Hi, Kay!

The tea stain technique came from Loren Stump, so you should give him credit - he gave me permission to spread it around. It doesn't become permanent in 3 months, it's like staining your teeth, it takes a long time for the evil to become permanent. I water-pik'd a bead with a 2 year stain, and there was permanent brown in the creases, but not super dark. I tell my customers not to get the beads wet, and they're okay with it.

I've rewritten the directions recently, with lots more info. Here's the new version.

Loren Stump, the Michelangelo of glass beadmaking (take his class sometime when you're at a good firm intermediate level, and it'll teach you things about control & working glass that you'd never have thought possible)... anyway, The Dreaded Stump says it's okay to spread the word about the tea process, so here it is. This my version of his basic formula, modified after lots of experimenting.

First: Do NOT use the commercial tea concentrates from the grocery. Even the plain black tea concentrate has chemicals added, which make the bead weird and sticky and lumpy after use. Cook up a heavy black tea concentrate yourself.

For COLOR VARIATION try herbal teas, but make sure the bags only contain herbs, and no additional flavorings or chemicals. You can get some interesting red and green variations.

1) Boil up about 1/4 cup of water in the microwave, bring it out and dump in a lot of teabags. I use dark tea, 10 bags. Get it as dark as you can, dump the bags, and let cool, and put it in a small plastic container (if you're putting the bead in a glass container and drop it, could break off protruding bits).

2) Dunk your annealed, cleaned bead into the brew, roll it around so it's got tea all over, and fish it out. Don't soak it, won't do any good - you just want tea on the surfaces and in the cracks. If there's a place you want more tea, dribble it on.

3) Put bead in a cold Pyrex dish, and put into a cold oven. Bring temp up to 250, and bake awhile. I usually give it 30 to 45 minutes, Loren gives it less. If you forget about it all day, no harm.

4) Remove from oven and cool.

5) Dampen a paper towel, wring it out, and wipe the tea off all the protruding surfaces, leaving it in the cracks.

6) If you have a big blob in a crack, roll up a corner of the paper towel and get in there to fix it. If you have a spot that needs more tea, dribble a bit more on repeat process.

7) By wiping the surface, you'll allow the bead to be worn without rubbing a brown stain onto your clothes. The tea can still be removed from the cracks with soaking and a toothbrush, but if you keep it dry, the longer it's on there the more permanent the staining (just like tea stains your teeth). It will eventually become permanent, but it could take years. Tell your customer to keep the bead dry.

8) NOTE: if you have any hairline cracks, this process shows them up. I tea-stain my really fancy stuff, look for cracks, then wash them off. The worse my eyes get, the better this technique! The tea stays good for a week or so in the refrigerator - toss it when it starts getting lumpy.

Sharon Peters

You can contact Kitty by emailing her at kay@listen-up.org.


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