Last night I made a batch of about fifty 10mm round lampwork spacers for some simple, colorful jewelry. They had 1/16th (1.5mm) holes so that they could sit alone on loop-and-wrapped 20 gauge wire without having small spacer beads on either side.
For anyone new to this blog or lampworking, in order to make lampwork beads you have to wrap the molten glass on a stainless steel mandrel coated with a clay mixture, called bead release, so the beads will come off the mandrel. Unfortunately, the bead release sticks to the inside of the holes and needs to be cleaned. Have you ever seen inexpensive lampwork beads, made in China or India, at stores like Michael's or Hobby Lobby? That gray, powdery coating on the inside of the bead is the bead release and if you don't clean it out it makes a mess!
So, to recap, I had about 50 smallish beads with small holes that I definitely didn't want to clean by hand. I had read Lori Greenberg's blog post about using a tumbler to clean beads, but I hadn't tried it yet. This was definitely the time! I followed her instructions, tumbled my beads for about 15 minutes, and checked them. The holes were totally clean. This process works like a champ! I'm so excited! My holes were smaller than the beads Lori talks about using and it does seem that, since the beads sit closer to the wire, that they get cleaned faster.
Needless to say, I was pretty impressed and thankful for this amazing time saver! Have any of you tried this method? One tip I learned from the comments on Lori's blog came from Tanya Davidson from Whole Lotta Whimsy, who mentioned
You can clean your shot with 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of white vinegar. Tumble the shot for 1 hour or less and it will clean the barrel and shot. Rinse as many times as needed.A helpful tip for anyone using a tumbler and stainless steel shot!
So, what are you tumbling these days? Polishing rocks? Making faux sea glass? Polishing metal? Those are the things I know about, anyway. Hopefully you'll know about some tumbler fun that's new to me! I'd love to hear what you're up to! As always, I really appreciate you stopping by!