Posts Tagged off-mandrel
In the GBUK Journal Issue 7 (out April 2015) I had an article showing the results I got from making sets of simple test beads with a range of boro colours from Northstar (NS), Momka, Trautman Art Glass (TAG) and Glass Alchemy (GA). The idea was to give beadmakers new to boro some idea of what the various colours *could* look like, since the paddles aren’t that useful and beads look different from implosions or blown work. There’s still huge variation possible with some colours, but it’s a start!
I work on a Minor and a 10lpm oxycon.
I’m continuing my results here. That article was on beads only, but I’ll be adding implosions, pendants and anything else in here too as I experiment.
First up is a colour that took me a great deal of prodding until I understood how to work it better. I’d read the working notes, then mostly forgotten them when I made the first set of beads.
These are my first five beads. They all have a clear core. From left to right:
• aurora, encased in clear;
• aurora with clear frit, encased in clear;
• aurora over white, encased in clear;
• aurora over black, encased in clear;
• aurora on surface.
They are mostly brown/tan with a little dull pinky-red and slight hints of purple. On the surface I got the rod colour, which is almost black. They went through my normal kiln schedule which has a striking segment at 621C (1150F) for 10 mins and anneals at 565C (1049F).
They aren’t bad for brown, but I did know aurora was supposed to do more than that. I made a couple more, trying very hard to strike them: still browns.
So I went back to the notes. Northstar newsletter #1 says:
For NS-47 Aurora it is also possible to get a full spectrum of colors depending on which flame is used as well as whether the pieced is encased in clear or a color. To achieve vibrant blues, try working it in a highly oxidizing flame. To yield a green, work it in a neutral flame. To generate vibrant deep reds, work the piece in a neutral flame then reduce the piece when it is close to completion.
(Northstar newsletter #18 mentions using aurora as a backing colour for amber purple and others).
I tried for the high oxy flame. That’s a challenge on oxycons, even a large one, so for a while I wondered if my enough-oxy-to-be-hissing flame wasn’t even neutral, as the more I did, the more my beads remained rod colour.
I turned my oxy up as high as I could get it and the propane down a little for the hissing flame. I made these two beads. To get the lighter areas I had to really blast the surface and then allow to air cool for a long time. I still couldn’t get the whole bead light. The light areas looked greenish before encasing and going in the kiln, but came out like this.
I then made an encased stringer, which looks a dull green with occasional pinker sections (see below). These beads were made with the stringer – the blue stripe on the black bead was where the stringer was encased – I used the end left on the rod, so the black is the unencased glass. The other bead went purplish in the kiln – still very dark.
I decided to do something a bit bigger next and with no mandrel in the way, so made a pair of scorpion claws.
One claw is solid aurora – still an awful lot of brown-black even for something with a much longer working time that was going in and out of the flame. I used a fairly high oxy flame but also enough propane to let me melt easily. For the second claw, I made a gather of aurora, encased it and then did all the shaping. It looked lighter before it went in the kiln, but came out weirdly salmony with other areas – a few dark blue-purple bits, a little almost-green haze. These were annealed with no striking segment, so at 565C all the way.
(The natural colour is pretty good for a scorpion).
This shows the encased stringer too.
Then I found this video clip by Milon Townsend on Firelady’s site, showing that when worked in an oxy flame aurora does indeed remain rod colour! So that was working. He gets a bright red-pink from an entirely reducing flame, no encasing.
I hadn’t been reducing it because
1) I try to work all my first bead sets in roughly the same flame so they can be compared.
2) I was trying for the greens in the Northstar newsletter, which said use a neutral flame. That note leaves out any mention of reducing it after working, apart from getting reds.
For my next beads, I melted my glass entirely in a reducing flame – I got opaque salmony pink showing up on the tip of my rod, which vanished on the bead, but rolling the bead in the edge of the flame made the surface lighten up, and then after encasing it definitely looked different. I also added a new program that doesn’t go above 538C, from a recommendation that it would stop aurora striking browner.
