I sooo love when I come up with a solution to a problem and then my idea actually works out:)
After my cab disasters I looked online a bit for some answers without out luck, but then just letting it all percolate in my brain I eventually had an EPIPHANY in the middle of the night! I don't know if my idea is original? or if it's the way anyone else does it? or if it's actually just really simple and obvious? but it came to me seemingly out of the blue and I couldn't wait to get out to the workshop and give it a try.
I figured that maybe I could stop the centre of the beads collapsing and the holes moving up... by filling the holes with a glass stringer and allowing it to melt in. I was excited and it seemed like it would work but I wasn't sure until I gave it a try, (I thought my last experiment would work too!).
I went a lot gentler with the kiln heat too, and selected just flat beads without reducing colours.
ta da -
I still need to tweak the idea a bit, better fitting stringers and matching colours and maybe even melt a little further. I was being cautious this round so the holes are still a little open. Also the beads obviously get larger when they spread out so I need to use some smaller to begin with but I think I'm finally on the right track.