Attention All Lampworkers.

Q: I am interested in lampworking. Could you recommend some books on lampworking? What basic equipment do you need to get started? What are some good mail-order sources for supplies and equipment? I live in Omaha NE. There is one rock shop here, and no beading stores.

A: 'Lark Books' has a beginners kit that includes torch, tools, protective glasses, glass, and a book that you might consider. The best book for beginners is 'MAKING GLASS BEADS'. This has photos of beads made by the BEST beadmakers in the U.S., and it has good beginning, step by step instructions. If you want to know all the technical stuff, then you should get 'CONTEMPORARY LAMPWORKING'. This covers all types of lampworking - including sculptures, and has excellent photos and scientific data. If you don't have any beadmaking teachers in your area, I'd recommend getting videos that cover lampworking. 'Lewis Wilson' of 'Crystal Myths' has a great series of videos, and there are many others now, with great videos. If you don't have a glass/beadmaking supply shop in your area, you can get these books and videos, plus the "start up" kit (also sold at 'Lark Books') at any of these suppliers. 'Frantz Beads' (http://olywa.net/frantzbead/). 'Crystal Springs' (http://www.swcp.com/~crstlmyt/shows/bead.htm). 'Sundance Glass' (www.hotglass.com). 'ArrowSprings' (http://www.el-dorado.ca.us/~flameon/catalog/specials.html). 'Global Beads' (www.globalbeads.com). If you can afford to travel, however, I'd recommend going and taking a class. The startup kit has a torch head, and you have to buy cannisters of 'MAPP' gas at 'Home Depot', or someplace like that. It's a small torch, and it's very LOUD. This kit does NOT come with a kiln, and no matter what anyone tells you, beads are not annealed unless you anneal them in a kiln. Kilns can start at about $200 and up. I really like my Toolbox Kiln from 'Don McKenzie' in AZ. Once you really get into beadmaking, you'll probably want to get into an oxygen/propane setup, which is expensive - about $200 for hoses, regulators, and flashback arrestors. Add another $200 for your 'Minor Burner' torch. Then, your fee for the oxygen and propane tanks, plus the fee to refill the oxygen tanks (your 5 gal propane tank can last a year), and fire extinguishers, etc. A REAL setup will cost about $1500 to $1800, but it's an addictive BLAST of FUN!!!!