There are a lot of metallic glass offerings in the lampwork world, but unfortunately very few of them are in the 104 COE (coefficient of expansion) range. Many of the silvered glasses that came out recently have high levels of silver, but achieving a true metallic look with them can be difficult. When I want to a very shiny metallic look, I use Reichenbach cane.
The bead above is an illustration of bead that I recently made that incorporates metallic stringer work. The base of the glass is clear encased Double Helix “Kronos”, goldstone and silver blue dichroic glass. The metallic stringer work on the surface of the bead is Reichenbach Iris Blue. Using it with 104 COE glass can be a bit tricky and takes a little practice because Reichenbach Iris Blue is a 96 COE glass. Although the COE range between the two glasses is fairly wide, it is still suitable for surface application if used sparingly.
Before I started making my bead, I pulled several thin stringers of Iris Blue and set them to the side. Once I was ready to apply them, I made sure that my bead was VERY hot. . .Still glowing red. I applied the stringer in a neutral flame, being sure to melt it until it was well adhered to the surface of my bead. Iris Blue melts like butter when applied in high heat, but you must apply it hot, (leaving the stringer only slightly raised on the surface) or the stringer will pop off later. This takes a bit of practice, but after you work with it for a bit, you’ll begin to recognize the precise point in which to stop melting your stringer before moving on to the next step.
Once the stringer is melted onto the surface, you will need to reduce your oxygen to a very rich propane flame. Flash your bead through the flame a few times and you’re done.
Lydia Muell is a glass bead maker who blogs in her studio from Lexington, NC. For more information please visit here website at ashtonjewels.com.