Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ask the Divas August Edition

This month's question deals with encasing. "How difficult is it to encase a bead and why?"
First, I want to say that there are many reasons some of us encase a bead, it can add depth and magnify colors and patterns among other things. Some of us like encasing, some of us don't lol, but I think we all believe its a good skill to have. Also, you can encase in transparent colors also, not just clear, for some really interesting effects! Here are some insights from the fire diva's themselves.

Susan Lambert When learning to encase, it seems very difficult and takes a lot of time and practice to master. Heat control is key in this situation. If you keep the bead and it's decoration cool enough to not melt, you risk some cracking. So it's a bit of a dance between not too much heat on the main bead and lots of heat with that rod of clear. The more molten the clear rod, the better. Plus you have to avoid creating bubbles between the base bead and the clear AND an even coat of clear is important so the bead is well balanced. There are many encasing methods and a lampworker usually finds one that works best for them.

Amy Lange Sims I think it depends on what type of bead you are encasing. If you are trying to encase a floral or other type of surface pattern, it's easy to smear, so like Sonja said, you have to choose the right encasing technique. So if you want to be able to encase many different types of beads, you need to learn many different encasement methods. I find some easier than others!

LLuvia Brito With boro it is very tricky, it is also the most time consuming part of a bead. Getting a nice even layer of clear is pretty simple, its just getting minimal bubbles and reducing encasing haze lines that can be troublesome.

Lori Bergmann I agree with everyone that there is a fine dance between having the bead cool enough to avoid smearing, while applying the encasing smoothly and quickly to avoid trapping air bubbles inside. We all have our different ways of applying the glass and my favorite method is one that is more time consuming (of course!), but the end results are worth it. The glass used can also affect how difficult it can be—some colors are stiffer to apply and others, like clear, can be hard to find crystal clear rods with a minimum of scum or tiny bubbles that you don't want to transfer to the encasing layer. Another thing that can be tricky is encasing a color that tends to bleed up onto the encasing layer if you don't cover it up completely before you melt it all back down.

Feng Beads Not difficult at all, as long as you know what encasing technique to use with the bead style and size.

Patrice Shepherd Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to encasing, go too quickly and it's bubbles all over the place! Since bubbles can cause stress, I always try to avoid them showing up "accidentally," and only like them in my work if they are placed there intentionally. A steady hand and good heat control is key to even encasing with boro...

Holly Dare I use four types of casing and each has their issues and benefits. My favorite is strip casing because it goes on the thinnest. I make big beads so that's a huge plus. I heat the rod and place it at an acute angle to the bead, until the whole thing is striped with clear. The round the world method seems to suit my rare small beads well...literally winding glass round and round. I case with sheet glass on some beads..but that requires math to make sure the sheet will fit the bead. This is the cleanest way to case. I also case with clear frit (small pieces of crushed glass). This creates a mesmerizing mottled look on organics.

Michelle Veizaga Encasing a bead deals a lot with heat control so you do not distort the underlying elements (unless this is a look you are going for) so knowing how cool to get your bead and how hot to work your encasing glass is a big piece of the puzzle. It is not that difficult to master once you have mastered heat control. You also need to know what method of encasing will work best for what bead. The amount of encasing is what gives an optical effect so a thicker casing is great for aquarium beads while encasing some silver glass is best with a thin even layer. All in all it is practice that makes the process easier I spent over a month just working on encasing skills!

Lara Lutrick As for the casing.... Casing can be difficult as you need to keep the bead cool enough so the design doesn't smear and warm enough that it does not crack. I too use the thin casing that goes up and down the bead in the direction of the mandrel. It give a nice even very thin layer of glass.

Sonja McClung I happen to love to encase, I find it challenging but really like the different effects that can be achieved and the depth that it gives to beads. It does take some practice, and is
rtainly a good exercise in heat control!


  1. Great read.

    Would be interesting to know out of all the soft glass diva's which is your favourite clear?

  2. Great question! I alternate between a few different clears, depending on my bead design and the glass I'm using underneath. I LOVE Aether from Double Helix, but it can turn some silver laden colors greenish. I like their new non-reactive clear called Zypher, but it's still in the trial stages and not currently available. So my "go to" encasing clear is most often Effetre's Super Clear in the thicker 6-8mm rods. Inexpensive and fairly scum and bubble-free in this size. Hope that helps! *Ü*

  3. I'm not in love with any but agree with Lori on the super clear. I use the 4 - 6 mm rods though.

  4. I also use the Effetre super clear, and usually the 4-6 mm. I am looking forward to giving Zephyr a try once its released. A good soft glass clear is like gold lol!

  5. Scarletleonard - Zephyer and Aether from Double Helix. They are clear, non scumming and soft. They are expensive, so when I don't want to use those, I use vetrofound clear.

  6. This is a great question and post fellow Divas. Off to retweet

  7. A good soft glass clear is like gold lol!

    Can't agree more with that. Effetre 006 is lovely at the moment but I've had a few batches where 004 has been better.

    Can't get Aether here so doesn't look like I will get to give that one a try.