Beads have been made of glass for over 5,000 years. The discovery of fire was the essential step in glass bead making. There is evidence as early as 2340-2180 BC in Mesopotamia of a method known as “core-forming” where they used a steel mandrel with pieces of glass held over a flame.
Gradually as the glass soften, they would wrap it round the mandrel forming intricate ornaments. These early beads, or vessels had been viewed valuable and have been preserved as they had been placed in burial tombs. In Nuzi (130 miles north of Baghdad) beads were found around 1400 BC. Even today, we make beads by holding glass rods over a flame then gently winding the molten glass over the mandrels.
The invention of the blow pipe gave way to the creation of the Rosetta bead and the seed beads which sustained the bead making industry in Venice for centuries. Beadmaking is truly an historic art form.
Glass at a temperature high enough to make it workable, or “ductile”, is laid down or wound around a steel wire or mandrel coated in a clay slip called “bead release.”