Fold-Over Pendant Tutorial
Ask any group of jewelry fusers what glue is best for attaching metal bails to glass and you are certain to hear a variety of opinions – often contradictory.
An alternative to glued-on bails is to fold the top of the glass pendant to create the channel for your cord or chain. These “fold-over” pendants can be both unique and elegant – and you never have to worry about a glue failure sending your glass crashing to the ground.
Here are some examples of fold-over pendants:
This technique is accomplished without special tools and it does not require you to manipulate hot glass.
If it sounds difficult don’t worry – it is exceptionally easy once you know how.
The first step for making our fold-over pendants is to create the “focal beads”. Focal beads aren’t necessary but they are a simple way to make a very attractive pendant.
Below is the kiln shelf laid out with the glass for 25 of these beads. Each is about the size of a penny or smaller.
I’ll only being using a couple of these for this project – but there’s no sense leaving empty space on my kiln shelf .
Take special note of the two with red arrows pointing at them – we will be using these focal beads for two of the three pendants I showed you on the first page.
Here’s a close up of those two:
When we full-fuse this glass it will change to liquid and, much like a drop of water on your kitchen counter (and thanks to the magic of surface tension), the glass will become near-perfectly round.
These are small pieces of glass so we aren’t too concerned about thermal shocking or annealing. That makes our firing schedule very simple -as fast as possible up to 1475°F (802°C), hold for 15 minutes, turn off the kiln and allow to cool naturally. As always, temperatures and in your kiln may vary.
And the resulting glass looks like this:
And here are the two beads we will be using for this project:
Now we are ready for the next step – making the “pendant strips”.
The next step is to cut some strips of glass for the bodies of our pendants. The for the pendants shown here each strip is about two inches long.
I’ve placed the red and green striped bead on a narrow strip of Bullseye’s light aventurine. I’ve also added some small red beads to the design. These tiny beads are made the same way the focal beads were made – by heating the glass (single pieces of course red frit in this case) until each piece flows into a tiny sphere.
For the second pendant, the gold colored bead is on top of a thin piece of dichro which is on top of a piece of amber glass that narrows at the top. You cannot see the transparent dichro very clearly in the photo below. It will be more obvious after we fire it.
The blue glass doesn’t use any of our focal beads – instead it is sprinkled with small chips of dichroic scrap.
To attach the focal beads to the pendant strips I “soft” fuse them – more than a tack fuse but not quite a full fuse. The 2 layer soft firing schedule on this site will work fine (though it is more conservative than required).
And here are the results:
Those are pretty cool – but we still need to bend them over. To learn how click on the link below for the next step ‘Understanding the Double Slump”.
Understanding the Double Slump
Now for the tricky (but not difficult) part: folding the top of the glass over to make a channel for the cord or chain – without using a torch or reaching into the kiln while it is hot.
The secret is slumping the glass not once, but twice!
The first slump – which is done face down hanging off the end of a piece of fiber-board – bends the glass like this:
We then flip the glass over bend the glass like this in a second slump:
How does that work? The next page will show you the setup for the first bend.
The First Bend
Here’s the setup for slumping the first bend:
Here’s another view:
Two things to note about this setup:
- We are using a piece of half-inch fiber board under the pendants and we have cut the end at an angle (so the end of the pendant can drop straight down) like this:
Pay close attention to the thick black line – that’s our angle.
- The fronts of the pendants are resting on fiber blanket – that helps cushion the focal beads so they aren’t pressed up against the fiber board where they are more likely to pick up surface texture. A little texture is okay, though, since our final firing will fire polish the piece.
Several layers of pre-fired fiber paper can be used in place of the fiber blanket.
Okay – we are ready to slump the strips. We will use the two layer slumping schedule on this site – as before, this schedule is extremely conservative for this firing. If you make a lot of these you can run some tests in your kiln to find out how fast you can speed this up.
And here’s the result!
We are almost there!
Now for the second bend…
The Second Bend (and Final Firing)
Before we make the second bend, we need to put something under the fold to hold open the channel for our chain or cord. I use short lengths of bamboo skewer dipped in “bead release” – special mud-like clay that lampworkers use to coat their bead mandrels (rods) so the glass won’t stick. Bead release is available anywhere lampworking supplies are sold.
The setup looks like this:
Here’s another view:
The fiberboard is raised at one end (on kiln furniture) to ensure the tops of the pendants fold over completely. The coated bamboo skewers are held in place with short staples made from high temperature (nichrome) wire. Stainless steel wire can also be used.
Once your pendants are setup as shown in the last step we only need to fire the pendants one last time. The firing schedule is the same soft-fused schedule used to fire the focal beads to the pendant strips.
And here’s the results:
You may be wondering if the bamboo burns away during the firing and, if so, what happens? It does burn away – but as you are about to see in the last section, it doesn’t matter.
Clean-Up and Done!
Notice that even though the bamboo burns away, the bead release has enough strength to hold open the hole. When you touch the fired bead release it will crumble away.
A lampworker’s “bead reamer” (pictured below) is the ideal tool for cleaning the bead release out of the hole. If you don’t have one of those, any small needle-style file will work.
And that’s it! The fold-over pendants are done: