I have been talking to a lot of beadmakers lately who are frustrated with trying to melt glass rods that are shocky and pop in the flame.  I decided to make this blog about how I resolve or at least reduce this problem.

The quickest and easiest way to reduce the shockyness of certain glass rod colors is to set up a warming station for the glass rods that is within reach of where you sit to make beads.  I personally have a hotplate set-up at my workstation that has a slab of metal on top of the hotplate elements that is set on medium –high which keeps the tip of the rods that I place on it at about 500F to 600F.  The flat piece of metal can be steel, brass, or aluminum, about a 1/8th up to ¼ inch thick. This little bit of pre-heating reduces the shockyness a great deal and it shortens the time it takes the glass rod to reach melting temperature which really speeds up the beadmaking process.

Metal slab on hot plate Glass rods on heated metal slab.
Simple hot plate set-up for pre-heating shocky glass rods. Hot plate set-up with large glass rods being heated.

You can also stick glass rods in your bead annealing kiln to warm them up before you put them in the flame.

Bluebird Kiln with conical rods

A Bluebird bead annealing kiln with glass rods being warmed.

If I have glass that is very shocky and difficult to use, I pre-anneal the glass rods in my kiln to take some of the stress out of the glass rods.  Taking the glass rods up to a temperature of 960 F for about a half hour, will greatly reduce the shockyness.

The Italians have an interesting solution for pre-heating glass rods called a portaconna.  A portaconna is an adjustable metal rack that is place in back of the torch flame, so that the glass rods can be placed in the heat wash that comes off the torch when it is on.  It is a very effective way to pre-heat glass rods and works well even on thick 15mm glass rods.

Portacanna - Italian style glass rod warmer portacanna with glass rods
An Italian style rods warmer that is called a Portacanna. A Portacanna showing how the rods are placed on it for warming.

I am sure there are several more solutions to pre-heating shocky glass rods, but the methods I have presented here have served me well.

Murano lampworker in his studio Vittorio working with portacanna in foreground.
Photo showing a Murano lampworker using a portacanna to heat the tips of his glass rods. Photo of Vittorio Constantini working in his shop in Venice, Italy with a portacanna in foreground.