Thank you for checking out the info on all the purples and pinks I have had so much fun with lately. I spent weeks testing the different colors - making sure that I wouldn't lead you on a wild goose chase, so to speak. The information I am giving you is absolutely free, it's right here on my website - JUST SCROLL DOWN.
BUT, it would be nice if you could "reward" me for my hard work and my willingness to share - so I created an "open price" button - YOU can decide how much it's worth to you. If you don't think you learned anything or dind't get any new ideas, just move on, but IF you agree with me that this might be the most exciting "discovery" for you to play with next year....well, it would make me happy if you could show your appreciation - either for this, or for any other information you have received throught the year...Thanks so much, I always appreciate YOU!
If you click on the "Add to cart" button (there is another one at the bottom of the text) you will receive a link to a downloadable PDF.
Okay, I have spent enough time “teasing” you, telling you that I would “reveal” the secret of the amazing purple very soon….the truth is, I had so much fun testing the “new purples” (and pinks), and venturing beyond this color group into the greens, blues and yellows, that I didn’t really want to stop to sit down, take pictures and write….I was in a swirling universe of color bliss that was difficult to emerge from.
But on the other hand, I am really eager to share “the secret” with you, because I I know (or hope) that your beadmaking will never be the same, and I can’t wait to see what YOU will come up with…
Actually, there is no real secret, the answer is simple: the amazing colors are Reichenbach 96 COE transparents. But only the intense purples and pinks are 96– the rest of the beads I created are ENTIRELY made with Effetre 104 COE.
“How can that be?” you might ask? Haven’t we all learned in our beadmaking career that we could only use colors of the same COE, or at least within 2 or 3 points difference? Yes. And no.
But before I get into the detail WHY all of this works, I want to take you back in time a few years, to show you where my curiosity about these “intense colors” of a different COE was born.
About 15 years ago, I was fortunate to take a class with my friend and world renowned paperweight artist CHRIS BUZZINI. Here is a close up shot of one of his breathtaking floral paperweights:
The colors are not digitally enhanced – they really are that brilliant.
Chris had a huge “library” of colors in his studio. At that point, most of the colors were actually made in Germany (Zimmermann, Kugler and Reichenbach). The glass on his shelf was mostly in rod-form, but these rods are not what we use as beadmakers, but thick and short “cigarlike” chunks of glass – the stuff glassblowers use to make overlays. Chris would cut a piece off with a saw, place it into the kiln, heat it up and then take it out with a punty and pull it into a “cane” (the size of our beadmaking rods). I think what mostly deterred me from buying those fat rods and playing with them at home was not so much the fact that they were officially not compatible with Effetre glass (they were all 96, if I remember right) – but it was the extra effort of getting from a piece of thick rod to a useable cane. 15 years ago, that was just more than I could handle. But the idea always stayed with me, like “one of these days I’m going to give it a try…”
The opportunity for that showed up a little over 6 weeks ago, when I was teaching a class on “Fancy Florals” at Pacific Art Glass in California. My sweet friend Karen Fox showed me a gorgeous bead with surface applied flowers she had made – and she handed me a few short pieces of rods (from now on, when I say “rods” I am only talking about the cane you are familiar with, the 5-6 mm diameter version) and smiled “Here, this is Reichenbach 96, I’m curious what you’ll do with this….” I think if Karen had known what kind of monster she unleashed, she might have thought twice about this little precious gift.
Not only did these two pieces of glass take me back to my 15 year old love for the depth of these colors, but she also revealed to me the fact that a lot has changed in the glass world between “then” and “now”: The glass manufacturers must have realized that besides the glassblowers, the lampworkers are a big customer now – and instead of having to pull our own “skinny rods” from the big rods of the past, we now can buy all those fantastic colors as the rods we are used to…..
Many beadmakers (me included) never venture into the world 96 colors, because we have been taught that the COEs have to “match”, and most of us have so much glass already that the idea of starting a whole new collection of 96 glass that has to be kept separately doesn’t appeal to us. We like it simple. Well, I do.
