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December 4, 2009


I'm not sure if this will be interesting to anyone, but I thought it might be neat to blog about my portable setup. I've already posted about why I do this, but in case you missed that, it's because it's fucking COLD out and I can't torch at home for at least the next 18 weeks (not that I'm counting or anything).

I travel back and forth to the studio with two boxes - my trusty rubbermaid tote and a tinkerbell lunchbox.

Inside the tinkerbell lunchbox are the majority of the tools that I can't leave home without.

This includes: (from left to right, sort of)
  • Blue-handled pliers with the awesome wire-cutting area.  I use these for snipping stringer, holding shorts and for miscellaneous squishing tasks.
  • Red-handled pliers with bent tips.  I'm sure they have a proper technical name, but I won't ever care or remember what it is.  I use these primarily for squishing fish fins.
  • Wide-groove optic mold.  I've only ever used this once, to make spaceflower murrini from the tutorial. I keep meaning to make more of that, but I never seem to get around to it.  The mold doesn't take up much space, so I keep it around just in case.
  • Nail sets (red, grey, yellow handles).  I love these.  $11 at Canadian Tire for all three of them.  I use these to poke the centres of flowers and to plunge stuff in my big beads.  I sometimes use them to push clear around when I'm encasing.
  • Flat Paddles.  I use these to crease glass before I encase it, to make fish lips and to tap down murrini and other elements as they melt.
  • Giant, Japanese nail set.  I bought this from Sherry Bellamy when I took her class last month, and I am using it pretty much as I am my other nail sets.  It's bigger than the ones I already had so it's coming in handy.
  • Spoon.  This spoon is from my time in South Korea, and has a shallow, wide bowl to it.  I use this to pick frit up out of a jar.  This is awesome because I can just roll the bead in the frit while it's on the spoon, and then just throw any remaining frit back in the jar without ever pouring anything anywhere.  The spoon is also a good shaping tool, and can be used as a bead roller to make an oval bead.  I've only done this successfully a couple of times so I think it requires practice.
  • Steel Pick.  I use this to do all of my raking and swirling and I use it to poke small flowers.
  • Presses!  I only have five presses, and these four are the ones I'm currently working with.  They are the Zoozii's Med+ Duo, Zoozii's X-Large SS Lentil, Cattwalk 1.25" Lentil and a Cattwalk Crunch Press (don't ask me which one).  
  • Stump Shaper.  I almost never use this, but I carry it around anyway.  It feels too big and clumsy in my hand when I need something to push encasing glass around, and whenever I want to marver anything I typically just grab the marver next to it.  I do use this, though, for making creases on my flat hearts.
  • Graphite Marver.  "But that's such a tiny marver!  Your beads are huge!  What the heck are you thinking!"... Yeah, I know.  When my beads started getting really long, I had a "brainwave" and determined that a bigger marver was exactly what I needed.  I even ordered one and used it a couple of times.  As it turns out, I'm more of a small-marver girl.
  • Tweezers.  I use these so frequently I can't believe they've lasted this long.  I use them to pick up random things to put on my beads, for warming and attaching murrini, for applying shards, for holding short bits of stringer and for pulling stringer.  I also use them to remove excess glass, pinch off bead release I accidentally pick up when I'm pressing my beads, to burnish on silver foil if they happen to be in my hand when that needs to happen.... I can't live without my tweezers.
  • Microshapers.  While they all have cool shapes on either end, I primarily use these to push encasing glass around.  I use the side rather than the tip and push the glass around by rolling the brass against it.  If my nailsets are closer to my hand, I use them to do this instead, so my microshapers are a little underloved. My next purchase will be a larger set of these.
  • Wheel Nippers.  I don't use these all that much while I'm torching, but they are always on me in case the urge to make murrini hits me and I need something to cut it up with.
  • Scissors.  I love my scissors.  I had a smaller pair, but I lent them to someone and they melted the blades.  These are sturdier, and I use them to make random cuts in my beads.  Usually when I've cut a bead it's because it angered me in some way, so I guess these are more of a beadmaking weapon than a beadmaking tool.
In the top of the rubbermaid tote, I always have my zippered bag of mesh, beeswax and other random stuff, my murrini case, my barbecue mashers and my graphite pad.  The plastic container has baggies full of aventurine stringer ends, SiS ends, silver wire, silver mesh, silver leaf and foil and other bits and pieces.  The black-lidded jars hold things like aventurine chunk, shards I made myself and frit.

In the bottom of the rubbermaid tote, I store my didymium glasses, clear glass, boro punties, bags of shorts and the stash of silver glass that I'm currently working with.  My hollow mandrels are down there somewhere as well, for blowing shards.  Often there are also loose elastic bands, bits of stringer and other assorted garbage in the bottom but it's pretty clean right now.

In between the stuff I keep at the bottom of the tote and the stuff I keep at the top of the tote is the glass I'm currently using.  It doesn't seem like much space at all, does it?  Well, that's because it's not.  lol.

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