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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dragon scale lampwork beads tutorial

I ran across this tutorial, made by Naos and posted on Lampworketc.com and thought fellow lampworkers would really appreciate this information!

I'm often asked for a tutorial for this style and I've posted it a few times, but it gets lost in the threads so I thought I'd post it here...

Examples of scale beads - Olive, then EDP scales and lastly, on Ivory and Copper Green as a base:

What you need:

Vetrofond Dark Ivory, Vetrofond Ochre Green or Moretti Copper Green rods

Silver Leaf

Moretti Ivory stringer

Stringer in your choice of colors: Lauscha Olive (best), Lauscha Steel Blue (little harder to work with) or EDP (purple 254 - and just as hard to keep from devitting)

Tutorial (sorry, no pics):

PREP - make the Silvered Ivory stringer before you begin - The best way to make SIS for these beads is take a full-size, pre-manufactured Ivory stringer and wrap it in silver leaf then burnish it against the stringer to adhese. Make four or five of these as you will go through them quickly. Do not pull a stringer from a rod wrapped in silver leaf - it doesn't work. 

1) Make a spacer (with your preferred base color - Vetrofond Dark Ivory, Vetrofond Ochre Green or Moretti Copper Green) with a raised ridge or line down the middle but do not round it out. The surface must be a little rough in shape before the next step.

2) Apply silvered Ivory dots. A row of 5 or 6 down the middle (yes on top of the middle ridge you created) then staggered on the sides. 

3) On top of the SIS dots, place dots of colors you know spread or bleed: Lauscha Olive, Lauscha Steel Blue, EDP (Purple 254)...there are others as well...

4) Now melt in and let the glass droop a bit as you rotate. This is very important. The scales form by the glass moving around, getting really hot, and then the applied dots spreading into position. Be patient - the process can take some time...

5) When you see nicely formed scales (tight lines between dots - see pictures), you're done. Just round out the bead and anneal!

6) They look best etched!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lampwork, off mandrel leaves tutorial

We found this free tutorial on Lampworketc. written and posted in the forum's tutorial section by Kalera Stratton; you should check out her website, and her Etsy shop.  The pictures in this tutorial really come in useful when trying to create these off-mandrel leaves!  Meaning, making lampwork leaves without using a mandrel. 

I posted this on a now-defunct forum several years ago, and thought it was lost until today... I found a copy of it on my hard drive! So, even though many tutorials on making leaves have been posted, I thought I'd throw mine out there too just in case it's useful for someone.

Step 1: Heat about a 10mm gather
Step 2: Roll the gather in reduction frit
Step 3: Melt the frit into the gather

Step 4: Hold the leaf mashers so the mashing face is vertical, and "droop" the gather into the masher
Step 5: Mash
Step 6: this is what the mashed leaf should look like

Step 7: Gently re-heat the leaf in the outer reaches of the flame
Step 8: Attach a clear stringer to the end and pull it out to a pointier leaf shape (if desired)
Step 9: Gently reheat and mash again, to reshape (if desired)

Step 10: If you used reduction frit, flash leaf through reducing flame to bring out metallic finish
Step 11: Heat rod where it attaches to leaf
Step 12: Pull & bend into loop

Step 11: Heat bottom of loop and pull rod free
Step 12: Marver bottom end of loop to flatten

Some finished leaves:

Friday, November 16, 2012

Striped disk lampwork bead tutorial

Today I found a great Pinterest board that has some lampwork tutorials, gotta love Pinterest!  Click here to see that Pinterest. 

So we decided to share a link today, from that Pinterest board, to the Chesnut Ridge Designs blog where they have an excellent striped bead tutorial.  Click here to view it!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

How to clean the mandrel hole in your lampwork beads

When our studio first started making lampwork beads we broke a lot when we were cleaning them!  We bought little brushes from our wholesaler out of desperation, but they didn't work well.  Most information that we read kept saying to use a Dremel but when we tried our electric Dremel we ended up breaking our beads too.  Finally we found out that a Dremel is the correct tool for the job!  So what were we doing wrong to break so many beads with our's?  We were using our Dremel on a high speed and that seemed to break the beads.  We ended up buying a battery powered Dremel and that is what we've used ever since with rarely any beads breaking.  The battery powered Dremel is also much safer to use around water since the bead should be cleaned in water to keep the Dremel's diamond tip in good condition.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pressing Lampwork Beads, tutorial

Below is an excellent tutorial that I found on Corina Tettinger's lampwork webpage.  Click here to view this MUST see webpage, Corinabeads.  Corina has amazing products for sale on her site, plus she really knows what she's doing, so I recommend all lampworkers bookmark her site!  

