How to Make Beads From Glass Bottles

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Turn old glass bottles into beads
Turn old glass bottles into beads (Image: glass image by Andrzej Włodarczyk from Fotolia.com)

Making your own jewelry is a great way to add to your accessory stash without spending a lot of money. You can save even more money on jewelry supplies by creating your own beads from glass bottles. Save your colorful glass and make a batch of unique glass beads for use in your jewelry designs.

Things You'll Need

  • Glass bottle
  • Thick trash bag
  • Hammer
  • Safety glasses
  • Rock tumbler
  • Sand
  • Permanent marker
  • Large bowl
  • Water
  • Rubber-tipped pliers
  • Rotary tool (e.g., Dremel, Foredom)
  • 1-millimeter diamond-tipped drill bit

Place a clean glass bottle inside a thick trash bag. Roll the bag to provide a few layers of plastic between the glass and your hammer. Wear safety glasses and use the hammer to shatter the bottle. Start gently and apply more force as needed. Try to get pieces a bit larger than you will want your finished beads to be.

Fill the chamber of your rock tumbler two-thirds full of glass pieces. Add enough water to just cover the glass, then add 3 spoonfuls of sand.

Plug in your tumbler and allow the glass to tumble. The longer you allow the tumbler to run, the smoother your glass pieces will become. Check every several hours until you have the desired texture.

Remove the barrel from the tumbler and strain out the tumbled glass. Dump the remaining liquid outside, then rinse the glass pieces.

Make a small mark on each piece of glass where you would like the hole to be. Submerge all marked pieces in a bowl of water.

Turn on your rotary tool and align the bit over the first mark. Hold the first piece of glass just under the surface of the water and slowly drill halfway through. Turn it over and finish the hole from the other side to prevent chipping. Repeat with all remaining glass pieces. Use rubber-tipped pliers to grip smaller pieces of glass.

Tips & Warnings

  • Experiment with different grit sizes in the tumbling process for various surface effects.
  • Practice drilling holes on glass pieces you do not intend to use for jewelry.
  • When drilling glass, only the drill bit itself should come in contact with the water.
  • Be careful when handling broken glass.
  • Clean your tumbler as soon as you stop running it as the remaining liquid can harden into a cement-like substance.

References

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