Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Caution, Beads May Contain... Wanderings of a Torch Addled Mind

For the time being, I am making beads in a garage- with the door open. This, of course, means that there is wind, so things blow in.  There's also the possibility of bugs flying around (and they do!), as well as chipmunks wandering through. A couple of days ago, I pulled a mandrel out of the mandrel holder and managed to sling dirt across the table- right into some enamel. Not wanting to toss it, I scraped out most of the dirt and used the remaining enamel up on a couple of leaves (leaves are my give-away lagniappe beads for online orders).

Then, yesterday, I noticed that it is cottonwood season. I can't imagine that one or two of those babies didn't find their way into a couple of beads. I mean, they were flying all around!

So, my archaeological friends, does this mean those beads can now be traced right back to where I am now, just like in the high tech crime shows, or is it likely that it was all burned out? Do I need to put a note up in my etsy shop? Here's what it might say:

CAUTION: Beads may contain dirt, cottonwood, hair or other unknown objects

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Around town~ a day out in Ithaca

I live (for the moment) sort of on the outskirts of a rather popular little left wing town in upstate NY. Things are happening here all day every day, most of which I ignore. Feeling a bit housebound, what with winter stretching to its sixth month, I went walk about the other day- down to the two block long pedestrian mall downtown called 'The Commons'. A few of my findings follow.

 Seems like every time I walk past this wee table, someone is sharing it with the bronze gal in residence. Often they are seen talking to her or sharing a cup of joe. This woman was enjoying a chat on her mobile phone as the 'Child of Ithaca' or 'Citizen of the World' looked on.The statue is of a young local woman who died an untimely death.
 Ithaca thinks of itself as an artsy community. There are at least five shops within a two block radius that sell handmade artisan works. Four of those really concentrate on local things (Ithacamade carries a few of my beads, earrings felted bowls and scarves).

The photos I took into windows also show some of the less exciting bits of the Commons in reflection- there are some rather blocky, boring concrete structures as well as new huge buildings popping up. It's all part of the sadly necessary expansion that is happening here due to the fact that it is such a very popular place to live. That despite the weather, which is downright dreary a lot of the time- so much so that a popular local band wrote a song called 'I Live Where it's Grey' which encompasses well the feeling of a long wintry day.

Here's another shop window reflection shot. How did those half-head props become popular? A bit spooky if you ask me!

I always want to look at these types of photos carefully and see if there are reflections of reflections involved. I loved those 'through the looking glass' pictures when I was a kid. It's  called the Droste effect.  These photos are different from those types of pictures, but there can be an element of surprise involved~  ghosts of people walking and other oddities.
Last but not least is the statue of a bubble blower? I suppose that's what this guy is doing, though to me it looks like he's blowing a bit of glass (of course).

That's today's tour of a wee bit of downtown Ithaca '10 square miles surrounded by reality' (or so they say). I find Ithaca all too real- more on that later, I'm sure!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Lampwork Masked Bead Tutorial From Isinglass Design
Here is an example of how to make one style of  masked beads in photos, taken from my ebook 'Reflections: the Diary of a Glass Beadmaker.' Complete instructions for these, two other masked beads styles and many other lampwork glass beads are in the book, available on etsy.


Black base bead
Aqua dots

Black dots overlapping aqua
Black Dots Top & Bottom

Black dots between
Melt it all in evenly

Melt everything together, fin~

Aqua dots as shown

Here are a couple of other masking designs that are covered in the book.

Friday, March 23, 2018

ROC Day Felting Mini Workshop

ROC day 2018 with the Black Sheep Handspinners Guild was a wonderfully fun experience here in Lansing, NY. It had to be put off for a couple of months due to the snowy winter weather, it was shorter than expected, but we managed to cram in loads of stuff! I was responsible for a quick little intro to felting workshop~ we tossed some fun bits of wool and things on a pre-felted surface, sprayed it with soapy water, rolled it up and started the felting process. After I took it home, I went to town and got it all felted together. Here I'm going to share photos of what I did and the results. The finished piece has been entrusted to another spinner who will, hopefully, show it off at the April meeting.

Up to the left is the piece after it was wrapped in a towel around a pool noodle and rolled about 100 times in each direction, top and bottom.

On the right, you can see how the piece has shrunk more on the far end than the closer end. At this point, the far end had been rubbed between my hands a number of times, until I could see and feel the felting happening.

Here are closeups of some of the bits and pieces. You can see that the locks were having a little trouble sticking on and the silk needed a little extra wool tossed over it so it would stay down nicely. A little more rolling and rubbing was done to get these bits to stick down better.

Once that step was completed, I decided to do a bit of cutting and pre-shaping. Slits were cut all along one side, while the other side was pulled into a kind of scalloped edge. The ends were pulled and rubbed between my hands into a rather random shape.

Once it all looked like it was going to stick and I could see a little shrinkage occurring, it was time for fulling to begin. I took it to the sink, ran warm water over it, added a little soap, squeezed it out and then tossed it against my steel sink about 100 times. It was put in a bath of cold water with some vinegar added to neutralize the soap, rung out again, and then thrown another 50 times or so. Now it was really shrinking up~ hooray!

 You can see on the left how the slits expanded into larger openings and the piece of silk took on some bumpy texture as the wool around and over it shrank. Another rinse in really hot water (off the stove), some rubbing and pulling into shape, and then a final rinse in cold water and it was ready to dry out.

It was wrapped in a towel and gently mashed to get some of the water out, then put in the dryer for about 1/2 hour. As it was still a little damp, some last minute shaping was done and then it was hung to finish drying.

On the right is the finished piece with the side we were working on at ROC day up.

To the left is the back side of the piece- see how easy it is to make it reversible?

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