Allow me to say first that making jewelry using glass beads brings out the creativity in anyone interested in this hobby or craft. Beads in general are celebrated in art communities worldwide and some pieces are highly treasured by collectors. So before you start your amazing artful journey into the world of jewelry glass beading, you have to first learn the essential beading supplies you will need:
Sodium lime is usually the choice of bead makers. It melts a lot quicker than any other type of raw material, does not need the extreme kind of heat that hard glass needs, and it has a bigger color palette. When choosing which kind of glass to buy, always use one kind. You cannot combine the two (hard and soft) because these two raw materials are not compatible with each other. They will just crack when mixed together.
I suggest that you get the Hot Head Torch. Although there are other kinds out there, this particular type is an excellent choice for any soft glass bead maker. It only costs less than $50, it burns at a temperature perfect for melting the soft glass, and can do without oxygen unlike other bench burners.
Bead Release and Mandrels
In making glass beads, a thin, steel pipe called mandrel is used in the middle where the glass is wound around it. This helps form the shape of the beads, allowing it to have the necessary hole in the middle, while bead release is the one that covers a part of the pipe so you can easily take out the beads when done.
MAPP Gas of Propylene
Use this gas to make your Hot Head Torch work. It is placed in a small bottle that you can screw to your torch. You can usually find this kind of gas at a supplier of lampwork glass beads, hardware store or welding shop.
Annealer or Vermiculite
The glass is heated for a certain period of time. Afterward, it has to go back to room temperature to avoid cracking later on. Using an annealer or kiln can best accomplish this task since it can hold extreme temperatures and control the anneal cycle, making the final product come out intact. If an annealer is too expensive for you, you can use vermiculite in the mean time. With vermiculite, you can put your work inside then just retrieve it after about 8 hours.
These is the pair of glasses you wear to protect your eyes from the sodium glare brought about by heated glass.
Make sure you work in an area that is properly ventilated to remove fumes which are harmful to your health.
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