The Ten Commandments of Pressing Beads

1. Glass does NOT press sideways, only up and down (as seen from above the mold)

2. The width of the initial layer influences the shape of the bead holes. 

3. the "blob" of glass that is going to be pressed has to be balanced on the mandrel - a lopsided blob will not press into a symmetrical bead

4. Nobody has to tell you how much glass you need to fill the mold. One or two bad presses will be enough for you to know how much glass is the right amount

5. Not all glass presses the same way, even if you have the right amount. You will need more of a STIFF glass (like transparent Aqua) to fill a mold than you need of SOFT glass (like ivory) to fill the same mold

6. Shallow molds are more difficult to master than deep molds. 

7. It's okay to reheat and repress the bead if it was not right, it's okay to add more glass or take glass off. 

8. No matter how large the mandrel indentations, bead release WILL flake off, make sure that your mold is clean before you press the next bead.

9. Flame polishing is half of the success, and the other half of failure

10. Don't forget the beauty of round beads, once in a while.

So, let's look at this with some pictures. The mold I used for this demo is the shallow part of the 1 1/8 inch lentil (# 6), which is by far the most difficult mold of all offered. It will be easy for me to simulate all kinds of mistakes, I don't even have to simulate...

Remember the first commandment? Glass doesn't press sideways, only up and down. For that reason, it is very important to get the initial width perfect, and the best way to do that is TO MARK THE MANDREL.

I use a regular black sharpie - depending on the bead release you use, don't push the pen down too hard, you might hurt the bead release. Also, depending on the bead release again, don't overheat the spots you marked, or the marking will disappear.

If we take a closer look at the marking, you will see that it can be fairly wide (which is good to see it easily).

Since we want to be as precise as possible, you should make it a habit of always starting winding the glass on (and off) on the same side of the mark - either outside, or inside. It seems like a small thing, but it really makes a big difference.

Next, after preheating, wind on the first layer of glass, from marking to marking, then lay it into the mold you're going to use to check that you got the right width.

If you don't know how to lay down a long footprint like this, check page 29 of Passing The Flame and brush up on the "Winding Method".

If your footprint is WIDER than the mold, you better stop right here, and maybe turn the bead into something else. Don't waste any more time, the pressed bead will not look good.

If your footprint is NARROWER than the mold, you might be able to add a little bit of glass, but make sure that the additional glass actually touches the mandrel, otherwise it will pull back onto the main body of glass and nothing is gained.

Once you have added all the glass you think you will need (and after a few attempts, you KNOW you will need), it speeds matters up greatly if you PRE-SHAPE the bead. This can be done entirely with heat and gravity, but you might as well make use of what you already have in your hand: the top part of the mold:

Here are a few more "principles" about using the mold to pre-shape the bead: if you are using a shallow mold, this mold itself will not have the right curvature to give you the bead shape you need. If you have, use a deeper mold with the same diameter (mold # 6 and # 7 work together perfectly this way). If you don't have a mold that's deeper, TILT your bead and focus on shaping one end at the time. When you reheat the hole bead to get ready to press, you should be just fine.

How hot does the bead have to be before you can press it? Definitely glowing. If you get it so hot that the glass still moves on the way from the flame to the mold, make sure to have your eyes on the bead and rotate evenly, so it doesn't go lopsided on the way to the mold.

This picture is interesting in a couple of ways: First, you can SEE that this lentil will be lopsided (larger on one side). Also, you might wonder about the pointed ends of the bead. Chances are that at some point in your bead making career someone told you that pointed ends in beads are REALLY bad news. In general, they are. But in pressing beads, they are miraculously fantastic. I can't generalize and say "ALL" beads like pointed ends before being pressed, but a good amount do. Especially anything lentil related. Pointed ends actually make for better holes. Give it a try.

So, I actually pressed that horribly lopsided pointy-end bead in the most difficult press I offer, and this is what happened:

Pretty bad, hm?! I wish I could say I did that on purpose, but maybe my subconscious had a say in this.

In this picture you can see that my pitiful super flat lentil is lopsided in two ways: there is more glass on the lower part of the picture, and more on the left. Overall though, I got the right AMOUNT of glass, just not in the right places (and remember commandment number 6: flat lentils are more difficult to press right than fatter lentils.

Now, as long as you have NO DESIGN on your bead, you can easily fix it by melting the glass back into the original shape and in the next pressing quit looking at the TV and do it right this time:

The picture is not the clearest in the universe (try making beads and taking pictures at the same time!), but you can see that with the second press I did a fairly decent job. But CORIIIIIINA! you might yell at me, what about that little knob where the bead meets the mandrel?!

Well, excuse me, but here is a little reality check: if you press a bead (especially a thin one), the glass around the mandrel has to go SOME where. Depending on the curvature of the mold, the width of the footprint and the thickness of the bead, you have to choose between a half moon shaped indentation (which I don't like), and a little extra amount of glass right above the mandrel. So, there you have it. Actually, if you heat that area and tap it down with the Magic Wand, whispering "FLIPENDO GLASIOSUM", it should disappear.....

