Beadmaking on Tungsten Mandrels without Mandrel Release
This is a specially designed mandrel, a product of 10 years of R&D. Please notice the difference between the stainless steel handle and the tungsten section. Never touch the tungsten as it will be extremely hot during this process and well after.
- Preheat the glass rod with which you will make your base bead.
- Preheat the mandrel.
- Apply your glass and shape your bead. A ¾" to 1" diameter bead with a ¼" footprint on the mandrel is recommend for your first time.
- When you are done with your bead, flame anneal it and let it cool until it stops glowing. Then connect a punty, heating just the tip of a glass rod punty and connecting it to the bead. A "cold punty" connection is ideal, in that when done properly, it will cleanly snap off, leaving only a tiny scar that cleans up nicely. A "hot punty" is easier to attach and tends not to come off unexpectedly, but is more work to remove and clean up where it was attached. Instead of attaching a punty, you can hold the bead with a holding tool, such as a hemostat. Once you become proficient at using the punty technique, you will find that it is generally the preferred method.
- Heat the tungsten on either side of the bead, 3 seconds per side. Start to turn the mandrel inside the bead, holding the punty in a vertical position above and out of the flame. Continue this process until the bead comes off the mandrel, heating and turning until the bead slides off. Do not overheat the tungsten! 3 seconds at a time per side is usually sufficient. If you overheat, the tungsten will fume off, reducing the life of your mandrel. Tungsten is very stiff. Too much side force while freeing the bead from the mandrel can cause the tungsten to snap, especially on the thinner diameters. If the tungsten is extremely hot and side force is applied, it can bend.
- Once the bead is freed from the mandrel, you can clean up the bead holes with a reamer or the tungsten itself, which is ground to a taper at the tip.
- Slide the bead back onto the tungsten, making sure it slides on and off freely. Remove the punty with a light tap, if you were successful in attaching it as a "cold punty", or you can cut the punty off with nippers or gently melt it off in the the flame. Pull off any excess glass with tweezers and fire polish away the punty mark. Be careful to not let the bead slide all the way to your hand and burn you or from sliding the other way and dropping it to the table or floor.
- Heat the bead to strike or reduce the glass as necessary, then give the bead a final flame annealing. Let it cool until it is no longer glowing and slide it off the tungsten directly into the annealer.
Hole Piercing Instructions
This mandrel can also be used to pierce hot glass. To do so, preheat your glass object to about 1000º F (540ºC), then heat your tungsten, then remove the tungsten from the flame and push it through the place you would like to pierce, turning it at all times. Think of it as a hot drill. If it is not hot, it will not drill. The tungsten needs to be red hot. If the tungsten fumes, let it cool just enough to stop fuming. If the tungsten fumes do get onto the glass, you can usually burn it off in the flame. If you are drilling a deep hole, you might have to take the tungsten out to reheat the tip, then slide it back in hot to continue reaming the hole out. Holes over 1/2" deep are best achieved by piercing from both sides of the glass and meeting in the middle. For these deeper holes, you can make an indentation with a cold tool before starting to pierce.
By Beau Anderson
Available from ArrowSprings.com