Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What's in a Name?

Just a short little bit of something- how about naming all those lampwork glass beads I make? Well, I don't normally name individual beads unless something just hits me. I figure the person who wants to wear the wee talisman will want to name it her (or sometimes his) self. But I can name a series or style of bead so- here goes.

A 'portal' pendant has a hole through the center. It could be a door to new ideas, or a new chapter in your life. I test marketed the name with my all knowing daughter who liked it because there are usually swirly twirly bits about, giving it that mystical feel. Sometimes these also have a bit of a wing along one side.

A 'mandala' bead has eight points- for the four directions and then one bump between those. I often find 'The Circle Game' by Joni Mitchell going through my head when I make these! If I make one of these beads with 7 or 9 points, they become 'kaleidoscope' beads. Sometimes they end up star shaped as well- when I just don't feel like waiting for everything to melt in!

'Glitterati' fish have a shiny center and shiny bits of green aventurine on the outside- for folks who just have to have a bit of bling !
"Cephalopod-esque' beads have a bit of a tentacle. They are not really meant to be any kind of animal, but are such fun for me to make, I just can't resist!

'Chrysalis' beads are stylized beads based on cocoons or chrysalides. Folks seem to like the rebirth and moving to a new phase in life implications in these. They are interesting to make~ often I feel hard to get quite 'right.' I don't make them very often these days.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Technology of a Glass Button

Well, every time I start on a new or revisited project, there is something new to learn. Glass buttons have been an elusive thing for me. I've tried many times over the years, and always given up, normally in pretty short order. But this time, I feel like I've gotten a much better feel for the whole button-making process. There are two very difficult things about making glass buttons- getting the glass smoothly in the tiny space between the two mandrels, and making them round, or at least somewhat regular.

Because of the way the mandrel is made and turns and all of that, the natural shape for a two hole button is rather oval. In the past, I've tried to make them semi-round. But I have recently realized that that is not necessarily necessary! So my new buttons are sometimes oval, and sometimes not so much. I keep them in my etsy shop, alongside my glass whorls and other spinning supplies

Ah, decorative buttons are a thing! Who knew? Well, probably lots of folks, but buttons are not always functional. So, if a button is oddly shaped, it can simply be sewn onto a lovely fiber design as kind of an alternate form of jewelry.

The backs of buttons- well I was kind of going for flat. But guess what? Many buttons are actually curved on the back side as well as the front. Why? Well, I think it's because you have to be able to button them. If they are too flat on the fabric, it could be a no go!

And then someone mentioned weight. If the button is too heavy, it will pull things in some random undesirable direction. Hmmm... I wonder how heavy is too heavy?

And did you know that buttons have their very own measuring system? They are measured in lignes, with 40 lignes equal to 1 inch. The American National Button Society divides its buttons into 'small', 'medium' and 'large' sizes. But how many lignes is a large button? I will have to leave that to the experts!

Ready to learn more about the ins and outs of button history and technology? You can always find fun info on Wikipedia . There's also the Keep Homestead Museum in Massachusetts, which has a button collection and this treatise on buttons by Charles Dickens. Amazing!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Double trouble! Two glass whorls on one stick

Things have been moving along in the glass whorl department. I wonder if folks in medieval times had as much fun as we've been having exploring the spinning possibilities. I may have mentioned that my stick maker is somewhat of an expert on medieval spinning techniques. I wonder if those folks ever put more than one whorl on a stick. I'll just bet they did- why not? It's the next logical step when you're playing with whorls that can be moved from stick to stick, or when you need just a bit more weight~ or a bit less~ to keep things whirling around just right.

We've been pairing glass with more glass and with pottery~ the pottery adds a nice weight and the glass adds that little extra 'wow' factor. Since they are all removable, you can start out with two whorls, remove the glass when your yarn starts building up, and then remove the pottery and put the glass back on as things get even weightier! It's a great way to build up your cop ever larger. If one whorl is just a wee bit wonky, the other one can balance it out and make the spin just right~ it's all good!

It's been an interesting journey so far- matching the colors of glass with the pottery glazes can be a challenge. I just read something recently that said not all colors are available in glass~ no joke! So there's mixing and matching and blurring and all the fun things that can go with playing with colors.

And now let's see one of those double whorls in action!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Handmade Lampwork Glass Bead Suncatchers and Kits

Been making suncatchers and sun catcher kits with a new style of beads lately. A little something to cheer up the winter scene.
Here are a few of the beads on their own- lots of layers of transparent glass, which looks really sweet when the sun shines through. The flowing bead style is so much fun to make- pulling, twisting, trying to get the feel just right!

Here they are in action!      

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Making a Wrap Bracelet with Lampwork Beads

Here you go! I've made a few wrap bracelets lately and wanted to share my easy as pie method. It's adjustable and does not require the wearer to tie it on. One thing I have learned is that the hole size of the beads matter immensely. A 3/32 hole is not really large enough for one of these silk ribbons to fit through. If it goes through it's great because it is a nice snug fit and won't go off in its own direction later. But it will not always fit on the ribbon. You're on your own with that!

A focal bead that fits snugly on the ribbon is a good start. Put it on the ribbon and center. This is the hard part! You might need to use a wire to push the cord through, and it might even help to put one of the end threads through the hole at a time.

Then you'll need a couple of beads with a little larger holes for the end of the cords. These were built on a 4 mm mandrel and fit just right.

Put a bead on each end of the cord.
Put other end of the cord through each of those beads going in the opposite direction form the first cord. You now have an enclosed loop.

Tie end of each thread end and cauterize with lighter.

 Tie a knot in each end of the ribbon.
 To wear- wrap around wrist four times, pull tight (you may need to use your teeth for this!), then pull small beads to the ends of the ribbon. For me the small beads end up at the bottom of my wrist- this will, of course depend on your wrist size and how you like your bracelet to lie. Finito!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Spindles and removable glass whorls

Well, as some of you may have seen, I am now making glass whorls for spinners to fit on some lovely wooden spindles made by my friend Lois at missingspindle. Lois has been studying ancient spindle and whorl use for a very long time and has recently decided to go public with all of her wonderful knowledge. She has been making some quirky movies and writing some amazing blogs about how and why we are making this type of tool. The whorls I make are just one small part of her mission to educate and slowly take over the spinning world with medieval designed spinning tools.

Everyone should read her hilarious blog about testing out fresh and dried fruits and vegetables as whorls. I humbly believe that glass works a bit better. But then again I may be prejudiced! Her etsy shop is here, and you can watch her videos on the missingspindle channel on youtube.

The newest venture we've been working on is spindles with multiple removable whorls. This example has three whorls- getting ahead of myself a bit as we are only at the double whorl stage as yet. But one of my adventurous customers has already asked me to work out a triple scheme for her. Spinners are such a fun bunch!