The Making of

Czech Glass Beads

 

 

 
Czech fire polished beads are in demand across the would because of their high reflective brillance and compatiblity with other types of glass beads.The production, designing and coloring of fire polished beads requires careful attention.

The Czech Republic is famous for its beads. My father and I were able to go on a buying trip to working factories. I took pictures at one bead factory in Jablonec, where I was able to see how the beads are made from beginning to end. I have long admired the Czech beads and touring the factories was so enlightening. I was even able to design my own bead!

Czech beads are renowned for their excellent craftsmanship dating back to the 11th Century. Made of quality glass, the vivid colours will not fade and are consistent throughout the line. The creations and designs are made with Jablonex prime-quality, LEAD FREE traditional Czech glass beads. The beads are optically-polished for a scratch-free surface creating maximum brilliance.

This worldwide incomparable quality of fire-polished czech glass beads is based not only on the outstanding quality of the rough glass used, but also the accumulated experience in this special polishing method using fire that has developed over generations.

 
 
 
This Kopal machine was invented in 1960.The machine in this picture is about 10 years old ( it looks much older). Rods heating up to temperature in a Kopal pressing machine.
 
Pressing is a process in which glass bars are melted down at a temperature of about 800-900°C, and from the melted glass, semi-finished products are pressed. In case of Kopal pressing machines, the end of the bar is melted down (about 5-7 cm), and the presser presses a semi-finished bead from this end, using a special pressing machine.
 
During pressing, a seam is formed along the circumference of the pressed bead.The majority of these seams is removed in the raw-edging barrel, which is a many-sided wooden barrel where the beads are brought, and by the rotation of the same, the seams are removed.
 

 

Now, the rests of the seams that have not been removed up to now, must be removed from the beads, employing the tumbling barrel for the purpose. The beads are brought into this barrel together with glass sand and water, and during the rotation of the drum, they get abraded.

 

Next stop is the cutting room where the facets are cut onto the bead. This room was quite large.

 

 
Cutting means cutting of facets along the circumference of the bead. It is done on special machines. The beads threaded on needles are clamped in a special device - an apparatus pressing them down upon the circumference of the grinding tool, cutting the individual facets. The grinding tool is a cylinder of natural sandstone or of synthetic materials, of a diameter of 800mm and width of 540mm.
 
Once the beads have been cut, it is necessary to polish them. The polishing is effected in continuous electric furnaces or in chamber kilns. In continuous electric furnaces, the beads are polished on plates installed on a continuous belt at the temperatures of about 700-750° C. The passage of the plate takes 10-17 minutes, depending upon the type of the bead. In chamber kilns, the plates with beads are inserted into a frame which then is transferred into the kiln. The polishing is one-shot operation, i.e. the inner space of the kiln with the beads gets heated to temperature of 590-650°C, and after reaching it, the kiln is switched off and aired out. During the heat polishing in electric furnaces, the superficial layer of the bead gets melted, and in this way, its surface becomes lustred. After polishing, the beads are washed and dried.
 
The next step in the production is the control of quality, where the beads with defects occurred during their production are discarded. The inspection is carried out manually.
 
The finished and inspected beads are sold loose (I see alot of stringing in my future). One bundle contains 1200 pieces.
 
  While we were there we did take two days to act like tourists. We had one day to see Prague. It is a beautiful city and the St. Charles Bridge is spectacular. The other day we took a day trip to Poland. My father always wanted to see where his grandparents came from. I ate perogies in Poland.