Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Beading on a Budget: Craft Store Glass Beads

You're creating a necklace to express who you are, yet you're on a budget. Let's say you've selected a Water Glass Spiral for your focal bead. You've decided you'd like to add glass accent beads. So you need to go to a local craft store to get supplies. Not all craft store jewelry supplies are created equal. Take a good look at what you're buying. Just because you're on a budget doesn't mean you need to sacrifice quality.

BEADMAKER TIP ALERT! Glass beads purchased from craft stores aren't kiln annealed and could crack when you're wearing the beads.

Why should you care about kiln annealing? Kiln annealing strengthens glass by allowing the glass to cool very, very, very slowly. If properly done, it relieves any stress in the glass and the beads won't crack.

Below is a picture of a set of glass beads I purchased at a local craft store:

As a glass beadmaker, I know by where the crack is, that the bead has not been kiln annealed. A crack along the bead hole means the glass cooled too quickly. Glass cools too quickly when it hasn't been placed in a kiln.

So, when you're buying supplies to add to your creation, be wary of large, thick glass beads. A beader on a budget will invest her/his money wisely on quality artisan made glass focal bead and/or sets that are kiln annealed. Make sure to look for this phrase when buying handmade glass on the web or on Etsy.

Should you stay away from craft store glass beads? While in a craft store, I found a set of accent beads for the Water Spiral. The glass rings shown below are fairly thin as compared to the green lentil glass beads shown above. Although not kiln annealed, these rings may hold up. But be aware that they may not. The rings may still crack and break.

The colors are a perfect match to the colors in the Water Spiral. I bought silver jump rings and toggle clasps along with the blue glass rings.

Tomorrow, I'll show you how to make a Encircled Spiral pendant from these supplies.

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