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For the last few beadmaking sessions the bead shaper from Pegasus that I designed has barely been out of my hand! and my kiln stuffed full of mandrels! I love it!
This shaper is just brilliant to use, and all the more satisfying because I had a hand in designing it.
(for the lampworkers out there, heres the link to buy one you know you want to!)
so heres a few handfuls of beads, first up, animal print designs:
(yes, a charm box nugget did sneak in there too!)
and some brightly coloured ones, because, why not?
and a whole bunch of spotty dotties!
a selection of these will be coming with me to a little craft stall I will be having at the Handmade Arcade at McCoy’s Arcade in Exeter on the 7th July
come along and say hi!
I was thinking just now, about how much nicer it is to make big holed beads with my new BHB pegasus shaper stubby barrels
its just easier and quicker to get them on centre and that lovely shape, and the encasing nice and smooth.
I looked at a bunch of BHBs I made not long before I got the shaper, and I rejected so many more from that batch than from the newest batch out of the shaper.
obviously there are other benefits, like consistency of size, though with as many holes as this its easy to make lots of different sized beads!
I noticed that someone had searched for ‘how easy are pegasus beadshapers to use?’
well, how about a little review I thought? and while I’m at it I’ll review my CG beadroller, and compare them, and chuck in a few tips along the way!
first these are the ones I own,
~ rounds 8
~ ovals 8
~ egg combo
~ stubby barrels BHB
and from CG beads the disc roller in the wand style.
Rounds, well, this was the first one I bought and I use it all the time.
it doesn’t take that much getting used to, you just start with a cylinder slightly narrower than the cavity you want,I use my flat marver and roll the edges so they are straight, then warm and roll again so the ends spread out onto the mandrel slightly, making the nice ends, then add discs around the bead until I have about the right amount of glass, and roll.
I have found that making a smaller one, then marvering the middle section so it forms a fat roundy ended cylinder, then adding a fat twisty, and melting it in, marvering and re-rolling in the next size up, makes a bead with good holes.
on all the rollers you can also use the outside edges to straighten up the bead holes.
not one I’ve given a full test yet, but initially I was finding that I wasn’t filling the cavity, I was using only the ends of it and producing a bead that was shorter and stubbier than the actual cavity size. and I couldnt use the smallest two much at all, its such a small amount of glass, but this could be because I just don’t like to make small beads, I’ll give it another chance and let you know!
now that I’ve taken a break from it to play more with my lentil presses, I think this will be much easier for me to use, I am refining my knowledge of exactly how glass moves.
Bear in mind that although I have been beadmaking for some years now,I have not owned a beadshaper/roller until April of this year. I also have not owned a press that I could use until about May of this year.
Now I have become somewhat addicted to both types of tool, and need to curb this spending habit! (just this morning I was thinking to myself, something squarish, like a nugget press would be a great bead to design jewellery with! oh dear… )
anyway, back to the point,
The egg combo,
Another that I’ve not yet given the full test to, what I will say is that the two biggest cavities takes ALOT of glass, so hothead users who are impatient might want to stay away from this one! these lead to making a very big, heavy bead, with not as many design possibilities as I’d like, though I havn’t tried them squashed yet.
The other cavity sizes are much more managable and have lots of jewellery design possibilities,like the smallest ones for simple earrings.
I found the slimmer ones a real challenge, theres not alot of room for error in shaping the original bead, and I can get a shape thats just as nice and quicker by normal marvering or marvering with a curved marver. however, if you want consistent shapes, then its the way to go.
I found the easiest way to get the shape (which is still somewhat tricky, need more practice!) is to make the small end first, shape it up in the cavity, then add the rest of the glass to the fatter end.
I think I’ll come back to these two rollers, and review them some more in another post. I am of course determined to master them , I wont be beaten by an inanimate object!
update 7.09.11 – made these yesterday, I think I’m improving with it, but this is definitely a ‘practice, practice, practice’ shaper! particularly these slim shapes. but as I mentioned, making the slim end first, then adding glass along the length, getting a good end on the other end, then fattening it out works reasonably well.
