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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn
BigHoled beads,
Or, how to make your beads better with photography.

I use Arrow Springs Emiko Sawamoto big-hole mandrels in the 3/8” size. The mandrels are comparitively expensive, as they consist of a tube welded onto a handle; in order to work correctly, the tube must be perfectly on axis with the handle, which for the 3/8” size is 4mm thick. The original version consisted of a straight-sided ‘tin-can’ with a flat cap; the newer version has end the rounded, and a light, attractive texture added, giving the tool a refined, functional look (the rounding is to make the bead easier to remove and the tooth is help the bead release grip better.)

So even though these tools are utterly specialized and expensive (I bought 10 to have plenty to work at a session, but 5 remain never-used), I quite admire them.

Bad. Nasty hole shows on the left bead. Also the one on the right is out of focus, I presume because (once again) I had the camera slightly cocked to the beads, resulting in the plane of focus not being parallel to them. I do like the light showing in the hole of the rightmost bead, and the overall lighting is more even.

The problem is making tidy holes. As it is I find it absolutely necessarly to preheat the mandrels to keep the release from chipping off from heat shock; even with the lower thermal mass from the hollow tube, the mandrel still sucks a lot of heat, and no matter how hard I try the glass footprints for my holes never seems to go down as smoothly as I like. No doubt after I make a thousand (or maybe only a couple of hundred) of these things, the holes will improve.

But as the above photo shows, the holes are not things of beauty. I'm guessing this is why folks started coring their beads, something I too wish to start doing, just as soon as I get off my butt and buy some thin-wall tubing. But in the meantime, what to do?

Good. Or at least, better. As noted above, the lower front parts of the beads is a tad on the dark side. 3 bighole beads, completed sometime in 2007. Cased, with blue-goldstone stringer, and trailing. Effetre. Largest is perhaps 25x35mm.

Why, fix the problem with photography, of course!

These are un-retouched photos, which have been scaled and cropped only. By repositioning (this is called ‘styling’ in the biz, I believe) the beads, I've mostly concealed the less than stellar holes, at least for the grey beads, the purple one being pretty much beyond hope.

My larger point is that even without the need to downplay flaws, something as simple as rearranging the composition can make for a better photograph, and thus, a more appealing product.