Monday, June 29, 2009

Drilling Beach and Fused Glass

The following was published on Handmade News

Now that Summer is quickly approaching, visions of beautiful sea glass are on many people's minds, both jewelry designers and their buyers too!
On the Etsy and Artfire forums, there have been a number of questions on the best way to drill sea glass. Teams and Guilds are wonderful in the value they have as a brainstorming tool. Whether you're looking for advice on a new technique or just a better way to do something, they're a great resource for bouncing ideas around. Here's one of the questions I was asked as a glass team member:

Question: I have a collection of sea glass and I wanted to make a bracelet using the glass. My first question would be, what do I use to drill the tiny hole in the glass? And my second question is, would fishing line be fine to string these sea glass beads onto or would metal wire be better? Please keep in mind that I have no experience with glass or beads or any type of jewelry making.
Answer: I love beach glass, all shapes and colors and textures! I use a cordless Dremel drill with a diamond bit to get the hole you're looking for. You would need to drill underwater (hence the cordless drill, because combining water and electricity = yikes!). You'd be drilling underwater both to reduce stress on the glass and to keep the drill bit cool. Use either a piece of styrofoam or a piece of modeling clay on the bottom of a water-filled container to keep your glass steady. The water should cover your glass and the styrofoam will give you some grip and stability while you're drilling. You should be able to feel when you have hit the styrofoam or clay when your hole is completely drilled through.

Start the drill at a low speed which you can increase once you get started. Just go slow and easy and do some practice pieces first, with glass you don't absolutely love, just to get the hang of it. Try to drill on a slight angle at first to get the hole started; it will then be easier to continue from that point and your drill won't "skitch" as much. Take your time and with practice it will become easier to drill both fused glass or sea glass.

As far as stringing material, I'd keep away from fishing line because it is too brittle. You could use Tiger Tail, Acculon, or a similar type of beading cord instead, so your beautiful jewelry will hold up to wear. Most important, have fun with your new beading hobby and when you're ready to take your hobby to the next level, I'd encourage you to join one of the teams or guilds on Artfire or Etsy!!

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