Most people who know my work think that I only work in dichroic glass because I have done a lot of dichroic over the past 10 years, but I also use gold and silver in my glass beads. Using gold and silver in or on your glass beads is not necessarily easier, but you can get some very interesting effects with these precious metals and a lot of bling.
The first glass and gold beads were produced by the Romans to produce gold looking beads for the folks who could not afford solid gold beads. They did this by blowing two tubes of soft glass that fit tightly one inside of the other. The tube that fit on the inside was rolled in gold leaf until a sufficient amount of leaf coated the surface of the tube. The gold covered tube was then inserted into the larger tube and the beads were made by heating and crimping the tube to form round or oval beads. They knocked the crimped bead off the tube and then fire polished the holes.
Today’s beadmakers have both leaf and foil to choose from to make bead with. Currently in Italy, there are still a lot of gold leaf beads being produced, but not in the way I described above. In Venice and Murano, Italy they are making gold and or silver beads much the same way the rest of us lampworkers are making them.
My personal preference is to use foils or fuming because I got tired of chasing the floaty leaf produces around my work table when I would sigh. Another neat thing about foils is you can cut them into the desired widths or shapes ( you can use those neat paper punches that are available in craft stores) and the foils hold up better in the heat of a torch.
I have included in this blog segment, a short video of me making a bead with gold foil. The video is a section from my DVD call Beadmaking 101 with Patricia Frantz which can be pruchased through Frantz Art Glass and Supplies. The video was shot and edited by Marcie Davis of Firelady Productions.