Amy’s Bumpy Bead


This tutorial shows one way that I make a largeish bumpy focal, a bead that I make quite often. They can be made smaller or larger of course. This is a good bead for beginners to practice making dots. If you screw up, you can always melt the dots in and it can be a polka dot bead.

This tutorial is also a good one for anybody who is curious what lampworking is about… this is a fairly basic bead and it shows how I start basically all of my beads.

image1 Here is me in my studio… getting set up!
image2 Heating a gather of molten glass, and also pre-heating the mandril that I’m going to wrap said glass onto.
image3 The hot gather is wrapped around the mandril, to create the base of the bead.
image4 Here’s the base of the bead, still kind of wonky. I will melt it while turning the mandril, and it will smooth out into a nice round shape.
image5 So here’s the base of the bead, rounded out from a bit of heating and turning. Now I’m heating up some clear glass to encase the base bead. I’m not letting the base bead cool down entirely, but I’m still keeping it a bit warm.

In order to not smear the base of the bead into the clear, it needs to be just the right temp. This can take some practice.

image7 Here, I have just about enough clear to do my first wrap around the base bead.
image8 In one smooth motion, I wrap the gather as evenly as I can around the equator of the bead.
image9 Once I’ve done the wrap of clear, I pull the clear rod back through the flame to break it off from the bead.
image10 Here’s another view of the first encasement wrap. Now I’m preparing another, slightly smaller, gather of clear. I will do one of these just above and just below the wrap that went around the equator, to encase the bead (almost) fully.
image11 Here I am adding a wrap of clear just below the equator wrap.
image12 Here’s the last wrap of clear – you can see the clear almost encases all the colour. Some people are pickier about this than me, I am not bothered by a tiny bit of colour poking out the top and bottom of the bead.
image13 Now I have to melt all that clear down and round the bead back out. The bead is a lot bigger now, with more mass of glass, so this takes a little while.
image14 Here is the bead after I melted the clear down and rounded it out.
image15 Now I’m starting to add dots. This I do with stringer. I make a little blob with the stringer, and apply it to the bead. I start with a row right around the equator, usually about 7-10 dots around. It is important to get these dots really even, and make sure they are well attached to the surface of the bead.
image16 This photo shows the first row of dots pretty well.
image17 I continue to add rows of dots. First, I do a row above and one below that first row I did around the equator (we’re at 3 rows by this point). These two rows above/below the equator are spaced in between the dots of the equator row (there are the same # of dots as in the equator row, but they are offset a bit from that row, if that makes sense)
image18 It’s sort of hard to see in this pic, unfortunately, but next I add one more little “row” at the north and south poles of the beads. I can usually only fit a little circle of about 5-6 dots here, and it’s the hardest part to do, because the mandril gets in the way.
image19 And here’s all the dots on. I wave it around in the upper part of the flame for a while to try to get the heat more uniform throughout the bead before throwing it in the kiln. I have to be careful not to get it too hot, or the dots will all melt and flatten into the bead.


Here’s how they look once they’re out of the kiln!