Saturday, 26 February 2011

Spring is in the air!

I was sat doing nothing much the other day, there was no TV babbling in the corner, no children squabbling, no noise much at all, and then I heard it.  The first noticeable dusk birdsong!  Sweet music to my ears.  A sign that the long winter months are on their way out, giving way to spring at last.  I don't know if this is why the piece of copper I was weaving into a spiders web, suddenly became a birds nest, but it did.  Once it was made and patinated there was just one thing missing.  A little birdy to sing in the spring!

So I turned on the torch and made this little fella to sit and sing - I think he's waving good bye to winter!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

When Too Much is Not Enough!

I really love the bracelet that I've just made.  It uses my own copper clasp and the links are all made by myself so I feel proud that a lot of care and love went into making it.  The problem is that I would really like to make another in a different colour and I have a very clear image in my head.  So what's the problem, I here you ask?  Well making the lampwork beads nearly killed me.  Ok, so I exaggerate slightly, but it did take some time and commitment to make them.  I settled with all my equipment in front of me and turned each lampie into a lovingly prepared dangly and then set about composing the whole piece, only to find that I had no where near enough danglies to achieve the look I was after:
So I had to make some more.  The only problem with that is, that every time I went near the torch, the last thing I felt like making was more of the same type of beads.  I did, however dig deep into my reserves of energy and perseverance and eventually made more and completed the bracelet, but not until some time had elapsed.  I now face the prospect of facing this huge challenge all over again - this time though I'll be sure to make all the beads necessary in one sitting!  Wish me luck!

Friday, 4 February 2011

I Have The Key

I've just spent a happy couple of hours making lots of new beads.  Having had a collection of old keys kicking about in my beading cupboard, I got to thinking.  Could I use them as mandrels and melt glass onto them?  Well before I knew it I was dipping them in bead release and trying to find out. 

After rather messily covering the shaft of the key with ceramic release (and much of myself too) I encountered my next problem.  How on earth would I hold the key and be able to turn it in the flame without burning my fingers?  I got lucky with the first one and I managed to super heat the end of a glass rod and use this as a punty, attaching it to the hot key.  Easy, I thought.  No, just lucky, as try as I might, the subsequent keys were not playing and I had to think of something else. 

A few of the hollow keys offered another solution, which was to stuff bamboo kebab skewers into them and use this to twist the key as necessary.  Hey presto it worked, but not for long and I soon found myself dodging hot metal and glass as one worked itself loose and fell onto my workbench before bouncing toward my lap!  It was after this narrow escape from a third degree burn that I thought I would leave my torch for the day and give the matter some more thought - so what is the key?  Answers on a postcard please!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Some day even your mistakes just work!

Today has been a good day, I have had plenty of play time at the torch, and done a good deal of my 'to do list' for today too.  I have four large focal beads cooking nicely in the kiln, and even today's accidents have been happy ones, I picked up a stringer (thinking it was dark amethyst) to add some final detailing to one of the beads.  Detailing complete I thought I'd bake the bead in a reducing flame (propane rich to make all the colours pop), only to find that the dark amethyst was actually a stringer of Triton left from my previous torching session.  Triton is a lovely reactive glass that turns rich metallic shades of blue and purple when placed in a reduction flame, and as it happened it was just what this particular bead needed.  I'm just praying to the kiln fairies that they'll be kind and it is still as pretty in the morning!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

I speak pidgin technology - tweet tweet (did you see what I did there?)

I feel like an outsider, partially understanding a fraction of what I am doing, but wholly understanding my almost complete ignorance of it! 

I chat on a forum, where advice regarding blogging, tweeting, flickr groups and the linking of all of the aforementioned are common place. People are willing, eager even, to share their knowledge and conect themselves to others wirelessly through this wonderful medium we call the web.  They are a kindly bunch, with much patience, Yoda-ish in their manner.  Yet despite all this sharing of knowledge, I feel, as if much of it, is in some mystical language to which I am not party.  As though some unspoken initiation test has yet to be successfully completed, whereon the fog that is cyberspace, will clear and I will gain understanding and clarity and ultimately Jedi status (well not quite, but you get the drift). 

