Friday, July 18, 2014

colored tubes

   I just got my first shipment of colored (anodized aluminum) tubes, and I'm loving them.  I've been wanting to make some pieces that are quite open, as all my tube pieces are, but still have a bit more presence.  The aluminum tubes accomplish this in 2 ways.  First, obviously, they're red.  But also, they're fatter than the oxidized copper tubes.  The copper ones are 1.5 mm in diameter, and the aluminum ones are 1/16" which is almost 2mm.  Because the tubes are relatively big, I found I needed seed beads at the ends, as having 3 big raw tube ends at each point of 
a tetrahedron was unattractive.  I had used #11 beads at the ends of copper tubes in the past, but I thought that the fatter tubes might "want" a bigger bead.  So I tried it with #8s.  But I didn't quite like it so I tried #11 beads (this is all in the 1st picture) and I liked that better.  A #11 bead fits quite nicely into the hole in the red tube.
   Then I had to figure out how to combine the red tubes with the blackened copper ones.  When I cut up the 1st 1' tube, I got 14 beads, but they were just a hair shorter than the long copper ones.  So I thought I might put seed beads only on the ends of the red tubes, and not the black ones, and that would even things out.  I did that in the 1st tet in the 2nd picture, and it pretty much worked, in terms of making the sides even.  But I wasn't sure I liked it. so I did a second tet in which all the tubes had beads at the ends.  I liked that better, even though the lengths weren't quite right.  On my next 1' tube I lengthened the individual tubes just a bit and got just 13 tubes out of a foot, but the length was better. 
  Actually, I need to work on getting tubes of a consistent length.  The red ones were better than the gold filled ones I did a few weeks ago, and the last red tube I did was better than the first,  But they're still not as consistent as I'd like.  Rio Grande sells a tube cutter that you can set to a length, and that should improve both consistency and speed.  I want to play around with the lengths of the tubes, but it will be trial and error as to how a given length affects the geometry of a piece, and I can't do much trial and error without wasting beads, so that's a problem.  I imagine there are CAD type programs where you could  play with  polyhedra that have sides of various lengths, but I don't know what they would be.  The only other thing I can think of is to buy unanodized aluminum, which is really cheap ( something like $.35/ft) and play with those.  That, of course, is expensive in time.  Anyway, for now I'm having great fun with my new red tubes.

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