Striped Disc How-To

Posted on December 1, 2010

Adding stripes to your repertoire (I love that word) of skills can add dimension to your work. Since all glass wants to be round, the symmetry of the lines offers a nice contrast to all of that “roundness”. And you can do it- you can coax the glass into uniform stripes, it just takes a little bit of doing. There are a couple of ways of creating geometric stripes in your beads, both work beautifully, and each offers a different look.

The first way is to use glass twisties to create the center of your bead. This technique creates a a nice ribbon-like effect with tiny fine detailed lines. Add a bit of black for definition, or layers of transparent glass for a watery effect.
The second way is to encase layered dots on a base bead to create stripes, this technique will produce lines that are bolder and more geometric looking, if you layer in some transparent glass, you can get depth as well.
Twistie Center Discs
Pick a twisty whose width is close to the size you want for the base. I generally pick one that is approximately 4-6 mm, (slightly smaller than an average-sized rod), and one where the stripes are fairly uniform. 
Heat the twisty until it just begins to bend, and lay it carefully on the hot mandrel:
DO NOT PULL- if you pull, like you would when wrapping from a rod, you will distort the design. Instead, LAY the glass onto your mandrel:
Carefully bend it around until it touches the beginning of the wrap, and lay it down onto your table. Take your nipper and nip off the twisty, leaving approx. ¼ inch “tail”.
Put it back into the flame and heat it up until the tail gently falls down onto the wrap, then take your pokey thing and pull just the edge of the end over to the side, (I pull to the right, because I am right handed) pulling it so it matches the angle of the lines in the twisty, like so:
I make most of my twisties with a clear center which helps to mask the seam (where black or white would leave a large line).  You can melt the base down until the surface is even and the base is uniform. Once you encase and melt, the lines will even up and the seam will disappear into the design.
Honestly, that is the hardest part! Now encase, laying the claer just on the surface of the base- don't let it flow down around the side, this will preserve the stripes in the center:
Keep wrapping until you get several wraps of clear:
Melt the encasing down:
Suqish the disc with your mashers periodically while melting it down- this will help line up the stripes:
and decorate with surface decorations if desired. I usually only decorate the surface if I am not pleased with my seam on the center core.
Some variations:
The tighter the twist, the flatter and straighter the lines will be:
While the a looser twist will give you more of a “ribbon” effect, and lines will have more dimension:
Dot Method:
To use the dot method, make a small (and I mean small!) base bead:
Pick a color that contrasts your dots- for this example I used a base of white, but you could also start with a dark color, like black or dark brown. Maybe 1- 1 ½ wraps of glass, no more.   Then place 4 dots on the base bead, if you use a stringer, make sure that they are equally spaced and be fairly generous with your dots.  This bead will have 3 layers of dots, when planning, take this into consideration:
Melt these in, and then add another smaller dot in the middle of your first dot:
I cannot stress enough how important it is to get these as even as you can. Take your time, it will pay off in the end! Melt the second dots in until flat, and then add another dot in the middle of those- here I used dark lapis blue, French blue and a center of dark periwinkle:
Melt these in flat:
Let the base bead cool slightly as you heat up your clear. 
THIS IS IMPORTANT: When you touch the clear to the base bead, be sure to only cover the middle of each dot, like this:
If your wrap spreads too much over the sides, you will capture the entire dot, and the illusion of a straight stripe will be lost, you will get a curved edge to each stripe. Less is more in this application! Wrap the clear all the way around, it should look like a very thin disc, only covering the very middle of each of the dots. I continue to build it up for about 2-3 wraps, until you get something that looks like this:
Kind of scary, I know, but it will all turn out OK, I promise!
Then melt it down. When the necasing begins to melt into the center base, I take my mashers and squish it into a disc shape- pushing the center up into the clear, like so:
Melt down a bit more and then mash again:
Continue melting until it rounds out, make sure it is even and round, and then into the kiln.
You can vary the designs by adding in transparents, plunge for bubble dots or vary your dot placement to create triangles- experiment, have fun and happy torching:) Laura

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torchfairy   January 3, 2011 at 5:31 pm

  Fabulous... thanks for sharing  

ellabeads   April 12, 2011 at 11:30 am

  Thank you for your wonderful blog with each of your tutorials. They are so well done and have been very helpful to me. Beautiful beads!!  

choschiba   January 30, 2015 at 3:01 pm

  Thank you very much for this tutorial. I will try this the next time I'm at the torch.  

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