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Tips, Techniques, and Questions -- Technical questions or tips

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  #1  
Old 2006-08-08, 2:17pm
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Question Newbie question - Bead Release cracking

Hi all,
I finally starting with my beadmaking - woot! Alas, when doing the first 6 beads, I experienced lots of problems with the bead release (airdried around 4 hours plus slowly heated mandrel in the flame).
- Release cracked on 2 mandrels already while wounding the initial round of glass on it
- Release cracked on further 2 mandrels while working on the beads (nothing too fancy and rather small beads)

I am using FosterFire bead release and mixed the release with water to a consistency similar to the one that we used during class: a bit runnier than yoghurt, more like a runny milk shake.

After the disappointing results I mixed a second batch, definitely not as runny as yesterday. More like yoghurt this time. I dipped the mandrels, and to my surprise the release starts already cracking on the mandrel while drying in the air!

What am I doing wrong? I am completely unsure what to do now. Sadly I can't remember the name of the bead release that we used in class, because this never happend during the course.
I searched here in the forum and the FosterFire brand seems to work fine for others. I am aware that depending on climate some releases are working better than others (I live close to Seattle and it's currently warm with low humidity).

Any recommendations? Thanks in advance!
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  #2  
Old 2006-08-08, 2:36pm
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If they are brand new mandrels, did you wash them first? Sometimes there is oily residue on them when they are new. Get some 0000 steel wool (or one of those green scubby things for washing pots and pans) and scrub the mandrels with it, do this each time before you re-dip them. I usually keep my bead release at a pancake batter consistancy. I use Fusion - it's a grey in color. Recently I've started mixing it 50/50 with either Alice's Bead Release or Foster Fire. Most of the time I let them air dry before I use them. Hope that helps.
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  #3  
Old 2006-08-08, 3:17pm
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The mandrels that I used yesterday were used ones, from the course.
The ones I used today (with the thicker mixture) are brand new, because I thought I would start with a clean slate to be sure that it's not the old used mandrels that cause the problem.
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  #4  
Old 2006-08-08, 3:29pm
orodrago orodrago is offline
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Hi Judith, I recently switched to Foster Fire and I love it! I have found that if I have mixed it too dry that I will get cracking during the wind on - so I use that as my cue to mix through a tiny amount of water - and without fail this has fixed that problem for me. (It also gets drier due to be open alot - not closed completely between dippings - Im flame drying it)
Ive heard people using it when it was very thin and very thick - so I cant tell you a hard and fast rule for what consistency to shoot for. For me its sort of like thick cream.
Another thing - if you are flame drying it - I find a cool flame (I just back off the oxy a smidge on the torch) and running the coated length back and forth thru the flame better than full strength flame and cooking it hard - but thats just me!
Once you find your groove with Fosterfire - you'll be hooked!
Cheers,
Lavender
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  #5  
Old 2006-08-08, 3:33pm
orodrago orodrago is offline
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Ooops, sorry - another thing - youre right when you say climate affects release - (all of them!)
even mandrels that were dipped the day before can have picked up enough moisture from the environment to cause problems - hang in there!
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  #6  
Old 2006-08-08, 3:57pm
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As a newbie myself I would never even consider using a release I have to mix up - too many possiblities for errors. I use a premixed bead release; Bucket o' Mud, with great results.

Just putting in my two cents...
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  #7  
Old 2006-08-08, 4:04pm
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Bead release is a heat once kind of thing. Heat once, put your glass on, then try to keep the flame off the mandrel. (You want the flame on the glass, not on the part of the mandrel that doesn't have glass on it.) If you repeatedly heat the bead release and let it cool, it will crack. Pretty much any release will crack eventually, although some will take more abuse than others.

Yes, it is hard to hold the mandrel at exactly the right place so that the flame hits the glass and not the mandrel. You'll get better with practice, but I still crack bead release a lot. (Part of that is because I make big honking beads that take an hour to make, and use brass lentil presses for most of them, though.)

