Lampwork Beadmaking Glossary of Terms and Definitions

This glossary of terms was compiled by Kandice Seeber and Kimberly Affleck.  These are glass beadmaking terms that we may use in our tutorials or on the blog, and that are commonly used in the lampworking community. Some of these words may have multiple, unrelated definitions which are not used here.

Alabastro/Alabaster - A term applied to a selection of glass in the Effetre line. The glass colors in this group are compatible with eachother, but very often not compatible with anything else. Recommended only for use by experienced lampworkers.

Annealing - The process of cooling beads over a period of hours in a temperature controlled kiln (oven) so that the glass molecules have a chance to slow down. This reduces stress in the glass, so that it becomes more stable and less breakable. A beadmaker can anneal right away after making a bead or later after the bead has cooled (called batch annealing). Kandice and Kim both prefer to anneal right away after a beadmaking session while the beads are still garaged at temperature. Batch annealing will work if the beads have not already cracked when cooling the first time.

Aventurine - Otherwise known as goldstone, aventurine is a type of glass that contains a lot of metal oxide (usually copper), giving it a metallic sparkle. You can get it in several colors - the blue aventurine makes lovely stringer.

Bathe - Slow, even heating in the upper part of the flame to keep a bead uniformly warm, or to hold it at temperature while preparing the next step.

BBQ Mashers - This is a nickname given to a large tool used to press glass. Often also called Parallel Mashers. Kandice uses this tool to make cubes and more.

Bead Reamer - A small metal hand tool used to clean out the bead release from a bead after pulling it off the mandrel. Some beadmakers like to use a Dremel for this, with a diamond bit attached. .

Bead Release - a pancake batter-like solution applied to the mandrel to allow for the release of the glass bead once it has cooled. There are many brands out there. Kandice uses Fusion Bead Separator. Kimberly uses Foster Fire. You can find many brands here.

Bleed - A term applied to glass color when it has a tendency to overtake another color. Bleeding occurs when one color is applied to another, such as a dot on a base beads, and then spreads out or "bleeds" when it is melted in. This is the opposite of sinking.

Blooming - Kandice uses this term to refer to what happens when a bead is allowed to cool slightly and then lightly heated to allow colors to come out. This works particularly well with some of the premium handpulled colors such as Rubino Oro, Opal Yellow and Silver Pink. Similar to striking, see below. While striking usually refers to the whole bead or color in general, blooming often refers to a specific small part of the bead.

Boil - Bubbling on glass when it is heated to quickly or too much - these bubbles will often stick around and can be unattractive. The bubbles here are larger than those in scum.

Borosilicate/Boro - Glass which has a very low COE, and is used for things like sculpture, cookware (Pyrex is one brand), glass blowing, lab equipment and more. The low COE makes this glass especially resistant to temperature changes, rendering it easy to work without thermal shock and breakage.

Burn Out - The process of heating a glass color so much that the color begins to disappear, often not coming back. This can happen with colors that strike fairly easily.

Cane - this term is often applied to glass rods. It can also refer to anything pulled out of glass into long cylinders, including encased stringer or any kind of twistie, latticcino, etc.

COE (Coefficient of Expansion) - A mathematical formula expressing a glass type's response to temperature change. Lampworkers tend to use a shorthanded number rather than a whole formula to refer to each glass type. For instance, 104 COE refers to glass in the Effetre line, as well as many other glass lines. Some popular glass lines and their (most commonly seen) COEs are:

Borosilicate - 33 COE
Bullseye - 90 COE
Uroboros - 96 COE
Spectrum - 96 COE
Lauscha - 104 COE
CiM - 96-104COE
Effetre - 104 COE
Vetrofond - 104 COE
Satake - 125 COE

Cold-working - Anything done to a bead after it has cooled - i.e. electroforming or lapping.

Color-shifting - Glass that appears to change color under different lighting environments. Most lavender glass color-shifts.

Compatibility - Glass is said to be compatible with another glass when their COEs are similar, or when they pass a compatibility test. Testing for compatibility can be done a number of ways, and is usually first done by the manufacturer. Some glasses, even in the same COE and line, are said to be incompatible because they crack easily during testing.

Controller - The part of the kiln which controlls the temperature. The controller can either be digital or an infinite switch. A digital controller can be programmed to ramp up and down to the user's specifications for garaging and annealing.

