Top Drill Hearts,
Or I express my sensuous side

Hearts strike me as the perfect excuse to make lush, sensuous—even erotic—forms. Heart beads with the hole running vertically are particularly useful for earring and necklace designs, but they're difficult to do in the hollow mandrel wound style, because adding lumps of glass to the top of the bead shows in transparent glass and would make even wall thickness (which I at least prize) difficult if not possible.

I took several versions of this photo, selecting this rather dramatic, if not particularly informative from a product selling point of view, image. But hearts should have a little mystery, no? Hollow heart beads, 21jan08, czech and bullsye, 1/16” mandrels, roughly 10–16mm top to bottom.

But just for kicks, after tiring of dotties (i.e. losing my control) I attempted making vertically holed-hearts anyway. This photo is from my second batch, after I'd refined the approach a little: I start the bead very close but not quite at the tip of the mandrel, and make a disk that flares up (distally), rather like a saucer. Then I start at where I want the base of the bead (the bottom, or pointy end of the heart) and coil up, making a cone to meet the edge of the saucer. I marver that shut; shape it more thoroughly into a cone, cleaning up the ridges on bottom (proximal end), working fairly cold. I soften the glass just enough to mash with large mashers, continuing to work pretty cold, squeezing with a slight pulling motion towards the tip (distal end) of the mandrel, till the top edges of the bead almost but not quite touch the bead release.

Then I spot heat, and rake to make those oh-so-feminine ridges; and then heat the top ‘humps’ to puff them out to more of a heart shape. While I would like more deeply creased humps, I'm fairly happy with this interpretation, and plan to make more of these beads. And, after seeing so many hearts and heart beads it's nice to know that everyone's variations is a little different—unique as the folks making ’em.

file originally created 22jan; photo 22jan08