Beads (Glass). The small glass beads are fragments cut from pieces of glass tubing, the sharp edges of which are rounded by fusion. Glass tubes of the proper size are first drawn from one hundred to two hundred feet in length, and of all possible colours (in Venice they prepare two hundred different shades), and are broken into lengths of two feet. These are then cut, by the aid of a knife, into fragments of the same length as their diameters. They now present the form of beads, the edges of which, however, are so sharp that they would cut the thread on which they have to be strung. The edges have consequently to be rounded by fusion; and, as this operation must be performed upon a great number at once, and they must not be allowed to stick together, they are mixed in coal-dust and powdered clay previous to their being placed in the revolving cylinder in which they are heated. The finished beads are then passed through sieves sorted to their size, and strung upon, thread by women. The glass beads made in imitation of pearl for toilet ornaments, the invention of which dates from the year 1656, are very different from the preceding, both as regards their application, mode of production, and origin. These are small, solid glass beads, of the same size as native pearls, which they are made to resemble by a coating of varnish, which gives them a peculiar pearly lustre and colour. A maker of rosaries, by the name of Jaquin, was the first to discover that the scales of a species of fish (Cyprinus albumus) communicates a pearly hue to water. Based upon this observation, glass globules were first covered on the outside, but at a later period on the inside, with this aqueous essence. The costly essence, however, of which only a quarter of a pound could be obtained from the scales of four thousand, was subjected to one great evil, that of decay. After trying alcohol without success, in consequence of its destroying the lustre of the substance, sal-ammoniac was at Length found to be the best medium In which to apply the essence; a little isinglass is also mixed with it, which causes it to adhere better. The pearls are blown singly at the lamp ; a drop of the essence Lb then blown into them through a thin tube spread out by rolling; and the dried varnish is then covered in a similar manner by a layer of wax.
♦From "The Sociable: or, 1001 Home Amusements. New York. Dick & Fitzgerald. Price One Dollar.