Thursday, August 3

Measuring Handmade Lampwork Beads - How Do You Measure Yours?

Due to the extraordinary heat that we have been dealing with this summer, today's post speaks to different subject that every bead maker has encountered after the beads emerge from the kiln.

A few Sundays ago when I was spending my torch session making over 200 spacers, it took quite some time to remove them from their mandrels, clean it hole and group them for common bead sizing (hole to hole).

When I post beads for sale, I like to measure the beads and note the range in measurement from small to large so that jewelry makers have specific measurements to use in their planning of a new design.

Someone reached out to ask me how I measure my beads to be so exact in my millimetre sizes.

Answer: I use a handy digital calliper. These are available for purchase at some hardware stores or online.

A set of calipers are a tool that can measure the diameter, thickness, and length of an object with precision. 

Here are the basics of its use.
  • Turn on the digital calipers and set the zero point by closing the jaws and pressing the zero button. If you are using an analog calipers, align the zero mark on the scale with the needle.
  • Hold the bead in one hand and gently open the jaws of the calipers with the other hand. 
  • Place the bead between the jaws and close them until they touch the bead lightly. Do not squeeze the bead or apply too much pressure, as this may damage the bead or affect the measurement.
  • Read the measurement on the display or scale of the calipers. This is the diameter of the bead at its widest point. 
    • You can also measure the thickness of the bead by placing it between the smaller jaws at the end of the calipers. 
    • To measure the length of the bead, use the depth gauge at the bottom of the calipers and insert it into the hole of the bead.
  • So I created a quick template to assist me in sorting the beads into groups by size.
  • I measure each bead and place them in the grid based on the recorded size in millimetres.
  • As I usually measure many beads within the same stringing session, I have found that beads can fall within the same range of measurement... with a few outliers. 

Based on the grouping of the sizes, I then choose the beads to include in my string of wire for photographing and posting on my Etsy online shop.

Any outliers go into my "bead soup" bottle for a future offering of orphan beads so nothing goes to waste!

Measuring your lampwork beads with a caliper can help you ensure quality, consistency, and accuracy in your bead making or collecting. It can also help you create beautiful jewelry designs that fit well and look great.

My latest sets of spacers are now posted and available for purchase in my Pendragonfyre Etsy Shop.