Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ring tutorial

I have promised a tutorial, and here it is, finally!

Prepare your mandrels as per usual manner. If it is a new set of mandrels, you will need to give it a good glow in the flame, and then a water bath. Then I normally use a fine sand paper, and give it a light sanding to create a 'key' for the bead release to adhere to. All these mandrels were freshly dipped, and the bead release is still wet. (Not that it matters, I use a flame dry release, so no problems!)

Take your ring mandrel, and put it in the centre of the flame. (It is OK, I have been doing this for the last 6 months, and never had a ring mandrel burn through!) You want to heat that mama till she glows pink in the flame. If she is not hot enough, she will loose temperature too quickly, and your glass will pop off as you attempt to lay it on. Really, let her get cross!

Now add your spirals of glass around the centre of the mandrel. I do it very slowly, working a lot of times with my mandrel in the flame, and just taking my time; turn the baby while I control the thickness of glass that I add. Note how my start and finish is graded. Even so I might still have a bumpiness. Oh and do not correct any wonkiness yet ...

Melt that in. When I add glass to the ring mandrel, I normally do not have an even coiled rope look between the glass and the mandrel, but more of a pushing technique, which cause some of the glass footprint to be a bit wider than the rest. that is OK. Now I will get rid of that uneven footprint. I heat the glass well, making sure that I turn the mandrel the whole time. I also focus direct flame on the glass from an angle where it meets the mandrel.

When you have one fat circle and a nice and even footprint, let you bead cool a bit, and the look at it from all angles. This is also the time that you will correct the meandering ring . Use your marver and nudge the glass a bit left and right to make sure it is straight. Is there an area that needs more glass? Oh goodness, yes.

Add extra glass as needed. And then melt it in, of course!

You now have a basic ring shape, and you can leave it as it, change it, what ever! At this stage, it would be a bit uncomfortable to wear, so I suggest to flatten it a bit. Do not roll the glass on you mandrel. (OK, if you want to, do it; but believe me, I had quite a few that separated from the bead release when I tried it in this step ...) Rather use your marver, and press gently on the glass, and while you turn the mandrel, gently pat it a bit flatter. When you have spread your footprint a bit, you can roll the glass on the marver.

Spread the glass till you have the width/thickness that you want. Correct a wonky edge and decorate, etc.

When you are happy with your bead, pop it into the kiln, but be careful! that mandrel is till very hot, and will transfer the heat to the glass, making it soft for a bit longer. I normally twirl the mandrel in my kiln, let it rest on the edge of my beautiful kiln door (grin) for about a minute before I lay it on the kiln floor. If not, I will have added kiln floor decorations to my glass ring!

And this is it!

Disclaimer: This is a method that I have figured out for myself. I am sure that other's might do it in this manner, or completely different! When I make a glass ring, I try and have a glass thickness of at least 1,5 mm or more. This will create a stronger ring that will last longer.

When wearing a glass ring, I have 2 rules. Do not hit an inert object (husband, dog, wall, table) while wearing the ring. I suggest removing it, hit said object, and return ring after frustration was vented. Secondly, remove a glass ring from you finger when you work in soapy water. The beauty WILL turn into a flying missile if not removed! Place back on finger once hands are dry.


The Little Bead Shop said...

Great Tutorial! Thanks for that - and you make it look very easy! Getting the glass on evenly on a big mandrel isnt so easy :D

Emma x

Fru Babsan said...

Wonderful! I've got one of those mandrels but has never really managed to make an even ring of glass on it. Now I'm going to give it another try!

ParrotiseBeads said...

Wonderful tutorial! Guess now I'll be in search for some ring mandrels!

Diane said...

I am looking for ring mandrels such as you show in your tutorial. Where did you get them?
Also, thank you for this tutorial, I cant wait to give it a try.

Starfish Aquarium said...

thanks for the wonderful tutorial! I ordered a bunch of lampworking stuff and I was tickled about ordered my bracelet & ring mandrels-- then I realized I had no idea how to use them! Thanks for the tips!

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