More Glass Beads from my Work Shop

I had a friend who traded working in polymer clay for glass. She reasoned that when she screwed up polymer clay it was ugly but no matter what you do to glass, it’s still beautiful. It’s hard to disagree, although some of my glass work might be an exception to her rule.

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 I only make lamp worked beads in the summer because I do not have a proper exhaust system to suck out the fumes. In the summer I can open windows, doors and run a series of fans to keep the air moving. But when the autumn becomes brisk, I put the glass away.

beads4.jpgSilver.jpg  Being a summer only lamp worker means that I don’t have the torch hours necessary to get as adept as I would like. On the other hand, I find that I am pretty much able to pick up where I left off when I light the torch in the spring.

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 The beads above are made from  lead glass or moretti glass and some of them  are enhanced with fine silver.  I love the blue bicone.  That’s blue and a bit of green translucent lead glass fumed, raked and paddled smooth on the bead.  The beads are sitting on a fiber blanket in my kiln waiting annealing.  I cool them in a fiber blanket when I first make them, but that does not anneal them!

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I batch anneal my beads rather than heating the  kiln going every time I light the torch.  I think it’s more energy efficient.

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Here’s the Jen Ken Bead Annealer that has served me well.    It has a manual control and for a few years I had to monitor the kiln like a hawk  and make sure it was moving through the annealing cycles properly and making adjustments. 

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Then  I found this baby for a reasonable price a few years ago.  Thew price has gone up since then.  A digital controller  is great though and  a separate controller can be used with different kilns.   I like the flexibility.  Now all I have to do is enter my annealing schedule and the kiln does the rest.  Yes, I still have to watch and monitor but fiddling with the dial is a thing of the past.

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Big Holed Bead on the mandrel

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Lead glass silvered

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The same bead cooled.  Aren’t the colors great?  That’s translucent lead glass similar to what you see in the picture below.

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Happy bead making!

Don’t  miss Beadfest this weekend!

I Heart Crystal Hearts


I love those puffy crystal hearts you see people wearing on a chain around their neck. Each heart is made from 73 4mm crystals (Swarovski looks best) strung on one piece of monofilament. You start by adding four beads, and working in a three dimensional RAW stitch until you get the heart. The problem is that heart does not begin to take shape until you’re almost finished making it. And you change directions many times: down becomes up, up becomes down, and back again. Unless you have someone to show you, even the best beader in the world will have trouble with written directions. Phyllis Fogel taught me how to make the hearts you see above when I took her class at Jubilee Beads and Yarns.

The Jewelry Making Professor site offers a DVD with two full length video tutorials showing how to make the puffy heart and open heart designs. I haven’t watched the DVD, but the preview sure looks promising.

If you want to try your luck making hearts the old fashioned way, here are some links to get you started:  a beaded valentine heart, an open heart tutorial, a round heart tutorial and a flat heart tutorial.

And then there’s the Japanese company who first published the books that got the whole craze started. Go to their web page to find directions and diagrams for Bow’s Open Heart, click here and then click on “free projects.” Take some time to browse this site and discover the wonderful world of Japanese beading.