Friday, June 17, 2011

How I made this bead

Since I've been getting inquiries about how I made this bead, I thought I'd share the process with you.  Not exactly a tutorial, but you'll get the idea.  What I love about it is how I was able to combine techniques I've learned in classes with Jennifer Geldard (catch her next year in the Bead and Button Master's Class), and Trey Cornette.  When I look at this bead I'm fondly reminded of them both.   The encasing technique (described later) is one I learned with Jennifer.  The surface application of twisted raku cane is something I've done for years, but learned more about in Trey's class.  I highly recommend taking classes from both of these masters - the techniques I learned from them were invaluable and I draw on them still, years later.

 Photograph by David Orr.
Just a word about my description first - I'm not trying to be cagey about some of the colors.  I rarely make notes and it's hard for me to recall exactly what I used for a particular bead.  I've used raku for years in various forms - the 1 kilo mondo rods you have to break up and pull yourself, the 5-6mm pulled stuff, frit, etc., and I've also used the chalcedony (blue and "regular") from Gaffer Glass, and find that they work very similarly.  I've got lots of twisted cane using both on my bench, and I honestly can't recall which I used for this bead.  But one thing's for sure, you have to be patient with it, and eventually you'll get some very nice color.  This post by Mike Hengler on the Gaffer Girls' blog is very helpful for working with chalcedony.  Thanks to Deb Batten for calling my attention to it.

This 46mm long bead was made in 3 separate layers, and took me quite a long time to make.  I started with a long tapered bicone that was green in the middle and blue on the ends.  I shaped it carefully as if it were the final shaping.  Then I used the strip casing method to encase the whole thing with clear, possibly using a transparent blue on the ends (it's been a while) to intensify the blue underneath.  I like that method because it results in a thin layer of clear on the bead.

Once the whole encased bead was nicely shaped, I applied twisted cane (twisties) that I made using raku and black or blue chalcedony and black, one side at a time, near the ends of the bead.  As in Trey's class, intense, focused heat and gravity is applied to the twistie to get it to flow toward the center of the bead, elongating the stripes.  A lot of reshaping is necessary after doing this as the mass of glass gets very distorted.  When I'm done with this the stripes have essentially met in the center of the bead.  Then I spent some time playing with heat and O2 to get the raku or chalcedony to "bloom".  I applied a goldstone stringer (this is also encased) around the center of the bead.

Then I used a clear glass stringer to twist around the center of the bead in five different spots.  On top of each twisted spot I applied a dot of silvered glass (likely Triton or Psyche), poked it with my tungsten pick, and put a dot of clear on top.

The final task was to apply dots of reduction stringer (likely iris gold) on the ends of the bead.  That's it!  Easy peasy and only an hour to do.


Deb said...

Gorgeous bead Patty! Thanks for explaining how it is done :)

Aren't Michaels notes on working Chalcedony an absolute insight? I know they certainly got me going in the right direction "consistently" once I had read them!

I'm trying to picture the technique for getting the twisties to meet, in my head. I think I know what you mean & might just have to try it since I am meant to be at the torch anyway :)

Bobbie Pene said...

Thank you for sharing. I love this bead and have wondered many times how you made it :)

Cyndie Smith Designs said...

It's a beauty for sure! Won't see me attempting this anytime soon! But it was interesting to read how you made it!

Cyndie Smith Designs said...

A Beautiful bead for sure! Won't see me attempting this anytime soon! But it was interesting reading about how you did it!

Snowcatcher said...

Now I wonder if what I'm thinking right now is what you might think if you were to look at one of my snowflakes... I felt like I was reading Greek! :) But I sure appreciate everything you put into all your pieces. This truly is a lovely piece!

Laney said...

What a stunning bead thank you for sharing the technique. I too am rubbish at remembering what glass I use and never write anything down. I have one question though. How do you keep the lines even when you marver the shape back? I always get over-enthusiastic and end up distorting everything, bead, design the lot! Laney x

Patty said...

Laney, it sounds like you're working too hot. Just heat it enough to get the glass to move a bit when you push it, and some gentle pressing all around with your marver, followed by rolling (not spinning) will work wonders.

Your little avatar guy is cuuute!


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