Sunday, July 12, 2009

Using the Osibin Lentil Shaper

Sometimes I feel like I'm just bloggin' in the wind, but I get these ideas and figure I might just as well write them here as anywhere else!

Recently, when meeting with some other beadmakers, I brought along my Osibin lentil shaper. When one of the gals said- you use one of those? Can you show me how? My confident answer was "Sure!" And then I proceeded to show that I had no clue HOW I used it- but use it I do. There are some of us in the lampworking world who don't use any of the cool lentil presses that exist. It is partly a $$ thing, and partly just a bit of stubborn- ness. But it is also, I think, a bit more time consuming and difficult to get a standard size and shape bead without a press.
So here's how I use this tool.
First of all, you can see I've made a slight modification. I used my trusty diamond reamer to make a wee slot for my mandrel. Without it I couldn't seem to get the bead deeply enough in the shaper to make a nice flat lentil. If you choose to do this, be very careful to center the slot on the lentil shape. So far, I have only modified the smaller two depressions.
Now to start the bead. With this shaper, as with all lentil shaping tools, you need to measure your starter bead-you want to make your base bead a little shorter than the press as it will lengthen slightly as you work on it. I'd say about 1/8 inch shorter over all. You don't have to make the bead large enough to go across the entire length of the shaper if you don't want to. And if you end up getting a little too large you can just move up to the next size. That's one advantage of this tool- you've got four different sizes to choose from. I started with a small black tube that I've rolled in silver foil. I started out pretty small as I didn't want to outgrow the shaper.

I added some more clear glass to encase the silver and rolled it in a bit of raku frit.
Now it's time to think about the shape you need to get a nice even press. Make your bead into a bicone, and then roll the center into a barrel shape- so you've got a kind of fat barrel with ends that taper towards the mandrel (see picture). Make sure the bead is nice and cylindrical. If it's at all wonky, you'll have a difficult time getting a nice lentil shape. Either keep that basic shape, or else let it kind of melt into an oval. If you are trying to make a pair of beads, remember which shape you ended up with, because you will be making that same shape again .

And now it's time to press. Get your bead nice and hot all over- orangey hot, not white hot. You may have to try this a few times before you get the hang of it. Pause before pressing, but only for a couple of seconds, then put into the shaper and press down, rocking the bead slightly from side to side to make the edges a little thinner. Quickly turn it over and press again. You do not necessarily want to press straight down- watch what's happening- you may need to push a little more on one side, or actually kind of slide the bead across the shaper a little to get it nice and evenly shaped. I like being able to actually see what the bead is doing and tweak the shape as I go. You may need to reheat and shape a little bit again.
According to the information on the Arrow Springs website, you'll press one side, reheat, and then press the other side, but with these beads, I went directly from one side to the other. Another thing they mention is that each of the four diameters has a different curve to it, making many different types of shape possible. I didn't know that!

I didn't use any other tool to shape these beads, and look how close they are to each other in size and shape- I used them for a pair of earrings and part of a necklace.


Babette said...

No - you're definitely not 'blogging to the wind' ... I'm here reading away. I have made 3 fish - and loving yours so much more! Been doing l/work for not quite a year. Time to get them on my blog, huh?

Thanks for taking the time to share so much VERY GOOD information. I feel like you're talking to me!

Wish I knew your name, but I guess that's not so important after all.

Gabi.Loraine said...

Definitely not blogging into the wind!

Thank you so much for the valuable information on the shaper! The tool actually came in my set but I have no clue how to use it because I feel like I'm never going to get deeply enough in the shaper... I don't think mine is even so much round as it is ovaled because it's really deep. I thought of sanding it down to make it round but the mandrel shape is a GREAT tip.

Your blog is awesome!

Much love.