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Bead jewelry making is a popular form of jewelry crafting. In fact, the beads themselves are pieces of art in their own right. Glass bead making supplies can be found in most craft or hobby stores. If you want to do more than just craft jewelry, but actually create the unique elements that go into making bead jewelry this added dimension of creativity can make your hobby all the more satisfying.

What Is Bead Making?
Beads are the small, usually cylindrical decorations that can be attached together or to a base to form pieces of jewelry. Most are made with a hole through the middle that allows them to be strung on a string or wire. Beads can be simple or quite ornate.

Types of Decorative Beads
There are many different types of decorative beads on the market today. Chevron beads, or star beads, are usually made of glass. They have a twelve-point star pattern and several layers. Furnace, or cane glass beads are usually hand blown in long tubes and cut down into beautiful, colorful beads. Seed beads appear "flat" or doughnut shaped. They come in a variety of colors and sizes, and make a great accent. Fire polished beads have flat, shiny edges. Bali beads are silver and black, with intricate designs carved into their surfaces.

Beaded jewelry is made by using one or a combination of these types of elements to craft unique and eye-catching pieces. These beads can be purchased pre-made, or, if you are particularly adventurous, you can make your own. Glass bead making is sometimes called lampwork bead making. To make your own beads, you will need some tools and supplies.

Glass Bead Making Supplies
The most important supplies you will need to begin bead jewelry making is safety equipment. Because glass bead making requires the use of flames, you will need protective eyewear made with Didymium lenses. These lenses reduce the effect of infrared and UV light on your eyes. Sunglasses are not sufficient protection. You will also want to have a fire extinguisher nearby. A kiln is fundamental to bead making for the final process in which the beads are annealed. A hand torch is used to shape the beads during the design process.

The beads themselves are made out of glass rods. The glass can be made from soda-lime, lead, or borosilicate. A mandrel or support rod on which the bead is worked is made from stainless steel welding wire. Paddles made of graphite or brass are used to shape the bead. Other tools used for shaping are mashers, picks, and tweezers. Once the bead is shaped, decorations can be added using thread, rakes, or a pick.

Where to Buy Bead Making Supplies
There are literally hundreds of sites on the internet where glass bead making supplies can be purchased. Hobby and craft store are another place to look. If your community has a local bead shop, start there. If you are just beginning, consider purchasing glass bead making kits, as they will have most, if not all, of the supplies you need.