Thursday, March 29, 2012

Practice, Practice, Practice! Forty Round Beads

Once in a while I get a line on something really cool in the world of lampwork. Just yesterday I saw a post about Heather Trimlett's 40 Bead Challenge. My first thought? Forty Beads??? Using no tools? Are You Kidding???
But then I passed a restless night thinking about that and a few million other things. And when I woke up this morning I was determined to give it a go!
I am not proud to say that I am a little bit 'round bead challenged'. That's right, I can make fish and cats and even draw a pelican on a bead now and then, but ask me to make a couple of spacers to match a focal bead, and I want to shout "WHY????" So off I went. I picked out a couple of contrasting colors that I don't normally work with, just so I wouldn't feel too badly about using up some of my precious glass.I took a little bit of a break after each ten, and here's where I went with it....

The first ten
The first ten beads were ok- Started off a little bit small, which is always my downfall. And what had I learned when I was done? Well, let's see- remember to look down the mandrel to make sure they are round (ish!). Hide your paddle or you may pick it up by 'accident'! Oh, and remember to have Perry Como's song 'Round and Round' going through your head the whole time! Time for a bit of breakfast and some coffee before I'm on to the next 'round'!
The second set of ten
 And here are the second ten Shoot, I'm starting to like the colors I picked, but they'll be mostly gone when this is over- looks like I'll be using about 3 rods of each by the time it's all over. It's starting to make a bit more sense to me overall. I think my brain is trying to make this a bit easier on its elderly self! And what's new? Well, gravity and heat keep working on your bead whether you're paying attention or not! So pay attention! And it's time to switch songs- Rawhide now, you know 'Rollin', rollin' rollin' keep those beadies rollin'.....
The third ten
Whoot! Halfway there. On to the next 10. When I got to bead #28(!) (third from the right) it was round pretty much all by itself- no adding a dab of glass here or a blob of glass there- it was just round. Well, at least until I added the dots.... And I've been able to add more dots than I normally succeed in adding to a wee round bead. That's called heat control my friends! The theme song here? Oh, the Beach Boys wanted to join in the fun with 'I Get Around'

The final ten
Thirty beads done and the distractions are pouring in- I was using up a little tank of propane that I'd bought for demoing, and it ran out. There is some pressure to decide what I'm doing with my life- now!- but I am determined to finish these last ten little beads! And the final theme song? Well, The song list would not be complete without a few words from Joni Mitchell in 'The Circle Game.'
Although y'all may not see a lot of progress from start to finish, I really feel good about this project. I now know I can make round beads without the use of tools or marvers, and I have a better feel for using gravity to make things nice and round.
So get on over to Heather's 40 Bead Challenge and give it a roll. You'll be glad you did!
Click here to see all of Heather's tutorials. Heather- thanks so much for this! It was best fun!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Lampwork Glass Seahorse Bead Tutorial is Finally Here!

Whew- it's been a hectic few weeks. Lots of things happening, mostly in my mind, I think!
 I was interviewed for the Soda Lime Times this month. The article just came out a couple of days ago- they did a wonderful job! It's chock full of fun information about lampwork beads, beadmakers and tools with several nice tutorials. The April issue is all about beads and the ocean, and there's a lot of eye candy, including some of my fish, mermaids, a turtle and some seahorses.

So what better time to start work on a Seahorse Tutorial? I admit I had really big plans when I started this- why not seahorses and mermaids? I started out with seahorses and realized that I'd better just take it one step at a time. Good thing too, as I barely got it done in time. OK, so I finished it a couple of days after the article, but it was close!

So what, exactly is in this tut? You are taken- with a ton of pictures- through the making of two different seahorses with two different designs in two different orders. Why? Well, I find myself naturally gravitating towards doing it in a particular order, but I don't necessarily think it's the most logical way to do things. So I do it 'my' way the first time, and the 'right' way the second time. Oh, I almost forgot- I made a wee video that shows me doing all the 'hard' parts. And only folks who get the tut have access to the video. It's not a great movie, but I do think it helps.

What's the big deal? To me, there are three things about this tutorial that make it worthwhile.
One- the tail- the way I make the tails was a revelation to me in a lot of ways- how to make the stock as well as how to curl them up.
Two- shaping the mouth- just a little tricky for such a wee part of the creature, but little details can make a big difference.
Three- basic sculptural information- for those who aren't very familiar with sculptural beads, I really tried to explain how and why I do things the way I do them.

One other thing- I had a wonderful tester for this tutorial. Lynne of Islandgirl's Insights did an excellent job of reading, testing, and making suggestions to make this tutorial better. This is the second time she has done this for me- I can't imagine anyone doing a better job. Lynne Rocks!!!!!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Lilac glass recipe

This is just a quickie! A customer wanted me to make her a couple of masks in a lilac color. All of the purple glass I had was just too dark to work, so I started pulling rods out and holding them up to the light to see what I could do. The winner? Moretti  Light blue #052 over alabastro pink # 372 ( I think- darn- it could have been 376- both will make a nice purple. Try 'em both!). I would not recommend using this for a whole bead as I think there is a slight amount of incompatibility going on there, but the color was a lovely light purple blue.