Printable PDF Tip & Tricks booklet.
Using Sludge Mandrel Releases
Sludge mandrel releases give superior holding strength to the tugging and twisting rigors of even the most aggressive beadmaker, yet the bead easily twists off when it cools. Dip-n-Go Sludge is generally the recommended release because of its balance of superior holding power, ease of use, easy releasing of the bead when cool, smooth coating and it can be dried in the flame. Dip-n-Go Blue Sludge is the same formula as Dip-n-Go Sludge, but without graphite, making it hold even stronger and a little harder to remove the bead. It is preferred by some borosilicate (hard glass) workers. Original Sludge Plus and SUPER BLUE Sludge are the predecessors to the newer flame dryable Dip-n-Go mandrel releases. They are not easily flame dryable and are still available for those that do not want to switch to the newer Dip-n-Go mandrel releases. Here are some techniques and hints to obtain optimal performance.
If left unused too long all Sludge products will separate and will need to be remixed. If it does not reconstitute after shaking, stir it, then shake it again. Repeat as necessary. The consistency can be changed by adding water or by leaving the lid off to evaporate away water. Sludge products do not get old even if they become completely dry. Water will reconstitute it.
To coat the mandrel evenly we recommend the following procedure: Hold the end of the mandrel loosely between your finger and thumb. Quickly dip the mandrel into the release and then quickly pull it out. Holding the mandrel this way insures that it will go straight in and straight out and make a round coating. If the mandrel is withdrawn at an angle, the coating may have a ridge down its length. The action of dipping the mandrel quickly causes the release to coat thicker. To coat the mandrel even thicker, quickly and continuously dip the mandrel in and out several times. The more you repeat a fast dip, the thicker the coating. This is better than dipping, drying and then dipping again. Dipping the mandrel slowly applies a thinner coat. A mandrel with a very thin coating is hard to remove from the bead if it is bent. Optionally, you can turn the mandrel around and gently tap the end opposite the dipped end on the table surface. This gives the coating a very smooth surface. Turn the mandrel back around and vertically place it in a holder to dry. A container filled with sand works well. After coating the mandrel let it air dry or if it is Dip-n-Go Sludge or Dip-n-Go Blue Sludge it can be dried at the very back part of a neutral flame or within a very strong reduction flame. When dipping a large mandrel such as an Emiko Mandrel or a Thimble Mandrel the tip of the mandrel will form a peak. The peak is easiest removed by letting it air dry and scraping it to remove the unwanted area.
After the mandrel is either air dried or flame dried, heat the mandrel until red hot for one full second in the area where the bead will be. The magic about Sludge is that it holds beads when they are hot and releases them when they are cool. This will happens best if the area of the mandrel release holding the bead has been heated until red hot before glass was applied to it. If a bead is ever difficult to remove form the mandrel, you most likely did not get the coating hot enough or you chipped the mandrel release and the glass stuck directly to the steel mandrel. When heated properly, the coating will lose its strength permanently after cooling, but remain strong before cooling. For this reason, apply glass to the mandrel while the coating is still very hot. It need not be red hot, but almost. If the bead ever spins off while you are making it, you probably did get the mandrel red hot, but then let it get too cool before applying glass to it. Once glass is on the mandrel, proper beadmaking techniques will assure that the glass will hold enough heat to keep the coating hot. If bubbles appear in the glass near the mandrel release, the mandrel release was probably not dried thoroughly. Mandrel release that gives way to the sides of the bead is caused by excessive and unnecessary heating.
Hints: Once the mandrels have become dry enough to handle, you can quickly and thoroughly dry them by placing them on top of a hot annealer.
If you are making a very long bead, perhaps two or three inches long, you may find it difficult to keep the entire bead properly hot. Typically, what happens is that while you are heating one end of the bead in the flame the other end is getting too cool. Of course the mandrel release is also getting too cool. Besides the bead possibly breaking from uneven heat stress, you might find that the mandrel release has also cooled so much and that it may give way while you are still working. To remedy this problem, only heat the mandrel release to red hot where it will be in the central part of the long bead. Near the bead holes where the mandrel release never became red hot, the mandrel release will be strong while hot and stay strong even if it gets too cool. This procedure will make the bead only slightly harder to remove from the mandrel, but will insure success.
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