May 2021: Reduction Glass Beads

Posted by Carol Ann Savage on

As a glass artist it is always exciting to expand ones color palate. I love to work with the reduction glasses produced by Double Helix Glassworks. Just a little bit of extra sparkle or luster can add interesting effects to almost any piece. 

When I work on the torch it is most often set to produce what we call a neutral flame: a balanced equation of propane and oxygen. A second option is an oxidizing flame, which some glass colors prefer- this is a cooler heat, which often produces a hissing sound when used. A third choice is a reduction flame, which has a higher concentration of propane, and emits a yellowish glow. 

Technically speaking, reduction glass colors contain silver dissolved in the glass matrix (silver oxide, also known as Ag20, to be precise). I can apply as little or as much as I like to my work. After the application is made I like to wave it in and out of my oxygen deficient reduction flame. The Ag2O then gives up its oxygen to the flame and a thin layer of metallic silver is left behind. Over the years Jed and Julie Hannay, who run Double Helix Glassworks, have developed many color possibilities for us to try. Experimentation can go on for days as the variables are unlimited. One can achieve a wide spectrum of color; from bright beautiful golds and silvers to blues, greens and iridescent pinks. Truly endless fun. 

The hollow beads in the photo have been strung together to create a very lightweight necklace. Each pale aqua bead is covered with thin shards of DH Hyperion glass leaving us with a warm gold greenish sparkle. Lovely colors for spring! 


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