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Monday, June 29, 2009

Tips About the Best Lampwork Beads

You're looking for the perfect bead for your necklace - well a lampwork bead is a great option. These jewelry accents help to create just the perfect look. Here are some helpful hints if you are thinking about purchasing a lampwork bead for your favorite chain or necklace.

Bear in mind that good quality beads can be either new or old. You may believe that the quality of older beads is much greater than more recently-made ones. Nevertheless, things do not work like this all the time. So long as they are completely dedicated to the trade of crafting these glass beads, new and veteran artists both produce quality work. The physical characteristics of the bead itself are of far greater concern than the bead's age.

Choose expert artisans. It's important that you search out the best crafters when buying these beads. Follow the same procedures or produce the same quality of material. Although there are lampwork bead designers who will tell you that you do not need a kiln to make them, kilns do affect the durability of the bead. Designers who are not competent with kilns may still not produce the durability one would want. The artist should have previous work available, so ask to see some at close quarters if you can. Then you will know what to expect in terms of quality with your own lampwork bead.

You should go in for lampwork beads that are annealed. The bead needs to be properly annealed, which just means heated or cured. This is done so it stays strong and of good quality. You may have a discussion with the merchant as to how the bead has been anealed. Avoid any beads that have been heated using vermiculite, a heated blanket, a crock pot or an open flame instead of a true kiln. The bead will suffer greatly in quality if it has gone through any of these processes. A kiln can still produce improperly done beads, but is nevertheless recommended over other forms of heating.

Watch for a strong body. There should be no sharp edges on a good lampwork bead. On the flip side, all the beads curves and sides must be spherical or puckered. The bead should have no cracks or folds in it. You may concentrate on small corners and at the joints of lampwork beads checking it out for soft spots of crevices. And the stringing point should be solid and without weak points.

The beads you're considering buying must be properly made. If there are pupils, dots or lines attached to the main form of a bead, ensure that these are fused to the piece.

If there is any flexibility at all with any part of your lampwork bead, it wasn't heated appropriately and you shouldn't buy it. You shouldn't notice any powdery bead release coming from your lampwork bead when you tap it. The bead obviously has a design flaw or perhaps it's just a sign of poor craftsmanship. Take some time to see if the bead hangs well when it hangs from your chain. When you shop for lampwork beads, these are all of the things you need to consider.

Tiffany Provost writes about []lampwork beads and other []fashion and personal care tips for
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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Jewelry Making: How to Use an Extender Chain

Often times making jewelery for others is a game of guesswork: no one person's neck, ankle, belly or wrist is the same as another's, and here is where the extender chain comes into play. Or, perhaps you have outgrown a favorite article of your own, or miscalculated a new accessory's length. Here again, is the extender chain's chance to shine.

To begin with, choose a chain that is similar in size to the rest of your piece, and also matching your clasp.

When using chain, it is necessary to use a lobster claw or spring-ring clasp. Two inches is a common length for an extender, but again, this depends on the size of the jewelry, as well as where it is intended to be worn on the body. Three inches may be needed for a necklace, whereas only one for a bracelet, depending.

There are several ways to attach chain to jewelery, even without taking anything apart. The easiest is to use a jump ring, a tempered metal ring that can open or close. Again, chose a ring that is like-sized to the rest of your piece, and chain. Open the ring using flat-nosed pliers by moving the ends side to side (resist the urge to pull apart! Not only will it make closing the jump more difficult, but it creates a weak point in the metal). Another option is the split ring, a connector that looks like a miniature key ring. These can be trying to use, but do offer security as a split ring is unlikely to come apart.

If your piece is wire-wrapped, simply wire-wrap the chain to the end. Chain makes an excellent finish to such jewelry, as it continues the metal motif.

Feeling spunky? Add a bead to the end of your chain! This can be done by any of the above methods, and is a classy way to complete a unique piece of jewelry. Also, the extra weight of such a dangle can help keep the chain and clasp where they belong-whether behind the neck, or on the underside of the wrist.

Extender chains add versatility and style to almost any piece. Try it and see.

Learn more about this author, Cassandra Koslen.