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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn
Striking fuschia,
Otherwise known as Tourmaline Pink

Of all the soft glass colors I've ever tried to manipulate (and I've done little with some of the more exotic colors that have come out recently, such as Bullseye new metallic reducing colors) I've found the Czech glass called ‘Tourmaline Pink’ to be the one of the most beautiful, and definitely the most frustrating.

I've been working with this color a long time: I still am going through the 10kg stock I bought from Heidi (the woman who owned Check Glass before Jan Burrows.) Her advice was to ‘use lots of oxygen’ to get it to strike properly. While it's true that you always want to use the least reducing flame you can, this color is, like any copper red, a reducing color. The problem is that too much reduction very readily ends up with a sooty, ugly bead.

Hollows are more difficult to strike than solid beads: I still remember asking one of my teachers, when I'd just started, what to do about the bleached out centers of my transparent red and orange hollows. He didn't know. Since then, I've learned to strike everything in the warm range, even non-Check pinks (e.g. Bullseye cranberry sappharine, etc) without undue trouble.

Except tourmaline pink.

It's well named, I guess: good tourmaline is expensive, but so far as semi-precious stone beads go, there is nothing to touch its pinks, in my opinion. (Rhodochrosite is pretty, and striped, but opaque, and too orangey for the ‘pink’ crown.) However, I have, off and on, managed to strike this color successfully. Here are some things I think about when attempting to strike the color:

Compared to, say, vintage garnet, another wonderful Check glass color, tourmaline pink strikes at a much lower temperature: in fact, instead going to a dull orange, the bead will barely glow, just barely taking on a gold cast of warmth. Also, as with the silver pinks, patience—letting the bead cool thoroughly after it's been formed—is essential. It needs to cool nearly to what would seem to be the cracking point—fortunately check is less viscous (more goopy) than Effetre, and so it shocks a little less.

It pays also to keep in mind that the actual color does not appear until the bead is nearly room temperature: with time, one get a sense of whether the bead has struck, but it's difficult to tell.

When I putting blue-black (Vetrofond) black dots on the garnet, the heat to apply and melt in the dots is just about perfect to get the opaque orange glow that signals a good strong strike. When putting a Check sour blue dot on the fuscia, the dots melt in by the time the glass is struck. Strike first, than trail.

Use no more heat than is necessary to form the bead; let lips cool to dull red before marvering, or scum will surely develop.

Again, let bead cool thoroughly before attempting to strike; and only heat a tiny bit, just enough to give a slight golden cast. Unlike reduction frits which can reduce instantly, striking will take time—perhaps 5 or 10 seconds. Try to keep the bead in the flame during this period (though it's much better to pull it out than let it overheat.)

Even so I find I strike a given bead over 3–4 sessions, or more, especially the first one (making two at a time provides handy timing for the first bead to cool). Also, one can make the base bead without heating the color out, though the bead will invariably be striped. These stripes can be used as indicators for sufficient striking, when they go away; and as the color comes from metals that can volatize out, using no more heat than is necessary, and heating the bead to orange (clearing out the color) no more times than necessary, is only prudent.