This is the story of the LEAST glamorous part of making glass beads... CLEANING them. (and this beadmaker's story has a happy ending!)
For those non-beady types, when I melt glass, in order to leave a hole AND in order to have a stable work-surface, I use a stainless steel rod to build the glass on... when the glass is cooled, where the rod was is a hole that goes through the piece... the catch is, in order for the glass not to permanently stick to the metal, the stainless steel rod must be coated with a clay substance...we call it bead-release (the indians call it Maize...jk) that separates the glass from the metal, but breaks apart when the bead is removed from the metal.
The catch? The stuff is chalky and yucky and in the middle of our pretty glass beads, SO it must be cleaned out... and is a total pain AND time consuming.... especially if you've got THOUSANDS of beads (and by the time I'm ready for Bead and Button i will definitely have thousands of beads)
In the past, I've cleaned them out using water and a bead reamer, or a dremel with a diamond bit or even the stainless rod itself (which works pretty well), but it's SUPER time-consuming and my hands end up pruny and you only want to do this for an hour or so AND you'd rather be doing just about anything else creative, but you're stuck doing this mindless yucky job.
I've delegated this job to other willing souls (thanks mom and dad... thanks ex-husband back in the day... thanks friends... no thanking teenagers, they were unwilling) but it's not something that ANYONE likes doing and they all have better things to do than clean beads.
SO, how does my story have a happy ending? WELL, my fairy godmother, miss Lori Greenberg wrote a blog posting a while back about "hands free bead cleaning" Hmmmm, I thought, I wonder what that's about??!! I read and re-read her blog post about this method and then decided to go for it. I bought a rock-tumbler and shot and gave it a try.
and the happy ending???? It works GREAT!!!!!! I cleaned over 800 beads this weekend with minimal effort. The most time was taking the beads off the mandrels (which I would have done with my old method), and putting them onto the twisted pipe-cleaner wire, but that took hardly any time at all. SO, I'm a happy happy girl with no pruney finger-tips for now.
I'm not confident enough to try putting more fragile beads like my flat flowers and angel wings in the tumbler because I have too much time invested in each bead to risk, BUT I will try some trash-beads like that at a later time and see how they do. I'm just in AWE of inventive Lori and her findings that have HUGE benefit to beadmakers.
She said that I'm the only one she knows of who has really tried the process after she posted it, so I want to make sure people go read about it and give it a try... especially if you already have a tumbler... it WORKS!!!!!!!!
off to the studio to make more beads that have to be cleaned! I've crossed a lot of things off the blackboard of bossiness, but there are still a WHOLE lot more beads to be made!
tiny blah blah blah...
coffee - CDL from starbucks!
music - not sure yet, but I'm thinking Dixie Chicks or something to sing along to!