One of our customers, Joy Munshower, posted some wonderful torso beads made with the Effetre glass rod colors ( Sunset, Alexandrite, Green Tea, Earth, Dark Ivory, and Neptune) and Vetrofond glass rod ( Topaz ODD ). They were such great examples of these colors I thought I would share them in this blog.
The murrini used were by Donna Millard
I would like to see this bead in person because Effetre Alexandrite shifts hue slightly with different light.
This Green Tea bead looks like it was sculpted out of a Marble.
For more images check out her Facebook page.
This may become a recurring theme of mine, but I think it is important that people know how the creative process can manifest itself to motivate an artist to generate a particular piece of art. Read more
When you click on the Web Gallery, a web page appears that shows links for the three different sections of the web gallery that are Focal Beads, Spacer Beads and Strands. Click on one of the choices and you will be taken to a page of thumb (small images) to pick from. When you click on a thumb image, a large image will appear with a list of the different glass colors that were used in that bead and the glass colors are linked to the Frantz Art Glass web page for easy purchase, plus pertinent information on how the bead was made. Read more
I am a die hard dichroic fan, but I had not paid much attention to the CBS Dichroic on Copper Sheet because at first I couldn’t get my head around it. When I first saw some dichroic on copper sheet, it was Silver and it just didn’t catch my attention. Recently I was shown a dichroic on copper sheet that was a pattern called “Mixture” that has soft blues and pinks in it as well as silver and I said to myself – WOW, this stuff is really neat looking. I had a sheet that had been slightly broken up and the bag was full of cool looking dichroic bit-shards. The dichroic shards really got me motivated to make some beads with it and I really like the results.
You have to be careful when you open the bag of Dichroic on Copper and have a sheet of paper under the bag to catch any shards that might flake off. I put the dichroic shards that I had on a graphite pad that I use for rolling up shards on to beads and it works really well.
The dichroic on copper sheet was designed to provide dichroic that can be put on any glass, so you don’t have the problem of matching the glass you are using with what ever the dichroic is coated on. Another great thing about the dichroic on copper is the fact that the dichroic layer on the copper is 3 times thicker than any other way that dichroic is normally applied. The thicker coating makes the dichroic much more durable and less likely to burn to that gray scum that everyone hates.
The copper sheets also allow the artist to cut patterns or strips of dichroic in the sheet and roll the dichroic right up off the copper onto a hot bead or other lampworked form.
CBS (Coatings by Sandberg) has a good instructional video posted on the web that is good to watch and it provides some great working points that help in using this product. If you have never seen dichroic on copper used, I recommend watching this short educational video on the Sandberg website.
In case you are wondering what to do with the sheet of copper once you have used all the dichroic, the copper is of a thickness and quality that it can be used to apply cut out patterns of copper on to a bead. I have seen some stunning examples of this technique and highly recommend giving it a try.
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.
I thought I would talk about how glass rods are made in Italy. I think I should mention that information about glass making in Italy and anywhere else for that matter is intensely guarded by those who make their living from it. Back in the 15th and 16th century they use to kill anyone who tried to take this kind of information away from Venice and Murano.
The beautiful colored glass rods we are use to, start out as fine toxic silica dust with a few other mineral elements add and only becomes what we are familiar with after much processing.
One of the things that blow’s my mind is the fact that companies like Effetre / Moretti have to have all the supplies that they use to make glass brought in by small cargo boats. They store all these components in a portion of their huge warehouse complex. The components mostly arrive in paper bags and get moved to big labeled bins in the mixing room. From the bins the components get shoveled into mixers and blended. The minerals that end up in the glass formulas are weighed on counter-balanced scales and the weight of these elements is subject to the influences of the ever present humidity of the Venetian Lagoon where Murano is located. It is so humid on Murano and Venice that the stucco that covers so many walls in the area seems to peel almost as soon as it has been repaired.
