Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Well, I finally got some new beads made tonight. I worked on transparent hollows, because they are my all-time favorite. In fact, the funny thing about making the hollow beads is that this is one of the more difficult techniques to do, but it was one of the first things I spent hours and hours trying to master, and now it's easy-peasy. Getting the cell walls of the bead to be of even thickness can be a bit of a challenge, but mine turn out pretty well, generally.

First you take the stainless steel rod and lay on two parallel rings of molten glass, which is about the consistency of thick honey. Then you build out concentric rings on each of these until you have two parallel (if wobbly) disks. This can be challenging because you want the disks to be stiff enough to stand up to the new layer you lay on, but they still have to be hot or the new glass won't adhere to them. Then you either build the edges of the disks toward the center (toward each other) or you do what I do and take a pair of 12" tweezers and coax the soft molten rims together, where you seal it up so a little air is trapped inside the space. Think of it like an air-filled ravioli. er, sumthin.

At this point, the surface is all ropey and wonky-looking, and I gave up at this point when I first tried it all those years ago. It seems at that point that this could never possibly morph into a smooth and pretty bead. Of course, now sometimes I leave them in the wonky state because I like variety in texture, but this knobby looking beastie was intimidating when I first started making beads.

Then the real fun begins. The bead with the hollow space inside is completely sealed around the mandrel and as the surface of the bead melts into one smooth unified piece, the air trapped inside heats up too and expands, plumping the bead out into a nice little sphere. It's a gorgeous process, and I wish I could show you here.

The amazing thing about working with glass is that it is in its most exquisite and enchanting state when it is in molten form, about 1700 degrees F for the Moretti/Effetre and Lauscha glass rods I use. This mesmerizing state is why so many people fall in love with glass-working. It's hot and uncomfortable and has its physical strains, but it is a bewitching process. I promise to post a photo of a new necklace or some such in the next week.

I have intentionally avoided watching election returns the night of. I took the doglet for a walk down the street past the elementary school where the polling place is for my neighborhood. A guy stopped me to give me "literature" on the street, and doglet sidled up to his shoe and copped a squat. I yanked her collar in time to keep her from desecrating his footwear, and laughed "well, she's marked every other spot on the street, so you are uncharted territory." He seemed a little freaked out. I hate when people don't play along. I should have let her pee on his shoe and at least someone would have been doing what they wanted to, as Big Edie would have said.


Anonymous said...

There's a lot of peeing going on in my tiny blogosphere.

I have to post about the time Nico marked me while I was sitting on the floor, watching a movie.

I want some of your jewelry. I'm in a real jewelry shopping mood these days.

HollyB said...

Pictures, pictures, we want pictures! I'm NOT good at delayed gratification.
When I Rule the Universe and You are my Fashion Advisor, I will add your divine creations to my official Emerald and Amethyst Weddin' Jewels. You do custom creations to coordimate w/existant pieces, right?
I'm such a Bi+c# Goddess I'd have let doglet water his shoe, then suddenly noticed what she had done and apologized for HER gaffe. After all, it IS her neighborhood, he's just passin' thru.

Amy said...

I love hollow beads, but have yet to master them. Once the cooler weather comes back I'm going to have to try again, that's all there is to it. Of course my new learning curve now includes torching with a honkin' respirator mask on my face (to protect the bun) so this should be interesting.

I think your doglet had the right idea. I just hate it when my halo kicks before my horns do.

LJ said...

Fascinating process. If I have three more lifetimes, I plan to:
learn to make glass beads
learn ceramics
write more.
I can't wait to see your beads!
PS - Sorry to have been commentless for so long. Busy, as they say, as a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.

Zelda said...

I am also interested in a visual of your beadwork.

And the elections were a route. But now we get to see what the Dems are made of. Should be interesting.

Becky said...

I also want to see your necklace. I love buying pieces like that at crafts shows, and now I realize what goes into them to justify the price. I had no idea.

karen said...

Wow. I am big in love with all things glass - working with it must be amazing. Would lurve to see some pics.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, Phlegm...this post made me so hot. What a turn on, that bead making!

phlegmfatale said...

bottle job blonde -it's all those dogs you hang out with. Then again, I love your dogs - they're sassy. Yeah, you should buy lots of my jewelry.

hollyb - yes,pictures are coming and I will match work to other stuff you have. Love doing that. Yeah, come to think of it, I SHOULD have let doglet water his shoe.

amy - it's good that you are thinking of the bun - there are some muy toxic oxides in some of the glass, and it's better for you, too. I should wear a mask, but I'm practically outdoors, too. (I know, no excuse)

lj - I'm with you, as I've been saying in here - I just got a working internet provider on Monday so I should be able to make blog rounds more regularly in future.

zelda - OK, pics coming soon. ANd yes, I'm so glad we get the opportunity to see all the positive solutions to every little thing that the Dems are going to bring to the table. No one will want to kill us now, right? Huzzah!

becky - In all fairness, there are some super-crappy beads out there - you should only buy beads that make your heart sing. Also, if you are paying a high price for these beads, a reputable bead maker will have annealed the beads and will guarantee them from cracking or breaking with normal care. They ARE made of glass, so don't drop them, but nor should they crack or break spontaneously. The most I've paid for a single bead was about $90 for a stunning specimen, and I've never regretted it.

kees - Watch this space - yeah, glass fascinates me too, and did even before I started torching it.

tony - *L* thanks for the giggle. Yeah, it's just like the pottery scene in Ghost, only I've got Whoopi Goldberg straddling me and a 1700 degree flame blasting out from the proceedings. It's totally hot!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Poor doglet - foiled from peeing on prime unmarked real estate. You owe her.

Meg said...

I wished I could 'talk' like HollyB.

Twisted Lady said...


Fire and glass...I am not even close to getting into any of that.


Maven said...

post pix, girlie girl:)

FHB said...

Aaaah, so that's how.

phlegmfatale said...

barbara - no doubt I'll be cleaning up her pee indoors any minute now. In fact, if that's the measure, she owes me.

meg - hollyb is a great talker and a lovely writer - I love that heifer!

blog whore - yup - explosive business! I've never seriously burned myself either, and that's amazing

nugget maven - coming up, babe!

fathairybastard - ask and ye shall receive