These Czech Glass Fire Polished Beads, Czech Glass Pressed Beads and Czech Glass Seed Beads from Halcraft Collection are predominantly made in an industrial town a few hours North of Prague, in the beautiful mountains of The Czech Republic.
These beads can be made either in automatic pressing machines or in hand-run pressing systems that feed molten glass, which looks like glowing lava-red ribbons, into stainless steel molds that clamp together, while a stainless-steel wire slides into place to make the stringing hole, which creates a set of perfect glass beads nearly every time.
As the cooling glass ribbons fall away from the machine, one can see the beads with holes in them surrounded by a thin ribbon of glass of the same color. These beads need to be separated from that thin "waste" glass by tumbling them in a heavy grit machine for several hours, and then bringing them to lighter and lighter grit machines until they are polished smooth. Once they are smooth, there are many additional processes that can take place.
For Czech Glass Fire Polished Beads, they take the smooth round beads to a special semi-automatic faceting machine where 50 beads are lined up in a row on metal pins that go through the holes and lock the beads in place. A worker then runs a special pattern of placing the line of beads, all at the same time, on diamond dust surfaced polishing wheel that rapidly carves away the round surface to create one flat facet in the round bead. They follow a specific pattern moving around the center of the round bead and outward towards one hole, faceting in steps as they go. Once they are done with one area surrounding one hole on the bead, they need to turn the beads over, so all 50 beads go on new pins, but with the faceted side facing the base of the pins making it possible for the round polished side to be brought down on the polishing wheel to repeat the faceting pattern of the other side. These faceted beads have tiny but dis-cernable lines in each facet due to the diamond faceting wheel and the way it cuts the glass like a glacier cuts rock, but faster.This is where the Fire Polishing comes in! The beads are put on a Teflon coated conveyor belt that slowly runs through a kiln heated to the exact melting point of the glass so that the surface of each facet melts a tiny bit, filling in the cutting lines left behind by the diamond wheel. These nearly molten, now beautifully smooth, faceted glass beads are then cooled over many hours to avoid cracking the glass, and this process is what make up the mirror-like properties of Czech Fire Polished Glass beads.
After this process is completed in a myriad of transparent, translucent and opaque glass colors, there are still finishing processes and coating processes that can only be done in The Czech Republic, that take these beads to yet another level of perfection!
Czech Glass Pressed Beads they take the various shaped pressed beads that have been “cleaned” and polished, and finish them in different ways depending on the final look that is planned.
For faceted rondelles or other faceted non-round beads, they are taken to semi-automatic faceting machines to create the faceted edges, then they are put through the Fire Polishing Kiln to melt and smooth each facet beautifully. Sometimes before they are faceted, a finish is applied to the entire surface of the bead, and then that coating is faceted away in the semi-automatic machine, revealing the base color of the glass where the facets are, but leaving the special coating where no facets are.
For table cut or mirror beads, the polished glass shape may get a specialty coating covering the entire glass surface, and then the shape is brought to a faceting wheel but instead of making many facets on the surface of the bead, it is used to just take away one large facet, or cut, of glass on either side of the bead, exposing the base glass color for just these cut areas, where the remainder of the bead remains covered with the specialty coating.
For many Czech Glass Pressed Beads such as flowers, coin beads with designs in them, and other designer beads, a metallic color coating covers the entire glass shape, but when certain areas of the bead are table cut away on a polishing wheel, the specialty coating remains in only the deepest valleys of the pressed shape, and the smooth shiny surface of the base glass color is revealed everywhere that a cut has been made. For other such as ladybugs, leaves, daggers, dice and some flowers, metallic coatings cover the entire bead, but after polishing away the outer surfaces in a fine grit tumbling machine for several days, only the metallic coating in the deepest crevice's of the design remain, and the remainder of the surface is the base glass color of the pressed bead.
The method for producing proper Czech Glass Seed Beads (called seed beads because of their small size) goes back to the early 1400's in Murano, Italy, which is a small island off the coast near The City of Venice. This is where the Millefiori beads were first perfected, which was made by a process of stretching out patterns in glass while the glass was molten-hot.
The same laws of physics that allow one to stretch out a cane of glass with an intricate design in it such as a star with multiple layers of colors, or a circle that is made out of many different colors, allows one to stretch out a cane with hole in the center into a long tube with a hole that shrinks at the same rate as the walls of the tube.
Once these "canes" of hollow glass are cut down into hundreds of tiny pieces, they are then sent to tumbling machines for over 72 hours, creating rounded "tubes" of glass.
Depending on how precise the stretching system is, and what the starting size of the cane is, the beads can be created to be extremely uniform inside and out. Many different colors can be made, and the Czech Republic has perfected the art of modifying the surface color of their glass, so these seed beads can come in a multitude of base colors and surface finishes.
Halcraft Collection carries hundreds of different colors and finishes of Czech Glass Seed beads in a variety of sizes, and we hope that you will consider using them as a beautiful and bright spacer bead in any of your jewelry designs.