Different people like different brands of bead release, and it may take some experimenting to find a brand that suits you. I like Alice's Bead Release, which is a pretty light hold release. The people I get together with for Open Torch use Fusion (FPI) Bead Separator, and think Alice's is gritty icky stuff. (It's easy to get the beads off the mandrel with Alice's, but harder to get the release out of the holes.) I don't like any of the versions of Sludge, but it's a safe bet that some people will jump onto this thread proclaiming their love for it (I always get royally flamed for saying anything even slightly mean about Sludge.)

When you're adding glass, make sure you don't try to force the glass. Stop winding while the glass is still fluid. Don't push or tug on a rod that's gone stiff and cold. You'll stress your bead release and crack it, and end up with a loose bead or one that gets stuck to the mandrel permanently. Ideally, when you're adding glass, you want to have the flame hitting exactly at the point where the rod meets the bead (Jim Smircich calls this the "elbow"), and you don't want to try to add glass faster than the flame is melting the rod. It takes a little practice to find the sweet spot, but this technique of adding glass as the rod melts in the flame ends up giving you more control than the method of heating a big gather, then plopping it onto the bead.

Last edited by Emily; 2006-08-08 at 4:09pm.
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  #8  
Old 2006-08-08, 10:12pm
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Hi Lavender - thanks for your encouragement. It seems really that there is no "one and only best consistency" but rather a matter of trial and error until you find what works best for your configuration.

Hi Laurie - I agree with what you say. I would not consider a bead release that I have to mix up myself either. And the one I used (Foster Fire) IS premixed. However, it was so thick and clumpy when it arrived, that it was unusable in the premixed state. That's why I added water.

Hi Donna - thanks for the steelwool/pot cleaner tip. The mandrels that I dipped today were brand new. So I removed the release again and followed your tip. Didn't have time today to try it, but I'm hoping to give it go again on Thursday.

Hi Emily - thank you for your words of encouragement. I was just really disappointed because this never happened during the classes that I took. But once I have all the materials and start all enthusiastic, 4 of 6 beads go wrong because of the release cracking. I do use a HH now, while we had a Minor in class. I think this could be one of the reasons - I realised several times that I was tugging on the rod because I thought the glass would not be cold already. Guess I have to get used to the different torches too. So thanks for the pointer - I will try to be more patient and ensure that the glass is still fluid and really hot.

Thanks guys - you rock! I will certainly give it another go within the next couple of days. And I will try think about all the tips and ideas that I got from your answers.
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  #9  
Old 2006-08-09, 8:22am
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Hi Judith,

I use a green scubby, steel wool or fine sand paper before every dipping. I have much better success with my bead release, Fusion, being a bit anal with the prep.

Good Luck,
Michelle
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  #10  
Old 2006-08-09, 9:47am
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Humidity really affects the bead release and down here in the south it can be a huge problem.

I use Fosterfire but use the heavy duty stuff. The consistency that works best for me is like a pancake batter that pours easily - not thick and slow moving.

I find that I have very few problems with cracking or flaking bead release but I always try to heat the mandrel and release to a kind of orangey glow to get the moisture out before applying the glass.

It really is trial and error. If you're affected by humidity that's probably a big reason for the flaking. Quick note though...I dip my mandrels by the hundreds and they sit out in the garage until they're all used up and I rarely have flaking issues so perhaps it's a matter of tweaking the release, prepping your mandrels or just heating them up enough before working them to get the best results.

Let us know how it goes!

-Yee
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  #11  
Old 2006-08-09, 11:50am
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Hi Judith,

Try heating the bead release father from the flame...and slowly! The point of heating the bead release is to remove the moisture...so if you heat it too fast and don"t rotate your mandral there is too discrepancy in the moisture content....too much moisture in parts, and is too dry in others, hence, the cracking. scrub new mandrals as everyone else suggests...the mandrals should not have oil or grease on them (which is used to keep the welding rods from rusting if they get too damp before they are sold) and need to be "roughed up" so there is "tooth" on them for the release to stick to. Don't worry about roughing them up too much. That is why older mandrals often are easier to use at first! Just make sure there is no rust on your older mandrals. Humidity does effect bead release. If it is ever too thin, just leave the jar open so some of the moisture can evaporate. It is like pancake batter...in time you will get the "feel" for the right consistancy. If all else fails...pull stringers for a while, then come back to it!!!