But now enough talk, you know me, I could go on and on, and I’m sure the one thing you are most interested in is: What IS this glass, what can I do with it - and will the beads break?
The first picture shows bundles of ¼ kilo glass of each of the 12 colors I will introduce to you:
No, I didn’t make a mistake and take a picture of bundles of black rods – the color is so INTENSE that even if you hold the rods against the light, they appear black, with a few exceptions.
It is part of the beauty of these Reichenbach colors that they are so intense, but at the same time, it poses a number of problems.
First, you have to very carefully label the rods, or you will be completely lost if you look at a rod without a label.
Second, for most applications to have to create overlays – mostly over white (EFFETRE white).
My own labeling and overlaying system looks like this:
I took one tall spice-jar for each color and wrote the name and order number on the label. I “tested” each color by making the following, which I store in the appropriate jar:
- A “bare” rod
- Two thick encased stringer (2-3mm) of the color over Effetre white with a thick and a thin encasing (more about that below)
- Two thicker cane (3-4mm) with Effetre : a) Effetre white, thin Effetre intense black stringer and encased in the Reichenbach color – and b) Effetre white, encased in the Reichenbach color and CIM Peace (white) stringer on top
I taped all the stringer and rods I had left (used some up for beads) to a sheet of gray photo paper, to give you an idea of the colors available with the names and respective order numbers.
There is one sheet for purples and one sheet for pinks.
Of course, each camera and each screen interpret the colors differently, but on my screen they look fairly accurate:
The main reason I made “overlaid” stringer and cane is to show the colors.
Remember the picture of the bundles of full rods? The ones that look almost black?
These Reichenbach colors are so dense/intense that they would appear way too dark if applied in the way you are used with all of the Effetre transparents you might have.
Look at this little test strand of beads I made. I wanted to a) test the colors over white and b) see whether the beads would brake, since there is quite a heavy layer of color over the Effetre white core and underneath the layer of Effetre Superclear.
The beads definitely “stayed together “, but overall I think the colors are too dark to be attractive. The pinks faired better than the purples (though I noticed that most of the pinks easily turn brownish…you need to work the pinks in a slightly oxidizing flame…)
(In case you want to know the names of the colors I used, sorry, I forgot to keep track,
you might have to make your own test strand).
In these bead below I used a fairly thick layer of purples and pinks; so I wasn’t surprised that they turned out this dark, but look what happens when you just place a simple dot of color on top of an Effetre white dot:
You can kind of see that the glass is purple (I used R-10-C, Violet Blue for this example) – but it’s still too dark to make the color “shine”.
This is the reason why I made all those encased stringer and cane – it creates a much thinner layer of color, and with these rich colors you can definitely say “less is more”.
If you have never made encased stringer or cane (the difference is mainly the diameter of the rod you pull: a stringer “in my book” is somewhere between 1-3 mm, while a cane is anything thicker than that. Cane can have stripes, but that’s not part of my definition of cane) – here are some pointers:
Making encased stringer
1. You have to decide the diameter of the stringer you want to pull. When you make a stringer, I would recommend encasing a “straight rod” of Effetre white or other light opaque color (I only use white myself). Check your supply of white – usually there are thinner and thicker rods in each batch of white; pick the thickest rod you can find (or, if you make a lot of these, order a pound of 7-8mm diameter white). It is easier to encase a larger diameter rod than a smaller.
1. Gently heat the white rod, only enough the encasing glass will stick to it, but not so hot that the glass will bend.
2. Heat a “good size” blob of the Reichenbach color and swipe it in a fluid motion from the top of the white rod downwards. How far down the swipe goes depends on how much encasing glass you melted, I usually cover about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ inches.
3. Keep adding one encasing swipe next to the previous encasing swipe, making sure that each swipe touches the previous one. I usually apply each swipe to the right of the previous one, but it doesn’t really matter which way you go. The swiping does not have to happen outside the flame, you can keep part of the encasing color in the edge of the flame, as long as you keep the white rod out of the flame.