After the glass formula is mixed, it is transferred to big bins that can be lifted by forklifts and these bins have lids to keep contaminates out of the bin. The powder mix is loaded into a crucible in a specific kind of glass furnace designed for glass melts. A crucible is a heat resistant container that is made out of a very dense ceramic material that is very expensive and they have a limited life expectancy due to the prolonged heat exposure.
Every time I went to Effetre to interact with the factory, I was always struck by the beauty of all the piles of different color glass cullet (big chunks of glass). I would pester them to sell me these glass chunks and I could not figure out why they were so reluctant to do so. Later I found out that it is customary to throw same color glass cullet into a new batch of glass in the furnace because the cullet absorbs the heat and causes the powder components to melt faster.
The factory gets their cullet by pulling out the last few kilos of molten glass out of a finished crucible and put it into a big three legged steel bowl like container to cool in the open air. As the glass cools, it fractures into chunks and when it is completely cool they dump the cullet out on a concrete patio between the warehouses. The cullet sits in this patio until it is needed for the next appropriate glass melt.
When the glass in a melt furnace is ready to be made into rods, the factory lays out dozens and dozens of small wooden slates down the long walk ways between groups of furnaces to provide a place where the long cane pulls can be laid so that it doesn’t touch the cold concrete floors and get thermal shocked. Until I saw this being done, I couldn’t understand why there were these black burn marks on some of the hand pulled glass rods, but when you know that the black marks are caused by the hot glass touching the wood slates it all makes perfect sense.
Most beadmakers have heard of the Effetre (Moretti) glass factory on Murano near Venice, Italy, but fewer beadmakers know about the other Italian 104 COE glass rod manufacturer Vetrofond. Vetrofond is located across the lagoon from Venice on the main land in a suburb of Mestre, which is the main industrial port of the area.
Vetrofond is mostly involved with making custom modern looking blown glass lamp fixtures, but they have a large set up for producing 104 COE glass rods. In past years, they have gone out of their way to produce interesting limited runs of odd lot colored rods for the international lampworking community, like River Rock, Parrot Green, Poppy, Ocean Green, Frosty Blue and Key Lime.
Currently, there is a huge selection of odd lot colored glass rods made by Vetrofond with names like Cosmic Storm, Jupiter,Seashell Swirl, Dark Lichen, LemonMeringue, Orange Punch, Yellow Ice, Jungle Twilight, and Sweet Lime. There are over 50 odd lot glass rod colors from Vetrofond that greatly extends the color palette of glass beadmakers.
Vetrofond has a very unassuming front to the building which masks the intense levels of activity going on inside the factory. It is a factory which is both dangerous and thrilling to see in operation with hot furnaces, huge metal equipment and lots of organized glass shards. There is such a swirl of activity that it is mind boggling.
I have personally made only a modest dent in the huge selection of available Odd colors from Vetrofond, but I have been please with the results none the less. All of Vetrofonds colors are compatible with other 104 COE glasses and I highly recommend that every beadmaker take a spin through the Vetrofond palette, for the adventure that is contained within each glass rod.
I talk a lot about Messy Color glass because I really like the quality of the glass and how wonderful it handles in the flame.
A few months ago, Messy Color came out with a group of new blues to add to their line of colors. They are Freman (turquoise pastel), Smurfy (dark turquoise), Grumpy Bear (periwinkle) and Cornflower (dark blue). All four colors are of the pastel variety.
The two turquoise colors are a fabulous addition to the current lampworking palette because of their working proprieties. If you have ever used one of the Italian turquoises, you know that they have a tendency to pit as you work with them. The Italian dark turquoise turns black /gray on the surface the more you heat it in the flame and is such a frustrating color to work with, that I stopped using it 15 years ago.
These four new blues are the latest addition to the Messy Color palette of blues of which there are ten. The other blues are mostly transparent or Messy Colors fabulous opal colors, with the exception of three opaque blues. The other blues in the Messy Color palette are as follows:
For those who have not noticed, Glacier looks a lot like that infamous Italian Odd Lot color that was call Frosty Blue that you can’t find for sale any more.