Let fire inspire

Captivated by the magic of working with glass, Rebecca Weddell creates beautiful and unique lampwork beads and offers a range of beadmaking courses.

Smooth not shiny

The last couple of days I've been busy with beads for a project related to a course I'm doing. The project involves 'stone' beads - you might have seen some smaller ones in this style in my Etsy shop recently. Check them out here if you haven't!

Yesterday I made some medium-sized beads using ivory glass mixed with blue, and ivory glass mixed with black. It's great fun mixing glass in the flame - although I think having a cauldron bubbling over a firepit would make it even more exciting. Still, I can't be precious about such things!

 Here are the ingredients: blue + ivory, and black + ivory...

Here are the ingredients: blue + ivory, and black + ivory...

 ...and here are the beads fresh out of the kiln this morning...

...and here are the beads fresh out of the kiln this morning...

 ...and off their mandrels, ready for the next step.

...and off their mandrels, ready for the next step.

Stone beads are matte and smooth, rather than shiny. Glass is of course by default shiny - my beads aren't like ceramic objects which are matte to begin with and then glazed to make them shiny - no, it's the other way round! To get matte beads I need to take the shine away, and to do that I tumble them for several hours with some fine grit.

Let me show you what the process looks like!

 The tumbling barrel needs to be two-thirds full, so I put in some glass marbles to bulk it up a bit.

The tumbling barrel needs to be two-thirds full, so I put in some glass marbles to bulk it up a bit.

 The beads have joined the marbles in the barrel.

The beads have joined the marbles in the barrel.

 Here's the grit going in - doesn't it look grubby?

Here's the grit going in - doesn't it look grubby?

 Water is the last thing that needs to be added.

Water is the last thing that needs to be added.

 Lid goes on tightly...

Lid goes on tightly...

 ...and then on to the tumbler spindles to turn for many hours.

...and then on to the tumbler spindles to turn for many hours.

The grit gently abrades the surface of each bead (and each marble), leaving a 'ground glass' effect rather than a shiny surface. The difference is quite astonishing!

 The 'before' shot. Notice how the shiny surface of the beads is reflecting the light.

The 'before' shot. Notice how the shiny surface of the beads is reflecting the light.

 The 'after' shot. The beads are matte and smooth, with no reflection disturbing the view of the stone-like surface.

The 'after' shot. The beads are matte and smooth, with no reflection disturbing the view of the stone-like surface.

 Some of the beads I'm using in my project. I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out!

Some of the beads I'm using in my project. I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out!

Here's that Etsy link again if you'd like to have a closer look at some beads in this style.

The Workshop, 8 Village Works, London Road, East Hoathly
Lewes, East Sussex, BN8 6QA
01825 840638

Powered by Squarespace