Category Archives: Flameworking

Revisiting Old Designs

Once again I was looking at some of my designs that I don’t make anymore. One is a beautiful bead called Purple Majesty.

Just as with a cooking recipe, sometimes changing one ingredient gives a totally different result. This time, the background is more pink than purple – and the funny thing is that the background color was the one that was the same.


Studio Mascot – Glass Spider

I wasn’t ready to run the kiln yet, but had some time to melt glass.  I got tired of pulling stringers, so I made this little green spider out of glass.  (If this paragraph is gibberish – read below!) The span of the legs is about 2 inches, so it is a pretty big spider.  I decided that I needed a mascot in my studio, so he will now supervise my work.

Studio Mascot - Glass Spider

A kiln is a device used to soak glass at a certain temperature and to cool glass slowly.  I helps to prevent stresses from building in the glass which in turn should make the glass stronger.  I dislike turning it on and then going leaving it while I have to go run errands for hours.

Stringers are threads of glass used to decorate beads or other glass objects.  They are made by heating a glob (gather) of glass and then pulling it into various thickness.  I have about a month’s worth of stringers all ready.

I discovered that the little fellow is pretty durable.  I grabbed one of the legs while it was still hot and my reflex was to drop it.  It bounced on my workbench, but did not break.  Had it broken – I would have been sad.

Rosemarie Hanus usually makes beads, not spiders in her home studio in Bath Township, Ohio, USA. View some of here work as Spawn of Flame (and here).

Introducing Flower – a New Glass Lampork Bead

I have had this technique for a new glass lampwork bead bouncing around in my head for quite a while.  About a month ago, I was working on my production beads and the bead went bad.  I don’t like to just dump a bead in the water bath**, so I decided to give my idea a try.  It wasn’t too bad, so I made a couple more.

Here is how they are turning out.  I did put a silver core into this one after I took the photo, but I sent it off for a bead exchange right away – so you get to see the “naked” bead.

Glass Lampwork Flower Bead

I need a name with a little more punch!  Any suggestions?

** when a molten glass bead is put into the water bath, some spectacular things happen.  The bead cracks, violently usually.  Cool cracking sounds happen right away and keep going for minutes thereafter.  I usually feel bad for the bead though, and sometimes my greatest accidental techniques are discovered if I save a “lost” bead.

Rosemarie Hanus makes Flower Beads and many others in her home studio.  See these beads at EtsyArt Fire, or her Spawn of Flame website.

Studio Make Over

I got a couple of new pieces of furniture for my glass studio.  We went to HGR Industrial Surplus – it was a huge warehouse of all sorts of, well, industrial stuff.

Here is the heavy duty steel cabinet that is the new home for the kiln.  I am going to paint it soon, but for now it’s a nice rust and gray.

New Kiln Cabinet

New Kiln Cabinet

Here is my revamped desk.  It was sagging in the middle and we have reinforced it now so that it is almost flat.

Torching Desk

Torching Desk

And here is a huge, heavy duty cabinet that will soon hold my glass; it even has some nice dividers in the bottom that will help store the flat glass that I use.  I have the oxygen concentrator on top of it.

The Cabinet

The Cabinet

Finding Your Voice Workshop – Cable Bead

I am now starting a new round of Sylvie Lansdowne’s Facebook workshop; we are calling it “People Who Won’t Leave”!  This is actually the second week of this round; it will take me a little while to get the nerve to show you my first week’s bead – it was less than aesthetically pleasing.

Our assignment was to use something from our closet to inspire us.  I do tend to wear a lot of solids and textured clothing, so at first I was a little stumped.  Then I decided to use a knitted cable sweater as my inspiration, and to draw the cables with different colors.

Knitted Cable Fabric Swatch

Knitted Cable Fabric Swatch

This is a beautiful stitch and it really makes me want to get my knitting machine(s) out again!  I wanted to make the bead very textured, and to emphasize where the cables “crossed over”.   There were a few technical challenges that I had to think through before making the bead, but I got through that and made my first bead:

Cable Bead - First One!

Cable Bead - First One!

For “extra credit”, we were allowed to make more beads using different color schemes.  Once I had made the first bead, I thought of some techniques that I could do to make the cables more uniform; I tried that on a few more beads.

Yellow Cable Bead

Yellow Cable Bead

I like these and plan on expanding this concept. I even have some more ideas on how to streamline the process – right now, ot takes me a long time to make one!

Rosemarie Hanus makes beads in her home studio. Almost all of them use Silvered Ivory Stringer – Look at these beads at EtsyArt Fire, or her Spawn of Flame website.

Silvered Ivory Stringer Revealed – Part 4 – Heat and Pull

I promise – I will finish this  Silvered Ivory Stringer Revealed tutorial in this post.  (In case you missed it, part 1 is here, part 2 is here, and part 3 is here.)

Now, I heat the plug.  I heat from the bottom – my rationale is this: the silver is going to burn off, and it might as well fume the ivory while that is happening.  I really have no idea if this makes a difference, but that is what I do.


