Holes in Pendants

Making holes in pendants for either jewelry or bead making is a method that has been tried over and over. Holes are an inexpensive way to avoid the purchase of store bought bails.

Individuals have been using lots of different methods to obtain a hole in their pieces of glass. Some of the methods are using fiber paper, wooden skewers, bead mandrels , fiber chord, high temperature wire, and/or drilling.

Fiber Paper or Fiber Blanket

Using fiber paper fiber paper or fiber blanket is one way you can make holes in pendants. Using fiber paper usually about 3 layers will give you a hole, but it will be square not round. You can roll fiber paper to soften the edges or use a bead mandrel dipped in bead release. If you try wetting the fiber paper with water or glue, it will always unroll. You need to pre-fire fiber paper, then cut into desired size and wet. Now they can be rolled like dough.

Instead of trying to roll fiber paper, try rolling bits of fiber blanket. Be sure to wear rubber gloves. It is soft and easy to roll.


making a hole in a glass pendant

A wood skewer or stainless steel bead mandrel can be used to make holes in pendants. You might have to cut the mandrels to fit your kiln shelf. Try dipping mandrels in a bead release , like Super Sludge. Dip the piece only once about 3/4 of the way.

These need to dry before use. You can use a wooden block with pre-drilled holes, or a piece of Styrofoam to poke the mandrels into for drying. These will keep for weeks if they aren’t in a damp environment. Build your glass, glue down and insert the mandrel where you want to make the hole.

With either the wooden skewer, or bead mandrel, after firing, soak in very hot water overnight and scrape out the bead release with a tiny brush or file. Super Sludge will sometimes leave the inside of the glass looking foggy or frosted.

If you decide to grind your piece after firing, and then want to fire the piece again, you can keep the holes open by filling them full of damp pre-fired fiber paper, blanket, or reinsert a coated bead mandrel. If using the pre-fired fiber paper or blanket, use a stick or wire to assist you in getting the material inside the hole. Don’t over fire your piece or it will pull in where the hole is, making your piece distort.

Wooden Skewers or Toothpicks

The wooden skewers don’t always work, they sometimes burn out during firing, and even if dipped in release it is next to impossible to remove. If you want to use the wooden skewer method, try toothpicks. They are small and usually the right size for a small pendant. Since the toothpick burns out before the glass can slump, the channel that has the Super Sludge remains open and doesn't slump down into the piece.

Bead Mandrel

Bead Mandrels make perfectly round holes. Mandrels come in a variety of sizes. These can also be cut to your desired length with bolt cutters.

Use fiber paper to support the mandrel. This will prevent the mandrel from slumping down into the glass, making the glass thinner where the mandrel was placed. This will also avoid movement of the mandrel as the glass is heated.

Fiber Cord or Ceramic Rope

making a hole in a fused piece

Fiber cord or ceramic rope is another way you can make holes in pendants. Do a search on the internet for the best prices on either Fiber Cord, or Ceramic Rope. Some companies will sell this off the spool, so you don’t have to purchase an entire roll. Try Fiber Frax or C&R Loo . It comes in 1/4”, 3/8”, ½”, and 1” thickness and is sold by the foot. Using fiber cord, ceramic rope or fiber blanket will leave the inside of the hole looking glossy, and is easier to remove.

Lay a 1/8th inch strip of fiber chord or ceramic rope underneath the top layer of glass about 1/8 to 1/4 inch from the top of the glass. Be sure to cut the material significantly wider than the width of the glass. This will give the glass a flatter and more professional look to the finished piece.

High Temperature Wire

Although using a 22 gauge, high-temperature wire doesn't make holes in pendants, it will enable you to attach a chain to your piece.

You can use fine silver wire in your pieces.it is not as strong as nichrome wire or high-temperature wire, but it remains silver and is nicer for jewelry.

The wire is formed into a "U" shape and positioned between your pieces of glass prior to fusing. During the process, the wire becomes embedded in the glass. This wire will remain flexible and will not discolor during firing. Buff with a steel wool after firing to restore the original luster.

Drilling Holes

You can also use a drill to make holes in pendants. You can drill perfectly round holes with a drill press and diamond drill bits. Be sure to submerge your glass in water, or make water well. Pieces can crack from friction if not cooled during the drilling process. This procedure takes time and lots of patience. See Drilling a hole for more information.

As you can see from all the methods mentioned there are many ways you can make holes in pendants. Try the different techniques and find one that works best for you.

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