How Glass Beads are Made

How to Craft Glass Beads

  1. First, wash the bottles and other glass items to be used, and then sort by color. Break these down into small fragments to be used for the translucent ones. Alternatively, pound them with a metal mortar and pestle, and then sieve to obtain a very fine powder to make the powder glass ones. Use ceramic dyes to create different colored glass powder.
  2. Next, place the powder in clay bead molds coated with kaolin to prevent the fused glass from sticking to the surface. Put cassava stalks into the molds containing colored glass powder. These stalks will burn during the fusion and leave holes to allow for threading.
  3. Cook the beads in a traditional kiln made from termite clay. Translucent ones cook for 35-45 minutes at 850-1000 deg. Celsius; while powder glass ones cook for 20-30 minutes at 650-850 deg. Celsius. Cook the painted ones twice – the second time in order to fix the paste of colored glass powder used to decorate them.
  4. Once the translucent ones are removed from the kiln, make a center hole using an awl. One awl will maintain the mold in place, while the other will turn the bead around in the mold to shape it. In the meantime, the fused glass will slowly harden at room temperature.
  5. Leave the beads to slowly cool in the molds for about one hour to prevent them from cracking. Take them out of the mold, and then wash and polish them by vigorously rubbing them with sand and water on a smooth stone surface.

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