Mermaid Art Glass

Island Inspired Jewelry, Hand Sculpted from Molten Glass, by Maui Artist Summer Jean

I have always been fascinated with fire, how it seems to come from nothing and dance in the air like magic.

Lampworking (as this particular type of glass work is called) is a delicate and involved process. it requires an awful lot of patience, and attention to detail.

Back in the old days they used to use real oil lamps and a foot peddle to pump oxygen into the flame to increase the heat. luckily I live in modern times where I get to use a propane tank and an oxygen concentrator to get my high tech little torch up to 2000 degrees. As you can see in the video on the left, I am using solid color glass rods as my starting material. I heat the tips of the rods in the flame, melting the glass till it becomes pliable. Then I begin adding and sculpting the glass with various specialized tools. I like to layer transparent and opaque colors to create my own unique hues and patterns. I have my tried and true color formulas but I never stop experimenting. Glass is colored mostly with oxides such as iron, copper, chromium, and many others. Certain oxides and coloring agents have chemical reactions to each other and can alter the color of the glass when combined, this can be used to your advantage if you know about it or can ruin your piece if you don’t. Also, some colors change as they heat and cool, or have sensitivity to the amount of oxygen or propane in your flame. So you can see how it might take a while to figure all that out, not to mention, learning the behavior of glass when heat is applied. How hot before it becoms soft? how long will it stay soft? how long before it gets to cold and cracks? how long before it burns? the questions go on and on, and they can take years of personal experience to answer.

Here is a description of lampworking From Wikipedia…

Lampworking is a type of glasswork where a torch or lamp is primarily used to melt the glass. Once in a molten state, the glass is formed by blowing and shaping with tools and hand movements. It is also known as flameworking or torchworking, as the modern practice no longer uses oil-fueled lamps. Although lack of a precise definition for lampworking makes it difficult to determine when this technique was first developed, the earliest verifiable lampworked glass is probably a collection of beads thought to date to the fifth century BC. Lampworking became widely practiced in Murano, Italy in the 14th century. In the mid 19th century lampwork technique was extended to the production of paperweights, primarily in France, where it became a popular art form, still collected today. Lampworking differs from glassblowing in that glassblowing uses a furnace as the primary heat source, although torches are also used.

Early lampworking was done in the flame of an oil lamp, with the artist blowing air into the flame through a pipe. Most artists today use torches that burn either propane or natural gas, or in some countries butane, for the fuel gas, mixed with either air or pure oxygen as the oxidizer. Many hobbyists use MAPP gas in portable canisters for fuel and some use oxygen concentrators as a source of continuous oxygen.

Lampworking is used to create artwork, including beads, figurines, marbles, small vessels, Christmas tree ornaments, and much more. It is also used to create scientific instruments as well as glass models of animal and botanical subjects.