Glass Bottles ~ Lampwork Tips

Little lampwork glass bottles are quite a lot of fun to make over a torch- when everything goes according to plan! Because I know these can be used for some very special purposes, I tried to keep calm and think happy thoughts as I make them. Which is usually not too hard. They have their challenges, but the final result is often surprisingly nice!
For the glass makers in the crowd, I’ll give a few pointers. These are made at the end of a hollow steel tube which has been dipped in bead release. I like to use KRAG mudd because it is strong and cleans out nicely.

* Dip the mandrels the night before so the bead release will be firmly attached to the steel.
* Make a small bead right near the end of the mandrel~ this will be the neck of the bottle. Make the ends of this bead nice before continuing. You will need to keep this area warm the whole time you are working on your bottle so that it won’t detach from the mandrel. Bounce it in and out of the flame often keeping the mandrel warm as well.
* Begin wrapping the glass at the base of the neck as you would for a hollow bead.  Because you will add several layers and blow it out and expand it later, the bead does not to be as large as the finished bottle will be. Apply one or two layers of glass and do a ‘test blow’ to be sure there are not weak spots that will blow out before proceeding.
* Add decorations- more colors, enamel, silver foil, whatever your heart desires! Melt everything together carefully and manipulate as you wish. Don’t let the whole bottle get floppy while you do this. If things start getting messy, remember to take the bottle out of the flame and let it stiffen up; let gravity work for you too!
* Shape into a basic teardrop shape, then blow a little air in to expand. Reshape, flatten a bit if desired, blow in a bit more air and continue shaping.
* Add a lip wrap~ just one or two wraps around the top of the neck.

* Add handles~ put a dot of the lip wrap color on one side, then halfway around. If they look straight, add a thin bit of glass even with the dot from the bottle side up to the lip wrap. Melt gently and open and shape the handle using a poking tool. Add another handle on the other side. Handles may need to be shaped more than once.
*  Check the shape of the bottle and adjust as needed.
*  Heat the base, attach a thin rod to it and pull gently to make the end more pointed.
*  Check it all again, make sure everything is warm and pop it into your kiln!

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