Double Helix Be.a
– Slow Striking
– Kiln Striking
– Yields organic silvery brown tones
– Yields organic blue lustre tones
What struck me most about Be.a was that it has a really terribly, exhaustively long striking time before you can reduce it and get it to lustre up. I really can’t emphasise this enough. This glass requires a long hot kiln strike, so it’s one of those that will need to be annealed separate or put with other long striking DH glass in a programmed run. The Be.a rod is a milky sky blue and as it heats up the end hazes into golden yellow leaving a greenish hue to the glass. This greenish tinge can go either way, shorter striking times yield silvery brown tones whilst very long striking times yield the lustre filled blue tones.
Protracted heating and cooling whilst creating your bead is good for Be.a and is the only way it will flame strike enough to get a beautiful sea green colour. I found it much easier to get Be.a to flame strike to a sea-green when used over CiM Hades and the only time I got it to lustre was on Hades as well. I chose to work on two large beads to test Be.a out, each bead took me roughly forty minutes to complete and most of that time was spent in repeatedly cooling and heating the bead as I was shaping it. All of these photos are of beads that have not been put through the annealer. I will update the photos if I notice any kiln strike, but all the previous tests I’ve done tell me that I don’t get a lot of striking from my kiln.
When I shortened the strike time down I was not able to get Be.a to strike to those beautiful sea-green colours and I couldn’t get it to lustre up either. The colours were more muted and reminded me of a seaweed green colour with murky brown streaks. This colour does not look very different to how Sk2.a colours up when overstruck on silver leaf. This seaweed green colour also appeared when I used Vetrofond Black and on top of Effetre Clear and when reduced did not create the lustre effect. Whilst I didn’t work these beads for as long as the Hades beads, they did go through the same heating and cooling process. From this I gather that either I need to work the beads rolling in the heat for a much longer period of time or that the best combo for Be.a is on CiM Hades. I find that last point to be a tad unbelievable. I’m more inclined to think that Be.a just responds really well to long working times and repeated flame striking.
What I did notice is that for Be.a to lustre the surface of the glass must change. In the two beads that I did achieve a lustre effect I noticed that silver “bubbles” rose to the surface and started to spread. Bubbles is not the best description as there is no air trapped in those bubbles, but I did notice spheres of silver rise through the glass and appear on the surface, if you look really closely at the bead to the right you will see tiny pin pricks of lustre, those are the “bubbles” I’m talking about. The more of those silver “bubbles” appear the more likely Be.a will lustre up. I did encase Be.a but I had mixed results, small dots of Clear placed on a struck and reduced section of Be.a yielded a soft pale green, which was the same for a full encasement of Effetre Clear. Although encasing with Lauscha Clear yielded a murky green and brown. I’d definitely stick to encasing in Effetre Clear or better yet Double Helix Zephyr.
Edit: December 2016, after doing a lot of different work with several different slow striking colours this year (and getting a new kiln) it seems more to me that Be.a would be best worked at the beginning of your torch session and left in your kiln to strike over several hours. I think the best thing to do would be to get the Be.a to the silvery brown stage (either encased or not encased) and then pop it in the kiln for a few hours to see if the brown strikes to blue. The picture below emphasises this concept.
Looking at the beads to your left, these are a bunch of different tests that I did with Be.a. These are the same beads as in the photos at the beginning of the blog, the only difference is, they have been annealed in this photo. Its particularly noticeable with the heart bead, originally there was no dark brown on the bead, but after annealing a spot of brown appeared. What I take from this is that I struck Be.a too much in the flame on that corner, so the annealing process pushed the colour along too much.
Looking at the cone bead, one thing I chose to do was layer silver leaf directly over Be.a, burned off some of the silver and reduced and thin linear encased in Effetre clear. Then applied stringer squiggles (CiM Glacier) over the top. I achieved a very organic silver brown effect. It too has had definite kiln strike, most of the silvery part of the effect I got in the flame disappeared after the annealing process. I think this time it’s a case of not burnishing or burning off the silver enough. Although, personally I like this tobacco coloured effect. I haven’t quite got this look before with other “silver brown” glass and I have Kugler Silver Brown and the original ASK version of it (Silver Cinnamon and Silver Rattan). Because I like “organic” brown beads this is a plus for me toward Be.a, but it might not make you enthusiastic.
If you do get browns or dirty greens, there is good news to turn that colour around in the flame and then protect that colour in the kiln. I’ve noticed that where I’ve had a brownish green reaction on the bead, dotting clear over the top pulls the brown reaction back to a more sea green colour and this will stay that way in the kiln. What is important about this idea, is that the bead was pretty cold before I dotted a very hot droplet of clear onto the glass, therefore its the really hot glass on the cold brown surface that turns that area moody blue. So if you’ve got brownish muck that you don’t like, linear encase. I’m specifically saying linear encasement because you have to build up a super hot gather on the end of your clear rod and swipe it down the length of a fairly cold bead. This style of encasing should do the trick to turn that brown to blue and it doesn’t seem to be effected by the kiln, in fact more blue pulls through the encased areas. If you look at the little tumble tile beads and compare the before and after kiln firing you can see what I’m getting at.
Sadly, I am down to a nub and I can’t test Be.a anymore but this information should give you some idea of how to go forward with using this very interesting slow striking colour.