Sunday, November 28, 2010

Odds and Ends - the Using Up Thereof.

After you've been lampworking for any length of time, you start to wonder - what do I do with all these leftover ends? You try using them, but then they aren't the colour you want right now - or you find you've made truly hideous beads because you were trying to use up the ends.

You try sticking them together, end to end, but they are shocky and if you aren't using them right away, it doesn't really seem to buy you anything.

And the rod grabber tool is great for using up ends, but still - they keep accumulating.

One thing you can do to make these ends more usable is to re-anneal them. Part of the bummer about trying to use them is that they keep shocking and dropping a tip off the end. A half-inch falling off a 4 inch rod is more annoying than falling off a 13 inch rod.

In particular - I accumulate a lot of ends of clear and black. They are very reusable, but the shocking is annoying, so every once in a while, I will pile them in the kiln, and run an annealing cycle - same cycle I use for beads (and if I don't have quite as much as this, I might do it when I am going to make beads.) I don't care if a few of them shock and break, so I don't worry about a slow ramp-up. I just put them in, and ramp up at the usual speed.

When they come out, they are significantly less shocky - and my black and clear ends go and stand in a nice little can for re-use. Punties, bases for more expensive-glass beads, encasing stringer, twisties - lots of uses.

I find they do better on the floor of the kiln. Occasionally I have annealed a shocky batch of full-size rods, and I have to put them on an angle on the rod rest to make them fit. In that case, they tend to come out with a distinctive bend in them. At least then, I can tell which ones have been annealed!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Making Multiple Beads on a Mandrel

You may have noticed this particular picture the other day, and wondered about making multiple beads on a mandrel. The advantages to making multiple beads on a mandrel is that it is easier to make a matching pair, because the first one is right there to compare, and it can be a time saver for making multiples, as you can let one bead cool down a bit while you work on the next one. It saves dipping time and trips to the kiln. An hour of beadmaking like this can leave you with a pretty daunting pile of beads to pull and clean, however.

Two tips will help you fill up the mandrel with beads and have you start looking for taller bottles for your bead release. (I have mine in a small orange juice bottle - so I can get a nice long dip. For production work, I can get 6-8 on a mandrel)

Sorry, three tips.

1. Make them close together. Seriously. Like in the picture. Overlapping heat from making the next bead helps to keep the previous ones warm. This is anti-intuitive, and a little scary - you worry about losing control and sticking them together. Trust me - making them close together really helps.

2. Keep them all warm - doh. But - never have more than one warm enough to move at a time. You can't balance and round out two moving-hot beads at the same time. Make a bead. Balance and round. Keep rotating - let it cool to solid, make the next, balance and centre, let cool. Rewarm the first. Make the third now that #2 is solid and #1 is warm. While #3 is cooling - make sure #1 and #2 are warmed up - but keep the rolling rhythm of the mandrel tuned to the still soft #3 bead. When it is solid, start on #4, - etc.

and the 3rd tip. If you are trying to get them all the same size - which - looking at the pic above, I wasn't, but if you are - make your decision about the size of the bead and if it needs more glass while both beads of the pair are the same temperature. If one is glowing and one is not, wait for it to cool down, or warm the other one up.

Whether this is because the warm one is expanded with heat (I personally doubt this is a big enough phenom to see) or the optical illusion of a glowing object looking larger (my favored theory), you can't get them the same size if you keep adding glass to them when they are not the same temperature. You'll add glass to the smaller-looking cool bead, and when you have melted the trail of extra glass in, it will now look bigger than the other, now cool bead. So you will add more glass to that one, and ad nauseum. Your earring pair just turned into matched book ends. Or curling rocks.

Once you get the hang of it - you'll be whipping out long mandrels of matching beads.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Double Helix Clio

Clio - the pale, pinky transparent rod doesn't really give you any indication of what you are going to get!

But super easy to use! These 5 spacers were reduced, all at once, after making them. The second from the left is a little more gold than the silvery of the other ones, and I'm not sure why. I'd like to play with this and try for more of the gold tones.

When held up to a strong light, you can just barely see the glass colour under all the metallic surface. It appears to be a rich red or brown. The base colour of the glass strikes and goes much deeper than the rod colour.

