Recently I have been making some pretty rose murrini intended for encasement - they can be a bit tricky to handle so I thought a little tutorial would be a great idea.
First an apology - there are some shockingly poor quality photos, with my low tech camera, which is wearing Diddys taken under bare bulb artificial lighting of my studio. Hopefully as step by step images, they will be enough to illustrate the basic techniques that I use for this kind of bead making.
Firstly a quick snap of the pre-prepared glasswork that I will be using - nipped chips of cobalt rose murrini, some ribbon twistie, vine twistie and a bit of white latticino. I will also be using a Graphite bead roller but this method works equally well for gravity shaped beads.
Step one - Add a few wraps of glass to your mandrel
Step two - marver the glass to fit your press or bead roller. If you are making a gravity shaped bead then marver until you are satisfied with the tube shape.
Step three - add vine twistie (or frit, or enamel, or silver foil) to your tube
This is what my base bead looks like with twistie applied - I like to wrap the twistie on from underneath the tube, turning the mandrel towards me as I wrap. This makes the twistie pattern less distorted.
Step four - melt in your base decoration and marver in to a smooth tube shape again.
Step five - recheck the length of your tube against the press/roller that you are using. I like to start on the smallest size in a graduated bead shaping tool so that if my base gets worked so that it is too long I can move up to the next size. For gravity shaped bead this is not important but do pay attention to your bead ends as the neater you keep them at this stage, the neater the end result will be.
Step six - spot heat your tube where you would like to place your murrini. Pick up the murrini with tweezers and press it firmly to your base tube. If it does not stick then your base need was not hot enough. Reheat it and try again. If the murrini are smaller than 5-6mm I find that pre-warming them on a torch top marver is not necessary. Less is more, so depending on the size of your bead, two or three murrini will be plenty.
Step seven - do not put your murrini in the flame once they are firmly attached to your base. Heat some clear or light transparent glass and place dots on top of each murrini. This will stop the pattern from closing up when you introduce the murrini back in to the flame. It is a good idea to flash your bead through the top of the flame next to stop it from getting too cool and cracking.
Step eight - heat the covering dots of glass and gently flatten them. I turn the flame down low to do this.
Step nine - run some latticino in the gaps between the murrini. Again I do this in a very low flame. No need to melt the latticino flat but a good idea to turn up your torch and flash the bead through the top of the flame again at this point.
Step ten - From this point on you will not be putting your base bead back in the flame. Work close to and just behind the flame to keep your base bead warm. Add generous blobs of your transparent glass to your base bead. Make sure that you completely cover all of your raised decoration. I find that if the end of the encasing rod is really hot and runny before I dab less air bubbles will be created.
Step eleven - once your raised decoration is all covered add more blobs of clear so that your bead has a roughly even coverage.
Step twelve - melt in down your blobby encasement using a moderate flame. Too hot and your glass will start to run smudging all of your raised encased elements. It helps to "pat down" some of the larger blobs with a marver to get your bead roughly into shape.
Step thirteen - gently press your bead into the press or bead roller to get it roughly in shape. If you have added too much clear then move on up to the next size. If you are gravity shaping this step is not needed.
Step fourteen - add small dabs of your encasing colour where needed to fill in any dents and smooth out the shape of your bead. From this point on I stop using a bead roller and use gravity shaping to finish the bead.
Step fifteen (optional) - add further twistie decoration to the outside surface of your bead.
Step sixteen - melt down any surface decoration and finish gravity shaping your bead
Step Seventeen - heat one side of your bead at a time and tip your mandrel to let gravity create nice dimples at your bead holes.
Step Eighteen - Admire your handiwork. Flash your bead through the flame thoroughly to warm before popping it in to the kiln.
You can find my glassy offerings on Etsy at Kitzbitz and pre-prepared glasswork in my U.K. Art Glass Shop
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