Devitrify - When a glass color dulls to the point of being almost chalky or rock-like in nature after it is heated and cooled. Often contains pits and/or discoloration. One of the most popular examples of this is Effetre's Purple, which is nicknamed EDP - see below. Some beadmakers seek out this reaction in glass, and some avoid it. Kandice usually avoids it, and Kim sometimes seeks it out for use in her organic beads.

Dichroic - glass that contains layers of tiny vaporized particles of metal which give off various shades of color and sparkle. Dichro for short, this glass is very colorful and often has a protective coating of clear. You can buy this in various colors and patterns.

Didymium - a coating on eyewear that filters out the sodium flare from your torch so you can better see your work. Didymium glasses are sold by many glass vendors for eye protection and comfort. They are all you need for soft glass, but for borosilicate working, it's best to get extra protection. Kandice uses AUR-92 lenses, which are a step up from regular didymium.

Duel Fuel - A term applied to a glassworker's torch that uses oxygen and a fuel such as propane or natural glass.

Dragon Flame - a large, bushy flame that consists mostly of fuel, used for reducing some colors and for fuming. Kimberly uses this one a lot, while Kandice has little experience in using it.

EDP - Stands for Evil Devitrifying Purple, which is the slang term given to Effetre Purple (254), a handpulled glass which devitrifies heavily. Kandice stays as far away from EDP as humanly possible, while Kim loves it dearly. See "Devitrify" above.

Electroform - A chemical process which coats a glass object with metal particles. Kim uses this frequently.

Enamel - Powdered pigments used on beads for their colorful effects.

Encase - Layering a transparent color, usually clear, over a base bead. Often the base bead is already decorated, so the encasing serves to magnify and protect the decoration. Encasing can also be used as a design technique - i.e. to create distortion effects such as encased stripes, triangles, etc.

Etch - An acid solution to remove the top layer of glass on a bead to give it a matte look. Kandice typically uses Dip n Etch.

Fiber Blanket - This is used to keep a bead warm in between steps, or to allow for slower cooling before batch annealing.

Fingerprints - A nickname given to the ripple effect on a bead made by the cool touch of a metal tool on to the hot glass, which creates stress in the glass. These prints are often flame-polished off after a tool is used. On occasion, a beadmaker will make use of fingerprints as a design element. Also called "chill marks"

Flame Chemistry/Environment - This term refers to the kind of flame one is using during beadmaking, and sometimes changes serveral times during the creation of one or more beads. There are lots of different flames - you might see a mini-tutorial about that at some point here.

Flame Polish - Similar to bathing (see above), flame polishing refers to slowly applying an allover heat to a bead to remove tool prints or other irregularities.

Flashback Arrestor - An attachment connected to a fuel tank that prevents the fire from the torch from flowing back into the fuel supply, thus preventing explosive fires from breaking out in the tank or hose.

Flat Lapping - The process of faceting/grinding glass objects using a horizontal diamond disc.

Footprint - Laying down the first layer of glass on the mandrel when starting a bead is often referred to as laying down a footprint. The size of the footprint often determines the shape and size of a finished bead.

Frit - Bits of crushed glass used for decorative purposes. Comes in many sizes and color combinations.

Fuming - The process of heating a metal (usually gold or silver) until it evaporates and allowing the fumes to settle onto a glass bead, often creating an overall metallic effect or other reaction. Ventillation and a respirator is highly recommended for fuming.

Fuel - Typically propane or natural gas (although others are sometimes used), used with or without oxygen to power a glassworker's torch.

Furnace Glass - Not to be confused with the bead of the same name, furnace glass refers to glass with a coe range of 92-96 or so, and that has a high lead content. Furnace glass is typically used in frits by companies such as Reichenbach and Kugler.

Garage - Keeping a bead at temperature in the kiln while working on other beads - before annealing. Garage temperature is close to or the same as the starting temp of an annealing cycle. For instance, Kandice garages her beads at 960F while she works, then starts the annealing cycle at 950F.

Gather - The term applied to the glass you have melted on the end of your rod - often right before laying the footprint or pulling a stringer. Kim often also uses this term to refer to the blob of glass that is on your mandrel before you have shaped it. "It's the pre-bead".

Geometric - A nickname Kandice uses to refer to beads which have an intentional, usually symmetrical, pattern.

Glass Powder - not to be confused with enamels, glass powders are tiny glass particulates used to mix color or applied directly to glass beads for color effects. These are not pigment based.

