I'm not talking about the little plastic beads your grandma used to string together. Nope. Not trying to work with those. I'm talking beads made of glass, wood, metal, shells. And if made by hand they can be really special--an expression of personality, culture, mood, feelings. Take the Tibetan beads for dreadlocks below. And the brass beads made in Ghana.
|Tibetan Silver Dreadlock Beads on Etsy|
|Brass Beads From Ghana|
Following is a snippet from my ongoing adventure in handmade bead land. After much reading of books and online material and practice cutting, shaping, and soldering, I decided to tackle my very first tube bead. Why a tube bead? I like their odd shapes, and the large surface allows for all sorts of doodads and decorations.
So I headed out to my studio, sat at the bench and setup to saw a 3/4 inch section off the long piece of silver tubing that you see on the upper right of the photo below. Then I placed the tube section in a miter jig--the big vise thingy on the left (photo is a little blurry, sorry). That got the tube section all ready to file the end perfectly straight. Don't want any lopsided beads, you know. Then I flipped the tube over and filed the other side.
Next...ok, so there were lots of steps between these two photos but I gotta leave some mystery, right? Below you can see where I've soldered a little cap on the bottom end of the tube section and I'm about to solder the cap on the top. The little hole in the top cap--there's also one on the bottom cap--was made with a drill and that is where I'll later thread a piece of wire so I can string the bead. The spiral ring surrounding the bead was added purely for decoration. It's lose now but will be soldered on later.
Then voila! My lovely bead all soldered and cleaned up and looking shiny. It's sleek and simple but different. And big enough to be a focal bead in a necklace or bracelet. Nothing old-fashioned about it. This is only the beginning of my bead land adventure. I've got so many ideas for decorative beads simmering in my head that I'll never find enough time to make them.