Monday, June 29, 2009

Six Women, Three Torches

Six Women, Three Torches- Anything Could Happen!

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.

I tried out some shards I’d made on a black Moretti background. I had a bit of success, though I think I heated a bit too long. Rita made a base of the Gaffer Hyacinth, then added some Chalcedony dots and encased them in clear. The colors seemed to be striking nicely around the edges of the dots, so she raked it around a bit and spread them out. We’re still working on getting all the beautiful colors that are possible and getting some consistency. Everybody got a bit to take home, so hopefully we’ll have some real beauties to show off at our next gathering.
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!

Grace has had a bee in her bonnet (which has recently been buzzing around my head) about scrollwork on beads. The lovely Rita was just the person to demonstrate this technique. My suspicion is that she locked herself in a closet and didn’t come out ‘til she got it right! The bead she’s working on here is an opal yellow background with silver plum decorations (I think). Her stringer control was mesmerizing- what patience and precision. Afterwards, I tried to use a bead press and do a bit of scrollwork. No photo of that- what a mess, but Rita watched over my shoulder and helped me to understand what I need to work on.
And the piece de resistance was Debby’s electric mandrel spinner. Debby has spent some serious hours on the torch, and her thumbs are starting to show the strain. So she bought this amazing machine to help her out- it spins the mandrel around while you add the glass. Impressive, yes? It’s a great invention that takes a bit of time to get used to. The thing is it spins around quite a bit faster than any of us were used to. There is a little brake you can put your fingers on to slow it down a little, though. While Vicki trained her video camera on her, Grace gave it a try. I wish we’d had audio- she was hilarious! In the end, five of us tried it out. Glenda and Vicki actually did pretty well. They got some fairly round results. And there was a cool bead roller to use with it that we all enjoyed trying out, and an unidentified tool pictured here. Debby's going to have to practice, pratice, practice to get some nice round beads, but she's determined, and we're all waiting to see it. It really has great promise to save all of our hands from overusage injuries.

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!

Here are links to show off some of the wonderful work of these lampworking ladies:
Vicki at Parrotise Beads:
Debby at Starlight Designs:

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Playing with some new frit from Gaffer

I bought a little bit of Chalcedony glass from Gaffer a couple of weeks ago, and I'm still working on getting some good colors out of it. My bead group is meeting again this weekend, so I'll bring some along for us to test out. I haven't really had a chance to play with it too much yet as it's pretty hot in my studio at this time of year. Right now I'm just barely keeping up with the things I 'have' to make.
In the meantime, I've been trying out a couple of the frit samples. Frit has never been my favorite thing, but these were so interesting looking that I couldn't wait to give them a try. Here are some of the beads I've made using the lime aventurine and gold pink extra frits I received.
The lime green is a beautiful bright green with some nice sparkle- perfect for frogs, I think! The aventurine is in the back end of this one.
The gold pink extra is wonderful. It's like Moretti EDP with out all the E and D. In other words, it's all the beautiful pinky-purple color without all the problems. In this bead it's swirled with a bit of gold pink on a background of white Thompson enamel- a nice color combination, and one that's really hard to do with EDP and gold pink as they want very different flame atmospheres.

I'm going to blow some shards with some of the chalcedony and some of the other rods. My fusing buddy is pretty excited about coming over and watching me make some shards. I've got a feeling he may be a little disappointed when he sees that I couldn't blow a nice even globe if my life depended on it. At least he'll have a few samples to take home with him!
I'm going to try and get some photos of the glass group at play this weekend. Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Flowers of glass, flowers on glass

So, what have I been doing? Well, not paying attention to this blog, that's for sure.
I wrote a tutorial that may never see the light of day on making these flower beads. I haven't quite figured out what to do with it, but I do know I want to expand on it before I do anything. I made some flowers, wrote the tut, waited two days, came up with an easier, possibly better way, made some more flowers, and added an addendum to the tut.
Now it's time to go to more complex flowers and see what happens. I tried a pansy, but was not enormously happy with it, so I'll work on that and irisis, and then see what comes next. Maybe some nice bright lily colors. I have a friend who sells lilies at the local farmer's market- they are amazingly beautiful, and come in so many different colors and patterns. So I need to permit myself to buy some next weekend. I could get a receipt and take it off my taxes! It truly is a business expense. Here are some pictures I've been working on for something like cards- flowers on glass. So it's a double business expense! One for a bead model, one for photos.