“Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?
…”

William Blake, 1794

Β This is a special present for my sister who loves tigers and poetry, so this article is dedicated to her πŸ™‚

Glass ‘tiger’ beads… two days in the atelier, eyes burning bright!

So, for these lovely beads, I wired up a bracelet using two 3mm width cream-white leather cord lengths, along with a gorgeous tiger clasp I acquired in the UK πŸ™‚

I used a special glue for the metal-to-leather connections; I always wear latex gloves during this process as this glue BONDS fast and solid!

The wiring can take some time and should never be rushed! The process includes measuring up the bracelet as you work, altering the bead placements, knotting the cords, gluing, checking the wrist fitting, keeping everything very clean, etc. Then follow this with a nice polish and gift wrap!

And so, the final artefact…

Bracelet fit for a tigress!

Bracelet fit for a tigress!

… now fingers crossed my sister likes it! πŸ™‚

Creating the tiger beads

Handling mandrels and multiple beads

Anyone who reads my glass articles will know that I’m developing a streak for undertaking experiments that are ‘not recommended’ by more seasoned glass artists and glass masters! And yes, I was the same at art college many years ago… I studied all the rules and then deliberately broke them in an attempt to discover something for myself πŸ˜‰

Ambitiously creating two large ‘tiger’ beads on one large mandrel!

On this occasion, I created several tiger beads on each mandrel, from very small to very large beads, on very small to very large mandrels. This approach is not recommended by many well-known glass artists for very good reasons. So, whilst my experiment may not sound so rebellious, the many risks involved in losing your art work during the process is why the approach is avoided. As I explain:

    • the additional glass weight on the mandrel creates extra weight stress on the bead release (the risk is the bead release can crack and slough off at any time – be vigilant as you work!);
    • the additional time in the flame creates extra heat stress on the bead release (the risk is the same as above);

      Example of cracked ‘bead release’ in another project… the bead is lost, and the mandrel must be cleaned and prepared before another use

    • each bead created must be evenly and consistently kept hot at all times (the risk is that uneven cooling creates shock and cracking – this may result in losing one or more beads);
    • your arms will ache more due to spending more time in the flame. The weight of the mandrel may also become tiring on the arms and fingers (especially the larger ones!). More movement is required to keep all the beads evenly and consistently hot (the risk here is simple tiredness but in the worse case, the mandrel can be put in the kiln if you really need to stop… but hopefully creative passion will keep you going!);
    • accidental transfer of molten glass from one bead to another. This can happen if a stringer hasn’t been flame cut properly causing a fine thread of glass to float onto another bead or onto the mandrel where it’s not wanted! (the risk is real because it happened to me! obviously creates more work to ‘clean up’ the mess, and it can potentially spoil the glass design);
    • the spacing between the beads must be carefully worked out so when each bead is molten they won’t ‘attract’ each other and join up! (again, I know the risk because it happened to me!);
    • after annealing, if one bead is ‘frozen’ onto the mandrel it may need to be broken off to retrieve the rest of the beads (the risk is you lose the ‘frozen’ bead – it has never happened to me in my own atelier, but I appreciate it’s a common risk for any bead);
    • design work gets complicated as you work on one bead and avoid touching others, whilst keeping them all evenly and consistently hot!Β  Special tool work (like poking, raking, mashing, etc.) and using stringers for line and dot work, for example, can all be a superhuman challenge!
    • More risks?? Probably!

Dark Ivory (#1276) showing its alter ego as it is worked in the flame!

Colour chemistry of the tiger beads

I just LOVE the ivory range of Effetre murano glass. I know there are other brands of the ivory hue which can give unusual results, but for now Effetre is keeping me occupied πŸ™‚ It’s a very reactive glass with endless potential, but also very soft so it requires extra attention to work with it.

The amber rods are beautiful to work with. Very reliable, no unusual behaviour to mention, and they create some amazing colour schemes.

I created a selection of black and white twisted stringers, which were used to create the tiger stripes; some wide, some tight. These are relatively straightforward and fun to make, and a nice warm up for any lampworking session!

Glass rods used for the lampworking

The same glass rods were also used in my coffee breaks to create my first ‘ankh goddess’ and ‘cosmic serpent’.

Shaping the tiger beads

These tiger beads are created first as a barrel-style bead, then lightly flattened around the edges randomly using a lampwork masher.

Unfortunately my masher doesn’t create an equal parallel so I have to compensate for this by doing more shaping than necessary. Ahhhhhh…. if only I had some parallel mashers like these from the wonderful glass artist Corina Tettinger! Dream, dream…

I continue with the masher approach for each layer of glass for each tiger bead. When there is more than one bead on each mandrel the mashing aspect can be tricky! Once or twice, I mashed the wrong bead by mistake πŸ˜‰

Before placing each mandrel in the kiln, I always perform a final check on the glass art to make sure there are no tool markings and that the surface is smooth and glossy. A little flame polish here and there is all that is needed to remedy such flaws πŸ™‚

My sister was forewarned to not read my website until after her birthday, so I hope the secret gift will remain a surprise!!

 

Effetre glass rods used: The opaques – Pastel White (#1204), Ivory (#1264) and Dark Ivory (#1276) and; the transparents – Pale Amber (#1012), Medium Amber (#1014), Dark Amber (#1016) and Black (#1064), as well as Clear Special (#1006).

 

Originally published: Thursday, June 5th, 2014 at 02:29 in Atelier, Inspiration

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