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|About Glass Beads|
|Written by Ooh-la-la Beadtique|
|Thursday, October 06 2011 2:44 pm|
Glass beads are a fascinating, beautiful creation. They have functioned as currency, gifts, works of art and symbols of high status.
The technology for glass bead making is among the oldest human arts, dating back over 3,000 years. Egyptians were making glass beads as early as 1365 B.C. The Egyptian faience beads were a form of clay bead with a self-forming vitreous coating.
There are nearly as many types of glass beads as there are colors in the spectrum. Here are few notable categories:
Drawn glass beads
Glass bead drawing method is also an ancient one. Evidence of large-scale drawn-glass bead making has been found by archeologists in India, dating to the 2nd century CE. There are several methods for making drawn beads, and they all involve pulling a strand out of a gather of glass in such a way as to incorporate a bubble in the center of the strand to serve as the hole in the bead.
One hand technique uses a hollow metal tube that is inserted into the ball of hot glass and then a glass strand is pulled out around it, to form a continuous glass tube.
Other hand method is based on molten glass which is gathered on the end of a tool called a puntile, a bubble is incorporated into the center of a gather of molten glass, and a second puntile is attached before stretching the gather with its internal bubble into a long cane. The pulling is skilled process, and canes can be drawn to lengths up to 200 feet long. The drawn tube is then chopped, producing individual drawn beads from its slices. The resulting beads are cooked or rolled in hot sand to round the edges without melting the holes closed.
Most modern drawn glass beads, known as the seed beads are drawn mechanically by a machine.
Dichroic glass beads
For over a decade there has been a growing interest in Dichroic glass, and it has become a popular media used in the production of high-end art beads.
Dichroic glass, commonly called dichro for short, literally means ''two colored'' and is derived from the Greek words ''di'' for two, and ''chroma'' for color. It was named because of its fantastic multi-colored and reflective properties. When you look at this glass, it appears to have more than one color at the same time, especially when viewed at different angles.
This reflective phenomenon is known as thin-film physics, which is also why you see swirling rainbow patterns in a soap bubble, floating colors from oil on waterWaterWater is used in the formulation of virtually every type of cosmetic and personal care product. Water is primarily used as a solvent in cosmetics and personal care products in which it dissolves many of the ingredients that impart skin benefits, such as conditioning agents and cleansing agents. Water also forms emulsions in which the oil and water components of the product are combined to form creams and lotions. These are sometimes referred to as oil-in-water emulsions or as water-in-oil depending on the ratios of the oil phase and water phase.
Due to the fact that the glass has thin film of metal fused to the surface of the glass, the surface of the glass appears to have a metallic sheen that changes between two colors when viewed at different angles. Beads can be pressed, or made with traditional lampworking techniques. If the glass is kept in the flame too long, the metallic coating will turn silver and burn off.
Furnace glass bead production is an adaptation of other glass blowing techniques such as Latticinio and Zanfirico. Latticino technique was mostly popularized in 16th century Venice. Opaque white glass threads were embedded in a matrix of clear glass and then twisted into cables. In a 20th century a new glass blowing technique Zanfirico came around, a variation on the old Latticinio. The new production method incorporates glass threads into the glass in a manner that forms a delicate filigree patterns.
Furnace glass technique uses large decorated canes built up out of smaller canes, encased in clear glass, and then extruded to form the beads with linear and twisting stripe patterns. No air is blown into the glass. These beads require a large scale glass furnace and annealing kiln for manufacture.
Lampwork bead production originated in Venice, in the 19th century. The Venetian beads were produced in very large quantities for the African trade.
Contemporary lampwork bead production is very similar to the one used by Venetians. Narrow rods of glass are melted with torch flame. The molten glass is then wound around a mandrel, a thin length of stainless steel. The space occupied by the mandrel becomes a hole through the bead when the bed is slipped away. Turning the mandrel and holding it in different positions allows gravity to help the bead take form, but tools are also used to push and pull glass beads into a desired shape. Lampworking is a skill that takes a great deal of practice and patience. A lampwork bead artist understands the glass and the torch, and must learn how much heat it takes for glass to flow, how much heat can be applied to a bead that's already shaped before it becomes molten again and loses shape, when to add decorative elements and how different colors of glass interact with each other.
Molded beads also often referred to as “Pressed” beads are associated are mostly made in the Czech Republic. Thick rods are heated to a molten state, and fed into a mechanical device that stamps the glass, and pierces a hole with a needle. During the final stage the beads are rolled in hot sand to remove flashing and to soften seam lines.
One of the first ways in which glass beads were made was the wound method. A crucible of glass was heated then a mandrel was dipped into it. This technique is sometimes also referred to as furnace winding, because in ancient days the glass was heated in a furnace. To form the shape of the bead the mandrel was rotated to allow the molten glass to move and create a rounded shape. The bead could be shaped whilst still on the mandrel, using tools to create various shapes. Other times the bead was decorated with the addition of other glass applied to its surface.
Lead crystal beads are machine cut and polished. Their high lead content makes them sparkle more than other glass, but also makes them inherently fragile.
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