Author: Mary_Lockwood, Contributing Editor
|When first attempting this method of encasing, it would be best to practice on simple, undecorated beads. This article assumes that you have general lampworking knowledge and begins by using a narrow barrel bead. You can encase practically any bead shape in this manner.|
|At left is an image of the shape that I usually start out with for my smaller florals. At this point, it's not important if the ends are pointy.
After shaping your base bead to be well balanced and centered, bring it out of the flame and let it cool slightly. You'll want the base to be cool enough to not shift when applying the hot encasement, but warm enough not to crack. This comes with experience. You will learn as you go how cool is too cool. Practice this technique on simple bases while you are learning.
|While this base is cooling, you should be heating the tip of a thick clear stringer (2mm approx. diameter. I use commercially pulled clear stringer). Bring the bead close, but not into the flame and touch the tiny gather of clear from the hot stringer to the side of the bead, very near the mandrel.
The picture to the right shows that you should be holding the bead close to the flame, and have the stringer passing through the hottest part of the flame. The stringer is thin, and heats quickly, which is why you are able to coil the stringer around the bead without actually forming a 'gather' of clear. Your clear stringer should be easy to move, and molten enough to flatten slightly as you are pressing it onto the surface of the bead, but not so hot that you can't control where it goes.
The more you practice, the faster and hotter you will be able to work. Don't get discouraged if it takes you a while to get the feel for this.
|This photograph shows another view of your initial barrel bead. Your first touch of the stringer should be near the mandrel at the point indicated by the red dot.|
|This photograph demonstrates how your stringer wraps should overlap.
Please note the angle of the stringer. You want your wraps to not only touch the base bead, but also touch each other. Push the hot clear into the groove between the last row of clear, and the base. The more successful you are at doing this, the fewer bubbles you will have in your final product.