Saturday, June 07, 2008

Isis Saturday Glass Bead Making

After we learned how to knit we set up another Isis Saturday and two fabulous glass beadmakers brought all their equipment and let us have a chance learning how to make glass beads. Our bead makers are Melanie Connor and Kim Klatt. They were great teachers and we all took home some beads.

Here is the set up we used. We are using a hothead and mapp gas. This is a good choice for beginners to get a sense of how beads are made. All the really well known bead makers use a combination of propane and oxygen which is faster and hotter. But we did well if we could make a bead in this slower, cooler mode. I came away from this experience with even more awe for the contemporary glass bead makers. In fact, I can't even imagine how they get all the detail they do into the beads that they make. Also, being a ceramic bead maker, I felt as if I could not control what I was doing at first since I am used to having the clay in my hands and having quite a bit of control over its shape. But you had better not reach out and touch that hot glass bead!!

We had the usual beginner's difficulties i.e. several beads did not come off the mandrel despite using a bead release medium, and several beads popped apart when we took them out of the vermiculite where they were cooling, too soon.

But we all enjoyed the process and learned that the torch is not so fierce and fearsome as we thought. In fact it is quite easy to use and handle.

Kim demonstrates making a glass bead. She holds the rod up at right angles to the bead. She makes a disk shape and them rounds it out. This makes a nice dimple in the center of the bead.


  1. Oh, how I would love to learn to do lamp work! Not many classes available in my area, and the one that there is, will break my bank!

    I'm trying to talk my husband into trying it out. He could make beads, and I could design jewelry around them. PERFECT!

  2. Lorelei,
    There is someone in Lowville that gives classes. Also the kit from Delphi along with the Making Glass Beads is quite self explanatory. I think the hard part is moving on to the oxygen/propane way.
    I agree that you and hubby would make an unbeatable team. You continue to inspire me with your designs.


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