I have repeatedly mentioned how THIN a lentil this particular mold makes, here is a picture to make my point:

You can see the little bumps very clearly here - and you can also see WHY they have to be there. Just remember:

Why is it so difficult to make a large THIN bead? Just imagine: a thin bead is not going to need much glass. When you put that small amount of glass in the mold and press, all the little glass molecules have to run for their life to make it to the far away edge of the mold. The slightest inconsistency in this, like uneven application of glass, uneven heating, uneven pressure will make some of those little molecules give up before they get there, or overshoot their target. You get the idea....

So, if it's so difficult, why bother? Thin beads are incredibly attractive to wear - this particular size (1 1/8") is very comfortable to wear as a bracelet  - a good customer of mine who buys a new bracelet every few month has three of these, and they are her favorites. They make a bold statement without the weight of a thicker bead. Not that I'm trying to talk you into this, but I just had to mention it!

Okay, you have seen the nicely pressed bead, but we're not done yet! There are plenty of chances to ruin this bead from here on!

The magic word is: FLAME POLISHING!

Take a closer look at the concentric circles on this bead (the side view gave a better picture of this bead, although the circles are on the flat surfaces.

If you have ever pressed a bead, whether with a brass mold or a metal masher, you will be more than familiar with these guys. We all know how to deal with them: Flame Polishing ("INCENDIO CIRCULORUM")

But I am always amazing when I watch students in a class: without trying to be arrogant here, but a lot of people don't know HOW to flame polish properly.

Rule # 1:   Flame polish one side at a time
Rule # 2:   Stay away from the edge
Rule # 3:   Don't rotate the bead while flame polishing (which is really a variation on rule # 1)

I added to picture to show a very important point: when you flame polish, make sure that the flat surface of the bead is perpendicular to the flame! Often times people kind of assume that the flame is right there where they are looking at. In reality, it's far from there: the flame usually comes from underneath, not from the front. It depends a little on the angle the torch is set at, but generally, the flame hits the bead from below, so you have to point the flat surface DOWN at the flame.

"Lick the flame" in a slow circling motion along the bead surface, make sure that the bead glows all the way to the edge. No, that doesn't contradict rule # 2: "to the edge" doesn't equal "the edge".... Stay away from the edge, but get as close to it as you dare.

Once the side of the bead is nice and smooth, take the bead out of the flame, and WAIT until the glow fades. Then go back into the flame and repeat the whole procedure with the opposite side.

As long as the BACKSIDE of the bead you are polishing stays cold, you can heat the other side (almost) as much as you want, the shape of the bead will not go back to round. But if you rotate the bead in the flame and both sides get hot at the same time you'll lose the nice crisp edge and worse, the shape of the bead.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention the 8th commandment: Check for bead release!

Some bead releases are a little more "press-friendly" than others (wish I could give you a list, but it all seems hit or miss....I personally use Bucket o'mud, with a little bit of Blue Sludge mixed in for strength), but it's not unusual for the bead release to flake off, especially when pressing a bead more than once.

To be on the safe side, check your mold (AND the mandrel indentations) before pressing. I have a little cosmetic brush on my table to brush tiny bits and pieces away.

Hope this little tutorial helps, no matter which press you are using - email me if you still have questions. VIDEO tutorial is almost on the way....

Here's what I do, 

Corinna used a marker to show how to know what size to make the outer edges of your bead, when using a bead press.  I personally never did this, being that I am self taught.  I make a small round bead on one side of the mandrel then make another small bead on the mandrel where I think that the press will end.  These small round beads that I make will be in the same area as where Corinna drew her marker lines on her mandrel.  

Once done I take my mandrel and hold it over the bead press to make sure that the small beads are just at the inside edges of the mold.  I don't do any pressing at this time.  I just take a quick look to make sure all is good.  If the beads are not spaced wide enough to fit neatly inside the press, I might add more glass to the outer edge of a bead, on one side only.  Never fear though, if you screwed up doing this part, you can always add more glass to a pressed bead if the edges aren't filled in all of the way!

Then I fill in the interior section on the mandrel between the little "edge" beads that I made.  Once done I heat it all up and then proceed to wind glass around the glass on the mandrel until it seems big enough to fill the mold.  I actually do this by feeling the weight of the mandrel with the glass on it.  As you get used to making beads in a press, you will be able to guess how much glass you will need to fill the cavity this way.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Microwave kiln tutorial

This is a nice tutorial for making fused glass draw pulls using a microwave kiln created by delphiglass.com!
Click here to view the tutorial.



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