Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I bought this Lampwork Bead! Now what?

Lampwork beads are amazing beautiful pieces of wearable art. I love buying beads directly from other glass artists, but jewelry making isn't my passion, so I don't always know what to do with the bead. I can imagine it must be so much worse for people who fall in love with glass beads, but don't have any knowledge about jewelry making.
With that in mind, I wrote this basic basic pendant tutorial. I made this pendant in about ten minutes and most of my time was spent holding a camera with one hand and balancing my jewelry project with the other. You can use this technique with any bead if you have a long enough piece of wire or headpin. It's simple and can go with jeans and a t shirt or something fancier. You can find a lot of videos on youtube for this technique as well.

Here's the tools needed

You can purchase all these tools at Michael's or even some Walmarts. You need round nose pliers, flat nose pliers, chain nose pliers, and wire cutters. I think I got mine in a jewelry making kit when I was 12 or something. You can always buy nicer tools if you find yourself making lots of jewelry.

Here are the supplies you need. 


 A bead and a headpin. A headpin is just a piece of wire that has a ball on the end to prevent the bead from falling off. Many people make their own headpins by making the end into a spiral. I'm not going to get into that for now though. Make sure your headpin is about 1.5 inches longer than the bead.

You can get use whatever bead you want. You can even use a found object and drill a hole in it. I'm a bit partial to my own handmade lampwork beads, so I'll insert a shameless little plug here.

Start by threading the bead onto the headpin and holding the wire with your round nose pliers very close to the bead.

 Bend the wire 90 degrees over the pliers.

 Release the pliers and reposition them like so. You are going to use the round nose to make a loop so decide how big you would like your bail to be. If you have a favorite chain to use, make sure it will fit over the clasp. Bend the wire over the round nose to form half of the loop.
 Reposition your pliers again and finish your loop. It's ok if it looks a little rough. You can neaten it up.


Put down your round nose pliers and use your flat nosed pliers to hold your loop. Next you will start wrapping the remaining wire around the loop. You can use your fingers if you want, but my fingers get too sweaty for that, so I use my chain nose pliers to grip the end of the wire and start wrapping.

Continue wrapping until you have two or three  wraps snug against each other. You'll probably be right up next to the bead right now. Depending on how long of a headpin you had, you might need to snip some wire off, so there's just a wee bit left.

Tuck it in with your chain nose pliers as best you can being careful not to damage the bead. Luckily lampwork beads are pretty hardy if they are properly annealed and have a nice puckered bead hole.
Put it on a chain and you're ready to go.

This is one of the most simple basic ways to make use of a beautiful bead. You can use sterling silver or cheap wire from Michaels. It is all up to you. Now go find some beautiful beads and start creating!

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