Monday, November 30, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Last month, one of my pieces was chosen as September monthly challenge winner on the Art Bead Scene blog- http://artbeadscene.blogspot.com/ . It's a great blog, with lots of interesting info for jewelry designers and beadmakers. The piece I entered was a necklace I'd made that just happened to fit in with their Kandinsky theme for the month, and I entered it at the last minute.
.............. It was just a random drawing- I actually prefered this necklace that I had also entered! This one ended up going to the Netherlands.
There were prizes, and I got one of them in the mail yesterday- a beautiful button from Creative Impressions in Clay from Tari Sasser. http://www.claybuttons.com/ It is such a cool button- I think it's the biggest one I've ever seen (much larger than this photo!). Don't know what I'll do with it yet, but I'm sure I'll think of something. Thanks so much, Tari.
And thanks ArtBeadScene for choosing my necklace!
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Here are a few extra tips and reminders.
**Shake the bead release (sludge) well, and dip your mandrels in rather slowly to get a nice even coating. If there is time to let the sludge air dry, that is best, though the mandrels can also be carefully dried in the flame.
**Once your glass has touched the mandrel, it will not come off without breaking the bead release. If you have a sharp or thin end that needs to be evened up, you will need to add glass to that end, or heat it and take it out of the flame and point that end towards the floor and let gravity pull the glass down, or heat and push gently towards the pointy or thin end with your paddle.
**Don’t build your bead too close to the end of the mandrel- leave at least ½ inch of space.
**Don’t ever let your bead get too cool- it can break while you’re working on it if it gets too cool and you put it back into the flame- sometimes explosively. So remember to ‘flash’ your bead through the flame often. If you are working on some little detail, you must remain aware of how long it’s been since you made sure the whole bead was hot.
**Whenever you touch the bead with a tool- like your paddle or trowel- you introduce stress into the glass. Sometimes you can see it as ‘chill marks’ which look kind of like a finger print. Heat the bead a bit after using any tool on it to get rid of this stress.
**If you want to add some little bits that will stick off of the main bead- like fish fins or wings, be sure you heat the attachment point well first.
Here is a quick tutorial to help you with your first beads.
Basic glass bead technique:
1) Begin by heating the tip of your glass rod slowly. There are a couple of ways to do this– you can start heating high in the flame and work your way down into the hotter flame, or you can move the rod in and out of the hotter area of the flame. Either way, keep the rod twisting so that it will heat evenly. Always stay aware of the heat of the rod you are working with and the heat of the bead you are working on (known as “reading the heat base”).
2) When the rod has an orange glow all around the tip, it is ready to stay in the heat of the flame- between the tip of the blue cone of the flame and the area about 1 inch above this cone. Begin to heat the prepared mandrel (in your other hand) to a slight glow while you continue to heat the glass. Rotate the glass rod to avoid sagging, and continue heating until hot glass has a controllable but fairly liquid texture, similar to cold honey.
5) When you have applied all of the glass you need, detach the glass rod by pulling up and turning the bead towards yourself, and letting the flame burn it off.
7) When you are finished with your bead, you want to cool it slowly (flame anneal) before putting it away. This will help keep it from breaking later. To flame anneal the bead, get it just glowing all around- not so hot that it all starts moving around again- then begin to move it slowly towards the top of the flame, always turning to keep the bead from getting distorted. Flame anneal for 1-2 minutes, or until bead is no longer glowing. Take out of the flame for a few seconds, and then cool in a fiber blanket or vermiculite for 3-4 hours.
Much of working with glass is simply a case of paying attention to the heat base of your glass. Different methods and techniques are most effective when the glass is at slightly different temperatures Stay comfortable, but be aware of what you are doing at all times.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
As you attempt to get your home-based art or craft business off the ground, you may be approached by folks who have shows they would like you to participate in, or shops they want you to sell your products in. Here’s my special tip to help you make these important decisions- do the math! It’s very important to figure out how much something is really going to cost you before you sign on the dotted line and turn over your hard-earned money. What do I mean, how much it’s really going to cost you? Well, first and most important is the booth fee, or percentage the shop will take off the top. Booth fees are pretty straightforward.
