24/10/2012

Tips for using Highlight Mica (Pixie Dust)


Here is a quick tutorial on using highlight mica/pixie dust. This post focuses on a couple of great tips to help you get good coverage of your bead.

Step 1 Make your bead, any shape and style you like best. I like to use highlight mica with pale transparent glass colours best and think simple shapes are most effective. Prepare a generous mound of highlight mica ready on a heat proof dish sited quite close to your torch.
Step 2 Heat your bead until it is glowing but not yet distorting. Getting your bead very hot is important as the Pixie dust will only stuck as a fine layer to the hot surface of the bead, if your bead is too cool then the fine mica powder will not stuck at all. Any extra powder that is picked up as a thicker layer will be washed off during your normal bead cleaning process.
Step 3 Work quickly and roll your bead in plenty of  highlight mica powder. Having the dish close to torch will help you to get good coverage as the bead surface will have less time to cool as you move it over to the powder. Having a deep mound heaped up will help you to get a good coverage of mica near the bead holes.
Step 4 Warm your bead up again gently before garaging, use only the very tip of the flame as highlight mica is easy to scorch and looks really grotty and horrid when you that has happened. Unlike when working with frits or glass powders you really only get one chance to cover the whole surface of your bead with mica as heating the bead to glowing for a second pass will burn the mica already applied.

Tempting though it may be to take a short cut, never ever dip a hot bead into a plastic pot full of mica as melted plastic may give off toxic fumes. If you would prefer to dip your beads in mica rather than roll them through powder on a heat proof surface then you will need to transfer your powder to a heat proof container first.

Please use the same caution when working with mica as you would when working with other fine powders and frits, I recommend wearing a dust mask when handling mica powder.

Jolene x

Frit N Chips lampwork supplies Kitzbitz Art Beads Buzzword Bracelet Beads

4 comments:

  1. someday - I may just be coming back here to look really close at all your tutorials! So sweet of you to share all this info!

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    1. Mwahahahaha I'd love to addict you to lampwork :-D For what is is worth Kris I think you'd be a natural, you have such an eye for detail.

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  2. So what do you do if you want the mica to have heavier coverage than just the first dip allows? Thanks for your help.

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    1. Good question, mica only sticks as a fine layer to the hot tacky surface of the glass. You can imagine it as the hot glass equivalent to rolling a truffle through cocoa powder, once it has stopped being sticky it stops picking up cocoa. Reheating to pick up another layer of mica will not give you the look of heavier coverage, but will burn the original layer of mica. Any mica picked up that did not come into direct contact the hot tacky surface of your bead will just wash off when you clean you beads. The only trick to practice is to try to get a smooth even coverage first time so that your bead does not look patchy. You can heavily etch any beads that you are happy with the coverage on to make them more useable.

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