Transparent beads can allow you to create glittering effects for your jewelry and beaded sculpture. Making your own transparent beads can be tricky---many transparent materials are costly and hard to work with. Transparent lampworked beads are lovely but glass needs to be heated to high temperatures and requires special equipment to work it. Transparent rocks such as quartz are also beautiful but they also require special tools.
Fortunately, you can make transparent beads from easily obtained materials such as casting resin and clear liquid polymer clay. You can also make transparent beads from recycled plastic bottles.
Things You'll Need
- Casting resin
- Coloring resin (optional)
- Bead mold
- Mold release agent
- Inclusions eg. beads, sequins, found objects (optional)
- Very fine sandpaper
- Plastic bottles
- Colored permanent marker pens
- Acrylic paints
- Needle pliers
- Craft heat gun
Mix a small quantity of the resin and hardener according to the manufacturer's instructions. Add coloring resin if you want tinted beads.
Spray or brush the mold release agent onto the mold. Pour the resin carefully into the mold. Add any inclusions you wish to use while the resin is liquid.
Allow the resin to harden. When it is hardened, remove the beads from the mold. Clean off any mold release agent on the beads and sand off any imperfections.
Plastic Bottle Beads
Wash the plastic bottles thoroughly and drain. Cut strips of plastic roughly a half inch wide and three to four inches in length. Taper the strips to a point if you want an oval bead.
Color the plastic strips using markers and acrylic paint. Allow them to dry completely.
Roll up the plastic strip, starting with the broader end if you are making an oval bead. Hold the rolled-up plastic with the pliers. Turn on the heat gun and heat the plastic, allowing it to soften and fuse.
Allow the bead to cool and slip it from the pliers. Your bead is now ready to string.
Tips & Warnings
- Only use casting resin for making beads. Other resins may have undesirable properties, such as yellowing or a tacky surface.
- Only mix a little resin at a time. Unused resin will harden and be wasted.
- Resins can irritate your skin, eyes and lungs. Wear gloves and only use resins in a well-ventilated area.
- Photo Credit Multi-coloured beads image by Maria Vtyurina from Fotolia.com
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