Bead Roller Art

Here’s something you can do with your bead roller you might not have thought of.
This could make a great finishing touch on some project, creating an Original or replica sign panel, or just plain ‘creating’.




With the right set of roller dies, it is pretty straight forward to get going with the basics.
As with anything, getting really good, takes time, practice and talent.
Let’s focus on getting started with the basics first.


 First things first.  You will need a set of ‘Art’ dies for your particular bead roller.  Art dies are simply a thin profile set of step dies.  Here’s a close up of the profile of the art set for my roller.  This photo is roughly ‘real size’, which gives you the general idea of the dies, and how they shape the material.

 I find alternating the dies from top to bottom, depenting which way I was working the material, or which side of the pattern I was on, helped to keep me ‘On Track’ with the positive/negative (up/down) aspects.  You will find the way you prefer very quickly.

 In order to give you the best chance of success first time out, select a siimple image.  Also, here’s a trick you can use until you get experience.  Find the image you want to use in a digital format (computer), then print it at the size you want to create.  In the early stages, select basic black and white images.  It will make it much simpler for you to determine where to place your lines.  Your ‘lines’ will define which part gets raised, and which part gets depressed or lowered, which is how you get the 3D effect. Here you can see the printed Moon Eyes I have chosen, glued in position on the stainless steel I am using.  I have used a spray on contact adhesive used in upholstery work and available in spray bombs.  Spray the metal surface, spray the back side of the paper, and place in position.  Press it down by hand, and give it a few minutes to firm up a bit so that the paper doesn’t shift.

 Here is the rolled metal, with the paper still in place.  You can see areas where the paper has been cut by the dies.  The paper easily peals off, and solvent easily cleans up the metal.  It will take a little practice to refine your process of where to start, and where to stop with the material, in relation to the dies.  The dies are after all, curved,  They don’t make a neat stop.  They essentially, taper in and taper out, due to the radiaus curve of the dies.  You will notice the slight overlap on at a few points on the finished product above.  This is where practice and experience with your machine and dies will pay off and improve the quality of your work.

When it comes to corners and points, stop rolling, loosen off the dies, reposition the dies for the new direction, reset your tension and continue on. On longer curves, keep a slow smooth speed.  A slight deviation in the radius of a curve is NOT noticable.  If you try to make a correction, it will likely stand out and be noticable.  Just go with the flow.  Smooth is good.. On tighter curves, slow right down to a crawl.  Again, a slight variation in the curve is virtually invisible, where as a jerk or correction stands out.  Each one you do will be an original.  It is these variations that make it a work of art.

 You’ll be hand drawing your original paterns in no time.



   Here is the finished set of MOON Eyes, synonymous with all things racing and hotrod.This is as straight forward as it gets.


Depending on your final application for the ‘art’, you may want to take a standard set of step dies and roll the edge of the material to give it some rigidity.


Start to finish, this took about 10 minutes.


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