4. Once you have encased all the way around the white rod, punty to the end of the white with the Reichenbach rod…
5. Heat the encased part to an even glow
6. And pull into the desired thickness
B. Making thicker cane
1. If you want a thicker diameter for whatever purpose, you can’t encase a white rod as shown above, but you need to build a larger gather – usually a barrel. You can build the barrel right on the end of the white rod, but I prefer to make it on a metal punty. The process of encasing is the same as described:
2. Cover barrel with swipes
3. Build a small “cap” with clear on the top of the white barrel and punty up with clear, pull out into whatever diameter you need
If you look at the above pictures closely, you will notice a difference in the angle of the encasing rod to the white rod/barrel. This is an important point to remember when working with very dense colors: The steeper the angle of the encasing rod, the thinner the encasing (and the lighter the color). If you want a darker shade, swipe down the encasing rod in a right angle to the white. The graphic illustrates this idea:
Another question you might have at this point is: What about the stripes? I mentioned earlier that in my spice jars I have some cane with just a layer of color, and some with white and intense black stripes. It goes a little beyond the “scope” of this tutorial to show how to make striped cane, but here is a close-up of cane made with R-9-C Fuchsia:
As you can see in the picture, the white stripes “brighten” the color, while the black stripes darken and intensify the color. The white stripes (I like to use CIM Peace commercial stringer, they are quite a bit thinner than the Effetre commercial stringer and the white is less translucent when pulled out). The black stripes are made with Effetre intense black, but they also look good with regular Effetre black. The white stripes are applied to the top of the encasing layer, while the black stripes are underneath the encasing layer - this graphic was made by Debby Gwaltney for my tutorial on flower petals in the November issue of the SodaLimeTimes, but it fits perfectly here:
While the stripes slightly influence the color, my main reason to make striped cane is to add texture to my flower petals…
Now, let’s get back to the problem of these Reichenbach colors being too dense to be used by themselves. Remember the little picture of the violet blue R-10-C dots on top of white dots:
Can you use the encased stringer/cane we just made for dots? In general, I am not all that fond of that look, but it’s possible (actually, in this flower it looks pretty darn good…):
I’m sure if you play with the idea of making dots with encased stringer/cane you’ll come up with some exciting “looks”. I love to play with the cane, but I mostly use it to swipe on flower petals, both on the surface and in encased beads.
But what if your beadmaking style doesn’t really use the swiping motion? What if you NEED dots? The solution to that is what I call “diluting the color”. In a way, it seems counter productive, since the biggest part of the attraction of the Reichenbach colors is the intensity, but even diluted Reichenbach colors look richer and different from similar Effetre colors. What is diluting (I made this expression up, don’t expect anyone else to know what that means…)?
It’s mixing the color with clear glass (Effetre).
1. take two rods of clear (slightly larger diameter rods work great, around 7-8mm) in one hand. Add the color you want to dilute with the other hand to the tip of both rods.
The more color you add, the more of the mix you’ll get, or the darker the shade.
2. Once you’ve added enough color, remove the color rod and hold one of the clear rods in the other hand. Start mixing.
3. As the glass melts, make sure that you push the color right and left over both clear rods, to add in more clear to the mix.
4. Keep mixing and adding clear, until the color and the clear have mixed well.
5. Pull into thick stringer
Here is a little trick you might enjoy:
6. Cut out the straight part of your pull and lay it aside
7. Take the two “leftover” thicker ends of your pull
8. And mix them back together in the flame
9. Add more clear by pushing the color over the clear rods as before
10. Blend well and pull out
You can continue this “remixing” of the ends indefinitely – each pull gets a little lighter in color, and you end up with multiple shades of the same color, which can look very pretty on flower petals, but I’m sure that it can also add interest to “general beads”.
Here are some diluted test-dots (forgot which colors I used, sorry):
Left: full color, center: diluted color first pull, right: diluted color second pull
Some examples for diluted colors applied as shaded petals:
One more comment to “diluting” the colors: the color and the clear never mix perfectly, there will always be a degree of striation, so your dots (or petals) will have a slight watercolor look:
This might not be everybody’s “cup of tea, but I think it has possibilities.
