Thursday 9 May 2013

Encasing reds, oranges and yellows

I awoke to an email this morning asking me about encasing reds, oranges and yellows. I've had a couple of emails about this in the past so I thought I'd write a little blog about it.

We're all told that you can't encase the warm, 'special' glass colours like reds, oranges, corals and yellows because the resulting beads will crack. That is mostly true but as with the majority of rules, there is an exception or two to it.

I always experienced cracking troubles whenever I encased yellow ... until I encased Creation Is Messy Pumpkin, that is. I made some encased test beads with it, thinking 'These will crack, they will ...' but weeks later, they hadn't. I still have those test beads and they've still not cracked. They were encased with Vetrofond clear. 

Unfortunately, CiM Pumpkin no longer exists.

Encased lampwork beads by Laura Sparling

The yellow in the beads I blogged yesterday was actually CiM Creamsicle. I know, I know, it's yellow and Creamsicle is orange. For a while, the only Creamsicle I could get was this batch that was yellow.

I have had zero problems with Creamsicle (whether it is yellow or the orange colour it should be) and in fact, it is one of my favourite glasses. It doesn't streak, it needs no striking, I can encase it with no cracking issues and it also works as stringer.

Encased lampwork beads by Laura Sparling

Almost all of the encased orange beads of mine you see are Creamsicle and the ones that aren't are Effetre Orange 422. (Again, no cracks for me.)

Pre-Creamsicle, an oddlot of Effetre Coral called 'Peachy Coral' was my orange of choice and again, I never had any cracking problems with it. But alas, it is no more. (I treat normal Effetre Coral like Quorn; I won't touch it because I don't like it.)

You see, one of the reasons I don't offer remakes or custom orders is because of the inconsistency of glass. When I'm out of that Creamsicle-That-Is-Actually-Yellow-Not-Orange, I can no longer make encased yellow beads ... until I find another yellow that works.

Glass, eh? It's a fickle beast and I always feel that we, as beadmakers, cannot make it work for us; we have to work with it and all its little quirks.

Now, reds. Ah, red. Gorgeous, lovely red. I like red. Love it. But crikey, working with it can be a nightmare. Opaques streak and they won't work properly as stringer because when you stretch it out it goes a tad transparent. Again, if someone asks for 'red polka dots' it's a no because red glass is a bugger.

If you encase transparent red or yellow, you will get cracks. Maybe not all the beads you encase will crack, but at least 70% of them will. There are some encased transparent red beads in my gallery (and yep, people ask me for those a lot) but I no longer make them because even though I kept those beads for a fortnight before selling them, I wasn't confident that future ones wouldn't crack at some point. I will not sell a bead that I don't have confidence in.

But I encase opaque Effetre Red 424, 428, 432 and 436 with no troubles.

Encased lampwork beads by Laura Sparling

The only clears I encase with are Vetrofond clear and CiM clear. I also encase with various Effetre and CiM pale transparents.

So, to summarise ...

  • Orange: I only encase CiM Creamsicle and Effetre Orange 422
  • Yellow: I only encase CiM Pumpkin and that Creamsicle batch
  • Red: I only encase Effetre Red 242, 428, 432 and 436
  • I never encase transparent/translucent red, yellow or orange
  • My clears of choice are Vetrofond clear and CiM clear

Now for a little disclaimer bit. Every beadmaker is different. We all work in different ways. We all have different torches and those torches will all have varying oxygen and propane mixes. As a result, what works for one lampworker might not work for another. These findings are mine and are meant as guidelines and advice only.

I hope you find this helpful.

Happy melting!


  1. Thank you so much Laura - this is so very generous of you to let us all know of your experiences with encasing warm colours. I think I may have a little bit of the CIM colours you mentioned, so I am off to the studio this morning to give it a try.

  2. Thank you for this tutorial! It is really very helpful! As I'm pretty new at making beads, this advice is priceless. I already rummaged around for my pumpkin and creamsickle and am off to try this out. Thank you again for taking the time!! <3

  3. You are very welcome, ladies.

    Laura x

  4. I just remembered something. There is a german online store that still has Cim Pumpkin.. in case you're interested and ran out of it:

    Greetings from Vienna! :)


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