Monday, May 31, 2010

color diet challenge

I have accepted Mind Melt's color diet challenge, at least until I get tired of it, and have selected the colors I will be using for my palette. I don't have the same colors of glass she does, and am not going to buy more, so substitution is in order, but I'll keep to the same spirit as much as I can. I only have the big 3 plus Double Helix in my stash so I'll only be using those. OK, I've already lied. I do have one rod of Reichenbach Magic but haven't been able to get it hot enough without reducing it to produce anything other than olive green.

1. Effetre coral Martian strata
2. Effetre oliva nera
3. CiM ghee since my supply of yellow opalino is limited and I always get grey reduction in it anyway.
4. CiM slytherin unique (the dark one--let's see what that does)
5. CiM poison apple (if this doesn't work out I'll do Effetre Nile green)
6. Effetre ink blue
7. Vetrofond pearl grey odd
8. CiM poi

Sunday, May 30, 2010

new big hole beads

Lately, I've been on a big holed bead kick, and it seems like every time I fire up the torch, I have to make at least one. Above are probably my favorites of the lot, made with a base of Vetrofond seashell swirl and a homemade frit blend containing, I think, Effetre 256, EDP, 213, grass green and CiM oz. I should have written it down. I love the way it looks like flowers and leaves. I don't normally care for pink, but I do like this combination.
These beads are a base of CiM pulsar with a twistie of many shades of blue and green, both transparent and opaque. I love this twistie and will make more when this one runs out, since it can be used on so many bases. Here it has a sort of Caribbean waters flavor.

I played with silvered ivory a lot and finally got a good ratio of metal to glass so that the silver lent its character without overwhelming the ivory. I wound this on a premade silver core, which is so easy it's scary. They are a bit expensive, so unless the beads I made using this method sell I won't be doing too many of them. The hole is 4mm inside diameter and they will fit on a Pandora type bracelet but it has to be taken apart to put them on.
I've been making beads like mad getting ready for Heritage Days in Westernville, NY next weekend and won't be posting much until after the event. This is my first show of any sort and I am rather nervous about having enough stock, the right type of stuff, etc. Now I have to get the display stuff ready.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Quest for Wit and Wisdom

I'm in a funk today because a few hundred of my closest friends will be camping this weekend and finances, my health, and Joe's job are preventing me from joining them. Instead of my usual beady posts, I'm offering a tribute to their fun and hoping some benevolent spirit will allow me to join them next year, because this is now the 3rd year I've had to miss for one reason or another. No, the site doesn't have running water, as the rows of porta-castles at the far end of the fields shows.
Fencing at the bridge. And yes, that is an active train trestle. Friday night is usually the big party night because no one is going to be getting any sleep over the sound of the train anyway. And every time a train goes by, on the first night at least, some idiots will yell "TRAIN!"

Baroness Rhiannon and a friend.

A different kind of pick-up match.

Sunday morning hurley, anyone?

Joe and Candy.

The sound of swordplay comes from the grove.

Myself and some relatives. I'm the one on the left.

Leslie and Ruth.

These guys look like they mean business!

Yes, I wish I was there. These pictures were, I believe, taken in 2004, one of the rare years when we had perfect weather. There have been years with scorching temperatures and years when the early morning dash disturbed the frost on the grass. There was a year when it rained so much my clothes never did dry out. One year a very heavy storm caused a large tree limb to fall on my tent, crushing it (I was getting a cup of coffee elsewhere.) I have never been sorry I went.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Psychedelic Ribbons

I just listed 3 more beads on Zibbet Not a nibble yet, but today is the third day I'm on it and I've been listing at a pace which (for me) is pretty fast. At least one of them has been pictured here before, but I was waiting to list them because I wanted to have them available for Heritage Days on June 5-6. Zibbet doesn't have that rule about selling outside their platform, so I'll cancel them if I sell them at the show. They were inspired by Pat Frantz' blog about using DH Psyche with ivory, or in this case, opal yellow and Vetro ELO. I love the way the Psyche struck in them. I had been having a lot of trouble getting neat color effects from it and these were just what I was looking for. They turned out so well, in fact, I don't want to let them go.
All three are a twistie of opal yellow and Psyche over a base of Vetro ELO, heated as hot as I could on my HotHead, then allowed to air cool until no longer glowing at all, then turning up the gas and just giving them a twist or two on the flame, very low in the cone, almost on top of the burner. The iridescent purples, blues, and greens knock me out. I was working on producing long beads for some beadable accessories, so I learned a lot making them in addition to how to strike Psyche. My shaping skills still have room for improvement, but these were definitely a start. I was having a heck of a time making beads to a specific length. I have access to a caliper now when Joe lets me borrow it (must buy my own) but it took a while to figure out to make a marker bead on each end the length I wanted the finished bead to be and then filling it in.