Goldstone - See "Aventurine" above.

Handpulled Colors - Glass that has been pulled in small batches off the main production line. These colors often have varied batches and irregular rod sizes and shapes. Effetre has a large line of handpulled color (aka Premium) that has become quite popular.

Hollow - A bead which is wrapped in such a way that it becomes hollow inside, making it lighter than a solid bead.

Kiln - an oven specifically for heating glass - often used for annealing or fusing glass beads and other objects.

Leaf/Foil - Sheets of metal used in fuming, fusing or creating glass beads. Metal foils are thicker and sturdier than metal leaf. Typical metals used are gold, silver, copper and palladium.

Latticcino - A name given to the more complicated styles of twisted canes. See "Twistie" below.

Mandrel - a rod of stainless steel (usually) used to wind glass on to, in order to make a bead. Usually coated with a bead release of some kind. These come in various lengths and diameters, and can be solid or hollow.

Maria - The flat part of a punty (see below), generally used in making pendants or other off-mandrel work. Kimberly uses these when she makes complex twisted cane or latticcino.

Marver - Flat pieces of graphite or other metal used for shaping glass. These come in a variety of shapes and sizes from big blocks to small handheld tools, and can either be attached to the torch or free-standing. The term marver is also used as a verb and refers to shaping with said tools.

Millefiori/Murrini - Glass cane handmade to contain decorative images or elements that can be applied to a glass bead in slices.

Neutral Flame - A soft flame which contains generally equal parts of fuel and oxygen. Click here to see Kandice's version on a Minor. Kandice's neutral flame is smaller than normal.

Nippers - A tool used to cut cold glass rods or sheets.

Odd Lot - This term applies to glass color batches that are not part of a main line. They are often mistakes or experiments by the manufacturers, and thus are in very limited supply.

Off-mandrel - Working glass right on the rod or being held by any tool other than a mandrel - usually a punty or tweezers.

Opal - Part of the Creation is Messy line of glass. Opals are milky, translucent glass colors which can vary in compatibility.

Opalino - Part of the Effetre line of glass. Like Alabaster, Opalinos are often only compatible with eachother.

Opaque - A term applied to glass which cannot be seen through. Dense, solid color.

Organic - A term sometimes given to beads which appear randomly designed or inspired by nature's colors. Organics can be asymmetrical, flowing, abstract and/or sculptural. Kim is very well known for her super-long organic bicones.

Oxygen - Mixed with fuel in a torch, this provides combustion and flame. Beadmakers use either a generator, concentrator or tanked oxygen for their torches. Generators create oxygen while concentrators purify the oxygen in the surrounding air.

Oxidizing Flame - A flame which contains less than normal fuel and an abundance of oxygen. Kandice works with these a lot in making her small beads. Click here to see Kandice's version on a minor burner. Kandice's is slightly more pinpoint than most people's.

Pastel - Opaque colors in the Effetre or Vetrofond line are called Pastel by the manufacturer and many of the glass vendors. Not to be confused with pale colors - when referencing this brand of glass, Pastels can be dark as well.

Patina - A metallic or dark coating/finish. A patina develops on the outer layer of some glass as a reaction to some flame environments or manipulation. One of the best examples of this is Effetre's Copper Green, which can develop this effect quite easily no matter what the flame environment.

Peeling - This term refers to using a tool - sometimes tweezers - to slowly scrape off the outer layer of glass on a rod. Peeling is useful when there is scum or some kind of imperfection on the outside of a glass rod, especially when the rod is large in diameter.

Pits - Pits can form, especially on glass that contains a lot of silver or is reduced, when air bubbles break on the surface.

Pixie Dust - A brand of mica based powder which when applied to a hot bead will give an iridescent effect.

POOP - An abbreviation for the order in which many beadmakers turn on and off the knobs on their torches - stands for (on)Propane - Oxygen / Oxygen - Propane (off). Alternatively, some beadmakers use POPO.

Premium Colors - Effetre's name for their handpulled colors.

Press - A handheld or free-standing metal tool used to press glass into various shapes. These come in many styles and sizes, from several different companies.

Premix - A type of torch that has the fuel and oxygen mixing before they come to the surface, inside the torch. These are the larger torches often used by boro workers.

Punty - A metal or glass rod used to hold a molten piece of glass while it is worked.

Ramping Up/Down - The process of slowly increasing or decreasing the temperature in a kiln.

