How to Personalize a Sterling Silver Beaded Bracelet

Stamp your own message into this sterling silver bracelet and create lampwork beads for embellishment.

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Materials and Tools:

5"-8" flat sterling silver wire
steel stamps
brass hammer
hole punch tool or drill
flat needle file
coarse and fine sandpaper
8" sterling silver round wire
2 lampwork beads*
clasp
wire cutters
shaping pliers
round-nose pliers
flat-nose pliers
anvil
polishing cloth

*For lampwork beads: various glass rods, mandrels, bead release, fuel (Mapp gas, oxygen, propane), kiln, heat-proof surface, eye protection, well-ventilated area

Steps: 

1. With wire cutters, cut size of flat sterling silver wire according to wrist size. File both ends smooth with needle file; then, sand smooth starting with coarse sandpaper and finishing with the smooth.

2. Place the flat wire on the anvil or other hard sturdy surface and, using steel stamps, hammer your words into the flat wire.

3. Using a hole punch or drill, put a hole into each end of the flat wire.

4. With the shaping pliers, shape your wire into the desired shape. This may require some hand shaping.

5. Cut a 4-inch piece of sterling silver round wire. Make a wrapped eye pin using the round-nose pliers, but before wrapping it shut, slide it through one of the holes you just punched. Once through the hole, then wrap shut. Use the flat-nose pliers to help hold the eye pin while wrapping shut.

6. Slip on a lampwork bead (instructions below) and make another wrapped eye pin, but before closing it, slip on the clasp and then finish wrapping it shut.

7. With the remaining round wire, make another wrapped eye pin. Before wrapping it shut, slide it through the other hole. Wrap it shut, slip on your other lampwork bead and make another wrapped eye pin.

8. Use a polishing cloth to shine up the silver and remove any smudges.

Lampwork beads

1. Put on eye protection. Dip the mandrel in bead release, let dry.

2. Light the torch and have a well-defined blue cone in the flame. Slowly introduce the tip of the glass rod in and out the flame with several passes in order to warm up the glass and prevent thermal shock, which will cause glass to pop and go flying.

3. Once the glass is warmed, melt the tip of the glass until an orange glow appears. Rotate the glass rod to prevent the glass from drooping off.

4. Introduce the coated mandrel into the flame and heat it up, at the same time still heating the glass. The mandrel needs to be hot enough to accept the glass. When the mandrel is hot, hold it horizontal and press the hot glass onto the mandrel, rotating at the same time and pulling the glass onto the rod. Do not use too much force in this process or the bead release could break and separate.

5. Continue to add more glass as needed for design and shape. Once you are done with the bead, take it out of the flame and let the glow disappear and reintroduce it into the flame to evenly reheat it and let cool slightly.

6. Put the bead into the kiln and anneal according to kiln instructions.

7. When beads are completely cooled, clean bead release out of the center cavity.

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