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

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  #1  
Old 2006-03-18, 2:34pm
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Kalera Kalera is offline
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Default Your advice for newbies

Somber over at the GLDG started a newbie advice thread and I thought it was such an excellent idea, and got so many good tips, that I wanted to start one here, too because I think the collected experience here is tremendous and could be really helpful to have posted in one thread. Here's some from me:

Do your research. You do not want to embark into glasswork flying blind; not only is it hard to progress if you don't know what you're doing, it's also potentially very dangerous. Although it's true that there are no stupid questions, you will gain much, much more by reading the information available in books, and doing online searches, than you will by posting a question online and reading only the answers of those who happen to see it and know, or think they know, the answer. There are too many excellent and reasonably priced books written by true experts to leave your safety and your glass education in the hands of well-intentioned internet pals. That said,

Ask questions. If your research does not turn up answers to something you want to know, do not be afraid to ask. You may not get the information you desire, but you will surely learn something. However, when it comes to glassworking techniques,

Seriously, just try it. Odds are not bad that you will be able to figure it out, and then if you are stumped, both your questions and the answers you get will make more sense and take you so much further than if you asked before trying. Which brings me to...

Remember, there is no wasted time at the torch
. Even if you work on something for an hour and then ruin it, even if everything you make is fit only for water annealing, every minute you spend on the torch makes you a better glassworker. I often hear "I don't get much time on the torch so I have to make every minute count, that's why I asked first..." If that's your mindset, change it. Clean it out. There's no benefit to thinking that way - you have to "waste time" at the torch in order to improve. Lastly,

Don't fear the color. I agree about working with inexpensive clear to get your shapes down, but once you have a basic grasp of how to make something, don't be afraid to experiment with color, even (or especially) the most expensive colors. How can you get good with color if you don't play with color? I've talked to so many people who say "I bought half a pound of that a year ago but I haven't used it because I'm afraid of wasting it". Well, it's wasted sitting on the shelf, and you're not learning anything from it there. Stick it in the flame!
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Last edited by Kalera; 2006-03-18 at 9:23pm.
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  #2  
Old 2006-03-18, 2:45pm
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SLOW DOWN!

This is a huge one and highly overlooked. All of those bubbles your getting, all of the little screw ups you see, everything that keeps your piece from being perfect....all of that can be avoided if you slow down and pay attention to everything you are doing. You can tell when you are going to cause a bubble if you are paying attention.....so don't do it.

And don't lick hot glass.

Last edited by JDeMoss; 2006-03-18 at 2:56pm.
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  #3  
Old 2006-03-18, 3:40pm
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Don't try and shape your bead in the flame , Shape it outside the flame.
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  #4  
Old 2006-03-18, 9:10pm
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Wonderful thread! I can use all the tips and especially encouragement. I have been feeling discouraged and what Kalera said about changing your mind set about "wasted time" at the torch is helpful. I also know I need to slow down, makes for better dot placement for sure! I will have a good looking bead and one stupid dot out of place will ruin it. Looking back, I know that if I slow down it can turn out better. Thanks for the tips and please keep them coming! Jenny
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  #5  
Old 2006-03-19, 12:38am
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Gravity is your friend.
PPP making bad beads and FIX THEM!! I still do this and cannot reccomend it enough. Make a bead with bad ends and fix it. Let that sucker crack and fix it. when you think you have it down, give it a real quick dunk in water and fix it. WHY??????? So you don't freek whan it happens to that "perfect" bead you are working on. You'll take a deep breath and tell yourself, "I have fixed this before, I can do it again."

Slam me now, it's quite alright.
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  #6  
Old 2006-03-19, 12:57am
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There is no such thing as colors "not going togther". All colors go together it's just a matter of how.

Encasing is not easy to learn, just keep trying. The bubbles in Effetre clear are not your fault. It's sucky glass!
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  #7  
Old 2006-03-19, 5:54am
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Lots of great tips here already. I would really stress these two from Kalera though:

Quote:
Seriously, just try it. Odds are not bad that you will be able to figure it out, and then if you are stumped, both your questions and the answers you get will make more sense and take you so much further than if you asked before trying. Which brings me to...

Remember, there is no wasted time at the torch. Even if you work on something for an hour and then ruin it, even if everything you make is fit only for water annealing, every minute you spend on the torch makes you a better glassworker. I often hear "I don't get much time on the torch so I have to make every minute count, that's why I asked first..." If that's your mindset, change it. Clean it out. There's no benefit to thinking that way - you have to "waste time" at the torch in order to improve.
I see so many people asking for tutorials and how to do this and that when if they would just sit down and try it, they could probably figure it out themselves and they would learn alot more this way too.