Of course, you can also mix opaque shades for the Reichenbach transparent colors by blending them with Effetre WHITE instead of clear….same process.
Speaking of process, at this point you might be thinking “gee, this looks like a lot of work – are these Reichenbach colors really that much “better” than Effetre or CIM transparents?" I kind of assumed that someone will ask this question, so I made a couple of comparison-canes with the darkest Effetre purples and pinks I could find in my studio: Effetre dark transparent Violet (591039) compared to Reichenbach Violet Blue (R-10-C) and Effetre Rubino Oro (591456) compared to Reichenbach Cranberry Pink (R-232-C). The Effetre canes are on the left of each pair. Does that answer any questions you might have?
Now, after having discussed all these different ways of working with Reichenbach and Effetre colors, I am sure you still have the one “burning” questions: Does this work? And WHY?
After Karen gifted me those two pieces of my “Initiation Rods”, I went to Seattle to Olympic Color Rods (www.glasscolor.com) – the Mecca for glassblowing colors. I bought ¼ kilo (the minimum amount you have to buy) of each shade of purple and pink I could find (the 12 you have seen above), and I played with the combination of these 96 COE colors and Effetre…adding more and more of the Reichenbach color, waiting for my beads to crack. Not a single one did.
On the Olympic Color Rods website it actually says: “Cane is in 96 COE range. May use ON TOP of Moretti glass as accent colors (no more than 20% of total glass for the bead).”
Obviously, the statement that it can only be used on top of Moretti (Effetre) is not quite true – a lot of my beads in the gallery have petals made with Reichenbach underneath the encasing layer… it’s probably impossible to judge how much 20% is, but I doubt I have used anywhere near that much…
As big as my delight over this new universe of purples and pinks was, my curiosity was even bigger; so I called the ONE person I knew could explain the mystery: Loren Stump.
He almost laughed at me when I asked him “why on earth does this work” – he has been using Reichenbach (and Kugler and Zimmermann) I his Effetre-based work for a long time.
His answer was simple: "It’s not the COE that matters, but THE VISCOSITY."
I might be interpreting this wrong, but if the glass “feels” the same, it will work together. That pretty much defies all the rules we have been working “under” for all these years – but on the other hand, it explains why so many colors that have the same COE and SHOULD work together cause our beads to crack – like all those CIM shades of pink. They are all 104 COE, but they don’t feel the same, some are a lot stiffer than others….
Anyways, that’s the explanation our “glass guru” gave me, and so far, knock on glass, it worked. Not a single cracked or broken bead….I am having the most incredible “pink and purple dream” – and it looks like I won’t face a rude awakening…
Do you feel tempted to give it a try? I asked Dave Hensley at Olympic Color Rods to put together a “sample kit” just for purple and pink transparent shades (so you don’t have to buy ¼ kilo of each color, if you just want to see the magic for yourself and find your favorite color). You get one rod of each shade – since the rods are of different diameter (some are more like fat stringers), the price of each bundle differs slightly, but it’s around $ 25. To be honest, I don’t have the foggiest idea how to order this special bundle and this point– the web-master at OCR is still on vacation and there won’t be a “buy now” button until he comes back in a couple of weeks. You can order (as I was told) by emailing them or calling, the order number of this “special sampler-kit” is:
Once you get on the website, you will see how many colors of Reichenbach are available, both transparent and opaque. Karen is already knee-deep in testing greens, blues, oranges….just amazingly rich shades we have only dreamed about so far.
Karen’s bead below is made with Aquamarine, Violet Blue and Saffron and Gold Green in the leaf canes….
Not into flower beads? Here is a glimpse into one of my oceanbeads – the purple shines as “marine tubes”:
And one of my classic black and white strands with Hyacinth Violet R-14-C instead of the Effetre Rubino Oro I typically use:
Many thanks to Karen Fox for the “jumpstart” and her continuous challenging of my creativity - and to Debby Gwaltney for the awesome graphics– and I hope this not really new “discovery” will add an incredible level of pizzazz to YOUR beads…. Happy New Year to all of you – and May The Flame Be With You!