There are several 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.
round nose pliers
Prepare the mold with kilnwash or whatever coating you prefer.
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:
|Staple- single or double sided (double
sided can look like an S shape) – 22 gauge
light weight charms
medium weight charms
|Eye Pin – Single or double ended – 20 gauge
small chime components
|Twisted Eye Pin – Single or double ended – 20 or 22 gauge
charms for bracelets
Heavy duty chimes
The loop should extend on either side of the cavity for double loop beads.
Once you have enough loops made, put them on your mold like this:
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.
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.
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.
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