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People are so interested in learning to make hollow glass beads on the end of a hollow mandrel or small blow pipe- myself included! Thanks to a wonderful bead making buddy, I was shown a way to do it that is pretty cool, without the use of diamond shears. Many people can do this better than I can~ I am still learning, but this video will show the basics, along with ways to recover from some errors that I guarantee will happen to you too!

Here is my youtube video in all its glory!
https://youtu.be/hM6L3MVHkWs
 
A couple of video pointers~

*  Make your first wrap of glass nice and thin and right at the very end of the mandrel and it will pull off much better and have a good hole with less fooling around.

*  I start with a small coiled bead or cup bead, very similar to the way a hollow bead might be made on a mandrel. That way there is a little bubble built in from the start.

*  First build a little bead, blow a bubble in, and then add more glass and decorate before shaping and blowing it the final time. The starter bubble is nice, just to be sure you are really going to have a bubble in the bead.


* Because I wanted to show the bead being blown, I did not blow it in the correct way, which is pointing the mandrel towards the ceiling. Pointing the mandrel up seems to work the best for consistent shaping. I have also been told to take the heated
bead out of the flame, point it down for a moment and then point the mandrel to the ceiling so it will be a little stiffer on the outside. In reality, I point down and begin to blow, then move up to the vertical blowing position to finish.


* Make the tungsten pick really hot before plunging in into the bead. Turn up your flame if necessary- white hot is good! Make sure to keep the bead warm behind the flame so it won't crack. Look down the bead through the hole once you've plunged the pick through to be sure it is nicely opened up. If not, try again.

*  When you are ready to pull the bead off of the mandrel, be sure to only heat the mandrel, not the bead. Don't let the hot fingers get in the flame, or they will stick to and mar the bead.

I was not going to put this video up because of all the mistakes I made, but then decided, what the heck~ everyone is going to make some of these errors!

Here are some video links to folks who really know what they're doing!

You can watch Olga Alianova https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atXlC1mxpo4

Davide Penso https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Phb3vjDs1PE

My favorite https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgaN1q4enk0...
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Well, I finally did it! After many requests and loads of questions from folks, I have written down everything I know about curving glass tube beads my way, which is in the kiln! If you look at the etsy listing for the booklet, you will see that there are a lot of disclaimers. Why? Because it will take some work for each person to get it right. This is not a tut in the traditional sense, but rather instructions, suggestions, a lot of information on what might go wrong and why and happy photos of some of the beads I have made using this method. It's written in more of a workshop style, with loads of information. I've really tried to include everything I've learned as I've explored this method over the years. Tester questions are answered and details I've explored are explained. I am happy to answer questions and lend support where needed.


Is it easy? Well, yes and no. Making the bead is fairly simple, and I have provided two short photo tuts to help with that bit. Curving them after they're made is a bit of a nail biter because issues can arise. This method of curving in a kiln came about through the help of a glass fusing friend of mine. It took a lot of fooling around and changes before I got a method I was really satisfied with.



Here's a little bit of feedback I've gotten on it~
'I just glanced through your tutorial and it’s really exciting. I made some assumptions about how you make your beads and not one of them were correct.'
' It's designed to encourage experimentation, and shows you a way to create these distinctive, curved beads without any special equipment. The entire process is very clearly expressed and even includes a nice introduction to making long tube beads in addition to the info on curving them. It's really like being in the workshop with Laurie and watching her process and learning from her years of experience. No, it's not a plug-and-play, effortless, "copy this and you'll get that" kind of tutorial. To me, it's much better, because it shows you a whole way of looking at your work methods.'

I have tried some other methods and read up on others. I've had more success with this method than with the 'Tom & Sage' method (which is pretty cool) or using a curved mandrel. The curved mandrel has a few problems in my book- first it is not really all that curved, secondly it is darn hard to get the beads off, and thirdly it is simply difficult to build a bead on a mandrel that is not straight! There is also a method where the bead is built on something flexible and curved while it's hot. Sounds interesting though I have not tried it ~ it sounds a bit scary and I don't like the texture left inside by the flexible rope!

