Those who work with beads either for making beads jewelry or for any other craft understand that glass beads are something that can't be resisted! In fact, there are so many glass beads types that one can easily give wings to his/ her imagination and can find just the right type of glass beads to fit into their project. The credit goes to numerous glass bead making methods and techniques adopted for making glass beads in various forms, shapes, colors, and sizes. Lets analyze the bead making methods of all types of glass beads.
Glass Beads Types & Their Making Processes
Glass beads are divided into many types on the basis of the method used to manipulate and create the glass which is the most important of all glass bead making supplies. The three main glass beads types include wound beads, drawn beads, and molded beads. There are other bead making methods too where two or more processes are combined to make beads such as for making millefiori beads, where cross-sections of a drawn glass cane are applied to a wound glass core. Most of the glass bead types are pressed glass which are mass-produced by preparing a molten batch of glass and pouring it into molds to form the desired shape. Here we explain the various glass bead making methods for some of the most popular glass beads types.
Wound Glass Bead Making: Winding method of glass bead making is the most ancient method. In this process, glass is heated at a very high temperature to make it ductile. Glass at high temperature is then stretched around a solid core like a metal wire or mandrel. The wire is also treated with something to prevent the bead from sticking to it. This is called bead release. While still hot, the wound bead is further shaped with the help of various bead making tools and paddles, by pressing or rolling it on a hard surface like marble -called "marvering"- or by rolling it in a mold. Sometimes the surface of the bead is decorated with fine straws of colored glass while it is still hot. These are then known as lampwork glass beads.
Drawn Glass Beads Making: There are many methods for making drawn beads which involve pulling a strand out of a gather of molten glass in such a way that it incorporates a bubble in the center to serve as the hole in the bead. Sometimes a hollow metal tube is inserted into the ball of hot glass and the glass strand is pulled out around it to form a continuous glass tube. For making Venetian glass beads, molten glass was gathered on the end of a tool called a puntile and a bubble was incorporated into the center of the gather of molten glass. Then a second puntile was attached before stretching the gather with its internal bubble into a long cane to lengths up to 200 feet long. This drawn glass tube was then chopped for making individual drawn beads. These beads were cooked or rolled in hot sand to round the edges without melting the holes closed.
Molded Glass Bead Making: Molten glass beads were originally made in the Czech republic (Bohemia.) In this process, thick glass rods of about 20 cm are heated to melt and to feed into a device that stamps the glass, including a needle that pierces a hole. The beads thus made are rolled in hot sand to remove flashing and soften seam lines. One 'feed' of a hot rod might give around 10 - 20 beads, and a single operator can make thousands of such molten glass beads in a day.
Faceted Glass Bead Making: For making faceted glass beads, the glass batch is first poured into bead molds and then they are faceted with the help of a grinding wheel. Beads are then poured onto a tray and reheated for a very short period of time, just long enough to melt the surface. This rules out any minor surface irregularities from the mold. Beads thus made are known as fire polished faceted beads.