Saturday, November 15, 2014

Me on the radio! Lampwork Glass Beads on Marketplace Weekend...

Woohoo. This is a first for me- I was interviewed for the radio show Marketplace Weekend. It's just a small piece of the whole show about 'profiting on passion'. OK, so I sound a little silly. But still~ it's me on a national radio show! They said it couldn't be done.... You can listen here~

This photo has absolutely nothing to do with the show~ but bending beads is my current obsession!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Spindles and Whorls~ Medieval Style!

Lights, camera and action! It's finally time for my new glass whorls to enter my etsy shop. These have been paired with lovely hand turned and hand carved recycled wooden spindles for a wonderfully modern Medieval spinning experience. Say What???!!! Well, let me 'splain a bit.

First of all, let me say that, this being a cooperative effort, things will be moving a wee bit more slowly than my usual frantic glass making mania. Right now, I make the whorls, we meet and measure and Lois makes a matching stick. But soon we will have our standards down to make it all go oh so much more smoothly. Added to that is that these glass whorls are big and they take a lot of time and energy to make. Though that's unlikely to change, I'm hoping to adjust to them over time.

The wooden spindle and whorl are not glued together- they are two separate pieces which fit together snugly. A small o-ring or rubber hairband is included to help keep the whorl from falling off and whirling across the floor.

Watch these sweet little youtube videos to see some of these spindles at work and some instructions for use. 

Now, down to brass tacks- how do these things work? A bulleted list will help, I think.
* These glass whorls are best for light or lace weight spinning. For making heavier weight yarn, add a bit more whorl weight. More glass or one of missingspindle's pottery whorls should do it!
* If adding extra weight, be sure the whorls will nest properly. Questions? Just ask the shop owner!
* Because the whorls are handmade, they may be a little unbalanced. They have all been tested with the specific stick they are sold with, but will need to be adjusted on the spindle until the place of best balance is found.
* Make sure the whorl is perpendicular on the spindle. Push up tightly and test spin. Move around slightly on the stick until you find the place of best balance (the 'sweet spot').
* Push the o-ring or hairband up below the whorl to keep it right where you want it.
* Load leader on spindle by using a lark's head knot just above the glass whorl (at the bottom of the belly).
* Wind up and around the spindle several times, with several small winds near the top.
* Top off with one or two half hitches around the indented neck to hold the leader in place.
* Spin yarn!
* When loading spun yarn on the stick, center it over the widened belly, winding up and down in a spiral.

What fun for a little different hand spinning experience! 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Bead Soup Blog Party Reveal, Beads and Findings from Kumi Fisher Designs with Isinglass Design

The soup Kumi sent me- Wow!
Time to show off my creation for the Bead Soup Blog Party! If you look at my blog post here you can see the wonderful beads and findings Kumi Fisher sent me all the way from sunny Hawaii- Aloha y'all!

You can see what she made with the beads I sent her here!

Here's how it worked- I sent beads to Kumi, she sent beads to me and we each tried our hardest to make something lovely using each others' stuff. Kumi sent me some really lovely enameled copper pieces to work with as well as a pretty handmade clasp and a wonderful tree focal along with loads of other goodies. We had talked a little bit about the colors we like to work with- both of us like the blue/aqua family a lot. Next we sent each other a surprise package containing fun handmade things to use.

Always easy to start with a pair of earrings...

The whole necklace
Then it was time to put on the thinking cap and get to work. I finally figured out what I wanted to do to the back of this necklace - well- yesterday! Yup, it took me a couple of months to figure that part out!I mixed a few of my own lampwork beads in and added one of my bent beads at the back to make the whole thing adjustable and add some back interest. So- here you go, hope this piece gives you some new ideas. It certainly got me thinking in some new ways, which was wonderful!

One more link to Kumi- here's her facebook page!

And here's the link to all of the participants so you can view all of the lovely pieces made by all (500+!) people.

One more shot!
Closeup of the center

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

New Headpin Tool, New Ideas!

A couple of months ago I had an inspiration- a headpin tool that is easy to open and close, and that the wire could fit inside to solve the making a bead on a moving wire experience. I spoke to Craig Milliron at Arrow Springs- and voila! Just like magic he made the tool I was looking for!