Here is what my rod looked like:
And this is what I got:
The bead on the left was less reduced than the others and has come out one of those odd in-between colours that I will call taupe. Not very pretty, but different from what I was getting before. I reduced the middle bead enough to get an opaque surface then encased it – I got seagreen along with the salmon pink! The right bead is again reduced a lot, then rolled in clear frit and encased – it has gone purple under the frit and is quite pretty. Progress!
When I say reduced a lot, I had my flame so I just started getting about 2mm of yellow bushy ends on my candles. Get the rod end or bead surface properly hot in this and you’ll see the surface change after a moment or two- that’s when it develops the opaque salmon colour. It’ll tend to go away while forming the bead (even in the same flame) and you’ll have to bring it back again on the surface once you have it shaped.
I went on to make a pair of off-mandrel hearts after that.
The base is TAG Red Elvis. I added a spiral of aurora round it, added in a reducing flame. In this one I added clear frit when the aurora was still raised, melted it in in a reducing flame, then encased in clear. (I didn’t pull the heart into the best shape here, wasn’t sure which direction to go in!)
That’s the other side.
You can see I got a band of green and yellow on one lobe and various other colours, with a good bit of salmon pink and red from the glass that wasn’t under frit. The colour is a little muddy in areas, especially centre back. The area on top of the lobes was added last, worked least, and has the brightest colour. I’ve also got haze spread across the red Elvis areas, which looks pretty cool with the frit on top.
My second heart was a lot bigger. This has a clear core under the red and has a bit of TAG sparky inside too, though you can’t see it much unless you peer (sparky is a dense sparkle – mix it with anything to thin out).
The aurora was all added to the gather at the same time and melted down fully before the frit was added. I prefer the colours I got the first time as these are more muted. It was also worked longer. The shape is greatly improved though!
I went on to make this trio of beads where I tried a lighter hand with the reduction – that didn’t work and I got tiny hints of colour but mostly dark. The little yellow spots are where metals came to the surface. I was trying to brush lightly with the edge of the reducing flame and it really didn’t do much.
Finally, I made these three.
From left to right:
1. Formed in neutral flame, heated through in reducing flame once so it went iridescent not opaque, encased. It went a good purple.
2. Reduced a lot, added clear frit, reduced more and encased – I got blue-green and yellow, plus slightly purple round the other side.
3. Reduced a lot, added clear frit, not encased. Red and green, and yellowish round the back, which lost the surface pink.
That is quite a difference from one glass!
Here are the beads in hand, slightly washed-out, but it shows the yellowy-green back on the last bead.
Here are the earlier beads together.
And here ALL the beads!
I went on to make another large claw.
I encased a gather of clear with aurora, reduced and added the clear frit, reduced again and encased in clear. Then I did the shaping. I got a generally more uniform colour here, mostly pastel mauve though some hints of blue and green also.
The colour is less eyecatching again, but quite pleasing.
I made a scorpion tail, intended to be brown and black this time!
(This took a long time and is quite fragile because of the nature of the segment joins – I promptly dropped it a short way when taking it out of the kiln, broke it in three and had to fix it. It needs some more construction thought or deliberate smoothing of the segments into each other).
I tried imploding aurora in a jellyfish pendant.
This came out mostly a warm peachy tan, with hints of all sorts of colours in it. The background is NS blue moon, of which more later.
In conclusion, aurora took quite a lot of work to begin to understand but I do not regret it!
Here are a few posts and pieces by other people I tracked down to give me hope that you could actually get other results from it:
• Proof aurora goes green! By Heather/Ericaceae.
• Pretty muted multicoloured beads by Suzanne (scroll down).
• Darker red/green/blue heart by e. mort.
• Brighter blues and greens heart by e. mort.
• Discussion of annealing temp to avoid purple aurora going brown (no pics).
This 100 coe glass from Lauscha is mostly used for making glass pens. I was sent some to see if it would be useful to beadmakers too. I received some clear and some striped rods.
The striped rods have a core of clear, then a multi-stripe on two sides that is again thinly encased in clear. So the black and white cane has one stripe in black with a thin border of white and one that is white with a thin border of black.
