Once you get your beads out of the kiln begins the tedious process of cleaning - nobody enjoys it. Remember the bead release can be dangerous for your lungs (because of the tiny particles called Silica), so remove your beads from mandrels under water (the beads, not you!), outside, etc.
Stuck on the mandrel?
If your beads are stuck on the mandrel, don't panic. Put them in a glass of water (or a fizzy drink) to soak them, and try not to get too impatient with them. Leave them overnight. What type of bead release you have will influence how good a grip your bead has on the mandrel. You can also try using a pair of locking pliers (alternatively known as mole grips) to hold the mandrel, hold the bead in a piece of toweling or the wrist of a rubber glove and slowly twist the bead off.
Or you can place the mandrel in the freezer overnight and then try again. Freezing the mandrel might mean that it ocntracts just enough for you to remove the bead.
What tools to clean with?
Some people use a rotary tool (e.g. a Dremel or similar) to clean beads, others use a simple hand-held bead reamer. Whatever your choice, check that the tip of your tool fits the purpose, i.e. is thin enough to reach through the bead, and thick enough to withstand a good bit of scraping on your part. Just like when removing your beads, check for proper ventilation and safety.
Some beads are more difficult to clean than others - hollows are one such example. Several suggestions for cleaning these include:
- clean dry by poking out the bead release, then use a reamer on the ends;
- fill with water to soften bead release, then poke out bead release, clean bead, and blow water out;
- plonk them in the dishwasher.
They won't come off!!!
If your beads really, really won't come off, think of alternative uses - colourful flowerpot-sticks, anybody? :o)