One of the most common questions I get when selling beads are ”how do you make them?”
I figured I should try to give a simple answer; to make glass beads you really only need three things; glass, a heat source and a metal stick, called a Mandrel. However, this is as simple an explanation as can be made for the simplest type of bead that can be made.
- The mandrel is in this case dipped in a ceramic separator to prevent the glass to stick and melt into the mandrel. (there are other ways to do it but i like this way)
- You wrap the glass around the mandrel.
- and keep winding to add some size…
- then the glass rod is molten off.
- The bead is kept in motion, you roll it in the air to allow gravity to shape it into a sphere. Afterwards the bead needs to cool slowly, this can be achived in many different ways but I use an oven, a bit similar to working with ceramics. The last thing I do is to remove the mandrel, that leaves behind a hole for the string.
This is the most basic Technique and common, for example in the Viking period. However, they also had blown-drawn beads and mosaic beads.
I also make other objects, for example marbles and pendants that are made ”off-mandrel” meaning that they are made without the metal stick.