Here's the etsy listing link:
Glass Bead Workshop~ an exploration of curving tube beads in your kiln
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Here's the paypal 'shipnow' link (though it looks like they've renamed it). I'm putting it up here because I'm tired of having to look around the web and find it each and every time I need it!

 If you've got a paypal account and want to ship something to someone through paypal that wasn't a purchase, this is what you use! Just click on the link below, sign in to your paypal account and you'll be ready to ship stuff using your paypal funds.


https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_ship-now

I found it here, so you can thank Goosie Girl!
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Here’s a rundown of the enamels I use for making lampwork glass beads, such as it is. I don’t actually use all that many colors. I have tried a few others, but these are the ones I’ve settled on. 
I like enamels because they give nice, clean colors with none of the problems you can run into with glass rods. No devit, no mud, no worries! I also find them essential when I’m trying to duplicate most types of designs from nature~ I always use them as part of my seahorse patterning. I wrote a blog about an experimental bead of that sort a while ago, trying to imitate a natural pattern. My camera ran out of gas in the middle of the experiment, so there are no pics of the best part, but you can get an idea of what was done, anyway. 
Here are links to a few articles on this blog that talk about enamel use.





I’m still not really sure about the edp trick, but it’s worth further exploration. 

Here are the colors I use, and why!

*  White(9010)- essential~it’s great for a background and can make the colors pop. And there are other things you can do with it too, like overmelt goldstone frit into it for an interesting stone like look (there’s a little more to it than that, but not much. I need to find my old notes as I haven’t done this in years.)
*  Bright red (9840)~ great for a nice, stable red red. If folks ask me for something red and I am thinking clearly, I virtually always use red enamel.
*  ‘New’ purple #9740~ a nice, clean purple. Dark purple is OK, but this reads more true to me.
*  Light or dark orchid(9760 or 9780)~ wonderful pink either way~ also essential. I don’t know if I can tell one from the other. Reacts nicely with raku and iris gold frit.Also lovely with a line of rubino running through it.
*  Oxford blue (9650). There are several blues that are all very similar. Medium blue or blue green are OK, but I prefer oxford. There is also something called just 'aqua' I think which is quite nice.
*  Transparent aqua( might be #9452)~the only transparent I really want to have around. It’s a nice light aqua blue, not dark like all of the ones mentioned above. Probably best backed with white enamel.
*  Melon yellow (9830)~ kind of halfway between orange and yellow. I’m not a big yellow fan, but I do like this color.
*  Green~ I’m pretty sure it’s apple green (9330) that I like. Moss is a bit too grey and dark for my taste.

I have not tried orange red (9835) but it looks intriguing.
NOT black. I’ve gotten it and it just seems to turns kind of dark grey and takes over. Then again, maybe some folks know what to do with it!
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What’s so free about free shipping?! Recently, etsy has been having a sweepstakes with a big prize and all you have to do to be registered in the drawing is to have free shipping in your shop over the holidays. Huh! Apparently this is something that customers actually prefer to, say, a 10% off sale. It is also something that I can’t get my head around. My shop motto should be something like ‘fair and sensible pricing on everything all the time.’ Because that’s what I try to do. 

So how about this free shipping thing? Why not do it? Well, frankly, I can’t see how it would not cost my customers more, in some cases much more, than just charging a fair shipping price. Why? Because I do have to pay for shipping. In order to offer ‘free’ shipping to my customers, I’d simply have to add it to the cost of each item up front. To be truly fair about it, I’d have to go through all of my etsy sales and see the average number of items in a single order and then, being some kind of a math genius, figure out from there exactly how much I would need to add to the cost of each item. What a pain! But let’s pretend I feel like doing that. Let’s see if I can lay it all out.

Right now, I charge shipping for the first item and the rest are gratis. The reason is that it doesn’t really cost me much to add another item to a box. And if someone buys a bunch of things, well, I’m happy to eat the additional cost and sometimes even upgrade to priority mail. 

