Friday, June 18, 2010

The Life of a Cupcake

Since I do not make glass beads, little glass cupcakes never fail to amaze me.  I am forever searching glass artists that impress me with a fresh new and unique cupcake "topping" so that I can provide you with one of a kind jewelry.  What I am wondering today is how many of you know what goes into making one of these beads?


I still have never seen a bead made live & in person but have watched videos of it.  A metal rod that ends up making the hole in the finished product is coated with "release" making the bead easily removable at the end of the baking process.  Then in front of a small but extremely hot table top torch, the artist begins to heat glass and wind it around the rod.  Now, these artists have to think in reverse because they have to begin with the base or "innards" and work outward to the final design.  

That alone makes my head hurt.

They also have to think chemically in order to know when the flame is ready to accept another color of glass, how long to hold the glass in the flame, when to add "sprinkles", etc.  Once the bead is "done" the colors can look completely different when hot than when they are cool.  This cooling process is called "annealing".  

The kiln (oven) is over 900 degrees fahrenheit...(I think the torches are something like 1200 degrees but I'm not sure) when the bead is placed there and in order to strengthen the hunk of glass AND prevent fractures, the kiln must cool down ever so slowly over the course of many hours.  This is why artists often work at night: one, because of the heat of the torch building up in the room it can be work that is too hot in the daytime hours and two, the kiln is ready to open when they wake up the next day.

So just imagine how excited they must be when they open the kiln and see unexpected colors OR see exactly what they hoped they had made!  It can be a bit of a crap shoot sometimes.  
Now, the beads at this point still have to have their kind of chalky looking coating cleaned off and checked for imperfections making the experience even more exciting to see the bead kind of come alive before the artist's eyes.
Oh to be rewarded with such amazing cupcakes! Now do you see why I am endlessly fascinated by these little works of art? Sheesh!


Sara said...
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Sara said...

Your work is wonderful, beautiful, I love it!

Pretty Things said...

Love 'em!

Soph said...

Wow these beads are amazing and beautiful!

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