Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Mandrels for Screen melts

In creating screen melts, the steel or other support left in the project can leave such a degree of stress that the piece will began to fracture over time.  The use of thin stainless steel rods as used in mandrels for bead making is an alternative, as they can be pulled out.

The separator used on the mandrel can be bead release.  If you have it that will work very well. This illustration shows a bead maker coating a mandrel from a bottle of mixed bead release.

If you do not have bead release on hand, you can use kiln wash.  To give the thick coating required to easily pull the steel out you need to mix the kiln wash differently. 

The normal mix of kiln wash would be 5 parts water to one of powdered kiln wash.  As you want this to be thicker so it will stay on the mandrel, you can mix it in a 3:1 ratio.  This will be sufficiently thick to keep it running off the mandrel and be able to extract it after kiln forming.

Mandrels prepared for bead making.  In coating them for a melt, you need to have the whole length coated.

To avoid the mess of pouring the wash over the mandrel, you can fill a stringer tube with the mixture and dip the mandrel into it. You can place the end of the mandrel into a polystyrene insulation block or a bit of clay to let it dry as done by bead makers.

Once dry, you can arrange these coated mandrels in any shape of grid you choose.  Lay them across your supports whether fibre board or brick with about 25mm on the support at each end.  Lay all of one direction down first and the follow with the second, or more layers.  Place you glass on top of the grid created and fire.