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.