These instructions are free of charge for
personal use only.
Images are with the step-by-step
instructions, please give
MAKING MARBLES WITH A HOT HEAD TORCH
Please read MAKING GLASS BEADS by Cindy Jenkins. Most bead-making
catalogs sell it, and it can be ordered from any bookstore (she may
a new edition out, now). This book has all the basic information
you need to teach yourself to do hot glass work: tools, setting
your workspace, heating glass, and many techniques for putting designs
on and in glass. It would take me weeks to type all this
so I'm only going to include specific bits as I go along. I
recommend the book as a resource.
I want to point out that I am entirely
self-taught (I used the
mentioned above), and some of my methods are the result of "figuring
a way to make it work" and may not be the methods used by other marble
makers. Also, although I am a professional illustrator with a
of Fine Arts degree from a prestigious art school, learning to make
was a whole new world for me! None of my art experience (except
the ability to visualize what the finished item should look like) was
much help! Humbling discovery for me, but hopefuly encouraging
you! It took me many attempts to get to the point where I could
make good marbles. It was an entirely new skill that required
As with any skill, glass working must be learned, and as with any
I believe it can be learned by almost anyone who is motivated to try.
The following instructions are my methods,
requiring the tools
to make marbles with a Hot Head torch. I am assuming you have a
fireproof surface, and holder for the torch/gas, know how you
your tools arranged, and have practiced heating glass to get the "feel"
for it. Read "MAKING GLASS BEADS"!!!!!
-Hot Head torch
-sparker for lighting torch
-torch marver (this may be a luxury item, but I find it indispensible;
it gives me a work surface right in front of my eyes.)
-10" serrated end tweezers
-rod nipper (tile cutter, actually)
-marble mold (mine has 6 holes)
-Holder for final fire polishing (I made this myself!). Images
-Moretti glass rods (mine start out 13" and get shorter as I use
5mm transparent light/medium blue ,5mm transparent pink, 5mm yellow, 2
rods 8mm transparent clear.
-Kiln (if you don't have a kiln you will need to ask someone else about
how to use vermiculite or a fiber blanket.
IMPORTANT--my technique involves cutting hot
rods off marbles,
will need to have a place to do this that is fireproof and where the
rod cannot roll away (your hands will be full, and the rod will drop
ONE MORE THING--Do a "dry run". I
still do this when
new idea; practice each step without the torch on. PRETEND
to do each step--pick up the tools, go through the motions, note where
you tend to set things back down, watch out for having to reach
INSTRUCTIONS FOR A PRETTY RIBBON CORE MARBLE
1. Sit straight! The work involves intense concentration
and you don't want to be a pretzel when you're done!
2. Decide exactly what you will do and lay out everything you
will need. In this case, the glass will be opaque yellow,
blue, and transparent pink.
3. Turn on your kiln, if you haven't already.
4. Light the torch and heat one end of one of the clear 8mm
When it is hot, roll the end on the marver to make it narrow to a blunt
point. Set it aside and do the same with the other. These
be your "punties".
5. Heat one end of the yellow rod. Allow the glass
to slump back into itself to make a blob on the end of the rod (like my
6. When the blob is drippy hot,
squash it into a
by pressing it against the torch marver with the side of the marble
or a knife blade or other flat tool. The lollypop should be about
5/8" to 3/4" wide to make a marble of about that size.
7. Return the lollypop to the flame to
keep it warm but
let it melt. Wave it slowly back and forth about 3" above the
8. While continuing to do #7 (this is
where you need to
to do two different things simultaneously), take the blue glass rod and
heat the end of it into a ball big enough to make a hemisphere that
cover one side of the lollypop. When it is drippy hot, press it
the side of the lollypop so that it spreads to the edges (or nearly--it
will "ball up" a bit).
9. Melt the blue rod off the blob. It is not a hemisphere
at this point, but more of a Hershies Kiss.
10. Repeat #8 with the pink rod and press in onto the other side
of the lollypop.
11. Melt the pink rod off the blob.
12. Heat the big blob thus formed until the glass begins to melt
together. KEEP TURNING IT SO IT HEATS EVENLY AND DOESN'T DROOP.
carefull not to heat the white rod too much! You may lose the
off if you do.
