Friday, September 14, 2012

The Cost of Quality- Why are Lampwork Beads so "Expensive"?

Hello friends!

People always want to know why lampwork beads are so "expensive" so I thought I would do a post on the reasons why my beads are priced the way they are. So what you may know or not know is that I only sell my first quality beads. I do NOT sell "seconds"(beads that have imperfections). I do this because I believe in excellent quality lampwork beads.

As I was cleaning my recent run of "Weeny Dings" it occured  to me that I should show you the process that my beads go through before they are up in the shop for sale. 

So let's take a look at some "Wing Dings" and "Weeny Dings" to see the process.....


Here you can see the different sizes of "Weeny Dings" and "Wing Dings".
When I go to make Weeny Dings I need to make MANY of them just to get a few that are the right size. Each glass has a different viscosity(the softness or stiffness of the glass). So some glasses are very difficult to get even due to their texture. So say I want at least 2 passing beads in the standard Weeny Ding size. I will have to make about 15 beads to make sure to cover that amount. That is pretty crazy odds! Each Weeny Ding and Wing Ding are hand shaped and too much or too little pressure can be disastrous!


So first the beads are removed from the mandrels to be cleaned. You can see here that this Weeny Ding broke off the mandrel even before cleaning. When I make them I make 3 beads on a mandrel at a time, so sometimes they cool too quickly and break off as I am working on them.

Next the are put in a bowl of water and cleaned with my electric dremmel to remove the bead release from inside of the hole. You can see the bead release in the photo above of the broken Weeny Ding.




After the beads are cleaned they are put into piles by color. 

 EVERY ONE of my beads is "Break Checked". This means that I actually try to break my beads. In this blurry photo you can see that I check my wing dings by grasping them on either side of the wings and then put force on them to see if I can crack them apart. If they stay together they "pass" their first test. Most do, but some don't.
Next each one is inspected by looking at the bead on the front side, and back side to see if the wings are even. As you can see in this photo the wings are uneven. One side is larger and the other side is smaller.

Here you can see the piles of Weeny Dings that passed and failed. Crazy odds huh? Almost equal passes and fails. At the moment the "passes" mean the wing dings wings are even.
Next the "passing" Weeny Dings are put into lines by size from smallest to largest for their next test.

This next test they are separated into "standard" sized Weeny Dings. Some are too small "micro dings" and some are larger than Weeny Dings, but smaller than Wing Dings. These are separated out and put into a pile for later. When I accumulate enough I will sell them in BIG discounted lots. I did my first sale like this just a week or so ago on my facebook fan page.

Next the passing Weeny Dings are arranged into a set all similar in size. The beads are then tied up and tagged ready for sale.


 I hope this post has helped you to understand some of the process of quality control in lampwork beads and given you a better appreciation of the art form. 

Thanks so much for stopping by.

xo Genea


18 comments:

YaY! Jewelry said...

That is quite the process. Thanks I think the education is always great. I dont make my own beads and I know from what I have seen the time, labor and failures all incure a cost.

Genea said...

Hey Kristin! Thanks for stopping by to read and comment. Lol, it is, isn't it?! I thought people might like to know what goes on "behind the scenes" in my studio. Very true, they sure do ;)

Karyn B said...

wow, love the perfectionist in you! what happens to all the beads that don't make the cut?

Genea said...

Hey Karyn, Ah.. I don't :p It's hard to just go with the flow. My mom usually gets the ones that don't make the cut to make things for herself.

stacilouise said...

I always love to see the process of things! especially beads I love! Your beads are amazing, and I love that they are all first quality!

Cilla said...

Great Tut! I just love your work and the quality shines!

Genea said...

Thanks so much Cilla!

A Half-Baked Notion said...

Very good post, Genea... this is great info. I find that no matter the medium, anyone not familiar with the process grossly underestimates the steps, effort, and loss of material involved to produce a sell-able item.

Genea said...

Me too Staci! It gives me a much better connection with someones work, especially when I don't know much about the process! So are yours!! Me too! I'm glad my hard work is shining through :)

Genea said...

Thanks Monique! I'm glad you enjoyed the info. I totally agree so I thought that this post might help inform the general public ;)

xo Genea

Shirley said...

Thank you so much for this post! I truly do appreciate seeing the process, and it really makes me glad I'm not drawn to lampworking! :) I love seeing beautiful lampwork beads, and now I have an even greater appreciation for your talent. Thank you for your dedication to your craft. It is such a blessing to learn more about great artists.

Libellula Jewelry said...

Superb quality and beautiful! That kind of quality will never be inexpensive--nor should it.

Grubbi said...

Great info! Seems like a lot of wastage though, am sure lots of people would be the uneven and mis-sized ones, I would! Love the video at the top of your blog too! I get angry when a new technique doesn't go the way I imagined so can totally relate! x

Genea said...

Thanks Grubbi! Yeah, it's hard to have that much stuff that doesn't pass ;) Thank you! My friends did it. They are quite talented www.parigostudios.com. Me too! So frustrating ;)

Genea said...

Thank you for stopping by to read it Shirley! I'm glad you enjoyed seeing the process! Lol. Awww I'm so glad you do! Thank you so much for your kind words :)

Libellula- Thank you kindly! Thanks so much for your support :D

xo Genea

Linda Landig said...

Ths was such a facinating post. I'd never thought about how challenging it would be to make the wings even. Your high standards show in the quality of your work. Thanks for sharing!

Mary Welsh Hubbard said...

Great post! I would definitely sell the miss matched wings that pass the stress test as mismatched-a lot of people like the wonky ness - I know I like things like that. Your beads are beautiful and should be priced the way they are. :0)

Genea said...

Thank you Mary! That is so funny that you say that. I have had a few people tell me that! So why is it that you like the wonkyness? Awww thank you so much for stopping by and for your support and encouragement!

xo Genea

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