Wednesday, May 7, 2008

What's sludge got to do with it?

Well, here I go again, waxing on about sludge, bead release, whatever you want to call it. I have some strong opinions on the subject, but I still don't have all the answers!

Sludge is that clay-like stuff that a mandrel is dipped in to keep the bead from sticking to the steel. There are a lot of different kinds made, and I have tried quite a few. Here's my run-down:

My favorite sludge so far is KRAG Mudd made by Kittrell-Riffkind Art Glass in Dallas, Texas. It's strong, dries in the flame, is nice and smooth when you dip, and leaves a lower residue than anything else I've tried. But yes, you do still have to ream the beads. And, though I've tried just using a pipe cleaner, it seems that a diamond reamer is still necessary to get ALL of the sludge out.

Right now I'm using Dip n' Go from Arrow Springs. I actually wanted to finally try the Foster Fire, but they were out (again). Dip n' Go is nice- it's strong, and it can be dried in the flame without weakening. It is not, however a really low residue sludge, and that is what I prefer.

Flame dry bead release from Ed Hoy- GARBAGE. That's where mine ended up. Because it's weak and hard to clean.

Air dry bead release from Ed Hoy- Pretty good. Strong, reasonable to clean, and it can actually be flame dried, so why bother with the other?

Alice's bead release- I don't like this. I find it VERY hard to remove the lumps, weak, and hard to clean out of the beads. But it is quite inexpensive, as you get it in powdered form and mix it yourself.

Frantz has decent bead release, though I haven't used it in years, so I can't tell you which I like best.

I'm still waiting to try the Foster Fire. I have heard good things, but can't say until I actually get a chance to try it out myself.

So why get all the sludge out, anyway? Some people don't, so why should you? Well, it's a powdery clay, and you're not really supposed to breathe it, so why make your customers do so? And how would it be if someone wore one of your bead necklaces into the shower, and it started weeping an icky grey slime all over them? I look at it as the last necessary touch to my bead-making, that shows how much I care.


Sue said...

I just found your blog in my search for info about "Dip & Go Sludge." I'm thinking about trying it. I'm self-taught, too. I have learned all my flameworking techniques from books. I thought I would pass on a little tidbit that I read just today about mandrel release in the center of beads. I'm reading THE best glass beadmaking, teaching book that I have read to date. It's "More Than You Ever Wanted To Know About Glass Beadmaking," by James Kervin. I really don't think that I'll ever need another book on this subject. I do get magazines, but this book is awesome! Anyway, to get to the point, he says, "After reaming the bead holes out well, if the inside of the bead is not shiny enough for you, try applying a little Future floor wax to the inside of the hole with pipe cleaners for a real good looking bead hole." I tried that and it works! Hope it works for you!

BTW, I think your blog is GREAT! Thanks for all the eye candy and sharing your tips, tricks, experiences and processes!! I look forward to visiting back-often!

Designs On The Heath

one-eared pig said...

I love the bead release from Fusion Products, but I have heard great things about Foster Fire. I am just too scared to try new releases. My beads aren't always pretty, but I don't need any more plant stakes!

Thanks for you rundown on all that you have tried!

belvedere beads said...

that was incredibly useful - thanks for taking the time to post all this information. i have been using foster fire since i started and like it quite a bit - but the jar is almost empty and i can't get more. so i need to choose something new. thanks for the critiques of products you have tried it has given me way more information than i had.