Friday, December 27, 2013

Adding beach sand onto glass beads

I had a request to make necklaces for a group of long time friends who have ties to a beach area.  Since the beach is an important part of their history, part of the request was to add sand from that beach to glass beads.  I love getting requests like this one because I probably would have never tried it and like to experiment.

I wasn't sure what to expect so I did a test run with craft sand from Hobby Lobby.  I made the beads as usual, then rolled them in the craft sand to embed some of it on the surface.

Then I put them in the kiln and had to walk away.  When beads go into the kiln it's not always easy to tell what the final product will be - I thought they might be ok but not really all that pretty with sand all over the surface.

I was wrong.  I loved them.  The sand added a little bit of character without overwhelming the bead and I was excited to try it with the beach sand. 

Here's an important thing I've found out during this process: real sand and craft sand = very different.  Even though I knew that, I didn't really know it until I opened up the beach sand to add to the beads.  The beach sand granules are much bigger than the craft version, so adding it to the surface was less like a dusting and more like introducing gravel. I used a wire sifter to keep the bigger pieces out and try not to overwhelm the glass.

The sand was wet (which makes came from the beach and it's December). Rather than rolling the molten bead in the sand, I brought a little scoop full of sand to the flame to make sure it was dry before applying it to the beads.  I was careful not to add too much - the more foreign matter you introduce to a bead, the more likely it will crack.

Anytime I'm trying something new like this I make extra beads so I can have my pick when the time comes to use them.

Here are the finished beads - I added them to necklaces with leather cording and small sterling initial charms.

Since these are gifts, I won't name names - hopefully they went out in the mail early enough to be part of the Christmas celebration.

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