Deborah
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  #12  
Old 2006-08-12, 10:28pm
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Success! Thanks everyone for the suggestions and tips.
I did the green scrub thingy on brandnew mandrels, used the thinner mixture, air dried for two days, heated slowly and far away from the flame and made sure that the glass was hot and runny enough.
Result? I did 10 beads today, not even once did the release crack!
You guys rock ... thanks so much!!! Now I will have to do some more trial (and error?) because I can't use brandnew mandrels for the rest of my life
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  #13  
Old 2006-08-13, 7:10am
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You won't have to... just clean your mandrels with the scrubby thing in the same way after you remove the beads and dip. You probably don't need to wait 2 days, I some times don't even wait for the release to air dry... Too impatient : )
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  #14  
Old 2006-08-14, 2:33pm
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Hi
I make my own release, it is not "rocket science" I had all sorts of cracking problems until the lady that gave me the recipe saw it............ too thick.... was the reply. I find that even sitting unopened in the jar for a week ot two it seems to thicken up and will need a bit of water adding.... everyone that uses this recipe finds the same. We usually look for a "milk" consistancy....
When taking the beads of the mandrel, I put beads and mandrels in a container with water and take them off in the water, it helps clean the bead hole and remove the release from the mandrel at the same time..... then recoat and air dry. I find the thicker the coating the more problems we have with humidity as well.
regards
Gary
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  #15  
Old 2006-08-14, 2:34pm
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Hi
I make my own release, it is not "rocket science" I had all sorts of cracking problems until the lady that gave me the recipe saw it............ too thick.... was the reply. I find that even sitting unopened in the jar for a week ot two it seems to thicken up and will need a bit of water adding.... everyone that uses this recipe finds the same. We usually look for a "milk" consistancy....
When taking the beads of the mandrel, I put beads and mandrels in a container with water and take them off in the water, it helps clean the bead hole and remove the release from the mandrel at the same time..... then recoat and air dry. I find the thicker the coating the more problems we have with humidity as well.
regards
Gary
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  #16  
Old 2007-02-09, 9:29pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glassman View Post
Hi
I make my own release, it is not "rocket science" I had all sorts of cracking problems until the lady that gave me the recipe saw it............ too thick.... was the reply. I find that even sitting unopened in the jar for a week ot two it seems to thicken up and will need a bit of water adding.... everyone that uses this recipe finds the same. We usually look for a "milk" consistancy....
When taking the beads of the mandrel, I put beads and mandrels in a container with water and take them off in the water, it helps clean the bead hole and remove the release from the mandrel at the same time..... then recoat and air dry. I find the thicker the coating the more problems we have with humidity as well.
regards
Gary
Hi Gary,

would you be able to share the receipe for the mandrel release? I make my own batwash for kiln shelves (learned it during my Tafe course), but haven't found details anywhere for mandrel release.

Many thanks, seachange
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  #17  
Old 2007-02-10, 12:29pm
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Seachange--

would you mind sharing your recipe for the batwash? I don't know if I'd use it that much, but it never hurts to have too much information or too may recipes!

-Amy
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  #18  
Old 2007-02-10, 1:45pm
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I also use Foster Fire and have learned it needs to be a bit thinner what I think it shoudl be LOL I also use a wand mixer to mix my release and it works perfectly. I keep it below the surface and just love it. I keep my release in a wide mouth jar and can mix it right there. I generally have to add water every time I dip mandrels but I usually only dip them once a week or two. I usually dip a several hundred at a time since, aside from cleaning the release out of hte holes, dipping mandrels is my least favorite thing to do so I have a lot of mandrels so can do it all at one sitting. I have never had one have a problem sitting there for several weeks or even months. I just used my large holed mandrels that I know have been dipped for about a yr LOL Also after my initial scrubbing with steel wool I have never re-primed my mandrels. I find removing the bead and using the bead to remove the rest of the release from the mandrel not only leaves me with a clean mandrel but also keeps it primed for me. Happy Beading!!!


