How to Make Recycled Glass Into Beads

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Use colored glass bottles to create recycled beads
Use colored glass bottles to create recycled beads (Image: glass image by Andrzej Włodarczyk from Fotolia.com)

Designing and making your own jewelry is a great way to save money on store-bought pieces while harnessing your creativity. Using recycled materials in your creations will save you even more while helping the environment. Save your recycled glass, especially colored glass, to create a batch of recycled beads for your jewelry designs.

Things You'll Need

  • Soap
  • Water
  • Recycled glass bottles
  • Thick trash bag
  • Hammer
  • Safety glasses
  • Rock tumbler
  • Sand or grit
  • Marker
  • Large bowl
  • Rubber-tipped pliers
  • Rotary tool (e.g., Dremel, Foredom)
  • 1-mm diamond-tipped drill bit

Clean your recycled glass bottles thoroughly with soap and water and place them inside a thick trash bag. Wrap the bag into a bundle and place it on a hard surface. Wear safety glasses and use your hammer to shatter the bottles, starting gently and applying more force as necessary. You want glass shards 30 to 50 percent larger than the finished beads.

Add glass pieces to your rock tumbler until the chamber is about two-thirds full. Add 3 tsp. of sand or grit and pour in enough water to just cover the glass.

Plug in the rock tumbler on a flat surface and allow the glass to tumble. Longer tumbling times will yield smoother glass pieces. Allow the tumbler to run until your glass reaches the desired texture.

Remove the barrel from the tumbler immediately after turning it off. Strain and rinse the glass pieces outside to prevent drain clogs. Dry off each glass piece and make a mark where you would like the hole to be.

Fill a bowl with water. Hold your first piece of glass just under the surface of the water and align the bit on your rotary tool just above the hole mark. Drill straight down and halfway through the glass slowly. Turn the piece over, making sure to keep it under water, and drill through the other side to prevent chipping. Repeat with remaining glass pieces.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use rubber-tipped pliers if you have trouble gripping the glass pieces.
  • Experiment with different grits to get varying surface textures.
  • Practice drilling a few times on glass you do not intend to use for jewelry.
  • Only the drill bit should come in contact with water when drilling.
  • Take care when handling broken glass.

References

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