One cane is transparent pink with three thin stripes of white on one side and the same with transparent green on the other side.
The last cane is red and goldstone, going black-red-gold-red-black on one side, and the same with white instead on the other.
I made some spacers first.
The black/white and pink/green work better as spacers, as the red and goldstone one turns out rather muddy because of the black in it. You can see that this is a blue-based black.
These are rather pretty beads – they do mimic the effect of frit painting, though, and I think they are less striking than the cane because you lose the sharp bands of colour, instead getting a random wispy effect. So they would be an easy way of making large numbers of these same beads, but with frit painting you have as many colours as you have frit.
For a compatibility test, I tried encasing Effetre black with the clear.
Cracks! This was what I expected to happen, really. The clear also developed quite a few microbubbles – it doesn’t feel as clean as the 104 Lauscha clears. It did melt very easily.
I went on to try with some Plowden & Thompson 100 coe glass that I have.
This is P&T vanilla with a spiral of the red/goldstone cane and then fully encased in the clear. I added raised leaves or flowers with the cane. No compatibility problems showing up here yet. (I will keep an eye on it for a month or so).
I think this is quite a pretty bead, but the visibility of the red and goldstone is very much diluted by the amount of clear it has around it. The leaves just have thin bits of colour in them.
If you have other 100 coe opaques, you can do more with this glass, but you are still up against the amount of clear that they have in them.
Finally, I made an off-mandrel squiggle.
Now, *this* is a good and different result! It keeps the sharp defined bands that are in the rod, and you can twist it to have them spiralling around. The beads have the problem that they could be made in other ways – you don’t need this cane for those effects. I don’t think the beads look as good as the cane does. I could also have pulled the cane down into twisties, but again I can make my own easily as you don’t need this level of precision in the stripes of a twistie because they even out when they are twisted and pulled down. I think this glass looks best when it is kept looking like the rods, so in sculpture.
My conclusion is that you can definitely use this cane to make pretty beads, but the ways you can use it are limited. It comes into its own if you use it for sculptural work.
Do excuse the vanishing act. I’ve been very busy doing a whole load of things. I’ve decided that it’s pointless to try and catch up on all the posts I’ve meant to make, so will just start here.
So, what’ve I been up to?
In April I officially became self-employed (as well as being full-time employed). I became a UK distributor for Farbglashütte Lauscha, so I’m importing lovely glass from Lauscha in Germany and selling it on my website at Lauscha.co.uk. I’m also gradually getting through colour testing it all, because we don’t have that kind of information as available as we do for other manufacturers. I’m posting the results on my website as well as on the Frit-Happens and Craft Pimp forums.
(If you’re interested, my testing typically goes plain spacer, spacer reduced or etched, silver leaf, silver leaf reduced and encased, psyche, terranova 2 frit, white, CiM tuxedo, CiM stoneground, copper green, ivory, then for transparents there may be frit painting with iris gold and a spacer over white. Plus testing with any other colours I think might be interesting).
I’ve been to some classes, all at Di East’s studio in Enderby, Leicester: By George, it’s Lush with Julie Fountain and George Harper-East in June, where we made beads the first day and made them up into jewellery the second. Di East taught Sarah Hornik’s Glass & Colour class at the end of July when Sarah got refused entry into the UK – she also had an open day immediately after which I stayed for and shared a table for my first time selling glass at a fair.
I went to Tuffnell Glass’s free Summer Bash in August – two days playing with glass and I camped with a tent I’d got specially! I had my first go with boro there and made some marbles. (I mean to try soft glass ones too as soon as I get the time…)
On Saturday I’m doing a figure class with Lucio Bubacco. Eeeek! I’ve never done anything like this before so should learn a lot. I did a bit of practicing this week – off-mandrel sculpture in soft glass is a very different way of working. There are photos up of what Lucio demoed on Wednesday – they are just amazing.
Here are some of my tests (click to go to Flickr to see more).
I’m getting ready for the GBUK AGM and Bead Fair on Saturday 24th September at the Loyd Lindsay Rooms, Ardington, Oxfordshire. I have a table booked there and will be selling my beads for the first time as well as Lauscha glass, so I’m busily making stock and trying to sort out how I will display it and all those many things.
