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Monday, October 20, 2008

Making dots and lines on lampwork beads

Ok, today I'm back to lampworking info. So I thought I'd write a little bit about how to make dots and lines on lampwork beads. It is actually very easy to do and it makes your beads look unique. There are a lot of presses available but if you only press one color of glass in those presses, you get beads that are plain and basically just like any one else's! Of course it is always nice to make plain glass beads too for certain types of jewelry. 

One color glass beads are wonderful accents in jewelry. It just depends on what kind of lampwork beads an artist wants to use; are they to be the focal in a necklace, bracelet or earrings, OR are they to be used as fillers or accents in a jewelry piece? Anyway, there are always buyers for whatever type of bead you make, if it is made well and properly annealed and cleaned.


So to make either dots or lines I do the same basic thing. I use stringer (which will make small dots and/or lines) or I use a glass rod. Stringer is a smaller piece of glass, like a glass rod but it is usually pulled from a glass rod. You can buy already made stringer but it is easier to make your own.  If you use a glass rod, just heat up the tip of the rod and apply that molten glass right on to the bead you are working on.  Always keep in mind that you have to keep the bead you are working on, warm.  If it cools down while you are getting ready to apply the dots and lines, it will break.  (Some times you can actually save a broken bead by re-heating it in the flame but it doesn't always work.)


Heat the tip of a glass rod in the flame of your torch. When you get the tip of the rod molten, and about 1/4 inch long or more, take a pair of tweezers (I use tweezers made for lampwork because they are long enough that my fingers don't get hot while using them) and after removing the rod from the flame, grab a tiny bit of glass on the tip of the molten part of the glass rod and slowly pull. Now if you want the stringer to be very thin, which looks really nice when used on pressed beads, you pull the molten glass, fast. If you want to make a thicker stringer pull slowly. As you pull you will notice that the new piece of stringer that you are creating will kind of sag between the tweezers and the glass rod itself. Don't worry if that happens, as you pull, it will straighten out. And if it doesn't do that, hold the tweezers and the glass rod in a vertical position and that will help it to straighten out. I don't make incredibly long stringers, they usually end up about 6 to 8 inches long. And I try to pull enough stringer to make as many beads as I plan to make, all at one time.  Once pulled, use the torch flame to cut the stringer from the glass rod.)


Another fun thing to do is make "twisties". To do that you will need to lightly warm up one glass rod while at the same time you need to melt another glass rod so that the tip becomes molten. Then take the molten rod and "paint" it on to one side of the rod you just warmed up. If you want to make more than a two color twistie, you should then keep the rod you just worked on, warm while heating up another rod so that the tip becomes molten. Do not heat up the two color rod enough to make it molten, just warm it up. Also when you added that second color to the original rod, you should have only painted on about 2 inches of glass. Once the third rod is molten, add another line of glass, along the length of the glass rod, the same 2 inches in length as the first color, to the original glass rod.


Then when you have added as much glass as desired to the glass rod that you've been working and adding glass to, you carefully warm it all up so that it becomes molten and with your tweezers, grab the tip of the molten rod and begin to pull and twist. You can also just heat the very tip of the glass rod that you are working on and then smoosh a different glass rod on to that end. Once cooled you can then heat the whole thing up, and then pull and twist the rods. Now you have made a twistie. When using tweezers, once done, dip them in a glass jar of cold water and the glass that will stick on the tip of the tweezers will pop off.


Once you make a twistie or a stringer, you can make dots or lines quite easily. You don't need to keep the twisties or stringers warm, they won't break like beads can. So you can lay them directly on your work surface after you make them. Then go ahead and make your round bead, or pressed bead, and when ready you can gently heat the twistie or stringer in the side of the flame and add your dots and lines directly to your bead!




The picture above shows what twisties look like.









The three pictures above shows a lampworker (not me) pulling stringer. 


I found an excellent video on You Tube.  It was made by beadmanglass.  And it shows how to make twisties and stringer!

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