Lampwork beads are tiny, handcrafted works of art. Many lampwork beads are highly sculptural. You can enhance the beauty of lampwork beads and make your lampwork glass beads more durable by riveting the beads using sterling silver disks and tubing. Tube riveting lampwork beads give your lampwork glass beads a new look that will enhance the value of your hand-assembled jewellery.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Two sterling silver disks
- Sterling silver tube
- Ball-peen hammer
- Steel block or anvil
- Jewellery saw
- Wet/dry sandpaper (220-grit, 400-grit, 600-grit, 800-grit, 1200-grit)
- Disc cutter (optional)
- Tube cutting jig (optional)
- Weighted rawhide or plastic mallet (optional)
Sketch the design for your rivet lampwork glass bead.
Purchase or make a lampwork bead with flat sides. The sides must be flat enough so that a sterling silver disk can sit flush against each side of the bead.
Purchase or make two identical sterling silver round disks. The size of the disk depends on the size of the lampwork bead but the disks must be smaller than the diameter of the lampwork bead you plan to rivet. The size of the sterling silver disks will change the look of the riveted bead. A very small disk finishes the lampwork bead and accentuates the lampwork. A large disk accentuates the sterling silver and makes the bead look like the primary element is sterling rather than glass. Most jewellery supply houses sell premade disks in a variety of sizes, but you can use a jewellery saw or a disc cutter to cut the disks to the size you need.
Measure the diameter of your lampwork glass bead. Purchase or make a sterling silver tube with a diameter that is 1mm smaller than the diameter of the hole in the lampwork glass bead. Test the tube to be sure the tube fits snugly into the bead hole.
Prepare to cut the sterling silver tube so that it is 2mm longer than the width of the glass bead. Measure the tube and mark the tube where you plan to cut with a marker or scribe. Test the tube before you cut. Slide the tube into the bead and check to be sure there is 1mm of tube on each side of the bead. Cut the tube with a jewellery saw. Use a tube cutting jig to make cutting the tube easier, more accurate and more even.
File to edges of the sterling silver disks and tube to remove marks from cutting. Use 220-grit wet/dry sandpaper to remove tool marks caused during fabrication or shipping.
Feed the sterling silver tube through the bead. Place a sterling silver disk on either side of the lampwork bead to create a sandwich. Place the sandwich on the steel block.
Hit the tube with the ball-peen end of the ball-peen hammer to flare the tube. Turn the bead over and flare the other side of the tube. Repeat until both sides of the tube are flared to the point that the tube is holding the sterling silver discs in place. Be gentle and be sure to hit the tube so you do not break the lampwork glass.
Use a weighted rawhide or plastic mallet or the flat side of the ball-peen hammer to hammer the flared tube until it is flush with the sterling silver disk. Again, be careful with the glass.
Use 400-grit wet/dry sandpaper to remove tool marks caused during riveting. Switch to 600-grit, 800-grit and 1200-grit until the sterling silver is polished.
Tips and warnings
- Practice riveting with copper or brass and "practice" lampwork beads before using sterling silver and your favourite lampwork bead.
- Wear eye goggles when riveting lampwork glass beads to protect your eyes if the glass breaks.
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- "Making Handmade Lampwork Beads & Glass Jewelry"; Danny Ronat, Hava Ronat; 2008
- "The Complete Book of Glass Beadmaking"; Kimberley Adams; 2007
- "Flameworking: Creating Glass Beads, Sculptures & Functional Objects"; Elizabeth Ryland Mears; 2005
- "Making Glass Beads"; Cindy Jenkins; 2004
- "Art Bead Jewelry"; Karen Leonardo; 2009