Saturday, July 3, 2010

Bellflower presses!!

They're finally here! After months of waiting (I ordered them February 15, to be exact!) they finally arrived in my hot little hands yesterday afternoon! Ooooh, they're so pretty! =)

This envy first started when a friend of mine had mentioned on fb that she had such a press. I had no idea what it was, and did some research on LampworkEtc. to find out more about them. Of course, she and Donna had a playdate (without me! *snifff*sniff*) so Donna could become hooked on this little press, too. And I was hooked just by hearing about their adventures!

In the waiting time, I sought out wire I wanted to use when I finally got the chance to play with them. Donna suggested hi-temp 22 or 24 gauge wire. I think I have some of that out in my fusing toolbox, and will have to look. I had previously bought some steel wire, not sure of the gauge, but it's pretty small, maybe 22 or 24 gauge. I want to try that. Originally I had gotten it to do similar things as these flowers, before I knew the presses had existed. I was searching antique websites and found lots of little ornaments on wire stems (leaves, holly berries, etc, etc). Then Holly mentioned something about black wire, and then hunt was on. I went to my local hardware store, and after a few eyebrows being raised ("No, I don't know what "real" people use it for, but I'm going to use it to make flowers!"), I was finally led to a small section of wire where they had but one size of the black annealed steel wire. 19 gauge. Well, that has to be the right stuff, so here I go. I bought some. And some 20 gauge copper wire just for kicks.

Once I got the presses home, I did a test fit for the wire... Aww, crap! The 20 gauge copper fit in 2 of the presses, but not very smoothly. The slots that were cut in the cup of the presses need some refurbishing, if you will. But these are Carlo Dona presses! What the heck am I doing modifying such works of art!?! Well. The answer is simple. I need them to fit my needs. They're not going to do me any good if I can't do what I want to be able to do with them. So modify it is! So I go out to the studio and hunt for my dremel.

Of course, I'm scared! I've never used the cut off wheel on my dremel before, and have certainly never tried to hack out brass *anything* before! But, I took it slow, and eased my way into it. And I think I will be okay, the tool will be okay, and life will indeed go on! In the meantime, I can say that I successfully cleaned the burs out of the slots, and will widen them just a hair so the 19 gauge wire will be able to fit.

I was warned about the possibility of incompatibility cracks with the metal in the glass if I used such a large gauge of wire. I'm hoping it's because she batch anneals her flowers instead of putting them directly in the kiln. Also, I have larger press than the one she uses, so that will increase the glass to metal ratio and increase their chances of survival. I will have to play and see what works for me. I'm sure hoping the 19 gauge will be okay, because that's the only size I could of the black wire, and I really like the look!

As for other little brother surprised me the other day by bringing home a spool of stainless steel wire, about 20 gauge. I had mentioned that I wanted some to use for button shanks (the other steel wire I had just looked too small for me and for what I wanted to do). So one day at work, he went to the Snap-On dealer and ordered a spool of this wire. It took him over a month to get it, but he was able to get it! I was pretty excited, and very shocked that Joey would even think about ordering something for me. He can be a good one, every now and again.

Off to modify the rest of my presses and possibly get the kiln fired up for the day. No worries, I now have a/c so life will be good.


  1. With the cutting wheel attachment to my dremel, I was able to bore out the slot for the wire in the presses, and should be good to go! I was quite scared of it at first, but as I got going, I realized brass is really pretty soft, and was no match for the cutting wheel. I got 'em whipped into shape, and can't wait to see if the modifications I made will affect the final outcome of the shape. I hope not...the slots were situated in such a way that they'd be between petals, and not too much of the original shape was disturbed. It's like a crazy experiment! =)

  2. OH! you had me rolling at what do "real" people use if for. You know us glassy types are so fake! I think some men are freaked by women who can use tools!

    I've only had ONE flower break and I've made dozens. Can't wait to see!!!