A Newbie's Early Efforts

These are beads I made with a beginner's torch and soft soda-lime glass. This is not the borosilicate stuff that you see people making ships and animals out of at Disneyland; it's traditional Italian glass, soft and sticky and temperamental. It melts at a lower temperature than boro, comes in far more beautiful colours, and is very sensitive to thermal stress (meaning, it shatters easily if thermally shocked or not annealed properly). For those of you to whom such numbers mean something, its COE is 104. You can find different views of these beads, and different beads, on an extra page -- I didn't want this page to take forever to load.

What do you do when you've made some glass beads, though? I mean, you can put them in a wooden chest and run your fingers through them muttering "Argh, me hearties." Or you could go about the house attaching them to lamp switch chains (I don't have any) or window shade pulls (ditto). You could, after a year's effort, make a bead curtain in which no individual bead would be visible for the sheer number of them (hardly appealing). You can give some of them away or try to sell them to people (there's quite a market in beads right now).

Or you can try to make them into jewelry, in ways that show off the actual individual unique beads. I find earrings are handy for this -- small enough to make easily, and suitable for the kind of flashy sparkling glass I enjoy.

To make earrings you go out and get the little accessory bits and pieces called "findings" -- ear wires, eye pins, head pins, little plated or filled metal beads, maybe some cultured pearls (cheap and attractive), maybe some semiprecious stone beadlets -- then you sit and play with the pieces and with your showy glass beads, until you like what you see. A little dexterity with pliers, wire cutters, and fingers -- and presto, a pair of earrings. Fun, no?

The lighting's funny in this picture, isn't it? It was made by laying the beads on a scanner, covering the lot with a sheet of plain white paper, and scanning the beads directly; thus the odd, shadowless, rather strong lighting. If you don't have a digicam and you want to image small artwork for the Web, give this a try -- for some kinds of jewelry and small beads it works pretty well.

De Clarke
UCO/Lick Observatory
University of California
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
Tel: +1 408 459 2630
Fax: +1 408 454 9863