Saturday, 19 November 2011

ARTIST PROFILE: Lampworker Artisan from M1dnight Dreary

This is the first in a series I have been wanting to write for some time, profiling artists who create the most amazing things, are talented and creative and deserve to be seen.

Introducing the lampwork artist from etsy shop M1dnight Dreary

Born in Argentina and settling in Australia in the late 80s, the owner of the shop M1dnight Dreary, known on etsy as Glassy Lassy, is a musician, artist and designer.

I asked her some questions about lampwork, she was kind enough to say that my questions were okay, although I think that as I know nothing about the artform, my questions were totally inane and demonstrated my absolute ignorance on the subject!

What is lampwork?
I asked Glassy Lassy what lampwork is, she told me:

"Lampwork is the ancient art of making glass beads. The debate goes on as to wether "lampwork" relates to beads being made by the flame of a lamp .... but it is questionable as no one really believes a lamp would have generated enough heat to melt all the ingredients to make a glass bead. ...... There are very many examples of roman and viking beads of a very high standard, with intricate murrini."
OOOOH i KNOW that one! Murrine is a type of glass bead or decorative embellishment made from an intricately designed multicoloured rod of glass that when sliced in cross sections forms pieces with pictures or patterns, Millefiore being a well known type!(phew I am NOT as ignorant as I thought i was!)

Basic set up

If anyone wanted to start doing lampwork Glassy Lassy explained that the basic set up would need to include a torch (no bat-lings, not a flashlight.. but a burny, hot, ouch that hurts, flame type torch). The torch she uses is a "hothead" which uses LPG as its fuel. She explained that there are lots of different torches on the market and the more advanced ones burn really hot as they use a combination of O2 (Oxygen dear fiends.. you know that stuff we breathe??) and LPG, which makes the bead making process quicker.

If only we could find a flame breathing dragon! Then it could be a pet and a lampworking torch all in one....

I digress... back to our artist...

The next thing lampworkers need is a mandrel which our very knowledgeable and patient artist explains is a

"a long, usually stainless steel rod) dipped in bead release (it hardens like clay onto the mandrel, making it possible to remove the bead from the mandrel) otherwise melting glass directly onto the mandrel would make the glass stick to it for good."

Thirdly you need material that allows for the beads to slowly cool, they will be so amazingly hot that they would crack if they cooled too fast! Glassy said she uses vermiculite for this.

The bead needs to fired to finish it off properly, so you also need a kiln, our lovely artist explained that the reason the bead needs firing is that the very hot bead cools faster on the outside than on the inside which means that pressure will be exerted inside the bead caused by the differing temperatures, so to ensure the bead is nice and hard, it is fired in a kiln at a temperature lower than your initial torching.

What sets her work apart from the rest?

I first saw Glassy's work very recently, and I was instantly intrigued. What really appeals to me about her glass pieces is that they are different to mainstream lampwork. She adds an element of the macabre and the Baroque to her work. For example, have a look at these lampwork beads she has made called 'Dripping blood'

Who first taught you lampwork?

We all need to be taught how to do the basics of an artform if it is new to us, Glassy said her first lampwork teacher was Pauline Delaney at the Glass Shed in Sunshine, Melbourne, Australia. Pauline taught her how to form basic shapes with lampwork.

What got you into lampwork?

I am always fascinated in what inspires artists to try new media to express themselves, so I asked Glassy how she got into lampwork. She told me how she was once a member of a viking re-enactment group and was looking for some art technique she could use to share with the group, initially wanting to learn silversmithing she was unable at the time to locate a place to learn. She said that Vikings were skilled lampworkers so she located a lampworking course, with Pauline, and has not looked back!

The additional good news is that Glassy has also found a silversmithing course and has become a silversmith as well!

She promises that she will be listing some of her silver work in her etsy store soon too!

Personally I am very eagerly waiting to see Glassy's silver work as well, I love her lampwork beads that are full of heart, soul, and honesty, so I am sure her silver work will be just as amazing.

I really appreciate Glassy Lassy from the etsy store M1dnight Dreary for permitting me to profile her on my blog. Please visit her store, she is a true artist and deserves our patronage.


Information on lampworking may be found at the following sites
............................................................................................................... Please visit me on etsy! handcrafted gothic goodies at bargain prices. see me on etsy! ...Please visit me on etsy! handcrafted gothic goodies at bargain prices. see me on etsy!


  1. those blood drops are amazing!!

  2. I am honoured and humbled to have been featured in this blog. Thank you all for your wonderful comments. And thank you empress for giving Pauline the mention she truly deserves.

  3. I too love your stuff! Great blog post!


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