Make Glass Beads From Broken Bottles (+video)





Introduction: Make Glass Beads From Broken Bottles (+video)

About: Travelling since 2013. I'm currently in Australia for some reason. --- I’m Calvin Drews, and I love to learn, experiment, invent, create, repair, and generally just do things myself. A sort of modern jack o...

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 Her's a video I made that shows you how to make some pretty nice beads from a couple of shards of blue glass.

If you want to learn more about this kind of art, it's called "lampworking". There are scores more tutorials out there!

In order to clear up the whole eye protection confusion:
DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT DOING THIS WITHOUT SAFETY GLASSES! Chips of glass can actually shoot out when you heat glass!
Whether or not you want to wear didium lenses is up to you! Personally, I do not wear them!

The torch I used is a Propane fueled Plumber's torch from Ace Hardware...nothing special!

Safety tips:
-Heat glass slowly, or it may fracture.
-Make sure your torch is not near anything flammable.
-I have a fire extinguisher within arms reach, I recommend the same for you.
-Don't make large beads. They might break while they cool, or worse, while you wear them!
-Do some research! :D

Step 1: Part 1

I had to break up the video into 3 segments because YouTube doesn't like to upload things longer than 4 minutes.

When you make beads for the first time, they should be pretty small. When glass cools in the air, it builds up stress and may break (if the bead is too big)! Professional bead makers immediately put there hot beads into kilns where they are slowly cooled over several hours. You probably will not have access to such a kiln, so your first beads will have to cool in air. If you really like making beads and you want to make larger ones, get some vermiculate from any gardening store. The vermiculite is in a fine pellet form, so put your still hot beads in a dish of it such that it cools slower (the vermiculate insulates the beads, so it cool slower and introduces less stress into the bead)

Ok, the basic steps are:
-Take 2 shards of glass, and melt them together at the tips.
-Stretch out the melted part into a thin rod of glass.
-Get a bicycle spoke, cover one end of it with bead release/plaster.
-Heat the spoke until it glows red hot
-Wrap the spoke with the thin glass rod you just made.
-Heat the new bead such that it gets smooth and rounded.
-Let it  cool
-Pull it off the spoke and wash the clay off of it.

The torch in this video is just a plain old propane plumbers torch.
The glass is from a busted vodka bottle.
The clay is from a specialty store, but you can use plaster of paris instead.

Step 2: Part 2


Step 3: Part 3




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    200 Discussions


    3 years ago

    FYI - The reason the glass breaks when it's either heated or cooled is because of temperature differential, not pressure. Glass is an insulator so heat transfers poorly. If it's heated up too fast one side will remain cool and the temperature difference between one side and the other will make it shatter. The same thing will happen if you're using cold metal tools to hold the glass. The best way to avoid this is to gradually heat a larger section than what you'll be drawing the glass from and by constantly rotating your mandrel in the heat source.

    1 reply

    I use an old electric grill to preheat the glass I am going to use - it cuts down on the time it takes to make the beads and I can switch to different colors. The easiest way to test compatibility is to heat 2 glasses together and pull them into a thread.

    If you stick the mandrel with the bead into vermiculite or some other insulating material, you can anneal the beads w/o a kiln.

    This is a really good way to re-use old glass bottles!

    Awesome Idea!

    I have been collection old pieces of glass off of my property, which consist of Depression, Old canning jars, medicine, and snuff jars....

    Would i be able to use this type of glass to make beads ?


    1 reply

    Yes, you can use all of it but probably not together because different glass has different heat coeficients, meaning the length of time it retains heat. If you use glass with different coeficients the object will crack or shatter because one cools faster than the other.

    I have been collection old pieces of glass off of my property, which consist of Depression, Old canning jars, medicine, and snuff jars....

    Would i be able to use this type of glass to make beads ?



    Can I melt glass a glasbottle in a melting pot and poured in a sinkers mold directly???

    Awesome Article.

    This is great informative post that you make.Really Fantastic post.I like it very much.I enjoy reading websites like these.

    Thanks a lot for sharing this extreme post.

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    Great idea! The didymium glasses will enable you to see through the yellow sodium flare and a welding shop will have different diameters of stainless steel welding rod which I use as mandrels (the hole size is the same as the mandrel diameter.)
    Not only do you get a nice finished product, but this enables you to get cheap - read: free - glass on which to practice. A MAPP gas torch will speed things up a bit and a propane/oxygen torch will shift it to overdrive, but I'm cheap and not willing to spend the bucks on one. If you want to learn more about beadmaking/flamework just do a search.

    In this instructible, I did. However I now cut the bottles into strips. It's much easier.

    This looks like so much fun! Now I've gotta find a torch and the rest of the supplies. Thanks for the excellent pictures and demo videos.

    Nice!  Now supposing you wanted to adhere the glass to the spoke.  Would there be a problem with expansion differences?  Would it adhere?  I guess I could try, but I wonder if you already have?

    4 replies

     Steel has a low COE (expansion). If you made a bead directly on the spoke without any bead release, you would have what us lampworkers affectionately call a "garden stake". In most cases, the glass won't crack off. It will stick on the spoke forever... unless you beat it with a hammer. LOL

    Cool.  Now I will.  I'll let you know.  Now when I go to use the plaster just for the beads, can I use regular plaster of paris?  Thanks again,

     Yep! Just remember: plaster may undergo a chemical change when in the flame! DO NOT use it in a non ventilated room, and don't touch the baked plaster around the bead. It might chemically burn you (it may be highly alkaline), but It has not had any effect on me when I've used it.
    Also, allow the plaster to cure onto the rod. This make take 3 hours!
    Apply the plaster in a thin layer or it will crack off in the will take some fidding to get right! If the plaster is too thin...the bead won't come off...

    Good luck!

    what if you wanted to glass to coat or stick to other kinds of metals as a form of decoration?
    how does the glass stick to stainless steel or aluminum? or is the melting of point of aluminum lower then glass?
    and does this affect the color of glass when it sticks to metal?
    does the glass bond to the metal because the metal is porous and the glass fills in the pores? or does something else cause the glass to bond to the metal?