Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Low-tech for the win!

I hate cleaning my beads.  I hate removing the beads from the mandrels.  I hate getting the Dremel out.  I hate grinding away at the bead release in the bead holes for what feels like hours on end, the vibration of the Dremel numbing my fingers into insensibility (redundant much?).  Sometimes, the diamond bit even chips the glass at the bead hole, and that really pisses me off.  Someone once suggested that my beads chip because I'm cleaning them before they're annealed, so now that I have the kiln I thought, "Great!  No more cracking beads!  No more chipped holes!  My problems are over!"

Guess what.  Didn't work.  The worst chipping ever was after I annealed the bead.  I'm so sad about it, I didn't even take a picture to show you.  Just imagine a cute light green big-hole bead with brown-red dots and the bead hole with radial chips taken out of it.  Reminds me of the chips taken out of the edges of arrowheads my archaeologist uncle used to show me.  Difference between the arrowheads and my bead is, the arrowheads are supposed to be sharp, my bead hole is not.

So, I'm putting some of my newest beads away tonight and I noticed that I still haven't cleaned them.  Probably just a Freudian mistake, right?  Not wanting to pull out the damned Dremel, I suddenly remembered another option.  Last year when I was out shopping for cigar boxes to store my beads (more on that later, probably the next post now that I think about it) I found a packet of really pokey pipe cleaners.  I remembered then that a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, before I'd heard people extol the virtues of Dremels and diamond bits for cleaning beads, I used pipe cleaners.  But!  The pipe cleaners I used to use were wimpy, soft pipe cleaners and worked for naught.  These new-fangled pipe cleaners were hefty, had pokey needles sticking out of them, and were $2.50 per hundred.  I plunked down my milk money and stuffed the pipe cleaners in my bag... sadly, never to be seen or heard from again... until today.

So, to make a long story short, I found the pipe cleaners, cleaned some beads, and this is what came of it.  If you can't tell from the pictures how awesomely clean the beads are, you'll just have to trust me.  The flash seems to reflect a great deal on the inside surface of the bead hole, greatly diminishing the magnificent clarity of the holes.

Same bead.  Left one has bead release - right one does not.   Yeah, not much to see here.
Now, these little gems might be better...
Yup, a little better.  You can almost see through the bead hole edge-on.
And here are my saviors!
BJLong Pipe Cleaners.  I know it says "80", but really it has a hundred in it.
Oh, and by the way, I burnt myself in an unmentionable place this evening while torching.  A shard of almost-molten glass popped off the rod and landed right in my cleavage.  *YOWCH*  Not wanting to drop the bead I was working on, I asked my husband to dig it out but he couldn't find it.  After it stopped burning, my skin still kept getting irritated but I couldn't tell why until my torching session was over.  Turns out the piece of glass MELTED the inside edge of the piping on my low neckline and the glass was stuck there, scratching me that whole time.  Looks like a rash.  I wear low necklines all the time ('cause it's so freaking hot here!) so I wonder if anyone will notice.  I bet I'll have people staring at my cleavage all day tomorrow.  Well, that'll be a change.  Whoohoo!

Come back tomorrow for another harrowing adventure with Lyssa in "The Gathering Flame"!


  1. sorry about the burn, if you want I can kiss it and make it feel better. Maybe put some aloe lotion on it for you? :)

    1. And here I thought I had finally received a serious glassy comment from one of my followers. Well, at least I will get a kiss and a cuddle out of it. LOL

  2. Hey Lyssa, it's me Periwinkle from LE. This post about cleaning beads is so timely for me! I had pulled out some of my beads that I thought were clean and noticed so much bead release still in them, I thought maybe it was having babies while in the box! My dremel died some time ago, so I've been cleaning them without a power tool and it takes FOREVER! I'd love to know where I can get my hands on those pipe cleaners. As another glass beadmaker stated, it takes one day to make the beads and two days to clean them!!!

    1. Thanks for commenting, Peri. In answer to your question about where I got the pipe cleaners, I just got them at a cigar shop. I've also been getting empty cigar boxes at a cigar shop, and the boxes are great to store my beads in. I'll be taking pictures of my boxes and putting them up on my blog tonight, don't miss that post!

  3. Oh No! I'm so sorry you got burnt! I wont kiss it but I'll send hugs your way. LOL!
    Great idea about the pipe cleaners. I will have to try them out.