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

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  #1  
Old 2007-10-02, 12:11pm
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Question Presses...Totally frustrated...

I'm totally frustrated with trying to use my presses...I'm ready to throw them away or "give" them away...I've tried just devoting a whole torching session to "getting the hang of it" and have waisted alot of glass...Then I tried it at the beginning or end of a session after being on a roll and still can't "get it"...

What is my problem...Either the bead release breaks off, the bead starts off too small and ends up too big...I can't win...Oh, I have a graduated button press and a dual crunch press from Cattwalk...

Please send some help my way or lead me to a good tutorial...I think I've read them all...I really really really want to be able to make nice, uniform, button or pressed beads...Uggg...
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  #2  
Old 2007-10-02, 12:17pm
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Presses take time and lots of practice to get the hang of.

Best suggestion is to make a "template" bead out of playdoh or something similar. Use that as your guide for how big to make the initial bead and before long you'll be making uniform sized beads that will always come out well pressed.

If your bead release is breaking off you've either coated your mandrel too much or you're pressing too hard

Unfortunately it's probably going to take you more than one session to get the hang of the presses but keep at it. It's worth it

-Yee
(who is a total press ho)
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  #3  
Old 2007-10-02, 12:24pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarenie View Post
.Either the bead release breaks off, the bead starts off too small and ends up too big...I can't win...Oh, I have a graduated button press and a dual crunch press from Cattwalk...

The bead release breaks off on me if I press while the bead has gotten too cool.

When you're first learning a press it does take awhile to get the hang of the perfect amount of glass. It's best to start out with a little less glass because you can always add a bit more to it to fill up the cavity.

I find that the straight sided presses are the hardest to use. The lentil, kalera and nugget from Zoozii seem to be the most forgiving.
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  #4  
Old 2007-10-02, 12:28pm
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Thanks Yee...
I've been trying these on and off for a long time...I've tried the playdoh thing too...
Yes...I will just keep at it and keep at it...I just get so frustrated...If I could just watch someone a few times I could probably get the hang of them...I'm a visual person...
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  #5  
Old 2007-10-02, 12:39pm
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If you're trying to get the hang of your presses -- plural -- in one session, you may be asking too much. One size does not fit all. Pick one, and get used to working with that one, then move on to another one. If you keep switching back and forth, your eye won't get used to judging the right amount of glass and the right shape for a particular press.

I made my "template" beads out of polymer clay so I could bake them and they'd keep their shape. I have them on my work table marked with the size of the press they're for, so I can pick them up and hold them next to my mandrel to see if I have the right amount of glass. Sit down with your presses and a glob of polymer and play with the presses until you get a good press. Once you do, you know you have the right quantity. Then keep shaping that ball of clay around a hunk of mandrel until you can press it and have it come out perfectly pressed. Now -- remember what it looked like before you pressed it, re-form it back to that shape, and bake it so it stays that way forever. Presto -- template!

My bead release cracks a lot of the time. When you're working, try to be super-careful to keep your flame away from the mandrel, so you're not heating and cooling the bead release. Heating the bead release will cause cracking.

Try making sure that the core of your bead is good and hot before you press. Yee's comment that "you're pressing too hard" is a new idea to me, but it got me to thinking. If you're pressing hard, it's because you're meeting resistance, which means that at least some of your glass is stiff, that is, cold (probably). The surface of your glass might be nice and soft, but maybe the inside isn't chewy (the reverse Tootsie Pop effect). I make big beads, so by the time I get around to squashing time, the center has cooled off. Even though I try to let the heat penetrate to the center, maybe I'm not doing it enough, so that's why I'm breaking bead release. Hmmm. I'll give a little more time to letting my heat penetrate, and see if it saves my bead release.

On the other hand, maybe you just don't know your own strength.
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  #6  
Old 2007-10-02, 12:39pm
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Yes...it can be frustrating...for me...most days all I make are pressed beads so you think I'd be able to do it with my eyes closed but sometimes that's just how it goes. You have on days and off days. I've made so many pressed beads now that I can well gauge how the bead is going to turn out but I still refer back to my original playdoh samples for sizing.

It took me a lot of time before I was getting consistent results especially since I wasn't making plain beads but ones with added design on top of the core which can totally throw off your base bead sizing.

I think in the end it comes down to muscle memory...the more you do it the more familiar it becomes and pretty soon you don't even think about how much glass you're winding on. Keep at it. You'll get the hang of it

/Yee
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  #7  
Old 2007-10-02, 12:58pm
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Also, to add to everyone's suggestions, FF smooth & tuff is really great for pressed beads. It has never cracked on me when I make a pressed bead and very easy to remove the bead off the mandrel when done.
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  #8  
Old 2007-10-02, 1:30pm
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Originally Posted by villa design View Post
Also, to add to everyone's suggestions, FF smooth & tuff is really great for pressed beads. It has never cracked on me when I make a pressed bead and very easy to remove the bead off the mandrel when done.
That stuff cracked like crazy on me...I hated it.
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  #9  
Old 2007-10-02, 1:34pm
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Originally Posted by AKDesigns View Post
That stuff cracked like crazy on me...I hated it.
Cracks on me on the time too. The regular FF seems to work much better for me.

