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.