Submitted by: Maia Stark, Gallery Assistant

“Lampworking” is a glasswork technique widely practiced in the production of beads, figurines, marbles, ornaments, scientific instruments, and more (wikipedia). As a method, lampwork requires using a flame to melt and form glass. While in the past artists used oil fueled lamps to heat the glass (hence the term “Lampwork”), modern day lampworkers typically use a torch connected to propane or natural gas ( Early lampworking was accomplished in the flame of an oil lamp, with the artist using tools and blowing air into the flame through a pipe in order to manipulate the stretch of flame (wikipedia).

Despite no longer using “lamps,” artists working in this technique continue to use the term in order to distinguish their work from glassblowing or other types of hot glass techniques. During the method of lampwork, a torch is safely secured to table or workbench, and it remains stationary while the artist moves the glass around the flame. This is done by slowly introducing the glass (in the shape of a rod or tube) into the flame. This must be done slowly, to prevent cracking from thermal shock. 

Jolene Dusyk demonstrates manipulating glass with the heat of a torch
A detail of a completed necklace with lampwork beads (Jolene Dusyk, SCC).

Once the glass is melted to a sufficient state, the artist forms the glass piece by using hand movements, blowing, and shaping with tools, such as a specially coated steel mandrel, in order to wind the molten glass around it. As a last action, the glass work is often annealed (heated to toughen the material) in a kiln to prevent cracking or shattering (wikipedia). This must be done carefully as well, however, as heating or cooling the glass too quickly causes the different layers of glass to expand or contract at different rates, causing cracking or breaking (howstuffworks).

Jolene Dusyk, a professional craftsperson with the Saskatchewan Craft Council, works with lampworking, specifically creating original and one-of-a-kind glass beads for her line of jewelry, JoJo Beads. Working in a variety of lush colours, Jolene “flame-softens glass rods, transforming the molten glass into one-of-a-kind beads. The beads are then designed into inspired pieces of jewelry” (JoJobeads). Dusyk’s vibrant pendants and bracelets are available for perusal in the SCC Boutique, and, for an extra sneak peak of Dusyk’s capacity for creativity and design, visit the gallery before April 12th to see her piece in our current exhibit, Wearable Art.

“Mable’s Equity” by Jolene Dusyk (SCC) 

Dusyk’s piece, “Mable’s Equity,” which won Best in Show at the Wearable Art Gala in October of 2013, incorporates Lampwork beads into a dress composed of chicken wire, twine, and other “pedestrian” materials. 
Wearable Art runs February 28th to April 12th, with a closing reception on Saturday April 12, 2-4PM. Also be sure to check out the Artists’ Talks on Saturday March 22nd at 2PM in the gallery!

The SCC gallery and boutique is located in the Saskatchewan Craft Council’s Affinity Gallery at 813 Broadway Avenue, Saskatoon, SK.