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Tips, Techniques, and Questions -- Technical questions or tips

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Old 2019-09-17, 4:58pm
Meezermom Meezermom is offline
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Join Date: Sep 14, 2019
Posts: 11
Default Neophyte beadmaker

Hi! I am brand new to this world of glass bead making. I have a Hothead Torch that I got as part of a beginners kit. This kit also came with several colorful glass rods, mandrels, bead release, and a few other tools. I have only attempted a few beads so far but am having trouble rolling the molten glass onto the mandrel. I have watched multiple videos, and read several internet articles, and bought a few books. I signed up to take a class but that is not until late October, and I want to start now. I think my rods may be too thick for a beginner like me and was wondering if there is such a thing as beginner glass rods which might be easier to roll.
Thanks much!!
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Old 2019-09-17, 5:20pm
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Eileen Eileen is offline
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Join Date: Oct 11, 2010
Location: Florida
Posts: 11,534

It sounds like you might not have your mandrel hot enough if you are saying the molten glass won't stick. Glass sticks to hot (coated!) metal, so you need to heat it in the flame until it is hot enough for the glass to stick to: until you get a faint glow is a good indicator if you are just learning. It will stick to the uncoated metal too, LOL, just won't come off again!

If you are saying that your glass isn't getting molten, you just have to be patient, which I know is hard to do! The tendency is to bring the glass closer to the the torch head, but that leads to sooty (with a Hothead or one of the clones, the propane is not consumed close to the torch, and gets the glass dark gray or black sometimes) glass if you get too close. And you can burn some colors too if you don't move out a bit. So just be patient, learn to enjoy seeing the glass tip begin to glow, getting brighter and the heated area larger, then when it is really hot try touching it to the hot mandrel and it should stick.
I have never really used devardi glass, so I don't know how thick they are. It will all melt, but the thicker rods do take a bit longer.
My current "hot" fantasy involves a senior discount on glass & tools!

Last edited by Eileen; 2019-09-18 at 4:22pm.
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Old 2019-09-17, 11:00pm
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Speedslug Speedslug is offline
Join Date: Mar 21, 2009
Location: Winnebago, MN
Posts: 2,421

You also might want to just kind of play with two glass rods in the flame to get used to how it melts and when it flows.

I began with a clear rod and one of the lighter colored rods and used the clear to attach and pull the other once it started flowing.

Transparent glass is going to be stiffer than opaque.

The hot head torch has kind of reverse heat thing going on.
Because the fuel has to mix with the air it sucks in from the other end it takes a small amount of time once the fuel exits the torch body to mix well so the flame is actually cooler the closer you get to the torch.

So you have to fight the urge to bring the glass in closer to the torch.
Everything needs to happen just outside the tip of the blue cone which is hard to see if you have your didymium glasses on.

Welcome to the addiction.
We have to take care of ourselves so we can take care of each other.
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Old 2019-09-18, 3:44pm
Meezermom Meezermom is offline
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Join Date: Sep 14, 2019
Posts: 11

Thanks for tips. I was heating the mandrel but maybe not enough. I will try heating it more.
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Old 2019-09-18, 3:46pm
Meezermom Meezermom is offline
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Join Date: Sep 14, 2019
Posts: 11

Thanks. The suggestion of playing with the glass sounds like a good idea. I'll try it!
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Old 2019-09-18, 8:50pm
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rainygrrl rainygrrl is offline
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Join Date: Sep 15, 2005
Location: Rochester, MN
Posts: 2,338

You can also learn a lot by playing without making any beads. Try to pull some stringers, which will help you learn a bit about heat control, and be useful later for decorating beads. Maybe make some twisties. Everything you can do with glass takes lots of patience and practice. At least that’s true for me! Enjoy!
”If it makes you happy, then it’s a good thing.” ~ Terryd

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Old 2019-09-23, 8:50am
5betsy 5betsy is offline
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Join Date: Apr 17, 2009
Location: Back in Tucson for good
Posts: 354

I get my mandrel bright red hot before I apply the molten glass.

The mandrel doesn't have to stay red hot but once it gets that hot, you can just keep it warm while your glass melts.
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Old 2019-10-04, 8:44pm
Bentley Bentley is offline
Join Date: Sep 11, 2016
Location: Vancouver WA
Posts: 70

Congratulations on your new addiction! Save your money you're going to need it haha.
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