Sunday, 13 December 2009

'Blind' commission

Normally, when I get a commission (and I'm sure that's true for most other people!), the person commissioning the piece has seen something from me and liked it. So when an ex-colleague on my Mum's said she'd like to buy some jewellery off me, I'd assumed she knew what she was getting - until it transpires that she doesn't have internet, and only ever saw a bead on mine that dangles from my Mum's keys. Uh-oh. I have met the lady in question.....last, possibly, about 15 years ago! So I convinced my Mum to at least get me a hint - are we talking bracelet? Ring? Necklace? Brooch? Whacky? Classy? Well, I'm glad I got my Mum to ask, because the first piece of info coming back! Me, on auto pilot, I would have made silver every time. So, after firing an order for findings off, I turned to the rest of the brief - necklace or pendant, simple, possibly leather, beads with green or blue. I'll be taking two - I hope she likes one of them.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

New talent on the block!

Yesterday, the studio was properly 'christened', when the first teaching took place in there. I'd taught in the garage, but ... well, let me tell you, the studio works a *lot* better.

Suki had come over from York for the day, and I think you'll agree that her beads are fabulous - there's not a wonky one among them!

We did round beads and some dots before lunch - by then, I'm afraid to say, we were a bit cold - which will be remedied when I get 'proper' heating for the studio this week-end! But the scampi & chips in the pub across the road warmed us up nicely!

The afternoon was given over to trying different techniques - raking, silver foil (and therefore encasing). All the beads in the photo are Suki's, and no, she's never been at the torch before. I helped a little bit with the flowers, but that's it. Here comes the competition!

Monday, 7 December 2009

What happened there?

I've been quiet, but that doesn't mean nothing's happening - au contraire (why do French & German have lovely sounding phrases for this, and English only has the clumsy sounding 'quite the opposite'?).

As some of you know I'm stand-in newsletter editor for the Glass Bead Makers UK (GBUK) society, and...erm....not that there was a deadline as such, but I set myself one, and it has passed. I was going to get it out of the way before the whole pre-Christmas stress, and didn't, so now, I've had orders, fairs, tuition, a full-time job, a toddler, *and* a newsletter to edit. On the positive side, it's nearly done. On the other side, I'm not getting as much play-time as I'd like. I'm just finishing a batch of fingerprint jewellery orders in time for Christmas, too.

So, while I go and do all that, why don't you go and read the feature on me which got put up on the fabulous Frit Happens Etsy Street Team blog? I promise I'll be back with more news soon! And since it's not getting any warmer, I'm sharing a photo of a snoozle to keep you cosy snug!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Come closer, no, closer, and closer......

I just did an interview. No, that's a lie. I did the interview the other day, parked by the roadside, on my mobile. Today, we did the photo. And what a good photographer avoids, is dead space between his points of interest....i.e. dead space between the torch and me. If anybody in the know happens to see the article, no, I'm not short-sighted, and yes, I am aware of health and safety regulations. And yes, that's my fringe, about two inches away from the flame. What's that smell...? ;o)

The photographer stayed behind to shoot more photos for his portfolio, and got all artistic - which I fully approve of. So, should you ever see a picture of my silhouette illuminated by the radial glow of a blob of glass....ask not what I was making at the time - I was making a blob of glass big enough to produce enough radial heat to light my silhouette :o)

Now, where's the space heater? The garage is cold!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Branching out

I've had an idea (oh no, you groan, another one!), for which I need wire. Now, I know my way around precious metal wire. but this is more the other kind - copper (which I kind of 'get', courtesy of silversmithing classes), or possibly aluminium (because it's silver and thus a cheat on sterling - it'll all make sense). And I need it thick - 2.5mm minimum. Now, I have questions:

- Does aluminium wire follow the same rules as other metals, i.e. can you work-harden it with a hammer?
- Where can you buy short length of thick wire, to have a play (avoiding major outlay, in case this is a dead duck?)

....and where, oh where did I put the magic machine that creates extra hours each day?

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Is it something in the water?

First, this is not a moan, just an observation - and, I guess, a query. Picture the scene: Christmas Fair. Same place. Two consecutive days. Same stall. Virtually same stock.

Day 1: Lady approaches stall, fingers stuff. Me: "The glass beads are hand-crafted - I'm a glass bead maker." She: "Are you really? How fascinating!" Repeat that scene numerous times (with both men and women), liberally sprinkle with happy chats about different jewellery making techniques, the weather, tuition, matching colours, etc. End of day: pretty good, as far as the till is concerned. Frantic jewellery making to re-stock in the evening.

