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Bead Furnace Burn Jun 2008

Creator: Neil
Materials: Cobb (Straw, clay, sand), charcoal, glass
Location: Vinderheima
Notes: Electricity was available

This weekend marked the completion of the Mark2 bead furnace. It was completed in conjunction with another iron smelt, and at the end of the day it was burned for long enough to partially sinter the clay and make a few beads as a test. This was the first opportunity for some of the DARC folks to try their hand at the furnace.

This smelter is physically different from the Mark1 in a number of important ways.
  • First and foremost the Mark2 baseplate matches the Ribe base plate size fairly accurately at a 30cm x 60cm oval.
  • The total height was reduced.
  • Air was changed from an upward entry at the center of the baseplate to a side opening.
  • The body was adjusted to allow for two workers on one side, and air and two charcoal/material access ports on the other side.
A simple test was run to see if the smelter could melt glass. This picture shows some pieces of lampwoking glass rods (Moretti COE104) melting in a crucible.
Once we were certain that the glass would melt, we moved on to trying some lampworking inside the working ports. We used this technique as it is the one we learned at our workshop in 2004. One principle of experimental archaeology is to minimize the number of variables in a single experiment. Here you see a bead formed on the end of the mandrel and a second being added. Note the ash that has wound up in the glass.
This photo shows a bead in the furnace. Note that here as well there is some ash on the glass of the bead. This ash gave us a significant amount of difficulty in this first real experiment.
The actual working layout as we finished with the beads for the day. Several beads (with mnadrels attached) are annealing in the cup at the top.
A close up of the beads cooling.

This experiment validated the basic idea that bead can be made in such a furnace. It also raised a number of questions with regards to the actual process. These included