I also agree strongly with Kimberly, learn to make shapes yourself. I saw in another thread, someone wanting to make bicones and the first response was "buy a bicone marver". Sorry but this won't teach you anything about working glass. Learn to make the shape.

And Loco's tip on gravity...it definitely is your friend, learn to use it.

I would add,

Try something new every day, doesn't matter if it turns out bad. There are so many aspects to working glass, including sculptural, off hand, blowing, etc. Even if you don't ever want to do sculptural beads for example, if you work with the techniques it will only improve your overall knowledge and skill with glass.
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  #8  
Old 2006-03-19, 2:18pm
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For the "lopsided bead" problem - make 100 spacers....then 100 more! Keep that up until you get it. Sooner or later those beads will be evenly rounded with nice, dimpled in holes. Here you are learning the glass....which at first wants to control you. It's a great feeling when you finally are able to control it.

Practice makes perfect, and even if the above seems incredibly boring, think of it as "work". Then, think of all of the fun and experimental things as "play". Most of us have to work and get that done before we can play, right?? So, divide your time at the torch into work and play. (I need to take my own advice, I rarely play at the torch anymore, it's been just work!!)

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Last edited by Lisi; 2006-03-19 at 2:21pm.
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  #9  
Old 2006-03-21, 8:38am
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My first tip: Buy enough glass to have enough freedom to make mistakes. I tried to learn with a pitiful amount of glass and it was awful. So, I called and ordered 5 lbs white, 5 lbs of clear, 5 lbs of black and a pound of every color I truly liked. Then, I got a quarter pound of everything else. It was so expensive and so worth it. The freedom to play made the practice more fun and gave me the opportunity to finagle the colors, learn the viscosity of melted glass, figure out for myself how different the colors can be in all sorts of uses.

My second tip: Spend the initial money on glass and hand tools. A kiln is absolutely necessary, but it can wait until the beads reach usable quality. I bought my kiln about 6 weeks after the big glass order. (And when I look back on those beads, the first ones I saved . . . I cringe.) I probably could have waited another ....say, 6 months!....

My third tip: The old Carnegie Hall joke . . . PPP. Kalera's right, any time spent at the torch is helpful. Uninterrupted time is important. For me, personally, my head and my eyes knew what I wanted, but I didn't have the muscle memory in my hands and arms to do it. That took time. (I'm a slow learner when it comes to physical coordination.)

AND....enjoy it. It's so much fun and so rewarding and so special.
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  #10  
Old 2006-03-21, 10:06am
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Kalera, thank you so much for starting this. and THANK YOU to everyone else, also. i value all of this advice. i can't wait to hit the torch this weekend!
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  #11  
Old 2006-03-21, 11:16am
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While you're learning, try to be aware of exactly where your rod is in the flame. At the same time, be aware of exactly where your bead is in the flame. For example: I find that for applying glass it's usually easiest to have the tip of the rod in the hot centre of the flame and the bead just below that, halfway out of the flame on the bottom and slightly further from the torch. This way you're adding molten glass to a warm-but-not-molten bead. Try different combos for your style and for different applications but always be aware of the placement you are using.

Also, be aware of the angle of your rod in relation to the bead you're winding it on. This will change the thickness of your glass application. If you're pushing the molten glass, with the rod tip pointing in towards the torch, you'll get a thin, flat wrap. If you're dragging the molten glass behind the rod, with the rod tip pointing away from the torch, the wrap will be thicker and more raised. Keep your angle consistent for even results.

Heat control is the most important thing you need to learn. Someone who really has heat control down can do ANYTHING!

Good ventilation is SO important. You won't enjoy yourself if you feel sick at the end of your sessions. Also, be sure to keep hydrated and take breaks between beads. Dehydration and visual/mental strain will make you grumpy and stressed out, which is no fun! Take little water, stretching, breathing and blinking breaks and you'll be able to get more out of your session.

Have fun!

-Heather
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  #12  
Old 2006-03-21, 11:36am
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My tip is the exact opposite of Laurie's.

I learned the most from a Jim S. class and the colors were limited (as I recall) to red, blue, black and white. When I got home I focused on the limited color selection for quite a while. I still practice things with white to tell what the glass is doing.

