Posts Tagged ‘Flame Crazy Lampwork’

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Back 2 Basics Challenge Part One – Shapes

February 13, 2012

Improving my technical skills is a goal I set for myself for this year. There are many skills I could work on, but the top two are shapes and use of color. This post deals exclusively with my plan to perfect the basic shapes I make.

I’ve decided to focus on the following shapes in soft glass because they are standard and make use of the tools I already own. I plan to make at least 30 good beads of each shape before moving to the next one.

Donuts: This is just a “round” bead but it should always have puckers at the holes, which is achieved by laying down a thin and straight “footprint.” I want to be able to make consistent sizes, and that comes with practice. Sure, you can buy a $60 tool to make your donuts are all the same size, but why spend the money when it just takes a little practice? I’ll make 30 each for 1/16″ and 3/32″ mandrels. Michelle Bryant of “The Spacer Queen” on Etsy makes wonderfully consistent spacers.

Donut beads by Michelle Bryant

Tubes: These can be hard because it’s difficult to get an equal amounts of glass all the way around for the full length of the bead. I’ll do this on 3/32″ mandrels and shoot for 2″ tubes. I hope to make them straight and even enough to stand upright on each end. This should be good practice for foundations of bi-cones, lentils, and many other shapes. Cherine Parrin of “Flame Crazy Lampwork” on Etsy makes fantastic tubes.

Tube bead by Cherine Perrin

Disks: The hardest part of making a disk is knowing when to end the disk so that the profile is consistent from disk to disk. Again, Cherine Perrin is my hero when it comes to these.

Disks by Cherine Perrin

Bi-cones: The bi-cone shape is similar to a tube at the ends, but the glass builds to a graceful curve in the center. This is not as easy as it looks. My goal is to make them balanced enough so that if they are flattened they are even and still stand straight. The key is incremental shaping at eye level using my kote (a Japanese shaping tool that looks like a trowel). My friend Lisa Atchison of “Touch of Glass Designs” on Etsy is my go-to girl for bi-cone perfection.

Terrarium bead by Lisa Atchison

Smal/Large Crunches: I have two crunch presses – a thick one and a thick one – and I can never seem to get the right amount of glass on my mandrel for these tools. I’ll make 30 of each size. Once again, Cherine Parrin is my inspiration for perfecting my crunches.

Crunches (or "squeezes") by Cherine Perrin

Okay. That’s 60 donuts, 30 tubes, 30 disks, 30 bicones, and 60 crunches for a total of  210 beads! Now, for the second part of the challenge: new color combos!

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