I'm pretty new to this. I have one press, a cattwalk deep tile. I've had it for months and hated it until a few days ago when it suddenly clicked...I made nothing but nice little tiles last night. Now I love that little press! I have no tips except to keep practicing!
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  #10  
Old 2007-10-02, 1:40pm
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Thanks everyone...I am going to stick to ONE press shape and keep at it...One day it will click...
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  #11  
Old 2007-10-02, 1:44pm
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There is (was?) also a book - something like 'Hot Off the Press' by Lori Greenberg. That might help too. It's important to note that not all of the presses start with the same shaped bead. Initiailly that was what took the longest time to 'click' for me - one I figured out that I had to figure out the shape needed pre-pressing for EACH press...then logic took over.

I still have off days...for sure...but it certainly helps have less of them
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  #12  
Old 2007-10-02, 1:45pm
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If it's too thick, it does crack. I add a bit more water and it's fine.

I remember first trying the lentil press and thinking I'll never get it. Then I switched to the 1/16th mandrels and found them easier to use, especially with the trio presses.
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  #13  
Old 2007-10-02, 1:47pm
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What press are you trying to use? Some are easier then others to get... for me, I had a hard time with lentils cuz of the ends... but I had no problem learning how to use the sleekbead one. But the learning curve's is going to be different for each person so while learning one shape first and practicing's good - if you're totally getting frustrated, try another shape and practice with that one for awhile.
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Old 2007-10-02, 2:24pm
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I've been frustrated too. Don't know if it will help, but this video can't hurt. Thanks for the tip on "pre-pressing." It's so obvious . . . now!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNDgJ2Jn73Q
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Old 2007-10-02, 5:11pm
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Quote:
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If it's too thick, it does crack. I add a bit more water and it's fine.
It was already thin.
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Old 2007-10-02, 5:59pm
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I've had that bead release crack on me all the time too. I thought it was just me... I've thinned it, used it thick, with the same results. Oh, well. Maybe I didn't thin it enough? With the presses, it is practice, practice, practice, and hit a lucky day. It just takes so much practice, and when you think you are never, ever going to get it, you do.
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Old 2007-10-02, 7:01pm
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Hi Eileen,

I'm sorry your so frustrated with using the presses. Like everyone has mentioned it takes practice to get the hang of them when your first starting.

What size mandrel are you using with the Graduated Button? The Graduated Button should only be used with a 1/16 mandrel because of the slim profile.

Another reason your mandrel release can be breaking is you don't have the mandrel parallel when your bringing your top 1/2 of your stamp down to press.

As for estimating the correct amount of Glass or for referencing I suggest use a glass that you dislike the most, no sense in wasting it . First make the initial foot print which should be 1-2 mm smaller then the cavity....anneal this footprint. Next take the same disliked glass and fill the entire cavity even if you have to add a bit more glass or remove a bit with tweezers if necessary....anneal it this way. Last make another bead with the cavity executed perfectly but this time put the bead back in the flame and allow it to go back to the natural state of the base bead....anneal it this way. Now you have 3 annealed pieces that can be put on a ribbon for future referencing. Most Stamps require a football shape, round, or barrel shaped Base Bead. A quick estimator for the volume of glass in the cavity is Play Doh or Polymer Clay.....this is only good as a reference while your session is going on as leaving it in the air over time will result in shrinkage unless you bake it.

Once you get familiar with the press it will become second nature as to estimating and executing the cavity.

What are your results with using the Crunch?

Keep me posted with your progress. My email address is cattwalktools@aol.com
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  #18  
Old 2007-10-02, 9:04pm
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i only have a few, but i LOVE them... i donno why... It's probably because it cost alot of dough!!$$$!!! If only they costed a few dollars, maybe i would hate them, and not have this SHOPPING PROBLEM!!! I dream of presses in pretty shapes! ahhh... alas I have but 3.. yes 3.. sad but true. Have you tried a pillow press? that was my first and it was fairly easy to master (ok i;m no master, but it looked good to me) It was easier i think because a good small barrel was perfect, press RE-PRESS (that was a lightbulb for me, i thought it was forbidden!!! lol) and if needed polish the edge goo that spilled out. (wow that was long) i find that presses take longer to make in some shapes than free forming it, but are more uniformed.....good luck, and if you decide to let go of them, let me know!
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Old 2007-10-03, 5:04am
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You have gotten some great advice. Here is one more thing to remember. Most pressed beads are a result of multiple presses. My beads are pressed a few times before I'm pleased with the shape.