This is Clio over black. A black cone, encased with Clio - and a black stripe on top. I'm quite pleased with the blues and greens. I did reduce it, but then stuck it back in a neutral flame and unreduced it.

This is Clio, at the bottom, the middle of the bead started with a base of something light that I ran out of, I was trying for white, but I'm not sure that it wasn't actually a piece of CiM Desert Pink. I ran out, and filled in the rest with Ivory. The silver from the Clio has reacted with the ivory in a very pleasing way. The Clio has struck to a rich, dark toffee. I mashed it into a lentil, and gave it a big swirl in the middle, and remashed to reshape.

So far - very easy to get nice results from. I didn't make any attempt to consciously strike the colour - it just happened while I was working on the bead, in the course of keeping it warm. I am looking forward to playing with this one a lot more!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Val Cox Frit: Forest Nymph

Forest Nymph - A Val Cox frit blend. A nice happy blend of blues and greens. Think I can screw this one up? You betcha.

The working notes say:

Forrest (sic) Nymph: Blend- Opaque/Transparent

A no-fuss blend, this lively and fresh transparent green-toned frit blends (sic) stands out against a backdrop of warm opaques in this beautiful all-seasons blend.

btw - it really does say Forrest Nymph in the notes. Whether Forrest Nymph is related to Forrest Gump is anyone's guess. Forrest, the Forest Nymph - was forced to forage for the rest.

Stands out against warm opaques - I read this and interpreted it to mean that it would look good on a warm coloured opaque, like an orange. Ok, I'll try that.

So, on a reddish orange - here is the Forest Nymph. Ew. Big splotches of brown where the transparent greens turn to mud on a red background. Yuck.

How about on black? Well - that's much nicer. Yeah - I could have done a better job with the firepolishing out of the chill marks. Bite me. This mashing thing seems to be working. BTW - for all of these, I made the 4 spacers, heated them and fritted them all at the same time. Melted the frit in, and then, while all four are glowing, mashed all four at once. Not perhaps as much control as mashing one by one - but it guarantees all the same thicknesses, and is a little more fun.

The black wasn't too hideous - let's try on white. And that came out too. Not bad. I think this would look nice on a light opaque COOL colour - like an aqua or blue or light green. But a warm colour. Not with those transparents in there!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Implosions: Some Tips

A reader asked - Do you have any tips for implosions? As a matter of fact, I do. I don't pretend to be deeply awesome at them. But - these little implosions are now fairly easy to do and I can whip one off with one hand and then stick it on the bead I'm keeping warm with the other hand.

The key, I believe, is volume. Volume of glass. More glass = better effect.

Most of the implosion instructions I have seen tell you to put a pattern of dots on the disk, and to implode that. I found I got much better results after I started jamming the disk into the frit. Many more "dots" and lots of glass to move.

Some of these photos are utterly ghastly - I apologize - but to illustrate my point.

Start with a rod of clear, and create a disk on the end. You can let the end get hot and push down, or build up like making a disk. Or a bit of both. It helps if it is centered - it's easier if it is, but don't worry too much if it's a little off.

See - not completely centered. Definitely out of focus. Try shooting pics with one hand while keeping a bead warm.

Key to remember - you are working on the back of the implosion most of the time, the top will be on the side of the clear rod in your hand.

With the surface hot - glop on some frit. Do a couple of layers. It can be two different colours even.

And melt it it. You can marver it to melt it in faster and smoother.

That's my "assistant" in the background, by the way - the rod warmer - doing it's rod-warming thang.

So - now the frit is melted in.
Rotate and heat on one side. The idea is to direct the heat where the arrows are pointing, from the center out to the side.

Rotate the disk constantly, and hold at a bit of an angle, so that the glass will start to flow down. First it will form a cup shape. You have to rotate it to keep it on center.

Note the angle of the rod in relation to the flame. The flame is hitting the far side of the disk, and only about 1/3 of it.

See how the center is still dished in?

Then it will dome over as it continues to flow.

And you keep going, and it will turn into a gather, with the implosion inside. It's hot ...
And now it has cooled. You can flatten the back side a little, and add a big dot of colour and flatten out to form a base.
And cooler.
And the finished implosion - as a bead. I stuck it on a mandrel, and looped the clear around to make the rest of the bead.