Heating the Plug

When I heat the plug, I always try and aim toward the center of the plug.  It is hard to explain and the pictures don’t show it very well…  But when I’m heating the right side of the plug, my right hand is closer to me, and when I’m heating the left side, my left hand is closer to me.  The motion is sort of like steering a bicycle.  When the glass starts to melt, my self talk changes the name of the plug to a gather; I’m sure that this makes all of the difference [said with a touch of sarcasm].


More Heat - Let's Call it a Gather Now!

When the gather is thoroughly heated, I bring it out of the flame, and wait.  How long?  Until it is ready.  I know when it is ready, because I have made lots of them, and I just know.  It is mushy and soft, but not runny – it also looks different; I have heard it described as “forming a skin”.

I often stand up at this point.  If this gather drops, I do NOT want it on my lap.


Gather Out of the Heat - Wait!!!

Then I pull, just a little, and wait.  It will begin to droop on its own.   If I didn’t wait long enough in the last step and it starts to droop too fast, I blow on the punty ends.  CAREFULLY!  Burned lips are bad. Letting the center droop before pulling keeps the ends from being real thick and being like “dog bones”.


Pull the Gather Just a Little - Wait!

Once it stops drooping on its own, I start to pull harder and faster.  The slower the pull at this point, the thicker the final stringer will be.


Pull a Little Faster

Finally, I pull firmly on the finished stringer.  I wait 10 or 15 seconds at the very least to make sure that the stringer stays straight.  See the nice lines on this twisty?  Perfect!  I finish by flame cutting it in the center and then trimming the stringer from the punties with my tile cutters.


Silvered Ivory Stringer

All material contained within this Tutorial is protected by Copyright, “Spawn of Flame” Rosemarie Hanus, 2009; all rights reserved.

Rosemarie Hanus makes beads in her home studio. Almost all of them use Silvered Ivory Stringer – Look at these beads at EtsyArt Fire, or her Spawn of Flame website.

Silvered Ivory Stringer Revealed – Part 3 – Getting It On

Now, the next step in this Silvered Ivory Stringer Revealed tutorial is to apply the silver to the ivory.  (In case you missed it, part 1 is here and part 2 is here.)

I gently heat the plug, concentrating the heat near the outside.   I try to keep the inside from getting warm or the plug will start to stretch out.  This is not a good thing, because if it gets too long, the foil will not reach the end of the stringer.  So, if it does get too hot, just tidy it up with the mashers again until it cools.

Ok, so now I finally have the outside of the plug hot, and the inside just right.  Tip – I keep the mashers in my “not rolling” hand in preparation for the next steop.  I place the plug onto my marver next to the foil.  Doing it this way helps to assure the the end of the foil is attached.


Position Plug on Marver Next to Glass

Then I start rolling the plug toward the foil, onto the foil, and continuing to roll until all of the foil is on the plug.  The photos are taken by my lovely assistant, Katie, so they are from the perspective of an observer.  My position is actually so that the direction of the rolling action is away from me.  I would guess that this whole rolling sequence takes about 3 or 4 seconds.  I would like to point out also that the foil does not go all of the way around the plug – I consider this to be a good thing, I believe that it introduces more variety into the final bead.


Roll the Plug onto the Fine Silver

Now I have the foil onto the plug and I use my mashers to secure the foil onto the plug.  I want to work fast, so remember at no point in this process have I put the mashers down.  They are also still warm from the plug making operation.  Mash firmly, but not so much that the plug gets squished out.


Use Mashers to Set the Fine Silver on the Plug

As the plug cools, I use more pressure and also begin to roll the plug a little in the mashers.  Then I use the edge of the mashers to finish burnishing the foil onto the plug.  I like that foil firmly attached.


Burnish the Silver with Masher Edge


Silvered Ivory Plug Puntied with 2 Clear Rods

Now, I punty the second clear rod to the end of the plug.  Just heat the end of the plug and the clear rod and push them together.

Next… the conclusion: Heat and Pull.

All material contained within this Tutorial is protected by Copyright, “Spawn of Flame” Rosemarie Hanus, 2009; all rights reserved.

Rosemarie Hanus makes beads in her home studio. Almost all of them use Silvered Ivory Stringer – Look at these beads at EtsyArt Fire, or her Spawn of Flame website.

Silvered Ivory Stringer Revealed – Part 2 – Plugging Along

Continuing the tutorial, here is another of my “secrets”.  I use a clear core in my stringers.  It gives me a little more control when applying the stringer (clear is more stiff than the ivory) and I think that it makes the ivory bubble more when finishing the bead.  Besides, clears are notorious for having bad batches and it is a good way to use it up!

I should mention that if you are not used to pulling a large gather of glass that you should definitely wear a leather apron at the very least to protect yourself.  I also will mention that it is your responsibility to take other normal studio safety precautions, including adequate ventilation.  This process involves burning fine silver.

Notice that I use a thicker rod of clear – approx 6 mm.  Sometimes I use smaller, but I like this size.  Starting about3/4 inch (1.5 cm) from the end of the clear,  I start wrapping the ivory around.  The wrap thickness itself is pretty thick.


Wrap Ivory Glass onto Clear

This is what it looks like immediately after finishing the ivory wrap.


