Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pucker Up - A Hallmark of Quality

I'm Blogging on my lunch break today, so I'll need to keep this one short.

Today, I'd like to talk about puckered ends...no not your end or mine for that matter, but the ends on beads around the hole.

A sure sign of well made bead is that the area around the hole on both ends of the bead are puckered, that is, they dip toward the hole in a smooth curve and there are not points or jagged edges which could possible fray or cut the medium they will eventually be strung onto.

When wrapping glass onto a mandrel, a steel rod that will eventually be removed to create the hole in the bead, the footprint of the bead should be evenly wrapped so that the glass creates this round pucker naturally.

Due to the physics of glass (which I won't bore you with, I promise), it naturally wants to be round and gather toward the center of the mass on the mandrel. When a beads footprint is wider than the amount of glass wrapped, the bead will form a football shape with very sharp ends around the hole.

If the bead is going to be shaped, either in a press or by marvering (rolling the bead on a surface to shape the glass), then this shape is sometimes necessary when wrapping. However, in the final bead when all shaping has been completed, there should not be any sharp or jagged points.

During the summer, I attended an art fair in a lampworker was selling necklaces made of beads that obviously where too wide and had jagged points on their ends. She'd hidden these flaws by using some rather large bead caps in her jewelry.

This is just something to keep an eye out for when buying beads on-line or in finished jewelry that I think everyone should know before putting down your hard earned money. If you get a bad bead from another artist, that may well put you off lampwork from other artists, and that would be a shame.

As always, if you have any questions or would like to suggest topics, I can be reached through this blog or through my web site or shop at:

Have a great day!

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