Robyn
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  #19  
Old 2007-02-12, 5:36am
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I had a problem with ZingZ cracking while drying. I figured it was the humidity and cold. Wasn't using new mandrels. It cleaned up beautifully, but all of the 3/32 mandrels had big cracks and flakes off. I switched back to Bucket O Mud.

I'd like the reciped for making your own mandrel release too......
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  #20  
Old 2007-02-12, 2:12pm
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Hi All
I had a few people ask for my recipe for bead release, I have used this one for about 5 years.....

Equal Volume (tablespoon etc)

5 spoons of Calcinated or Hydrated Alumina

5 spoons of Kaolin Clay

1 spoon of Whiting

1 spoon(small) of graphite powder/ carbon


Put all ingredients in a jar with about 1/3rd of a cup of water, water first.
I use a plastic, lidded jar, shake well, let it settle, add more powder or water until the mix is the consistency of MILK. If it is too thick it will crack on the mandrel. Let the mix sit overnight and adjust the consistency.
You will need to add table spoon of water every so often to thin it down.
I get all these from a local pottery shop with the exception of the graphite and that I get from Auto shops/Engineering supplies, powdered lubricant.

NOTE: The ratios do not have to be exact.

The comments on "roughing up new mandrels" are true. As is the relative humidity one, here in Queensland this time of year (summer) you can get problems with the Bead Release.
All the best
Gary Lisle
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  #21  
Old 2007-02-12, 2:16pm
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you can get the graphite powder at Lowes or Home Depot also - in the doorknob/key area. It's sold as a lock lubricant (but you shouldn't actually use it in locks, as it eventually gums up the works).
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Old 2007-02-13, 5:30am
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Great!! Thanks!
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  #23  
Old 2007-02-13, 9:44am
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I use alice's and have for years and I just love it. I think the only time I ever have problems is if the mandrels have sat around for a long time...

Here are some of my tips for bead release.
The release tends to dry out in the jar.
#1 make sure your release is in a soft plastic jar. You know, most of them come in that kind of soft (unbreakable plastic)
#2 the reason the release dries out in the jar is because you have release remaining on the threads at the top.... keep those threads clean and the inside of the lid so that you get an air tight seal every time.
AGAIN make sure you release is in a non breakable jar...
and throw a couple of wonkies in with your release. These act like mixing balls.
(if you need to add a little bit of water...the mixing balls will keep your mix smooooooooooth no lumps ever)

Actually if I start with powder and water in my jar and add the right amount of water... I can go from powder and water to baby's bottom smooth release in under 30 seconds. Leave them in there and as you release dries out...you can add more water to keep it the right consistency.

This is why I use a powder... alice's is great and reasonable... If it dries out and you need to add water if you add too much water...ahhhhhhh hummmmm gunna have to leave the lid off for a while...

So wonkies in your soft plastic jar...will keep your release smooth...just shake if you need to add water...

Make sure to keep the threads at the top of your jar and the threads on the bottle clean...if you do...your release won't dry out as fast.

I would say the down side to pre mixed bead release is that if it starts to dry out and you add water and you add too much... darn...gotta let it sit open until it dries more...

it is always nice to be able to fine tune your release to the consistency you want.

So
A. to keep your release from drying out too quickly keep the threads on the lid and the top of the jar clean.

B. If you are using a powder like alice's or if your release dries out between uses (if you follow A above that shouldn't happen very often) keep a couple of wonkies in your (unbreakable) solf plastic jar...add a couple drops of water and shake.

When I start a new jar ...powder and water...and wonkies... I can get a completely smooth release in under 30 seconds...you can always add a little extra water so start water poor...

Ditto to new mandrels might be oily so... make sure to clean them frist..

Again...if you use a premixed release...and you add too much water...well I guess you have to sit around and wait for some of it to evaporate...

Alice's bead release is fantastic...You buy it by the bucket and it will last you a long long long time....and if you should happen to make it too soupy you can always fine tune with a little extra powder...

I used to have these up on my website but I just haven't had time to keep it up...

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  #24  
Old 2007-04-23, 8:43am
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stay away from brass...the bead release may be to thick...


thats my suggestion
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  #25  
Old 2012-05-07, 6:48pm
Cherri Cherri is offline
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Default Thanks for the tips

I am still a green newbie. I am having trouble with my mandrels now.

