Thursday, December 29, 2005

Happily and busily working away.....December 29, 2005

No, I haven't disappeared! Between the holidays and working at the torch, I haven't had much time to post! It's funny, most people slow down over the holidays but I rev up and work furiously! It's when I have the most time to myself so I spend all the time I can at the torch. The longer and more sustained time I spend at the torch, the more creative my work becomes. I'm a realy hands on person and I have to manipulate the glass to see different things in it. Some artists draw their creations and then create them at the torch but I have to have the glass flowing in front of me to see what it can do and where I can take it. My slumps don't come after I've been at the torch for a long time, they come when I'm not at the torch! :-) So, this is short and sweet this morning, I want to get to the torch as early as possible!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

New imported Italian Glass color....December 15, 2005

I had promised a picture of the new imported Italian glass color and the beads I made with it. Here it is! This is a very pale Granny Apple color, I think it's the color of white wine. It wasn't named that, I believe because there was another color slightly lighter that was named Chardonnay - I think this color is really the same. I've done a very simple technique on these beads, some a plain wound glass and the others are rolled with a little bit of frit (small bits of glass) that gives them a brown/gold color. The jar of frit kept calling me while I was making the plain beads and saying how wonderful it would look on the beads! I agree! Looks like white wine and gold! These are up for auction on Justbeads. com under Lampwork Diva!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Working and creating in the cold.....December 14, 2005

I'm heating the studio with two powerful space heaters and sometimes, even that isn't enough to keep the studio warm (may have something to do with no insulation?!). The cold doesn't dampen the creative spirit, though. I went out to the studio to continue working on the pendants with crystals on 2mm mandrels but my creative muse had other ideas! I picked up the 3.5mm mandrels and started making large hollow beads with Czech glass! The Czech glass has a different "flow" in the flame than the Italian glass, it's "thicker" and flows slower. Perfect for large hollow beads! I haven't made many of them because when I tried a year or so ago, I couldn't clean mine. To this day they have bead release rolling around inside! Well, this morning, I figured out how to clean them - I fill the hollow bead with water, cover the holes with my fingers and shake to break up the bead release and then blow very hard through the bead hole. All the bead release comes out! Clean as a whistle as my father would say.

I've posted pictures of the pendant beads, though because I've been promising pictures of the various styles I've been working on, the hollow bead pictures will come in a few days. I took the simple notion of a crystal plunged into a floral bead and simplified it. The attraction is the crystal only and the metallic finish of the rondelle bead that the disk is suspended from. Here and there, I've varied it a bit - no crystal but a twist of the metallic rondelle, or plain rondelle with a crystal. I'm still playing around with variations. I like these simple, uncomplicated pendants. I'm going to post a few for auction on in the next day or two. But if you see one you like, please make a comment or drop me an email, I'm happy to sell it to you!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

New styles and photographing.....December 11, 2005

I've talked about photography before, mostly complaining about how long it can take because you have to shoot alot of pictures to get a few good ones. Thank goodness for digital photography and I don't have to develop all of the those photos that I don't use! I have been working on some new styles. If you look at a post from a few days back, you'll see a taupe and amethyst pendant with a single 2mm crystal in it. I've been taking the idea of crystals in floral beads and simplifying it - placing a single crystal in a single colored glass. So, I have several different pendants now using this concept and I need to photograph them so you can see them! Which reminds me, if you ever see a set of beads on the blog that you'd like to purchase, send me an email. Most likely, I have those beads available as an auction or sitting on my bench.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Soft or hard glass???.....Friday, December 9th, 2005

I want to take a bit of cyberspace this morning to explain the glass that I use to make the beads. I use primarily imported Italian glass which is the same glass used to make those lovely Ventian glass art objects. The Italian glass is made by a company called "Effetre" (ee-FAY-TRAY) and is categoried as "soft glass." Now, if you're like me, you're thinking, "that makes no sense" - how can glass be "soft." Now, this might not be the right scientific explanation for it, but you have to think of the "soft" in comparison to other glasses. You know that Pyrex baking dish you have? Well, that's made of borosilicate (bore-oh-SILL- ah- kit) glass or "hard glass" and it's called "hard glass" because it doesn't melt or crack when you heat it at baking temperatures. In comparison to Pyrex or Borosilicate, the Italian glass melts at a lower temperature. The Italian glass wouldn't melt if you put it in your oven but it does melt at a lower temperature than the borosilicate. You can do all the same things with borosilicate glass as I do with the imported Italian glass, but you need a MUCH larger and hotter flame! The borosilicate color palate is much different than the Italian glass too, it's much more subdued. Right now, I prefer the vibrancy of the soft glass color palate.

So, all of the beads and small sculpture you'll see from me will be made of "soft glass." All beads are individually handmade, even the plain spacer beads! A rod of glass is melted in the flame of a bench-mounted torch and hand-wound around a stiff wire or mandrel. Once decorated, the hot bead is placed in a brick kiln to cool very slowly. This is called "annealing" - if the glass cools too quickly, it will crack as an ice cube does when dropped into a glass of water. Annealing assures that there is no stress in the glass so that you can enjoy them for years to come.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Sweetest thing......December 7, 2005

As I've been telling you, when the temperature goes below 30 here in the Northeast US, I'm unable to work in my unheated studio. Well, my husband did the sweetest thing on Sunday, he surprised me with two very powerful heaters that he placed in the studio. Within 2 hours, the studio was as warm as a July afternoon! Wasn't that the sweetest thing to do!? I think so and now I am able to work happily away even in the winter! WhooHoo!

I've been working on a fairly simple yet elegant design - a single crystal placed into a single colored round tab suspended from a rondel-bead. I'll be working on them again today in the studio to see what sort of variations I can come up with. I like the elegant look of these beads - the single crystal. Adding the 2mm crystals to the bead isn't easy. It's the preparation that's the killer! I place a tiny dab of glue on the end of a stainless steel mandrel and glue the flat end of the crystal to the tip of the mandrel. I've lost quite a few of the crystals because 2mm is tiny! It's hard to see which end is flat sometimes and the crystals will slip off the bench and onto the floor! Sometimes I find them, most of the time, I don't. Once the crystal is glued onto the mandrel, I make the rondel-bead and had the round bead to the end. I flatten the round bead then heat a section of the round tab bead and press the crystal into the hot glass. A dab of clear glass is placed over the crystal as a lens to magnify it. The clear is melted smooth in the flame and the bead placed into the kiln to anneal. I'm showing one of these beads but have several different variations sitting on my workbench. I'll photograph them later in the week and post them here.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

December 3, 2005.....New Glass colors.....

Been working with some new Italian Glass colors that fall within the green palate. I love the color green and I love the way many of the greens flow when worked in the flame. The transparent greens and teals behave superbly in the flame and make lovely transparent beads.