13. Hold the glass out of the flame, take your big tweezers and
grasp the blob opposite the rod where the three colors meet.
the blob to make the white ribbon into a spiral. Do it
Only half of the yellow may twist--that's fine. The blob will
cylindrical (push the tweezers gently into it to keep it from
but should not become lopsided or fold in on itself (it will crease a
If it does fold or droop, stop twisting--the design may come out
but don't worry about it. This technique creates a modest spiral.
has lutz bands over the edges of the ribbon.
14. Let go with the tweezers and
reheat the portion of
you just twisted until the holes made by the tweezers melt
REMEMBER TO ROTATE THE MARBLE TO HEAT IT EVENLY.
15. Time for the mold. Press the hot end of the marble
GENTLY into a hole that is a little bigger than the marble and roll and
rotate it gently to round it. Do this quickly--the glass will
Return it to the flame to reheat it. Repeat this step until 2/3
3/4 of the marble is round.
16. Next, while keeping the marble
flame, heat the end of one of the clear rods.
17. When the tip is soft, press it agaist the marble opposite
the yellow rod (you are out of the flame, here), then pull back a
18. Wait a few seconds for the
rods to harden,
your work over your cutting surface and let the end of the yellow rod
on the surface. Hold the clear rod and DON'T LET THE MARBLE TOUCH
THE SURFACE. Pick up the cutters and cut off the yellow rod as
the the marble as you can (don't worry if there's a bit left).
Note: Since I wrote this my method has changed--I now usually melt
the rod off at this stage.
19. Quickly, but CAREFULLY return the marble to the flame.
Flash it in and out at first! It has cooled quite a bit and will
shatter if you just stick it back in the flame.
20. Now concentrate the flame on the unfinished portion of the
marble. If there is a yellow nub left from the rod, you can melt it and
pull off the excess glass with the tweezers.
20. When the marble is meltingly hot,
repeat steps 13
and 14 to
finish the spiral.
21. Round the marble in a mold as in step 15--AND THEN roll the
marble GENTLY in a hole that is slightly SMALLER than the marble.
chip is visible in this image.
22. Repeat step 16 with the second
clear rod, and press
against the warm--but hard--marble opposite the other clear rod just as
in step 17.
23. Repeat step 18, cutting off the original clear rod.
Note: Since I wrote this my method has changed--I now usually melt
the rod off at this stage.
24. Alternately heat and mold the
marble as in step 21
25. Keeping the marble evenly warm, pick up the mold and warm
a small hole near the edge. It should be a hole that is small
that the marble doesn't rest in the bottom of it, but big enough to
the marble steady with the mold tilted slightly (I have made a
out of graphite for this part because I found the mold draws too much
out of the marble, but maybe a mold with fewer holes [smaller, with
mass] would work better).
Graphite with 1/2" hole and held in locking
View of top of holder. Hole through
the graphite allows
to heat marble from the bottom when the mold is flashed in it.
the underside of holder.
26. Set the mold down, place the marble in
it (hold the rod
and cut off the rod.
27. Quickly put down the rod and pick
I blow once on the marble to remove any glass chips. Then hold
mold in the flame so that the cut mark on the marble is heated and
into the marble. I use the mellon tweezers (the back of one
to gently turn the marble so that the cut melts evenly. I flash
holder in the flame every few seconds to keep the marble hot. If
you use a mold to hold the marble, this may not work, but keep rotating
the marble to help spread the heat.
28. Set the mold down, wait a moment
for the marble to
pick it up with the mellon tweezers (they need to be warmed [but not
hot], and will already be if you turn the marble with them), and pop it
in the kiln (depending on the kiln, you may need gloves for this part).
That's it--well there is the torment of
waiting HOURS for the
to anneal and then the kiln to cool enough to see if the marble came
right! Peeking too soon will get you cracked marbles!
It sounds complicated, but that's only
because there are lots
step is simple. Just take them one at a time. It's also all
right to pause and relax for a minute as long as you keep the marble
These instructions may be copied free of
charge for personal
All text and images on these pages are copyrighted.
I hereby give permission to individuals to copy these marble making
insructions for their personal use only.
Copies may not be made for resale or publication.
The techniques and themes described in these instructions are not
They are common techniques and themes and cannot be copyrighted or
patented under US copyright or patent laws.
Any items made using these instructions are the property of the maker
to do with as he/she sees fit.
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