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Silver Treatments on Glass

June 9, 2015 , In: Glass, Tutorials
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Silver Treatments on Glass Tutorial – First Published on Artisan Whimsey

Silver Treatments on Glass Beads

I originally published this tutorial at Artisan Whimsey – I’m recycling it today for your reading pleasure!

There
are many ways to add silver to your glass beads!  I’ll list a few here
today, if you have any other suggestions, please post them in the
comments! I’m always looking for new ideas!

The first way to add silver to your glass beads is with fine silver wire.  I’m not sure why, but you are supposed to use fine
silver wire as opposed to the silver jewelry wire you might have on
hand.  I order my fine silver wire from Monsterslayer.  I like them and
they always have up-to-date pricing as the silver market is so volatile
lately.  I use 30 gauge silver wire, but there are different gauges
available.  I like 30 gauge because it’s more delicate.  If you want to
use higher gauge wire, you can get different effects, like actually
placing thought-out dots on your bead!  

I
cut easily usable lengths of silver wire (about 9 inches or so) and
clip the hemos at the measure I want to use.  If I’m applying it to a
round bead, I usually clip at about 2-3 inches.  Fine silver wire will
disappear in your flame, so make sure you work waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out at
the end of the flame.  Barely touch the silver wire to the bead under
the flame, move the bead away, and quickly wrap the wire around the
bead.  When you’ve reached the end of your clipped wire, flame cut the
silver, and then very delicately melt the silver wire at the end of the
flame into the bead.  This is how you get the trailing dots.  Here’s a
photo of beads I made with silver wire:

Next
is using silver foil.  You can use silver foil, or silver leaf.  I like
silver foil, because it’s easier to handle and easier to cut with a
scissors.  If you use leaf, you just have to be more careful with it, as
it can easily blow around your bench due to your ventilation system, or
passers-by!  I buy packets of 25 sheets of silver foil, usually from
Robin Koza of Glass Diversions.  I cut the single sheet into the sizes I
want (for a 12mm bead I usually use an eighth of a sheet).  Place your
silver foil on your graphite marver, or other surface you use, on your
bench.  When you are done making your bead, heat up the outside of the
bead very slightly, and roll it on the marver to accept the foil. 
Burnish it onto the bead (make sure your bead is not mushy!) with a tool
– I use my brass stump shaper.  Then reintroduce the bead into the
flame at the very end; you just want to melt the silver foil into the
bead, not make the bead hot or mushy again.  Here’s a photo of some
beads I made with silver foil:

 
To
make beads with silver foil and frit, just apply the silver foil as
above.  When you are done with the above steps, heat the bead up again
hot enough to accept the frit, roll the bead in frit, and melt it in as
you usually do!  Here’s a photo of a silver foil and frit bead!

 
Finally,
I’ll talk about silvered ivory stringer (SIS).  I enjoy this method,
and there are many ways you can do it.  I’ll just tell you about two of
mine.  The first way I make SIS is to waft a one inch section at the end
of an ivory rod in the flame, until it’s hot enough to accept the
silver foil.  Burnish the silver foil on with your torch mounted
graphite marver, and then you are ready to pull stringer!  Melt a small
blob on the end of the rod – here’s where it’s important to burnish very
well, so the silver does not just disappear.  Pull with a tweezer or
other pulling tool, and set aside on your table until cool enough to
touch.  When you want to use it, hold your bead under the flame near the
top, barely touch the end of the stringer in the flame and attach where
you want it on your bead.  Then, under the flame but still in some
heat, wrap the stringer until you are happy.  Flame cut or snap off! 
Here’s some beads with SIS:

 
And
finally, you can make dots with SIS as well!  For this method, I like
to use commercially pulled 2-3mm ivory stringer.  I simply wet my
fingers with saliva and run them at the top of a stringer, and wrap the
piece of foil around it.  You may have to wet your fingers multiple
times to get the foil to stay.  I know, it sounds gross, but it works. 
And it’s not so gross!  You melt the germs off!  When I’m ready to use
the stringer, I melt a very small blog at the end of the stringer rod,
and apply to the bead just like any dot of glass.  To make round dots,
use your brass stump shaper and push the dot gently into the bead, this
will keep it round.  Then melt in as usual.  Here’s a photo of beads
using this method:

 
I
hope you enjoyed this little post on silver.  There are many different
designs you can do with silver – add enamel, baking soda, etc.  Again,
if you have any other methods, I’d love to hear about them.  How about
encasing silver wire?  Silver powder? 
 
Susan Kennedy

Susan Kennedy

Susan Kennedy Susan, the owner of SueBeads, started making glass beads in 2005 because she loved lampworked beads so much, but wanted to make her own instead of buying them on ebay! She also makes enameled components and dabbles in polymer clay, but her first love is glass. She has attended jewelry-making classes at ArtBLISS and has taken classes from Barbara Lewis (torch fired enameling) in addition to several classes at the Pittsburgh Glass Center.
  1. Reply

    These are quite lovely! The silver really gives them their own personality. Well done!

  2. Reply

    Thank you Susan for doing this. I've been wanting to learn what gauge of silver wire to use, and the technique for wrapping beads, for a long time. You presentation is beautiful and well done, too! Will you be going to the ISGB Gathering in Alburquerque in a few weeks? Linda

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