The Best Lampworking Torch to Match Your Glass Art Style
No matter if this is your first, second, or even fifth torch…the buying process can give you all the feels — anxiety, excitement, and obsession. If you’re having anxiety about spending a lot of money and are not sure what to buy, we recommend starting with our Lampworking Torch Buyer’s Guide. It’s a comprehensive guide that goes over everything you should know about what to buy.
If you have been eyeing a Bethlehem Burners lampworking torch, but you’re not sure if it’s right for your glass art style…keep reading!
The top three considerations before buying the best lampworking torch for you:
- Glass Art Style
- Studio Location
Glass Art Style
The first thing to think about is what type of glass art you will create with your torch. Too small of a torch will slow down the melting time for large projects, and cause cold spots, which can cause stress fractures. Too large of a torch can overheat the glass, waste fuel or even overheat the torch if used incorrectly.
Bethlehem Burners torches:
- Provide exceptional fuel conservation
- Are excellent with color and hollow work
- Transfer heat evenly
- Are strong, durable and easy to use
Our torches also work well with both soft and boro glass. If you know for a fact that you will stick to small beads and marbles, you will want a smaller torch that conserves fuel. Below we’ll break down which torches are best for your glass art goals.
|Glass Art Style||Experience||Size of Projects||Additional Information|
|Alpha||Glass jewelry or functional glass and 1″-2″ marbles, small pendants, small spoons, small ornaments.||Beginner through expert torch, good for everyday use and teaching.||Best for small-sized projects. Marbles .5″-1.5″ maximum||Produces a lot of focused, well-balanced heat.|
|The STACKS||Glass jewelry or functional glass and 2″-3″ marble making, pendants, small spoons, small ornaments, small sculptures.||Nice beginner to intermediate torch or additional heat torch. Also, a good teaching torch for protégés.||Best for small to medium projects. Marbles .5″-2.5″ maximum.||The top mount has a sharp flame, good for a driving heat and pinpoints for detailed work.
The bottom mount is great for soaking heat.
|Bravo||Ideal for production work, functional glass, artistic work, hollow work, mili pulls, vac stacks, and blown work.||Beginner through expert torch. Excellent for teaching (we used them in classrooms at Glass Craft & Bead Expo) and everyday use.||Best all-around torch for small to medium-sized projects. Marbles .5″ -3″ maximum.||Centerfire has a wide flame range, good for small detail work and even soaking heat up to 1″ diameter.
The outer fire is great for its large fuel and heat range. Excellent for soaking or penetrating heat, and keeping larger pieces warm.
|Champion||Use for blown and solid work, both artistic and functional. Excellent for production work or large mili pulls and lathe work.||Experienced flame worker.||Mid-flame range. Marbles .5″-3.5″.||Small detail work and even soaking heat up to 1″ diameter.
Outer fire performs great for color mixing (gentle on color) and fast soaking heat
|Grand||An excellent all-around torch.
Great for blown work, mili pulls, solid boro marbles, fuming work, lathe work, functional glass…everything really.
|Perfect torch for the well experienced flame worker, looking for a torch with a very large fuel mixture and heat range.||Excellent for small, medium and large scale work. Marbles .5″-4″+.
Unlike the Champion torch, the Grand has a very large mid-range flame.
|With three stages, it’s like three torches in one which allows it to work with so many glass art styles.
It can handle any type of glass.
Lampworking can be expensive and not just up front. Once the initial purchases are made, you will still need to regularly purchase raw materials like glass and fuel. Depending on your equipment you might have additional electricity expenses to run kilns, O2 concentrators, or lathes. In order to get the most bang for your buck, you’ll want to take all of these expenses into account before making a torch purchase.
First-time flame workers are usually very excited and eager to get started, and because of this, a lot of times they will focus on the big FUN purchases and forget about all the other costs. Kate Hayes, Vice President of Bethlehem Burners, always tells beginning flame workers, “Take a lesson at a glass studio or with a professional flame worker, before making any purchases. Spending more time in a running studio will allow a new flame worker to get a real feel for the items they will need to purchase for their own studio.”
It’s important to note that lessons will cost you. However, if you’re serious about your new craft they are well worth it as you will get more familiar with the tools, learn what you need in your own studio, and can create an accurate budget for your torch and other equipment.
|Alpha||$210||The perfect torch for beginners and anyone on a budget.|
|The STACKS||$613||This torch can be purchased in stages! This saves money upfront while allowing the flame workers to easily transition to a larget torch when the time comes.|
|Bravo||$1,005||Another great option for those on a budget but have a wider range of glass art projects.|
|Champion||$1,650||Excellent at conserving fuel while also producing very large and hot flames.|
|Grand||$2,885||Perfect for the experienced flame worker who wants a large range of fuel mixtures, heat range, and flame settings.|
All Bethlehem torches are extremely fuel-efficient which will help save on O2 costs and are backed by a lifetime warranty and torch cleaning kit.
Our final consideration comes down to where your torch will reside! This mostly depends on if you own or rent your home.
The first step is to check to see if you can legally build a studio before planning to set up a lampworking studio adjacent to your living situation. If you find you are not able to set up a home studio, you will want to choose a torch that is lightweight and travels easily. The best torches for this are the Alpha and The STACKS.
If you are able to set up a studio of your own, the first thing you must consider is how best to install an exhaust system. Even if you are lampworking outside, you will need an exhaust system to pull the contaminated air away from your face and replace that air with fresh air. Working in a garage with an open door does not provide enough circular airflow to keep a flame worker safe over several hours of lampworking.
Once you have an exhaust system installed, you can focus on fuel systems. Flame workers that rely on the natural gas delivered at the low psi settings set by the gas companies and/or oxygen concentrators, should consider using an Alpha, The STACKS, or Bravo torches. These torches were specifically designed to get the most out of these low-pressure fuel systems. If you are able to increase the psi settings then you can choose whichever torch is best for your specific glass needs.
If you cannot install an exhaust system in your home studio, DO NOT use a lampworking torch at your home. Find a studio that rents bench space until you are able to install an exhaust system with at least 250 cfm circular air flow.
Ready to buy the right torch? Shop online now or visit our Locate a Distributor page to find a retailer near you. Feel free to drop us a line if you still have questions about choosing the right torch to match your style.
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