When I was first learning how to make beads, I was a little confused about bead release. I bought some from my glass supplier and my beads stuck on my mandrels most of the time. I began thinking that was common for lampworkers. But I wondered how people could spend so much time working on just one bead, just to have it ruined because it stuck on the mandrel. It was at that time that I started researching bead release.
There are actually a lot of different brands of bead release. Unfortunately sometimes good ones come and go. I actually mix my own using kiln wash. It is available through stained glass and fused glass suppliers. Now, it isn't perfect since it can flake off when using a press. (A press is used to make certain shapes out of the molten glass bead while still on the mandrel). But all I need to do when parts of my release flakes off onto the press that I'm using, I just blow it off quickly!
So I have a list of some commercial bead releases (although I have not tried them so I can't vouch for how good they are, but the one's with the stars I've read good feedback on):
Super Blue Sludge***
Dip n Go
Alice's Bead Release
Foster Fire Smooth and Tuff***
Bucket O' Mud***
Also here is a bead release recipe made by Gary Lisle..............
I had a few people ask for my recipe for bead release, I have used this one for about 5 years...
Equal Volume (tablespoon etc.)
5 spoons of Calcinated or Hydrated Alumina
5 spoons of Kaolin Clay
1 spoon of Whiting
1 spoon (small) of graphite powder/carbon
Put all ingredients in a jar with about 1/3rd of a cup of water, water first.
I use a plastic, lidded jar, shake well, let it settle, add more powder or water until the mixture is the consistency of Milk. If it is too thick it will crack on the mandrel. Let the mix sit overnight and adjust the consistency.
You will need to add table spoon of water every so often to thin it down.
I get all these from a local pottery shop with the exception of the graphite and that I get from Auto shops/Engineering supplies, powdered lubricant.
Note: The ratios do not have to be exact.
New mandrels should be roughed up, too.
Now, here is my own bead release recipe:
I use Hotline Kiln Shelf Primer by Primo, which I get in powdered form. It is used to coat kiln shelves and interiors of kilns, so that hot glass does not stick to them when firing and fusing glass.
So I got an old clean glass jar, filled it with a little water (not very much to begin with) and then used the little "scoop" that was included in the container of shelf primer to scoop up some primer to put in the jar of water. I do this outdoors so that I don't inhale any of the shelf primer! Then I used a plastic spoon and mixed the primer and water, and continued to add water and primer until I had enough in the jar that would allow me to dip the rod into the jar and coat the end of the mandrel at least 2 1/2-3 inches, while the jar is tipped slightly on its side.
It takes some time to mix the powder so that it is mixed into the water thoroughly. I make my mixture only thick enough to be able to coat the mandrel. I keep it pretty runny and I have to hold the mandrel downwards to let excess drip off of the mandrel before I turn it over and stick it into a plastic bucket which I put rice into the bottom of it-this is how I hold my mandrels so that they dry without touching each other. I don't have to let the bead release dry either, I can put the mandrel with wet release into my torch flame and dry it quickly. I do inspect my mandrels before I use them to make sure that the release isn't cracked-these mandrels can be re-dipped into the release and hopefully they work.
I let my newly mixed release sit until the bubbles from mixing, disappear. I have used the same jar and the same mixture since I first began lampworking. When my mixture gets a little low, I add more water and primer. When the primer settles on the bottom of the jar (it happens occasionally) I use about 3 or 4 mandrels held together to mix the sediment. (Sometimes a plastic spoon is too flimsy for that).
My release is extremely easy to make. It does occasionally crack off of the mandrel when I am working on a bead. And like I already mentioned, if it flakes off on a press that I am using, I blow it off of the press. Otherwise, the primer will become embedded in the bead and won't be able to be removed later.!