A Simple Guide on How to Make Glass Beads at Home - 7 Easy Steps
Step By Step Process to Glass Beadmaking - At Home
Learning how to make your jewelry glass beads is exciting. And, contrary to what you may have heard, it does not have to be complicated or expensive. In fact, you can easily create beautiful glass beads on a shoestring budget. We also encourage you to visit a local artisan shop near you that also offers open studio hours and classes.
But before accessing the open studio hours, you'll need to go through an introductory course on flameworking. So if you are passionate about DIY jewelry and glass beads, you are in the right place. Consider this your quick guide as you begin your glass beads-making process at home. Let's dive right in!
What You'll Need
The tools you'll need when making your glass beads in a studio are:
-Color Stringers (Optional)
-Propane Torch (Like the Hot Head 2 Beadmaking Torch)
-Propane (Camping Cannisters)
-Steel Rods (Mandrels)
-Annealing Kiln Access
-Filtered Glasses (A MUST - We recommend didymium glasses)
-Shaping and Separating Tools like Tweezers, Glass Cutters, Knives
-Handheld Molding Tools
-A Non-Flammable Table in a Well-Ventilated Area
If you're wondering where you'll get your glass rods, they are usually readily available for purchase at the studio but with a limited selection. You can also shop online for glass rods and have them shipped to you. The best part is that you can get so much glasswork done with a single rod.
N/B: An individual rod ranges from about a single dollar to five dollars, based on the material or color used.
Depending on the studio you'll go to, bringing your other supplies should not be a problem, especially if it's a quality studio. Many studios also provide tools you can use.
Easy Steps To Follow
Before making your beads, place all your tools near the torch for warmth. This is because when your tools are cold, they don't mix well with your hot glass. You should then follow the steps below:
Step 1) Safety always comes first. Put on your eye protection whenever working with the flame. Make sure you are in a well-ventilated area. We recommend having an exhaust fume system if possible. Make sure your work area is clean and free of flammable materials.
Step 2) First, slightly warm up your mandrel, but do not heat it for too long, so the bead release does not melt off.
Step 3) Slowly work the glass rod into the flame tip upwards or sideways while the mandrel gets hot.
Step 4) Before touching the mandrel to the rod, allow a bit of the glass to gather (gather- a mass of molten glass) at the rod's end. Once the glass meets the mandrel, quickly rotate it.
Step 5) When you have enough glass on the mandrel and are pleased with the bead's size, you can put the glass rod down and start rotating the bead. Be careful not to put the entire bead into the flame. Once the bead turns orange, do not add extra heat. In fact, at this point, you can comfortably remove it from the flame.
Step 6) After your bead is shaped, reheat a stringer (thinner glass color rods) and touch them gently to your bead for extra colors and/or designs. If you want the colors to merge with the bead rather than staying raised, rotate the bead surface under heat until the second color is uniform.
Step 7) The final process is annealing. This is where you slowly cool glass beads or glass objects in a kiln for several hours until they reach room temperature. Please note that your beads will break if you cool them down too fast or fail to anneal them properly.
Common issues include decorations breaking off during annealing or shortly after. However, annealing your beads will not make them unbreakable since they are still glass-made. What annealing will do is reserve the glass from internal tension or stress greatly reducing the chance of cracks as the glass cools down.
You can easily find a kiln in a local glass-making studio near you where you can safely anneal your beads.
Make Your Glass Beads At Home!
Making your glass beads can sometimes be challenging. You'll likely need extra guidance when adding color and designs or spinning the mandrel at first, but practice and dedication will pay off. Refine your process and you will be an expert in no time.
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