Lentil Bead Molds – Instructions

Materials needed:

Lentil Bead Mold (any size, or ALL the sizes for extra fun)

Kiln Wash

Glass frit

Step 1. Prepare the mandrels.

Each bead kit ships with a dozen mandrels and a tube of bead release, so you’re all set to go when your kit arrives.

Bead release tends to settle, so make sure it is well mixed, a skewer, chopstick or other thin stick works well for this. Your bead release should be the consistency of pancake batter, if it’s very thick, add water a few drops at a time, mix and re-check. If it’s too thin, prop the tube somewhere safe with the lid off for a few hours so some of the water can evaporate.

Tip the tube so the bead release is spread through the tube and dip each mandrel. I like to twist them to make sure they are evenly coated, then put them on a drying rack supported at each end.

Step 2. Preparing the molds

While your mandrels are drying, kiln wash your mold. I’m using actual kilnwash. MR 97 will work as well, make sure you have a nice even coating.

mandrels for kiln formed beads

Add mandrels to bead mold

Step 3. Adding dams

This step is not strictly necessary, but highly recommended.

Place your mandrels in the empty mold grooves, and using a spare mandrel or skewer, place a drop of bead release on each side of the spaces for the beads.

kiln formed beads

Using bead release to create dams

Adding dams to the molds

Adding dams to the molds

These little drops of bead release do two pretty terrific things for you

– hold the mandrels firmly in place as you add glass to the mold

– dramatically reduce the amount of coldworking after fusing

Step 4. Prepare the glass

I’ve decided to use a variety of glass for my beads.

black glass plate

Remember these from the ’80’s?

The first is a black glass octagon plate (actually dark, dark purple, but I digress).

Decorative window glass from the 1960's

Decorative window glass from the 1960’s

Some decorative harvest gold window glass from the 1960’s (also comes in avocado).

And a snack tray from the ’50/’60’s. I’m not sure of the exact era, these were popular for a long time in Utah.

fusing vintage plates

Broken snack tray

And some bottle glass frit.

The bottle glass frit was ground in Chewy, filtered by size and washed.

Frit maker for Recycled Glass

“Chewy” the frit maker

The window glass and the glass plates I washed, then double bagged in plastic and thick paper and mashed with a sledge hammer. I did them individually to keep the colors separate.

Step 5. Adding glass

The optimal size of glass is coarse frit, but small glass pieces work as well. If you are using glass chunks, make sure that you fill the mold under the mandrel with glass. One way to do this is half fill each space before adding the mandrels.

kiln formed glass beads

small lentil bead mold with many kinds of glass

Medium molds with multiple glass types

Medium molds with multiple glass types

fused kilnformed beads

Large Lentil Bead mold with multiple kinds of glass

Step 6. Fusing

The bottle glass frit fuses perfectly with the regular fusing schedule, in fact, I just add the molds to a regular fusing batch if I have space. The chunks of glass needed an extra 2 minute hold at top temperature to completely smooth out.

kiln formed lentil beads

fused lentil beads with multiple kinds of glass

kiln formed lentil beads

Medium lentil bead mold with multiple kinds of glass

kiln formed lentil beads

Large lentil beads of many kinds of glass

Step 7. Removing the mandrels

When your beads are all cool and ready to take out of the molds, it is VERY IMPORTANT that you twist and slide the mandrels out first, if you pull them straight out they will bend. Do it like this:

Step 8. Coldworking

Yes, it’s a fact of life, you will probably have a few beads that need a little coldwork. You can do it though, then you can make things like this:

kiln formed lentil beads

Small bracelet made with recycled glass lentil beads