Making glass beads seems intimidating, but with just a few tools and a little know-how, it's easy!
When making glass beads, keep safety in mind and read all instructions provided by the tool manufacturers. Gather these tools to make glass beads:
MAPP gas An inexpensive flammable gas found in hardware stores.
Heatproof board A fire-resistant stonelike piece on which to rest hot glass rods to prevent burning the work surface.
Bead separator A thick pastelike substance used to coat the mandrel. This enables the bead to be removed from the mandrel when finished.
Vermiculite Can be used as a cooling substance. When the bead is finished, allow it to cool briefly until it starts to change color. Gently insert into vermiculite. This helps it to cool more slowly. Cooling the bead too fast in the open air will cause it to break. If vermiculite is unavailable use a warming blanket.
Glass rods Come in many different colors and can be solid, translucent, transparent, and dichroic (metallic coated). They range in price according to color and kind. The dichroic are the most expensive.
Mandrels Metal rods that come in different thicknesses. The thickness determines the size of hole in the bead. Those shown are dipped in bead separator, dried, and are ready to be used to form the glass. Mandrels can be reused.
Torch head for beadmaking Attachment made for beadmaking. Look for torch heads in the beading department of crafts and hobby stores.
Graphite paddle A hard, burnproof surface to roll a hot bead against to help shape it while it is still soft and pliable.
Striker Lights torches easily. Twist the valve on the tank to turn the gas on, hold the striker at the end of the torch head, and squeeze handle quickly to create a spark that ignites the torch.
Bead rake A hook-like tool used for creating designs and altering the shape of hot glass.