Sunday 28 January 2024

Tumbled Glass Beads


When you make glass beads they naturally have a lovely shiny finish.  But sometimes that's not the look you're looking for.  Sometimes you want a softer look.

To get this you can put your beads in strong chemicals and etch them, but I don't think this is the best way to do it.  (I've heard it's hard to get rid of all traces of the chemicals and if they can have this effect on glass I hate to think what effect they might have on you if you are wearing these items!)


But there is another way.  You can tumble your glass, a bit like it being in the sea for year to get that frosted look.

So a couple of weeks ago I bought myself a small 2kg tumbler and set it up in my studio.  I used some old gravel that 'im outdoors didn't need anymore and the grit the tumbler came with and put a selection of beads in.  Then I set it to go and left it for a week. 

(I did try it in the house to start with, and it is pretty quiet but the constant rattle was too much, so it had to go down to the studio.)


I was nervoues to open the tub.  What would I find inside?

What I found was an orange mess.  I think this was from the gravel.  But once I rinsed it off and found the beads I couldn't be more pleased.  At first I didn't think it had worked.  But once I'd dried the beads off I could see how beautifully frosted they were, and they feel like silk to handle.


I'd been reading up on this method before hand, and had come across a recipe for beadwax - to give a light coating once they are done to give them an inner glow.  This was the perfect finish, a little buff and they just seem to glow.

If I need to run it for a week to get this effect then I will need to make sure I've got a full batch to tumble, but that's fine with me.  I'm looking forward to making more like this.