Sunday, July 6, 2008

New Technique: Tornado Beads

Over the weekend I tried a new technique--the tornado bead. There's an excellent tutorial on them by Margaret Zinser, and I have wanted to try them! A fellow team member, Elysium Beads, has a beautiful tornado bead example on ETSY, reproduced here as the first picture, and her bead gave me the necessary boost.

Meanwhile, as I wrote earlier, I was frit-testing one of my sister's unique frit blends. So I decided to use it as the base of my first tornado bead. It turned out very well indeed --- except that I was so caught up in the process of making the bead and keeping the base cool that I forgot the cardinal rule of lampworking larger pieces: insurance heat. Yep, the bead cracked right along the mandrel line. In the picture you see I've glued it.

But I really like that frit! I don't know if it has a problem with encasing, because the two beads I have made with it and encased have both cracked. Every other tornado bead I made in that session cracked, though, so I don't think there's enough evidence that the frit is at fault. I made a tornado bead yesterday that I heated more thoroughly, and that was fine. So I will try again, making some round encased beads and a new tornado bead; if THOSE crack, then it's the frit, alas. Encasing brings out such lovely colors in it, though.