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