Thursday, September 18, 2008

Musings on the Mysteries of Pandora

Fellow lampworker and blogger Sue shared her experience with Pandora in a comment on my last post. Thanks, Sue! Here's her comment:

"They turned out really dark, probably because they were in there for a while. I guess I have to use it last before I start the soak and ramp down. I put it over steel gray trans. and amber trans. and it turned out yuck! So, I guess plain or over opaque, and do them last instead of first...we'll see. Looks like you are the MASTER of pandora!!!!"

(I don't know about the "master of pandora" part! :-D )

I think the transparent amber is reacting with the Pandora to make that yucky color. Is that what you mean by yuck - they turned out dark-yuck? Like you said, try making plain Pandora beads or Pandora over clear, black or white. Something neutral and un-reactive.

When I put each test bead in the kiln, I write down the time so I know how long each bead annealed. The order of striking color goes magenta, purple, blue, green, yellow, opaque red [Edited to add: Double Helix Glassworks says "As it strikes it will go Amber - Ruby - Purple - Green - Blue - Opaque Red"]. If my beads were to turn out dark brick red, they may have spent too long in the kiln. Generally, my beads lighten up the longer they spend in the kiln. A short anneal will give dark purple, and a longer anneal will add in light blue, green and yellow streaks.

Another trick to bringing the color out of Pandora is to really smoosh up the glass. If I'm making a big bead and I have room to twist the glass up a little, I'll do that. How I usually start is I heat a blob of Pandora on the end of the rod, mash it with my mashers, twist it around, then re-heat it into a blob; or, I will heat a blob and then squish it down into a cold brass bead press, then re-introduce it to the heat and make it into a round blob again. When I do either of these things, tiny light-colored spider-webbed lines form on the surface of the blob. I think these spider-webs are the silver grains in the glass activating and getting ready to develop into different colors. After I see a lot of "spider webs" on the glass blob, I will apply it to the mandrel and make the bead. Sometimes I twist the rod as I'm laying the glass down, too.

If a bead is coming out of the kiln so light that it's a pale *poop* color, chances are it never struck properly to begin with. Or maybe it over-struck? I don't know for sure. A bead has to at least get the magenta or purple color first before it will lighten through the blue/green sequence. Why a Pandora bead turns out pale poop-colored is still a mystery to me.

Good luck everyone and I look forward to hearing more of your experiences. Thank you so much for sharing, Sue!


rosebud101 said...

Thanks for sharing. I really do appreciate it.

SueBeads said...

Thanks for all your comments. Mine came out a really dark purple-blue, so I guess I should leave them in *longer* than I was. Of course, that means reading the instruction book : )
Thanks so much for sharing!

Karolen said...

Thanks to both of you for all your comments on my blog!
Sue, I wish there were an instruction book for Pandora! I think it's PPP until you figure out how it works with your lampworking style and kiln. One of my Pandora beads from yesterday came out very pale again... I think it was overworked/overstruck because it took me so long to get the shape right. Maybe that's a clue... work the Pandora longer to get lighter colors.
Good luck!