The final lesson I learned was in trying to publish this blog this evening. I do not like the new blogger in draft format at all and absolutely loathe the contortions I have to go through to get pictures into my blog. I invariably wind up scratching the whole thing and doing it again from the blog itself. If wordpress wasn't even that much harder to use and access, I'd be doing that instead. Does anyone know any other stand-alone blog formats?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Raspberry Flip

Every once in a while I'll make something that turns out exactly how I wanted it to. Then I despair of ever being able to do it again. These beads were the perfect example of this. I made a rectangular tabular bead with CiM cranberry and CiM desert pink with a swirl of sis and liked it so much, I had to make a bracelet of it. The result is my raspberry flip bracelet just listed on Zibbet. To take a look at my shop, click Then I had to do my perfect bead again and again. The same size.

The depth of the flat sides was easy because I just had to adjust the space on my press and I've found that the length doesn't change much, so all I had to figure out was how much glass to put on the mandrel to make the width I wanted. Once this was accomplished, it was just a matter of doing it again.

Now there is the matter of photography. I am a minimalist when it comes to equipment (I have a camera) so I decided to take advantage of the fading natural sunlight to photograph the transparent red glass to it's best effect. Apparently the light was fading a little faster than I thought, because the last picture had to be taken with the lamp and table arrangement. There is a lot of similarity in the first picture, which was taken when the light was still good, and the third. My setup can't be too bad, for this color at least.
I love this bracelet. I listed it on Zibbet because I've reached the conclusion that I realistically can't keep everything I make, but this was not a decision I made easily.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Zibbet listings

I'm so proud of myself.  After celebrating being able to go back on the torch I decided to post some of my beads on Zibbet, a new site that allows much more freedom than Etsy.  And it's free!  What follows are pictures of my work that is either on the new site or will be soon.

Idiot that I am, I forgot to give the link to my shop when I posted this.  Well, here it is

  My computer frustrations continue so I am currently transferring pictures from my camera to Joe's computer, attempting to process them with his wild and wacky monitor (he's partially colorblind so has his monitor set to amp up the color to what to him is a normal level,) uploading the pictures from there onto Picasa, and then copying them onto my computer to finetune and post.

To the left is a favorite bead using my two favorite glasses, Effetre copper red green and metallic black wound on a 3/16" mandrel.  I love the way the copper red green works, never the same thing twice and always gorgeous.  I wish the metallic black showed up on the picture.

This one is another 3/16" hole bead using Effetre Sedona and silvered ivory stringer.  I love the way the silvered ivory reacts with the Sedona to give even more desert color and wish I could reproduce this, but the reaction is usually ugly and ugly is what I've got every time I've tried.  I also wish the Sedona didn't devitrify as much as it did, but every desert has sand, right?

When I first made the next bead, I hated it.  I didn't like the way the flowers turned out and thought the color combination was weird.  Now I like it very much indeed.  To date, it is actually one of the more successful florals I have done and I love silvered ivory in just about any application.

Above is a bead I'm calling Oasis and it's made with CiM Canyon de Chelly with silver foil melted in and blue aventurine frit, with a DH Triton shard or two thrown in for good measure.  I still haven't got the amazing reaction Jason Powers did, but I am happy with this bead anyway.

The bead on the left is called Mars and is a pandora sized bead made of Vetro black with silvered Spanish leather stringer.  I love the way the Spanish leather reacts with silver.

The bead on the right is made of copper red green and CiM glacier with purple rose cane decoration.  This one turned out so nicely considering I had a pile of rods on my worktop and pulled stuff pretty much at random.  Usually I have some sort of plan for what I want to accomplish but that day I decided to let it go and was very happy with the result.

My folkart bracelet was one of the first projects I did and I wear one similar to it frequently and receive numerous compliments on it (by people who don't know I made it), but it's not moving on Etsy.  Definitely a case of handmade sticker-shock.