Phew! There have also been a few fun swaps going on – there was a twistie swap earlier in the year that I got a bit over-enthusiastic about and made piles of twisties! I’ve just sent my murrini in for a murrini swap, and I’m quite pleased with a couple of the recipes I came up with. I have a charm swap due at the end of September…
I’m also doing a little bit of testing for Kaz’s monthly limited edition murrini and frit blends.
It’s all go, and I’m having a great time! I decided that this was the year I would go for classes and attend events, while I am still full-time employed and have the disposable income. I’m intending to go part-time so I have more time for glass, which requires the courage to actually leave or alter my rather dull job. I think I’d probably be better off leaving entirely and applying for something different part-time, but I know how things work here and there would be Change! So I keep putting that part off, but the days when I manage to get a decent amount of glassy work done are so much more satisfying that I know I have to do it eventually. I’m waiting for restructuring at my boyfriend’s workplace to be over, then I think I’m out of excuses. (He’s happy for me not to have a part-time job at all. I’m… not. I get issues about money and the spending thereof in that situation).
Life! It’s full of stuff! :)
The beads from the FH Valentine’s Bead Swap arrived! Here are the three lovelies I received:
Beads by Terri, GlassOwl and Anna (ShinySnail). Anna’s is sparkly and I have a suspicion may involve the fabled pineapple sparkle!
Here are the beads I sent.
Three off-mandrel hearts. One in Lauscha transparent pink with a silver glass twistie. One in Lauscha caramello with psyche. One in Plowden & Thompson black, which goes metallic. I gave extra heat to some areas so it developed some surface texture.
I resolved to take part in more Frit-Happens swaps this year – it’s lovely to get little packages through the post with surprise glass beads in them! I also find that swaps get me doing new things – I don’t think I would have spent nearly as much time making hearts if not for this one and I’ve really enjoyed it. (I am also confident now that I can make beads of good enough quality to send out to other lampworkers! Which can be the scary bit).
The latest UKJC spring charm swap has also kickstarted an obsession with an entirely new technique for me, more about which later…
Serendipitously, Holly of Holly’s Folly Glass posted this off-mandrel heart tutorial and I thought “Ooh, that looks interesting” so I went off to have a go.
First try! I used a thick rod of transparent pale blue for the base and added twistie ends in neutral and green. I twisted the centres, shaped the heart end and added a loop in baby blue (tricky!). Then I held the heart in my reverse-action tweezers, not the loop, in case it might shock. I took off the rod and heated the end to round off, then tried to put the heart into my kiln… but the tweezers wouldn’t let go! So I stuck it in my annealing bubbles to cool down. My tweezers have very thin pointy ends, and one of them had got embedded in the glass. I hadn’t put them in the flame, but I most have got them too hot anyway because it was well and truly stuck. In the end I just bent off the tweezers, so now one of the points is shorter than the other, and the remains are still in this bead… After this, I used my needlenose pliers instead and always hold the loop!
I made heart 2 (the blue one below) in the same way, without the mishap. Then I read Mr Smiley’s heart tutorial (there are pics later on in the thread) and I made more… and more. They’re fun and rather addictive, but I still find the loops tricky!
Blue heart: pale blue with a blue twistie and a green+brown twistie.
Pink heart: Reichenbach mystic pink mixed about with Lauscha soft clear. Goldstone ribbon on the surface and encased. The shape has a bit too much on one side for my liking.
This heart is Lauscha citrine with my red roof tile twistie. There were a couple in between the pink heart and this one, but they’re off to the Valentine’s swap so I won’t show them yet. The RRT twistie hasn’t been a great success – basically it may as well be RRT and hades only, because those are the colours that take over.
I really like this one. It’s a white opalino base with coe 96 raku frit. I didn’t strike the frit properly, though I did get the opalino hot enough that it’s started displaying faint black spiderwebbing in places. Neither of which I mind – I think it gives it a delicate look, and the muted colours go well with it.