Isn't it nice when something inspiring just pops into your inbox! The November issue of the Soda Lime Times just came out yesterday and it was all about big hole beads. How to make 'em, how to core 'em and all the eye candy a girl could wish for! The big hole bead category covers anything from a bead with 5 or 6mm hole that will fit on a European style charm bracelet to sliders and dread beads with 1/4 or 1/2 inch holes- or more! I've been making mandala or kaleidoscope beads for years- but never very many at a time, because they take me so darn long and I end up feeling just a wee bit incompetent. But with a few words of encouragement from the folks at Soda Lime (and did I mention a lot of eye candy???), I thought it was time to give it all a bit of a go. Fun stuff, even though these babies took me about 40 minutes each- and these are actually a bit on the small side.
One of the interesting thing about BHBs is that they are often used so that the flatter side faces out. When I make these, I am constantly looking down the mandrel to see if they are fairly round, and how the design is coming together. But round is not the only shape a BHB can be- far from it! One of my own Icarus Wing Beads was featured in the gallery. This is a fairly new style for me with a bit of a wing shape on one side and lots of twirls and curls on the other.
Big Hole Beads do present the small problem of getting that large hole to look good on the inside. Sludging the mandrel the night before and letting it air dry will help ensure a good bond between glass and mandrel. Use the sludged mandrel within a day or two to prevent rust from forming on the mandrel- rust stains are quite hard to remove from inside the bead. At The Gathering, I was instructed to sand the inside of these beads with wet/dry sandpaper in ever increasing grits to make them nice and smooth. For more tips and a fun tut, I'd advise you to get your own copy of the November 2012 Soda Lime Times-it's great fun, and a tremendous value too!