Friday, June 03, 2016

Like Oil on Water

Antique Lustre Beads
 Beads fascinate me, what can I say. Especially  working with such small beads, I have to have my magnifiers on, and in doing so, really am amazed by these little balls of glass. As if the history of how the beads in general were made so long ago isn't interesting enough, the different glasses are really fascinating...and made with metals and earth elements no longer available today, so the early colors are truly precious. I have a few lustre beads in my vast palette....Id say out of 300+ colors, I have maybe 5 lustres. So I save them for special.
Any color bead can be a luster bead~ lustre, or luster, is a finish applied after the bead is made~ except for black beads, those usually were Irisized. Simply put, black glass beads were put into big vats of lacquer that contained metal dust...then they were put thru a furnace just hot enough to burn off the organics and fuse the metal tot he surface, making the iris finish.  Lustring beads was reported in use as early as 1856.  The beads were sent thru a chamber that contained metal fumes...the metal in the fumes would stick to the hot glass and melt to their surface, producing the effect above...to look closely at them it looks like oil on water, but in a smooth allover effect, without the striations. I am always thankful to the nameless many, as there were sure to be many MANY people in the glass industry that died early deaths from breathing toxic metal vapors. 
Check back in a few if you want to see where I put these little beads!

1 comment:

ELISABETH M said...

Oh Rachael..luster beads are beautiful on the surface, but the fact that they, at least the early beads, caused such physical pain or even death really takes the shine off them...I have quite a few in my stash - I'm pretty sure they're all mid 20th century, they come from the supplies of a professional milliner who went out of business in the 1969...and while they're lovely to look at in their little jars, I'm still not sure what I'll ever do with them.