It's so easy to use too. Just cut a length of wire (I like to use wire that is about 18 - 20 gauge for a nice sturdy headpin), make sure it's pretty straight, open up the jaws of the clip, push the wire down inside leaving it sticking out an inch or two so you're not overheating the tool, and get to work making your headpin. Since the wire is nice and stable, it is really easy to make anything you'd like on the end of the wire. I decided to try making some hearts and was very pleased.

When you're ready to put the headpin into your kiln, swish it through the flame, grab a bit of the wire between the tool and the glass with a pair of tweezers or a locking hemostat, open up the jaws and pull it out. Caution: the tab of the tool may be a bit hot, so give it a quick test before you press down. Craig put little thumb tab on the tool to keep it touchably warm- just in case you put it right into the flame.

There's a bit more info on how I make headpins here.

Here are some of the results. Need one? You can get it from Arrow Springs! They call it a broach clip.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The language of Lampwork, a guide to terms used in lampwork glass beadmaking

This article was originally published as an 'Expert Advice' column in the June 2011 issue of Bead & Button. Some revisions, photos and further explanations have been made here.

Handmade lampwork beads, made by an ever-growing community of people working in their home studios, are quite popular in today’s jewelry designs, but do all of those odd words people use to describe them just confuse you? The next time you hear someone say ‘Look at that shiny design- is that fumed or did they use silver foil?’ don’t just smile and nod; pull out this handy glossary and say ‘I think I see a bit of dichro encased in there!’

If you are a purchaser of lampwork beads, you may also find this article of interest.

Techniques and Basics

Annealing- Cooling a bead slowly in a kiln to equalize the temperature of the glass. This relieves stress, which keeps cracks from forming; even a small crack in a bead can grow, eventually causing it to break.
 Some small beads are cooled in a fiber blanket, annealing bubbles or vermiculite though annealing in a kiln is preferred. Lampworkers should specify the cooling method used.
Encasing (overwrapping)- A covering of transparent glass that will magnify the pattern in the core bead. The best encased beads will not contain unintentional bubbles, though many do. These bubbles do not hurt the integrity of the glass.
Fuming- Flame-Vaporized silver or gold thinly coats a bead; the metallic ‘fumes’ are deposited on the bead.
Hollow Bead – Two parallel disks of glass are wound on a mandrel and sealed together to form thin- walled, lighter weight bead.
Imploding- A series of dots placed inside a hollow tube are encased and elongated, creating the appearance of an explosion inside the piece.  An ‘inside-out’ design most often associated with boro glass.
Lampworking (flameworking)- Melting and working glass over an open flame.
Masking- Melting and overlapping dots to make a design which becomes more complex with each additional layer.
Puckered ends- Indented holes at the end of the bead. Beads should never have sharp holes; these can chip or cut through beading cord.
Raking- Dragging a tool across lines or dots on the surface of the glass creates a zigzag or elongated pattern. Similar techniques are furrowing, feathering and combing.
Plunging- Trapping air bubbles by poking a divot into the bead and encasing with transparent glass.
Trail (stripe)- A line drawn on a bead.


Cane- Any glass rod, especially a handmade rod of layered colors, often used for plant stems and leaves.
Devitrification (devit)- A powdery looking glass surface that develops on some glass.
Dichroic Glass (dichro)- Glass coated with a thin metallic film, causing the color to shift depending on the angle and light in which it is viewed.
EDP- Evil devitrifying purple, a color prone to devitrification.
Enamel- Powered glass pigment used to add a thin layer of vivid color; mica and pixie dust are also used in this way.
Frit- Small bits of broken glass; a hot bead rolled through frit picks up pieces as it goes. ‘Raku’ frit can turn many different colors.
Metals- Silver, Gold, Palladium or Copper may be used as a core, to coat a bead, or to create different colors and designs; comes in the form of foil, leaf, wire or screen.
Murrini or millefiori- A thinly sliced tube of glass with a design in cross section. Millefiori has a floral design; other designs are referred to as murrini.
Reduction or striking glass (reactive glass)- Shines or changes color depending on the heat and amount of oxygen used in the flame. Also known as reactive glass.
Shards- Small pieces of thinly blown glass used to apply color and texture to the outside of a bead.
Silvered Ivory Stringer (SIS)- Stringer made from ivory glass rolled in silver.
Stringer- A thin rod of glass often used for drawing on a bead.
Twistie or latticino- Different colors of glass are layered and twisted together. These can be anything from a simple two color twist to very complicated lacy designs.

