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.