All you need to know about Bead Making - Glass Beads

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As beader’s know, there is an endless variety of beads available for sale today. Craft stores sell every type of bead you can imagine in every size and shape possible. Ebay is full of people selling 1000’s of types of beads starting at 1p!! Beads made of wood, gemstones, metal and glass are easy to find and transform into beautiful pieces of jewellery.

Glass beads are made in a wide range of colours and styles. Swirled pattered glass beads can have the appearance of polished stones. Some glass beads have flowers painted on them. Glass beads may be in any shape including tube, square and heart-shaped. Animal-shaped beads such as tiny glass cats, birds, dogs and fish can be great accents when used with plainer beads.

All the beads we sell here are 100% handmade in a traditional way in India. Flowers are hand painted and some beads are hand crafted.

Making glass beads is an art that is found in some of the earliest histories of humankind. Bead making often involves creating intricate beading designs for jewellery, as well as bead work that can be used in tapestries. Today, much of the glass bead making that takes place is done in a manufacturing setting that can mass produce glass beads of all sizes, shapes and colours. Still, there are artists that prefer to engage in glass bead making that often produces beautiful and unique work. Here is some information how the beads we sell are made hand, including some safety tips.

Essential in the process of bead making is the mandrel. The mandrel is a metal rod that is made to withstand the amount of heat needed to form the glass into beads. It is a good idea to have a number of mandrels on hand, as you will require one for each bead made during the session. Along with the mandrels, a heat source is needed both to create the molten glass and to aid in the formation of the glass around the mandrel. A propane torch is an excellent choice for use. As a working surface, there is also the need for a flat heatproof tabletop with a clamp for the torch. A glass rod will serve as the raw materials for the project. Protective clothing, including safety glasses and hand coverings, will also be necessary.

Lighting the torch, adjust the flame and begin to heat the glass rod. Start by heating the end of the rod, then slowly working the rod back and forth through the flame. This will allow the rod to heat evenly, avoiding the possibility of shattering and bringing the task of making glass beads to a halt. As the rod begins to glow evenly, bring the glass into the hotter section of the flame. The glass will begin to take on a white appearance, and will melt. As this happens, touch the molten glass to the tip of the mandrel. Once a connection is made, rotate the mandrel, working the molten glass onto the metal rod. As the bead forms, separate the glass rod from the mandrel and rotate the bead in the flame for a moment, to clean up any irregularities in shape.

To begin the cooling process for the glass beads, rotate the bead on the flat fireproof surface. The bead will soon cool enough to allow the bead and mandrel to be placed on a fibre blanket, where it can continue to cool. After about thirty minutes, the bead should be cool enough to disengage from the mandrel.

This process can be repeated to make a series of glass beads. Once the beads are all constructed and cooled, the bead holes can be cleaned out with the use of a pipe cleaner. As a final step with the glass beads, wipe them with a clean cloth to remove any dust from the surfaces before the cooling is complete.

Please Note:

India is the "mother of beads." She gets that honor because she is home to three major bead industries whose products have been leaders in the global bead commerce. (Glass, Stone and Clay) This is not to mention hundreds of smaller industries and a resurgent modern glass bead industry.

The most important beadmaking place ever is in India; it made both glass and stone beads for some 2000 years.

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