A Bead's Life on the Glasscapes website is a complete explanation of how glass canes are made, including pictures. I have attempted to give a shorter description of the process below the images, if you're interested. If not, just enjoy the beautiful images of the beads and cabochons that are then made with the glass canes created by Mingo and Asho.
You can buy large fused glass cabochons at their website, like these:
Large Fused Glass Cabochons
These are some of the glass canes that are made during this process:
Sample of Multicolor Glass Canes
They also have an eBay store where they sell beautiful fused glass pendants, like these:
Deep Blue Sea Glass Pendant
Fused furnace glass pendant with dichroic glass background
Amber Lights Pendant
Fused furnace glass pendant with black and brown swirls
Essential equipment for glass blowing:
1. The crystal glass furnace
2. The "glory hole"
3. The blow pipe
4. The marver table
5. The annealing chamber
The crystal glass furnace holds large quantities of crystal glass. Once fired, it remains hot while molten glass is present inside. It's very hot and noisy. The raw crystal glass, which is like fine white sand when cold, is placed in a crucible inside the furnace, which is surrounded by a blown oxygenated propane flame.
After heating, the sand-like particles become molten crystal clear glass, something like smooth lava. The glass artist works the edge between the liquid and solid state where mental images magically transform into physical reality.
The glory hole is a blast furnace used by glass blowers to maintain the temperature of the piece they're working on. It can also be used to melt smaller pieces of glass that are used in small quantities (i.e. the colored glass used for beads) or to warm up a larger work in progress.
The glass artist inserts the work in progress through the hole, and holds it in the extreme temperatures for the time necessary to provide the desired amount of workability required for the glass object under construction.
The blow pipe is a device used by the glass artist to create an air pocket inside the molten glass, as well as a tool to balance the molten globule of glass on. The application of molten glass to the end of the blow pipe allows the glass blower to start the process.
The liquid crystal glass being applied to the working end of the blow pipe will become the glue used to attach other warm but still solid glass piece to the end of the blow pipe. The liquid crystal glass being applied to the working end of the blow pipe will become the "glue" used to attach other warm but still solid glass piece to the end of the blow pipe.
Once the glass has been heated to its liquid state and worked for perfect centering, the glass is dipped into the liquid crystal glass from the furnace. Mingo rotates the molten glass globule until it is the proper shape and ready for blowing.
When ready, Asho blows into the far end of the blow pipe. The air pocket created inside the piece must be just the right size in order to produce a hole that becomes the center in every bead. Too much and the hole is huge, too little and the hole is too small. This is truly an art that requires knowledge, experience, and intuition in order to get it just right.
Various colors are prepared and applied to the molten glass globule that is to become the exquisite beads Mingo and Asho are world famous for producing. The piece is blown, then dipped in the crystal glass several times in order to create the desired effect.
The marver table is essentially a large steel plate that is very clean and smooth. The table is located fairly close to the glory hole and is used to work the molten glass as it is heated, shaped, cooled, and reheated. The colors are then applied and worked into the piece on the marver table. Sparkles and/or dichroic glass may be added to the molten globule.
The glowing globule of glass dangling from the blow pipe is then stretched and cut into canes, thin multicolor rods of glass that are cut into workable size pieces. The bead canes are then placed into the annealing chamber, which is a large well-insulated chest that can slowly increase or lower the temperature of objects placed inside. The chest is necessary to protect the glass objects and to prevent breakage from the stress of rapid temperature changes.
This whole process is repeated three or four times, until all the glass has been removed from the blow pipe. One of the more astonishing aspects is that nobody knows exactly what the beads will end up looking like until the very end after the cane has cooled sufficiently for the colors in the glass to emerge.
Very interesting stuff!