Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Suminagashi, the Video

Time to make a suminagashi video with a few examples of interesting things I have learned! The video in all its glory can be found on youtube (it's called  The Suminagashi Movie), with captions to help things along. I'm sort of assuming you've got a basic handle on how this technique works already.

Below is more information about some of the things you'll see in that video.To the left is the finished (still wet) print.






This is just about 1/2 inch of water in a baking pan, with black and blue sumi ink. Nothing fancy. This is pan is solely dedicated to suminagashi~ no ink in the food chain! I do this right next to my sink, which makes it neater, but does not give 360 degree access. The ink has had a drop or two of sumifactant (see below) added to it to help it float and control the spread.

The first thing demonstrated is a way to move the ink designs around. If you place each drop of ink at the base of the previous circle, instead of in the center, the design will move across the water. You can see the different ways the design moves all through this video.

Some early tests
The 'clear' in the first part of the video is nose oil- to use this, rub the base of a brush against the outside of your nose to pick up a little oil (eww...) and use that to make empty circles. This gives a really nice controlled circle inside the colored ink. Another option is to add about a drop of photoflow to a teaspoon of water and use that to make clear spaces in your design. Or try a touch of soap in water and see how it works!

In most cases, a brush is loaded with ink and touched lightly to the surface of the water to make a circle, but there are times when that circle is just not big enough. Then it's time for a double dip or a little longer or deeper dip into the water. If the ink starts looking too thin, wipe the brush off and load it again- water seeps into the brush as it is used.

Accent dots can be added here and there and, again, moved and shaped by adding ink in different areas relative to those dots. Very interesting designs can be made with this method!

The design can be further manipulated by blowing gently or strongly or through a straw, or by fanning with a hand fan. It is not necessary to do all of these techniques in each piece. Remember, sometimes less is more!

Sumifactant (a special surfactant made by Colophon Books) and photoflow  are great for pushing the design around. Careful! Both of these can move things about powerfully. Photoflow seems to be the strongest pusher, and therefore the least reliable. Sumifactant is a little more controllable.
If desired, even after all of this manipulation, you can still add more ink! (Because sometimes more is more~ ha,ha). I often do this to help consolidate the design so more of it will fit on the paper!

The paper used in the video is a very pale purple unryu of about 25 grams. Unryu is my favorite paper type to date; pretty strong and a bit see through with a lovely texture. The lighter weight unryu does not have a very good wet strength. To pick up the design, start at one corner of the paper and lay it on the water as evenly as possible. This paper has great pickup and very rarely comes away with a missed spot or line.

Leave the paper on just until the design shows through the back, lift carefully by one edge and then immediately put it on a flat surface ( I use a large plastic lid), then rinse gently so spare ink comes off. After it is a bit drier, I move it to a glass tabletop until mostly dry, then sandwich it with plain paper and press it for a couple of days under  some weight (a pile of books).









Sunday, March 1, 2020

Glass Bottles ~ Lampwork Tips




Little lampwork glass bottles are quite a lot of fun to make over a torch- when everything goes according to plan! Because I know these can be used for some very special purposes, I tried to keep calm and think happy thoughts as I make them. Which is usually not too hard. They have their challenges, but the final result is often surprisingly nice!
For the glass makers in the crowd, I'll give a few pointers. These are made at the end of a hollow steel tube which has been dipped in bead release. I like to use KRAG mudd because it is strong and cleans out nicely.
* Dip the mandrels the night before so the bead release will be firmly attached to the steel.
* Make a small bead right near the end of the mandrel~ this will be the neck of the bottle. Make the ends of this bead nice before continuing. You will need to keep this area warm the whole time you are working on your bottle so that it won't detach from the mandrel. Bounce it in and out of the flame often keeping the mandrel warm as well.
* Begin wrapping the glass at the base of the neck as you would for a hollow bead.  Because you will add several layers and blow it out and expand it later, the bead does not to be as large as the finished bottle will be. Apply one or two layers of glass and do a 'test blow' to be sure there are not weak spots that will blow out before proceeding.
* Add decorations- more colors, enamel, silver foil, whatever your heart desires! Melt everything together carefully and manipulate as you wish. Don't let the whole bottle get floppy while you do this. If things start getting messy, remember to take the bottle out of the flame and let it stiffen up; let gravity work for you too!
* Shape into a basic teardrop shape, then blow a little air in to expand. Reshape, flatten a bit if desired, blow in a bit more air and continue shaping.
* Add a lip wrap~ just one or two wraps around the top of the neck.

