Thursday, September 16, 2010

North To Alaska For That Elusive Large Hole Bead

Lately I've been occupied with making a few beaded rope necklaces using tiny 3 mm Czech glass beads. So far I've crafted 3 ropes in a combo of sapphire blue and deep garnet; and 1 each in a combo of red and white pearl opal and in deep red and light wine. These ropes look lovely on their own but are striking when used as a necklace for a slider pendant or large hole glass art bead. My only problem was trying to find large hole glass beads with a truly large hole.

Jim of Alaska Boro was able to solve this dilemma for me. Jim took on the challenge and began to experiment with creating a bead that would fulfill my requirements. This was no simple task as glass has its properties and a glass artist must recognize and respect the limitations that molten glass has. But Jim persevered, ultimately using not only a much larger bead mandrel but a hollow one to allow the metal mandrel to attain higher temperatures more quickly than the solid metal one. He also had to somehow intensify the flame on his torch so that it would produce more heat. 
To be truthful I didn't understand the technical details but did get the general idea of the challenges that had to be met and vaguely comprehended such things as;  a hotter flame but not necessarily a bigger flame was required because these large holed beads are made on a larger steel mandrel the mandrel itself takes more heat.   The exact "HOW" all of this was technically accomplished is in the realm of the true glass bead artist and totally alien to me.  However, I got my large hole beads and I have  Alaska Boro (Jim ) to thank for helping make my vision a reality. :)

Since I have recently taken up the art of kumihimo these large hole beads will be doubly useful. If there are any jewelry makers out there that fabricate either beaded rope necklaces or kumihimo braided cord necklaces Jim's large hole glass masterpieces might be just the perfect element to set it at center stage. The beads can vary slightly in diameter but the center hole measures very close to 1 centimeter or 3/8 inch. Be sure to check out Jim's website at:

Below are some photos of my beaded ropes and the Alaska Boro Beads that I purchased. I think the beads are stunning and the perfect adornment for my simple beaded ropes.

I would sincerely appreciate your viewpoints and comments about my beaded ropes, Alaska Boro beads  and the combination of the two.


  1. THe beads and the necklaces are perfect for each other. Nice teamwork!

  2. WOW, those are some seriously cool large holed beads!!! I love your idea and admire your seed beading ability. I am WAY too lazy to learn anything that intricate. I once seed beaded a headband and wanted to kick myself for starting it about half way through. I finally finished it and sold it, but I always think "never again" :) GREAT work my friend.

  3. They look great! I really like how you finish them off -- beautiful work!

  4. I agree, they really work well together. Your necklaces are a simple statement that are enhanced by the bead and the beads are very bold so the balance of the two together is just perfect! I really love glass work, so beautiful :-)


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