Thursday, 22 September 2011

Making Triangular Spacers

Bead of the Day: "Triangular Spacers"

The Blogger wouldn't allow me either to see my followers, or to comment on other people's blogs - very distressing. And what are all these spaces between paragraphs, as soon as I publish my blog? I'll have to look into it.

Yesterday I wasn't doing much in terms of bead-making, unfortunately. Very rarely, but I get a day, that no matter how inspired and motivated I am, I just feel drained of all energy, and I can't do anything. Maybe, it's got something to do with the atmosphere, as it was raining yesterday. But today is sunny, and I'm all ready to make something great.

So todays' Bead of the Day is Spacer Beads. Talking about spacers: I find it quite hard to make these lovely tiny thin spacer beads which are so popular at the moment. As I found out of experience, I have to make a really very thin disc, and then quickly heat it on each side (literally, almost to pass it through the flame, the heat should be minimal), but of course I have to be careful not to overheat it, because this is when the problems start! With overheating the bead immediately becomes thicker, loses its "thin loveliness" (ha-ha! this sounds ridiculous!), and if I am completely unlucky, it becomes lopsided. Then there is only one remedy - to add more glass, but in this case forget about the spacer being thin, it'll be just like a normal plump bead, only smaller.

So! I've come up with this brilliant idea - brilliant for me, because, I have to admit, more often than not, I bugger up these little thin spacers and instead get normal small beads. And what I do when this happens is I take my marver and turn the round bead into this pretty triangular one. In my book I remember writing about square spacers - ooh, this was AGES ago, I mean, two years ago - everyone who does lampwork knows that two years means a lot in terms of your development as a lampworker. And I have to say, square spacers are actually trickier to make, as they require both pairs of four sides being parallel. With a triangular shape, however, you don't have to be so precise.

I just love them! And they have been selling quite well in sets, so hopefully, my customers love them too!
"Atlas" bead set with triangular spacer beads on the ends

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Lilies and Petals, Planets and Implosion

Bead of the Day: "Planetary"

Yesterday was spent developing this new design. These beads are tricky to photograph, because there is so much going on inside - they are the ones for "gazing into", if you know what I mean. There are bubbles around the top and the bottom (you can't see those in this pic), there is a core with a lovely "lily" design and a band of silvered ivory and goldstone around the encased "petals".

Ah, this "lily" design... I literally spent days mastering it. The thing was, I bought this book by Karen J Leonardo, I suppose with the main purpose to check out the competition. And there it was, I think she called it "lilypad" or something like that. I'd seen beads with this design before, and if I remember correctly, Sally Carver won a competition with them recently. So all summer I tried and tried and tried, with various degree of success, but the beads produced by me using this "imposion" technique, were far from the image I had in my head. I found this technique extremely difficult.

One day I sat there, all upset, thinking hard about how I could achieve the look of the lilies I wanted. And I thought that it would be impossible for anybody, ANYBODY, to have temperature control that perfect, to get the lovely petals around and along the mandrel by only relying on the flame. But of course, silly me!, it's a different technique altogether: this one involves layers and layers of dots being covered with bands of large amounts of clear glass, heating and waiting for the dots to get elongated!

"Yellow Waterlilies" bead set, currently for sale on ebay

Guys, I don't know about you, but here it was a real revelation. So many people use this simple design in their work, and it looks gorgeous. Well, simple I say, of course I had to practise, but I also came up with some lovely colour combinations, and I have to write another blog on that.

Coming back to the "Planetary" design, I did use a little of the "implosion" technique here: I made a core of ivory, then created a disc out of clear on one of the core's ends. Then I used Double Helix Ekho for the dots to go onto the disc and melted them: Ekho on ivory here gives this great organic palette that I like so much, and you don't have to spend time reducing it either. Encased, put some goldstone and silvered ivory around with dots of Double Helix Calipso on each end, made indentations for future bubbles, encased again. Every technique comes handy!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

New Beginning

Bead of the Day: "Dogdaisies"

I've decided to start again after so many months of not writing anything. There's been a lot happenning, just like, I'm sure, with everyone: you get up in the morning, you live through the day, evening comes, you've done your work, you've sent your emails, you've spoken to your family. Every day seems to be the same, but it's not, every day brings something amazing.

So to re-cap what's been happenning: my children have finished school, having had A level exams, and now they will be going to uni very shortly - hopefully, I'll keep up with my blogging, so you'll hear all about that. We've been to Russia for a couple of weeks, we could only go for a short break this year as we had to get back for the "Results!" day; we stayed at my parents datcha (a little country house) near Moscow. I've been posting on FB here and there, I even managed to upload some pix. I've sent off my entry to the gallery section of "The Flow" magazine in US for the annual "Women In Glass 2011" issue together with some info about my book, but I haven't heard anything from them, so I'm not sure if it'll make it into the mag. I've also sent an entry into one of the competitions in a British mag, but I don't think I'm allowed to blog about it just yet (sad face). I've started putting some beads into my etsy shop; I thought I might as well since I've got it. We are just about to start looking for a new home, as the rent on this house in Derbyshire is coming to an end and I'm very much looking forward to going somewhere else!!! (a very happy face).

These seem to be the major things. I've been making loads of beads, though working in the conservatory in summer turned out to be not such a great idea: when it's warm, it's really hot in there, and opening windows only helps a little, as the wind goes everywhere, including around my torch, I lose control of my temperature etc. - you know. Also I had to move my "station" to stand at a different angle to the rising sun: why do we put conservatories on the sunny side of the house? It's silly, honestly: too hot and too bright, you have to put on sunglasses and a bikini to be there. So I'm really happy now with the autumn coming, as it means one thing: more bead making!

I've also decided to start this new thing: Bead of the Day. I've pinched the idea from Rod's agent; he does "Mood of the Day". So I suppose my Bead can reflect my mood to a certain degree. And today it's "Dogdaisies" (not one, but a couple of beads) - my very new design, though this particular set has already been sold. Bright yellows and whites, dots of green and lots of tiny bubbles to put a smile on everybody's face.