Creating glass beads is an art that has been practiced for more than 3,000 years. Known as Lampworking, the ancient process originally used oil lamps, think Aladdin's lamp. Today's bead makers have replaced the oil lamp with a gas powered torch.
Each bead is created by melting glass to a temperature of about 1700 degrees. Once the glass becomes molten, it is wrapped around a stainless steel rod (called a mandrel) and manipulated to achieve the desired look.
There are many techniques that can be used, and a variety of materials can be added to the bead. I often use: silver wire, silver, gold, copper or palladium foil, enamels, crushed glass, dichroic glass, etc.
Once the bead is finished on the torch, it is placed in a kiln where the bead cools gradually. When cooled, it is removed from the stainless steel rod and thoroughly cleaned.