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

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  #1  
Old 2010-01-07, 11:31am
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Default Men who make beads- what floats your boat?

I had a call last night, and the question of how to get men interested in making soft glass beads was posed. So I thought, who better to ask than men who already make beads?

So, what got you interested?
Is there a particular style of bead you gravitate towards?
Is there a type of bead you'd think about taking a class to learn to make? What are your favorite colors of glass to work with?
What do you make with your beads- women's jewelry, or things for men?
What other helpful info can you offer?

I know this may all sound a bit sexist, but look around- there really are a lot less men than women doing this. And there is a reason, I'm sure. Is it just that beads are too 'girly'? I imagine every answer I get here will be completely different, and I will still have no clue in the end!

The person I was speaking to said that the only type of bead class she could get the guys interested in was sea life beads. I have a couple of other ideas, but I'd rather get some ideas and opinions from y'all before I voice them.
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  #2  
Old 2010-01-07, 12:22pm
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I was newly retired and was bored to death, and no "projects" in sight...

When to a "Gem & Mineral Show" , and there was a gentleman there using a bicycle spoke and propane torch to wrap and dip a small section of copper tubing into some enamels making some sort of what I would refer to as a pseudo bead.... Well it seemed interesting and a real cheap way to waste some time.... Then the internet searches began....

Dale
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  #3  
Old 2010-01-07, 12:41pm
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I was attracted to bead making to support my wife's jewelry making. What got me hooked was the technical aspects of the craft. I love detailed work and solving problems.

I just make beads for women, where the market exists.

Steve
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  #4  
Old 2010-01-07, 12:51pm
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Guess I'll get the ball rolling! Whoops... you guys just beat me to it! LOL

From the later part of 2001 to Oct 2004 I was having a difficult period in my life, having to endure five serious abdominal surgeries, resulting in the selling of my graphic design company and going on disability. For a while there, I thought my life was about over. I couldn't work, was bored out of my mind, and couldn't do much of anything physical. In the early part of 2005, I began to have periods during the day when I was able to start doing things around the house like vacuuming, laundry, the dishes, etc. My wife, Mary, was the breadwinner and worked all the time just to keep our "heads above water", so to speak. One of her hobbies was making sterling silver jewelry. For months she kept urging me to let her teach me how to make jewelry. Of course, I balked at the idea of a man doing that sort of thing (you're right. I thought it was too "girly")... I was very stubborn.

Finally I agreed and before you know it, I was a jewelry-makin' fool!! lol I loved it and would sometimes "pull an all-nighter"! That's how our jewelry making business started, and since I was a graphic designer for almost 30 years had no trouble designing a website and all of the graphic needs of our fledgling company.

Then, a few years later, Mary introduced me to our own Shawnette! One weekend she came over to our home and brought all of her lampworking stuff: a hothead, hoses, gas, tools, glasses, glass, frit, etc. It was a car load!! I was hooked from then on!! THANK YOU SHAWNETTE!!!

As you can see on the thread "Best of 2009", I like organics and contemporary "silver" type pieces the most.

I'd LOVE to take some classes from artists such as Michael, Andrea, etc. however, $ just isn't available right now. (I use it all on glass!) LOL

Almost all of my work is for females, with some jewelry or beads that would work equally as well for men. (leather chokers maybe).

Anyway, that's about it I guess. Luckily, we've had pretty good success on ArtFire, and have even been selling internationally now too. I've never taken any classes, just learned from advice from all of you kind people and your tuts. I still have a long way to go, have made a LOT of "fugly" beads, but also a lot of beads that I'm proud of.

I must also say that learning from everyone's great tricks and advice here on LE has helped me tremendously and I thank you all for that!

O.K. I've rambled on quite enough now. Again, thank you all very much!!!

Regards - Jack
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  #5  
Old 2010-01-07, 1:54pm
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I don't make as many beads now as I did when I first started. I've moved almost all the way to the dark side. I do still make a few though. I like making beads with reactive colors because I like both the physics involved with glass itself and the chemistry involved in the mixing of the glass (and the flame chemistry). I guess I also mostly work the more geometric patterns so....uummm...maybe it's the geek in me that makes me like bead work. My beads would all be for jewelry and would be mostly used for women's jewelry. I do a few lamp pulls and such though.
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  #6  
Old 2010-01-07, 9:36pm
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As a chemistry major I took a scientific glassblowing class in college about 35 years ago to make and repair equipment I used. I had more fun making swans and pink elephants when I could get into the shop after hours. Moving 30+ years into the future, my spouse gave me a beadmaking glass as a birthday present and I was hooked again. She did have an ulterior motive - she makes jewelry and soon put in requests for color combinations. I have taken classes given at several Seattle/Tacoma area bead and glass shops as well as from Leah Fairbanks and Larry Scott (through the Puget Sound bead festival). While I still have a day job as a chemist at an environmental consulting firm, I am looking forward to the day I can devote much more time to creating beads. For now, it is both relaxing and an excellent stress reliever as I get involved in the zen of colors and forms.
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Old 2010-01-07, 10:40pm
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I don't make many beads because I always feel weird making just one, and I hate doing multiples of anything (usually).

But I also work boro instead of soft glass usually,"Higher temps, bigger torch, more danger!" Well, not necessarily that last part

I think you'd have to appeal to the primal end of things. Start with making a mandrel; cutting up the solid fire friendly steal rod with the giant bolt cutters, then smoothing it on the grinding wheel or angle grinder.

Pick out a fire pattern, make a nice fire themed bead or an evil eye of some sort (just a simple tungsten poke for beginners), play up that it's not pink and girly.

But for me when I actually make beads? I usually just make them out of colors I like and if someone wants to buy them, so much the better. But the only jewelry I wear is my wedding band.
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  #8  
Old 2010-01-07, 11:09pm
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Well been a furnace glass blower for many years and then a tripple bypass,no blowing for a bit after that but still needed to play with glass, but I only like to make hearts and starfish in boro.
Soft glass only works for me in the furnace .

Mike
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  #9  
Old 2010-01-08, 7:44am
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I find that bead-making has been secondary when I step up to the torch because I don't find it as fun as making larger functional items with boro. For me, shaping glass and being able to use it is much more fun (and frustrating too) than coloring, which means off mandrel work. So I generally pick up the blowtube or solid rod before a mandrel.

I am so much looking forward to furnace work down the road...

That being said, looking at all the great beads that are posted on this site is very motivating and makes me want to get halfway decent at bead-making...
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  #10  
Old 2010-01-08, 8:17am
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Oh, I'm so glad some of y'all have taken the time to chime in here- great info! Now I'll venture a few of my, possibly very wrong, theories here. A couple of you have made me think they just could have a little merit.

I think glass guys are often drawn to the technical and chemical aspects of beads. What this means when it comes to beadmaking is another question. Maybe enamels and silver use would be of interest?

The men I've taught have really liked making BIG round, messed up colors beads as beginners. Some have never gone further than that.

I see plenty of guys who are drawn to beads that have geometric designs- methodical stuff like masking. Not my favorite, but I can do it!

And I have this weird theory that lots of men don't like random bumps on their beads. This is from discussions with beadmaking women who say their husbands hate 'warts' on their beads. And conversations with my own s.o. who generally complains about them when he's cleaning them for me. Yup, I make the guy do all that! OK, actually he volunteered, and I can't complain- he does a great job.

I think sculpture without the mandrel could be a draw. But of course, I can't do that myself as yet!

And I know price is a problem for everyone these days.
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Old 2010-01-08, 9:06am
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I actually LIKE bumps on some of my beads, (especially stormed bumps, Amy!) yet my wife doesn't care for the raised dots that much. Go figure! LOL

Jack
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Old 2010-01-08, 9:11am
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I've wanted to work with hot glass since I was a kid (long time ago). I've done a little work around the lab repairing stuff, but nothing beyond that. Stained glass was good for a while, but didn't hold my interest. I was a wood turner for a long time but had to back away from it after back/neck problems.

About 7 years ago my wife got interested in beading and I got a look at art glass beads. I saw my foot in the door to glass working and jumped in. Now I make beads and cabochons for her to work with and have branched out into small scale blowing and sculpture. I also make lots of beads for Beads of Courage, which helps satisfy that bizarre need to make complex murrini and then put them on beads.
I'm drawn to the technical side (glass chemistry, color chemistry, color theory) as well as the 'painting with fire' aspect. My wife says that as I get older my hobbies become more expensive and dangerous.

Robert
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  #13  
Old 2010-01-08, 9:30am
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Pretty simple for me, I always liked anything that involved a torch...thought I liked welding until I saw glass melt and cool into transparent gems.
Since this is our business, I do my best to work on things that sell as that is a must, sell enough of those and I earn playtime to do things that I like but maybe aren't as easy to move along.
Anyway, my bead spread usually has geometrics, dot patterns, masking designs, psychedelic color reactions, bumps, spirals and sculpted wearables. I love purple and pink and know that if I didn't I would need to learn.
In general I think dudes gravitate towards aggressive techniques, twisting/pulling cane, smashing, plunging, twisting dots, raking, fuming, etc. Lots of the male soft-glass bead crowd can be often seen making big cylindrical focals and bicones...
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  #14  
Old 2010-01-08, 9:46am
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I started out making soft glass beads. But, I have to admit, I haven't touched any soft glass in at least three years.

Beads like the ones Brad Pearson makes were what I would strive for when I was working soft glass. Obviously I never got anywhere close to what he makes. I am really fascinated by the work of Jeff Barber these days and would love to be able to do the same things he does, but I have so much invested in borosilicate that it's doubtful that I'll ever work soft glass again.
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Old 2010-01-08, 10:18am
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Enamels might be a problem with guys, particularly if they happen to have a beard, then the respirator doesn't work as well as it should. When I get my hands into the plaster and silica to make molds I have to shave my goatee to get a good secure fit. If you're looking to get more guys in to take lessons, keep it in mind.

I've always been partial to drippy looking focals myself, in regards to what I *like* to make. But for what sells, reactive colors seem to make the ladies happy.
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Old 2010-01-08, 10:42am
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And then there is marbles........ Why is nobody really mentioning them......

Dale
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Old 2010-01-08, 10:52am
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Marbles! How could we forget to mention them specifically? I guess that I lumped them in with sculptural stuff without thinking about it. I love making old fashioned style opaques and the occasional 'marbleweight' with murrini included. Coral reef marbles are my favorite of that style.

I also use a lot of enamels as backgrounds for floral and butterfly murrini beads. Lots of cool color and texture possibilities there.

Robert
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Old 2010-01-08, 7:13pm
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My wife, Mary bought me a sampler pack of boro rods about 6 months ago... I haven't touched them yet. Any opinions on soft vs. boro you guys?

Jack
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Old 2010-01-08, 7:22pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J&M View Post
My wife, Mary bought me a sampler pack of boro rods about 6 months ago... I haven't touched them yet. Any opinions on soft vs. boro you guys?

Jack
Hehehe, did you see the user title under my name? Guess what I'll pick?
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Old 2010-01-08, 7:29pm
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33COE >> The glass of strong hearts (regardless if it's used by a man or woman)
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Old 2010-01-08, 7:52pm
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From everything that I've read, once you try boro... you'll never go back to soft glass. True?

Jack
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Old 2010-01-08, 8:16pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J&M View Post
From everything that I've read, once you try boro... you'll never go back to soft glass. True?

Jack
so far... very true!

started making soft glass beads on a hothead, but once the oxygen came into play, the soft glass went away... i only use a mandrel to do pinwheels on marbles (sometimes)
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Old 2010-01-08, 11:19pm
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nah glass is glass i went from boro to learning soft glass, it's so nice to have glass that melts. Also I learned so much about boro by working soft glass. I just wish i had more time to work the soft glass. I only have a couple hundred lbs of it, so when i get the chance...............
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Old 2010-01-08, 11:55pm
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Quote:
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From everything that I've read, once you try boro... you'll never go back to soft glass. True?

Jack
For me...sort of. I haven't touched my soft glass rods in a long time, partly because I don't want to run the kiln at a different temp. While I could try to catch it on the downside of a cycle, it's easier to just run a separate session, but that means cleaning up all the boro on the bench right now so they don't mingle and that's an ugly job.

But, I still play with soft glass for fusing and casting.
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Old 2010-01-09, 3:23am
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It's really strange. I used to think that I preferred boro because of the colors, but then all of the highly silvered soft glass stared making it's way in and proved that wasn't the reason. I think the real reason is that I love blowing glass and doing that with soft glass is just too slow without having a hotshop to work with....now if I had a hotshop...hehehe....you'd rarely see me on a torch.
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Old 2010-01-09, 5:50am
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My wife has always made jewelry and I did mostly woodwork, Intarsia and Scroll saw stuff ( hence the nickname). We were in Hobby Lobby one afternoon and spotted the Fireworks bead starter kit, I have always been a fire bug, so we got it and now i make the beads for her and her freinds work. I have become a glass addict in a short period of time. When I told my other men friends ( mostly Harley riders) I was making beads they kinda had that what the heck look on thier faces. Untill one by one they saw me work, all of them were amazed and I even let a couple sit down at the torch. Its not a joke anymore and men in my family that never wore jewelry, are now. When ever we have company the day always ends out in the shop by the torch. I think a whole lot of men do not know this craft/hobby/proffesion exsists when they think glass they think blown glass or beer bottles lol I make both beads for women and men, round floral or implosion for ladies, tube and tribal, black base with blues and white and silver for men, mounted on simple black leather cord. Classes I would be intrested in would lean more towards off mandrel sculpture. Want to get a man intrested just show him fire the bigger it is the more intrest youll get. We deal with a lot of musicians and I made some long thin multicolored tube beads and sewed thim onto my black leather guitar strap in horizontal rows of about 15 beads. Every one wants one. Glass and leather or glass and copper seem to appeal to men more than the shiney stuff . Right now Im trying to perfect a black bead wrapped with silver glass in the form of barbed-wire for men (P.O.W. bead). Also anything Steampunk style is a hit around here, No bumps on beads. Hope this helped
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  #27  
Old 2010-01-09, 8:41am
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I became ensnared in glass working by way of my wife’s curiosity about glass blowing and glass bead making. Several years ago, we signed up for a bead making class at a local glass studio. I had never before considered trying glass, certainly not glass beads, but I agreed to go along (to keep Lisa company). I wasn’t an instant convert, but it was pretty neat stuff, albeit one of the more difficult things I had tried. Being an engineer, I was primarily interested in the how-to-work-with-the-stuff aspects of the class rather than making pretty beads for jewelry.

Having made bead jewelry for a number of years, Lisa toyed with the idea of making her own beads to incorporate in her designs, and over time we started to investigate the possibility of setting up a studio at home.

In Fall of 2008, we took another bead making class with Linda McCollumn at The Studio at the Corning Museum, in part to see if we were still attracted to torch work, and in part to prepare us for Caitlin Hyde’s weeklong Bead Intensive class at Corning in February 2009. Between the two classes, I decided I really liked working with glass and became a convert. We took several more classes at Corning (which is now one of my favorite places on earth), including flame working and more bead making.

Beginning late last spring, we prepared a studio space, arranged for 5 psi natural gas service, ordered our equipment, and by the end of June, we were up and running. We have since spent a lot of time at our torches (yes, we ended up getting two of everything), and I have grown to love working with glass.

I still tend to make larger beads than Lisa does. Honestly, although I draw and paint and can identify component colors and mix colors to match, my creative use-of-color sense is not very good, but Lisa helps me make better choices. I stick with safe combinations when I work on my own. I'm still fascinated by the technical aspects of working with glass, and have a moth-to-the-flame addiction to techniques that are way too hard.

Along the way, we’ve taken some classes in glass blowing, which I completely love. We can’t afford a hot shop, though.

I have since branched out into doing some off-mandrel work (marbles, ornaments/suncatchers, and pendants) and really enjoy it. I've also tried some boro. I still make beads. I have even sold some of my work at shows!

In November, we took a “Next Steps in Bead Making” with Becky Congdon and a “Fancy Icicles” class with Caitlin, both of which were amazing. We’re taking a whole slate of classes at Corning (TG we live only 100 miles from there) this Spring, including a weeklong with Heather Trimlett and a bunch of weekend classes in fusing.
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Rockin' 2 Nortel Red Maxes with Mega Minor topfires on natural gas & 6 EX-15s with my glass accomplice Lisa F-R
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  #28  
Old 2010-01-09, 9:54am
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glassbead glassbead is offline
Isinglass Design
 
Join Date: Jul 26, 2007
Location: Arkansas
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Man, I LOVE all this feedback.

Marbles, yes, the thought came and went out of mind too fast for me to remember to mention it here!

And good point about the enamels, Menty. I would never have thought about the beard issue. As far as reactive colors, I use very few, except raku. Something else to learn!

Wonker- I really want to learn to make little bowls and glasses. Do I have to use boro for that, or is 96 a possibility?

Woody- great info. And finding things other than women's jewelry to use beads on is really a goal of mine to. I love tubular beads. Saw a picture of one, and I was instantly hooked. I definitely need ideas on how to use those, so I can have a good reason to make more.
And demoing- yes, that will hook just about anyone!

Phil, you are lucky to be in Rochester- well, maybe not right this minute- Ha! I suppose you'll be at the Gathering this year. I have a daughter in Ithaca, so I'm hoping to make it. And I think color play is something lots of folks could use some help with. I've taken to reading books on color theory and using a color wheel when I'm stuck.
Thanks to all of you!
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Laurie
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Old 2010-01-09, 10:06am
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By the way, I'm loving looking at your shops! Some amazing work there.
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Old 2010-01-10, 5:13am
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woodywood143 woodywood143 is offline
Jamaican Me Crazy
 
Join Date: Oct 28, 2009
Location: burke county Georgia
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heres a few suggestions for man stuff. If anyone could get a Harley Davidson logo onto or into a bead I would venture to say those would sell very well directly to your local Harley shop. The valve stem cover on car tires. Guitar tuning knobs. Zipper pulls for leather jackets. Bic lighter sleeves for smokers, gotta think outa the box working glass for men and stay with dark colored base beads. Im constantly exsperamenting with what metal everyday objects I can get glass to stick too. I have a friend who makes knives I attemped to make a glass handle for one he had made, but the project was more than my HH could handle. another all around idea is artist paint brush handels made from glass. Try wrapping glass around the handle of a stainless steel mixing whisk comes out way cool Good luck.

Pete
aka worlds wursk speller

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