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The History of Lampwork Glass

The "lamp" of lampwork, historically was the heat source originally used to melt the glass cane so it can be wound around the copper rod and produce the bead to be decorated.

Modern lampwork beads

Lampwork beads range from the simple to extremely complex such as lampwork beads in shapes, lampwork beads with silver lining, or gold foil. Modern lampwork beads have many purposes, for holiday celebrations, or to simulate nature, like bamboo, or even the jellyfish.

An artist makes these beads using a rod called a mandrel, sticks of glass and a torch. They melt the glass with the torch and swirl it onto the mandrel. When the base bead has been formed, other colors of glass can be added to the surface to create many designs. They can also add decorations like flowers, dots and ribbons by placing tiny strings or dots of molten glass on the bead. After this initial stage of the beadmaking process, the bead can be further fired in a kiln to make it more durable. The end result is a beautiful bead that is truly individual.

This is one of the beads that is made today much as it has been made historically, individually, and by the hands of artists.

History and origins

For centuries, in the Venetian industry as well as in the Czech Republic and southern Germany, the core of a decorated bead was produced from molten glass, a large-scale industrial process. The delicate multicolored decoration was then added by beadmakers working at home using used an oil lamp or spirit lamp to re-heat the cores and the fine rods of colored glass used to decorate them. "Lamp Beads" made in India, are made by a similar process.


Venetian lampwork beads originally were a part of the African trade in the 19th century. They were also made much as a piece of art, each artist keeping secret their formula for glass, especially when making gemstone substitutes such as goldstone or aventurine.

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