Sep 28, 2014

How to make a stringer pulling tool

This little “tutorial” is not so much about HOW to make a stringer-pulling tool, that part is pretty straight forward, but it’s more about WHY you should bother using one.

There are many different ways of pulling stringer, some people melt two rods together to pull out (my LEAST favorite method), but most people use some sort of pliers or tweezers.

In “Passing The Flame” I think I recommended using needle nose pliers – nowadays I prefer pulling stringer with tweezers, I even SELL my favorite type of tweezers.

Tweezers and pliers are fast and easy, you just melt a ball of glass, grab the edge with tweezers and pull out.

This method has one major drawback, something that doesn’t matter in the “big scheme of things”, but it’s good to know:

Whenever you pull glass with a flat tool (like pliers and tweezers), the beginning of the stringer pulls out as a flat ribbon, instead of a nice round-diameter stringer.

Don’t believe me? Take a rod of intense black or transparent aqua, grab it with pliers and pull. Or, take a look at the picture of some sample stringers below. The stringers are distinctively flat “ribbons” up to the little arrow – for about 3 inches.

Why does that happen? Glass wants to take on the shape of what you pull it with. So, if you grab it with a flat tool, it will pull flat for a distance, before it allow itself to be what it really wants to be: round.

This “phenomenon” is more pronounced in a stiffer glass (like intense black, or transparent colors, or opaque encased in transparent…), because stiffer glass hold it’s shape longer.

As I said, this is not a problem, as long as you are aware that it happens, and cut off the part that is flat, because it will mess with your stringer application if you use it. We all know how expensive intense black is, so cutting off 3 inches doesn’t sound like a good idea, especially when there is a simple remedy: pull it with something round, preferable something that is stiffer than intense black.

We have this “Magic Tool” right at our finger-tips: 1/16 th inch mandrels (or thicker, if you need to pull thicker stringer).

We can just use the mandrels the way they are (without bead-release of course) – but it is SO much more fun to turn this into a pretty, lovingly decorated tool.

I don’t even need to give you a “tutorial” for this: just cut the mandrel to the length you want (I prefer it shorter, so I cut a 12 inch mandrel into half) – bring the tip to a glow, add glass, decorate. Not a bit of “secret here”.

I have to warn you though: making these is hightly addictive, I had to literally stop myself, because how many stringer-pulling tools does one need???

I started out with a simple Tritone drop – and ended up with a “full-blown” oceanbead with fish and starfish…of course, a frog is also a neat way to decorate this simple tool…..

How do USE the stringer-pulling tool?

It’s super-easy, but I took some pictures, just to make sure:

1. Melt the amount of glass you need for the stringer (depending on diameter and desired length) and bring the tip of the mandrel to a red-glow (don’t overheat, you can actually melt the metal if you overheat it…)

2. Take both out of the flame and stick the glowing mandrel tip into the blob (I push it in for about 1 mm)

 3. Pull, holding the glass rod and the stringer-pulling tool in a straight line

Break or cut off the stringer where it’s the diameter you want, and dip the rest into a glass of water….

Hope you are going to give this a try, it’s crazy fun.

What if you have too many and don’t need more than one tool? I’m sure they would make nice planter-sticks, hair-sticks or whatever you can think of.