May 12, 2006

A couple of weeks ago someone asked me how I did the “Vertebrae Twistie” in the focal pictured below. Since I didn’t “invent” this kind of twistie, but learned it from my friend Kimberly Affleck, I asked her whether it would be okay to share the technique, and she not only gave me an enthusiastic “but of course” – but she also sent me a tutorial with great step by step images…thank you, Kimberly, you rock – but then I knew that already…

Vertebrae Bead
Vertebrae Twistie Bead

Here is the tutorial for making a “Vertebrae Twistie”, written and photographed by Kimberly Affleck, who would like to give credit for the technique of adding the glass to a mandrel and then twist to Andrea Guarino. On the other hand, I myself learned the same technique from Michael Barley (just different colors) – and I know that most JAPANESE beadmakers make their twisties in a similar way, the first time I had seen someone add a gather of glass to the end of a thick mandrel was 3 years ago at the Japanese Lampwork Festival… BUT – what colors to use and how to use the resulting twistie is always up to the individual artist…and there is still LOTS of room for YOUR creativity!!!!

First, I make a gather on the end of a mandrel. Get the tip of the mandrel really red hot about 1/4 inch down.

Then heat your glass and apply it to the end of the mandrel. The gather should be about the size of the average red grape.

I am using Opal Yellow for the core of the twisty.

Now, marver the gather into a cone shape.

Now, to add a little color. I added one large stripe of EDP and one large stripe of Copper Green. Keep the core a little cool so it doesn’t distort when you add your stripes of color.

Now, I add a couple of thin stripes of Intense Black. They are not evenly spaced but they are rather thin. To keep them thin, PUSH the stripe on, starting at the top of the gather and pushing toward the bottom. I think I added two or three stripes of Intense Black.

Now, heat your gather until everything is pretty much melted in. It doesn’t have to be smooth, just no big bumps.

Allow to cool a little bit, then heat gently in the flame, grasp the end of the gather with some tweezers, twist rapidly with the hand holding the mandrel (the mandrel will help you do this) while you very slowly pull out the twisty with your other hand.

Keep flashing the gather in the flame, then out, in, then out to keep the gather just hot enough to pull. It takes some practice, but you will eventually get a very tightly twisted cane that is wonderful for organic beads. I couldn’t do my seahorses without these twisties!!

Here is a picture of one of Kimberly’s fantastic Seahorse beads: