The making of millefiori or millefiore  beads, a type of mosaic beads, requires great technical skill on the part of the glass artisan. "Mille" means thousand and "fiore", flowers in Italian, which is an apt term for the "candy" variety of glass beads.

Several thin canes of glass are heat fused together then pulled to form one long rod which is then cut horizontally to reveal the patterns. Many of these rods could also be used with more coloured glass to form an even more intricate rod which miniaturises the component rods.

This technique is not new - the ancient Romans used it which is not surprising since they were famous for their mosaics. But the millefiore technique itself was specifically developed by Italians in the 15th century.

The technique is reminiscent of rock candy sold in many British tourist towns like Blackpool and Brighton. These are made in the same general fashion except with rolls of colored sugar dough.

For those of us without glass making skills and a handy glass furnace, colored polymer clay from a local craft store offers us a chance to make these types of beads. Here is a short polymer clay video showing how simple millefiore beads are made.

For more tutorials check out my Jewelry Making Tips
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