Straight-line stringer tutorials for your pleasure!
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(Jessica Herrell or jc@jcherrell.com)

Pulling thicker stringer     Pulling a thin stringer     Color choices

The following tutorial is written for pulling soft glass stringer, 80 COE and up.
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Pulling thicker stringer

When I refer to "thicker" stringer I mean any stringer roughly 1mm or larger, which includes almost all stringers.  I will describe very thin stringers in the next section.  Thicker stringers always begin with a gather of glass.  Below you'll see a few different ways I pull soft glass stringers about 1-2 mm thick. 

In this video I start with an end of a rod that has been shaped into a long taper from a previous stringer pull.  I allow the gather to drop back onto the rod as it gathers in the flame.  When the gather is the appropriate size (which depends on the width and length of the stringer being pulled), I grab the tip of the gather with a pliers (or tweezers), pause for a moment to let the heat disperse evenly, and then pull the stringer out smoothly. 


The following  series of photographs show a larger gather between two rods starting with the joining of the rods.  This method allows for easier, larger gathers and holds them more securely than pliers (which tend to shock and break at the end of a larger pull).

Here I heat the end of one rod until a small gather forms then use the tapered end of the other rod to smear the gather back onto the rod.  I continue to push the molten gather with the tip of the 2nd rod until the two rods are joined. 

Next I twist the smeared gather to prevent/pop any air bubbles I may have created.

Here I've heated to even the gather between the two rods.  Then I remove it from the flame, allowing the heat to disperse evenly throughout the gather.

Once the gather has cooled just enough to lose the white hot glow, I begin to pull the gather apart allowing it to droop slightly between the two rods.

I continue to pull the stringer to the desired length/width, then pause and hold with slight tension on the stringer while it cools and hardens.  Then cut with a cool pliers or tweezers.  Just a bit of pressure with a cool tool will cause the stringer to break right were I grab it. 

Pulling a thin stringer

I define a "thin" stringer as anything small enough to make it hard to measure with a standard caliper, sometimes called a hair-thin stringer.  Be aware that these stringers are dangerous!  They break easily, are hard to clean up, and can become embedded in your skin.  Use awareness and caution when making, using and cleaning up these stringers. 

This video shows a close view of a thin stringer pull.  First I heat just the tip of the rod.  After the tip is glowing red, I quickly grab the end with a pliers (or tweezers) and immediately pull the stringer out of the hot glass. 

This is a wide view of a thin stringer pull so that you can see the length that comes from just the tip of the rod.

This a series of photographs showing a thin stringer pull in more detail:

When the tip of the rod is heated to molten, I immediately grab and begin to pull the stringer.

The pull starts out thick but I pull quickly and...

The glass quickly pulls out to supply a long, thin stringer.  Notice that the glass creating the stringer comes from the tip of the rod as it retains heat.  The stringer cools almost immediately after being pulled from the rod meaning that if my pulling motion is smooth, even,  and quick, the stringer will be too.   

Color Choices

Any glass is stringer glass!  Some glass just works better for some applications.  Experiment!  You'll find you like some colors of stringers in certain situations and other colors in other situations - that's one of the joys of stringer!  Here are a few notes about specific colors and variations of stringer:

Intense black:

Black glass is actually a dark transparent color.  If you are using thick stringer, the standard black rod will work just fine.  However that same standard black rod will produce transparent thin stringers.  To solve this problem most manufacturers of soft glass offer a dense black, an intense black or another strongly saturated black rod.  The intense black will produce a strong black for thin stringers, but will still appear transparent in the thinnest of stringers, which is why I like Effetre's dark silver plum. 


The picture to the right shows three very thin lines drawn in the following colors from left to right:  dark silver plum, intense black, regular black.  Notice that both blacks are washed out in such little quantity.  

Dark silver plum:

Dark silver plum (DSP) #275, made by Effetre, is a great glass for hair-thin stringers.  This is a 104 COE metallic glass with an opaque dark purple base that will produce a number of metallic effects from an oil-slicked look to gunmetal silver.  The metals and dark base in this glass allow thin stringers of this glass to remain opaque.  DSP is the opposite of a reduction glass; it's important to work this glass in a neutral or oxidized flame (added oxygen and/or reduced propane) so that metals will rise and remain at the surface of the glass.  

Add stuff to your stringer:

1-  Silver is a popular addition to stringer, specifically silvered ivory stringer.  Try wrapping the end of a dark ivory rod in a sheet of silver foil or leaf, burnish to smooth and adhere the silver, heat to form a gather and then pull into stringer.  The result is a wonderful natural looking line. 

2-  Add reduction or color streaks to your stringer by rolling your gather in frit a few times before pulling your stringer (be sure to reheat the gather between rolls to maintain heat and fuse the frit from the last roll).  Use a reduction frit to create reduction stringer.  Use tone-on-tone color to create subtle streaky effects.

3-  My favorite addition to stringer is enamel!  Roll your gather in enamel several times and pull.  You'll notice that the enamel makes the glass stiff and more difficult to pull.  I often pinch a handle on the tip of the gather with my pliers, reheat the center of the gather and then pull the stringer.  Heavily enameled stringer will create waxy color streaks while lightly enameled stringers create dynamic webbing effects.  Enameled stringers are also noticeably stiffer making controlling them in the heat a bit easier, but they are brittle so be sure to store and use them with care.  A few ways I use enameled stringer:



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Written and photographed by JC Herrell; Copywright, JC Herrell 2010