I'll agree though not to get hung up on color and buy enough to have fun.
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  #13  
Old 2006-03-22, 1:25am
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Thank you for starting a great thread. I am a newbie and have used several tips already with success.Thanks to all contributors.
Lindy
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  #14  
Old 2006-03-22, 1:52am
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I love all the excellent tips!

Another one I thought of: sometimes Frantz has great sales where they're unloading certain colors for *REALLY* cheap. If you're just starting out, this is a perfect opportunity to stock up on "practice glass". Forget about whether you love the sale colors; just pick up a few pounds so you'll have a lot of "play glass" on hand that you won't feel bad about "wasting".
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  #15  
Old 2006-03-22, 7:49am
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Take every class you can find -- Books are swell (and I know that learn-by-doing is the only way some folks can learn), but in my opinion nothing beats watching a skilled beadmaker at work. Simple stuff that has been annoying and stymieing you for days and weeks becomes clear in a flash when you watch a 'master' do it. "Ohhhhh! So that's how you do it!" (hand smacking forehead)

Make your beads in the middle of the mandrel -- Everything becomes so much easier when you can 'get at' all sides of the bead with equal ease. It's also easier on your arms and shoulders when you can use both hands to support the bead in the flame.

JanMD
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  #16  
Old 2006-03-22, 9:17am
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Im a firm beliver in healthy glass blowing and like heather sujested...... everyone needs ventalation. Its no fun to work if work makes you sick.

Heres on yall missed...... study and learn your torch.
Not only the amount of heat its putting out and where the heat is, but the atmosphere of the flame. Learning this will give you control of reactive colors. The only soft glass color i know that "reacts" is ivory, i belive you recuce it to get that ancient, bled out look. In boro there are many colors that react to flame chemestry, and mastery of your torch is needed to get these colors to preform.

B
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  #17  
Old 2006-03-22, 12:17pm
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Very nice tips here !

I am with Kimberly completely, shape outside the flame, the glass will not shape in the flame, it will just float around.

Second, cold glass moves towards hot glass, this is what helped me get nice even shaped beads without marvering.
Third : Let the glass do it's work, stop pulling and pushing your glass on the mandrell, it will not work, you'll end up with big wonky beads embellished with flecks of beadrelease.

Fourth: Keep your tools out of the flame, always use them outside the flame or else they will stick to your bead. After working on a bead with a tool heat it up ever so slightly to prevent thermal cracks
Also watch your glass, see what it does when overheated, cooled down, pressed and heated up again, feel the glass instead of stearing it.
Last but not least have fun, don't be scared if it does not turn out the way you intended too, the most beautifull beads I have ever seen happened by accident , or better said divine intervention.
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Old 2006-03-23, 11:00am
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My best advice is to be sure you have enough heat to get the glass to move. I started witha wimpy concentrator and had the worst time getting the glass to round up. It was because I didn't have enough heat! Paula
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Old 2006-03-23, 11:30am
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Keep the rod tip facing away from you in case it is shocky and glass flys off the end it won't fly in your face.
Wear a leather apron so when the glass drops or flys off the rod in your lap or chest you are covered and you won't get burned. ask me how I know
Pay attention to where your hand are at all times.
Keep your fingers and hands out of the flame. It just takes a fraction of second to burn you bad. Just ask me how I know
Before you start decorating your beads learn the basic shapes, the flowers and such will come in time.
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Old 2006-03-29, 9:34am
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i love all of this advice, so...

*BUMP*
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  #21  
Old 2006-03-31, 7:00am
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Oh oh oh....my favorite tip and I forgot it.....Marver gently. Gently. Even more gently. Almost no pressure. Maybe even none, except the weight of the bead. You can always marver again and again and one more time after that. I remember distorting "good" beads beyond all recoverability. Can anyone else say "free form"?
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Old 2006-03-31, 7:07am
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Wonderful thread! Thank you everyone for the great advice.
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  #23  
Old 2006-03-31, 10:17am
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Remember, there is no wasted time at the torch[/b]. Even if you work on something for an hour and then ruin it, even if everything you make is fit only for water annealing, every minute you spend on the torch makes you a better glassworker. I often hear "I don't get much time on the torch so I have to make every minute count, that's why I asked first..." If that's your mindset, change it. Clean it out. There's no benefit to thinking that way - you have to "waste time" at the torch in order to improve.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`
Thank you Kalera for saying this with such grace... I'd like to add that I understand why people insert this kind of thought in their thread, but would really encourage them to think it through. I'm sure that it's with the best of intentions, so please don't think I"m picking on any particular person.. just asking you to reconsider.