Finished Ivory Wrap

Now I want to smooth the bumps.  I heat the ivory wrap and use my mashers to smooth it out into an even plug (my term).  I use a very light touch here, because I don’t want the plug to get longer and thinner; I want it to stay nice and thick.  I usually heat and mash several times.  I also rotate the clear rod around so that the plug gets pretty smooth.  Using the mashers instead of rolling it on a marver assures that both ends of the plug are the same size and it keeps the glass up near where I can see it better.


Ivory Glass "Plug"

I use the mashers to flatten the end of the plug too.  It’s not necessary, but I like to keep it tidy (the glass – not my workbench, as you can plainly see).  One tip here: compare the length of the ivory plug to the width of the silver strip.  They should be close, with the foil being maybe just a little wider.


Tidying the Ivory Plug

Next up – “Getting it On!”… the silver of course!

All material contained within this Tutorial is protected by Copyright, “Spawn of Flame” Rosemarie Hanus, 2009; all rights reserved.

Rosemarie Hanus makes beads in her home studio. Almost all of them use Silvered Ivory Stringer – Look at these beads at EtsyArt Fire, or her Spawn of Flame website.

Silvered Ivory Stringer Revealed (A Tutorial) – Part 1

This is a tutorial, not an expose!  To say that I use a lot of Silvered Ivory Stringer (SIS) is a huge understatement, and I thought that I would show how I make my version of the stringer.  It would give non lampworkers a look at one of our techniques, and it would give away my trade secrets to allow me to share with my fellow lampworkers.

What is SIS?  I’m quoting Lori Greenberg as explained at Glass Arts on Craft Gossip:

It’s ivory glass, rolled in fine silver foil and then pulled into long glass strings (stringer). These stringer are used as an artist would use a pencil or paintbrush…to melt on fine designs.  The reaction of the silver and ivory form a webbing and curdling effect that is both organic and mesmerizing.

Hidden Glade Bead using Silvered Ivory Stringer

Hidden Glade - Bead using Silvered Ivory Stringer

Items used:

  • Ivory Glass ( my go-to glass is Effetre Dark Ivory) – 1 rod
  • Clear Glass (Vetrofond clear) – 2 rods
  • Fine Silver Foil (this is important – Foil, not Leaf)
  • Sharp Knife (such as Exacto brand)
  • Graphite Marver
  • Water
  • Mashers
  • Torch & flame!

The short version:

  • Prepare the foil
  • Make an ivory plug
  • Apply the silver leaf to the ivory
  • Burnish the silver
  • Heat
  • Pull

These are the same steps that many lampworkers would use (I would say all lampworkers, but I’m an engineer too, so I just can’t bring myself to make that strong of a statement…), however, I do some things in my own specific way, so that I have a repeatable and reliable result.

This tutorial also quite long, so I’m splitting it into several posts.  For a teaser, here is how I prepare the silver foil.

First of all, notice that I use fine silver foil.  It seems to give a better result, and it is easier to work with than fine silver leaf.  I get one piece of foil and place it in the front of the foil booklet.  I then cut it into 8 mostly equal pieces with my razor knife.  I slice it in half, then I slice one side into halves and finally each of those quarters in half. I hold the foil with my other hand so that it does not bunch up.   I just estimate where the cuts should be – that is close enough.  With practice, it is easy to tell how much pressure to use to make a nice cut.


Silver Foil cut by Razor Knife

Next, I place a tiny amount of water onto my marver, with the water concentrated on the side away from me.  The water holds the foil down so that it does not blow away or fold onto itself.


Graphite Marver with Drop of Water

Finally, I put one piece of the foil onto the marver.  I try to make sure that the edge of the foil closest to me is not on the water;  I want that edge loose so that it will stick to the glass easier.  If the edge is on the water, as it is in the photo, it just makes it a little harder to pick up the foil.  Even more important, there needs to some room on the marver on the edge closest to me.


Graphite Marver with Fine Silver Foil

So now the foil is prepared.  Next up? Plugging Along! (Making the ivory plug.)

All material contained within this Tutorial is protected by Copyright, “Spawn of Flame” Rosemarie Hanus, 2009; all rights reserved.

Rosemarie Hanus makes beads in her home studio. Almost all of them use Silvered Ivory Stringer – Look at these beads at EtsyArt Fire, or her Spawn of Flame website.

Finding Your Voice Workshop – Week 7 – From Shapes

I needed a helper this week for my workshop (Finding Your Voice –Sylvie Lansdowne on Facebook) assignment, so I enlisted my daughter.  My helper had the task to make 5 shapes from Play-Doh; I had to choose 2 of these shapes and combine them into one bead.

She had a great time playing with the Play-Doh, and here are her shapes:

Random Inspirational Play-Doh Shapes

Random Inspirational Play-Doh Shapes

I used the purple pointy one and the green shape to the right.  Here is the bead:

Shapely Bead

Shapely Bead

Interested?  Read more in this series about the Finding Your Voice Workshop.

Rosemarie Hanus makes beads in her home studio. Look at some more of these beads at EtsyArt Fire, or my Spawn of Flame website.