Adding Bling to Glass Beads

leahbeads.com

The list of bead embellishments is exhaustive. Twisties, stringer, murrini, frit, enamel are just a few items you can add to beads to create a masterpiece. For this post, however, I’m focusing on non-glass items such as foils, crystals, silver mesh, and others. Read on to find out how you can bling out your beads!

Mica Powders and Flakes

I remember getting large chunks of mica by the side of the road when we traveled to Colorado when I was younger! Now, these naturally reflective minerals are added to beads to create a bit more sparkle. Powdered mica creates shimmer to beads and can be found in various glass supply stores. Recently, mica flakes have become a popular addition to glass. These flakes add more reflective properties to beads. Mica powder can be worked with any glass COE. 

One thing I’ve noticed when working with mica is that you can’t continue adding layers of it to glass. From what I understand, it will adhere to warm glass, but doesn’t stick to itself.

Lusters

A new addition to the glass world, these lusters are similar to mica and produce an exceptional sparkle and glitter to beads. According to JetAge Studio, these lusters are metal oxides, which are heat resistant to 1400 degrees. Because our torches go much hotter, you need to be careful when working with these. It’s best to encase these and avoid direct exposure to your flame. I have some lusters on order and when I get them, I’ll have a link to my review.

Aventurine

Aventurine is a quartz and comes in various sizes of powders, frit, and chunks. We beadmakers generally use gold, but it also comes in green and blue colors. If making stringers, you need to encase them because the flame will diminish the sparkle.

Metals

Metals seem to love glass because so many are available to decorate our beads with and thank goodness! They look fantastic in beads and pendants.

Foil and Leaf- The only difference between a foil and a leaf is the thickness of the sheet. Foil (and leaf) comes in silver, gold, copper, and palladium. All lend a different effect to the bead. Copper is the least expensive, but adds fantastic brilliance to beads. Silver has so many uses that a lot of tutorials are written about it. But my favorite is adding silver to create a more organic bead. You can create silvered-ivory stringer by burnishing silver to a gather of ivory and then pulling it into a stringer. Next, gold is the most expensive and I don’t know many beadmakers who regularly use it. It adds a beautiful warmth to the beads I’ve seen. Palladium is truly unusual. I love working with it! The foil will give you an oil-slick look and creates a multitude of colors in just one bead. It’s truly amazing! You can either encase it or leave it on the surface.

 

Wire and Mesh-This category includes copper and silver mesh and fine silver wire. Mesh creates a fantastic netting effect in beads, but you must encase it, if you want that look. Fine silver wire creates dots once melted in. If you want to use silver, make sure it’s not sterling silver. Sterling doesn’t play nice in the flame; fine silver will retain its color nicely.

I haven’t even touched on electroforming. I’ve never tried it, but it adds metal to glass so you can create an intricate bead.

Cubic Zirconia

Also known generically as crystals, CZ’s can hold up to demanding torch temperatures. Just encase them to be sure they stay in the bead. Many beadmakers use CZ’s in the middle of their encased flower beads. It creates a nice sparkle. Former beadmaker Kim Miles was one of the first to incorporate CZ’s into her encased flower designs.

Look out for another post on all the glass-related embellishments you can add to your beads!

 

 

If you know of any more embellishments, add a comment below.

About LeahBeads 18 Articles
Leah has been working with all types of glass since 2000. She loves sharing her knowledge and helping people experience the thrill of glass beadmaking. She also runs and competes in triathlons when she's not at the torch.

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