Thursday, March 21, 2013

Making hollow beads

As the reveal for the Component of the Month challenge is getting close I thought I'd use today's post to show you how I made the copper hollow beads that are this month's challenge. I love reading posts showing work in progress, so I hope that you do too!

Each bead starts out as two equal sized discs, which I cut out using my trusty Pepe disc cutter. I love this tool! The discs are then textured, some with a hammer, some with decorative metal punches before being domed in my doming block. Each disc is domed the same to make sure that they still match.

Next comes lots of filing! This has to be done to give each disc a flat rim so that each pair of discs sits neatly together with a crisp join.

Then it's over to the soldering table. When I'm doing a batch of beads like this I use solder paste as I just find it quicker to use. I put a generous helping of solder paste inside the rim of one discs and then place the matching disc on top. I'm generous with the solder as its not easy to go back and add more if its needed, and any untidy excess solder is hidden inside the bead anyway.

After soldering and pickling to clean the beads up I then drill the holes. This is the fiddliest bit! The first step is to use a triangular needle file to file a small groove in the edge of a bead so that the drill bit has somewhere to sit and doesn't slip along the join. I use a stone setting burr to neaten up the edges of the hole.

The last step is to use Liver of Sulpur to give the beads a lovely antiqued finish and to highlight the texture - and there you are! I love how tactile these beads are.

The reveal for the March CoM challenge will actually be Monday 1st April as 31st March is Easter Sunday. I hope that you will come back and join us then and see what everyone has made! And if you fancy creating something lovely with your own hollow bead then I'm currently making a limited supply of them to go in my Daisychain Extra shop!


  1. I was actually so inspired by your CoM components that I ordered a bunch of brass and copper sheet to give this a try - it arrived yesterday. Thanks for providing the process in the nick of time! :-)

    1. Excellent! That was good timing! A warning though, I've become so addicted to making hollow beads that I've got different sized ones sitting all over my desk!

  2. I love work in progress posts too! This one was especially intriguing, as I've never worked with metal before, but I sure would like to give it a try one day! Thanks for sharing Jo!

  3. These look just beautiful. Thank you for explaining it all so well :o)

  4. What an awesome tutorial-thank you so much for sharing! I have got to try this technique out as the end results look fantastic!

  5. My pleasure! Glad you enjoyed it.

  6. Wow...I wish I wasn't so sore...I'd be running into my studio to give these a go with my new torch....tom first thing....I appreciate you sharing your knowledge so much...I'm new to soldering and the only resource for me is online...thank-you...xox

  7. I love your step-by-step posts Jo, you explain everything perfectly! I may have to book myself in for one of your days of tuition later this year :)

    I still have to get around to making something with the smashing bead I received for the component of the month challenge - it's sat on my table gathering ideas around itself!

  8. I really can not wait to see it up close! I am so excited!!!!!

  9. I'm glad you all liked it!
    Jess, are you on my mailing list? My private tuition dates go very quickly so if you'd like to come along its best to sign up for my newsletter so that you can see straight away when new dates are released. The easiest way to sign up is through the link on the left hand side of my blog It would be great to see you!

  10. I have learned so much for the detailed directions that are always given. This is such a great blog. I look forward to getting it!
    I am saving for a disc cutter and dapper! Can't wait to try this.

  11. hi , i want to know what type drill & bits did you use. after a long google search. i saw your blog. i brought drill press . give me suggestion i want dill a hole to 5mm hallow bead. thanks.


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