View Full Version : Turning beads into Cabs - a tutorial

11-22-2003, 05:36 PM
Ok, so it took me longer than planned to get things together for this tutorial but I finally made it as promised. Remember, there are lots of ways to accomplish the same thing and I've presented just my own methods here. I'm certainly not the foremost authority on bead slumping!

What you need:
1) kiln which will fire to at least 1350 degree F.
2) kiln shelf & wash or fiber paper
3) beads to slump
4) a timer is helpful (esp. if you are the type to burn cookies)

I prefer to slump all my small glass on 6" kiln shelves that have been coated with kilnwash. You can use watered down bead release. Apply with a soft brush until you have a good coating, usually 5-6 layers. I prefer Bullseye brand kilnwash over the others I've tried so far. Below is a picture of the shelf before it's been used and one that I have already fired glass on. See how the color changes? You can usually use a shelf several times before you must reapply the kilnwash. Be SURE to wear a dustmask when you scrape off old kilnwash (dry) and reapply.


Another option is to use fiber paper on your shelf instead of wash. OR you can use THICK fiber paper (see below) instead of a shelf all together for small things. Kilnwash tends to give a smoother backing to your fired pieces, so I prefer it, but fiber paper is perfectly servicable and I've used it as well.


I intentionally crack beads that I plan to make into cabs by leaving them to cool too long before putting into the kiln. Sometimes I crack them unintentionally too! There are plenty of ways to split your beads, from saws to hammers. I find I can split beads pretty well using a flathead hammer, metal punch slightly (fractionally) larger than the bead hole and a solid base such as a metal block. Lightly tap until you have split the bead.



Be very sure to clean out any remaining release you have in the bead. Bead release left inside a bead will bubble up and cause your cab to be quite ugly, depending upon how much you have and how long you fire your glass. It's best if you get rid of it!


Place your beads split side down on the shelf/fiber paper. If you are slumping whole beads remember the side that is up will be the 'good' side, the side that is down will go against the skin or cab setting, so position accordingly. If you are using whole beads like bicones it is sometimes easier to set the kilnshelf in the kiln and load it there because these babies tend to roll. I've made different beads for this tutorial so you can see what happens when they slump.


Load the kiln. Be sure nothing is touching the elements and there is plenty of room for each bead to spread as it slumps.

I'm using an Evenheat Hotbox Kiln. I've used both of my other kilns (see below), and Evenheat 2541 and a Glasshive custom annealer for slumping, but the little hotbox is a super investment if you plan to slump small pieces regularly. It's very affordable and easy to use. There are plenty of other good small kilns out there too.


Glasshive custom annealer (it's purple!)

Evenheat 2541 with several greenware slumping molds drying on top

Starting from room temperature I ramp up the small kiln (hot box) using the following schedule for small beads:
15 minutes on Medium (heats up to about 500 degrees)
15 minutes on Level 5 (heats up to about 1000 degrees)
15-30 minutes on High (heats up to around 1500 degrees - I watch until I have the slump shape that I want)
Flash cool down to between 1000-1100 degrees (vent the kiln to do this - you should have thick gloves on, preferably kevlar).
Soak for whatever your preferred annealing cycle is down to room temperature again.

I like my cabs fairly flat for use as pendants or ring settings so this cycle works great for me. You can slump a bead as low as around 1350 pretty effectively, it just takes longer. Slumping at higher temperatures means you have to watch very closely because the glass can move from bead to puddle very quickly. If you wanted your cabs to be more bumped up (hump shaped) then I'd recommend a slower, lower temp slump which you watch until you get the feel of it.

I'll post the flattened cabs once they finish in the kiln.

11-22-2003, 06:03 PM

Thanks so much for this tutorial! I rated it with 5 stars! :D


11-22-2003, 09:31 PM

So glad you posted your tutorial on the split beads! I wondered if you had forgotten or had second thoughts. Thanks for taking the time to do this! Marvelous tutorial - great pictures!


11-23-2003, 12:19 AM
Thanks you for putting this tutorial together!!!


11-23-2003, 01:18 AM
Yea (sheepishly) I'm sorry about the delay Cindy. I just get busy and tired these days so things take longer than I'd like.

Here are the finished cabs.
As you can see, the top right bead and the second black and blue one had a touch of bead release inside when I slumped them and therefore don't have a smooth top. This can be cleaned out and refired with no trouble. I seldom slump round beads like that - I prefer them split because you can see the design better. My very favorite beads to slump are bicones, but then bicones are my favorite shaped beads in just about all circumstances I guess.....


And a side view so you can get an idea of thickness:

Lisa Jordan
11-23-2003, 03:10 AM
Wow! I was eagerly awaiting your "after" pictures. I love them, and the bicone is the most pleasing to my eye. Thanks for putting this together and opening new design horizons for our beads! Any pics of how you have used these?

11-23-2003, 09:11 AM
Here's a few pendants I've posted before. I've also used cabs in bracelets, cab settings and small ones in rings but no pics at present. I started because I hated to waste beads that I really liked that either had a crack, a bad side (like one smeared flower) or something like that, but now I actually plan to slump certain beads when making them.


11-23-2003, 02:27 PM
awesome tutorial, Bethany!

What a great thing to do with the cracked beads! and even like you say, now that you've done them, to plan a bead to make a cab with sounds fun.

they look great especially in your settings. I will try this sometime, when I've got some cracked beads and when I've got an idea how I would set them.

Liza B.

11-23-2003, 07:29 PM
Hey Bethany,
Nicely done! I can't wait to try this - I've got four halves of beads that are REALLY cool and I couldn't part with them. This is going to be a cool thing to do with them.

We need a "sick" day so we can hook up and torch!