I was going along quite well and now the release is cracking on the mandrels before any heat touches them.

I shake the release really well before I add the mandrels, like I did when I started. Was working fine. Now that the weather has changed I am having a bunch of trouble with cracking and flaking. Today I lost several beads and glass.

I did see where I might have caused or made the problem worse because I washed the mandrels and dried only with a towel and then dipped.

Some of the mandrels are new and some are old. I did clean the new mandrels to removed oils and such and dried them, but still having cracking and flaking.

I am using the Bucket O Mud that I got with my hot head. Getting frustrated. I will need to purchase some more mud soon, now scared to buy it.

I saw somewhere about prepping the mandrels. I should wash them in soapy water and then scuff them with pad and then let them dry over night?

Any suggestions would be helpful. Don't have much time to devote to the glass and I hate it when I can't make anything or get half way through something and the release cracks and I lose the glass. UGHhhhh
Thank you in advance.
Cher
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Old 2012-05-08, 2:11am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cherri View Post

I was going along quite well and now the release is cracking on the mandrels before any heat touches them.
Most likely your release has lost water and is too thick.

Add a little water, mix it up, and it should be fine.
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  #27  
Old 2012-05-08, 3:11am
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Were your mandrels wet with water before you dipped them in the release? Even a little bit? This will cause what appears to be cracks in the bead release. Because when you dip, you are trapping that water between the bead release coating and the surface of the mandrel. Bead release air dries pretty fast, and if the dipped mandrels happen to be anywhere the air is moving like an open window or a fan, it dries even faster, of course. The quick drying of the outside surface of the dipped release simultaneously while it is still absorbing this excess water inside will cause it to crack. The cracks appear to be "squiggly".

How do I know this weird stuff?? Many years of dipping hundreds of mandrels a week, and trying just about every brand of bead release out there. Dry weather, damp weather, hot, cold, distilled water, tap water, you name it, I've done it. But this one thing with the mysterious cracks took me the first 7 years of my beadmaking career to figure out. About 3 years ago I figured it out, and I started making sure my mandrels were completely dry before dipping. Ever since then, I have never seen the cracks again.
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  #28  
Old 2012-05-08, 6:18am
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They might have been damp.

I just checked the ones I dipped yesterday and they all have hairline cracks on them.
Not a one is smooth.

The mandrels I used yesterday had a bunch of cracking and flaking once I started to add the glass. I lost a few before I could even start. The two that where almost finished I was able to finish them. Took everything out of the kiln this morning and so far so good.


I guess I will have to remove all the bead release from them all and rough them, wash them and let them dry overnight. I will add a bit of water to the release I have left in the jar.


I am almost out of release, so need to order more. I saw where Diane suggested Alice's and I ordered some of that, but since I have been using the Mud was going to reorder, now a bit unsure.

It is very humid where I am at. I live in Florida and humidity is an all the time thing. (well once in a while we get dry air, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh)

Thank you for the replies
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  #29  
Old 2012-05-15, 5:46am
Cherri Cherri is offline
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Default Thank you

Added a bit of water to the release and things smoothed out.

Seemed to fix the issue.

I have two beads stuck right now, but hoping if I soak a bit they will come off.

I have trouble with the vessel types. Between the release and the suction.. LOL

Thank you very much. Such a simple thing to add a bit of water, but when you don't know you don't know.
Thanks again.
Cher
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  #30  
Old 2012-05-15, 7:29am
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I ditto all the folks who say that humidity has a BIG effect on bead release. A lot of the releases were developed in drier climates! If you can find Best Bead Release, it was formulated for high humidity and heat areas.

Even that, however, doesn't work well if your release has been on the mandrel a day or so ... my favorite release is Andrea's Not At All Famous Tad End Release, aka dumping bits of Foster Fire, Best Bead Release, Blue Sludge, Alice's, etc. into a container and shaking it up. Your own Not At All Famous Tad End Release (dumping bits of whatever YOU have on had in a jar) might just work well for you, too.
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