This last one is darker than my usual stuff, made of Effetre dark matter with a webbing of CiM gunmetal.  The gunmetal effect almost shows on this photo.

I'll be listing more stuff on this site but my attention span and tolerance for frustration only permit listing a few pieces at a time.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New Stuff

Finally, my leg has progressed enough to spend a little time torching every day.  I have tried not to waste this time so I don't have many photos.  Naturally, once I get it all together to photograph, my computer decides to act up.  This is just the way my life works.  Not all the beads above or below are recent.  Some were in my last pictorial post, but I like the massed effect.  The beads above are pandora sized and wound on a 3/16" mandrel.  I've done a bit of experimentation, but not a whole lot.  Below are crow beads wound on a 3/32" mandrel.  All will be for sale at the Heritage Days Revolutionary War demo in Westernville, NY on June 5-6.  Any that remain after that will be listed on Etsy.  I am a bit worried about not having enough of a variety but need to realize that this is the first year there will be a lampworker there and no one can predict whether there will be custom or not.  I'm also attempting to have enough of a selection for the reenactors looking for "authentic" beads and the shopping public who are more interested in how a bead looks than whether it was possible to create it in the late 18th century.

I couldn't resist making a rainbow of these.  They are, from left to right, Vetro candy apple, Effetre 432 medium red, Effetre 420 coral sunburst, CiM pumpkin, Effetre grass green (I think), Effetre copper green, CiM smurfy, Effetre dark cobalt, CiM ming unique (the dark one), CiM chalcedony, Effetre white, CiM Gelly's sty, Effetre lover boy (I need to modify my original opinion since there was a lot of variation in the rods), Effetre copper red green, CiM Thai orchid, CiM tuxedo, Effetre sediment, the much coveted lace agate, Effetre sandstone, and Effetre dark ivory.I may etch the ivory and some of the others but I haven't decided.

It's good to be back at the torch.  My daughter described her artistic drive as a desire like hunger or thirst that needs to be satisfied, and I know exactly what she means.  It may be making beads, or candles, or pewter, or weaving and sewing, to name some of the interests I have pursued lately, but I definitely feel the need to express myself.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Awful Chore

I don't have any new stuff to photograph so I thought I'd ramble. An artist I admire very much posted today that she had photography to do, which she claims is the worst part of lampwork. I can understand the frustration because the beads NEVER look like the picture, but for me there isn't a whole lot I can do about it, so I don't let the concern rent space in my head. A lot of lampworkers complain about cleaning beads, which is my least favorite part of the process.

Dragonjools posted about her experience bulk cleaning beads in a tumbler and I thought this was intriguing, until I continued on her post and saw she usually uses a Dremel tool. Ahhhhh. Now that would work. I don't have a studio full of artists or even make beads full time, so anything to speed up the process would be fantastic.

I've gone through a few phases regarding bead cleaning. Pipe cleaners and soaking was the first one, recommended to me by the sadists who got me hooked in the first place. After a while I started skipping the soaking part and doing it dry, which went a bit faster but took far too long as well and created an unholy amount of grey dust. I bought some bead cleaning wires, which are like thin, twisted, coping saw blades and that went a lot faster until the wires started wearing down and loosing their teeth. I then started doing this over the sink, and after putting a sink strainer in place after a big 'un went into the garbage disposal, put up with this until I read about the Dremel tool option. I just happen to have one of those. Quick rummage through the bits and lo and behold, two slim conical diamond grit bits. All bead release gone in a pass or two and a quick swipe with the pipe cleaner to clean out the dust and they're done. I'll have to find a new gripe.

So, what's your beef? Please post what you like least about lampworking or jewelry making, and better yet, what you have done about it. I look forward to some enlightening reading.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

a short break

Due to a recurring problem with my legs that prevents me from torching at the moment, I will not be posting for a while until I start to heal again. I will still be keeping up with my reading list and hope I won't be laid up too long.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

taking stock

One of the hardest things I am doing right now is convincing myself that I have beads that are good enough. I have been making spacer beads right now in every color of the rainbow, and lots of blue and white beads, all with the intent to sell them at the Revolutionary War themed Heritage Days in Westernville, NY. Not everyone there is going to be a reenactor, and if I intend to actually sell something, I have to have more to appeal to the general public. With this in mind, I've combed through the absolute mass of beads I've made and selected some to show off. These and more will be going with me to the demo on June 4-5.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

