Monday, December 18, 2006


Here are a few beads I made this weekend. I was rather pleased with the big bead, which is about the size of a quarter. Although I've acid etched a lot of beads, this was my first attempt at applying a resist on clear dots to keep them glossy while the rest of the bead goes matte as the surface is eaten away. I used a contrasting color nail lacquer to coat the dots. The cool thing is the different finish makes the dots look like they are glowing.

I thought you might like to see what goes into making one of these beads. I'm always talking about "silvered ivory" and here you can get some sense of what that process involves. The ivory rod at the top is the core glass of all these beads shown. With the stone-looking beads, I made the core roughly the size I wanted the finished bead to be, and then wrapped on scrolls of the two twisted stringers you see here. The greenish one is two Moretti glass (from Italy, a soft soda glass that melts at roughly 1700 F) colors called Sage and Avocado. To make the other stringer, I took a rod of ivory and put about 1.5" stripe on one side of cobalt blue transparent and on the other side of the ivory I put an equal stripe of cranberry transparent, cobbed another ivory rod on the other side of the tip and then twisted as I pulled the molten mass into a stringer about the size of a pencil lead.

The cool thing about these colors is they are highly reactive with ivory - ivory is much more fun than white because the oxides in that glass make for a very unpredictable finish, which is more exciting than the expected. OK. Yes, I'm pathetic and very easily thrilled. Ivory goes bananas with turquoise blue (it makes little black rims around the blue bits) and other fun stuff I'll show you some other time.)

Anyway, after I doodled these stringers onto the core ivory beads, I wrapped a leaf of fine silver (.999 as opposed to the .925 purity of sterling) onto the bead burnishing it with a graphite marver to ensure all-around contact, and melted it in, causing further reactions with the oxides in the colored stringer and the ivory. On one of the smaller beads, if you click on the picture to enlarge it you can see how this silver has turned into something of a dusting of minute silver balls. I love the way the silvered beads have a stone-like appearance, and now they are etched, they feel like smooth rocks, too. Neat.

Finally, I daubed a series of ivory dots onto the bead and then did a cobalt transparent nubbin. I love nippled beads - the texture is fun, and the form is pleasing.

The other bead is a core of ivory encased in clear transparent, and then spiraled with the avocado/sage stringer. I then put ivory dots around to give the clear green more dimension.

These actually look much better in person, though I am far from a master beadmaker. My beads are just a means to an end, and I make them solely to have something to my taste to swag on my jewelry. They are a means to an end, but they amuse me mightily, and the keep me off the streets. Somewhat.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I like the word "nubbin". I like saying it out loud. Many times. It almost feels like a word you're told not to say when you're four or five, and can't stop saying. nubbin... nubbin... (See my evil grin?)

Mushy said...

Nubbin - a nickname I had as a small boy, but then I became a "full-grown ass man".

The big shell looks like a snail shell - pretty stuff.

schnoobie said...

Once upon a time on a mountain in Penland,NC I got to hang around with some glass blowers. They showed me how to make beads for the first time and man was I a ROCK STAR!!!(in my own mind) I can absolutley see why you are so diggin this.Rave on!!!!

phlegmfatale said...

meg - Yup, something about the word "nubbin" makes me feel a little giggly! I think we'll both have nubbins on the brain for the rest of the week, probably.

mushy - I'm betting you were a pure-D cute nubbin, too. Thank goodness for all the nubbins that turn into big "full-grown ass men." Thank heaven for little boys.

schnoobie - Yup - glass people are odd, aren't we? It's a different kind of joy, and an immensely pleasurable one, at that. I'll keep on rockin', baby!

The Phoenix said...

Wow, that looks so tedious. It must take a steady hand.

Anonymous said...

I love these ones. OHHHH look at those colors. The little blue dots against that matte color are just perfect. One day, I'll have to think of something to propose a trade with...

phlegmfatale said...

phoenix - believe it or not, it's the preparation to make the bead that takes more time - melting glass together for stringers is time-consuming, as is the etching process, but when I'm on the torch to make the bead, it seems like time flies when I'm in the process of creation. It's more fun than you might imagine, and molten glass is mesmerizing to watch.

lj - Yes, we must work out a trade - I'd be honored to have a piece of your work. :)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Those are so pretty and it must be so rewarding to see something physical come out of your efforts.

The closest I've ever come to that was when I took a welding and metallurgy credit in university. Man, welding is some fun!

Leazwell said...

Smashing beads! What vision.

Kelly said...

Have you ever seen those octopi (octopusses?) that are brownish-gray but then light up in the most spectacular bright blue spots when startled? That's what those beads remind me of. And it's waaaay more complimentary than it sounds. I promise.

phlegmfatale said...

barbara - I took a welding course about 15 years ago - loved it, but I have to admit that at 5'2", it's a lot more practical for me to go micro rather than working on big metal pieces. Still, it's a whole lot of fun welding things together, and my seams were always very neat!

leazwell - You flatter me - anything I turn out that looks good should probably be called a happy accident!

kelly - I don't know - I used to watch lots of National Geographic type programs, so I may have. Actually seaforms are great things to be imitative of in glass work, for some reason, but I'm not good enough for that kind of thing. I'll try to find a tide pool bead to show by Kate Drew-Wilkinson - I have several of hers, and her work is breathtaking. And I do take that as a compliment, thank you so much. All of you. The creative outlet of beadmaking AND my blog make me feel a lot more understood in this life. Or, at least more appreciated for my loopy energy.

Fathairybastard said...

You're really an artist. Very cool.

Kelly said...

Phlegmmy, check out this link for a pic of the octopus.

http://www.underwater.com.au/image.php/id/5192