Tools of the Trade: Lampwork Glass Jewelry

Tools of the Trade: Lampwork Glass Jewelry - student project

One of my favorite non-digital ways to play creatively is working with glass. The colors, the light, the little bit of mystery and science...I love it all! Since we are limited here in color palette, it puts the focus on the shapes of the tools.

I came up with a list of a dozen or so items that could be used in the process. Some of them are pretty basic shapes that probably wouldn't be super-interesting (or discernible) in this minimal setting. From there, I started some sketches, and through that process settled on doing the bare minimum of items you'd need to create a pair of glass and wire earrings. 

1. Torch - this particular kind attaches directly to a small can of fuel, so it's two supplies in one!
2. Glass rod - to melt into dangle shapes
3. Spool of jewelry wire - to melt the glass onto
4. Brass bead press with a wooden handle - to shape the hot glass into matching sizes
5. Jewelry pliers - to cut and shape our wire and glass bauble into wearable art!

Deliverable 1: Sketches
You'll see that I transitioned to some different items in the layout in this process (safety glasses, button mandrel, bead release for mandrels, alternate torch and press designs...). I smashed two of these together from elements I liked in other ones to work those ideas through a little more:

Tools of the Trade: Lampwork Glass Jewelry - image 1 - student project

I'm going to go with the third sketch over in the top row. I chose yellow-orange as my accent color, since the torch and press are both brass, fire (if I include the flame) is yellow/orange, plus the propane cans I use are yellow. I'm looking forward to making textures for the flame, those hatch-y spots on the torch, and some good scratchy pen spirals to turn into that spool of wire!

Deliverable 2: WiP
I used two different calligraphic nibs with different inks, then a dry fan brush, and then blowing across blobs of ink (some with water to better define the flame shape I was trying to achieve). Here's what I've blocked out in Photoshop thus far, as well as a quick photo of some textures that I'm scanning in now.

Tools of the Trade: Lampwork Glass Jewelry - image 2 - student project

Deliverable 3: Final

Tools of the Trade: Lampwork Glass Jewelry - image 3 - student project

That was a lot of fun! Thanks, Tom! :)

Brigitta Nagy
Production Artist / Illustrator