Hands Free Glass Bead Cleaning. Part 1.

You really don’t need a pictorial tutorial on this but you know me and pictures.  It’s much more fun that way.   Here’s what you need to start with:

Craft store pipe cleaner, cutters that can cut them (don’t use your good jewelry ones…the inside of a pipe cleaner is not as soft as silver or copper)  The lighter is optional, you can use your torch.

Burn the fuzzies off of the pipe cleaner.  I don’t know if real pipe cleaners work for this, that is, the ones that are sold to actually clean pipes.  The craft ones are probably cheaper anyway.  You want to expose the twisted wire underneath.


It’s not pretty, but it works.  Why not just any wire?  Because you want the texture of the twist to rub in your bead hole!


Put your beads on and make sure there is room for them to move back and forth on the twisted wire.  These are 3/32″ and 5/64″ holed beads.  I haven’t tried 1/16″ holes yet and wonder if they’ll move enough to work with this.  Who knows?  Maybe they’ll work better.  Make sure to curl the ends enough so that your beads don’t come off.


Fill up a tumbler barrel with mixed steel shot (I don’t think it matters if it’s mixed).  You just want to give some weight to what is tumbling against your beads and the ends of the wire.  You will want it to be about 75% full once you get everything in there.  Throw in your wired up beads.  You can do many at one time.


I tumbled for 30 minutes and they were actually ok.  I put them back on for another 30 minutes and even better. I will probably try going longer to really have them clean.  But even after the hour they were fine!  You can see some of the film of release in there.  I was too impatient to go longer…I wanted to show you.

I used 1/2 Foster Fire and 1/2 Fusion bead release.  The smoother your release I the better this may work.

Try it and let me know what you think!


NOTE:  I just wanted to pass on a note that was sent to me. If you use your tumbler to tumble silver I was told that your silver could get ‘gunky’ if you use the same barrel because of the bead release forming a type of grit.  Please see Tonya Davidson’s comment below this post for instructions on how to clean your tumbler barrel and steel shot.  Also, if you’re new to using steel shot, make sure that you either store it fully covered by water or dry it thoroughly when you’re not using it…otherwise, steel rusts.

First Fabricated Silver Pieces

This is one of the silver pieces that I did after a friend came to the studio and gave me a demo. I haven’t decided if I’m going to sell these through my site. I think maybe only wholesale to galleries and shops and then also, in my own shows. Maybe I’ll throw one up every once in a while.I do pretty much have everything I need now though.

Studio History…

I’ve been without email all day! No, I shouldn’t say that, I can access it through the web but my Outlook is messed up.  Every once in a while one my devices decides to conflict with it and I have to resort to a backup and restore it.  What a pain.  Not usually that big of a deal except for having to redownload all of my mail for longer than I care to.  But this time it isn’t working out that easy and of course the computer guru husband has been out of town all week.  Luckily he’ll be back tonight but I’m sure that’s the last thing he wants to do when he gets home. Tomorrow is Saturday and I’m thinking I hide in the studio for half the day after being housebound with sick kids all week.  Think he’ll go for it?

I picked up a new book last night because I was at the hospital and decided to hit the sushi place for dinner and didn’t have anything with me to occupy me for the wait for the food.  Anyway, It’s “The Art of Creative Living” by Thomas Kinkade, the guy who does the paintings that look like light is shining out of them. I know he’s controversial in the same way that Dale Chihuly is but like I’ve said before, if you’re successful, chances are someone, if not many people, will hate you for it.  But that’s a whole other subject I could go on for pages about.

While his work is not my personal style, I do find it interesting to read about successful artists sometimes. The first thing that struck me was that this is a kind of self-help creativity book but it’s written from a spiritual view. I didn’t realize he was a Christian man and while he talks about his own spirituality, he also leaves it open for others too.

He talks about his progression of studios which got me to thinking….I’ve had studios of some sort since I was 10 years old. My first was in a corner of my dad’s basement with my sister and it was called L&J Art Store or something like that.  We sold drawings, candles that were turned on a little toy lathe, small clay pieces that were turned on a toy potters wheel and whatever else we came up with. I remember cousins coming over to buy things for Mother’s Day. Hee hee.  I bet their mom loved that.  I only remember one picture hanging on the wall and all it was was a piece of typing paper with a skull and cross bones drawn in pencil.  What the heck was I thinking?

I think I might want to continue this walk down memory lane, but for now I’m sure you’ve had enough. 

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