I did some lampworking over the weekend to prepare for the upcoming Bizarre Bazaar in late November.
The beads are made with Effetre/Moretti, a "soft" glass from Italy (mine always comes from a glass company in California...but you get the idea). I start with glass rods and heat them over a torch fueled by propane and oxygen. Then I wind the molten glass around stainless steel mandrels in whatever colors I want, shaping it once I have enough glass to work with. When the bead is done, I put the mandrel in a kiln to cool slowly (this prevents stress fractures from the glass cooling too quickly) over several hours. Once the kiln cools down, I remove the beads from the mandrels, clean them, and use them to make jewelry.
These quarter-sized beads will become pendants in the near future...I will clean them tonight to add the silver findings.
The same beads, showing the other side of some of them: