Hollow Formed Bead

This is one of two hollow formed beads I made on Wednesday night during my lesson with Lexi.  It is quite the process and I plan to document the steps for another post in the future.  Right now I will show the results, the good, the bad and the ugly part of this post.

It truly is a fascinating and labor intensive process.  I made two beads that evening and when you see the second one….well that one didn’t turn out, hence the bad and the ugly.

The process involves starting with two circles that are the same size.  We used sterling silver discs for this less.  A hole is placed in the center of the each circle and you decide how large the diameter of that center hole should be.  Then saw the sized hole in the center of each of your discs.  Once that is done, you have to filed those inner circles to be smooth and match each other.

Next she had me use the dapping block (see picture below) and begin working on gradually rounding the two discs.  There are lots of tricks here.  Basically you continue to choose smaller and smaller holes to dome the discs.  AND the discs need to match and fit together without and gaps.  Really important here….no gaps, you’ll see why and what happens in my last pictures of the second bead.

Pepe Dapping Block and Punches

Pepe Dapping Block and Punches

Once the two discs are the shape you want, then you solder them together.  I was so caught up in learning this process that I didn’t get any pictures, which is one of the reasons why I will do a step by step to show how this is accomplished.  The way the two discs are soldered together is unlike anything I have ever tried and found it to be really cool.  Essentially, you flux the joining edge of the two discs and cut a piece of flux to lay across the diameter of one of the discs.  Place the two discs together, edges matching, with a little of the solder hanging out on each side and then fire up your torch!  The solder will flow and you use your torch to take advantage of the solder’s capillary action to fill that seam.  All of that worked will with the first bead pictured above.  Course Lexi demonstrated the soldering technique on the first bead for me to observe.

While I did the work on shaping the discs for both beads, now it was my turn to solder the second bead.  Everything looked good and I was quite pleased and amazed to see how the solder flowed and it looked as if I had a complete join.


This bead doesn’t have any of the finish work.  You can see on this side how the seams are soldered together. But sadly there was a gap that I didn’t notice.  Lexi had checked before I started too and neither of us saw it.  But the gap was there and one of the things Lexi emphasizes…because it is so true, solder won’t fill gaps!

Here’s the gap:


And you can see ALL the solder that we both tried to use to get that gap to fill.  Now I’ll play with this some in terms of sanding, filing and creating another textrue effect.  The important thing is that I learned a technique and my pieces weren’t perfect.  My first attempt and as much as I would love everything to turn out on the first try, it usually doesn’t for me.  It’s how we learn, it’s how I learn.  I understand this technique, the basic principles.  Now it’s time to practice.

I also understand why hand made, hollow form beads are so expensive.  I’ll repeat myself,  it takes a lot of time to make these beads.  And I know it will take less time the better I become at making these.  It may seem like a lot of effort to create a few beads, but when you are making art jewelry, that’s part of the process of creating something to go with a necklace you’ve designed.  And there are times when I may not even feel it’s worth it and just buy the beads that will be incorporated into a design.  Whenever we are making art in our respective mediums, it does become our call as the artist to decide what we thinks works best with the piece we are creating.

Until next time, here’s wishing all of you a wonderful day of creativity!