Experimenting with Hollows

Many months ago I bought a few puffy mandrels of Jeri Warhaftig‘s website. I did originally try out the mandrels, but had at that time so many other things to work on, that I put them away after the first test. Yesterday night I pulled the mandrels out again and spent an hour playing with them.

I tried a couple of opaque colors, but felt unsatisfied with the results. I didn’t feel a purpose behind making hollow beads, if you don’t see that they’re hollow. Don’t get me wrong – there are some amazing bead artists, famous for their gorgeous large, opaque hollows (just think of Aja Vaz as one example). But for me, hollows are not so much about making large beads, but more about highlighting the negative space inside of the bead: I love the look of transparency, clarity, lightness, weightlessness.

So here are first results of yesterday’s “play time” with my puffy mandrels:

I used clear, transparent pink and pale green and decorated the hollows with gold leaf. To complement the beads, I also made some matching rustic disks. In the photo above, you can see inside the light green bead the modification of the puffy mandrel: a little hole in the stainless steel wall of the mandrel.

While I was pretty happy with the first tests, the beads are not perfectly round, and also not evenly thin walled. I hope PPP (practice, practice, practice) will improve this.

I do love the combination of hollows and disks in jewelry though, and was playing around with different ideas today. First I made a vintage inspired, very long necklace with intricate decoration and chain tassels (sorry, no picture of the result). It was actually pretty nice, but so not me. I pulled it all apart really quickly, and arranged the hollows and disks on a dainty chain and a wire choker instead.

Both these results I like very much, and I’m planning to explore this design idea more in the future. Next I’ll be testing hollows with fine silver leaf for a more casual look.

Let me know how you like these designs – I’m always looking for feedback :).

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8 comments

  1. Very pretty and sparkly!

  2. Oh yes, I totally agree. Hollows should be made with clear. I did a few and put swirls on the top in a different transparent rod. Really nice. Thanks for posting your testing. I love your newsletter.

  3. Cherie

    So very cool. I’m glad you’re doing these. I’ve got a few ladies that love your lampwork beads and would love earrings made with them but they’re a little heavier than they want to wear all day – these will be very comfortable for them. I love, love, love the gold leaf. I’m curious how big the hole is and if I can hang these 1.5mm pearls from a chain and fit it inside or somehow embellish the wire or chain that sits inside. Probably not. Let us know when you’re happy with these and ready to start selling them!

    • Hi Cherie, thanks so much for your comments. The hole in these beads is larger than my normal beads, because they’re blown and made on a hollow mandrel. I checked, and the mandrel size is 3/32″, which is 2.4 mm plus add a bit for bead release. That means the hole is approx. 2.5 to 2.7 mm large. I guess that means you can use small seed beads to embellish the wire inside without problems.
      For earrings, you want obviously two very evenly sized beads. While I’m doing great with having really nice bead holes, I’m still working on consistency of sizes LOL. As you can see in my newest blog post with 3 new photos, not one of the bead is the same size as the others :). But I’m working on it!! 🙂
      Thanks for your nice comments and the idea with earring hollows. Will keep you informed ❤

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