So, my newest addition, which I am somewhat biased towards, being as I designed it myself (see here incase you missed it), the stubby Barrels BHB shaper.
I love this, I can’t tell you how much! this, along with the round shaper, now lives on my desk, it doesn’t get put away!
The first few beads I made I had some issues with bead release, it cracked off whilst making, a couple of the mandrels had been sitting around having been dipped for a while, and my current pot has been diluted a few too many times I think, but it helped to really warm the whole of the bead release up, not only the bead section, and to keep it good and warm throughout making.
once I’d got that issue under control I was away! the current design of beads I’m doing involves marvering a wig wag down onto a base bead, so the beads are very nearly the shape of the beadroller already, but it saves loads of time smoothing and rounding up, and produces a uniform shape. its also handy to use just the ends of the cavities to straighten up a bead that is narrower than the hole, and to curve them down slightly.
I’ve yet to try this shaper out with a smooth surface design,other than a couple of simple dotties which when rolled at the right temperature did not drag.
these make a fantastic shape for coring (if I do say so myself) because they are a little straight sided, and I personally think they look fab on the charm bead bracelets.
and lastly, the CG beadroller disc.
I loved the idea of the wand style, and I love this shape, but its not actually the easiest one to use until you get the hang of it, and getting the hang of it did take a bit longer than the rounds.
you need to start with a really narrow footprint, and build outwards. however, if the hole goes wrong, melting it down into a plain donut spacer means the glass isn’t wasted!
it took me even longer to work out how to use it the way its meant to be used, for making more than one bead on the same mandrel, theres a trick to that too, make one bead, shape it and finish it, then make the second. and either dont touch the first with the flame or be sure to keep it warm, whicehever is the most successful for you. I was trying to juggle them at first, make a base donut, then make a second, then go back and add a bit to the first…er no. that doesn’t work. again I find the smaller cavities hard to use, this bead relies on making a narrow footprint first to get nice holes, but you’d have to be using stringer to get a footprint this narrow…now theres a thought!
the thing about this size and shape, is that it really is only any good as a spacer bead, there really isn’t much room for decoration, maybe a few dots or bits of stringer, but you can’t get enough layers into it to encase anything, at least not right to the edges. potentially you could make something layered and stripy. but you have to think about how it will look threaded up, and you dont tend to see much of the design unless you do something cool and thread it so it is displayed end on. the good thing is though, because it is such a pretty and unusual shape, just a single colour, or a simple dotty looks pretty cool. Like these black ones, and the following coral and turquoise ones
CG rollers and Pegasus shapers comparison:
well, theres not much of one, they are both excellent quality graphite, and very well made. Personally I have a slight preference for a tool manufactured in the UK, that isn’t going to incur high postage costs, customs charges and take weeks to arrive, and I also have a slight preference for the Pegasus simple dowel handles, they are lightweight and feel good in the hand, easy to flip over and use the back as a flat marver. the CG handles look pretty cool with their flame design, but the thickness of the handle is a little too big for my little hands, but that is purely personal preference! Then of course theres shape availability, and sizes too, I chose the Pegasus rounds over the CG ones because the size range I wanted was on the Pegasus, to get the size range I wanted out of a CG roller, I would have had to buy two. though the range of different shapes available from Donna at CGbeads is vast, both her range and Bev’s range are growing all the time. I am aware this is not the fairest of comparisons, being as I have 4 of one to test and only one of the other, and of course there are other manufacturers who make similar items, but I can only test what I have, but I’m certain that ease of use is down to shape, not who made the tool, unless you particularly favour the chunky handle over the slim or vice versa.
Some words about beadrollers/shapers:
these are not a quick fix for bad bead shapes/holes. they do require learning how to use them properly, if you havn’t quite got the hang of marvering, and you’re rolling whilst too hot, you will simply drag your bead into a lumpy mess which can be tricky to re-round. and if you had a design on that bead…well now you have a smerged design.
however, it is fairly quick to learn how to use some of the shapes, round for example.
and some shapes are not possible, or at least not very easy/fast to make any other way, discs for instance
I love these tools, and they have made a real difference to my beadmaking, for instance I can now make a set of beads without wanting to scream, infact I think I might even be beginning to like it!
and on that bombshell…
I was making a batch of BHBs recently, a customer had asked for a ‘sort of pair’, same size and shape, but in a different style and colour, its not so easy to make a pair this way, than if you were using the same glass and amount and placement of layers, so you end up making a whole heap and then choosing the pair out of them. not so bad, I get some spare stock out of it, but I’d really like to achieve more consistency, that said, I don’t want them to look like they came out of a machine! some variation is good!
