Monday, July 23, 2012

Cross your t's!

Ask and you shall receive! I was recently asked to tell all about crosses. I admit, I am not very spiritual. I was raised a Catholic, so I know what a cross looks like, and the special meaning behind it, but these are not something I usually stock in my inventory, although at church fairs in the fall, especially ones who want a donated item with a small fee for a raffle, these can be just the right item.

Here are a few examples. I will tell you that all started with a tube beads of glass as a footprint to the body of the cross. Then I marked out where I wanted the "wings" to go. great. Keep this in mind while contemplating the structure of your cross. Do you want square ends, or rounded ones? Do you want a 'puffy' cross vs a flattened surface, or another texture on your surface? Think about it now. This is going to determine where you add glass and how. If you built a well rounded tube bead with good edges and pretty ends, and it is thick enough to support your shape, GREAT. If not, and your goal is a cross like the ones in the pictures, get it there.

If your cross is like the blue cross tapper your tube bead so it is leaner at the top, and wider at the base. Like a cone, but not severe. when you are satisfied with your smooth sides, pick a side that you want to be the 'top' and slightly squish. make a flat surface to work with. So what do you have now? something that is rounded again.... but on the sides you want concave! how to remedy this? A SPOON. the back of a spoon. Use it as a marver to flatten the sides, and create the flair at the bottom of the cross base. Re-flatten and continue to shape using a spoon, a knife ( I like using a paring knife from the $1 store) and a graphite or brass marver.  If needed use the spoon to push glass to where you want it along the shaft of the cross. Spot heat in sections and side by side to continue to shape the top as well. Make sure that your are not breaking your bead release, and your ends look good.

Got a decent shape? OK. It does not have to be perfect, you can touch up (and will probably need to touch up) after, but this is easier to do before the addition of the wings, and will give you more of an idea of just where your wings should go.

Mark your wings. This can be done in a number of different ways. Dots, Peter Tweezers, and my favorite, a razor blade. Using a razor allows you to park all the way around and line up the lines perfectly. You can see if it is really even. This will save you in the end. Cuz that is where I am most OCD lol. So wings marked, any way you choose, or hell, are you lazy? eyeball it! Then add glass. Start with a dot, swirl it on to that, build on it, whatever. just get it on. and build out. Build into the shape you are going for, this will save you more work in the end. squish occasionally, and marver  (knife or spoon) and you may want to use a pair of mini mashers here to help with the shape as well. when they are both in place, eyeball them even to each other, If you are OCD, pull out a metal ruler or brass caliper, or mark a tile on your work bench and measure it... whatever. Add glass as necessary, (or take some glass of with tweezers) and then shape it to your base. I like crisp edges on my crosses, so I knife it until I get it right then decorate it if I want. hit it with a final flame to make sure the chill marks are gone, and done.

If you want something fun, consider adding texture, and a glass that shows off texture well. This is caramel apple I think, or silver cinnamon, I don't remember any more. It is a much smaller cross than the blue one above as well, and took much less time and skill to make, yet is an awesome bead.  It started the same way, a tube bead, and then I added wings.  I shaped the wings, (tap the ends with a marver to flatten and square them) and then took a paring knife and heated the base of the bead, and rolled the knife through the bead base working around the wings. from top to bottom, or maybe bottom to top, which ever was easier. I had to do this on more than one pass. I had to go back and touch up, and even out, and spot heat where necessary to make this happen. Still much easier and faster than the blue cross! The flair shape makes it harder than a normal squared out cross.  Notice one wing has the wrap indentation, that was just where the knife wanted to go.

Lastly, this pretty cross. Getting color was not easy! Especially because you have to build the base, and add the color, and then do the same for the wings! Shaping on this to me looks sloppy. It was probably the first cross I ever made. SO same base idea, only I started small, added a spiral stripe of blue aventurine and maybe a dark transparent purple layered in with the lighter amethyst transparent as a base, and light encasement. (you can see where I made it longer at the bottom. It was very square before I added the bottom. WHY? Because the wings ended up being bigger than I wanted them to be after layering the glass colors to match the base colors! opps....

SO after the base was on, I squared it. nothing special, not really the easiest task, but square (ish). Then the addition of the wings. So I started with a small wing, added the layers like I did the body, and OH CRAP! they were very big! the fix? Cant really remove any glass from the wings, cant really stretch them out really long, so they stay this size. I finish shaping them square and I add glass to the bottom of the cross base.
Square off the bottom to match the top of the cross and add a detail of the creeping vine flower. It was easy easy decor. A encased stringer, and a few dots razored in the center, and then the top flower razored clam style.

I have been asked about off mandrel style, and have given a few suggestions, but these are only suggestions, as I have not made crosses like this.

 Working off mandrel make a flat backed circular to oval shape. When you are finished decorating, cut approximately where the teal lines are on the drawing. pull out the bottom with tweezers, and flair with tweezers.

This should pull down the side wings of the cross a bit so they can be flaired with a few pinches of a tweezer. Pinch approximately where the blue marks are.

 Then hold the bottom with a punty, or tweezers, and detach the rod of glass at the top, and loop it to the flat back of the pendant.