Fused Nichrome Loops in Beads

Last week in the newsletter, we talked about different gauges of nichrome wire that are good for jewelry use, and some different styles of loops. Today I’m going to show you how to add the loops to your bead molds to make fused kiln formed glass beads with nichrome loops instead of mandrel holes. This really a relatively easy process and will add a new dimension to your bead making.

Materials:

Bead Mold kits (mold and bead release, set aside the mandrels for later)

Nichrome wire, 20 or 22 gauge

round nose pliers

wire cutters

Step 1.

Prepare the mold with kilnwash or whatever coating you prefer.

Small Lentil Bead Mold
Small Lentil Bead Mold

Step 2.

Create Nichrome wire loops that fit each bead cavity. For eye-pin style loops, I highly recommend using 20 gauge wire. For staple style loops that will have both ends in the glass, you could easily use 22 gauge. Keep in mind this is my personal preference, if you have a Nichrome wire trick that works well for you, keep doing that.

Here’s a quick chart from the newsletter last week:

Loop Type Uses
Staple- single or double sided (double
sided can look like an S shape) – 22 gauge
Single sided
Earring beads
light weight charms
small ornaments
bail beads
Pendants
medium weight charmsDouble Sided
Bracelet Beads
Windchime components
Eye Pin – Single or double ended – 20 gauge
Single Sided
Small charms
Earring beads
small pendants
ornaments
small chime componentsDouble Sided
beads for necklaces
Twisted Eye Pin – Single or double ended – 20 or 22 gauge
Single Sided
Heavy pendants
charms for bracelets
Heavy duty chimesDouble sided
Beads for bracelets

The loop should extend on either side of the cavity for double loop beads.

nichromedoubleipin

Once you have enough loops made, put them on your mold like this:

Bead mold with nichrome loopsStep 3.

Using your tube of bead release and a toothpick (or skewer), place a dab of bead release on the loop on each side of each bead cavity. This does two things: 1. keeps the wire in place as you fill the mold with glass and 2. keeps glass from filling the loop of your wire.

bead molds with nichrome loopsStep 4.

When the bead release is dry, fill each cavity with glass frit, make sure that the frit works its way down under the wire, a soft paint brush will help, or your handy toothpick.

Bead mold with glassStep 5.

Fire to a full fuse. The temperature is going to vary based on what type of glass you are using. If you’re using recycled glass, try the full fuse schedule as a starting point. If you are using art glass, start with the manufacturers recommended fusing temp and adjust from there. I find that small bits of glass take an extra couple of minutes to flatten out and round. If your beads come out lumpy, try extending your top hold time for a bit.

kiln formed beads with nichromefused glass beads with nichromeAll of the beads we made today have a loop on either side, these are great for bracelets or to add into necklaces and earrings. Next time I’ll show you how to make fused beads with a single loop, suitable for pendants or other charm type dangles.

 

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