The Glass Place

Louise Mehaffey

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Making Glass Beads

These photos are from my book.

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This is my bench, set up for working. I am left handed, so I keep the glass on my left. There are several mugs with tools and glass rods in them close enough to reach. I work with two lights, one of each side of me. A towel folded into a mat goes under my right elbow to keep it from developing blisters. I use a shield instead of special glasses to block the sodium flare.
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You can see the bead release, a liquid clay, on the mandrel (the metal rod.) This allows the bead to come off the mandrel when it is cooled.

Heat the end of a glass rod, warm the mandrel, and touch the glass to the mandrel while rolling it away from you. The bright yellow you see is called sodium flare, and I wear special glasses so I don't see that when I am working.
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Keep winding the molten glass onto the mandrel until you run out of molten glass. Don't pull or the bead release may break.
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Keep the rod of glass in the flame to keep the glass molten so it can be wound onto the bead, and keep the bead below the flame.

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Keep turning until you run out of molten glass or the bead is as large as you want and then flame cut the rod.
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Heat the bead in the top of the flame to get it round. Always keep turning, or gravity will take over.

All my beads then go into my kiln for annealing.

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