Sold Beads from Etsy
In 2012, I purchased a baroque-shaped beadroller from CG Beads, and started making this style of bead - I first offered them at Bead Fest, and then offered them in my etsy shop. And then I moved on, to different shapes with this finish, on and off for two years now. These beads are etched with Etch-All, and acid-based etch solution. While it works fine, it's...well...acid, and I wanted to get away from that. Enter Soda Lime Times - a great digital magazine pubished monthly by subscription or single issues for lampworkers by lampworkers (in particular, Diane Woodall). Jim Smirsich's technique for tumble etching beads was published in 2013. Diane is kindly allowing me to share the information with you.
Tumbler in Action
Here are the results of my experimentation with this method. This first bead photo is to show you how etching with acid looks - it etches the whole bead, including the nooks and crannies.
Here is a photo of the beads etched in the tumbler, for about 4 hours.
More beads etched with tumbler:
I decided to try and etch some of my round swirl beads, as well as some smooth focals.
I have to mention that the beads in the top two collages are amazingly smooth to the touch - I feel the tumble etching makes the beads just a bit more elegant than not tumbling or using acid etch. The black southwest style bead in the third photo is just amazing! I did not care very much for how the beads in the last photo turned out - I think that the beads that are opaque look better. If you notice in the last photo, the goldstone band on the top did not etch - these beads were in the tumbler for 2 hours - I'm not sure if it would etch if I left the beads in overnight.
So there you have it - tumble etching beads provides a beautiful finish to your beads, and I really like the fact that I don't have to use chemicals to get the effect. If you had a bead that had a lot of texture or dots, you would probably still want to use the acid etch, but if not, this is a great technique.
Diane Woodall also told me that if you would like, you can get a sample issue of Soda Lime Times, to check out and see if you would like to subscribe. I highly recommend it!