I don’t have any other colour in my stash quite like Banana Special Odd (this is what I’m calling this colour as I don’t actually know what it is). It’s a gorgeous soft opaque pastel yellow glass that was made by Vetrofond. My lot of this glass has been tagged “Banana Yellow” with no code. For the longest time I thought I had the yellow glass with the brownish grey streaks in it (VF992). I was kicking myself for buying it because I thought that glass was ugly. I was making “zombie toe” beads and needed a “gross” glass colour to look like festering flesh. Finally, a use for that Banana Yellow! Except that when I got it to the flame no matter how much I worked it, no grey streaks appeared! So I cleverly deduced (look at my Sherlock skills) that I could not have VF992 “Banana Yellow” glass. Watson, my lot of yellow glass is tagged incorrectly. This led me to try and find out what I actually had and I thought I might as well write up the testing for it too.
Since I trust the supplier I purchased the glass from, it seemed to me that the glass was probably another Vetrofond “Banana” colour. Vetrofond produced a lot of yellow colours in a short period of time during 2007 and a lot of the colours had similar names or names changed slightly when another yellow was created. After searching the internet for something to compare, I’m pretty sure what I’m working with is definitely a VF variant of Banana Cream, but that’s as close as I could figure out.
Frantz Art Glass was Vetrofond’s biggest distributor for rods as they had to order the full melt for a rod pull. Frantz used to carry very large quantities of VF glass. They were in the habit of renaming colours that had a variance in a batch and this colour may be from such a variance, which is why it has been impossible to find a code or a proper name for it. The glass I have is definitely not VF992 Banana Yellow and if it is VF948 Banana Cream, then its a variation that is lighter. My rods are slightly grainy to the touch and stay the same colour as the rod when melted. My batch is not streaky, but can be struck to a true ripe banana colour, however its not as dark as other batches of Banana Cream I’ve seen. If you have a batch that sounds like this (and a few people have already contacting me saying that they have) enjoy it, because I don’t think anymore of it exists.
I’d been staring at this colour for years now, not quite sure what to do with it as yellow is a colour I hardly use (and I thought I had VF Banana Yellow). Well, it turns out that Banana Special Odd is really a very beautiful colour. Not only is it a gorgeous creamy yellow, it is also supremely good to work with. It isn’t soft and it’s not too stiff either, it’s great for sculptural work as it doesn’t cool down too quickly and small details are very visible. It doesn’t ping or crack, as long as you heat your rod up a little first (no random breaking in the middle of the rod like Effetre Opal Yellow) and it doesn’t scum or bubble up the moment you drop it into your flame.
Banana Special Odd is a pale banana yellow that looks brighter under fluorescent lights (all my photographs are shot in daylight). The rod and the finished bead look the same, although it can be struck to a ripe banana or buttery yellow colour. You can do this by either prolonged gentle heating or wafting the bead in and out of a striking flame. When I worked this glass it was an extremely sunny day and I noticed the bead was sparkling as I was working it. After firing the beads and checking them again under a lamp there is a very light sparkle noticeable under bright direct light. This explains the graininess in the rod, probably due to tiny reflective inclusions in this glass. The sparkle is not very noticeable unless you’re really looking at the bead. Although you can spot the sparkle more easily if you dot pale transparent glass over Banana Special Odd, as the sparkle is pushed to the outer edge of the clear dot to form a sparkly ring (this is impossible to photograph) around the dot. The sparkle is similar to Vetrofond Yellow Pineapple Sparkle Odd (which is a transparent glass), except because it is in an opaque glass, much harder to see.
Banana Special Odd is a great pastel yellow that works so well with CiM Celadon (if you don’t mind the dark brown reaction line between the two colours) and CiM Ginger (no reaction). I have a feeling that Banana Special Odd is one of those colours that will always develop a reaction line between itself and anything containing copper – so blue and green opaque glass. There was a period of time where nearly every Vetrofond yellow colour produced did this reaction line thing. If you don’t want the reaction line, lay down a thin layer of clear first. Banana Special Odd does curdle, but I wasn’t paying attention to how I got the reaction, so I think it happens when a section is superheated and left to cool quickly, then reheated. It will get “scorch” marks (greyish burn marks) when worked too hot and too low in the flame, for best results keep it mid range.
Some old notes I found printed off from Frantz Art Glass suggest that all of these Vetrofond yellow “odd” colours require a footprint of clear first, then the colour before encasing. Which is a good tip to stop some glass from cracking under encasement. I didn’t encase this colour completely, so I didn’t bother to put a footprint down first. I think as a general rule of thumb, most yellow and orange glass should have a footprint down before deep encasing.
Banana Special Odd looks best when used as a base bead or as big dots, such as flower petals. Pulling it to stringer washes the colour out too much. It plays nicely with opaque Thompson Enamels. Interestingly some opaque enamels didn’t spread out when heated in and some created a blotched effect, a bit like watercolours. Intense black goes webbing crazy over it, much the same effect that it has on Effetre Opal Yellow.
I love what happens when fine silver wire is used with Banana Special Odd, a reddish-brown reaction line appears when the wire melts through. The red reaction is replicated with silver leaf. For the testing, I cooked the beads as much as I could, but to keep the red brown reaction, only gently heat fine silver leaf into the bead. When silver leaf on Banana Special Odd is overcooked it turns a steel grey colour that can be reduced to a dark mottled sheen, which is really very attractive for organic designs.
At first I thought the closest colour in my stash to Banana Special Odd was Vetrofond Lemon Meringue, but that’s too lemon toned. I then thought it was closer to Effetre Opal Yellow, but that’s a bit on the brownish yellow side when struck. I’ve made some beads up in Effetre Opal Yellow to compare (check the photos). When Opal Yellow is struck gently, it is paler than Banana Special Odd. Although, if you want this particular soft pastel shade of yellow, Banana Special is the go. I always found Opal Yellow way too annoying to use to get a soft yellow colour happening. Note: My Opal Yellow dates back to 2006, so I have no idea if the newer batches are as painful to work with as my batch. The reaction to silver between Opal Yellow and Banana Special Odd is very different. Likewise, transparent glass really spreads out easily over Banana Special, but not as easily over Opal Yellow.
This glass is a delicious non-streaky, pastel colour that is less finicky than Effetre Opal Yellow and has a great reaction with fine silver. This makes it a perfect base colour for soft romantic colour palettes. It is a great colour to work with for organic designs when silver leaf is burned in on top and it suits an autumn or spring colour palette (CiM colours work well with it). Whilst VF Banana Cream is still available (it is definitely available from Frantz art glass in rod and stringer form) I would get your hands on some of it on the off chance that it is like my variant and it turns out to be this gorgeous and very versatile soft yellow pastel glass. I think after mucking about with this colour for the last week, I will be using yellow in my designs a whole lot more from now on.
Edit: 17.10.15 Two Batches of Banana Cream Compared.
I purchased some of Frantz’s stock of VF Banana Cream this year to compare to my older batch and there is a marked variation in the rods in both colour and texture. VF Banana Special Odd is slightly grainy in rod form. The VF Banana Cream that is in stock at Frantz right now is not the same as the colour test here. The rods are a different shade of yellow and are smooth to the touch, and also have that streakiness to the glass when melted as well as getting darker. I think its absolutely fascinating that the passage of time and variation of batches have invented a colour that doesn’t seem to have a record anywhere. Sadly, Vetrofond no longer produces soft glass and the recipe for this colour is probably lost.
If anyone has a clue about the colour in the test; such as it’s proper name, please drop me a line. Thanks. 🙂