Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Silver Coring Beads: Sources and Supplies

If you'd like to silver-core your beads, I've put together a short list of information sources and suppliers to get you started.

There are a few good threads on the Lampwork, Etc. message board that are worth checking out. For inspiration, this thread has lots of photos of Pandora and big-hole beads:
"Let's see your Pandora style beads"

The following two LE threads written by Andrew were invaluable to me while I was trying to figure out silver-coring. I have all of the tools Andrew lists, including the polishing bits and compounds he recommends. One thing I do differently from Andrew is I cut my tubing 1/16" (or about 2mm) longer than the width of my beads, not 4mm as Andrew does. This is in part because I use the Jim Moore bead press, and the 1/16" measurement works best for me with this tool.

Andrew's excellent tutorials:
"Rivet Tutorial (Da pretty silva bit)"

"Polishing ( Da pretty silva bit )"

There are lots of places you could find the silver-smithing tools, but I got most of mine from Rio Grande. Rio Grande also carries the "brownies" and "greenies" polishing bits that Andrew talks about. I've found they work really well:

The Autosol metal polish mentioned in Andrew's polishing tut can be purchased on-line from Winterbrook Farm Antiques:
The Autosol works great but has a petrochemical smell. I love it anyway though and I'm glad I bought it. It really cleans and gives a nice mirror finish to the silver.

photo courtesy of Ginko Designs

Sterling Silver Tubing
The one supply I found hardest to locate was the right size silver tubing to fit my beads and the Pandora bracelet. All of my prayers were answered when I found Ginko Designs Etsy shop! She has worked with a manufacturer to develop this unique size of tubing that perfectly fits the Pandora bracelet. Her shipping is fast and the tubing is high quality, and you're also supporting a fellow artist when you purchase from her shop!
Ginko Designs on Etsy

3/16" Mandrels
Another supply I had a really hard time finding was 3/16" mandrels. I don't know why this is such a rare size! I was very happy to find them finally at Arrow Springs.

Jim Moore bead press
The most helpful tool of all has been the Jim Moore bead press. I've tried hand-riveting with the punches, but the Jim Moore tool is faster and easier, especially if you're a beginner silver-smith. Here's the link to Jim Moore's bead press:
Jim Moore Bead Press

I hope this post has been helpful to you!
Have fun!


Nancy said...

I think your awesome for sharing all this info!! Thanks so much!

Gardanne said...

Thank you so much for this information. I will add it to my to do list.

Karolen said...

Thanks Nancy and Gardanne!

Nancy said...

Sundance Art Glass has 3/16" mandrels too. I'm a beginner lampworker, so they are a little tricky for me. Also trying to figure out how to safely put them in the kiln since the end is so big. My kiln is a paragon and it has a bead door (flap) and its hard to get the mandrel in place quickly.
I need LOTS of practice :)

Mitosis Glass said...

I was googling "Jim Moore Bead Coring Tool" and your blog post came up fifth on the page. Thank you for the helpful information! I especially appreciate the links to sources for the necessary materials.

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