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