This is where the magic happens here on a Nortel Red Max torch at @Orange Glow Glass Co made right here in Canada!
The glass that I use comes in a wide array of beautiful colours. Typically they are in rods about the thickness of a pen or a pencil. For a lot of my work I need to draw them down into smaller rods known as stringer, this allows me to achieve greater detail in my beads. Also pictured are my 5 go to tools: my striker for lighting the torch, my mashers, my brass stump shaper, my tweezers (which are the best for gummy worm tails) and my absolute favourite: my little spatula which is wonderful for small details!
Hyperlapse videos are my favourite way to show the process and also apparently all the funny faces I make when I’m working. Click HERE to check out my Youtube video of a pink gummy bear being made at turbo speed! As you can see I don’t use any mold in my work. It’s important to me that every piece is one of a kind and I like the subtle differences in each piece.
The fun doesn’t stop once the beads are away in the kiln though. After I get them out there are still many steps to be completed until they are finished. After a nice soak in some warm water the first step is to remove the beads from the mandrels. Is it a surprise to anyone that I soak my beads in an old marshmallow fluff container? Some of the beads slide right off, others are stubborn and need some coaxing.
This next step is a pain, but a necessary evil for a flameworker: dremelling. This removes the bead release from the hole of your bead. Bead release is a clay body that you dip your mandrels in before starting work at the torch; it’s what allows you to remove your bead from the mandrel afterwards – because otherwise hot glass sticks to hot metal and you will never get it off! These diamond bits for the dremel make quick work of it though. What’s the best way to get through this stage? Throw on some high energy tunes so you can have a little dance party between beads!
Ever wonder how my glass candy gets that matte finish? This might be the most important step of all: acid etching. Safety is a priority at this stage so I make sure I have my respirator, safety glasses and my nitrile gloves. The acid bath that I use can be reused over and over until it finally loses its potency. This little bottle is relatively new so it can get the job done in 20-30 minutes. Every 10 minutes or so I come and shake things up a little bit just to make sure that all areas on the beads will be etched.
After a quick soak in a neutralizing bath made up of water and baking soda, these guys get a good scrub with some dish soap. Once they are clean and dry you can see the beautiful velvety finish that the acid gives them.
The smaller gummy bears are destined to be little dangly earrings. I only use sterling silver for my earrings. As someone with metal sensitivities, I know how frustrating it is to fall in love with a pair of earrings and then find out I can’t wear them. Plus I want to be able to wear my own jewellery!
In case it wasn’t painfully obvious, I love candy. I never go too far without some inspiration around
The final step in the process: packaging. All the packaging is designed by me – because I have to put my photoshop skills to good use somewhere! Also included is the important warning not to eat my glass work, it might look real but please don’t eat it!