For those of you who don't make beads - you probably have no idea how many beads that the typical lampworker has had to throw out or discard (or hide in a drawer or jar or box pretending that there is some other use from them at some point in the future) in order to present you with the selection you are seeing.
So I present to you - the top ten reasons that you will never see that bead.
- Interruptions - the phone rang, the doorbell rang, the dog needed to go out, one of the kids threw up - and the bead got abandoned, tossed in the kiln unfinished, dunked in the water pot, or generally just put aside. You don't go back to them and continue. Generally. (There's exceptions - but it's not trivial.)
- It cracked. Cracking can be massive, or so subtle you don't see it until you take the photo. Sometimes there is a streak in the glass and you run your nail over it feeling for the break; "Dammit - is that a crack?" There are lots of causing for cracking - but that's another article.
- Chipped while cleaning. For the love of gawd, somebody please make an affordable, decent bead-cleaning bit. Do not get me started on this.
- Bead release broke, bead started spinning on the mandrel, and bead release stuck to outside of the bead. You can sometimes save these - if you are near the end of the bead - you build little bridges of glass to anchor the bead - but sometimes - it's not worth the effort.
- Permanently stuck on the mandrel. Failure of the bead release that you did not see, deep under the bead. Now you have a cake tester, plant sticker, hair stick, garden ornament ... or several hundred of them. Sometimes there was a bend in the mandrel. Same end result. We all have piles of them. (Spotting a trend here, are we?)
- Used the wrong colours. We torch with tinted glasses on, plus the glass looks different when it is hot. Sometimes you just pick up the wrong rod. Sometimes it's a happy accident, but sometimes, it just doesn't work.
- It was a test - and it didn't work. It was experimental - but ... no. We won't show that one to anyone.
- It was part of the learning curve. I have two months worth of mutant horse beads that would make a dandy boat anchor.
- It was one of those days when everything you made was crap. We all have those days. Sometimes, you can put them away in a drawer, and take them out two months later, and they are not as bad as you thought. But sometimes - they are worse.
- and the number one reason ... it's ugly. It's a disappointment. It falls short of expectations. Maybe it has a flaw, a sharp end, a line of scum in the glass, an unfortunately placed air bubble, an unattractive colour reaction. When we make beads, we fall somewhere on the spectrum between craftperson, using our hard-won skills to make beautiful but fairly prosaic, functional beads to be incorporated into a finished piece of jewelry - all the way up to genius artists making wonderful little pieces of standalone art that will endure the centuries.
But no matter where we are on that spectrum at any given moment in time - we take pride in our work, and balance the cost of the effort and materials with the end result. And if the end result falls flat - if we wouldn't buy it - we discard it. You never get to see it.