* Add handles~ put a dot of the lip wrap color on one side, then halfway around. If they look straight, add a thin bit of glass even with the dot from the bottle side up to the lip wrap. Melt gently and open and shape the handle using a poking tool. Add another handle on the other side. Handles may need to be shaped more than once.
*  Check the shape of the bottle and adjust as needed.
*  Heat the base, attach a thin rod to it and pull gently to make the end more pointed.
*  Check it all again, make sure everything is warm and pop it into your kiln!

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Suminagashi, Tracking it Down!

Several weeks ago, I was delighted to take a suminagashi workshop at my local library. What, you might ask, is suminagashi? Well, suminagashi means 'floating ink'-it's the Japanese art of making prints from ink floating on water.  The woman who was guiding us was fairly new to it all, but enjoying it so much that she had to share. A few hours later, I was hooked! Floating ink on water to get random fractal-like patterns is just plain fun! I've seen it recommended as a project for kids and I can imagine they'd love it too. But here's the thing~ there is not a lot of suminagashi instruction to be had. I've started myself a pinterest board and have been adding everything I can to it.

Don Guyot's pamphlet Suminagashi, an Introduction to Paper Marbling is available from Colophon Book Arts Supply, which also has some great suminagashi supplies. This is filled with great information.

Suminagashi: The Japanese Art of Marbling : A Practical Guide by Anne Chambers is quite good, with information gleaned from a number of experts she met in Japan.

The Ultimate Marbling Handbook by Diane Maurer-Mathison has a very informative chapter on Suminagashi as well, with information on making double prints, among other things.

The Little Book of Book Making by Charlotte Rivers has a short chapter by Ruth Bleakly with instructions and a few great tips.
 Add the information in all of these books together and you'll get a pretty complete overview of most everything you'll need to get started with you own experiments!

Other than that, there is the rare art book Suminagashi-Zome, a translation from Tokutaro Yagi's Japanese instructions, published by the Heyeck Press in 1991. Unfortunately, it is a pretty expensive and hard to find tome. I've got my eyes peeled!

I've been experimenting with so many different things- types of paper, different inks, double dipping, printing on both sides... The list goes on! I'll have to tell you results and what I think I've learned a bit later. In the meantime, the pieces pictured here are just a few examples of what I've done so far.



Thursday, August 29, 2019

Murano, Murrini, Millefiori and Other Glass Confusion

Fish with murrini eyes and decorative murrini accents
Today, when I was getting ready for a bit of torch fun, I threw out this sentence~ 'I'm just going to make a few murrini.' The response? 'I thought you had to go to Italy to do that.' Hmmm, and this from someone who has slogged through many years of listening to me talk about glass, glass and more glass. I'm sure a lot of folks are confused by glass terms because, well, a lot of them sound similar. And what's with all the Italian words?! So I'm here to, hopefully, make a little of it make sense.

Follow this link to find out more about the language of lampwork.




Murano~ Many of you are familiar with 'Murano Glass'. Murano glass is simply glass that is made by traditional methods on the island of Murano in Italy. But... The supplies for most of the beads I make are made on that same island. Some companies will call their glass Murano glass because the raw materials for the items are made in Murano. There are actually strict rules about what should labeled Murano glass ~ find more information about that here.

Making the cane
Heating the glass to stretch it
The canes before being cut
Murrini~ A slice of composite cane which creates a pattern in cross section. Lino Tagliapietra gives a thorough explanation on his website. There are a number of different ways to make this cane, both over a torch and in the kiln. Glass is layered into a large barrel shape, which creates a pattern within. The cane is then heated and stretched into a thinner rod, which reveals a pattern in cross section when it is sliced after it has cooled. These slices or chips are then applied to hot glass in a number of different ways. They can be applied on the surface or encased with clear glass; melted flat to the larger glass piece or left as bumps on the glass. Nearly any pattern can be made using this technique, as shown by Loren Stump. Find more information here. My own murrini are pretty simple. I've still got a lot to learn in that department!


Millefiori~ Italian for 'thousand flowers', millefiori is a lot of murrini laid up right next to each other, often covering an entire glass piece or an area of a piece. I personally expect the murrini in a piece referred to as millefiori to be patterned in a way that looks like flowers. Otherwise, I would refer to the glass piece as having a 'mosaic' design., which is what these patterns were called prior to about 1849.

Moretti~ A type of soft glass commonly used in glass beadmaking which is made by the Effetre company on the island of Murano.

Here's a wee bit more about my own murrini use.