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  #1  
Old 2011-09-04, 7:56pm
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Default How I make matching size beads- footprint smootprint!

I've joined the frit bead exchange and since it's 5 sets of 5, I want to share how I make a set of 5 matching beads. My way is unorthodox but it works for me.

Here is a sample set of my matching beads:



First off, the frit: this batch is my own Southwestern Home Blended Frit, meaning:
-I heated the glass up in my glass fusing kiln
-I shocked it by dumping it all into a large bowl of ice water
-I separated the colors and left it for a week (or so!) to dry
-I picked my colors and ground them up
-I sifted my colors separately
-I blended my color choices

My Southwestern Frit Blend (Homemade) consists of:
lots of ivory frit
some turquoise frit
a smidge of red frit
a smidge of orange frit
a smidge of yellow frit

"It" looks like this:



What I do next is measure off and mark my rods with a black magic marker and, yes, the magic marker burns off in the flames with no residue. My ruler is cork backed so it doesn't slide. It's a good idea to write down the lengths one plans to cut as if one uncooperative piece of glass decides to shock itself into suicide, you know what size piece you need to cut to replace it.



These are the actual 5 colors I am going to work with in the frit exchange. It will be interesting to see the final pictures as the frit looks different with each color base bead change.





Cut your rods up-- yep, I'm not crazy. We're going to start with 1 & 1/4" pieces of glass. Sneak preview: we're going to hold the rods in a pair of needle nose pliers and footprint smootprint-- initial footprint will not matter as the glass will find its own level. (Pictures will follow tomorrow when I finish the beads. I plan to take pictures of the process so bear with me. Tonight is prep work only.) For these sets, I used two 1 & 1/4" pieces, two 1 & 1/2 pieces and one 2" piece of glass for graduated sized beads. If I wanted them to all be the SAME SIZE, I would have cut them all to the same length.



The only tools I will use will be my graphite marver, which I have a hole drilled into the corner ala' Smircich. I have very shaky hands and this marver steadies my hand nicely as I turn my mandrel. The pliers will hold my glass...





My work area, which will feature my frit on the left.



My work station



My Chillipepper... which is extremely dusty at the moment. It's been a while since I've lit the torch at home!



This is all Step 1. I will continue and add more tomorrow as I make the beads. Again, I work a bit unorthodox but it's the best way I have found for ME to make matching size beads and I love to make sets.

Sue
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Last edited by Sue in Maine; 2011-11-15 at 5:14am.
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Old 2011-09-05, 9:10am
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Part 2- (It's now the next day!)

Hold the (in this case) 1 & 1/4" piece of glass upright in a pair of needlenose pliers. Get the mandrel hot-- it's not in this first photo as I only have 2 hands & 1 was manhandling a camera! I gently wave the glass in and out of the flame using UP and DOWN motions. I want the glass to warm up so it doesn't shock on me.



I get the end of the glass hot and keep the flame moving up the glass so that I get it all fairly even "red/orange" heat most of the way up the glass. Then I'm going to touch down on the mandrel gently and pull the glass out slightly as I turn the mandrel. My glass may or not get a perfect footprint but I don't worry about that as I find working this way, the glass will even itself out and find its own footprint.



Here you see the first wrap is on and I've let go of the glass.



Next I'll heat this up and let it find its own level of even. (Does that make sense?) As you can see in this photo, the formerly dangling end of the glass has melted in and you can see where I got it a bit superhot to help it join the bead.



Now it's the normal heat and take the bead outside the flame to let it round itself out. From the first photo with the glop of glass to here, you can see why I say the bead finds its own footprint. I may not have had it on perfectly... and, again, this is the best way I have found for myself to make 2 beads the same size. I am super impressed with those who can work off a rod and make matching beads but that skill seems to elude me.



Reheat the surface of the bead and roll it in frit. If you get the bead surface too hot, you're going to pick up a lot of frit. If it's too cool, not much will stick to the surface. That's an easy fix- just heat the surface a bit more and dip it a second time.



Here is that same bead with the frit melted in.



