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Tool Tuesday - Essentials (Mandrels)

Most of the glass beads I make have a hole running through the middle of them.  The hole is created by a mandrel which is basically a stainless steel stick of varying thicknesses and sometimes shapes.  Before a mandrel can be used for bead making, it must be covered in bead release to prevent the glass sticking.  Bead release is like a clay slurry that the mandrel is dipped in and left to dry.  You may notice beads from a craft store have a whitish powdery coating in the hole?  This is bead release and one sure way to tell an artists bead from a mass produced bead is an artist will remove the bead release from their beads before selling them.

I have dozens of mandrels - some are basic and some create cabochons or buttons.

These are just a few of the mandrels that I commonly use.  The grey tips are dried bead release.

This is bead release.  It is simple to use - just give the jar a shake, dip the mandrel in and let it dry.  I use decorated tin cans filled with rice to hold the mandrels for drying (top image).

A little blurry but you can see the blob of glass being wound around the mandrel - this is the base of one of my signature tree beads.