Monday, September 12, 2011

I've got a new set of tools and they go like this...

Bop Shoo-bop, Bop Bop Shoo-bop

(Of all the twisting songs out there, that one's my favorite)

And that's what I'm talking about today... TWISTS!

I have been "twist-challenged" since I started working with glass 15 years ago!  Try as I might, I just could NOT make a decent twist.  I've taken classes where we made twists and there were passable ones... but not many... and not enough that I would ever use them in my work.

And then, I was working on one of my flower centers...the kind that are on wire and something went horribly wrong... the glass shocked as I was adding dots and instead of cute bumpy polka-dots, I had a big glob of one color on the base of the other color.  "hmmmm,"  thought I... "what can I do to this to avoid wasting it?" (I'm assuming that I was thinking positive things like this and not saying "OH CRAP CRAP CRAPPITY CRAP!" but it's VERY possible that I thought that first.   I melted the 2 colors together.... at some point, I decided that it was too big and I was going to pull some of the glass off... in doing that, the two colors of glass swirled and I liked the way it looked... so I added some embellishment to hide the remaining flaws and stuck it in the kiln.

When it came out of the kiln the next day, I loved it, BUT I had no idea if I could do it again..... and I needed to.  I had already mentally designed a project around it!!!!  So... I made bunches of these things, trying as best I could to recreate the mistake... and for every 10 or so I made, 4 would end up usable (ugh)   I LOVED how they looked, but I was NOT loving the production method OR the failure rate.

Here's the cutie-patootie project showing the little twist at the bottom.... Cirque du Sprout
(Ok... I'm gonna be real honest here...  Those are actually the SAME earring shown twice from different angles.  I just couldn't get them to be the same size no matter how hard I tried!  Which was the whole problem!)

And I need to let you know... I was LOVING this earring design and I was determined to make it work... I probably would have gone ahead and had that 10 bad to every 4 good production thing going if I hadn't seen Heather Trimlett do a demonstration at the glass-beadmaker's convention ("The Gathering"... have I said recently how much I hate that name???  It really does sound like some sort of bizarre Stonehenge ritual thing... but I digress)   Heather's demonstration showed her new set of tools which are used for pulling twists evenly... something I NEVER had done.... but would they work for what I was trying to do???

I talked to Heather about what I was wanting...which was NOT what the tools were intended to do.  The tools hold the heat and allow the colors to twist evenly ALL the way to the ends.  My ends usually were big and globby and often the mid section was skinny or globby.. this tool was designed to eliminate that.   Even this earring design depended on one end being globby and the other pulling thin.... would it work???  In our conversation, Heather told me that they might not work for what I wanted since they were designed to make the twist happen evenly, and as you can see above, I wanted something tapered and not really even.

I ordered the set anyways.  I had allowed myself one "new tool" purchase at the convention and this was it.  If nothing else, I liked the brass poker-shaper thing that was included as a part of the set  AND they came with pretty colored handles!!   (I'm deep like that)

I received my oh-so-cute set of tools in the mail about a week or so ago and wasn't quite sure how I was going to make this thing work.... so I experimented in about a gazillion different ways while making the twists for the College-color ornament collection.  I was able to get a BEAUTIFULLY even twist..... WOW!  The tools did what they were supposed to do..... but wait... that wasn't what I needed.  I needed those tapered twist parts for earrings!!!!!

So, I tried about ump-teen different ways of re-creating the first "mistake" twist and had a big "aha" moment when I saw one of the pretty-twists I'd made using Heather's tool as it was intended to be used.  I thought to myself, "self... what if we made a big fat twist using Heather's set of tools... it would be nice and even THEN we could attach that fat twist to the wires and taper the opposite end using ONE of the twist tools again"  and BOO-YA!  Success!!!  (this was the quickie description of what I did... it's actually a little more complicated, but it's easier than my FIRST method and it's consistent... THAT is what matters most!)

I have to say that Heather's tools... all of them, rock.  I've had her "round up tool" for a year now and I love using it for tiny cabochons (not how it was intended, but that's how I use it!!  It's the graphite tool at the top of the image above)  The Twister Tool Set arrived in a cute tube, wrapped with dotty-tissue and ribbon (I'm a sucker for great packaging).  Like the Round Up Tool, they are embellished with Heather's beads (which without knowing, she sent my favorite colors AND they match my round-up tool!)  Along with the tools, there are tutorials available, but being the independent spirit that I am, I sort of went my own way with all the tools... but I intend on going back later and really using the tutorial for adding twists to beads... the instructions look fabulous for conquering that challenge.... but one big twisty success at a time! 

I'm just AMAZED that I got these pretty, even and HUGE twists!!!  AND that I have consistently sized earring components in the kiln right now...YAY!!!

Here's a link to Heather's tools.  I give them 2 thumbs up!  Seriously!!!  (have you ever seen me plug anything besides Starbucks and a few books here?????)   I don't give testimonials lightly... I didn't even expect to give this one because I thought I was twist-impaired no matter WHAT the tool.... but it does what it says it does and THEN SOME!!!

and now we dance...

 "how to do the peppermint twist" 45rpm record!!  Not kidding!!! The full instructions are on you-tube!!  TOO FUNNY!

Have a great Monday ya'll!

tiny blah blah blah...

coffee - YES!
music - Sara Bareilles Pandora station - which I LOVE!


Pencie said...

Thanks for posting the good tools. Love the "coffee' comment as I can relate muchly (is that a word?, spell check doesn't think so).

Sylvie said...

Pencie, I've been blogging my coffee habit since 2000. I found that when I DON'T have coffee it effects my work... just like the music does, which is why it's listed there too.

So we are coffee sistas- muchly so. :D

Debra said...

Sylvie, I just love it when you talk hot glass. After looking at Heather's site and tools, and then rereading your post, I totally got what you were describing. I know there is no way I could DO it, but I understand it. Can't wait to see how the twisty beads come out of the kiln. It looks like a good thing you bought the tools at the Gathering, as they have been so successful as to be out of stock.

Sylvie said...

Deb, she was taking orders for the first sets at the convention, but the next round should be available on the website soon. I'm sure she is taking email orders in the meantime.

I will try to post some pictures of the twistie components later!

Marcia DeCoster said...

So glad you had repeatable success, good tools make all the difference. And the earrings, adorable, happy that we'll be seeing more of them.

Kim said...

Nicely educational post. Glass tips and a dance. What else is there?

Sylvie said...

I keep going back to watch the video again... there's something odd about the lead singer's head to body ratio... his head is HUGE and I thought it was just because someone was filming a TV set, but when I look at the guy on the right... he's tiny, so my theory doesn't work. Anyways, the video cracks me up... LOVE the dance moves!