How to Make a Lampwork Glass Bead Necklace

Create your own unique lampwork glass beads for a colorful, leaf-inspired necklace.

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Materials and Tools:

steel mandrels coated with bead release
soda-lime glass rods in various colors
rose didymium safety glasses
leather gloves for handling glass
bead release
leaf press
mandrels
needle nose pliers
minor bench burner torch
kiln
etch bath in a bowl
wire cutters
electric reamer tool
bead tray
Softflex wire
sterling silver bead crimps
crimping pliers
sterling silver clasp

Steps:

1. Dip approximately 40, 3/32-inch steel mandrels in bead release. This ensures that the molten glass will adhere to the mandrel.

2. Turn on the kiln and the minor burner torch.

3. Slowly heat the mandrel.

4. Melt and slowly wrap molten glass around the mandrel in a round shape.

5. Heat the entire bead and allow gravity to move the bottom portion of the bead downward.

6. At just the right moment, squeeze the molten glass in the leaf press.

7. Reheat the joint of the bead on the mandrel to avoid cracking caused by cooling during the pressing process.

8. Heat the bottom third of the leaf to a molten state.

9. With needle nose pliers, pinch and twist some glass off the bottom to form a point.

10. Make about 17 leaf beads using this process. Repeat a similar process for round spacer beads, without the leaf press. There is enough room to make two spacers on one mandrel. Put the beads into the kiln for annealing (heating a piece of glass to refine the structure) for one day.

11. Remove the beads from the kiln.

12. Take the beads off the mandrel with pliers.

13. Clean the bead release out of the holes at a sink using water and an electric reamer tool.

14. After the beads dry, place in an etch bath for five minutes. This gives the beads a matte, frosted finish.

15. Rinse off the etching solution and let dry.

16. Arrange the beads into a well-balanced design using a bead tray.

17. String the beads up and add a sterling silver clasp using crimping pliers and bead crimps.

Mary Smith, St. Charles, Mo.

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