Making Glass Beads

Now you have the tools ready -- so it's time to be creative!

What You Need:

  • Mandrels
  • Bead separator
  • MAPP gas
  • Torch head for beadmaking
  • Striker
  • Glass rods
  • Heatproof board
  • Graphite paddle
  • Vermiculite in a container


Holding Glass Rod Over Tip of Flame

1. To prepare the mandrels dip each mandrel into the bead separator approximately 2-3 inches. Remove and let harden and dry well before using.

2. Light the torch with a striker.

3. Gradually warm a glass rod by moving it slowly into the heat beyond the end of the flame. Heating the rod too abruptly causes it to break. Continue to move the rod in and out of flame, gradually moving the rod to the tip of the flame where it is hottest.

Creating Ball from Glass Rod

4. Slowly rotate the rod as it reddens and begins to melt until a red-hot ball begins to droop from the rod. Keep it in position at the tip of the flame.

5. With the other hand hold the prepared mandrel next to the glass rod, keeping the glass rod in the flame. Just when the mandrel turns red, move the glass rod to place the red-hot ball right on top of the red-hot mandrel. Slowly rotate the mandrel away from you while holding the glass rod steady until glass is completely rolled around the mandrel.

6. Keep the mandrel in the flame and gradually pull the glass rod away. Rest the hot glass rod on the heatproof board. Continue rotating the mandrel to keep the bead shape as even as possible.

Smoothing Glass Bead While Hot

7. Remove the bead from the flame quickly while still red and roll it onto the graphite paddle to smooth and shape it. Work quickly so bead stays hot.

8. Swiftly return bead to flame to smooth it out more if desired.

Setting Bead in Vermiculite

9. When the bead is finished, allow it to cool approximately 15 seconds until it begins to change color, and then set it in a container of vermiculite. Shake some vermiculite over the bead until it is covered. Avoid stirring or pressing hard with mandrel. Allow bead to cool completely in vermiculite before removing.

NOTE: Think safety first! Read the product directions before starting. Protect your work surface with a flame-retardant mat and wear eye goggles when using MAPP gas. To protect your hands wear flame-retardant work gloves.