Sunday, October 4, 2009

Chalcedony, Glass by Gaffer

Chalcedony glass by Gaffer has been a challenge for me. I was at the point of simply trying to use up what I had. I was determined that I would never order that glass again. The only color I was getting was a dull red. I followed the thread on Lampworketc and saw the beautiful colors others were getting with this silver glass. Yikes! I was ready to quit until last Monday. Then it happened--colors were born of the flame! I had not had that happen before! I was amazed! They really were there looking like flames or colors melting into each other. I still had the dull red, but I also had COLOR, BEAUTIFUL COLOR!

Chalcedony is a striking glass. For our non lampworking friends, a striking glass is a glass that begins as one color, but when treated in the flame, cooled, reheated, cooled, and reheated, a new color or colors break through the surface of the glass. This does take patience and time. It also takes experience and experiments. Knowledge of the glass is born through practice.

Here's what I've learned about chalcedony glass. These are the things that have worked best for me. Others most likely have other ways that work for them. I think that's wonderful! This is what I have found success with when working with chalcedony glass.

1) I use a high oxygen content in my flame. That seems to bring out the colors more effectively for me.
2) I begin by flashing the rod of glass in and out of the flame to warm it significantly.
3) After you begin to work the bead, let it cool significantly (the glow should be gone) before you put the bead in the flame again. It's a fine line to walk because you don't want the bead to break because you cooled it too much, but this is something experience will help you to decide.
4) I marver when the glass is glowing red. I used to be hesitant to that because I didn't want to distort the shape of the bead, but I have found that this is the best time for me to marver my chalcedony beads. It doesn't seem to matter what I use when I marver my beads as long as that tool is cool. I have used both brass and graphite. A cool tool is what I have seen bring out the colors of this glass. I know that others swear by one tool or the other, but this is what has worked the best for me.
5) To bring out new colors in a part of the glass, I heat the bead in the spot I want to change the color to a glowing read, then I touch my marver to that area to bring out the color.
6) The last, and to me, most important part of working with chalcedony is to know when to quit! I have lost some beautiful colors in my beads by overworking the glass. I know other people are able to bring back the colors even more beautifully, but I just can't seem to do that. The tube bead is an example of knowing when to quit. I had much more vibrant colors earlier in the flame. I should have quit. It's still pretty, but it was even more beautiful.

I guess, in the long run, the best advice is that of the three P's.
Practice! Practice! Practice!
You will find what works best for you, too!


Carol Jean / Lovethemsteiff said...

Hi Mallory! How have you been? Busy I see. I've been busy but don't have much to show for it...painting the kitchen, etc. I just thought I would stop by and say hello. I absolutely LOVE the first bead in this entry. It looks like photos from NASA and the Hubble of Space. So pretty. You really made something wonderful this time. Keep enjoying this great hobby. Take care! Carol Jean

Paula said...

WOW, Mallory you've got it singing for sure...look at all those colors. I'll order some if you help me get those colors. Gorgeous!!

kelleysbeads said...

That long chalcedony bead is GORGEOUS! Excellent job bringing out the colors :)