Lampwork Fish Bead Necklace
Natasha Puffer from Seattle creates a one-of-a-kind lampwork necklace featuring a large fish-shaped bead.
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Project by Natasha Puffer from Seattle.
Natasha worked in stained glass and clay before discovering her true love--glass lampworking. She feels that it combines what she loves most about those two mediums--the colors and brightness of stained glass and the ability to shape and form, like clay. "This way I can stay nice and warm under the torch, not have cracked hands, and still get those great forms!"
Natasha's necklace starts with a "bead gone bad!" Using a bead that didn't quite work out, she mashes it and then, by using the flame of her torch and gravity, she shapes it into a fish. The fish becomes the centerpiece of a necklace that uses even more of Natasha's handmade glass beads. There's nothing fishy about this craft!
Materials and Tools:
glass rods of various colors
stainless steel mandrel
sterling silver beads
sterling silver findings
sterling silver wire
round nose pliers
2 chain nose pliers
1. Dip mandrels in bead release and set aside to dry.
2. Turn on kiln, propane and oxygen concentrator (not oxygen tanks).
3. Select glass colors to be used for the body (opaque orange), the stripes (opaque yellow stringer), the lips (opaque red stringer), the eyes (opaque white stringer, transparent blue and black stringer), the fins (transparent flashing yellow and orange).
4. Pull stringers of yellow, red, white and black.
5. Heat orange glass and wrap around mandrel, making about a 3mm bead.
6. Make five wraps of yellow around the orange bead. This will create stripes.
7. Heat the bead and mash using your parallel mashers to slightly flatten.
8. Place the bottom of the bead in the flame until it's red hot, to let the bead drip downwards about 3cm. This will be your tail.
9. Turn bead over and heat the other end of the bead in the flame. Let the bead begin to pull downwards about 2cm. This will be your face.
10. To make lips: Using red stringer, add about a 4mm ball of glass to the face side of the bead where you want the lips. Do not melt in. Let cool.
11. Reheat only the red ball, then push a razorblade tool into the glass, making a horizontal cut to make the lips.
Rock the razorblade up and down to widen the cut so you have defined lips.
12. For the fish eyes: Using the white stringer, place dots on either side of the fish's head. Melt in enough so you don't have undercuts but do not melt flat. Then add transparent blue over most of the white dots and melt in slightly.
13. Using the black stringer, place a small dot of black for the iris and melt in.
14. For the top fins, add a fin on top next to the mandrel, another on the bottom. Melt the tip of the transparent flashing yellow; heat the spot where you're going to place the fin; and put a dollop of glass on that spot.
15. Using the transparent flashing orange, melt the tip and place a bead of glass over the top of the flashing yellow. Heat red hot and let cool slightly. Then with your tweezers, pinch the glass several times, moving along the dollop to shape the fin.
16. To make the fail fin: Place a dollop of glass on the top and bottom of the dripped area you created in the beginning. Melt the tip of the transparent flashing yellow; heat the spot where you're going to place the fin; and put a dollop of glass on that spot.
17. Using transparent flashing orange: Melt the tip and place a bead of glass over the top of the flashing yellow. Heat red hot, let cool slightly, and then with your tweezers, pinch the glass several times, moving along the dollop to shape the fin.
18. There are two more fins to add to the sides of your fish. Melt a small blob of transparent flashing yellow and place on the body of the fish. Line these fins up with the mandrel, then place a small amount of transparent flashing orange on top of the yellow. Do this on the other side of the fish. Now with your flat tweezers, heat the dot on one side of the fish and flatten the dot vertically.
19. Heat the flattened glass and use the tweezers open to their natural position to push the flattened glass over and down onto the fish body. Do this same step to the other side of the fish.
20. Heat the fish thoroughly and place in the kiln.
21. Once the fish comes out of the kiln, simply twist the fish off the mandrel and use a bead reamer to clean the bead hole.
22. Lay out necklace design to see what you like best. Once you have a design you like, start wire-wrapping each bead one at a time, joining them together.
23. Use your round nose pliers to make a basic loop at one end of your wire and leave a tail. Grasp the wire loop with your round nose pliers and the tail of the wire with your flat or chain nose pliers, and gently bend the wire into a coil around the shank of the wire that goes through your bead.
24. Cut your wire about 2-1/2 inches long, slip your bead onto the wire, and once again use your round nose pliers to make a basic loop starting next to your bead hole, leaving a tail. This time do not close the loop.
25. Take a bead that has already been wire wrapped, slip the tail from this most recent bead though the other loop of the bead loop that has already been wire-wrapped.
26. Then grasp the wire loop with your round nose pliers and the tail of the wire with your flat or chain nose pliers, and gently bend the wire into a coil around the shank of the wire.
27. Repeat this process for each bead, linking them all together.
28. Add a toggle clasp. Wire wrap fish and hang fish at the bottom center of necklace.
Follow these step-by-step instructions to make a beautiful beaded necklace of your own.