Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Confessions of a Lampwork Bead Maker

This one has a wonky hole, but I couldn't bear to trash it!
At the torch today, while I had a mandrel with a hot bead on one end in my mouth, I got to wondering- what kind of bad things do we lampworkers do in the privacy of our studios? I know I do things that I would never want anyone to see me do (so I'm gonna tell you about them, right?). And just fyi- NONE of these things are recommended- I am NOT telling you to try any of this at home- or anywhere else for that matter.

Here's the first- and possibly the most dangerous- thing I do: As mentioned in the first paragraph, I will put a mandrel between my lips with a hot bead on the the other end when needed. And when is that? Well, when I forgot to cut a piece of silver in advance, or cut it to the wrong size. I make sure the bead is good and hot, though not drippy, so it will be okay out of the flame while I find and cut a piece of silver. That's usually the reason for that faux pas. And I try to remember to suck in a little bit so that I won't just drop it on the floor by mistake.

This Bead had a bit of 'Mouth Time' While I cut the silver
What else, you ask? If a bead is 3/4 of the way done and it detaches from the mandrel, moving about freely, do I trash it? Nope, not if I can help it (unless it is just plain ugly..). Making sure the mandrel is not pointing in such a way that the bead can fall down it and burn my hand, I continue to finish it off if possible. This may mean that something I intended to do has to be forgotten about, it may make for a weird bead hole that my poor reaming buddy has to fix for me, but sometimes it is so worth it!

Some of my other poor ideas? Straightening and finding the end of the silver wire I am adding to the bead with my lips ( I use my mouth like a third hand, it seems!). I always have to remind myself not to do this while the wire is still hot. After I twirl designs together- as in the bead at the right- I often blow on the point where the twirler attaches to the bead to cool it. My lips are about an inch from the bead at that point- one false move and --- Ouch!

Then there is the balancing act, where I have picked up a rod to add a new color and decide that the bead needs a little more help before that happens. Back goes the mandrel into my right hand while I continue to hold the new color in the same hand. I'm not even really sure how I manage to do this- it just kind of happens. Still not a particularly good idea!

Wearing flip-flops is another one of my poor ideas. Invariably a piece of glass flies off the end of a rod and gets trapped between my foot and the flop, which is rather alarming. At this point I shake my foot around, trying to dislodge the shoe so that the glass will fall away. Bad news, yet I keep doing it. Pavlov would be alarmed!

And while I'm on the subject of clothing, I laugh at the idea of  wearing long sleeves to protect my arms. Those little scars running up the insides of both my arms are a point of pride! But yes, I do wear protective glasses, though they seem to slide down my nose when I 'glisten' (hence a piece of hot glass managed to find its way into the corner of my eye).

For more bad ideas, check this out!

1 comment:

wonder barrel said...

I really like these a lot!!