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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Lampworking lesson with Mike Poole by Caroline Hannon

I have always been fascinated by handmade lampwork beads since I found my first set. I was searching for a teacher for a while when I found out that Mike was starting to teach lessons and these were the nearest I could find.

On the day I arrived at the old mill where Mike’s studio is located in the town of Todmodon, Lancashire. I was greeted by Mike, who after a brew when through a run down of what we would be doing as well as giving me a folder with the course outline in it. He told me about the health and safety aspects, and although this might not be fun, it is very essential.

He then moved onto the equipment, Mike uses a minor torch with an oxycon unit. Most newbie’s to lampwork start on a hot head and then move up to a minor torch. He went through everything from dipping the mandrels in bead realise to kilns and cleaning out the bead release once the bead had been annealed.

Then the real fun begins, Mike starts off showing how to melt the glass rods and building a basic beads. He is happy to tailor the course to suit the type of beads you want to make. After he had shown me a few beads and how to add decoration like dots it was my turn. As soon as I built my first bead, no matter how bad it was I was hooked.

At lunch time Mikes wife Su arrived with a yummy lunch, and I got to browse through a few lampworking book to get ideas, or to ask about how certain beads were made. After Lunch Mike showed me how to make lentil beads, something which I requested, then I got to make more.

He then challenged me to make a set of beads; I got to pick colours from his vast selection. Every now or then Mike or Su would get me to try two colours together to see their reactions.

Once I finished my set I sat down with Su, who showed me her collection of lampwork beads, both from British and American Lampwork Artists. Some of the work is amazing and it really inspires you to improve.

I was on a high all the way home, and 3 days later my beads arrived in the post having been annealed. If anyone wants to try lampworking I would defiantly recommend Mike as a teacher. I can’t wait to get my equipment….

Thanks Mike for starting another bead addiction

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