Here’s an example. Let’s say I have heard about a show with a $100 booth fee. A fee of $100 is just that, no hidden costs, no percentages. But what, exactly, would I need to sell to make that kind of fee a sensible investment? I have often heard that a booth fee should be no more than 20% of your gross. So if I pay a booth fee of $100, I would want to bring in at least $500.
I would think about the number of hours the show lasts, the amount of inventory I predict I can have in my booth, etc. Does it seem feasible? I have found, in the larger shows I have done, that I can generally sell maybe 20-25% of the stock I have on hand. So for a show like this I would want to have at least $2000 worth of product on hand. I know that can be easily done. Now how about the hours of the show? Well, let’s say the show is just one day- a Saturday from 10am to 8pm. That’s 10 hours. Ok, so if I sold an average of $50 worth of items an hour, I could make that booth fee. Do-able? Well, probably.
There are plenty of other considerations, though. Is it in town? That means no hotel and minimal gas costs. Is it a juried craft show? I find that that is what draws the type of customers I am looking for. Is it indoors or outdoors? Bad weather can ruin your chances of having a good day at an outdoor show. Do I know anyone who has done the show? What do they think? This is a starting point, though folks have different ideas of what a ‘good show’ is.
All of these things and many more should be taken into consideration, but doing the math on that show fee is the first, very important step.
Here’s an example a friend presented me with recently- a craft mall situation where he would pay $100 a month, plus 15% of his sales. Hmmm… That sounded a little iffy to me, so I did the math for him. Here’s what I told him. Well, if you sold $1000 worth of your product a month, you would pay that $100 rent, plus another $150 a month in fees. That’s 25% of your sales. Is that sensible for you? Well, he knew from previous shop experiences that it was pretty unlikely that he would sell $1000 worth of product in one shop in a month. And if he sold less, the percentage he would be paying the shop would just go up. For me, the answer was a definite no. I don’t think he’s going to do it either.
Yes, there may be times when you just want to take the plunge, roll the dice, and see what happens. But I’d strongly suggest that you first do the math, and not delude yourself about how things will turn out financially in the end.
Hope this helps with some of those difficult show decisions!
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Well, as things often go, about the time I decided to stop making butterflies to sell, I needed to show a few folks how I make them for the Beads of Courage program. Here’s some more info about the program: http://www.beadsofcourage.net/
Arkansas Children’s Hospital is one of the many hospitals that use this program for children who are undergoing hospitalization and treatment. It’s a little bit of fun for the kids to look forward to at the end of some pretty intense treatments. The (as yet unnamed) bead group that I meet with once a month or so decided to make some beads to donate.
Grace's Butterfly........Debby's Butterfly
Our little three hour session wasn’t really long enough, so we’ve all gone home with a bit of homework: Make some beads to be donated, and we’ll ship them off next time.
After writing this whole crazy mess down, I have to say, for simple and elegant directions, you can go look at the ones Sharon Peters wrote here: http://www.beadsofcourage.net/art/ButterflyTutorial.pdf And then tweak it your own way!
Here's a tutorial for making butterflies the way I do it to go along with the youtube video that actually shows me doing it- see link above (thanks to Vicki of parrotise beads).
NOTE: You are responsible for your safety. Please follow all recommended guidelines for studio ventilation, face mask use, safe use of enamels, and other safety precautions. This tutorial presumes a basic understanding of lampwork bead making techniques.
Here’s a tutorial for making butterflies my way, as can be seen in the video:
First, let me say I had a few problems making the body- my glass had a lot of bubbles in it, and I had to pop them and work them out. So the video actually starts about 5 minutes into the session. I had some problems at the end too, so the video ends before I really finished the butterfly- I got a bit obsessive about the shape. In the end, I just had to let the wings be a little different from each other.
2) Marver into a nice even tube and taper the lower end a just little bit.
3) At one end of the tube, add a bit more glass for the head. A couple of wraps around should do it. Melt down to a nice even shape. Make both ends of the body nice and even and a bit dimpled at this point, as you won’t have much of a chance to do it later.
4) Now it’s time to build the wings. I build them fairly flat, and add quite a few colors. My preference is to make them mostly transparent. To me that’s part of the butterfly look- ephemeral. So, start with the transparent color of your choice and stripe it along the upper 2/3 or so of the body. Make sure the body is fairly hot when you add that first swipe, so that you have a nice attachment between the wings and the body.