11-24-2003, 07:25 AM
Hi Bethany!

I hope you don't feel I was admonishing you! I was just looking forward to reading the tutorial! Thanks again for doing it - fabulous! :-)


11-24-2003, 01:47 PM
Thanks, Bethany -- great tutorial! Will this get listed in the "Glass Class 101" sticky?

When you're peeking into the kiln, are you wearing any protective eyewear? If so, are AUR-92s OK? Are you peeking in from the top, or does your kiln have a peephole in the side?

11-24-2003, 11:17 PM
Hi Emily,
When I look into the little kiln I usually peek through the quartz window in the lid. In the bigger kilns I flash peak a when above 1000 degrees. I don't wear my flamework goggles - no UV to my knowledge in the kiln elements - neither do I stare at them :). If I am peeking it is just a quick look to check the melt, never a full on ogle!

10-04-2004, 02:50 AM
I wandered into this tutorial from another thread and thought it would be worthwhile to bump it back up... it's very interesting and well done.

10-04-2004, 07:33 AM
That is awesome. I have a bunch of big halves from pre one inch blanket.
Guess it's time to got the kiln to the basement and start melting.

Much Thanx from a newbie for all the time on those great picture and step by step info. Will really inspire and help.

Tom :wave:

10-04-2004, 09:44 AM
Thanks for posting this! I rated it 5 stars!

10-04-2004, 10:18 AM
Nice tutorial but wanted to point out that exposure to infrared radiation is a very real problem for kilnworkers.

As a rule, welder's goggles are recommended if you are looking into the kiln at slumping or fusing temps.

05-21-2005, 11:55 AM
Hi Bethany,
I'm not sure if i've replied right - i clicked on 'quote'???

I just wanted to ask if you somehow cut a groove into these cabs, as i notice the wire around the outside doesnt go in front of the cab to hold it in place? Just wondering....
Thanks for the tutorial also, very interesting :)

07-11-2005, 08:16 AM
Hi Sorry I missed your question - I'm not online much these days. Some one just sent me a PM about it so I thought I'd come and answer.

I use a jewelry bit on my grinder but you could also use a diamond bit on a dremel if you have patience and a steady hand. The glass must be worked in water for cutting. Hope that helps.

07-12-2005, 01:32 AM
That's ok, I forgot I even asked. Thanks for the reply!

07-12-2005, 01:10 PM
Great tutorial Bethany! I am so glad this tutorial was bumped. I am going to have to play around with all the stress cracked beads I have!

12-11-2007, 03:27 PM
I followed this tutorial using thermal-crack beads I have collected for a few years and had a bunch of fun! Here are the results! :)


Thanks Bethany!! :D

12-11-2007, 05:26 PM
This is a great way to use thoes beads with cracks. Thanks so much for posting this.

12-11-2007, 09:15 PM
Amber, Those are beautiful! Glad you bumped this up as I was going to go looking for it. Have a couple of split beads with pretty colors to "fix."

12-12-2007, 01:55 AM
As a beginner with beads, I have LOTS of cracked beads that I've been throwing into a bowl to try to figure out what to do with them. I hated the thought of wasting them, because some of them were really pretty til they cracked. Now I know what to do with at least part of them. And you can use a jewelry bit on the grinder to cut the groove into the sides? I have one that I have never used before, so I can try that. I can see Christmas presents and birthday presents looming on the horizon! LOL Thank you! That is a very understandable tutorial!!


12-16-2007, 12:11 PM
If you can, try whole bicones as cabs...this is how one of mine turned out!


01-08-2008, 10:18 AM
I've doing this for quite some time now. Thank you for your firing schedule. Now that I have a programable (is that a word??) kiln, it will be very useful! Before, I was just winging it.
I bought some sheet moretti and fused all my cabs into a tile....don't have a clue what to use it for, but it's fun to look at. lol
I've also fused them into large discs that I use on the end of my stained glass kaleidoscopes.

10-14-2008, 07:12 PM
Great tutorial - such wonderful detail and photos.


10-14-2008, 07:17 PM
Here's some more... really fun to do on days when it's too cold to torch so I save up any broken beadies for half the year and then do a run in the kiln :)



Fire In The Sky

Other World

Seascape 2

Fire In The Sky 2


Calm Seas

10-14-2008, 07:59 PM
Very pretty Naos.

11-03-2008, 03:56 PM
Many thanks for this tutorial. Not only can I use the bead I so painstakingly built and was heartbroken to lose, but sometimes I get the bonus of having two for earrings!

11-15-2008, 04:46 PM
I have some more cabs :)

Solar Flare


Sand Piper


Full of Stars


Barnacle Bill


04-16-2009, 11:54 AM
Here's a few more from recent efforts...




02-11-2010, 12:44 AM
I had a girlfriend ask me if I could do this for her with some of my old beads that didn't 'make it' from the kiln. I thought about it and happened to run across your tute here. Thanks so much! :thumbsup:

12-10-2010, 09:13 AM
This is fantastic, I just want to ask, are the temperatures quoted in farenheit?

01-10-2011, 10:01 PM
Yes. The degrees are in Farenheit. I've used this tutorial and it works great.

09-11-2011, 05:13 PM
Thanks for the great tut!! I have a lot of beads that I want to try this on.

03-31-2015, 07:48 AM
This is a cool tutorial. I knew there was a reason I saved all my cracked or broken beads, besides the fact I can't stand to toss them out, LOL! Thanks for the info! I will definitely try this!!

03-31-2015, 10:30 PM
Wandering around looking at interesting sounding posts and came to this one. Lovely work! I like the blue beads best. This looks like loads of fun...maybe someday I can give this a try. Thanks for the inspiration.

Blessings, LynneDe