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HOW DO WE MAKE GLASS BEADS?

The end of a rod of glass is heated in a propane-oxygen flame until the glass softens. As the glass melts it forms a ball shape gathered on the end of the rod.


The molten glass is touched against a thin rod, or mandrel, of steel. Contact is made towards the end of the mandrel where it has been previously been coated with a releasing compound.


By turning the mandrel in one hand and at the same time continuing to heat the glass rod held in the other, glass is transferred to mandrel forming a ring around it. This ring of glass is the basis of the bead. More glass is added to give the desired size and the bead is shaped in the heat of the flame, using gravity as well as tools.


Glass of other colours can be added, to the surface in a pattern, or randomly to give an endless variety of finishes.


The glass bead must be annealed in a kiln, to prevent it from from cracking. It is kept at a high temperature to release the stresses which have accumulated as the bead has been worked.


Next it is cooled slowly in the kiln to room temperature.


Finally when it is cool, the bead is removed from the mandrel and the releasing compound is cleaned from the hole.


Because each bead is made individually, no two are exactly alike. A single bead can take anything from less than a minute to over an hour to make.


Why do I use glass?


Glass has a timeless quality. Indeed many glass beads have been recovered from archaeological sites dating back to the beginning of glass making, more than 4000 years ago.


I like to think that some of my beads may still be around in the next millennium!