Day 2: Only slightly less footfall. Lady approaches stall, fingers stuff. Me: "The glass beads are hand-crafted - I'm a glass bead maker." She: "Oh yeah?" Insert fast exit here. Sprinkle with numerous people throwing a cursory glance at stall without ever wandering over. End of day: :o(

Overall, I'm not unhappy, the overall balance was okay. But why? Are Sunday shoppers casual shoppers? It's an out-of-the-way venue, no passing traffic, really, so everybody would have to make an effort to come in. Do craft-people exude invisible fumes on the second day, sending out messages like 'don't come near'? Are 'Saturdays' for spending (week-end grocery shop, etc.), and Sundays for leisure (i.e. 'browsing'? Was it just a fluke (which did repeat itself all over the fair, not just on my stall)?

And has anybody ever done a PhD on the psychology of craft fairs and their shoppers? Hmmmmmm...........................................

Friday, 27 November 2009

Double whammy!

So much has been going on, I've not yet blogged this month's Making Jewellery magazine! I thought I had one tutorial in it, until I was told another one of mine had been pulled forward, so there are two! Although I'm not normally one for fashion, I thoroughly enjoy this magazine - mainly because they also support fashion advice like 'this would look great with jeans and t-shirt' ;o) This issue is full of gorgeous Christmas bling, including several art clay tutorials that look rather yummy!

I'm in there with a pair of cufflinks and a bracelet.

The bracelet I made features an exchangeable clasp, and it just came back from the publisher, so I took a quick photo. The question is.......sell it, or keep it?

Off to my Christmas fair in a bit!

I need a new bust

Recently, I posted on a lovely forum about how to display large necklaces - I got lots of fabulous responses, that gave me loads of ideas!! Dutifully, I bought some polystyrene insulation, a cheap second-hand picture frame, an old velvet jersey top, and a staple gun. Not too long afterwards, I had a pretty 'picture' of velvet, to which I could pin my jewellery. just wasn't right. So, with two days of Christmas fairs to go, I decided I needed a bust - and a big one at that! Not being a woman who does things by half, I ordered three. Fingers crossed they'll arrive today. So, here's a 'before the new bust' photo - do you think getting the new busts will help me get noticed at the fair???? I hadn't realised just how important a good bust was..........


Thursday, 26 November 2009

Words that Inspire

I am hugely motivated and inspired by words. When I was five years old (yes, that's right!), I made a book in kindergarten, weaving the cover out of paper strips. It's slightly smaller than A6. And, at the tender age of 5, I decided that I would put one poem or saying per year into it - one per page - until the pages ran out. I realised that the end of the book would take me to the ripe old age of 25, which, of course, appeared ancient. At some point around the age of 14, English appeared in these sayings, or not. At the age of 18, I realised one saying was not enough to capture the mood of a year, so I wrote down more - 4, 5 sometimes - but I always stuck to one page. Looking back, I can watch myself grow up, from the first two years, where my Mum helped me find a quote (leading to quite old-fashioned proverbs), through teenage rebellion, into adulthood. Amongst other things, the book made me focus - what was this year about? With my birthday in October, I wouldn't even attempt to leave a quote until the following summer - what if my life was about to change radically, and the year would forever be eternalised with a quote that was no longer relevant? Through the quotes, I can track when I was grateful for things going well, when I was keeping myself psyched up to keep on fighting when things were rough, when I felt I was in need of cheering myself up, or when I was feeling contemplative. I would write down bits of poems, full poems, random sentences from books. If it meant something to me, it would go in.

And now, I'm on the hunt for words again. Words that mean something, that inspire, keep us going, motivate us, remind us of what we have, who we are, and what could be if only we went and got it. And I shall turn them into jewellery. On commission, or to buy. I have more ideas than there are hours in the day, but I have just listed the first one in my etsy shop. The quote is by Victor Hugo:

Be like the bird that, pausing on her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels
them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing that she hath wings.

So, ladies (and gents), let us keep singing, for we all have wings!

My question to you is this: Which words motivate you? What saying/poem/random phrase reminds you to get out of bed, face the day with a smile on your face...and keep on singing?