Reducing/Reduction Flame - A flame which contains less than normal oxygen and an abundance of fuel. Click here to see Kandice's version on a Minor Burner.

Regulator - An attachment used on a tank of fuel or oxygen that measures and controls the amount of pressure coming through the pipeline into the torch. Torches require a certain amount of pressure, measured as pounds per square inch (PSI).

Respirator - A mask worn by beadmakers to filter out dangerous particulates and fumes. Particularly useful for fuming metals and using poweders and enamels.

Ribbon Cane - Another name for a twistie, called so for its ribbon-like look.

Reduction Glass - Glass colors which react to a reducing flame (see above), often with metallic or devitrification effects.

Scum - Tiny bubbles that appear on glass when heated, especially if the glass is scratched or otherwise has imperfections in the formula. Some colors are well known for this. At times, scum can be burned off when heated at a higher temperature.

Shampoo Glass - Glass which has a translucent, sparkly quality. Check Glass, a supplier of Czech glass, had an entire line of this. It's unknown if Shampoo Glass has been discontinued.

Shards - Thin pieces of glass, often used to apply to beads for a variety of colorful effects.

Shocky - A term applied to glass which has a tendency to explode or shatter when introduced quickly to the flame. Glass which is handpulled, contains holes or is a larger diameter tends to be shocky.

Silver Colors - A special type of glass, usually handmade, which has lots of cool reactive properties due to the high silver content. Many glass brands,such as Double Helix, TAG and Effetre, have silver colors in their lines.

Sink/Suck - A nickname applied to a color reaction - when a base color takes over another color after melting in, it is said to sink or be sucked in.

SIS - Silvered ivory stringer. This is ivory glass (usually Effetre's Dark Ivory) which has been covered in silver leaf or foil and pulled into stringer. Has lots of reactive properties that are beloved by many.

Single Fuel - A torch that runs on just one fuel source and no oxygen. The Hot Head, which runs on mapp or bulk propane is one example.

Snips - Scissors used to cut glass while it is hot, for a variety of cool effects. Often used in sculptured beads.

Soda Lime - What most 104 COE glass is comprised of. More specifically, sodium oxide and calcium oxide.

Soft Glass - A term applied to glass which is of a higher COE than borosilicate. Usually glass higher than a 90 COE is referred to as Soft Glass.

Special Color - Effetre and Vetrofond's term applied to part of their line of colors that contains the reds/yellows/oranges. Can also be referred to as Hot colors.

Stress Crack/Fracture - Similar to thermal cracks, stress cracks occur when glass is heated or cooled too quickly to allow the molecules to get used to the temperature they are at.

Striker - A flameless metal tool used to ignite the torch - the preferred tool of many lampworkers because of its safe nature.

Striking Color - Glass color which reacts to the flame environment, bringing out a different color than what can be seen in the rod. To strike a color involves cooling it and heating it in slow intervals, making the color come out. The metals in the glass slowly form to pull out color in this way. **Now also a brand of silver-based glass.

Stringer - Glass pulled into a long, thin string about 1-2mm in diameter, used for decorating beads.

Surface Mix - This type of torch, often used by soft glass workers, mixes fuel and oxygen at the surface, right after they come out of the tip of the torch.

Thermal Crack - When a bead is not kept at the right temperature or allowed to cool too quickly, a thermal crack can appear. These cracks are often straight and parallel with the bead's hole along the mandrel. Sometimes, (much to the frustration of many beadmakers) the cracks do not appear to the naked eye until after annealing.

Torch - A beadmaker's main tool - these come in a huge variety of types. They can be compared with welding torches.

Transparent - Glass that can be seen through.

Tumble - The process of smoothing edges or creating a matte look on a bead, by tumbling it in a drum filled with particles of sand, metal or other abrasives.

Twistie/twisted cane - Layers of glass color that have been twisted and pulled into thick stringer. These can be as simple as two colors twisted together or as complex as several colors twisted into patterns, often called latticcino (see above).

Vermiculite - A substance used to slowly cool a bead in between steps or before batch annealing. Often poured into a crock pot and kept warm.

Web - A glass reaction (often with Intense Black stringer) on the surface of a bead that appears web-like after heating.

Wonky - A nickname given to beads that are unintentionally irregular.

Wound - This term applies to a bead which is made on a mandrel - the glass is said to be wound on, thus creating the hole in the bead.

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