How to encase a focal bead in gold leaf

Thursday, August 29, 2013

This stunning lampwork focal bead is the ultimate in luxury. Its rich hues of rubino aura are encased with pure gold, making it nothing short of stunning. By Emma Baird

Emma is a Senior Art Clay Instructor, as well as an accomplished lampwork artist. She works from her studio, which is located at the Little Bead Shop in Edinburgh. Here Emma shows you how to make this stunning focal bead. By encasing her favourite colour, Cranberry Pink, in Gold Leaf a classic and luxurious bead is created. Making a large focal bead with a larger lentil press allows you to make a real statement piece of jewellery. If you are a novice lampwork bead maker, perfect shaping a bead before attempting to use this decorative method as gold leaf can be expensive.

This tutorial will teach you how to make a larger lentil bead as well as how to handle the gold leaf itself. This bead will be easier to make if you are already familiar with a smaller lentil press.


Lampwork torch

Graphite marver

2.4mm mandrel dipped in bead release 

Cattwalk 1 Inch Lentil Press 

1 x rod of each of the following

Effetre baby pink opaque

Creation is messy

Cranberry pink 

1 sheet of gold leaf 




All materials except cattwalk press are available from:

Cattwalk press available from:



View more of Emma's beads at:

Designer tips:

Always estimate on the small side when laying down your initial footprint. You can always add more glass to the mandrel but you can't take it off

Show your bead off on a beautiful necklace. Create a unique setting for your bead by making a simple bail from Art Clay Silver. Use the Keum Boo technique to add the golden touch to your silver for a stunning effect            

Experiment with different sizes and shapes of beads to make into bracelets or earrings to match your necklace

Step 1

Step 1

Gold leaf is quite thin and can be tricky to handle. To avoid wastage by trying to handle the leaf at the point in the process when we actually need it, prepare the leaf before you begin to make the bead. Simply take a whole page of the leaf out of the book and gently lay it on your graphite marver. You may need to press a tool on the gold as you try to remove it from your finger.

Step 2

Step 2

Now wind a footprint of opaque pink onto your mandrel. Check it against the cup of the lentil press adding a little bit of glass at a time. Aim to have your footprint around 1mm shy of the edges of the press. Now continue to wind on more glass until you have a thin tube bead.

Step 3

Step 3

Allow this tube bead to firm up as you gently introduce the cranberry pink to the flame. Completely encase the tube bead with the cranberry pink. Now continue to build up the amount of glass on the mandrel until you have a large rugby ball shape bead allowing the heat to sink to the centre of the bead. 

Step 4

Step 4

When you are satisfied that you have a nice and even rugby ball shaped gather of glass, remove from the flame and allow to cool slightly. Always continue to rotate the bead to ensure it does not sag. Align it evenly into your press base and with the upper portion of the tool press directly down onto the glass.

Step 5

Step 5

Remove from the press and remove the marks from the press by gently heating the bead. Now roll it gently into your gold leaf. It should stick very easily but burnish a little to ensure all the gold has adhered to your bead.

Step 6

Step 6

Place the bead back into the flame. Apply heat to the bead to break the gold up a little. Keep repeating these steps until you have the desired coverage of gold and have achieved the desired appearance of the gold. To see the pink glass shine through, keep gently applying heat. Place the bead into a hot kiln to anneal.


Alternative colours:

Make this bead in cool tones such as teal and lemon and encase it in silver leaf. Link it with contrasting coloured beads and make it truly yours.

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles