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Large beads for enamelling


Rio Grande carries sterling beads up to 19mm. I believe you were
asking around the 10mm range. They have a sandblasted surface but if
you are completely covering them in enamel this could be a good thing.
The texture would give more surface area for the enamel to grab on to.
Also, this texture would give additional sparkle and reflection under
transparent enamels. I would be concerned about the wall thickness of
the beads. I have to believe that in these sizes the walls are pretty
thin. I don’t have the catalog in front of me at the moment and I
didn’t check whether the beads are soldered or formed. If soldered you
probably do not want them because you could bet money that they are
not soldered with IT.

Rio also carries smaller beads in a smooth finish. You can call
800-545-6566 or check out their website –

Orchid Rules!..Karla in sunny So. Cal

On the question of large beads for enameling, it is quite easy to make
your own if you have a hydraulic press. Simply carve the mold in
plastic, press the two halves in 22 ga. fine silver, cut the excess
silver away, solder using IT for all 3 soldering stages (bead, bezel
seam and bezel to bead). Next you put a bezel around the bead (it can
be either fine or sterling and is not rolled over onto the bead) for
three purposes: to cover the joint, contain the enamel while damp and
to be able to set the bead on a trivet without leaving marks in the
enamel surface. Drill a hole through the bezel area and bead for
stringing later. Wet inlay the enamel up to the edge of the bezel and
fire on a 3 point trivet. This method resolves difficulties in how to
support the bead, I learned it at the last Enamelist Society
Convention. Contact me off-list for more Donna from WY,
just moved to VA

Hi Donna,

Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I’ve taken advantage of your
kind offer to email you offline, I hope you don’t mind - my email is
rather long.

I have yet to enamel beads as am somewhat ‘nervous’, but am really
keen to try. I don’t have anyone to visually learn from, so will be
using whatever written info I can, plus my own cloisonne and champleve

Can you tell me, does the enamel really need Klyr Fire or can it be
fired wet as is. I’ve read the Klyr Fire should be used - presumable
because the enamel in parts is ‘hanging upside-down’; however when
counter-enamelling, the enamel still clings when upside-down without
the use of Klyr Fire.

Does the bead need a base coat of flux, then fire, then place the
cloisonne wires?

I’ve been formulating the idea of soldering (IT) a fine silver jump
ring around the holes of the bead to protect the enamel at the holes.
The ring would act the same way as the bezel around the middle does.
This, in theory, means I should be able to place any type of bead next
to the enamelled bead without damaging the enamel - or am I just
complicating the process for no useful purpose.

I don’t own and haven’t used a hydraulic press, my plans are just to
fabricate the domes and solder together. Would the hydraulic press
mean that I could create different shaped beads - square, oval, etc?

Sorry for all the questions, bead enamelling seems to be one of the
mysteries of enamelling which is taking forever to unravel!

Kind regards, Marianne.