Sunday, April 26, 2009

Seahorses and frit

Wow, blogging once a week is a lot- I'm already overdue for this one. Too many events over the past week- I barely had time to finish out the special orders from last time and get a few bracelets made for market. But now it's time to get back to it, though I generally take Sundays off from the torch, 'cause Saturday market wears me out. I finished up those seahorse earrings; she sent the pics off to a friend, and he wanted a pair for his wife. So I might as well show you a picture. They are a little bit on the bigger side...

My wonderful library bought a book I requested! It's Val Cox's "Frit Secrets" I read the whole thing yesterday- lots of technical info, so I'll have to read it a lot of times to ingest it all. After I've kept the book for a bit and am ready to return it, I'll tell the local beadmakers it's there! I'm excited to try her full raku instructions, the boro-look beads and a couple of other things that I hadn't thought of. I have an old piece of brass from my daughter's college days, and it finally dawned on me that I could use it as a marver, so it's out and ready to go.
I have to admit, I haven't been big on frit beads in the past, except for raku and a bit of iris gold. So now I've got a little bit of a window on what I might be missing. It's always fun to try out new techniques and see how they fit into my 'style'- whatever that is! I have a few frits that have been lying around for years, so I'm ready to go kinda. But I think I'll be buying a few things from Val- she talks some of them up so much that I just HAVE to try!
Ok, I'll see if I have the energy to try a few things out today!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Going tubular

My personal bead of the month looks to be the tube bead. I love making these and am having a hard time making anything else. Today I made “The Wave”, and a “Fire at Night” bead. I was so glad when Kittrell Riffkind said they would take a few of the tubes off my hands- now I can make a few more!
Here’s a quick rundown on how these are made:
Make a long tube using clear or a colored transparent. And by long, I mean really long- like two inches or so. I use either a regular small mandrel, or a medium size. I like the small because the tube can be nice and slender. The transparent core is just a bit easier to work with than a solid color since it’s stiffer. Now please start with a nice even tube- it will make everything easier as you go forward.
The two ends of the bead are going to be different- here are some examples. Roll one end of the bead in a little white or colored enamel- or both- don’t worry if it doesn’t cover everything. Cover the other end with a thin layer of black- roll that end in silver foil, and don’t worry about it burning off, that’s just fine. Now work on the other end- add some solid colors and transparent in a random pattern, or make rings of the colors one after the other, or spiral them around the bead. Or whatever!
Okey dokey, now you want to burn off any remaining silver and roll the black end in a little raku frit. And back to the other end- swirl it, rake it, overheat it and let it do its thing- your choice.
Now you’re going to want to marver this baby into a nice tube or even a kind of bicone. And, if you want some nice black ends to act as your bead’s frame, add them now right on the ends of the bead, not on the mandrel as your bead release is probably weak there. Melt down and even up the ends.
Where the two designs meet, I like to add some dots that will stick up (some of the time). The line will not be a straight line around the bead, but will move around it in its own way- just follow it around wherever it leads you! Stick that baby into your kiln. Now go do it all again with different colors and different techniques for a whole new look!
Oh, and here you can see that sometimes the tubes get flattened and shaped a bit differently.

OK, the weather is beautiful, and I have this wonderful laptop computer from my darling daughter’s closet, so I’m gonna try sitting outside and typing into this machine. I began this blog because everyone said it was something that you had to do to sell stuff on the internet. I don’t know that’s it’s helped with that, but it is a good place to talk about beads, so I’m thinking I need to use it more often for that. So, I’m thinking once a week is a good start. It never seems like I have enough time, but maybe I can manage…..
So this week in beads has seemed rather hectic. I had an order to prepare for Kittrell Riffkind gallery in Dallas, some special projects for customers, and, of course taxes to prepare (and pay!) So what have I been making, you might ask. Well, to start with, fish. K.R. wanted four or five pairs of two different sizes. Pairs are always a bit hard as I’m rather picky about matchy-ness, and I always like to get my orders done and out quickly, so I went fishing. There were twelve fish in the kiln at once a couple of days ago- I think that’s a record. The next day I re-made about four of those because the pairs didn’t match. So now I have a bunch of leftover small and medium fish for my market table. For a quick tutorial on my fish, you can go here:
Next it was finishing out a special request- seahorse earrings, turtle earrings and a pair of fish earrings to replace a lost one. The little seahorses and turtles were a bit of a challenge. It took me two days to decide I could make small seahorses, but they were kinda fun. One of the turtles is still cooling in the kiln, so we’ll see how this second pair goes. And yes, the request was just for one pair, but I always like to give my customers a choice- the rest come with me to market.
Well, that hardly sounds like a full week, but I’m working on some beads for the Perspectives competition in Corning ( haven't decided between the mask and moon fire bead above), and the Muy Caliente competition at the ISGB conference. And this week is the beginning of the Symphony Design House, so there are some pieces for sale there too. And there are other applications and competitions swimming around in my head.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I actually won!

I actually won a contest! This is nothing short of a miracle. Of course, you can't win without entering, and I rarely enter contests, so.... Anyway it is a monthly contest put on by Artistry in Glass here:
It's a $75 gift certificate for my favorite thing- glass! And they have a GREAT selection of glass, so I'm pretty excited. I may even decide to treat myself to a tool!
I can't remember what pictures I sent them, but one of the seahorses was the winner, so here's a picture of my newest one. The pics of all the entrants will be up in their gallery soon.