First a metal rod called a mandrel is dipped in a thick slurry of clay then dried in the flame.
This makes it possible for the bead to be removed from the mandrel when it is finshed.
The end of a glass rod is then heated in the flame. When it starts to melt it is touched to the mandrel at right angles, the glass is kept in the flame and the mandrel is turned so that glass is gathered on it.
When the gather reaches the size you want it is turned for a while longer until the bead becomes a good shape. If you don't turn it it will sag.
Some of the beads were decorated by dipping in frit. Frit is little pieces of coloured glass in gorgeous yummy colours, it sticks to the hot bead and is melted on by returning the bead to the flame. The deep blue ones had 24k gold leaf applied. The very pale amethyst ones had fine silver wire wrapped around then melted in the flame. This creates dots and fine lines of silver.
A stringer was made by pinching hot glass and pulling to get a thin length of glass. This is used to apply coloured dots to a bead. I found this the most difficult bit to do.
The beads are put in a kiln and cooled very slowly so that they don't crack.
It was all great fun, Helen the tutor was brilliant and I have some new beads to play with!