When I first started making beads, I batch annealed rather than garaged them. That is to say I put them in vermiculite to cool and annealed a whole bunch of them together rather than popping them in the kiln straight from the flame.
There's nothing wrong with batch annealing but the risk is that beads will crack before they get anywhere near the kiln, so I was left with plenty of sad-looking broken beads which I refused to throw away, swearing that one day I'd find a use for them!
So I've been experimenting with the kiln, altering temperatures and timing and making my poor, nearly forgotten half-beads into cabochons :) I thought I'd share the results...
The back of the beads still have a little ridge where the bead hole ran. This isn't really a problem as most jewellery in which they would be used would hide the back of the cab. However, some of the raised dots on one of the beads didn't slump fully into the main body of the cab and so the next day, I raised the temperature by 5ºC...
These ones made me smile when I opened the kiln the next morning :) There's not a single one I wouldn't use in my own jewellery designs! These were definitely more "relaxed" than the previous batch but the backs still had a bit of a ridge where the hole was. So, I raised the temperature again the next day...
Definitely getting there... the perfectionist in me still wanted to get the ridge on the back even flatter, so the temperature went up again... :)
You've guessed it... up went the temperature again... but I was getting a bit impatient (a habit I really must kick) so I risked a whole 10ºC this time...
Nearly there! a final raise of 5ºC...
By George, I think I have it! ;D
This meant I could start playing with some of the larger and even nicer half-beads I had :)
I'm really happy with the results of my "experiments"! I have more cooking in the kiln as I write - there's a good few hours left on the kiln's schedule and I can't wait to see what comes out of it tomorrow morning (have I just jinxed myself?).
I think some of these will make their way onto my shop soon, once I've decided which ones I can let myself part with ;) I'd love to hear what you think!