Water beads are simple, textured beads made through lampwork. Lampwork beads are made by using a torch to melt the glass into a beautiful bead. The surface of a water bead emulates the waves of the ocean. Because these beads aim to look like nature, imperfection is OK, if not desired, making it a great bead for a novice bead artist to try.
Things You'll Need
- Clear glass sheets for each bead, 1 x 1 inch
- Oxygen-propane torch
- Safety goggles
- Blue glass frit
- Metal stringers/mandrels (fused, straight pieces of metal used to shape the beads)
- Tweezers or another metal clasper
- Graphite paddle with a flat surface
- Bead release
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Prepare to make a glass bead as you normally would. Take your mandrel and coat it in bead release. Let it dry. Clamp your propane torch down, and put on your safety glasses. Once you are ready, heat your mandrel by moving it vertically, back and forth, through the flame. Once it is warm, set it aside.
Make a rude bead. Take a clean, dust-free glass piece, about 1 x 1 inch, and hold it over the flame with tweezers or another grasping device that can withstand heat, and warm it. Do this slowly to prevent popping. You will want a very blue, oxygen-heavy flame from your propane torch to prevent your bead from turning a rust color. Once it's warm enough, press your mandrel against the glass, and it will hold. Continue to heat the glass for about 30 seconds, and then use your grasping device to gently fold the glass over itself to create a shape similar to a cylinder.
Wrap the glass around another mandrel by holding the glass cylinder you just created and spinning the mandrel around it. The warmer the glass gets, the more it begins to wrap around the mandrel. You will want the glass to be as centered as possible on the mandrel.
Harden the center of the bead. After you center the bead on the mandrel, take the graphite paddle and roll the bead over the surface. This is your chance to shape the bead. A perfect sphere is not necessary. Keep the bead out of the flame while doing this, but do not take much longer than about 10 seconds in this process.
Apply the frit to your bead. Quickly heat up the bead, and roll it in a blue glass frit, coating it to your liking. This will give a nice texture to your bead.
Begin styling your bead. First turn the flame down. Heat up one side of the bead at a time, and then take the tip of a thinner mandrel and stick it into the bead, and twist gently, creating a wavy look. Blow on it with your mouth quickly, and repeat around the surface of the entire bead, being sure not to melt the previous texture you made.
Remove the bead from the mandrel. You can use a little bit of running water to help ease it off.