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.