Monday, January 18, 2010

My Torch and Tools

I don't have one of the prettiest places to work, but it definitely serves its purpose. I work in the back of my husband's business, which was formerly a welding shop. They have fixed up the front, but the back leaves a little to be desired. Thankfully I am too busy looking at the beads I am making to really look around and worry about what it looks like.

Here is a picture of my work space (my husband had recently cleaned it)

Here is a picture of my torch. I use a midrange with a premix on top. I have never actually used the premix part. The torch runs on oxygen and propane. We have a medium size tank of oxygen and use a regular bbq propane cylinder.

Here is a picture of some of the tools I use. This is an assortment of tweezers, picks, and flat edges. These things are used to push, pull, poke and rake the glass in different ways.

The other night I made some "flame" beads where I used tweezers, mashers and picks.

This one is my favorite tool.

I use this a lot when I am encasing beads. I use it to push the glass around the edge.
This one (poker) is used to make a hole in the centre of flowers (among other things). The hole is then covered with a dot of glass trapping air inside which creates a bubble.

Graphite marvers are used to roll, flatten and manipulate glass. I mostly use them for barrels. The large one I also use for applying frit to beads.

The grooved marver puts grooves in beads.

And lastly, the one "tool" that I couldn't do without - my mandrels. I have three sizes plus three ring mandrels (sizes 7 & 9). These mandrels (which are steel welding rods) are all dipped in bead release ( a clay substance which allows the bead to come off once it is done). They are ready and waiting for me to make beads on.

I guess my kiln would also be a tool, also one of the important ones. It has a digital controller so the beads are always annealed properly. I heat it up to 960 degrees F. The mandrel ends that stick out of the door are almost too hot to touch when it is on.

These are the main things I use to create beads (besides glass obviously). I am always looking for other things to use as well. Once I used a nail. Nuts and acorn caps I have used for drawer pulls. But that is another tangent altogether.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

What is Frit?

Frit is crushed glass. There are many kinds of frit - from plain glass to glass that reacts differently under different conditions. You can even make your own frit by placing a heated rod or piece of rod in a cold jar (or glass) of water. I have made my own once by heating short, leftover pieces of rods. I really liked the look of it.

Here are a couple of beads that I made using the frit that I made:

Frit comes in different sizes too. You can separate your handmade frit by straining it. I didn't. I find it too much extra work at the moment. Maybe someday I will become more picky.

There are several types of frit I own. I have plain cobalt and plain coral. I also have four colors of reduction frit - amber, green, blue, violet. They can be the colors they say, or by introducing them into a propane rich flame, the metals in the glass will pop.

The above pictures are coral frit, bottles of frit, and iris gold frit

The beads in the above picture all have a black base and are covered in a layer of clear glass. I used green, blue, and purple reduction frit as the colors below the layer of clear. I did not reduce the glass in these beads. However, the following picture has emerald green glass beads with green reduction frit that was reduced. It creates a metalic look to the glass. Reduction frit has metals in the glass which pop when it is reduced.

The last type of frit I have is Raku. This is an interesting frit. There are so many variations. The frit itself looks brown, green and black. But when used in certain ways, blues, pinks, and purples will also emerge.

Raku Frit

The following are beads that were made using raku frit. Depending on the color of the bead's base and how it was applied, there are many variations in the colors that can develop.

There are many brands of frit out there. There are so many ones I don't even know of. I am by no means an expert on any of this. I just thought I would let you know what I am talking about in my shop listings. I hope this helps.