Heather Ferman Flamework Beads
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About the Artist

 

My goal is to create functional works of art out of glass and ceramic. 

If it can withstand temperatures in excess of 1500 degrees minimum, then its the medium for ME.  I only work hot.  I am a glass and ceramic artist.  I create one-of-a-kind lampwork glass beads, and fused glass, in my studio.  In addition, I specializes in hand built and wheel thrown and altered Judaica pottery. 

 

In my glass studio, I work with a blowtorch and use three types of glass: Moretti, Lauscha, and Vetrofond, to create lamp work glass beads.  The process of creating lamp work beads involves many steps.  First, I wind many colors of molten glass onto a stainless steel rod called a Mandrel.  Then I balance the glass on the mandrel by constantly rotating the glass, and fighting the force of gravity.  This process forms a round bead.  Finally, I heat the beads in a kiln overnight, a process called annealing, to provide the beads with added strength and durability. 

 

I also create fused glass pieces to be used in jewelry.  I layer different colors and types of glass to get depth in my pieces.  I enjoy the interaction with the kiln in creating these glass pieces.  Every minute counts when fusing glass. If the glass over fires it will drip right out of the kiln.  Fused pieces must be observed and when properly fused, the kiln is opened and "crashed".  I deliberately drop the temperature of the kiln 500 degrees as a fast as possible, usually within two minutes.  This keeps the glass from devitrifying or separating and getting a film over the top of the glass.

     

    

My pottery features many Jewish themes.  My favorite  works exemplify a unique Jerusalem theme symbolizing the ancient blocks of the Kotel.  I utilize my Jerusalem theme, as well as other Judaica themes, on various functional, ritual pieces including Seder Plates, Menorahs, Washing Cups, Apple & Honey sets, Mezuzzot and Shabbat objects.

 

 

Now that you know what I do, here is a little tutorial of how I do it.

 

This is how I make a bead!!!  Enjoy!!!!

 

 

Step 1:  Creating a Stringer

When beginning to create a Lampwork Bead, the glass rods must be prepared by melting and pulling long STRINGERS of glass (even thinner rods of glass).  Stringers are like glass paintbrushes to be used for any detail placed in the bead.  Some stringers are made by combining many different colors of glass into one stringer.

 

Step 2:  Creating a base bead

Next, a rod of glass and a mandrel  coated with bead release are heated.  As the glass rod starts to melt, the mandrel is rotated to let the glass melt onto the mandrel evenly.  The mandrel is kept continuously spinning to keep the glass from dripping off.  After the base color is on the mandrel, it is time to start decorating the bead.

 

 

Step 3:  Decorating the bead

Decorating the bead is something that should be planned out.  After the base color is on the mandrel, the bead is decorated using stringers of glass.  Layer after layer of glass is added and melted down to form a beautifully shaped bead.  This technique allows small amounts of glass to be melted onto the beads in layers that gives the bead depth.

 

 Step 4:  Finishing the bead

The mandrel must be kept continuously spinning to keep the beads shape, and to prevent the glass from dripping off.  The glass is continuously molten and then cooled many times in the process of creating the bead.  The stringers are used to add decoration and must be melted in before moving onto the next step.  This process requires very steady hands.

 

  Step 5:  The annealing process

When the bead is completely finished, and has just lost the molten red glow, the bead is placed in the kiln.  The temperature inside the kiln is 950 degrees, and will be slowly ramped down throughout the night so that the bead is cooled as slowly as possible.  This process is called annealing, and allows the molecules to properly line up in the glass.  The annealing process hardens the glass beads, creating durable beads that can withstand being dropped on a tile floor.

 

To contact me, just email me at heatherfbeads@aol.com




 

 

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