How TOHO Beads are made.

 
How TOHO Beads are Made

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To create the beautiful beads that we have come to love high quality silica powder is mixed with soda ash and coloring materials.  The mix is then put into a melting kiln for 20 hours at 1,300 degrees until it becomes the consistency of candy.
 
After being removed from the first kiln the molten glass is kneading and then put into another melting kiln.  From this kiln the glass tubes are extruded while air is being blown into the center to create the hole.  The tube flows down a 50’ channel, cooling as it goes, until it gets to its first cutting machine.  Here the tubes are cut into 2-foot canes, being checked for size and uniformity before heading off to the cutting room.
 
In the cutting room the canes are put into a circular cutting machine and at an extremely high speed the blade cuts them into their raw bead sizes.  Size and consistency is also checked at this stage by putting the beads on a conveyor belt and being shaken.  The less perfect beads fall through and are discarded.
 
 
 
They are next coated with charcoal powder and placed into a 700degree kiln where their round edges are formed.  After being removed from the kiln and washed in large tumblers they go into the finishes room.  Here, if there are any surface scratches they are heated in an electric kiln and polished to a shine
 
After cutting, polishing & sorting the beads are ready to be finished in one of the following ways:
 
 
 
Opaque refers to beads that transmit no light.  These beads generally do not have a finish applied as they come out of the kiln as opaque glass.  The threads can not be seen through opaque beads.  When used with other beads these beads will come forward visually in your design.
 
 
 
Transparent beads do transmit light.  These beads also come out of the kiln as transparent beads.  Because they are transparent the threads will show through so picking the right thread color can become a factor in your finished piece.  These beads also come in matte finish and are often referred to as frosted.  The finish on this bead is very stable.  Transparent beads, when used with other finishes may recede in your design.
 
 
 
Iridescent, Irid, Iris, Rainbow or AB is a finish that is applied while the bead is hot.  This creates a rainbow effect on the surface of the bead.  With some of the matte beads a raku, or fired, look is created.  The finish on this bead is very stable. These beads will blend well with other finish in a subtle way. 
 
 
 
Luster is a shiny finish on the surface of an opaque or transparent bead.  The luster applied will be either a color, white or gold.  The beads have a pearled finish look. The finish on this bead is very stable.
 
 
 
Ceylon refers to transparent beads that have been lustered. These beads also look pearled. The finish on this bead is very stable.
 
 
 
Gold Lustered beads are transparent beads that have been lustered with a gold finish creating a subtle gold highlight to the bead.
 
 
 
Matte beads have a surface with very rich, deep colors. A titanium coat is added to the matte metallic finish.  The finish on this bead is very stable.  Matte beads will recede in a design when used with a shiny finish.
 
 
 
Metallic beads have been heated and then sprayed with oxidized tin.  The thicker the coating the darker the finish.  The finish on this bead is very stable.
 
 
 
Higher-Metallic beads are surface coated with gold and then sprayed with oxidized titanium.  The gold provides a brighter finish to these beads.  The finish on this bead is very stable.
 
 
 
Bronze beads are coated with gold mixed with other materials and baked on.  The finish on this bead is very stable.
 
 
 
Dyed Beads are transparent beads that have been painted and baked.  Strong UV light may cause fading over time.  There are not many beads with this finish
 
 
 
Colorlined beads are transparent beads that have had an opaque color applied to the inside of the bead.  The finish on this bead is very stable.
 
 
 
Silverlined beads are transparent beads that have been lined with sterling silver.  Silverlined beads also come in a matte finish that creates a frosted look.  Over time the silver may oxidize and tarnish.
 
 
 
Galvanized beads are plated with zinc.  The galvanized beads now have a finish applied that has made them much more durable then in previous years.  It is still good to be aware that certain elements may effect the finish – perfumes, harsh chemicals, acidity in skin
 
 
 
Nickel Plated beads are coated with a nickel finish.  The finish on these beads is not stable and may wear do to friction or acidity.  Coating with clear acrylic spray may help.