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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bead making and working with glass

Today I have a guest post from my friend Sonja.  She is sharing a bit about how she works with glass to create various types of beads.

This is my story of why  I make beads and how I make them too.  lol.

I actually started out as a jewelry designer (and still am) and one of my goals was to learn to make as many of the parts of my jewelry as possible, in an effort to make as much of my jewelry handmade as possible. I finally took a beginning lampwork glass class and was hooked in less than five minutes lol.

The basics of lampworking are pretty simple although actually making a round isn't as easy as you would think. I currently use a dual fuel torch, that mixes oxygen and propane as it comes out of the tip of the torch. The beads are made on a mandrel, which is a rod of stainless steal. I cut mine to a length between 9-11 inches. The size of the hole in the bead is determined by the size of the mandrel. The tip of the mandrel is coated in bead release ( a clay type mixture) to keep the glass from sticking the mandrel. Without bead release, the bead will never come off the mandrel. The glass comes in rods about the diameter of the pencil or a bit larger and about 12-18 inches long. The rod of glass is put into the flame and wrapped around the mandrel. How much glass you put on determines how big the bead is. Once you have your base bead you can start to decorate! This is the fun part lol! Dots, squiggles, lines, and lots of color! Once you are satisfied with your bead, it gets popped into the kiln to anneal. This takes about 7-9 hours. This is one of the most important parts, because annealing the beads takes some of the stress out of the glass that was created by manipulating it in the flame. This makes the beads less prone to cracking and shattering. Once the beads have cooled all the way, you have to take them off the mandrel, and clean the bead release out of the holes. Voila! The beads are finished!

Beads in a kiln

I find lampworking to be very relaxing, there is a high level of concentration involved and it tends to push everything else into the background. It has the added benefit of creating beautiful things!

Think pink

blue ribbon beads

red and white daisies
You can communicate and/or learn more about Sonja by visiting any of these links:
Silverriverjewelry blog
Silverriver pin boards
Facebook for fans

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