Monday, April 4, 2016

Free Lampwork Tutorial :: Plant Poke Flowers

If you're a lampworker, you know that those 1/16" mandrels bend so easily when you're trying to get your beads off, and usually don't last very long without becoming wonky.  What do you do with mandrels you can no longer use?  Make plant pokes out of them!

These are some plank poke flowers I have made.  While it's a beginner project, I thought I'd show you how I make mine.  I'm sure you'll have some other ideas of what you can do too!  It's a good way to use up your glass shorts!

Above, I'm starting with a glass short to make the base of the flower.  The tool I am using is the Hold Me Tight tool from Graceful Customs.  This is an essential tool, in my opinon, especially for shorts!

Heat up the end of your mandrel (not too much or it will melt) and the glass short.  Wind the glass onto the tip of the mandrel as you would if you were making a bead.  Do not use bead release on these flowers, or they won't stick on the mandrel! (In my best Wizard of Oz voice - please ignore the dirty messy work bench!!!!).
Here's your glass blob.  Move it around, allowing gravity help you to get it into a nice round, pea sized shape.
 Here's the pretty shape! It's still a little hot so it looks red. Notice the nice shape?

Gently flatten the blob on the top, very evenly, on a tool such as your torch mounted marver, or a graphite marver, or even a lentil press.  Just make sure the shape is nice and the way you want it cuz you're stuck with it at the next step!
 Next, you're going to get either a longer short (oxymoron there!) or a rod, and wind the glass around the pretty base shape as you would a disc bead.
Make as many wraps as you want, paying attention and heating the whole flower occasionally so it doesn't shock and break. Make several wraps, round and round.
Here's how it looks from the side.  Make sure you like the shape, and the number of wraps.  Feel free to use other tools to move the glass or shape it up to the way you like it.  I like to have my large tweezers on hand in case I have to bend the glass a certain way.
Sometimes I like to add a little interest to the flowers by using my small pliers to create texture.  To do this, just heat the glass in a small area, and quickly bite the glass with the pliers.  Then move the heat a little bit to the right, and do the same thing.  Repeat the whole way around the flower.  If you find that some of the bites are too far apart, just go in and heat that blank area and bite with the pliers again!
Here's how it looks from the side.  This is your opportunity to use your large tweezers to even up the shape - lightly heat where you want to move the glass at this point, or it will sag on the end of the mandrel.  Also, make sure you keep flashing your glass in the flame to avoid thermal shock.
Here's the finished plant poke flower!  You need to anneal this as normal, using the proper anneal schedule.  Here's another flower I made, but instead of using the pliers to create bites in the glass, I used the tweezers to "wave" the glass for a different shape.

By now, I'm sure you're saying, OH, I can do...this...that...the other!  So some day when you don't know what to make, make some plant pokes!

Susan Kennedy

1 comment :

  1. Great idea. I have lots of wonky mandrels, and a bucket load of shorts. A vase full of these flowers would look wonderful in my studio. Thank you!


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