Our chief designer loves to work with a variety of beads called lampwork glass. The artisans who make this kind of layered, colorful bead start with solid rods of glass, then use a gas torch to melt the rods. Once the glass is melted, the artisan can use tools or simply blowing on the glass or through a tube to shape the material and add layers of design in any color or shape she chooses.
Not surprisingly, this practice of lampworking glass was perfected in Murano, Italy, a location reknowned for making many kinds of beautiful, high-quality artisan glass. I'm wondering if I can write off a business trip to Murano. You know, to check out the glass. :-) (Find more information on lampworking here.)
We have several lampwork glass items in our shop, the newest being our lampwork glass phone and zipper pull charms. You can find them here.
Do you work with or purchase lampwork glass items? Do you specialize or find them a nice occasional alternative to gemstones and other materials?