The ones that Bev (Pegasus) does for BHBs are combo ones, which although I love the idea of, my favourite favourite of the shapers I have is the mixed size rounds, because if you go too big or too small, you just go up or down a hole and you still get a lovely shaped bead.
I would want at least 2 sizes of each shape. and the shape I would want doesn’t really exist. These are beads I’ve made without rollers, that are approximately the shape I want, a sort of straight sided barrel meets donut shape. Although I can make these shapes without a specific tool, they aren’t terribly easy to make matching sizes. and they take quite alot of messing about to get the shape right.
The reason that I love this shape is you get a bead which has more room for decoration and pattern, without having to add diameter, which when worn on the wrist is uncomfortable if too big, and doesnt sit well with other beads (branded or artisan), nor does a cylinder for that matter.
so, I decided that three widths would be a nice starting point, each of these beads has different measurements, so the effect of them looks graduated. so the beads would look fantastic together, or among other beads from other artisans or those branded ones I mentioned!
so…I said I wanted at least two sizes of each, well, three shapes, why not three of each?
oh, I forgot to mention, at this point I had emailed Bev of Pegasus lampwork tools, and asked her about custom beadshapers, because of course she is a member of the wonderful Frit Happens Forum and also a UK based manufacturer of these great graphite tools! She asked for a sketch of shape and sizes.
so, on to my design drawing.
yes, it took me a few attempts to get to this stage, I knew I had to get the measurements right, vague isnt good enough for this, I want to be sure I get exactly the shape I meant, not ‘nearly’ right. these drawings are to scale (1cm on the drawing for every 2mm on the tool), so that I know my measurements will add up in the real world! it also makes it easier for Bev.
I started with the mandrel size and the width of each bead.
I then had to work out how much I wanted for the ‘straight sided’ portion of this shape. it has to take into account the size of the groove in the tool, rather than just the mandrel size. I didnt know what Bev’s tolerances are, so I just added 1mm to either side. then of course I’m going to need some beyond that to actually get the look of it being straight sided.
so, next I needed to know the finished outer diameter of the bead, I marked that on, and from that I could work out what was left over to create the straight side, and also accommodate the curve I wanted.
to achieve the graduations I added 1mm to the diameter of the straight sided section, for every 1mm that I increased the outer diameter by (are you still following me?)
there was a fair bit of trial and error in these last two steps, drawing and re-drawing, but I achieved what I set out to do, which was to prove these would work at the sizes I wanted, and to illustrate to Bev exactly what I want.
and because I didn’t want to draw this another few times, I did a measurements sketch and a list of all the sizes I wanted.
so….we will see how it goes, and hopefully I will get my ideal beadshaper, and will be able to show you some lovely beads I make with it!
Bev has got back to me with this, the design for my shaper! excited? me?
isnt it fantastic? she’s even had space to add another set of larger sized ones!
can’t wait to make some beads with this!
one last thing to mention…dont forget to check out Bev’s Gorgeous beads as well
I never get on with bead presses anyway, but I do like the rounded ‘puffy heart’ look of some of the beads other people make with them.
so, I have taken my hearts a stage further, to give them that puffy shape
here’s a few in bottle glass, with silver leaf
the other thing I like about doing it this way, is the variety! so much more fun!
There’s another bonus here too, because these are shaped in a more freeform way, you get to decide where the bead stops, and its much easier to get nice ends, I’ve seen too many pressed heart beads that are gorgeous, but sadly let down by the bead holes.
I’ve been playing with my Pegasus round beadshaper, and some pretty simple little beads came out:
the lighter purple is poi, the other colours are petrol green, celadon and eggplant, with a little goldstone of course!
