Friday, 4 November 2011

Slumping cider bottles and sheep!

I wrote my first on line glass bead making tutorial this morning and posted it on the fabulous forum that is Craft Pimp.  Its a simple sheep bead.  I called it Ba Ba White Sheep, but it can be any coloured sheep you want. 

Thought I would share...

Right. I have never done a tutorial before, so if it doesn't make sense, let me know. I don't have any pictures of my sheep beads, my lappy crashed this year and all that 'going to back up the pics' thing, never happened, and I haven't made any more, I will make some next time I turn on the torch and then post a pic, but until goes...

I am assuming that everyone has a little basic knowledge.

Tools needed.

Torch, marver (I only use a marble mould as my marver, its a bit chunky but does the job) torch marver - or steady hand with hand held one, mashers.

Glass. This is for a white sheep, but you can do any colour sheepy wool.

White, black, transparent clear (or other very light transparent, I like to use very pale blue) red/coral.


Pull a thick and thin stringer of white, and a thick and thin (or just thick if you can make tiny dots with the thicker stringer) stringer of black.
Pull a thin(ner) stringer of red/coral - this is for the nose.
Pull a thin stringer of transparent glass. (I will refer to this as clear in the tut ;) but you can use any light colour transparent)

Wind a nice sized bead onto a prepared mandrel. I tend to wind about 1cm across, but you can go bigger, this is the body of the sheep, so whatever width you make will be more or less the finished width of the bead.

Make sure the bead is nice and fat, don't worry too much about the ends being puckered, they will round out in the next stage.

Holding one side of the bead towards the heat, allow the bead to soften and droop. Be careful, white softens fast and drips really quickly. I like to spot heat, remove from the flame, droop a bit, repeat until I have a nice droop.

Your bead should be a small tear drop shape.

Remember to not over droop and keep the glass a good 2mm (ish) either side of the mandrel.

Using the mashers, gently squish the bead so that its still slightly rounded on the the top and flat(ish) on the sides. Make sure you don't over mash and forget to leave enough glass either side of the mandrel, or the bead will just crack during annealing.

You now have the body of the sheep. Easy huh? ;D

Now for his cheeky face.

Using the thin black stringer place two small dots about one third of the way down the body, this is the eyes. Melt flat.

Using the thin white stringer put two dots on top of the black. Melt flat.

Put two dots of clear on top of the white and melt, BUT DON'T MELT COMPLETELY FLAT. Put two tiny dots of black on top of the clear and melt flat. You might find it a bit easier to not melt the clear until you melt the iris' flat, that way they will remain slightly domed.

At this point you can add a dot for the nose using the thin stringer of red/coral. You can do this last if you wish, as it needs to be left raised.

Using the thick stringer of white, dob nice sized dots all over the sheep, you can butt them close together or leave a small gap. I prefer to butt them close together it makes the wool look more real. Remember to keep flashing the bead in and out of the flame to keep it warm and stop any dots from popping off.

Turn up the flame and give sheepy a nice warm bath in the flame. The white wool dots should be raised but secure. I slightly melt mine I think it gives a softer finish, but you can experiment, melt more or leave more raised, its up to you, its your flock ;)

Turn the flame back down, and using the thick black stringer, place two good sized dots at the bottom of the sheep body. Heat each one separately and push down onto the torch marver (or handheld one) until its flat. Repeat with the other foot. I always, with all my creatures, then spend a little bit of time making sure that they are even, so that when cooked and cleaned the little guy will stand up on his own.

Finally, add two black dots to the top of the sheep, to the side (I really do need a pic here), give each one a good heat, DON'T MELT, and using the pick, indent for the ear shape.

On the back of sheepy, add a little dot of black, and press flat, this is his tail. You can leave out the tail if you wish.

Turn up the flame, give sheepy a good bath, you might need a touch up of wool if its got flat in places, add the nose if you already haven't and pop into the kiln. Serve with mint sauce ;D

Method two.

Its the same process as method one, except for the drooping bit. Instead of drooping the bead, make a nice sized doughnut shaped white bead, add another dot of white to one side, this will be the head, add eyes and nose and ears and feet and wool dots the same, BUT, turn the bead so that the mandrel is pointing down and give sheepy four black dots for his legs from the corners (you will have to use your imagination here, circles don't really have corners ;) )

Anneal and serve ;D

Let me know if this makes sense..please...and don't forget to show your pics, I make lots of creatures if anyone wants more tutorials, I am able to share. I love to make the pendant ones, so shout up if you are interested....and I will get some pics too ;)

As well as entering into the world of writting tutorials, small steps and all that, I have been totally hooked on slumping and fusing...slumping just about any bottle I can get my hot and sweaty little hands on.  Here is two I have done this week.  The first one shows a bottle slumped over a bowl mould, it works rather well as a bowl, but I think the design needs tweaking...
This one is one of a collection of flat ones I am collecting!

As well as bottles I have been fusing and designing some cabochons.  I have ordered some bails and they will soon be available in my Ebay shop and Etsy shop, they will be perfect for those little Christmas gifts!

Hopefully this weekend I will finally get around to experimenting with bowls.

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