It's a sinking feeling, in the pit of your stomach, when you feel your elbow knock something off the edge of the table and instead of the tink-clink of glass or metal you hear thack-snap. Oh no! No, no, no! There's only one thing that could make that sound. Your beloved graphite shaper. The one your husband got your for Christmas. Yeah. THAT one.
I know that these are problems that we don't deserve to whine about. I feel like I don't have the right, even, to feel bad about it. I should be thankful we had that money we could spend; that I even have a safe place, the tools, supplies, the health, energy, and skills where I can USE tools like this. I know. I DO. I remember nights when I was little when we didn't have enough to eat. I remember hard times when my mom had to choose between groceries and electricity; watching the man come to the house, open the electric meter, and lock it out. Nonetheless, I was SO frustrated! Stupid elbow! Stupid concrete! Stupid Beadroller ... oh, wait. I take that back. I love you, Beadroller.
For the non-lampworkers out there, a Beadroller is a graphite paddle with half-shapes, like a hemisphere, or a hemi-oval, carved into the surface to help you make beads in the shape of that cavity. We use graphite because it doesn't stick to the glass and it has a really smooth surface, and doesn't make the glass temperature drop too much. It's a great tool to do a final smooth-over, size check, and can help you push glass over the bead ends so you have a nice, smooth pucker at the holes instead of sharp edges. They are also not inexpensive, so tossing a broken one in the trash and picking up a new one ... not really an option. But, to not have it to use? Unthinkable! So, a fix was necessary.
Not wanting to reinvent the wheel unnecessarily I did my due diligence in the Lampwork Etc. archives and found a couple of helpful threads:
I learned that high quality super glue works well, in particular because it has a high temperature flash point. I also learned that gluing a metal plate to the base of the roller also helps stabilize the roller further.
Overachiever me, thought I'd try to create a jig to drill perfectly aligned holes to insert stabilization/reinforcement pins in the middle of the graphite where it broke. No, it didn't work. Yes, I really thought I could make it work. I was so confident that I took pictures of the process. I was so baffled when they didn't in fact line up that I "neglected" to take photographic evidence of the failure. You can stop laughing now.
I will, however, show you how I did end up fixing it - exactly as the ladies at Lampwork Etc. said I should. Superglue and sheet metal reinforcement. Donna, the artisan that designs and manufactures Beadrollers, even warns that you have to get the alignment right the first time. Unfortunately I underestimated how long it would take the joint to set and I didn't get it right the first time. Thus, not only one reinforcement plate, but three. I just used some 400 grit sandpaper to clean the surfaces of both the graphite and brass before applying glue to the brass and pressing it to the graphite. I think that the glue in the joint itself did actually, eventually, set, but only because the plates were holding it together better than I could with my hands.
So, all's well that ends well. It WORKS, first and foremost. I tested the cell where it's cracked first, and even that's fine. I truly do just use them for a final shaping, so the beads are relatively cool when they go in, and it was totally fine! Shew! And aesthetically? Well, I just think of it as my Steampunk beadroller :)
So, may you never break a Beadroller; but, if you do, Keep Calm and Glue It.
Cheers! Thank for reading!