I really like this style of bead, so I made a rainbow too
I think I’ll re-make a couple of them with slight colour changes, wasn’t happy with the orange one particularly…arancio perfecto…gorgeous…but not really orange, more red! in real life anyway…looks fine in this pic!
a few little test beads:
The round roller is just fab! I love it, really easy to use, you can get nice bead holes, and well, round beads! like marbles!These are just a few test beads, nothing special. Except that one with shards, those are my second ever shards. Doesn’t show up that well in the pic though, so here’s another!
I was lucky enough to actually WIN this beadshaper from Pegasus in the draw. No amount of emoticons or smileys can express my actual face, so I won’t bother, just picture me , with a big grin on my face ok?
anyway, I love this one too, its not quite as easy to use as the rounds (which is a piece of cake…mmm cake!) I found myself using the ends, pushing the bead to one side and then the other, resulting in a stubbier oval than the actual cavity, but I think they’re cute anyway!
this was actually my first ever bead in the round beadshaper, using Kaz’s murrini that came in the kit she was selling at Flame off, making the bead she demoed. just to see if I could. It’s quite different to hers, but I think that’s mainly the kalypso, doing what it does. Also its smaller than hers, but, they key thing about this bead, is that it has perfect beautiful ends. not much to get excited about you might think, but remember, this is my first ever bead out of the round beadshaper. so I’m pretty impressed!
and finally, these are the reason I haven’t been making many beads lately:
A whole rainbow of twisties! I know, they’re wig-wags you say, well, I just really can’t stand that name! so until I come up with something better, they’re just twisties. I used to call them reverse twisties at college, when I didn’t know about wig wags, when I thought I was being clever and doing something that hadn’t been done. oh well, it was nice to think that for a while! the good thing is, that now I don’t care anymore, I just think they’re pretty, and I’ve improved a million times at making them! also, it seems that other lampworkers like them too, and think I should sell them, watch this space says I!
This is pretty much what it looks like, its my diy version of a creation station, only no wrist rests.
The creation station on my midrange plus is lovely, but I can’t really justify two, and the way I have my bobcat set up (you’ll notice its higher than standard) it wouldn’t be interchangeable easily or quickly, so we came up with this.
I have since changed the bolts for shorter ones so they don’t dig me in the knee.
I was going to do my own design that mounted under the desk, but someone put a drawer in the way, so I thought it would be best to go with this idea!
The beanbags are recycled suede filled with some kind of lentilly bean type thing, can’t remember.
ok, so one of the first things I thought when I used this torch for the first time was…oh dear, I’m going to need a torchtop marver, where the hell am I gonna put one? do they even make one?
apparently they do, but I don’t really fancy ordering one from the states, waiting, and paying customs and the RM ransom. so…
I got the nice man at the place that cut my stainless steel for my worktops, to also cut me a couple of 1″ strips, and 2 ” strips.
I bent the two smaller ones to fit the torch, trimmed them, and drilled them. One for the top, and one for the bottom.
The other two I bent into L shapes so that they form a backstop for any bits of murrini etc that I would put on the marver. They’re also drilled, and the graphite has a pilot hole for the screw. you need to do some very careful marking so it all lines up.
so now the two thinner strips go on the torch:
then the L shaped sections go on top, then the graphite, all held together with a small screw from the underneath.
I got the graphite from another lampworker, it was a little scruffy, but it tidies up nicely if you’re willing to get covered in graphite using sandpaper on it (outdoors of course, and with appropriate safety gear, of course!)
there are a couple of disadvantages to this double sided style, you can’t for instance straighten up the left hand end of a bead, or roll that side of a bi-cone but I’ve got hand held marvers for that. I didn’t like the idea of having one big one over the top, it seemed very clunky and also you can’t see where the torch face is in relation to your work.
still, this one does alot of things that torch marvers do, despite its being in two halves, it holds murrini, small bits of dichroic, and foil and pre-warms them. in fact, its quite nice, because I put them on the right-hand one, and then I can still marver on the left, without any of them getting in the way.
in short, it may not be perfect, but its alot better than not having one at all!