So today, if you buy 10 beads in my shop, you pay $3.50 in shipping within the US.

Let’s say I offer ‘free’ shipping and have done the calculations and found that the average person buys 2 items at a time. Generously, I will add only $1.75 to the price of each item to cover shipping costs. Now let’s say you are a wonderful customer and buy 10 items at once. Well, because I’ve added $1.75 to each item, you’ve just paid a whopping $17.50 in shipping, instead of $3.50. That’s $14 extra dollars, in case you weren’t paying attention.

The other side of this is that if I did offer free shipping, folks might simply purchase one thing at a time, costing me both extra time and money. I feel that what I am doing now is fairest for everyone.

Now, here’s what my current shipping charge covers, just in case you’re wondering. Postage of $2.66 (if I can ship from home~ if not the postage is the entire $3.50), an envelope, which usually costs .50, a touch of tissue, bubble wrap and tape so we’ll add .10 there, and another .05 for a business card and a note for a whopping total of $3.31. So I get paid about .19 for making the box, packing and walking to the mail box~ just like in olden times… Oh wait! Now that etsy is taking 6% (or something) of shipping charges, I actually get nothing for packing it up and sending it off. Ah well.


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Over the years, I have sent a lot of tutorials in to magazines to be published, often at their request. I've decided to try fixing up a few of them to be sold on etsy- new and revised by me! Why bother? Because I feel I can make the tutorials even better myself! How?
  • I get to edit the photos myself. Often they come out cleaner and crisper when I do the work. 
  • I can add tips and extra information that there was no room for in the magazines.
  • I can include extra photos.
  • At the end I add a one-page list of all the steps for easy reference.
  • I can add a picture of my beloved pup if I want to!
Because these are PPTs (previously published tutorials), they are only $5 each and will be bundled for extra savings too. The location of the original publication will be noted in the etsy listings so if you already have it, you don't need to buy it again.


I've begun with a couple of sculptural tutorials- a Dragon's Head (Dragalope) bead and a Fish Bottle Bead. These are beads that only I make, so the instructions are all from my wee brain. I feel they give a lot of information that is especially nice for folks who want to try their hands at sculptural beads. Find all of my tutorials here: Glassbead tutorials on etsy

Mask and turtle instructions should be available shortly. These tuts have been published in a variety of places- The Flow, Soda Lime Times, Glass Bead Evolution and Glass Line to name a few. I thought it would be nice to have them all in one place!
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Over the years (many) I have made a LOT of lampwork glass leaves. They are pretty quick and can be a good way to try out new colors and combinations. When someone buys something online, they are likely to get a lagniappe 'lucky' leaf included (unless I've temporarily run out).

When I went to a family reunion, I made a bunch- leaves off the family tree- to give away. When I left, I forgot the leftovers in the rental car (my silly family was reticent to take more than one each). The company was kind enough to let me know and I told them to just keep them and distribute them. They probably pitched them.

Lately I've been wondering- what happens to all those leaves? Do they get used? Worn? Given away? Put away in a dusty drawer somewhere for 'future use'? Tossed in the trash (hopefully not)? I decided it was time I tossed out some ideas of what to do with those wee leaves, so I am officially starting the 'glass leaf project' in hopes that these leaves will slowly make their way out into the world. The first leaf that officially became a part of this project was given to a well known lampworker~ he wanted to return it, but I insisted that, if he didn't want to keep the leaf, he could begin this project. So the first project leaf (in picture at right) may be somewhere out there already.