More dots make a more dramatic effect - and bigger volume dots of strong colours will show better. Don't be stingy with the disk either. And if you need a bigger dome - melt more onto the top from the rod end.

Be gently flattening the bottom - you don't want to loose your definition in your implosion.

Hope that helps!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Val Cox Frit: Skinny Dipping

Well - I seem to be getting better with frits - which is to say - my samples aren't sucking quite so badly as they used to. ;-) Well - not all of them, anyway.

This is Skinny Dipping.

The working notes say:

Skinny Dipping. Blend - Opaque/Transparent
A rich warm/cool tone compliment of opaques and transparents. This blend gets its name from skin-toned corals and soft watery blues. Not fussy and excellent for all seasons.

This implosion, with an Effetre Medium Lapis background turned out not too bad - although the "skin tone" corals are bit darkish and reddish.

On clear, on this cone bead - the dark colours appear to be a transparent orange, actually. The overall look is of light blues and aquas, like Eff. Light Sky Blue and Periwinkle, with something ivory-ish (but doesn't look like it is reacting w the blues) and some the transparent orange.

And here we have another implosion, with the addition of "petals" and "leaves." I think the phrase that comes to mind here is "Feed me, Seymour."

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Effetre 254 cont'd: EDP Reactions

Last month, I talked about EDP (Evil Devitrifying Purple) and how it had some pretty cool reactive properties. Some wag said "tell us about those reactions." Of course. ;-)

EDP reactions are not actually my particular specialty - but here are a few thoughts to go on if you want to start exploring on your own.

First up - EDP Encased. This isn't a reaction, so much as an effect. I got a narrowish band of clear on this, and you can see - the clear has sunk into the EDP and the EDP has rolled up from the side to accommodate it, pretty much swallowing the clear.

Another attempt at encasing, and this time, I got more clear on and got it on wider. The EDP has not swallowed the clear in this case, but you can see that the overall effect is of a lighter shade of purple. Just visible on the left side of the bead is the colour it should be.

This is Effetre Light Sky Blue dots, with more EDP dots on top. There has been some separation in the Light Sky Blue, and the EDP dots have lost their definition as they crawl and spread.

This is Effetre Light Ivory dots, with EDP dots on top. Wicked strong reaction - to the point of being possibly unattractive if you weren't ready for it and planning on it. Ivory and EDP can be tricky to make look nice.

This following pic is dots of copper green (not any of the turquoises or sky blues), with EDP on top. The copper green has dome some separating, and a line has formed in some places on the EDP.

This dramatic combo is using CiM Stone Ground. It has formed a darker line, and gone a very rich antiqued colour. Stone Ground is similar to Effetre Opal Yellow, in case you were wondering.

Here we are starting to shoot for the whole enchilada We have a base of CiM Stone Ground, with alternating rows of dots of EDP and Copper Green. The EDP dot row has a Light Sky Blue dot at each end. (Random dots of Hades appear between dots.)

The EDP dots all have a clear dot on top. The other two colours all got an EDP dot. Then everything got a Copper Green dot. Then an EDP dot.

If that was confusing - here's the diagram.

Next - I made a twistie, and applied it to a Stone Ground base bead. The twistie was a base of EDP, with 4 stripes - Light Sky Blue, Light Ivory, Copper Green, and Stone Ground - assembled like this.

Some raking and swirling and a few dots of Hades (Black).

So there you have it - it's a start for the EDP-reaction curious. You all remember how to keep it shiny now, right? Heat it to glowing, kiln it, as the last step. You can let it cool before it goes into the kiln - but no waving it back through the flame. Just cool out of the flame and kiln.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Effetre Transparent Greys Together

Having just been discussing the Effetre transparent greys - here's a pic that compares them all head to head.

Here they are:
  • Effetre 048 Top Mandrel
  • Effetre 088 Middle Mandrel
  • Effetre 084 Bottom Mandrel

So they are Grey, Dark Steel Grey, Light Steel Grey. Light Steel Grey is not really just a light version of Dark Steel Grey. If you want a true grey, pick 048, if you want a dark one, pick 088, and if you want a sagey greyish blue green, pick 084.