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Tutorials


Basic Beadmaking With A Hot Head

Set Up

* Fasten torch head to MAPP gas container securely - any leaks will smell like creamed corn.
* Attach 90 degree bent piece of metal and clamp to MAPP gas tank.
* Clamp 90 degree piece of metal securely to table.
* Ensure a fire-proof work surface.
* Set out tools and glass for each project before starting.
* Dip mandrels in bead release.
* Pull hair back, wear comfortable clothing of natural fibers and safety glasses.
 
General Lampworking Rules

* Glass will continue flowing while molten - always keep the mandrel turning so it doesn’t droop.
* Work gently so you don’t break the bead release.
* Tools and glass will remain hot after being in/near the flame - use caution.
* Keep water nearby for bits of hot glass and potential burns.
* Try to not put tools directly into the flame.

Where To Work In The Flame

* Work above the brighter blue cone to make sure you don’t reduce the glass - this will discolor it.
* If you go too low in the flame, the sound changes and gets louder.
* Be sure to not turn the flame up too high - it will burn colors easier then.
 
To Pull A Stringer

* Light the torch with wooden matches or a striker. Turn on the torch a little and light it, then adjust it.
* Heat the glass rod slowly to avoid thermal shock.
* Pull off any scummy cut ends as they will discolor your bead.
* Heat the end of the rod until it forms a ball.
* Pull it out of the flame and let it form a slight “skin” before grasping with pliers and pulling.
* The faster you pull, the thinner the stringer will be.
* You can also use another rod or stringer - attach it to the molten glob and pull a stringer.
* As another method, you can use the center of a rod and use both sides to pull.

 To Make A Basic Round Bead

* Light the torch with wooden matches or a striker. Turn on the torch a little and light it, then adjust it.
* Pull any stringers needed, and pull the scummy cut ends off of any rods before starting beads.
* Heat the mandrel you will be using until it is glowing.
* Heat the glass rod evenly - turn while heating.
* Make a very small footprint - an even wrap of glass around the mandrel on the bead release.
* Add glass as needed to create the bead, add evenly and keep spinning the mandrel while adding glass.
* Keep the mandrel level so the bead stays level.
* You can bring the bead higher in the flame so it sets up more if it’s too molten.
* Shape the bead until you have a sound base bead with dimpled bead holes.
* Let the bead cool enough that the glass is not flowing before decorating it. It can also be considered complete at this point.
* Heat the bead in the flame until glowing. Remove it from the flame - keep spinning - until the glow is gone - check under a table - and put it in the fiber blanket to cool. It it’s too hot, it will stick or deform.

 To Decorate With Dots

* Keep the base bead warm, but not molten.
* Heat the stringer or rod you are going to make dots with - thicker stringer is easier to control.
* Touch the stringer to the bead firmly so it attaches, then flame cut the stringer to leave a dot.
* Place all dots before melting them in further. They can be melted all the way in, or left raised.
* You can melt in a layer of dots, and add another layer of a contrasting color for fun.
* Be sure to not leave dots undercut, or they can break off.

To Decorate With Stringer

* Pull stringer to the appropriate width. Always pull more than you think you’ll need as you need a part to hold on to.
* Thicker stringer is easier to control.
* Heat the base bead - not molten, just hot - and apply the stringer.
* The stringer should be just melting as it touches the bead, or just before.
* If you push the stringer onto the bead, it will adhere better.
* You can make specific designs or lay it on randomly.
* Melt in the stringer design enough that it is not undercut - it can also be melted in or left raised. 

To Rake A Design

* Start with a basic bead with stringer or dot decorations.
* Heat the area you want to rake.
* Use a stringer, mandrel end, or dental tool to rake the glass.

To Make A Barrel Bead

* Start with the same technique as a round bead for the start - heated mandrel, a wrap of glass around it.
* Make as many wraps as you want the bead to be long.
* Continue adding more glass over the original footprint. Be sure to focus on the ends for dimpled ends.
* You can smooth the bead with a graphite paddle or a marver - add more glass to low points.
* Use a delicate touch when marvering the glass.
* Do not put the graphite paddle in the flame!

To Shape A Bead

* Heat the bead until it is molten on the outside.
* You can flatten it or roll it on a marver easily at this point to change it.
* Keep a mandrel’s-width of glass on each side of the mandrel for strength to help prevent cracking.

To Twist Glass In A Bead

* Make your basic bead.
* Use pliers, tweezers, or stringer to twist with.
* Spot heat the part of the bead you want to twist.
* Out of the flame, grasp with pliers or tweezers and twist as much as you’d like. Let it melt in or leave it raised.
* With a stringer, spot heat and use a cool stringer - push it into the glass and twist. You can snap the stringer out of the flame to leave a dot of the stringer color.

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