Introduction: Glass Beads

Picture of Glass Beads

Making glass beads!

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials

To begin making glass beads, you must first gather the tools and materials needed. You will need a mandrel, glass rods, a torch, and a kiln.

Step 2: Preparing the Flame

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Most torches will have a propane source and an oxygen source. First, turn on the propane knob, and use a striker to create a flame. Adjust the propane so that the flame is 6-7 inches. Then slowly incorporate the oxygen until you have a steady blue flame.

Step 3: Making the Bead.

Picture of Making the Bead.

To begin you will warm the mandrel in the flame. Next you will heat the tip of the glass rod, starting further away where the flame isn't as hot. You should hold the glass rod in your dominant hand, and the mandrel in you other hand. It is best to keep the mandrel horizontal at all times, and continuously spin both the mandrel and glass rod. As far as orientation, you should keep the mandrel just below the flame and the glass rod to the edge of the flame. When the tip of the glass rod glows molten red, you may begin winding the glass around the mandrel until you make a complete rotation. You may repeat this process on top of the initial glass, and the molten glass will move to its happy place, which is round. When you are happy with the size of your bead, you will continue to evenly heat the bead and spin the mandrel, helping it to its round shape.

Step 4: Letting the Bead Set and Shape

Picture of Letting the Bead Set and Shape

When you are happy with the size and shape of your bead, take it out of the flame continuously rotating it as it cools. When the glass stiffens, and isn't molten (about 10 seconds).

Step 5: Place Bead in Kiln

Picture of Place Bead in Kiln

Next place your bead in the kiln at 960˚ F for approximately two hours. If you want, you can set up the kiln so that it will automatically shut off after two hours and cool slowly.

Step 6: You Have Beads!

Picture of You Have Beads!

Repeat for more beads!

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Bio: My name is Natalie Pearl, and I will graduate from Brown University this spring with a degree in Geology/Biology. Originally from Steamboat Springs, Colorado ... More »
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