Sunday, March 9, 2008

Making Disk Beads

Another in a series of basic techniques, here are some disk-making tips and techniques:

Disk tips:
Be sure each layer of glass you add adheres well to the layer below it. The glass must be wrapped firmly on the previous layer as you spin the bead.
When wrapping the glass, your bead should be slightly behind the flame, while the glass rod is in the flame. Make sure the glass rod is heated all the way through, not just on the bottom, so that you don’t pull the base bead around misshaping it or breaking the bead release.
You may be able to wrap and spin as you go, or you may want to pull a bit of glass off the melting rod and attach it to your disk at regular very small (like 1/8-1/16 inch) intervals. This requires a certain rhythm- melt, pull, attach, melt, pull, attach, etc.
Push the hot glass onto the disk as you add it to make the layers adhere to each other nicely. Make sure the layers of glass are adhering all the way around, and there are no gaps between the layers.

Making a basic disk:
Start by making a pea-sized bead. Shape into a small cylinder. This will be the core of the disk, and should stay pretty much as is during the whole process.
Start winding the glass onto the cylinder (see above for tips). You can add colors as you go if you want, or leave it all one color.
If necessary, the disk can be straightened using the flat part of your tweezers, or a masher. Don’t pull up on the disk; just flatten all the way around.
Remember to look down your mandrel to see how even and round your disk is and add glass or use gravity to correct.
Flash the disk often to keep it warm; otherwise pieces may break off. Cool in the flame for a minute or two before putting away in your kiln. Keeping the disk warm without melting it down and cooling the disk without breaking it are the two hardest parts of this process.

What to do with your disk:

Disks are the basis for a number of different bead styles, including hollow beads, folded beads, 3-dimensional flowers, and fluted disks.

1 comment:

idyll hands said...

Ooooh, a new post. Too bad it's all greek to this knitter :)

I love that you are offering tips of the trade. Even though I don't work with glass, it's fun to read these things.