Thursday, 24 March 2011

Busy, Busy!

So busy, that's how it's been, and that's why I haven't posted anything since my blog after Moscow. I've been making the prize beads for the GBUK competition and more jewellery to send off to Cooper Gallery in Barnsley.

I remember writing about the prize beads before. The idea then was to make them of a design from my book, and I already had half of the planned number of beads made (even with my oxycon playing up all along!). I thought that a set of beads would probably be better than one focal: I make various types of focals, and people like different things. But with a set, even if the person who wins them doesn't like them, she or he can always make a couple of pieces of jewellery and sell them and get some money - an incentive to participate in the next year's competition!

When I got back from Moscow I found out that I had been awarded the Dan Klein Travel Bursary by the Contemporary Glass Society (CGS) worth £500. It was amazing news! I planned to go to Japan to learn how to make tonbodama, traditional japanese glass beads, in order to write a book on the methods and designs associated with them. A couple of days later we saw the terrible events in Japan... But I'm still determined to go there this coming summer.

So Rod suggested that I make tonbodama beads as a prize for this year's GBUK Bead and Jewellery Competition taking place at Flame Off (8t-9th April). What a great idea! The only thing is, it takes me about 40 minutes to make one of these beads. The most difficult part is to make the shape. When I wrote a tutorial for the book, it simply read "Make a barrel-shaped bead". Of course, to make a nice plump barrel-shaped bead, with "dimples", with a slight curve... is a tutorial in itself. I should actually write one with step-by-step pix, as I have by now figured out how to make this shape quicker, but still it takes time. Then, there is the division of the surface of the bead into three parts for three flowers. The next thing is to make sure there aren't any signs of pulling left - so you need to flame-polish really well. The last difficult bit for me is right at the very end: to reduce the accent dots of the Iris Dark Blue reduction frit stringer, because if you leave them just a touch longer in the flame, the beautiful porcelain white surface of the bead goes yellow or even brown-black within a tenth of a second, and the whole bead goes to the bin!

But here they are, sent off and received safely yesterday by Charlotte, our Chairwoman:

I have to say that I've improved, and now it takes me about 30 minutes to make one.

I've also sent off my entry to the bead competition, but although I'm really excited about the bead I've made I am not allowed to blog about it, so it'll have to wait until the middle of April!


  1. Wow Nellie what a stunning set of beads! I think they are just brilliant. Many congrats on your award, justly deserved. Great to see you back making beads!
    Jane x

  2. Thank you, Jane! It's great to get back to work, but so much to do! I haven't caught up yet! xx