I do like to have a play with new ideas of course, but there is a certain type of glass that I love working with and so do tend to make quite a few beads using this. It is a glass rich in silver and generally I buy this glass from a US manufacturer (though a UK distributor). The company is called Double Helix and although they make the bulk of this type of glass there are other manufacturers who make a few different rods and whose rods I do sometimes use, but Double Helix have the biggest range. Most of their glasses are named after Greek Gods or muses and my favourites are Psyche (purple rod), Clio (pink rod), Echo (muddy brown really unappealing looking rod, but can produce pale pearlescent pinks or peacock colours (I discovered to my surprise!) and also recently Thallo which is greenish in colour.
The thing is with silver rich glass that no matter what the rod colour is the results you get with this glass can surprise you. There are in the main, two types of silver glass, some are reducers (you change the chemistry of the flame, more in a bit about that); some are strikers (you get the bead hot, then cool it – not too much or it will crack – and then reintroduce it into the flame and that should make the colours pop, but if you get it wrong you get muddy yuck! It is notoriously difficult to get the hang of this and many bead makers won't go near this type of glass); and some are both (Echo). With reducers, how it works is this; normally you work your glass with what's called a neutral flame, equal amounts of oxygen and propane, but if you increase the propane (or decrease the Oxygen, you would think it would be the same thing but isn't and can give different results, although I tend to go for upping the propane) the silver in the glass is activated and you get a mirror or metallic affect in the glass. You can leave it like that (as per the image) or, go back to a neutral flame, being careful not to let this flame touch your lovely metallic sheen and then encase the bead in a transparent glass (normally a good clear glass but a lovely very pale blue gives great affects too, I have tried a pale green and it wasn't really a nice result!), then you get this mother of pearl affect in the bead which is sooo pretty and can result in a myriad of colours that shimmer and change in the light.
I have worked with this glass for over 4 years now and it never ceases to surprise me, sometimes this is because the glass rods are hand made and there can be subtle changes in each batch, sometimes perhaps because the increase in propane is different, maybe it is the temperature in my studio, maybe the length of time I leave the bead in the reducing flame, maybe the base colour I use under the silver glass (it's VERY expensive stuff, so generally I will bulk out the bead by layering the silver glass over a less expensive glass), maybe the wind is in the wrong direction or I got out of the wrong side of the bed, who knows, if I knew I wouldn't get so many surprises! To the right is a picture of a bead that I made about 3 years ago, I just love the colours, but can I do it again, NO! So please don't ask me to recreate these beads as exact replicas cos it just doesn't happen, believe me, when I make something where I think, Wow, I want to get that colour again it never happens, I have tried and tried and tried to get these colours again and I can't do it, the lucky owner of this bead knows that it is truly a one off and there will never be another one like it, that's one of the beauties of this glass. It is also VERY tricky to photograph and they never look as good in pictures as they do in real life.
So here's a few photos of some of my all time favourites surprises.
Expected green (silver glass was overlaid on opaque turquoise) and got these lovely pinks and blues
Another bead where I can't recreate the colours (I only made it last week!). I Expected blue but got this lilac, very very pretty, sold immediately and I as I cannot do it again, the lady who bought it also knows she has a one off. 🙂
Expected pink and got these peacock colours (this silver glass is a good example of batch differences, last batch I had I got lots of very very pale pink, this batch I am getting these peacock colours, it's nice to get surprises like this (luckily I wasn't set on the pale pinks!).