Bling on the Beads: How to Set Cubic Zirconia Crystals in Lampwork Glass Beads

8 Feb 2013

Some of my sparkle sisters and I joke that the only thing better than lots of bling is more bling. Don't tell them I said so, but there definitely is such a thing as too much bling--but these lovely lampwork glass beads by Diane Woodall of Soda Lime Times have just the right amount of sparkle to make the pretty flower beads even lovelier.

 
Lampwork glass beads are often such self-contained works of art themselves, I have a hard time working them into my designs. When I found this project, I realized that setting sparkling stones in glass beads is a great way to help merge them into your jewelry designs that might also feature other crystals. Plus, they're simply gorgeous! Thanks to Diane for sharing her tutorial with us. In this one project, you'll see how to create a flower bead and pull vine canes, too, and you can use this same technique to add cubic zirconia crystals (CZs) to any of your lampwork glass beads, not just flowers--for more bling!

Easy Floral Bead with CZs
by Diane Woodall (republished with permission from the Sept. 2011 Soda Lime Times)

Floral beads have always been popular, and with the added bling of cubic zirconia (CZs), this design is sure to stand out. I based this tutorial on the beads that Deanna Chase makes using embedded CZs, but added some vine cane and simplified the flowers to make it easier for novice beadmakers. The variations on this design are limitless.

Materials:

dipped mandrel
straight-sided lentil press (optional)
marver
old mandrels (3/32" or larger for vine cane, 5/64" or smaller for CZs)
water-soluble white school glue
2mm CZs
stainless steel tweezers
lampworking torch and kiln setup
glass: Effetre Pea Green, Reichenbach Deep Black or Effetre Intense Black (pulled into a thick stringer), Effetre Super Clear, Effetre Light Teal transparent, Effetre White (pulled into a very thin stringer and thick stringer), Effetre Ink Blue transparent (pulled into a thick stringer)

Steps:

 

1. To prepare the CZs, place a dot of water-soluble white glue on the end of a mandrel and then place a CZ, flat side down, on the glue. The mandrels can be stored upright in a container of sand while they dry.

2. To prepare the vine cane, make a gather of Effetre Pea Green on the end of an old mandrel (3/32" or larger) and marver into a barrel about 14mm in diameter. Do not put bead release on the mandrel.

3. Using a thick stringer of Reichenbach Deep Black or Effetre Intense Black, apply three or four stripes parallel to the mandrel. Melt in the stripes. I like to encase vine cane to keep the black from bleeding.

4. Encase the gather by winding clear glass around and around from one end to the other. Apply pressure to the clear, pressing against the previous wrap, to force out any bubbles that might form during encasing. Melt the clear until it is smooth.

5. Heat just the end of the gather (but not the entire gather). With tweezers, grab the tip of the gather and pull while twisting with the hand holding the mandrel. The hand holding the tweezers will not twist. Vine cane should be thin, so pull hard enough with the tweezers to produce a thin twistie.

6. I made this cane thicker than I normal so it could be photographed, but it should 2mm or less in diameter. After pulling a length of cane, burn it off and then begin again with a new pull. Tip: After the last pull, plunge the remaining glass into water and it will fall off the mandrel, so you can use the same mandrel again.

7. Before using the vine cane, nip off the ends of each piece so that you are always starting with a nice, straight end. Vine cane can also be made without twisting. If you are a novice, you can make vine cane using a smaller gather that can be pulled in one pull.

8. To make the glass flower bead: Wind on a base bead in teal that is football shaped and almost as wide as the opening of the lentil press. You'll be adding a vine and flowers, so don't make the base bead too big. For this bead, I used the center cavity (18mm) of a Zoosiis straight-sided lentil trio.

9. Apply the vine cane to the base bead, winding it around the bead in a wavy pattern, ending the wrap where it started. Melt in the vine cane.

10. To make the flowers: Apply a tiny dot of white in four or five places on the bead, spacing them evenly around the bead. This bead has five dots.

11. Using the little white dots as a guide, apply four or five white dots (for petals) around each guide dot using thick white stringer, spacing them as evenly as possible and leaving room between the dots for the glass to spread. Melt the white dots flat to create the flowers.

12. With a thick stringer of Ink Blue, place dots on top of the white dots. You can make them smaller so that some of the white will be visible when they are melted in or larger so that the Ink Blue will cover all of the white. Melt in the ink blue dots.

13. Heat the bead evenly and then gently press in a straight-sided lentil press. Heat the bead to remove the chill marks.

14. While heating the center of each flower, press a CZ into the middle of each flower, using the mandrel as a handle. The glue will burn off in an instant. Gently heat each flower after adding the CZ. Give the bead one more heating and it's complete.

15. Pop the finished bead in the kiln and anneal.

 
Here are a few other simple flower beads I made using this tutorial. You can also make these beads without the vine cane or make them on a base bead rolled in frit. Just use your imagination and have fun! --Diane

She makes it look so easy! And the results are gorgeous. I can't wait to try my hand at lampworking again. For more great lampwork glass bead projects, get 10 Glass Bead-Making Projects (from the Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist experts) in an instant download eBook, no shipping fees and no waiting! And read below to learn more about Diane and Soda Lime Times for lampworking articles, tutorials like this one, and inspiration.

About Diane Woodall and Soda Lime Times: Diane has been making beads since 2002 and was founding president of the Houston Society of Glass Beadmakers, the Houston chapter of the International Society of Glass Beadmakers (ISGB). The Soda Lime Times began as a monthly newsletter for her group, and she began offering subscriptions in 2011. The digital magazine is unique in that it focuses solely on lampworking with soft glass, with emphasis on projects that the average beadmaker can create with success. Both subscriptions and back issues are available, in which you'll enjoy stories about beadmakers around the world, helpful tips and advice on making beads, sourcing information for tools and materials, and at least three step-by-step tutorials for making lampwork bead projects. Diane offers a free sample issue to anyone who wants one! Just visit SodaLimeTimes.com.


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