Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Tutorial Tuesday - lampwork bead hammered bail

I had several lovely comments about the bail that I made for Lynne's gorgeous hollow lampwork bead for the Bead Soup Party (I've never had so many comments on a post before unless it was to enter a giveaway!), and a couple of emailed questions about how I made it, so I thought I'd make another, take some photos and show you.

I used 2mm sterling silver wire for the bead soup party bail, but decided to use thinner wire (1.5mm) for the smaller bead in this tutorial. This bead is approximately 15mm. I probably wouldn't go thinner than 1.5mm wire though as you will be doing a lot of hammering. Obviously you can use copper instead of silver! The bail is made from a relatively short piece of wire that is hammered at either end. The first end is hammered without the bead on it - easy enough - but the second end is hammered with the bead threaded on. You need good hammer control, especially if you use artisan lampwork beads, but remember that you can obviously practice with a large mass-produced glass bead if you want!

Step 1 - Cut a 6cm length of wire, or use a scrap piece as I'm doing here. Start to flare out one end of the wire with a chasing hammer and a bench block, working your way up the wire so that the tapering is gradual. You will need to slightly flatten up to the other end of the wire too so that when the bead moves up and down the bail you can't see any round wire, and you need the tapering to go approximately two-thirds up the wire. This end will eventually be curled over to form the bail.

Step 2 - This is the tapered end halfway through hammering. Don't worry if it starts to bend to one side as you hammer, just turn it over so that it curls back. You will also be filing later on so that will help to tidy it up.

Step 3 - Once you are happy with the first end of the wire thread the bead on. Hold the bead out of the way and hanging off the edge of the bench block as shown in the photo. The bead will be pushed up over the start of the tapering you've just done so that it's safely out of the way of the hammer.

Step 4 - Carefully hammer the second end of the wire, again trying to make the tapering gradual, and again turning the wire over if it starts to bend as you hammer.

Step 5 - This is what the pendant should look like now - the longer, wider end end of the wire is the end that will become the bail.

Step 6 - File the edges of the wire to smooth them out and round off the ends. If necessary trim the bottom end of the pendant first. File and then sand the flat sections of wire too if you want to get as smooth a finish as possible.

Step 7 - Use round nosed pliers to bend over the the longer end to form the bail. Thread your lovely new pendant on a cord or chain and enjoy!

These beads, but the way, are were made by Isabelle Anderson. The pendants will be making their way into Between Dreams gallery at the end of the week unless anyone emails to tell me they'd like one of them! They are £17 including postage.


  1. This is fab thank you so much and the beads are beautiful xxx

  2. Don't know if I'd be brave enough to hammer so close to such beautiful beads.
    Pandants look great though. Thanks for sharing Jo

  3. I love this! What a wonderful way to wear a favorite bead. I'll be linking to this.

  4. How very kind and generous of you to share this. I definately want to try this with the lampwork beads that I make. Thanks!

  5. I just tried to do one of these today... Haven't got a clue how thick the wire was as it's reclaimed silver.... Now to hammer the top part... Will it work????

    Thanks for sharing this! I did finally make the earrings to go with the chainmaille necklace a made for the party with your leaves!

  6. What a wonderful idea to hammer wire for the bail. It sure shows off a beautiful bead. Thanks for sharing. I will link in a future blog post.



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