Saturday, March 5, 2011

Enamel filigree beads - getting the hang of it

Ever since I read a tutorial in a bead magazine about enamelling filigree beads I have felt compelled to gather the ingredients and have a go. After a couple of months of sitting on the idea I finally had a couple of goes.  I have to say that the tutorial has some gaps in terms of usability of the technique offered.  The first attempt, following the instructions, was very poor. If the bead is free spinning and you turn the stick it's threaded on, well the bead won't spin when you turn the stick, will it??? no, it won't. That is quite different from lampworking, where a coating is put on the mandrel, which the glass sticks to while working on the bead, but also enables you to release the bead when it's ready to remove. The other problem with threading a filigree bead onto the uncoated mandrel, is that enamel falls through the filigree and gets melted onto the mandrel, making it next to impossible to remove the bead. very frustrating, and the beads look dodgy and mangled and patchy from the efforts to remove it.  I guess I am missing something obvious and would probably benefit from watching a demonstration. Anyway, I ended up developing my own technique which I am relatively happy with. It is along the lines of  'puntying up'. Hold the bead with tweezers and get a little patch of enamel established, then get some enamel melted onto the tip of the mandrel and connect the two. So the bead is stuck to the end of the stick through the whole spinning process until I melt it off and smooth out the connection. Holding the bead with warmed up tungsten tweezers when removing also enables one to get it into the vermiculite with ease. That technique will do until such time as I see someone do it efficiently a different way!
I love the beads that turn out, they are light and lacy looking. The light weight of them means that they balance out the weight of glass lampwork so that you are not going to break your neck when wearing a full strand of large beads.

OK, here is the motley crew. The first efforts are mixed in with the second efforts. I think by effort number 10 they should be looking  perfect ;-)

Here are three white filigree along with a bunch of largish round lampwork beads. Even though the three large white lampwork beads are 'hollow', a whole strand can be quite hefty.

Green toned bead caps. The longest one at the front is my favorite of everything (40mm long). I love the berry red tips. Will be making more with that concept. I can imagine it as a focal with a dangle hanging down from it's centre. The bead caps I found are nice and large so that they can fit on the large round beads I tend to make.

The cool toned beads. I love the teal color, which is actually 'turquoise' enamel. It can have beautiful depth when layered a couple of times, such as the front right bead. There is also a robins egg blue, nile green and a pale yellow green. These are acutally large substantial beads. The barrel shapes are 30mm long and 20mm diameter.

The pink pastels. I love the orchid color of the centre round bead. Also digging those top right bead caps.

A few red beads. Not quite happy with the outcome of this red yet. Will be putting a tranparent blue  layer over the next one to add some depth.


amanda said...

love them all ... so many possibilities. Those red ones are very striking, look good mixed with black/silvery metallic beads, maybe with a dragon eye pendant? The pale green cups would make great calyx for life a flowery dangle. Pink ones, fairy or princess dress. The long green one with red tips - with others for a christmassy theme

Jenni C said...

They are really looking great, Georgie.I'm liking the colors, especially the turquoise, one of my favorite colours. You are doing good, girl!
Jenni said...

I actually started out with enameling on copper tube - with pinzart many many many moons ago as I could not set up a lampwork area in the condo I was renting at the time.
I have that same article but never picked up the filigree beads
Nice selection - love the colors
where did you end up getting the filigree and did you stick with silver or did you eventually find copper filigree - I have a ton of the solid copper beads from thompson I've etched and enamelled

Georgie Field said...

Hi Deborah, I found a source for cheap iron filigree beads online. The only problem is that you have to buy a LOT (200 of each design and up, sometimes 1000). Which is not necessarily a bad thing as I now have plenty to experiment and play with. Some of them are copper but the majority are iron. I recently ordered a few more different designs and also another bunch of enamels in different colours. They are fairly quick and easy to do now. Refined the method a bit more. It may be that going all the way through the bead hole of a filigree bead is fine as long as you give it enough heat to soften the excess enamel on the mandrel to be able to move the bead off when finished. I do a hybrid of attaching the mandrel with some enamel to the inside of a hole on one side of the bead so that it is fixed.
Jenni, can't wait to show you my necklace I made yesterday. Will see if I can find the time to photo and blog it.
Mandy, they are a lot of fun to play with, the bead expo is gearing up already. Will have to find another market for finished jewellery and we can do a workshop a week beforehand to put stuff together, if you want! said...

Thank you
I found pandahall a while ago just did not attempt to buy not sure which ones to buy since quanties were larger (lots is not a problem I have a tendancy to buy lots cause you never know how many you will need lol)
nice work cant wait to see your necklace- I'm also a lampworker so going back to this enamelling is fun said...

what sizes are you buying ?

Georgie Field said...

I get the biggest sizes i can. Generally 15mm - 18mm.
I imagine the smallest ones, like 5mm, will evaporate in the flame very easily!
I posted a pic of my necklace using my mobile phone camera so the quality is shocking, but i have had so many compliments IRL. Very encouraging! said...

I got some 20mm but after ordering I wanted some of the barrel and the caps - so I'll end up looking for some other 16-18mm as well to get a variety
thanks for your help

Jan Porter said...

Just getting started torch-enameling. Besides Painting With Fire Studio, do you know where I can get iron, steel, or unsoldered copper beads and other ornaments? One I can offer is for iron filigree.

Jan Porter said...

I placed an order with for iron filigree beads and was satisfied with the enameling results. It's good to have a lg. qty. of beads to practice on. The price seems super low until you add shipping. I had mine shipped by freighter, which took 30-45 days and the shipping equalled the cost of the beads. I'll probably order from them again.