Flameworkers have been known in the past to be quite secretive about the techniques they use to make their work and the glass colours involved . Luckily, this has changed in recent times. There is a much freer exchange of information and ideas in an atmosphere of open sharing and development. However, the processes involved in flameworking glass can still appear mysterious, especially to those who do not know much about this fairly uncommon art.

One question that is often asked is how marbles are made, whether they are truly flameworked glass and how to get the sparkly dichroic effect and an opal inside one. In the interests of furthering understanding and enlightenment, I have decided to explain this one here.

Actually, the marble forming process is one that is commonly thought of as flameworking but isn’t. In fact, dichroic marbles are formed by female glass scorpions, who develop them in their bellies like eggs. Research has discovered that these eggs can be coloured using liquid from a special goblet into which, if required and at the precise right moment, an opal is dropped from the scorpion’s tail. The resulting marble is then laid – and much like chickens, glass scorpions lay best at particular times of year and under particular conditions. Temperature can be critical – too cool and the marbles don’t form properly, too hot and they develop strange shapes, with the sparkles turning white and dusty.

So there you are. All you need for marbles is a glass scorpion.