Glass Bead Jewelry
The Glass Bead Process: How to Make a Bead :
Have you ever wondered about the process to make a glass bead? The glass beadmaking craft has been around for centuries, and while the tools may have changed, the art is still basically the same. Today's beadmakers use a variety of torches to form their craft where years ago the beads were heated over oil-burning lamps, deriving the term "Lampwork." The torch I use is an oxygen propane mixture, which easily heats the glass rods to their melting point at 1600 degrees. Once the glass becomes pliable and soft, it takes on a honey-like form that can be "dripped" over a coated mandrel (a wire rod) to form the bead. You must continually turn the mandrel when the glass is in this semi-liquid state, or gravity will take the round shape out of your bead.
Once the basic glass bead is laid over the mandrel, you add additional color layers to form a design. Sometimes the surface of the bead is raked, poked, or dotted, and sometimes the bead is completely encased in clear or other colors. I also use foils and enamels to enhance the decoration on my beads. Once complete, the bead on its mandrel is put in a kiln to gradually cool over several hours. If this process is omitted, you may have a bead that is unstable over time. Completed beads are removed from the mandrel and cleaned. The time it takes to make a bead or complete a piece of jewelry depends greatly on the detail put into each bead.
Starfish on Rocks Necklace
Crab Necklace - $89