I have had such fun during the past week. Bead presses are a wonderful way to get some variety into one’s range of bead shapes and its been fun this last week to make a few from each bead press – I purchased 5 bead presses – and to make them up into some bracelets which are totally different from anything we have made to date.
The bead presses are made of brass and come in two halves. The bottom has pins to enable one to fit the top of the press exactly onto the bottom to get a perfect shape. It takes a bit of practice to be able to wind exactly the right amount of glass onto the steel mandrel before inserting the glass into the press and pressing. Too little glass and the shape lacks some form; too much glass and it oozes in the middle and gives an ugly ridge around the bead and spoils the footprint (the holes on either side of the bead).
I love the 5 Zoozii’s presses which I purchased in December. I have the Itty Bitty Trio’s. There are two of them which gives me 6 shapes of very tiny beads to use in bracelets. The shell duo gives two different sizes of shells with the hole running from top to bottom and the heart duo gives two dainty flat hearts suitable for bracelets. The one I have probably used the most however is the Nugget press which gives three different sizes of nuggets – they look a lot like curved pillows.
Now I am after some lentil presses and will most likely go for the straight sided lentil, which, as I have read on the internet, is an easier shape to wear than the curved lentil. I will go Zoozii’s again as I have really enjoyed the accuracy and ease of use of their presses.
I don’t have photos on this blog but you can see the different bead shapes if you go onto our STUDIO44MAURITIUS Facebook page or our website https://www.studio44mauritius.com.
Its quite daunting when the first presses arrive. One tends to think “Oh my gosh, will I be able to manage this?” But, after making plasticine molds using each shape in the presses, I got used to the feel of them and realized that it would simply be a case of PPP -practice, practice, practice, just like everything else in lamp working. I was pleasantly surprised as to how quickly I got the hang of it.
One problem with using brass presses is that the glass is “shocked” by being pressed and it introduces enormous stress into the glass which can result in the bead breaking into pieces when one takes it out of the mold. The secret is to reheat the glass immediately it has been pressed so that the strain is removed an then to “anneal” it in the tip of the flame for about 4 seconds so that the outside of the bead stays warm and it cools slowly from the inside out.
The other day I was using the baby square mold on the Itty Bitty and I took it a pressed bead out of the mold and it broke and flew all over the place – in fact it simply exploded. Not realizing that one piece had descended onto my chair between my legs, I suddenly felt some heat on my leg and looked down to see the towel which I use to cover my chair was burning! That certainly made me move quickly! After 8 years of lamp working and many many burn marks on my lower arms, I now wear a long sleeved blouse made of pure cotton and it helps because the glass does not stick to the cotton when it flies all over the place and I don’t get burnt any longer. If one heats a glass rod too quickly when getting the glass to the molten stage in order to wind it around the stainless steel rod (called a mandrel), the rod tends to shock and little pieces of glass can fly all over the place. I even had a piece on my lip one day!
It was a thrill yesterday morning to open the kiln (the oven I use to anneal the beads) and to take out a dozen beautiful little hearts which will go into bracelets for Mothers’ Day which is on Sunday 31st May here in Mauritius.
Wishing everyone a Happy Mothers’ Day here in Mauritius. I know that South Africa and Australia have already celebrated this important day. Mothers are such extraordinary human beings and I know that this year I will dearly miss my mother who sadly passed away on 26th January this year. She was 97 years old and had a wonderful life but sadly since her 97th birthday on 24th August last year, her health declined very fast. She was a kind, loving, generous and loved by everybody. She was one of those souls who loved to render service and help especially when people were alone and did not have someone to help them. She taught me the important values in life and above all to show respect, tolerance and unconditional love to everyone. God Bless you Mom. You were the best!