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Manufacturing Process

  • Pressed glass beads are becoming increasingly popular because of their versatility and limitless possibilities.  This category not only includes the basic necessity bead shapes such as druks, daggers, rondelles, and drops; but also unique, abstract, and novelty shapes as well.  We have well over 1,500 inventoried shapes to choose from, not including the different sizes available per shape!  Plus there are over 800 commonly used glass colors to combine with the hundreds of coatings, lusters and metallic finishes available.  Literally millions of combinations are possible!  New technology in glass making has made it possible to combine glass colors in new and innovative ways.  HurriCane glass, for example, is the combination of multiple glass colors that change appearance and swirl patterns based on the conditions at the time of pressing.  Each batch is unique and very difficult to reproduce.
    • The Pressed Glass Bead Making Process

      Forming intricately detailed shapes full of vibrant swirls of color with clarity and shine takes years of training and practice.  The quality of the product relies mostly on the skill level of the master bead pressers.  The difference in overall quality is strikingly apparent from one craftsman to another.

      The end of a long rod of glass cane is heated in a gas furnace until it is red hot.  It is then inserted into a pressing machine which resembles and old fashioned sewing machine.  The molten glass is quickly pressed into a mold while a needle is simultaneously inserted to form the hole.  Only a few beads can be pressed before the rod must be heated again; therefore, the bead maker alternates between multiple heated glass canes in order to produce continuously.  The pressed glass cools slowly as it makes its way down a slide and into a holding container.   At this point the pressings do not resemble beads at all; they are still connected together by the excess glass surrounding the edges of the beads.  The beads then go through two-stages of tumbling; one which breaks off the large pieces of excess glass and another which smooths out surface imperfections.

  • Fire polish beads are considered by many to be one of the most essential components for jewelry making.  The Czech bead makers are famous for their exquisitely crafted yet relatively inexpensive faceted beads. 

    The Czech region of Bohemia has been the center of bead making and has led the glass bead industry for hundred of years because of its quality fire polish styles.  Faceted rounds are by far the most popular because of their timeless look and sparkle.  Classic, more stylized shapes such as cathedral beads, triangles and octagonal facetted beads are popular for vintage style jewelry and rosaries.  There are many new fire polish shapes being created such as donut firepolish and renaissance firepolish.  There are also vintage styles reemerging into the market such as rosebud firepolish and fluted firepolish.

    • Faceting Fire Polish

      Facets are flat, polished surfaces. To make fire polished rounds, the manufacturer starts with round pressed beads (druks).  The beads are sifted onto a pronged board that is then fed into a faceting machine which angles the beads onto a grinding wheel.  After all sides of the beads have been faceted their surface looks rough and matted.  The polished finish is attained by laying the beads on a conveyer belt that feeds them into an extremely hot oven.  The beads are heated to the point that their surfaces begins to melt, creating a naturally shiny finish.

  • Czech Glass Cane

    Czech glassmakers have been world renowned for centuries for their glass making skills. The natural resources from Bohemia and the surrounding area have been creating glass like no other in the world. Some of the most amazing and striking features that set Czech glass beads apart form other countries are the unique glass combinations.  The quality of glass and brilliance of color is intriguing and the variety ever changing .

    The glass industry in the Czech Republic is very organized and well planned.  Unlike many bead making regions throughout the world, most Czech factories adhere to a common numbering system for categorizing shapes, sizes and glass color.  The following is a list of some of the most common glass types.

    • Glass Canes and Its Distinctive Properties

      Czech glassmakers have been world renowned for centuries for their glass making skills. The natural resources from Bohemia and the surrounding area have been creating glass like no other in the world. Some of the most amazing and striking features that set Czech glass beads apart form other countries are the unique glass combinations.  The quality of glass and brilliance of color is intriguing and the variety ever changing .

      The glass industry in the Czech Republic is very organized and well planned.  Unlike many bead making regions throughout the world, most Czech factories adhere to a common numbering system for categorizing shapes, sizes and glass color.  The following is a list of some of the most common glass types.

      Transparent - Light is clearly visible through the glass.  This category includes some of the most commonly used colors such as crystal and the jewel tone/birth stone colors.  This category has been expanding in color depth in the market mostly due to the need for a wide variety of shade variance for intricate beadwork.  New colors have also been introduced into the market, most notably Prairie Green (5031) and Tanzanite (2051).

      We use the word crystal to describe the beads we carry in clear glass (0003); however it should not be confused with cut crystal. Also, there is some difference in opinion throughout the industry as to whether or not fire polished beads are considered crystal.  We consider fire polished beads to be glass since they do not contain lead and we do not want to cause confusion between fire polished and machine cut crystal.

      Ruby/Pink - Red and its variances are some of the most difficult colors to reproduce from nature.  Not only is it difficult to create but it is also difficult to keep the color consistent over batches.  To make the color, the manufacturer must add trace amounts of precious metals, which raises the cost of the glass considerably.

      Opaque - No light is visible through the glass.  This category includes some of the most traditional colors including jet, turquoise, red and white.  Did you know that extremely dark amethyst glass is used to make jet black beads?  No other glass color can become dark enough without adding noticeable hue variances.

      Milky/Opal - Translucent glass that has a cloudy, diffused appearance. 

      Coral - Opaque glass that is not uniform in color.  Usually this glass has swirls of color that are either a lighter or darker shade of the main color.  This type of glass takes on a different appearance depending on the bead shape and how it is pressed.  The coral pattern is more apparent on drucks as an oval swirl on the surface.  Fire polished beads tend to have visible swirls of color on the facets. Pressed beads that have indents or raised designs are popular in this glass because of its silky, three dimensional effect.

      HurriCane Glass - combination of multiple glass colors that can change appearance and swirl pattern based on the conditions at the time of pressing.  Each batch is unique and very difficult to reproduce.