Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A Little Glass Vocabulary Lesson

When I mentioned I was stuck for an idea to write about today, my teammate Lesley Watt mentioned to me that she would like to have a little lesson in some lampwork vocaulary!  Perfect, I said, 'cuz I know that!  So today I'm going to tell you about three lampwork words you may have heard but don't really know what they are - frit, murrini and stringer.

The above photo is a picture of frit by Robin Koza of Glass Diversions.  Frit is little ground up pieces of glass that you roll your bead in.  You can either melt it in all the way or leave it somewhat raised for different effects.  There are many producers of frit - Robin's frit blends were the first I was introduced to so I chose to highlight hers here.  But if you google glass frit, you will find many people who make gorgeous frit blends.

Here are some examples of my beads with frit:

 The above is an example of frit, melted in after the base bead was wrapped in silver foil.  You can see the reaction the frit and silver foil give to the beads!
 This is an example of a bead rolled in clear frit, and left somewhat raised.  It gives the impression of sugar or gumdrop candy!
 This is an example of frit over enamel powder (very finely ground glass) - this frit is raku frit, which gives varied colors when worked in different areas of the flame - either hotter or cooler.
 These beads were made by dipping the hot end of a glass rod in frit, then melting in the frit all the the way and making the bead, so it looks like swirls.

 Finally, these beads were made by rolling the disk in frit and only barely melting it in, to make it raised and resemble sand.


Murrini are little chips of glass that you apply to beads.  Murrini can be very simple, or very complex.  Murrini start out by layering colors of glass in specific design patterns to achieve a certain look.  The big blob of glass that results is then pulled down by heating it very slowly and stretching the blob out until it becomes basically the same dimensions as a glass rod.  The rod that results is then cut into "chips" with tile cutters and then applied to beads. 

An example of a simple murrini I made can be seen in this bead:

Here, I striped a rod of ivory glass with red-brown, heated it until the lines were fused with the ivory glass, and pulled it into a rod that I could nip into smaller chips.

Some people make really fantastic murrini - Lori and Kim for example:

Jennifer Cameron uses a lot of murrini by Lori and Kim to make her awesome headpins:

And Donna Millard, who I admire for the videos she shows of her large gathers before she pulls her murrini rods! This murrini by Donna:

 Made these beads:


And finally, stringer.  Stringer is glass that is pulled off a molten rod of glass to make a thin strand of glass, used in decoration.  I can think of many people who have amazing "stringer control" - which means the ability to control how you apply your stringer onto a bead while controlling the heat used to apply it.  Here are some examples (the stringers are all the little lines you see "drawn" on the design of the bead):

Jelveh Jafarian

 JC Herrell

Holly Cooper

So there you have it, a simple lesson on three lampwork vocabulary words!  I hope you enjoyed the post today, as well as the eye candy!

Susan Kennedy
SueBeads Etsy Store
SueBeads Web Site


  1. Ah ha...that's how you get those swirls in the glass! Awesome post!

  2. Great post! I like the murrini beads that you made, pretty!

  3. thank you for this informative GLASS VOCABULARY LESSON,,,

  4. What a wonderful post! Those of us who know only that lampwork beads are beautiful can better appreciate the knowledge, work, and time that goes into these creations.

  5. I knew all of your words but I really enjoyed the post anyway. You showed the examples really well.

  6. OMG that is so much to learn! I am so happy to know an artist like you!

  7. I really did enjoy that! I had a vague idea of what those words meant but really appreciated seeing the visual. Lampwork is so amazing!


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