Check out these artisan lampwork beads that just came in the mail. So fun! This is a medium with which I am completely fascinated at the time. Right now I have only book knowlege, but I plan to take a lampworking class after the holidays to see if it's a technique I'd like to pursue.
Lampwork is also called flamework, which is a bit more descriptive. The glass artisan heats rods of glass in a very hot flame (usually an oxy-propane torch), melting it to resemble the consistency of taffy. He or she then winds the molten glass around a thin steel rod called a mandrel. The different-colored layers of glass can be poked, twisted, swirled, or even rolled in colored frit (glass crumbs) to get a speckled appearance. Sometimes the entire colored bead is covered (encased) in clear glass to give the piece depth like a paperweight.