mary lockwood lampwork beads

mary lockwood lampwork beads
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Monday, February 7, 2011

Applying hair thin stringer...

...when you're no good at applying hair thin stringer.  LOL

OK, so I'm not great at the teeny tiny stringer that seems to be all the rage right now.  I adore the look of it, but if you don't do it well it isn't worth it.  This is definitely a skill we should all strive toward, right?  Yeah.  It is...but how about those of us that have shaky hands or bad eyesight or bad fine motor control? LOL

If you stick to geometrics and straight lines it is easy to get the hair thin stringer but you have to plan ahead!!

This is kinda off the cuff so I don't have pictures.  Hopefully my explaining and language skills are such that you will get the drift anyway.  If I fail miserably I'll come back with pictures. LOL

What you need:
white school glue
a heat-proof, smooth surface (I use a steel lid from a jar--it has to be completely smooth with no ridges and non-porous)
stringers in whatever colors you want, pulled as thinly as you want
a geometric design thought out in your head (think like a starburst or a zigzag to start out)

1- draw your design on paper TO SCALE...remember it has to fit on the face of your glass bead so keep it small and simple for this first time out.
2- take nippers (I use my wire flush cutters for these superfine stringers because regular glass nippers don't close tightly enough to cut them) and cut your stringers in segments that are the same length as the line segments in your drawing.
3- lay out your pieces of stringer over your drawn design to test fit them and ensure they fit together correctly.
4- take a small drop of elmers glue on your fingertip and smear it uniformly and thinly on your smooth, heat-proof surface.
5- pick up your pieces of cut stringer and arrange them in the glue in the same way and pattern as they are in your drawn design.
6- use tweezers to fine-tune the design.  work quickly before the glue dries. Once your satisfied you can set this aside and the glue will continue to dry.
7- begin making your base bead---a tab shaped or flat-faced bead is best while you learn how to do the pick-up
8- Once you have your base bead well-shaped, you will want to heat the flat area where you want to apply your stringer design until it is glowing and soft.  It has to be hot enough to pick up all that stringer from the glue.
9- don't worry about the glue.  It will vaporize when your hot glass touches it.  Press the hot molten face of your base bead completely and thoroughly down onto your stringer design being sure to firmly attach all the bits of stringer especially at each cut end of the stringer pieces.
10- introduce the stringer design far out in the flame to gently soften it then use your marver to press it deeper into the face of the bead.
11- gently melt in your stringer design until smooth.
12- you can choose to put small dots at the end of each stringer or leave them plain if they look nice and sharp.  Proceed with finishing your bead as desired.
13- practice makes perfect!  Before long you'll be able to do pickups even on curved beads, and you'll be bending your stringers when you pull them to get curved lines.  Play around with it and have fun.
14- also thought I'd mention that you might want to try drawing your design with sharpie marker on a piece of aluminum foil, then spreading the glue right over the design and putting your stringer pieces in the glue on that.  Then you can pick up the stringer design right from the layout without having to draw it on paper for the test fit.  I haven't tried it like that, but I will next time!