Beginner to intermediate glass bead making project
In the summer of 1978 at 32 years old with 3 children and one on the way, I knew my future included a nursing career and a larger house with a big yard. That changed when I discovered I had cancer. After surgeries but still unsure if I was cancer-free, I began to peruse the literature my crafty mom and grandmother brought me. Working with my hands helped dispel my depression and fear, and I soon dove head-first into crafts, my spirits soaring after discovering lampworking glass beads. I did get m bigger house and completed nursing school, though I’ve followed the path of lampworking. Now cancer-free after 22 years, I can do anything.
Put on your didymium glasses and turn on your kiln and torch. Dip a mandrel in bead release and heat it up by turning the mandrel in the torch flame. In your other hand, begin to heat the tip of a yellow opalino rod in the flame. Wrap the hot glass around the mandrel and rotate it in the flame.STEP 2.
Keeping the glass hot, but not molten, add glass to the middle and the end of the core bead until you have the beginnings of a barrel-shaped bead. Use your graphite paddle to continue to shape the bead into a barrel shape.
Keep the bead warm by holding the mandrel beneath the flame, rotating it continuously. While doing so, heat the end of a cobalt blue transparent rod.
Touch small dots of the cobalt blue in a random pattern on the surface of the yellow bead.
Keeping your bead warm, heat the end of a periwinkle blue rod and add small dots to the bead surface in a random pattern.
Randomly dot green-on-clear dichroic in between the other dots. Be sure to heat the dichroic with the clear, uncoated side towards the flame. Do not let the flame touch the uncoated side of the dichroic glass because it will burn and be ruined!
Let all of the dots melt evenly into the surface of the bead. With your tungsten tool in one hand, heat a side of the bead until it is glowing. Bring it out of the flame and touch the rake to a dot on the bead. Pull the rake in a swirling motion into and around the dots on that side of the surface. So that the rake detaches from the bead surface, keep the bead out of the flame as you work on each area. Dip the rake into a cup of water after each swirl to keep it from heating up and sticking to the bead during use.
Hint: I learned form Cindy Jenkins’ book, Glass Bead-making, to not dig the rake into the bead or you’ll pull too much glass and distort the shape. It could even pull the bead loose from the mandrel! You’re only swirling the colors across the bead surface.
Dragging the glass back and forth as you swirl will change the shape of the bead a bit, so you will need to reheat and form your bead back into a barrel shape.
Heat the beads evenly and place them into the kiln.
LAPIDARY JOURNAL, February 2001
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