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.