I hope you're all having a good day!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Candy Cane Christmas market and a bit of a natter

This week-end is the Craft Candy - Candy Cane Christmas market, at the Sheffield Workstation (near the train station). You can see more information here. I'll be there on both days with jewellery, and have been making original items (like the Mad Hatter necklace I blogged yesterday). It's a funny old balance, isn't it? With beads and some jewellery in one shop, bridal jewellery and tiaras in another shop, work in a local gallery, and an etsy shop that is in the process of being resurrected, as well as fairs to attend, what do you list where? And when do you list it? So, I will be taking the new jewellery items to the fair, and on Monday, there shall be a listing frenzy. Expect keys on silk ribbons, fabulous chokers, and more poetry necklaces...unless they all sell, of course ;o)

Oh, and I did another interview yesterday, parked by the roadside on my mobile, since that was the only way to get a very excited birthday boy to fall asleep so I could have a good natter with the PR lady - watch this space - we need to book a photo, where's my 'airbrush?

Oh (lol, that's two 'ohs' - a bit like Columbo!), and munchkin the birthday boy discovered a bigger flame than from mummy's torch - the fire tornado at the Magna Centre in Rotherham!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Mad as a Hatter

I spent a ridiculously long time yesterday wiring up beads - I thought it'd be quicker. Before that, I played with a 3mm sterling silver wire length I've had for some time,
hammering, stamping, soldering, polishing and satin-brushing it. Then I joined everything together, and looked at it. And then I took some photos.

I love words. And I love sculptural lampwork. And
asymmentrical necklaces. And things with stories and meaning. And my 'major mojo' idea came when I realised that I could combine the whole lot!!!!! I've got the components for a second necklace - very different to this one - and if I manage to finish my commissions quickly tonight, I'll see if I can finish it. Until then, may I present: 'Mad as a Hatter'!!

Monday, 23 November 2009

The advantages of a 4am start

When the little one decided 4am was a reasonable getting up time, I was...erm...disappointed. But then I realised: what an opportunity! So, by the time I got to work at 7.45am, I had:

- cleaned yesterday's beads
- made a pendant and earring set up out of 'champagne bottle beads' for a celebratory graduation commission
- got to know the engraving gadget on my dremel a bit better
- packaged yesterday's orders up
- checked and replied to emails
- sketched a few ideas to do with my new
jewellery range
- had lots of cuddles with munchkin, showed him how to use hammer & anvil for silversmithing
- done all the mundane household things: showering, making lunch, having breakfast
- bought some milk on the way to work.

I have also learnt that I need way more PPP for my engraving tool to create what I want it to!

New beads went online yesterday, I'm attaching a close-up of my favourite focal/set combo, and a little butterfly.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Mojo alert!

There are weeks, even months, when mojos go on holiday - mine included. Then, suddenly, ideas burst out everywhere.........that's where I'm at at this precise moment in time. Never mind Christmas fairs, never mind the job, never mind the fact that there's lots to do in the studio yet.....I want to PLAY! I've had ideas for jewellery especially, and I'm keeping back some butterflies to explore these ideas.....sorry!

But there are still plenty of beads from my open day yesterday that will go online either late tonight or early tomorrow - if you want to be on my mailing list, just send me an email at and tell me so, and I'll add you in a flash!

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Open Day

I had my Open Day today, and since my studio was in tip-top shape, I thought I'd share the 'grand finale' photos of the development. Ladies & gentlemen, may I present: the Little Castle Designs / Now Forevermore studio :o)

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Rod by rod, bead by bead

Okay, something slightly more philosophical today - are you ready? There are a lot of expressions that illustrate when something is done slowly, but steadily - bit by bit, peux à peux, little by little, etc. But they don't really express what it means, do they? Analogies and metaphors work better: you build a house 'brick by brick', you empty an ocean 'drop by drop', you walk a thousand miles 'step after step' - in these contexts, a seemingly impossible task is broken down into minute components, implying that, as long as you stick with it, you'll do it - however long it might take.

When I first discussed bead making full time with my OH, he was, of course, apprehensive - it's a great leap into the unknown. I am fortunate in having been given a long lead-in time, my job ends next summer, so I have a long time to make it work. We both joked that I would take over the world - bead by bead. That, of course, was a joke - I have no intention to take over the world (and aren't you glad to hear it). But, thanks to you all, who buy my beads and my jewellery, bead by bead, spacer by spacer, full-time bead making looks like a viable option. And for that, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

So tonight, when it is finally time to move all my glass across from cellar to studio (and there is a lot of glass!), I shall take it steady - rod by rod, if I have to, so that tomorrow, those visiting my open studio, can see the full gorgeousness of glass :o)

Philosophical moment over! Today's photo is of my glass rods, but taken by my talented sister Katrin (see her other photos on Flickr here).

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

I'm a success, lol!

Surely, otherwise, nobody would have written a success story about me, would they?