Types of Glass

Borosilicate glass (boro)- Hard glass; a type of pyrex used to make beads, pendants, and sculptures.
Soda Lime Glass- Soft glass, used for most lampwork beads. The type of glass used will vary depending on colors, effects and COE desired.
            Bullseye and Spectrum- Produced in the U.S., COE 90 and 96
CIM (Messy Glass)- Produced in China.
Devardi Glass- Produced in India.
Double Helix, Rocio and TAG- Specialty glass made in the U.S. Most of this is reactive glass.
Gaffer- Produced in New Zealand.
Kugler, Lauscha or Reichenbach- Produced in Germany.
Murano Glass- Made on the Italian island of Murano. Effetre (Moretti) and Vetrofond are produced in Murano or Venice.

Technical Terms

Chill marks- Concentric circles left after a cool tool touches the glass, causing stress on the glass surface, usually ‘fire polished’ out over the flame. Minor chill marks are infrequently used as design elements.
COE- Coefficient of Expansion. A number describing how quickly glass expands and contracts. COE determines whether the glass is ‘soft’ or ‘hard’. Generally, glass used in the same piece will have the same COE, though sometimes small accent bits with a different COE may be used safely.
Cold Working- Any procedure done while the glass is cold, such as electroforming or using a lapidary wheel.
Mandrel- The steel rod on which a bead is built which determines the size of the bead’s hole. The bead release or ‘sludge’ used to keep the glass from sticking to the mandrel should be removed from all beads.
Tool Marks- Marks left on beads from tools. Sometimes, as in the case of fish fins, tool marks are used decoratively.
Wonky- Uneven or out of round.

Bead shows, galleries, gift shops, even farmer’s markets are great places to see the work of your local lampwork artisans up close; online choices include personal websites, faccebook, etsy, artfire and ebay. The best indicator of the quality of a bead maker’s work beyond the photos or handling the beads yourself is their description of the techniques, cooling process and materials used.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Super Soup! Bead Soup Party Blog

Well, I got my bead soup for the 8th annual Bead Soup Blog Party in the mail yesterday from Kumi Fisher Are you kidding me!???!!! Not only was there a stunning tree of life focal, a whole handful of beautifully enameled pieces, a wonderful handmade clasp and plenty of matching accent beads, Kumi also sent me a box of quite decadent chocolates, a sweet Hawaiian carrier bag and a cup to carry around my hot drinks in this chilly climate. What a sweetheart!

It's going to be a big challenge to make something nice enough to do these beads justice for sure. Mahalo so very much!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

8th Bead Soup Blog Party- Ready to Roll!

Time for the Bead Soup Blog Party bead exchange to begin. My partner in this endeavor is Kumi Fisher who lives on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. My lucky beads get to go live with her there, while her beads are traveling to the freezing cold climes of upstate New York. I can see the packages waving at each other as they pass by in some post office somewhere in California- Aloha! Mine filled with lampwork and hers filled with some of her wonderful handmade metal beads and adornments.
I can't wait to see what Kumi makes out of her bits and pieces, and to be inspired by the bits I find in the package she has sent.
Kumi does a lot of experimenting with metals- it seems like she's tried a little of everything- enameling, using alcohol inks, hammering, coiling- you name it! What started out as a little something to do in her spare time has turned into a passion that can't be stopped!

Here are a couple of pics of the things Kumi can expect to arrive in her mail box shortly.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Spin, Spider, Spin: Experiments With Whorls, Spindles and Yarn

A spindle experiment with double whorl
Handmade spindles and glass whorls- sometimes it seems things just happen and sometimes you have to make them happen! This little tale is a combination of those two things.
Mmm... pink!
In the beginning of January, I went to the Black Sheep Spinners Guild ROC Day
 celebration. Spinning is such a big deal around here, and it's something I've always wanted to learn more about. While I was there I met a wonderful woman who showed me how to use a drop spindle (OK, it's gonna take a lot of practice to get it right!).

Masked style pattern
One thing led to another and before I left I found out that she was in search of a glass bead maker who could make her some rather large beads in particular shapes to use as whorls with her handmade Viking-style spindles. We had a short chat, I got down some basics, and we agreed to stay in touch.

I really like the design on this one!
I went home thinking- make big beads, make big beads. We met again a couple of weeks later for show and tell- she with spindles, I with some rudimentary whorls. These are smaller than a standard whorl and would be used to make light or lace weight yarns.