When you ask someone for help and indicate that you don't want to waste time and money on expensive glass, it can be an insult to those that DID take the time and expense to learn a skill.

Many of the wonderfully talented artists worked under tight budgets and huge family burdens, they may make a lot of money on the beads now, but it wasn't always that way - their budgets and resources were as tight as yours. Which segways into the next words of wisdom from Kalera... that experimenting and practice is not a waste.. frustrating sometimes but never a waste.

If you've tried something and are stumped.. then ask questions.. post about what you've done and the problem you encountered. Post a pic, the wonderful glassbeadmakers on this site can help and are great about it. but please be considerate of the time, money and energy it's taken to accomplish it and don't say "I just don't want to waste this glass or my money"

Don't forget to write and say thank you when your questions are answered!! Your expression of thanks and a brief explanation of what you learned is priceless.

Flame on!
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Old 2006-04-01, 12:29pm
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Adding more glass probably won't make your bead round.
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Old 2006-04-01, 3:57pm
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but i bet surface tension and heat will.
B
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  #26  
Old 2006-04-08, 2:31pm
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how do u make smalll glass bubbles??? how do u blow glass???
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  #27  
Old 2006-04-08, 7:59pm
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LOL Teague - that's a good one! It will make you a larger ownky bead though if you don't have surface tension and heat on your side

This is wonderful! I was there once asking how to get my beads round and none of the sugesstions really worked ...but practice did. I love the "just try it" and "no time at the torch is wasted" - it is so true! It is so important in order to learn heat control and how glass flows, etc. I don't think there is any other way to understand it until you experience it and really pay attention - who cares if the bead turns out or not at least you gained understanding.

Tina
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  #28  
Old 2006-04-08, 8:28pm
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Here's my tip. Never throw your wonky beads away. Keep them around to learn from them. Looking though them will remind you which color combinations worked well, and which ones didn't, which shapes you need to improve on an also to measure your progress. I know I've said this before, that when I look through my wonkies, it reminds me of my humble beginnings, so my head doesn't get too big for my hat.
J.
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  #29  
Old 2006-04-18, 8:45am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Savina
Here's my tip. Never throw your wonky beads away. Keep them around to learn from them. Looking though them will remind you which color combinations worked well, and which ones didn't, which shapes you need to improve on an also to measure your progress.
I have the wall of shame. There are pieces on it spanning over 6 1/2 yrs and i remember a lesson every time i look at it.
B
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  #30  
Old 2006-04-20, 3:12am
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Some great tips here. My tips kind of echo what Kalera said:

#1. Do your research. Study glass, study beads. Look at the work of artists that interest you and closely examine their work. I am NOT endorsing going out and making exact copies of other artist's beads. Look at their work and try to figure out how these beads were made. How did they make such a nice shape? How did they get those round beads? What colors made those reactions? How did they get the glass to do that?

#2 Seriously, just try it. There are a lot of challenges on this website and others, take those challenges. Make those animal beads or those dot beads or those encased beads or whatever. The amount of general torching and glass bead making knowledge you will gain by attempting something you do not think you can do can be invaluable. I learned so much by trying new things...often learning something totally unexpected. PPPyour basics, make round beads, nice shaped beads, smooth dimples but also PPP(push, push, pushyour own self imposed limits.

#3 There is no wasted time at the torch......I would say or even away from the torch. I will agree and it has been said, there is no wasted time at the torch....but I would go further than that. Most of us have all heard...... Process not Product. When I first started out I thought if I heard that phrase one more time I would throw a hot molten wonky bead on the person that kept drilling it into me. It now makes SOOOOOOO much sense! I am almost always thinking about "process". If I am planning something new, a new project, a new line or one single new focal PRODUCT I have to start at PROCESS. This may sound silly but I often "make beads in my head". I will mentally go over the process of making something new. How do I do this? How do I avoid that? What do I need to do to get that shape or appearance? Do I need to come up with custom blended colors? Canes or twisties? With my knowledge of glass, can I make it do this? If not, how do I get around that? Even if it is a bead I have made before....dozens and dozens of times. I practice in my head....how can I make it better? How can I improve? THINK HOT GLASS.

The absolute best tip I could give anyone:
HAVE FUN!


Well that is my 2 cents.....actually more like 1.5 cents....my tips are not valuable.

Now get out there and do the Cha Cha with hot glass!
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