More historic beads

I have been making a whole lot of blue and white beads in preparation for the Heritage Days demo in Westernville, NY. In my last post, I showed the crow beads I have been making and a Hudson Bay bead I may offer. I also have crow beads in every color of the rainbow, since even though historically, blue and white beads had the monopoly, now people do have favorite colors and like variety.
Luckily, one of my obsessions when I first started lampworking was blue and white "Delft" beads. These correspond fairly well to the "Lewis and Clark" style bead prevalent shortly after the colonial period. Lewis and Clark's expedition carried beads as an important trade commodity and while there is no documentation as to the type of bead they actually carried, those above could be taken as a representative sample. For more information on the Lewis and Clark expedition, click this link.
My stock right now is pretty pitiful and one of two things is going to happen. Either I am going to sell out in 2 hours and spend the rest of the weekend making excuses or I am going to sit around with a half-empty table and sell nothing. I am mortally afraid of either one happening. I need to make more beads, because even if I don't sell a single thing I would rather it not be because my selection was lousy.
Must torch. Will post again later.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

time to pony up or eat crow

I've been making lots of little beads. In yesterday's post, I mentioned that a friend suggested that I devote less time to testing out colors and more to making stuff I could sell. What I didn't understand was that she had a goal in mind. In about a month is a Revolutionary War reenactment demo for her town. She wants me to sell beads at it. Time to research what was hot and how it was done.

During the period between 1700 and 1850 a booming fur trade existed in the part of the country I live. Beads were used as currency since native people and frontier types had little use for paper money or even coin. There was a fixed heirarchy of prices and the demand was specifically supplied by beadmakers in Venice (Murano), Bohemia and as far away as China. The most common types of beads used for trade were "chief" beads, measuring 5/8" to 3/4", crow beads of about 3/8", and pony beads of about 3/16". There were also chevron or rosary style beads, which are true objects of beauty even if they were mass produced by cutting murrini-like tubes and smoothing off the edges. These are so far beyond my skill level and resources that there isn't any point going into them further. I chose to make the crow bead size, since they are well documented and are best suited to my setup and ability.

Above is a picture of some of the beads I made for this event. While beads were made in most of the colors available in the modern palette, the ones most in demand were the blues and white. Lewis and Clark and others state that unless they had blue and white beads on offer, the trappers simply weren't interested. This does make sense since even today these are among the most sought-after colors.

Later in the period, perhaps 1820 or so, a new style began to emerge as the ruby red colors began to become more popular. It is referred to as the Hudson Bay bead and is made with a translucent green core and a translucent to opaque red wrap. Later yet, the core became white or yellow and the wrap could become more pink. I couldn't help it. Even though it is later in time than the period covered by the reenactment, I had to try it.

This is my effort along this line. I have more in the cooker and can't wait to see how they turn out, but I couldn't wait. The core is some Effetre translucent green purchased before I became rabid about labeling, probably grass green opalino. The shell is CiM sangre, chosen because it yields a result closest to the antique beads offered for sale at about this time.

The picture on the left shows the colors better and the one on the right is more clear. I can tell that as simple as this should be, it is going to be a work in progress for me. The idea of using the dark green core is very strange for me to wrap my head around and is, strangely enough, more difficult to do than a core of plain white would be. It may be that I am using a picture to work from and am trying to do a lot of things at once.
I have a lot of work to do on this project and at my current production rate, should finish in time for next year's event.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sea and Sky

A friend recently suggested that I stop messing around and make something that could actually be worn. Following this suggestion, I decided to make a set of beads that reminded me of the seashore. These were made with CiM butter pecan and pulsar as a base. The focal uses another blue to represent the sea and the three larger beads use silvered ivory stringer. I was actually very happy with how these turned out since it's been quite a while since I tried making beads to represent something rather than just playing around with different colors.

The focal was the biggest hurdle, of course. I knew that I wanted to do something with butter pecan and copper foil, and decided to use an unlabeled light blue transparent from my stash to make a sort of undersea blue. Unfortunately blues don't photograph very accurately, so the picture below is the one that represents that part of the focal the best.
I really liked the way the focal combines with the side beads, which are simply butter pecan, pulsar, and sis. The spacers were almost an afterthought because I needed beads to balance the set.
These were just listed on Etsy and I hope they do well, but this is another set that I wouldn't be disappointed at if I got to keep.