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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Gallery: Process: Recycled Glass Beads Workshop

Beads made from recylced glass are one of our most popular bead items. Their colour and form invite touch and as each bead is individually made, each is unique. How they are made is documented below.

First moulds of different sizes are made. To see how the moulds are made see the Powder Glass Beads Workshop page.   

Recycled glass is crushed by hand. Unlike with powder glass beads, dyes and colours cannot be added so the glass used must be the right colour for the resulting bead.   

The resulting crushed glass mixture is called "fritt". For recylced glass beads the glass does not have to be crushed to a fine powder. Some larger pieces can be left as they melt down during the baking process.       

The fritt is then used to fill the moulds. As with powder glass beads the moulds are coated with a fine mixture of kaolin clay and water before being filled to prevent sticking.   

A tray of moulds for a larger sized bead filled with fritt.   

The moulds are put into a kiln to be baked. The kiln has to be hot enough to melt down the lumps of glass in the fritt.   

From experience the bead makers know the right temperature and how long to leave the moulds in the kiln to achieve the right degree of melting.   

When the right temperature has been reached the beadmaker takes out the mould. He uses two awls - one to hold down the mould and the other to shape bead.   
He spins the gather of glass round to shape it and then flips it over to shape the other side.   


Here you can see the hole made by one of the awls... this is skilled work which has to be done quickly before the glass cools.  

The finished results. Beads made from recycled glass in blue tones...

     ... and in earth tones. These beads and others made from recycled glass are available on eShopAfrica.com   

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