Crackle Beads.

Q: Does anyone know how crackle beads are made, the kind where the glass is visibly fractured and refused?

A: I seem to remember someone telling me a long time ago that crackle beads are made when the flameworker dunks the warm bead into cold water, thereby fracturing the glass. I'm not sure, but we used to crackle marbles in a very hot cast iron skillet as children. Maybe the technique is similar. Oh, I always used to beg and beg and my mother would never let me try that. You didn't say anything, so I guess nobobdy put an eye out after all, huh? We did it (crackling marbles) every time we got a new bag of clear marbles when I was a kid (the ones with patterns inside sometimes broke apart) and never had a mishap. You prepare a bowl of icewater, then heat the marbles in a skillet, high flame, for a few minutes (usually 2-3 was enough to do the trick). Then you dump the marbles into the bowl. One thing: the bowl of icewater needs to be pretty deep. Occasionally one of the marbles will fracture too much. If there's only an inch or two in the bowl, you risk having marble fragments pop out, which might hurt somebody. If you have 6-7 inches of water, the marbles go right to the bottom and anything that fractures completely stays in the water. I guess you could do this for glass beads. I'm not sure I'd wear them, however. One good whack against a counter and they're liable to come apart. Just curious. After one did this to a bead, could you then slide it back on a mandrel that has just enough release on it to hold the bead in place, then heat the bead until the outside "re-seals" (for lack of a better term) itself. You would have to heat it just enough to create an uncracked skin on the outside and leave the cracks on the inside. After annealing, would it then be strong enough to withstand everyday use? Is there somebody out there who is curious enough to take the time to try it? I have bought antique Japanese crackle beads and new Czech (I think) ones, and they are definitely more fragile than their uncrackled counterparts. I have split them just trying to fit them on a slightly too big wire. So maybe it is the same method after all. Both the ones we made as a kid and the ones I have bought feel smooth to the touch - the cracks are internal.