Friday, April 16, 2010

Cabbage Bead Tutorial

Added cabbage beads to the Bead Shoppe today!

I've been filling requests for these fairly regularly and just invoicing people for them so I finally just decided to add them to the Shoppe to make it easier all around for purchasing. (SMART, I am! Only took me a month to catch a clue. lol) 

I've also had a bunch of requests on how to make them so I thought I would do a quick how-to, emphasis on the 'quick'. (Not that I have anything against going into more detail but I'm lazy and don't want to take/edit a ton of pictures so there.)

(click for bigger)

First - I use my petal puller tool (the uppermost tool pictured)** to make a ton of 'petals'. This is a quick melt and grab thing. Melt a small ball of glass at the end of your glass rod, smoosh with the tool and pull it at the same time. I lay them out on my work area (stainless steel) until they are cooled off and then put them in a little container. Make all sorts of sizes so you have a bunch to choose from.  This should be very quick and easy - you can do a ton of them in no time at all. Just remember to dunk your tool in the water every 3-4 petals to cool it off so it doesn't start sticking to the glass. NOTE: a few of the petals will crack and/or explode when cooling. You could, conceivably, take each one as you  make it and put it into your (hot) kiln to anneal them but I'm hardcore and shit and don't mind a little breakage. :)

Next up, making the actual bead. Start by making a small roundish barrel in green. How big? That's up to you partner. The bigger it is, the more petals you need, the more time it will take, and (unless you are very very vigilant) the higher the likelihood something will shoot off because you let it get too cool. I don't generally have these problems because I like to work small. :) Anyway, don't worry about getting your barrel perfect as you are going to be covering it up.

Now comes the tricky part of things. You want to grab a bigger sized petal (I grab it by the point) with your tweezers and give it a flash in your torch with one hand to warm it up while flashing your barrel bead in the torch in the area of where you want to put the petal with your other hand. I heat the end of the petal really good and then smoosh it down on one end of the barrel, pussssshing on it so it adheres really good. Keep doing that around the bead in a straight ring until it's all filled up on one end. (My cabbages usually only take 3 petals across the bottom.) Does it look messy? You betcha. It looks horrible at this point. Once this ring is done I heat each one petal up a little and flatten it out good with my mini flattener so each petal is now sticking straight out from the bead, all flat plate like, like a funky flower.  This ring is now done for the moment so  I do the whole shebang again on the next row, only this time using SMALLER PETALS as this last ring will be the top of your cabbage. (Again - my beads are fairly small so I only need two rings to a cabbage, so say 6 petals total. Sometimes 8 if I'm getting jiggy with it.) Smoosh the petals on, flatten them out, same drill as the first time. REMEMBER TO FLASH YOUR BEAD IN THE HEAT ALL THE TIME while doing this or something will fly off and maybe go down your shirt. I'm just warning ya. (It doesn't happen to me anymore, KNOCK ON WOOD, because you only have to burn your boob once before you get the whole KEEP THE BEAD WARM YOU FREAKING IDIOT lesson. *ahem*)

Now you get to play with it. Heat each petal, smash it down a little this way or that way with your micro tweezers or any other flattening type tool you have. Curl edges over, pull it out here, pull it closer there.
I start with the last ring first as that is the top of the cabbage and it makes the leaves 'fall' in the right direction.You have to play with it until you like it. If the torching gods are with you, this can take just a couple minutes. If it's a bad day, you might 5+ minutes on it. Just go with it. Remember not to give it TOO MUCH heat all at once so nothing melts down to the point where it doesn't look like a leaf anymore. Easy does it. Start slow and do it in stages until you're comfortable with it. It might take you longer but you're almost guaranteed to come out with something usable that way. If you melt it down, it's ruined and you have to start over - sorry!

Practice, practice, practice. The first few will probably have you sweating bullets if you're not used to making separate components and attaching them. But once you have the motions down and it's hardwired into your head to keep everything nice and warm and you realize nothing is going to fly off and disfigure your face, it should be fairly easy. It's probably not ever going to be a bead you can make on 'auto-pilot' and you won't crank them out in a few minutes time, but it does get easier the more you do.

**A petal puller is not strictly necessary for this. Try it out with tweezers or some combo of tweezers/spatulas, etc.


Marnie said...

Awesome post! I never would have guessed you made the cabbage this way, but it totally makes sense now.

Leslie said...

They are really cool!!!