There's the old saying "you get what you pay for"
and this is particularly true when it comes to lampwork beads!
Like most people, before I knew about lampwork beads I was pretty happy with mass produced beads, thinking that they were pretty. Since I discovered artisan lampwork beads I now appreciate the difference!
To "prove a point" I've copied the design of a mass produced bead so that there is a direct comparison.
Both the beads in the picture are lampwork beads, but the one on the left is one I have made and the one on the right is a mass produced one. While you can only see so much in a picture I hope that you will see the difference in clarity! I always ensure that my glass rods are cleaned before using and I work in a nice clean flame. Already you can see the difference in quality.
What you might not also see from the picture so well, is that I have cleaned the nasty bead release from the hole. When you make beads, you need a bead release so that you can take the bead off the mandrel (metal stick). This leaves behind a dry dusty substance inside the hole. Any half decent bead maker would clean this out, and not only for aesthetic reasons - but also for health and safety ones too. Over time the dust comes out of the beads and as you handle the beads more and more it breaks up into particles that are really not healthy to breathe in.
Sharp holes are also often an issue with mass produced beads. If you use them in your designs they may well be fine for a short while, but over time they will cut through your beading wire and they will simply fall apart.
Now given the choice, I would much rather have 1 artisan nice bead than half a dozen mass produced ones. When I'm selling my work, my reputation is everything. I can't afford to send out a bead that I'm not happy with, and like most lampworkers I just won't do it. I want people to feel confident that when they buy from me that they're buying quality.
Less is definitely more for me!
I hope that you will agree with me, and please feel free to share this post and promote the beauty of handmade!