Wednesday, March 11, 2009
A Perfect round bead again and again ...
I had posted this tutorial some time last year on Lampwork Etc, and decided that it was time that it was moved to my Blog! This is just a small tutorial how I am able to achieve the same sized round beads again and again ... If you use the standard information to make a round bead, you really need to melt the dinges out of the glass for it to spread on the mandrel enough to make a round bead vs. a doughnut shaped bead. This is where frustration lead me. I normally never use any tools while making a bead, no marver, etc. except for my mashers when I want a round or tube shape.
My tools that I use is just a parallel masher, my trusty surgical scalpel and my torch. AND the bottom part of a brass press!
Step 1:Make a small disk on your mandrel. I normally do about 3 - 4 windings of fairly thin glass.
Step 2:Melt the disk into a small doughnut, allow the glass to melt well onto the mandrel to set a nice footprint.
Step 3:Take your mashers and press lightly, turn the mandrel 180 degrees, and press the same amount, so you end up with a square/rectangular bead. By pressing the same weight, you will spread your glass evenly on the mandrel, to secure an even footprint. Then I normally turn the mandrel about 90 degrees and press again, turn 180 degrees and turn. if the glass is still soft enough, I will continue to press and turn, take the mandrel back into the flame to heat up the gather a bit, and press, turn, press, you get the idea ...
Step 4:Now to make sure that your footprint is wide enough, I place the mandrel over the base plate of a press and measure one of the hollows that I would like my round bead to be. If I need to get the footprint a bit wider, I repeat the press process for a bit, measuring it every now and then. After a few beads, I can eyeball the width quite easily so that I do not really need to measure and press the whole time.
Step 5:Now I need to load more glass onto the footprint bead. Again, rather start with to little, rather than too much glass. (it's much easier to add than remove glass!)
Step 6:Melt it in. You will notice that your footprint is now slightly narrower than it was when you had placed the original footprint down. I loose about 2 mm in width doing this. Eyeball the top and bottom curve of your bead. If it is too narrow, you will have sharp edges on you bead holes. If you have too much of a curve, you will end up with a not round bead, but lovely dimples. I aim to get somewhere between these 2 extremes.
Step 7:Now you have a neat round bead that you will be able to reproduce time and again. Remember that when you add glass for decoration, you might loose your neat roundness, so start with a bit of a not 100% round bead before adding decorations, should you aim for round!
Step 8: Pop bead into the kiln!
Problem solving:Should you have difficulty to obtain neat edges in step 3 and 4, use a sharp knife/blade and cut about 1,5 mm from the edge of the undercut to push the glass to the edge and level to the rest of the footprint. If you do this closer to the edge of the glass footprint, you will end up with an uneven edge again!