The body.......................the head............begin the wings
5) Pick up your next rod and make a swipe or two all the way around the first one.
6) Choose the color you’d like to use first on your lower wings and swipe that on the bottom third of the body. You can use the second color from the top as the first color on the lower wings if you like. Again, be sure you have a nice attachment on this first swipe. Try and push that first swipe up so that it actually touches the upper wings.
7) Add another color to the lower wings. By this time you will (hopefully) have ¼-1/2 inch of glass sticking out from the body on both sides. It already looks a bit like wings. Flatten with your mashers. If it’s all kind of blobbed together, don’t worry too much, we can take care of that in a minute.
another color.........begin lower wings.....ready to flatten
8) If your top and bottom wings aren’t touching each other, now’s the time to fix that. This part’s a bit hard to explain. Heat one of the bottom wings, grab it between the mashers of your choice, and push the top of it towards the top wing while rotating it down. Do the same thing on the other side. If you have watched the video, you can see my hands waving around kind of wildly after I’ve moved the wings around- it’s not part of the bead-making process, or some kind of strange tic- I’m showing the gals an exaggerated example of the motion I just used to move the glass around. It’s more or less drawing a backwards “J” while I have the glass between the mashers.
9) With any luck, you’ll now have the wings pushed together in the middle. If not, you may have to do a little bit of the grab and push with the top wings. All you’re trying to accomplish is to get a little bit of the wings melted together in the center. Why? To make it less fragile in that area. If you have melted them together too much, superheat that area and snip it apart a bit with your scissors, then melt to round off the edges.
10) Add more colors top and bottom, dipping in a little raku frit or enamel along the way if you like. Try and make each set of wings about the same size and shape, with the top wings about twice the size of the bottom ones.
11) Decorate as you like, adding layered dots, bits of color here or there, or what have you.
Adding frit.....enamel............clear and dots
12) Now it’s time for the final shape. For this part I use scissors. Superheat one of the wings. Take it out of the flame and grab with your scissors. Pull a little bit to indent and shape, move and do it again- about four times for the bottom wings and six or so at the top. It may help to have a picture or two of butterflies that you can look at to help you see what shape you are aiming for. Normally I will heat one of the top wings, grab it close to the center on the bottom and indent and shape it, move and do it two or three more times, then reheat and tackle the top half of the same wing. You’ve got to remember what motion you did and do it about the same on the other side. Try not to cut all the way through with the scissors, although that can make a nice effect on the edges as long as you melt and round it out a bit afterwards.
More dots...............first wing shaping...second wing shaping
13) If the wings are not quite to your liking, you can shape them further by heating the wings and a glass rod or stringer, attaching the stringer to the tips of the wings, and pulling gently. The wings should be fairly hot, and the stringer or rod just hot enough so it will stick temporarily to the wing tip. Melt off and reheat a little to make sure you haven’t made a sharp place on the wing.
14) And now for the feelers- if you want to add them, though this may be the deal breaker after all the work you’ve put into this baby! If you are brave enough, dot some antenna onto the top of the head. You can build up a series of small-ish dots, or try dotting and pulling the glass a bit to make them. Don’t make them too long and fragile, and be sure to bend them a little bit away from them mandrel so you can still get in there with your tools to bail it.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
I didn't use any other tool to shape these beads, and look how close they are to each other in size and shape- I used them for a pair of earrings and part of a necklace.
Monday, June 29, 2009
What a day we had yesterday- it was lampwork bead day in Sherwood at Glass Concepts. Six lampwork beadmakers gathered together for show and tell, and what a session it was! Grace brought a couple of beads she’d made using the new Gaffer Chalcedony glass on a 96 clear background. She got some really nice colors, but I forgot to take any pictures.
One great thing about getting the Gaffer glass is that I’ve started learning to blow shards. I’ve been pretty happy with the results- now to learn to apply them properly!
And I almost forgot. Rita had another great little tool for making flower stamens. She made a very nice example using yellows, green and some intense black. We each got a little bit to take home and try out. All in all it was an amazing day!