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Modern lampwork beads are made by using a gas torch to heat a rod of glass and spinning the resulting thread around a metal rod covered in bead release.
When the base bead has been formed, other colors of glass can be added to the surface to create many designs.
A variant of the wound glass beadmaking technique, and a labor-intensive one, is what is traditionally called lampworking.
In the Venetian industry, where very large quantities of beads were produced in the 19th century for the African trade, the core of a decorated bead was produced from molten glass at furnace temperatures, a large-scale industrial process dominated by men.
After this initial stage of the beadmaking process, the bead can be further fired in a kiln to make it more durable.
Modern beadmakers use single or dual fuel torches, so `flameworked' is replacing the older term.
A very minor industry in blown glass beads also existed in 19th-century Venice and France.
Perhaps the earliest glass-like beads were Egyptian faience beads, a form of clay bead with a self-forming vitreous coating.
It can also be pressed into a mold in its molten state. Evidence of large-scale drawn-glass beadmaking has been found by archeologists in India, at sites like Arekamedu dating to the 2nd century CE.
While still hot, or after re-heating, the surface of the bead may be decorated with fine rods of colored glass called stringers. The small drawn beads made by that industry have been called Indo-Pacific beads, because they may have been the single most widely traded item in history—found from the islands of the Pacific to Great Zimbabwe in southern Africa.
Unlike a metalworking torch, or burner as some people in the trade prefer to call them, a flameworking torch is usually "surface mix"; that is, the oxygen and fuel (typically propane, though natural gas is also common) is mixed after it comes out of the torch, resulting in a quieter tool and less dirty flame.
Also unlike metalworking, the torch is fixed, and the bead and glass move in the flame.