Here's what happened: About half a year ago, I found out that the university I studies at (and now happen to be working at, too) was giving out enterprise grants for start-up businesses. Cheeky as I am, I checked regulations, double-checked them, and found out that I was fully eligible (as a graduate within the last five years) - in fact, I was strongly encouraged to go for it. So I asked for the money for the stall at the UK Wedding Show. No way would I have contemplated attending such a high profile (although, now that I've done it once, I might well do it again). With this grant came, of course, responsibility - handing over receipts, writing a report, but, to be fair, nothing onerous, especially not when your day job includes writing reports. And, now that all this is done, and I'm still standing, I'm a 'success story', and was interviewed by the lovely Samantha Deakin about my trials and tribulations. Reading it this morning, I realised it should say 'the further you get from the *mandrel* the colder the glass gets', but other than that, I'm chuffed to be sounding even remotely coherent. Whether or not anybody is interested in reading it, I don't know...but if you are, click here.

An older photo today, while I'm working on new stuff :o)

Monday, 16 November 2009

And begins!

The first torch moved into the studio under cover of darkness yesterday...and tonight, come hell or high water, I'll be making beads there - even if I have to carry a single rod of glass across.

Don't get me wrong - it's not 'finished'. Not in the 'everything's pretty, and clean, and dusted, and the fairy lights are up, and the potted plant is out'. In fact, anything but! I am two clamps short of setting up the full ventilation (and here was me, thinking I'd counted it out beautifully). I also have two 90 degree bends spare, since the design I had in mind just didn't work. So it's not as pretty as I'd hoped, but after setting fire to a random worktop offcut yesterday, I can confirm my ventilation works. I still need to sort out glass storage (OH had a very clever idea here - watch this space!!!!), and...well, carry everything across apart from one torch, one oxy, and one bottle of propane. My old hothead is set up on a splitter from the mega minor, so, I guess I carried two torches across. Still contemplating whether to mount it as an 'occasional third torch' and for demos, or whether to re-connect my Sievert silversmithing torch.

You know what I'm actually looking forward to? Not running out of propane...but simply switching torches. I have now owned the midrange plus for pretty much half a year, and since the new studio was always just 'round the corner', I've still never set it up, nor lit it. Criminal, really! I won't take any more pictures until I'm 'in' a bit more...and I guess I better go out and buy that potted plant!

Since there are no studio photos, have the newest dragonfly :o)

Things that make you go 'ugh' this pesky studio still not being done. *But* it's getting there :o) This is what it looked like this morning.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Playing with widgets

How tempting is it to waste lots of time with widgets??? I've now added my Facebook page - well, the Little Castle Designs one anyway. The geek in me wants to play with it until the perfect layout is achieved - the busy working-business-running Mum is reminding me that not even my banner is straight. A heads-up to trusty followers - the website should get updated tomorrow night, with new stuff on each and every bead-related page......and new options for made-to-order lace beads, including different shapes, such as these lovely mini-marquis ones!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Tantalisingly close...

I have a set of keys to the door in the picture. You will notice the foam spurting from any crevice, and what you can't see is the pile of junk that is still inside. Fingers crossed, the elves (in the shape of DH) will knuckle down properly on Saturday, while I'm doing the first Christmas fair of the year, at the Leopold Hotel in Sheffield - why not pop by and say 'hi', if you're around?

And I think I will go this lunchtime and get a spare key bright pink, with flowers on it. Then I shall make a big, chunky bead to go on the key ring - no mistaking which is the key to my studio! And just to carry on a discussion from elsewhere - if a studio in a shed is a shedio, is a studio in a garage a gudio? A goodio? A garudio? A studage? Answers on a postcard, please!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

A blank canvas

Well, I was disappointed to find that the door still wasn't in when I came home from work yesterday. You must all get bored with the never-ending story of the studio conversion! However, apparently, the building inspector is booked for Thursday to sign off the final result, which gives me hope. And with hubby having Wednesday booked off work to start building the interior, we took to throwing bucket after bucket of masonry paint at the stones. I was all for keeping it natural, but trust you me, these stones were beyond rescue - we tried, wire brushing them and acid-etching them...there was no way around it. This way, the interior will look much brighter, too. The photo shows the first coat of paint, and the wall is painted up to the end of 'my bit'. :o)

Monday, 9 November 2009

Open Day 21st November!

Okay, this is scary! No, the studio is not finished yet, BUT! there will be an open day on Saturday, 21st November, to coincide with the Bolsterstone (my village's) Christmas market, and I believe there's an art show in the village church, too. Bolsterstone is well known as a starting point for lovely walks around the Peak District, there's a pub with good food, and I'll be demonstrating, as well as selling beads and jewellery. So, if you're stuck for something to do, why not pop by? Just come to Bolsterstone, park in the middle of the village, and I promise you won't be able to miss our house (getting a banner printed especially). Looking forward to seeing you there!

