Josephine Brooks became a lampworker by accident. She married “a pyromaniac” who enjoyed silver smithing. “I enjoyed it too,” she says, “since I was the happy recipient of his creations. Because of his interest, I started beading.”

At the time there weren’t nearly as many lampworkers as there are now and good beads were hard to come by. So I ordered a beginning lampwork kit for my hubby… He made some beads and then made some more. I watched with growing fascination. Eventually I sat down and made some beads and then made some more. And then I told him to go back to silver smithing because the torch was mine! That was in 2002. I’ve been playing with fire and glass ever since.

This rose turned out really great. The glass I used has lots of color variations in it that make the petals look more natural…

Pink Rose Sculptural Garden:
Handmade Lampwork Beads
by Josephine Brooks.

And it was by happy accident that I discovered Josephine Brooks‘s lampwork beads — hopping link to link among artists and crafters to a world of colour and whimsy…

One look at Josephine’s handmade lampwork beads is ample evidence of the artistic vision, steady hand, and high level of craftsmanship that are required by this form of glass craft.

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Lampworking is a glassworking technique where the craftsperson uses a controlled flame to melt and shape the glass. It takes its name from the earlier use of oil lamps in the craft, now largely replaced by small torch as a heat source. That’s why, nowadays, you may also hear the terms flamework or torchwork instead.

As an art form, lampworking dates back to the earliest days of glass. It truly burgeoned in 14th century Italy, indisputably the art-glass capital of the world, and travelled from there throughout Europe.

“In the 1850s,” Wikipedia tells us, “lampwork incorporated into glass domed paperweights, primarily in France, became a popular art form, still collected today.”

Certainly, the Victorians were mad for lampworked glass, as the fine detail made possible by the technique had a natural appeal to that era’s great love of embellishment.

Through the 19th century, when colourful glass beads were in high demand in international trade, the basic beads were mass-produced in a factory, then decorated by hand in one of the most labour-intensive techniques known to beadwork.

And labour-intensive it clearly is, particularly in this day of cut-rate off-shore industrial production of goods!

It’s the time and expertise required that makes lampworking so compelling — and why an expertly-crafted lampwork art bead can have an enduring value as an heirloom and collectible.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Denise

    I just came across your blog today. I haven’t poked around much, but what I have seen makes me excited to continue reading. Keep up the great work :)

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