If you have a glass leaf that I made, you have just become an unwitting participant in this project. You may participate by leaving your leaf gathering dust in a drawer if that is your choice! But here are some other ideas:
* Wear it~ just put it on a cord and voila! There, that was easy
* Make something out of it- OK, that's why it's sitting in a drawer, right? Too hard!
* Give it to someone else to wear- someone who you love, someone who needs a bit of cheering up, a stranger on the street, whoever you like. No strings attached (well, you might want to put it on a cord for them).
* Put it somewhere and let someone randomly find it. Maybe with a little note that says 'take me'.
* Toss it in the drink. That's right, toss it in the nearest body of water for archaeologists of the future to find. A bajillion years from now, these wee leaves could be found all over the world~ that's a fun thought. I have tossed a lot of seconds and failed beads into bodies of water along my travels~ ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, the Gulf of Mexico~ so this part of the project is already in motion.

I do hope some of you will not only participate, but also let me know where your leaf ended up~ with a picture if you like! I don't know how to do this kind of stuff, so I will direct you to a post on my facebook fan page where you can comment and share pics if desired. Or you can post pics on my personal page!
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For the time being, I am making beads in a garage- with the door open. This, of course, means that there is wind, so things blow in.  There's also the possibility of bugs flying around (and they do!), as well as chipmunks wandering through. A couple of days ago, I pulled a mandrel out of the mandrel holder and managed to sling dirt across the table- right into some enamel. Not wanting to toss it, I scraped out most of the dirt and used the remaining enamel up on a couple of leaves (leaves are my give-away lagniappe beads for online orders).



Then, yesterday, I noticed that it is cottonwood season. I can't imagine that one or two of those babies didn't find their way into a couple of beads. I mean, they were flying all around!

So, my archaeological friends, does this mean those beads can now be traced right back to where I am now, just like in the high tech crime shows, or is it likely that it was all burned out? Do I need to put a note up in my etsy shop? Here's what it might say:
CAUTION: Beads may contain dirt, cottonwood, hair or other unknown objects
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I live (for the moment) sort of on the outskirts of a rather popular little left wing town in upstate NY. Things are happening here all day every day, most of which I ignore. Feeling a bit housebound, what with winter stretching to its sixth month, I went walk about the other day- down to the two block long pedestrian mall downtown called 'The Commons'. A few of my findings follow.

 Seems like every time I walk past this wee table, someone is sharing it with the bronze gal in residence. Often they are seen talking to her or sharing a cup of joe. This woman was enjoying a chat on her mobile phone as the 'Child of Ithaca' or 'Citizen of the World' looked on.The statue is of a young local woman who died an untimely death.
 Ithaca thinks of itself as an artsy community. There are at least five shops within a two block radius that sell handmade artisan works. Four of those really concentrate on local things (Ithacamade carries a few of my beads, earrings felted bowls and scarves).

The photos I took into windows also show some of the less exciting bits of the Commons in reflection- there are some rather blocky, boring concrete structures as well as new huge buildings popping up. It's all part of the sadly necessary expansion that is happening here due to the fact that it is such a very popular place to live. That despite the weather, which is downright dreary a lot of the time- so much so that a popular local band wrote a song called 'I Live Where it's Grey' which encompasses well the feeling of a long wintry day.

Here's another shop window reflection shot. How did those half-head props become popular? A bit spooky if you ask me!

I always want to look at these types of photos carefully and see if there are reflections of reflections involved. I loved those 'through the looking glass' pictures when I was a kid. It's  called the Droste effect.  These photos are different from those types of pictures, but there can be an element of surprise involved~  ghosts of people walking and other oddities.
Last but not least is the statue of a bubble blower? I suppose that's what this guy is doing, though to me it looks like he's blowing a bit of glass (of course).

That's today's tour of a wee bit of downtown Ithaca '10 square miles surrounded by reality' (or so they say). I find Ithaca all too real- more on that later, I'm sure!
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Here is an example of how to make one style of  masked beads in photos, taken from my ebook 'Reflections: the Diary of a Glass Beadmaker.' Complete instructions for these, two other masked beads styles and many other lampwork glass beads are in the book, available on etsy.






 


Black base bead
Aqua dots


Black dots overlapping aqua
Black Dots Top & Bottom


Black dots between
Melt it all in evenly

Melt everything together, fin~

Aqua dots as shown


Here are a couple of other masking designs that are covered in the book.


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