops you mentioned in your post, right now.



Erika Price said...

OMG - what a fantastic post! Think I may have just died and gone to heaven as I just LOVE lampwork glass! Thank you for bringing us all these gorgeous examples Norah!

Erika Price said...

Oh, and that kiln is identical to mine too!

DG Jewelry Designs said...

Norah, this is a great post. I love lampies. That is on my bucket list, to learn how to make them.

MadeByTammy said...

Fantastic post! Stunning beads and jewelry!

Michele said...

Lovely post and gorgeous jewelry!!! Truly an art of making those beads!!!

Tracy said...

amazing beads amazing colors! wonderful post, thanks for sharing!

Hope Full said...

Absolutely beautiful, I love hand worked glass!

Over Joyful

Unknown said...

Wonderfully written, informative, illustrated post. The lampwork process is so interesting. Thanks for sharing.

Meghann said...

Great post. I love lampwork glass and have a friend who makes beads. Every time she shows me her newest creations, I can't help but be totally awed but the miracle of flames, glass and talent. I know that artist-made lampwork glass beads seem expensive at first, but when you look at all of the time and talent that goes into a single bead, $20, $30 or even $50 seems a small price to pay for a miniature work of art, that could last for thousands of years. Archaeologists are constantly unearthing ancient glass beads...maybe in 5000 years, some of our lampworking friends will have beads unearthed and put into museums too!

SendingLoveGallery said...

thanks for showing these beauties and the great info on what's behind gorgeous lampwork beads - I LOVE lampies :)

Gillian Soskin said...

What a wonderfully colourful blog post! I love the beads and jewellery you many beauties!
Thank you so much for sharing my boro beads, and the pics of my studio...LOL, it's not so tidy right now.

WanderingJewel said...

Great post! I love lampwork beads. It is interesting to see all the work that goes into creating them.

Beadsme said...

Great selections, Norah. I do enjoy watching them make lampies at the show, amazing.

TheSilverBear said...

Norah - One of THE BEST blogs I have ever read!!! Thankyou!

Bob J24-7 said...

An absolutely fabulous, really interesting article, Norah! I enjoyed reading it VERY much ...

Mermaid Glass said...

What a gorgeous post! Thanks so much for including pics of my beads along with all those beauties. I really like the studio pics, too. It's fun taking a peek into another lampworker's space. Mine's waaaay too messy to share pictures of. :)

willowcreekjewelry said...

What a fabulous post!I've always wanted to know how those very talented lampwork artists create such beauty = ) thank you!

Cher said...

Gorgeous beads, I love boros and will leave the artistry of creating to these talented artisans, while including theirs in my designs... safer for all of us that way, lol!
I'm jealous that Gillian's workspace is so organized... I could only wish to have such a wonderful space to create in!

Dee Dubbah Yew said...

I love this info!! Also on my "bucket list" Deb. Thank you for a very facinating read.

jemsbyjb said...

Awesome article. Love lampwork and it sure looks like a lot of skill involved in making them just right.