I lay on the footprint and set it in the cavity to make sure it is big enough.
Wrap on more glass and squish it in the cavity again to see if it is enough.
Reround out and add glass if I need it.
Lay the bead in the base again and give a mini squish to ensure even pressing.
Flip and apply the top somewhat gently.
Take it out and look. If I need to fix something I spot heat the area that needs fixing and repress again.
Only after multiple beads of the same shape on a press I have used many times can I ever get down to only one full press to have the perfect bead. And even then it might not happen on the next one.
I think of presses as a shaping tool that requires finesse.
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  #20  
Old 2007-10-05, 12:57pm
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THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO REPLIED...I've been practicing and practicing...Not there yet but I am more confident with my practicing...
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  #21  
Old 2007-10-05, 3:20pm
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You have gotten some great advice. Here is one more thing to remember. Most pressed beads are a result of multiple presses. My beads are pressed a few times before I'm pleased with the shape.

Yup! People who watch me make beads are surprised how many times I press a bead.
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  #22  
Old 2007-10-05, 3:25pm
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Yup! People who watch me make beads are surprised how many times I press a bead.
LOL I thought I was the only one that press the bead few times to get the shape right.
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Old 2007-10-05, 9:25pm
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I make alot of the button beads because the are great sellers for earrings at my shows, so I HAD to learn to make them. This is what I do:


Mark your mandrel with a sharpie almost the length of the press, do a bunch at a time so the sharpie dries. Make a small bead on the left sharpie mark, using the left side of the bead covering the mark, round it up and let it harden. Now make another on the right side, check the size against the press, they should almost touch the sides. Alot of the time, or on those *off* days you're going to be short, so just heat up the bead on the right and roll it in your marver to spread it out, this usually will spread the bead out a bit to fill the space where the sharpie mark is, do it several times if you have to and keep flashing the left bead in the flame. Don't worry to much about the right bead breaking, I've never had one break yet.

Now you have 2 small, hardened,beads the length of the press, fill this gap to the top of the beads, like you were making a tube bead, the only hot, moveable glass is between the 2 end beads. Roll these on your marver until you have a tube, let that hardern out of the flame. You should now have a perfectly centered tube. You now need to build up the bead into a torpedo shape so put a round of glass in the center and on the 2 shoulders, melt them in, your bead should still be centered because you're not remelting the base, let the glass harden a bit and press, now look at the shape and see if it's centered, it should be, if not a some glass to the off side, repress.

I would suggest playing with solid glass and frit, or add some foil under the frit, that way you atleast end up with useable practice beads and won't feel like you wasted alot of glass or time. If your are making frit beads, and after the first press the bead is still smaller on 1 side, heat that side and dip just the rim of the bead in a little more, or use your tweezers to add pieces of frit around the rim, melt in the frit and repress, this will always give you a perfectly centered bead. Once you can make the beads with frit easily, just use the inital shape before you added the frit to decorate your beads with stringers, or whatever, the size should work.

For the squeeze beads, I use my lentil press as a guide to mark my mandrels to get consistent crunch sizes, but I put 2 rounds of glass around the center of the bead instead of 1 like I do for the buttons.

Good Luck, it really does take time, but once you get it down you can make a button bead faster than it took me to post!
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  #24  
Old 2007-10-06, 8:03am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by villa design View Post
Also, to add to everyone's suggestions, FF smooth & tuff is really great for pressed beads. It has never cracked on me when I make a pressed bead and very easy to remove the bead off the mandrel when done.
YES! Also, take the time to look at where your mandrel is. The crunches don't matter, but any of Catt's shaped pressed have a carved channel for the mandrel. If you're not where you're supposed to be, the bead release will break while you're pressing.

Oh, and a double YES on multiple pressing.
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  #25  
Old 2007-10-07, 9:38am
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sorry I didn't read all the answers but...here is a tip I posted a couple of years ago...or seems like it...

Stop thinking of your press as a press and think of it as a shaper...

for lentils...pick up the top and let the hot glass settle into the space...
Lentils are the hardest, it is nice that now they have presses with straight sides at the bead hole for lentils...I believe it was my suggestion...

anyway...I use my lentil press as a marver at times...just the top...

for lentils... get the right size gather and then while hot enough for the glass to move but not soupy.... lay it in the top of the press as you hold hit upside down...

I am sure you will find that lentils will shape nicely if you do that...it allows them to spread gently. Once you have the glass evenly distributed with this method ...the press is a cinch...

This is why presses that make coins or squares etc...are so easy to press...they have straight sides and the hot glass hits the sides and works its way back to fill the space...

With the lentil press if you don't have exactly the right amount of glass...it will be wonky.

After a while of doing this you won't have any more problems...

I usezooziispresses...and no don't pick up the top and hold it over your lap while settling the glass. I was lentil handicapped until I started doing this.

and really if I am going to marver a round bead...why a flat marver...I marver my regular donut beads in the top of the lentil press...you will get very good at knowing exactly how cool you need it...

just my 2.5 cents worth... a nickel isn't worth what it used to
(I haven't made beads in a year....I think I am getting read to start again!)
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  #26  
Old 2007-10-07, 5:30pm
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Don't be afraid to add or subtract glass where you need it. You can just cut it off with scissors if you bulge out the ends. Paula
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