Beads and jewllery on Folksy


Making an Amoeba bead (BoC tutorial)

A follow on from the tutorial that I published yesterday for a simple two colour twistie cane, here is a tutorial for the little Amoeba beads that I make for Beads of Courage UK.

I have always liked to punty and pull my twistie gathers with CoE 104 glass and so these kinds of cute and simple critter beads that I make for the BoC kiddies have evolved from the detailed twistie scraps that I often have to hand to work with.

These beads are basically a twistie cored encased tab bead with boggling eyes. You can make the core with any kind of  twistie that you may have to hand and then encase with any light transparent.

I wind the fat ends of my twistie pull on to a pre-warmed coated (with bead release) mandrel to form the Amoeba core.
Next I melt and roughly wrap the part of my clear punty that was originally my maria to become the encasing layer of glass.
The next stage is to smooth the surface and even out the whole bead with gentle marvering to create nice bead ends and holes that are dimpled and not sharp.
 I then pre-warm my mashers so that the bead will not be chilled too rapidly at the pressing stage. You do not need posh mashers to make beads like these Amoebas, you could press your bead between two heat proof surfaces or heat and press one side at a time on your graphite marver.
I use the curve of my mashers to round out the bead so that the centre is slightly bigger than the ends. Other ways you can achieve the same look is to marver one end at a time to a slight angle with your graphite paddle or wrap an extra layer of glass around the middle of the bead and then gravity shape it into a slight barrel profile in the flame.
I then press my bead along the length of the mandrel to get the lovely tab shape I am looking for. Be sure not to press your bead too thin - leave at least a mandrels with of glass on either side of the mandrel. Flame kiss out the circular marks caused to the surface of the bead by rapid chilling due to the pressing process.
Choose where you would like your critters eyes to be and place two dots of white with thick stringer for the eyes. Melt the dots down just a little and then top both with a smaller dot of a dark transparent stringer for the iris colour and melt the topped dots down just a little to make them look well rounded and smooth.

Next top with a very small dot of black glass for the pupil and melt in. I like to use a stringer that is about 1mm to do this to make sure the pupils are nice and small.

Lastly warm the whole bead through thoroughly in the top of the flame  before popping into you kiln for garaging. I don't recommend making these kind of beads if you are cooling in bubbles, vermiculite or with a fibre blanket as large pressed beads have a higher rate of failure due to the thermal stresses involved in their making.

Here is a selection of Amoebas that will be making their way off to BoC - BCCA this week.

Jolene x

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  1. Thank you for the tutorial! What a great idea for BOC!

  2. Only just found these - been making gremlins for BoC - now I can add Amoebae :-)

  3. Love these Jo, might give them a go for BoC. Most get cracking at the torch again good way to start. Thanks for the tut! x