Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lampwork Beads on Skeleton Keys

I've been having sooo much fun lately trying new projects. I shared my new pendants a couple days ago. I have five more new glass pieces to cut out to make another batch. BUT today I want to share my newest project -- lampwork beads made right on vintage (old/rusty/grungy) skeleton keys. More things to look for at swap meets!! .... Actually these keys I bid on and won on eBay, and there are sellers on Etsy who also have them, so finding old keys is no problem.

I cleaned off some of the grim from the shafts of the keys and dipped them into bead release. So how did I hold the short little key in the hot flame, you ask? I had bought and received a gadget from an Etsy seller that held the key quite nicely. He had welded a piece of metal at the end of a steel mandrel (the kind we use for lampworking) and with a nut, bolt and washer assembly, it worked. But the problem was that I had only one of these gadgets and a bag full of keys. In searching a lampworking site on the internet, I was surprised to find that I had several tools I could use!

So to start off, I made five. Five keys with lampwork beads. And I also made small beads from the same glass that I could wire wrap as dangles. It was strange at first using the key shaft as a mandrel ... it was so thick, compared to the thin mandrels regularly used for beads. So you had to work "slowly and thickly" to get the hot glass to flow evenly. Anyway, the process worked and I am so pleased with the pieces. And guess what, so far three out of five beads move freely on the keys. I'm sure the other two will eventually loosen, but I don't want to force them. Here are photos of the three I posted on Etsy just minutes ago.

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