Yesterday and today I took advantage of the cool mornings and set up my lampworking station in the garage. I made glass beads for the first time in months. Here's what my area looks like:
In the front is my torch. The blue box in back is the controller which allows me to program the bead annealing kiln on the right. See the mandrels sticking out of the kiln? Those are finished beads I made yesterday. I keep one of the doors open as I work and when I've filled that side, I close it and open the other side. The great thing about working with this kiln is that when I'm finished with the second side, I can open the first side, stack all the beads on mandrels to one side and make more beads. I just have to be careful not to let a hot bead touch a cooler one. That happened yesterday. I had to heat the two beads in the flame, pull them apart, and reshape one while keeping the second one near the flame. Very tricky business, but I was successful.
Like I said, it's been a while since I've made beads. It's like riding a bike ... you don't forget how, but it takes a while to get it right. I had a couple failures like you see in the following photo. The glass rod is kept in the flame and the mandrel is slightly below. The molten glass is wrapped around the mandrel which you have to keep turning. But when you don't time it correctly and the glass on the mandrel gets too hot, gravity works against you ... the glass layer gets heavier on one side and falls off the mandrel.
Here's a photo looking down into the kiln.
And a photo of the beads together. I'll soak them in water for a while, slide the beads off the mandrels and clean the insides with a diamond file. This removes the bead resist.
These beads are my favorite to make. Two blues on ivory. The ones I made this morning are still cooling in the kiln. They were made with transparent blue and accented with glass that turns metallic in reduction. Dynamite!
My next project will be to make beads onto these keys. The keys are ready with a coating of bead resist. How about those two small ones on the left? They will be sooo cute!
In my post just a couple days ago, I mentioned someone purchased all my keys with beads. Here's a photo of one of them. Can't wait for that kiln to cool so I can get on with the key project! I'll post photos when I finish.