I see myself in all my techno-confusion as the character played by Rowan Atkinson in a 'Not the Nine O'clock News' sketch, who is trying to buy new speakers for his sound system (you remember them - built like tanks), only to be humiliated for his ignorance of modernity by the two serving on, who eventually tell him to go home and play his gramophone Grandad!

... and on that note I'm going to dust off one of my old LPs, and have a Marathon bar (what the hell is a Snickers anyway) and no, I am not a Grandma, well not to the best of my knowledge anyway!

Or on second thoughts a large glass of wine!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Fight may just have been worth it!

Well I finally assembled and poised the lamps around the pop-up light box and hey presto - in the middle of the night, produced not too shabby photos!

Just had a Fight!

Can you believe it a woman of my age brawling on the kitchen floor.  I feel quite ashamed and to add insult to injury I lost!  Well I lost the first round at least, but I'm prepared to have another bash. 

My adversary, I hear you wonder?  A 'pop-up' light box akin to a modern day pop up laundry basket! These things make deck chair erection look like child's play.  I have twisted it every which way possible, I have sworn at it, sat on it and all but throttled it and still I can not get it nearly small enough to go in the postage-stamp-sized-bag from which is sprang!

The worst of all this is, that I knew what was coming.  My other half bought our little boy a 'pop up' tent during the summer holidays, what fun!  I had a fight with that too. I grappled and wrestled and failed miserably to put it away successfully.  It now resides behind an old cupboard in the garage which at least keeps it in check.  The minute it is liberated, it magically springs up crushing mere mortals between itself and the garage wall!

All is not lost however, this 'pop-up' conundrum, may well yet become my best friend.  It will hopefully enable me to take a decent photograph, in our grey and bleak mid-winter.  It arrived packaged beautifully accompanied by two huge lamps, these sport bulbs the size of ostrich eggs and, I'm assured, give of real daylight!  I can only hope they live up to the massive expectation I have of them.  I keep thinking that I will magically turn into some David Bailey style photographer overnight, when in reality all I ever do is point and press!

On this note I think I will call a truce, the gap behind the wardrobe is sufficiently wide enough for the said light box to reside, and to be honest I really don't have the energy for another tussle!

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Prototype for new bracelet design.

Over Christmas I had a lot of time on my hands.  We were all under the weather but myself, less so, than the rest of the family.  So I did what I do when slightly bored, I got all my lampworking books out, I browsed the internet endlessly and I made beads. 

It was at this time that I realised that I strive to make complicated beads (with varying degrees of success or failure) using what can be quite involved techniques, when in actual fact the beads that I like to look at most are relatively simple.  This dawning led me to make a set of non-matching beads, yes a non-set really, themed on colour and contrast. 

An internet splurge with Christmas money (thanks Dad), had seen the book 'Bead on a Wire' by Sharilyn Miller, land on the doormat.  This coupled with said non-set of beads gave rise to one of my favourite pieces of jewellery of 2010.  I know that this is a design I want to explore further and so with optimism, I look forward to the creative possibilities of the New Year!

No really I don't know what I'm doing!

One of my new year resolutions was to brave the world of technology a little bit more.  I'm thinking positive and jumping right in!  Now please bare in mind that when I was at secondary school, we had one BBC computer installed the year before I left.  So you see the background I'm coming from.  I grew up in an era where mobile phones looked like house bricks and needed a battery pack akin to those rucksacks worn by the ghost busters. 

So far I have created a facebook account and this very morning I created a twitter account, I'm not sure how either really work, but I'm stumbling through it, albeit rather nervously.  Up until today my internet experience amounted to shopping, email, shopping, forum use (or misuse), shopping and posting items in an Etsy shop - so basically a bit more shopping!

The real object of all this is shameless self promotion, in order to try and reach an audience for my handmade lampwork beads and jewellery.  I will hopefully chart my progress and work in this area as time goes by.  I would love for everyone to have a glimpse of my wonderfully glassy world.  Shiny and pretty and at times a rather frustrating world