This is a close up of my mandrel and the "Smircich" way of using the corner of a graphite marver. I have super shaky hands. I always have. When I am twirling/turning my mandrel, my bead does not get a smooth turn UNLESS I put the end of the mandrel in this drilled out hollow on the corner tip of my graphite marver. Then I use both hands- turning the mandrel in my left and using my right to both hold the graphite marver and eyeing the mandrel to keep it level.



I'll come back tomorrow with pictures of my finished beads... hopefully they'll be a fairly matched set of 5 frit beads in graduated sizes!

Sue
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Last edited by Sue in Maine; 2011-09-05 at 9:14am.
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Old 2011-09-05, 9:50am
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This is a great tutorial!! I'm going to try it "your way".

Thanks,

Jeanette
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Old 2011-09-05, 10:57am
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I will be interested to see if this way works for you.











Here are a few more sets that I made this way...

Sue
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Old 2011-09-05, 11:24am
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Fabulous! Thanks for this.

- Jill
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Old 2011-09-05, 4:26pm
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great idea!! Thanks for sharing, I will give this a go when I next torch. Jennie.
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Old 2011-09-05, 4:30pm
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Thanks for the tutorial and sharing your way of 'same-sized' torching.
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Old 2011-09-05, 4:42pm
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I have used that technique and find it works pretty good. I only use it when I know I'm going to be heavily decorating the bead because that cut end always leaves a bit of a mark (on most transparent and some opaque colors) as it melts into the base bead - for me anyway.
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Old 2011-09-05, 5:02pm
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Thanks Sue, what a great tut! I love your frit on the pale yellow beads.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hubcap View Post
I have used that technique and find it works pretty good. I only use it when I know I'm going to be heavily decorating the bead because that cut end always leaves a bit of a mark (on most transparent and some opaque colors) as it melts into the base bead - for me anyway.
Hubcap, I have noticed that too, especially on colors like pea green. It looks less noticable if you use the gravity bead technique on it after melting the glass in, because then instead of a dark glob the bead ends up with stripes around it.
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Old 2011-09-05, 5:16pm
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Interesting Danielle - I'll give that a try! Thanks!
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Old 2011-09-05, 5:28pm
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You are all good for my ego. This method doesn't work just for frit beads either. Here are a couple of other sets I have done and, yes, on the medium fossil set you can see where the end of the glass melted in... but I rather like the way it looks on this set.







Sue
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Old 2011-09-05, 9:28pm
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great tutorial! love it!

I asked a teacher one day when I was just starting to make beads... how to make equal size beads.. the teacher said 'after you make about 100 beads, 4 or 5 will be the same size'. LOL That was not going to work for me LOL

so I figured out the 'mark the glass' idea... then I saw the teacher a few days later... I told her my 'bright idea' .. to which she said...'yes, that is what I do'. The reason for telling us to do 100+ beads was to practice! LOL

practice is good but having size-success is amazing for the ego...

thanks for sharing the tutorial! it makes it very clear :>

love the base colors, too!
patsy in FL
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Old 2011-09-06, 4:16am
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These are how the beads turned out that I show in bits and pieces in my first post.

Before:



After:



I sometimes say I am cheating when I make beads by pre-cutting my glass but someone wisely told me that there are many ways to do things and if this works for me, it's not cheating. I have wise friends!

Sue
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Old 2011-09-07, 10:42am
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Why didnt I ever think of that, sometimes you have to be super smart to come up with the simple solution! (thats probably also the reason I didnt come up with it... ) I really like your method!
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Old 2011-09-12, 9:35pm
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Great idea Sue! Thank you for sharing! I'll have to try this.
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Old 2011-09-14, 5:46pm
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Ok, so HOW do you cut your glass rods?
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Old 2011-09-14, 5:59pm
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great idea! but i have a (probably stupid) question

why cut the rods, why not just mark the rod then apply down to the mark?
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Old 2011-09-14, 9:45pm
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Deb, that's what I was thinking too. I wonder if the mark will burn off before you get to it?
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Old 2011-09-14, 11:07pm
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Great results, Sue! In your initial post, I think you need to change the instructions from
Quote:
two 2 & 1/2 pieces
to "two 1 & 1/2" pieces". That seems to correspond to the ruler markings.

