The Process of How Millefiori Beads Are Made

Millefiori beads have been made for many years and they are characterized by their floral patterns and their elongated shape. Archaeological findings show that the beads were made as early as 7th and 8th century, but the art caught on from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s. The process of making millefiori beads has not changed ever since the technique was introduced. Glass has always been used as the material in the process and canes or rods have always been used to give the floral pattern.

Millefiori beads are made by experienced artisans. The artisans go through years of apprenticeship before they can start making their own beads. In most cases, two artisans are involved in the bead making process. One makes the cane in a glass factory and the other makes beads from the slices.

Process of Making Millefiori Beads

The first step in making millefiori beads is to mold the rods or canes, also called murrine. The murrine is looks plain on the outside, but when the insides are exposed, they reveal a detailed flower pattern and in some cases, a star pattern and a pattern of geometric shapes. No two canes or rods are the same and this means millefiori beads are unique. Checking on the uniqueness is one way of telling handmade millefiori beads from mass-produced beads.

Glass of the desired color is melted and a globule made from the molten glass is made. The globule is taken at the end of a steel pole of about 1.5 meters and this is dipped into the different pots of different colors of molten glass. As this is done, the sphere grows in size.

Next, the mass is squeezed into cane or rod molds to give the desired pattern. After this, another layer of glass is added to give the mass a cylindrical form and to make the mass’s exterior round and shiny because the molding leaves the mass with an embossed finish. The molten glass used for this is transparent.

Another steel pole of about 1.5 meters is attached to the sphere and when the glass melts, it is pulled through a rod of the required diameter. This process needs a lot of skills, experience, and patience. This rod is then sliced into beads of the required length.

The millefiori beads are then put into frames of the desired design. This is done to give them a smooth feel and to give the beads other effects.

The final processes are placing the beads in kilns and annealing. The temperature is kept a closely guarded secret. Annealing is done to strengthen the glass.

Modern Mass Production of Millefiori Beads

Millefiori beads are in great demand and ancient millefiori beads cannot fill the gap. This has led to the manufacture of modern millefiori beads through mass-production. The difference between mass-produced and ancient beads is the manufacturing process, the design, and the quality of the beads. Ancient millefiori beads are unique because they are made from different canes or rods and because they are hand made. Modern millefiori beads are flawless because they are made through casting or craving.

Different companies have developed different methods of making mass-produced millefiori beads. However, most people prefer ancient millefiori beads.

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