Love this shape!
Well, one thing led to another. I made myself a fun little drop spindle with a dowel, a wooden wheel and (of course) a glass bead for a little extra weight and got to practicing. What I do is called 'park and draft', which means I spin the spindle, stop and make the yarn over and over. It's how all the kiddies start out!

We met again, I made more whorls and started looking at all the fun shapes and styles that were traditionally used. And then we went to the monthly spinners guild meeting with our new spindles and whorls. Folks loved them! We're still working on a little bit of standardization and in the meantime, I'm having a lot of fun testing out different designs I might be able to offer.
Drying my first yarn

Stay tuned for- hopefully- some spindles and whorls for sale in my etsy shop soon!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Lampwork glass heart bead necklaces

Time to show off a few lampwork glass heart bead pendant necklaces. Because it's nearly Valentine's day and I've just been having fun making them! What's your favorite heart color? Pink? Purple? Red? Blue? I like them all, but I really like making the pink ones alot!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Taking tutorial photos

Diane at the Soda Lime Times recently asked if I would like to do a tutorial on making these heart pendants to be published in the February issue of her popular digital magazine. She'd seen the Christmas ornaments I was making and thought they'd make nice pendants. Of course I was honored to be asked and gave an enthusiastic thumbs up.

But making something I felt was worthy of publication, then writing the tut and taking photos took me just a wee bit longer than I'd expected. I take photos for my tuts myself, which means camera in one hand and hot bead in the other. It also means I've gotta be quick. And the chances of bead fail are high because the poor thing is spending a lot of time out of the flame, and the sludge is cooling and being heated way too often.

I was not pleased with the first heart I made- the lobes were not pronounced enough, just not really what I wanted to show off. So I gave it another go and was quite pleased with the resulting bead. I began work on writing the instructions up and sent the photos for the headpin off to Diane so she could take a gander at how things were progressing. Unfortunately, the photos were blurry and couldn't be used. Why didn't I notice that? How annoying, not to mention embarrassing!

So it was back to the drawing board. The Flow has a lot of great tips for writing tutorials and taking photos, so I took another look there. Diane suggested I try laying the bead down on a marver while taking photos. Was I shaking the camera or the bead or both? Who can tell? When I looked at the settings for some of those photos, I saw they were taken at crazy slow shutter speeds, which made me realize that my new studio space is very poorly lit. So I brought in all the light I could find, laid down my white paper for a nice uncluttered background and played with my camera settings until I got a reasonable shutter speed- between 1/60 and 1/125th of a second- much better! Then, when I was actually taking photos of all the steps, I leaned the mandrel against something to stabilize it and took several pics of each step. When the background was darker, I found I had to go down a step or two on the exposure compensation to keep the shutter speed faster.

Results? Good! The photos were no longer blurry and the tut was ready for publication! The February issue of the Soda Lime Times is out today- lots of lovely eye candy and som fun tuts too!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Scarf Slides and Cleaning Big Holed Lampwork Beads

Whoot! My newest lampwork glass bead endeavor is making scarf slides. I finally got myself a really big mandrel- a whopping 1 inch- and started making beads for scarf sliders on them. Though a one inch hole may be a bit larger than needed for some scarves, they seem to be about right for rayon. I gave one to myself, one to my daughter and one to a friend as testers to see how they work out.

The huge mandrel was much easier to use than I thought it would be. It's always best to sludge and dry mandrels overnight when making any high stress beads or beads that take longer to make. The mandrel needs to start out well heated and to stay heated the whole time. These beads started out with a clear core footprint, giving them a good stiff background to work over.

Important: make sure the sludge doesn't have any little gritty bumps. These should be rubbed off of the dry sludge before starting.

Because it's really easy to see inside these beads, they need to be cleaned extremely well. After the bead is finished and removed from the mandrel, clean as usual and then sand with 220 grit and then 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper. This will smooth out the inside nicely. I have to thank Hayley for this piece of advice. It has made a huge difference in the smoothness inside my large holed beads.

A couple of useage tips for these sliders:
For safety, it is probably best to run the scarf horizontally through the slider to be sure it can't just slide off of the bottom. Making sliders with a little bit smaller hole will also solve this issue.

Sliders can be used in a number of different ways- one is to run the scarf through the slider halfway, put the scarf around your neck, and then run both ends of the scarf through the slider. The large hole will allow a silk scarf to easily run through the slider three or even four times. Here are some photos of one around my neck.