I love your homemade frit too!
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Old 2011-09-15, 11:50am
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The mark does burn off before you get there. I tried to mark my rods one time and just ended up burning off my marks! LOL

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Deb, that's what I was thinking too. I wonder if the mark will burn off before you get to it?
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Old 2011-09-15, 1:06pm
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I read somewhere on LE - and I forgot who was the original poster but I use this for lots of things other than just on my mandrel. If you buy an indigo blue prisma color pencil - the mark will not burn off. I haven't tried it on actual glass but someone could experiment with it. I use this method to mark my mandrels on the release. Heat the release, mark it with the indigo pencil and it works - it might work with Sue's method and you might need to "pick" a little bit of glass off it the mark doesn't disappear completely.
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Old 2011-09-15, 2:08pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PerfectDeb View Post
great idea! but i have a (probably stupid) question

why cut the rods, why not just mark the rod then apply down to the mark?
Quote:
Originally Posted by esbeads View Post
Deb, that's what I was thinking too. I wonder if the mark will burn off before you get to it?
Two reasons will answer your question, which is a good one:

1) The marks do burn off

and

2) you never end exactly where the mark was as there is always that thin pull as you pull the rod away. I can never get two beads alike doing it this way. Cutting pieces and holding them in pliers works well for me.

Sue
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Old 2011-09-15, 6:47pm
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Thanks, I'm going to try it, one of the reasons I never make sets is that sizing frustrates me
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Old 2011-10-06, 10:49am
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That's a really good idea! It's funny, because I was just thinking about this dilemma this week. I've been lampworking for 10 years and still can't seem to make donut beads that match.

Then I remembered that I had bought these donut bead shapers from Howaco glass a while back: http://www.howacoglass.com/tools_shaping.html

I tried them a couple of days ago and I am in love! I can make donut beads just fine, but they would end up all different sizes. Now I just have to roll them in the right size cavity and check the size that way.

Your method is great, though, and it doesn't require any tools except a ruler. Awesome!

-Patti
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Old 2011-10-06, 10:54am
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Oh, and I make beads in the middle of the mandrel! That way I can spin the bead with both hands, and flip it over when I want to work on the other side. I dip my mandrels in a little square plastic container that has notches cut out of the sides.

If you want to try making beads in the middle, I recommend using 12" mandrels; 9" ones are too short and you will fry your hands. Also, they will not fit in a chili-pepper-type kiln unless you put them in sideways.

However, I really can hardly make beads on the end of the mandrel; I just need 2 hands. I tried to do it the other day and it just felt so awkward!

Thanks for sharing!

-Patti
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Old 2011-10-06, 11:24am
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Thanks for this most helpful idea. I've tried it out and it works great!
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Old 2011-10-06, 3:52pm
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I am going to try this. Making just 2 beads the same size eludes me.
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Old 2011-10-06, 5:06pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GlassGalore View Post
Great results, Sue! In your initial post, I think you need to change the instructions from to "two 1 & 1/2" pieces". That seems to correspond to the ruler markings.

I love your homemade frit too!
YIKES!!! You are right! I have edited it to correct my goof. These dimensions were for a graduated set of beads. If you want all matching, just cut them all the same length... but you all figured that out, right?

Sue
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Old 2011-10-15, 4:05pm
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Something else that worked well was to "punty" the cut piece to a clear stringer, instead of trying to hold it with plyers. Stop just before getting into the clear when melting.
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Old 2011-10-16, 10:30pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sue in Maine View Post
You are all good for my ego. This method doesn't work just for frit beads either. Here are a couple of other sets I have done and, yes, on the medium fossil set you can see where the end of the glass melted in... but I rather like the way it looks on this set.



Awe, can you do a tutorial on how you make the black and white beads? Those are gorgeous!

Thanks for sharing the tip on how to make beads the same size. I'll have to try it.

~Thanks, Paula

Last edited by PKnowler; 2011-10-16 at 10:44pm.
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