I have a *pile* of orphan beads – really. And I have tried to sell them, in bigger sets, in smaller sets, for pretty great prices, and I still have a *PILE* of orphan beads. I am also struggling with carpal tunnel symptoms and have not been making lampwork beads for about a month at this point. So I decided to see what would happen if I used my kiln as a fuser (when making lampwork beads you use it as an annealer) and melt the beads into cabochons. If you don’t know, cabochons are beads without holes, used in bezel setting, tab setting, bead weaving, etc.
This is the first set of beads I tried. I cut a piece of kiln shelf paper, put my little kiln doors in, and set all the beads on the paper. (next photo is the inside of my kiln all set up)
Next, the photo of the beads set out.
And, finally, the beads all melted.
I have an Arrow Spring Annealer/Fuser kiln, and in case you’re interested in my firing schedule, or trying to create a similar schedule, here it is:
RAMP to 1000F in 55 minutes.
RAMP up to 1550F fast; SOAK 30 minutes
RAMP down fast to 960F; SOAK 30 minutes
RAMP down 7F/Min; OFF at 400F
As you can see, some worked, and some didn’t.
I would say what I learned from this firing was the holes have to be VERY clean of bead release. You can see some of the centers look white and crusty – I think that’s bead release. Second, I’m having an inkling that transparent beads don’t want to melt the way I want them to. So I tried a second kiln load. Note the many transparent swirly beads mostly in the center of the kiln.
And here’s how they turned out.
This was a disappointing firing, since I had really wanted the twirly transparent beads to work out. Here’s a closeup of how they did not work out.
I decided at this point the transparent beads are not worth firing again. Opaque colors work best, and I’m thinking it’s because the glass is “runnier” and therefore flows better. I’m not going to show you all my subsequent firings, but I will show you some of the successful cabochons that came out of my next 3 firings.
I’m pretty happy with the success rate at this point and the reactions of the glass that are showing up. So I will continue to take many of my orphans and make cabochons out of them. I think they could also be used in mosaics, or at least the concrete stepping stones you can make. They could also decorate plant pots. Can you think of other things they could be used for? I will begin selling these cabochons in my scheduled trunk shows on FaceBook, and on my FaceBook business page, SueBeads. Thanks for stopping by!