Friday, February 25, 2011

Lets Talk Spiral Tongs!

I finally got back onto the torch Wednesday. It felt so good! Between sick, and too cold to torch in the studio, I was off it for a few weeks. I made a few dozen big flat spiral beads, in various sizes, all using my Jim Moore Spiral Tongs. I decided that his spiral tongs are my go-2 item, and by far my favorite! So lets talk about it :)

Lets face it, It seems pricey! I am a low budget girl!!!
At about $100 bucks, it is the best investment I have made in a long time. It is rare to get them used, (but buy them if you can) because you will seriously want to hold on to them forever. They are very well made. Heavy brass plates about the size of a half dollar, and steel tongs that are smooth, and comfortable to grip. It accommodates almost any glass size from a few millimeters to probably about 1 1/2 inches round. I have easily squished a 7/8 marble size of glass and larger many times. Same rule applies as presses, you can press more than once. I tend to squish a little at a time with more glass, just to make sure I am even (if that is the plan). If I am not, it is easy to correct before I get to flat. Especially when making wine stoppers, or using a larger amount of glass.
It is like a press, or any other tool. They look a bit different, they can appear as roughness in the creases.

These are the most versatile tool I own. They really can be used in any application. You can use them to shape your final form, or just to imprint it after your done shaping. I will explain in the pictures below how I used the tongs. What I love about these is that you can shape the bead with the tongs first or last, or in the middle. You can take a basic bead (round-ish) press it, then continue to shape it. I like this for quick easy hearts. I end up using the press to initially squish the round bead a bit, then knife the top in, marver the bottom to a point, and lightly re-press with the tongs to set the shape, and flatten any ridges. 

If you want to use the tongs last (or at least not first) you can press a bead, or shape it however you like, then lightly press (or depending on shape) roll the bead along the spiral groves. Pillows/Nuggets look neat with a slight spiral either on one or both sides. Furthermore you can take any shape and press it for a slightly different effect for every shape. I have yet to use it on my Star press, but its on my short list! I have used these on barrels, tiles, lentils, triangles, free form hearts, wine stoppers, marble shapes, donuts, squares, long cube and tube shapes, bicones, and more. A lentil shape or tab will get you a nice round spiral, but a barrel will do the same. I find that you get less dimpeling when you use a barrel or well made lentil shape to get a round. You can really add a neat design element depending on the pattern of glass below it. Your possibilities are seriously endless, but easily duplicated if needed.  The trick to getting an even and undistorted shape is heat control. Press a few times, and you will figure out what consistency you would like the glass when you press it. I tend to press a little cooler than a regular press. It is easier to fix a bead that is too thick than one that is too thin. 

Right: These beads are a white barrel shape base rolled in Susan Sheehans Valentines frit, then swirled with light amber, and light amethyst glass on top, melted and squished with spiral tongs. They are about 1in in size.

Below: Shape heart first, a bit thick, but not puffy. color is med turq or dk sky blue. Then I used the tongs off set spiral imprints, and used a dark purple stringer, possibly edp, or 272.

Purple 272 base, valentine frit, light amethyst semi-wrap and goldstone stringer. Made in the same way the set above it is made.

EDP, form a narrow barrel shape (I used my lentil shaper for consistency)      Lower left: EDP, form a narrow barrel shape (I used my lentil shaper for consistency)

I spiral tonged a round marble shape, a little, then a little more until I achieved the thickness I was looking for. I then stretched the form out with a punty at the top. It was fairly easy to not distort the thick spiral imprint. I believe this is dark grass green, and silver blue frit. The frit was applied before and after sparingly with purpose to its location, then reduced.

This key chain is made with ASK Carmel Apple. It is reduced slightly. It is a basic square tab, that I lightly imprinted with the tongs, the fire polished any chill marks.


This is a tube bead, with a round bead on the end of the tube. Squish the round bead lightly, and adjust shape if necessary with a spoon, or marble mold.
Med Aqua glass (glow powder on the back)

This bracelet was made with med aqua as well. I got consistent sizes by first making a round in a marble mold, then making them slightly barrel shaped with it in my lentil press cavity. Give them a little squish, and thats it! The smaller beads are small barrel bead that are squished as well. If the barrel had been bigger, the shape would have rounded out more.

Thanks :)  Stay tuned for more reviews, recipes, and glass goodness!!!

1 comment:

  1. Informative entry, will have to look into those! We have the Jim Moore lentil tool, but I never make beads that big, and it doesn't seem to work with smaller amounts of glass. Thanks for showing some recipes too!