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Process

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All Sandcastle Magic glass beads are made by Isabel Wilson in her Santa Cruz, California studio. She has been making glass beads since 2000.

Isabel forms each individual glass bead using an ancient process called lampworking- the art of creating glass beads using a torch fueled by propane and oxygen. A lampwork glass bead is created by melting the tip of a long glass rod in the flame of the torch. Working the glass at about 2000 degrees, the molten glass is wound upon a steel mandrel, each bead being made one at a time. After applying the glass to the mandrel, the core of the bead can be decorated with additional layers of other colored glass, dots, stripes, enamel powders, silver foil, gold leaf, dichroic glass and pulverized bits of glass known as frit. Encasing the bead with clear glass gives the depth perception similar to a paperweight.

The hot beads can be shaped into cylinders, squares, or disc shapes by using a graphite paddle, or they can be left rotating in the flame until a perfect round shape is achieved. The beads are placed in an annealing oven set to 960 degrees and then cooled at a slow, regulated pace to ensure their durability. When cool, beads are soaked in water, removed from the mandrel and then the hole is cleaned out, readying the bead to be made in to jewelry.