Sunday, July 21, 2013

Bell Flower Press Tips and Tricks

Thought I'd post a little bit of info for a change on how to use this great press. 

Since buying the bell flower press I've made hundreds of these pretty little flowers.  Because there are no instructions on how to best use these tools, everyone has to learn what is the best way for them.  There is a tiny bit of a learning curve but once you get the swing of it - nothing to it.  :)  Still I thought I'd post a few tidbits of info I found useful as I was learning.  Nothing major, just a few helpful (I hope) tips. 

- I use 20 gauge German silver colored wire purchased at Rio Grande.  I found this information online at  in a post by another beadmaker.  With this wire you can actually hold it in your fingers as it does not conduct heat to the end that's not in the flame. Copper wire DOES conduct the heat to the end of the wire that's not in the flame.  Ouch.  You can use something to hold the wire as you transfer it to the kiln however I find that's just another step that I personally don't want to deal with.  To each their own of course.  :)  **After re-reading this I found it might be confusing so I needed to add this bit:  When I mention holding on to the wire with fingers, I mean when you remove it from the wire holder you're using and put it in the kiln.** 

- Preparing the wire is pretty simple and basic.  I find that cutting it to a length of about 3" or so will give you plenty of wire to work with in making jewelry.  Once cut I leave some wire as is and do nothing to it.  With most of the wire, I take my round nose pliers and make a half loop on one end.  I then take my flat nose pliers and bend that loop into the wire and press it flat.  Doing that makes it easier for the hot glass to grab onto something.  It will still grab onto the wire if you did nothing to it but giving it just that little bit of extra wire helps a lot and makes it easier to wrap the glass.

- To hold the wire while winding the glass I use a tungsten pin vise that can be found on many glass websites.  I attempted to make my own holding devise but found ready made was better - for me.  :)

- It is unnecessary to heat up the wire before winding on the glass.  The hot glass itself is hot enough to grab onto the wire.  Sometimes you need to touch the glass to the wire a couple times.  Keep in mind, if the wire gets too hot from the flame, it will melt off and it'll melt off FAST !  lol !    

- Winding on the glass to the wire can be tricky in the beginning in a couple of ways.  You first need to determine how much glass you need.  With each bell flower press the amount varies.  Believe me, I've had all three sizes of the presses and it DOES matter.  :)  Another very important point I think is you can make the flowers different lengths.  The width will remain the same but the lengths can change according to how much glass you use.  For example: using the 20mm 6 point press the width will always be 20 mm BUT the lengths I have gotten are 12mm up to 16mm.  It just depends on the amount of glass you use and how hard you press.

-How much pressure you put on the glass once in the press will depend on the look you want to end up with.  The harder you press, the thinner & longer your flower will be.  It's a matter of personal preference of course.  I prefer a bit of a thicker wall.  The thinner the flower the easier it will be to chip and break.  No matter what, it's not a good idea to drop them on a hard surface.  :) 

- As you use your press it will become very hot.  I keep a couple of cool, wet rags next to me and wrap the press up as needed.  That is usually after several flowers.  I also add bees wax to the inside of the bell while hot.  It will help the glass from sticking after it does become that hot.  The wax will melt off the glass in a puff of "steam" or smoke and possibly a bit of a flame but it will not harm your flower.

- Now that your flower is done, pop it in the kiln and anneal like any other beads.  :)

These little flowers are so much fun to make !  I don't see myself NOT making them for a  long time to come !  :)  I have MANY ideas floating in my head on how to use them for home décor and jewelry.  

These presses are made by an Italian family run business called Carlo Dona.  They have been in the glass tool making business since 1923 so they really do know how to make the very best quality tools for glass blowers and bead makers.   

Below are a few photo's of some of the bell flowers I've made.  There will be more to come !  lol !  

Thanks so much for coming by !  I hope you come back again very soon !  :)

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  1. Thanks for this. I had no idea you needed to use wire with the press, now I do I will be better prepared should I go ahead and buy one.


    1. I'm glad you found it helpful. :)