Archive for September 2009
Do you ever run into a creative road block? Do you ever feel like you’re in a color rut? Don’t feel alone all artists do. We just need some inspiration. One thing you can do to get past that creative block is to get inspiration from association. Read more
Flameworking shaping tools is an interesting subject that comes up often in conversations with other artists who like to work in hot glass. There were no tools to speak of when I started flameworking and I find it delightful that a cornucopia of tools have become available to flameworkers over the past 20 years. Here are the Tools for Shaping Flameworked Objects.
When I first started flameworking I only had a graphite marver that I acquired from a scientific borosilicate tool supplier. I started out with a 5″ x 3″ graphite marver, thinking that bigger is better but I found it very heavy after awhile and switched to a 2 ½” x 1 ½” marver that I use to this day.
You can make a lot of different shaped beads with just a small graphite marver plus a pair of mashers. Oh yeah, there were no mashers when I started and I had my first prototype masher made from a cut off pair of pliers and two squares of metal welded onto the pliers. My first prototype pliers were better than no tool, but today there is a plethora of mashers available on the market and I like several of them. The big deal with mashers besides the size is whether
they produce a parallel mash when you use them. My two favorite mashers are the Adjustable Parallel Mashers (#325202) and my second most favorite are the Adjustable TP Mashers (#325204) which are great for people that find the Parallel Mashers hard on their hands. The TP Mashers also have many interchangeable graphite pads like the lentil, small radial head, large radial head, a square head and the ever useful flat head that can be changed out with the use of an Allen wrench that comes with the TP Mashers.
There are many different metal bead mashers on the market (mashers that produce the same size and shape bead every time) and I think that the lentil shape is the most popular of these, though there are many beadmakers I know that are tool junkies and have all the different bead shapers.
You can get bead shaping tools in graphite also that have grooved shape in them that make producing the same size and shape bead easier for people making sets of beads and or marbles.
There are a bunch of other glass shaping tools available for flameworking that are very handy. I love my Stump Shaper (originally designed by Loren Stump hence the name) which is a wedge shaped paddle made out of brass (also available in graphite – #306522). The brass shaping tools allow you to really push the hot glass around where the graphite tools are kind of slippery and not as effective as the brass tools for pushing.
There are smaller brass and stainless steel tools for making smaller impressions in hot glass. There is a brass tool called a Stick Shift and some stainless steel probes and small paddles that came out of the dental tool market, for instance.
One of my all time favorite shaping tools is a single edge razor blade mounted in a craft knife handle. I use this tool for fine lines in sculptural beads and to make melon beads. I started out using the dental paddles to make the small dents, but found that the razor gave the cleanest mark and didn’t stick to the glass if you kept it from getting too hot.
I can’t forget to mention the different tungsten probes that are available for flameworking. There are three sizes of the straight probes for poking holes through glass or making dents and then there is the tungsten rake that works very well to do controlled feathering on beads.
The lampworking technique call Feathering has been in use for hundreds of years by Italian lampworkers and I think it is very useful for decorating beads.
There is several ways to do feathering on a glass bead. One way to create a feathered design is to lay down lines on your bead with a stringer. The stringer lines can be wrapped around the bead in a spiral from hole to hole on the bead and melted enough to keep it from popping off while you are feathering the other side of the bead. I use a 1 1/2mm stringer that is the same color as the stringer lines and it is about 6 inches long. To make the feathering marks, it is best to heat one side of the bead at a time to prevent moving to much glass as you drag the molten stringer lines. At the end of each drag (if you are doing the hole to hole kind), take the glass that will be clinging to your dragging stringer and make the glass go around the end of the bead which gives your feathering lines a very finished look. Continue around the bead making the feathering go back and forth which usually takes about four passes to complete the whole bead. The bead will always get a little distorted from the feathering and will require some reheating and shaping.
You can make very pleasing leaf patterns on your beads using the short stringer to feather your bead. There are two ways to do feathered leaves: The first can be done by placing two dots of glass next to each other (about ¼ inch apart) in a row and then marver them down a little before you heat a manageable section of dots and drag the stringer between the dots. This technique draws the dots out into a garland looking decoration. The second leaf pattern can be produced by taking a stringer of a leaf like color and laying down a squiggle where you want the leaves to be. Heat and marver the squiggle down a bit to keep it from popping off while you are feathering, then take your 6 inch stringer and drag it down the middle of the squiggle in manageable sections. This technique produces very fluid looking leaf garlands.
A feathering stringer can also be used to produce swirls in color lines on a glass bead. To make a swirl, heat the spot you want the swirl to be and insert the stringer and twist it. At this point, you must wait a few seconds to let the glass stiffen up which will make it very easy to snap off the stringer that is stuck in the middle of the swirl. You can also place five or six dots in a circle and heating the center of the circle, insert the feathering stringer and spin it which will make the dots swirl around the center dot made by the stringer, producing a swirled flower design.
Another way to feather designs into hot glass that produces a more controlled look, is to use a bent tungsten pick. I use the bent tungsten pick when I want really crisp points in my feathered design. I love my bent tungsten pick, it has so many uses and gives you so much control over the molten glass.
I use the tungsten pick to produce zigzag feathering, where I have laid stringer color in strips from hole to hole around my bead. You can use zigzag feathering in lots of design situation, with pleasing results.
I hope this short blog on feathering will inspire other lampworkers to give it a try.
In this video I’ll show you how to adjust and prep your bead for the web. I’ll be using Photoshop CS2.
The 4 steps I show are:
- Levels (To adjust contrast)
- Hue/Saturation (To adjust the color tone)
- Cloning (To remove unwanted items)
- Cropping for web
When watching it I recommend making it full screen and “HD”.
Thanks and have a great day,