Sunday, 8 November 2009


Here's what happens. I bead along happily, minding my own business, then somebody mentions a tutorial. Hmmm...I think, and rarely bother to check it out. Then beads start appearing from other bead makers. NICE! I think.....oh, they're from that tutorial. Hmmmmmm.........then MORE beads start appearing. Oh bum, I think. And off I go to buy the tutorial. In all honesty, that still doesn't mean I'll make the beads with it. But in this case, it does. Amy Kinsch's tutorial on storm beads is fab, and, above all, really straightforward. And I could even do it in the dark deep cellar.

On the studio front, I *think* the door and window are being put in. But then, I thought that before, so I'm fresh out of promised finishing dates for now.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Lest we forget

While I was on the course last week, I got a commission for an off-mandrel poppy pendant - I think it's safe to say that I'd have struggled a lot more had it not been for last week's off-mandrel experience. I'll be making some with holes to go on the site this week-end.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

THAT poem

I'll take a photo of the final piece when I get it, but wanted to share the epiphany of the poem that went into it. I wanted to create a piece that I could look upon as inspiration, for my chosen path, which now looks more and more like a lampworker's path once my current contract finishes. I wanted something that spoke of beauty and fighting spirit...I found it hard to describe exactly what I meant...and it took me three days to realise that a poem I first discovered as an 18-year-old, by good old Nietzsche, and one of my favourite poems of all times, was already saying what I was feeling, better than I ever could. I finally tracked down a translation, too, after cobbling together a translation myself for ages. So, without further ado, Nietzsche, Ecce Homo:

Yes, I know from where I came!
Ever hungry like a flame,
I consume myself and glow.
Light grows all that I conceive,
Ashes everything I leave:
Flame I am assuredly.

So, for all of us, here's to 'being flame'.

Can you say pretty, please?

I'm at work on my lunch hour. Yesterday, I came home to find that the gables have been mortared, as has the very top of the roof, where it joins the house. No more leaks. The skip out front is fit to burst, it's that full, and a distinct sense of 'tidy up' is becoming apparent. If I say 'pretty, please' - will that ensure the door & window will be in when I get back from work - leaving me free to brush down the walls & move in? What do you think?

And meanwhile, I'm hearing rumours that, all over the country, the results from last week's course are arriving by courier. If I say 'pretty, pretty, please, pretty, please' - do you think I'll have the doors & the window, *and* a notice saying my casts are with a neighbour, rather than in a depot 100,000,000 miles away?

Pretty, pretty, please, pretty, pretty, pretty, please!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Interim measures

I'm off sick at home today, but it occurred to me that I've not shown my interim 'studio', read: the cellar. So I crawled down the steps to take a photo. Yes, that dark stain on the wall is water coming in, when I was torching yesterday, it was raining outside. The worst the cellar ever flooded was by about 2ft - 60cm. Since that would just about kill an oxycon, I've been keeping everything crossed. Actually, with the flash from the camera, it looks less bad than it is, lol!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

...the kitchen units have arrived, the roof has been slated, the velux windows are in, and both gables have been built up. Now, the gap between roof and brickwork needs mortaring, and the door & window need putting in the back wall. It transpired that builder automatically left a gap wide enough for wheelchair access, which means far less workspace for me, but once I'd thought about it, I'm quite happy about it :o)

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Day 5

If the other days were busy, day 5 was a veritable rollercoaster! There wasn't much flameworking going on (I joined rods, and that was it), but a few people put some finishing touches to their pieces. Then they went into the kiln, and that was the end of it - no more second chances. Katie did a cold-working demonstration, which was very helpful. Then, we sifted the newly arrived sand and got mould-making, most of these got fired just before lunch. Then we added powders and frit to the bottom. And then the kiln was hot, and that was that. I have to admit, my final design was simple compared to most others, and it looks like every single one will come out, let's not jinx it ;o)

It was lovely seeing everybody's creativity in full flow, and by and large, I think we had the teamwork in the hot shop down pretty well. Tom was a star for pouring all of our moulds, that ladle was heavy, and hot!!!

After the final one, it was tidying up time, and that took us to 4.45pm. Time for good-byes and thank yous - to Julie, but also to Tom, Charlotte, Katie, Rowan and Kim. The drive home was quicker than I expected, and so I made it home just before 10pm. Back to the grindstone now :o)

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Day 4

I still can't get the new photos to upload onto Flickr, but it's home time soon, so I'll do it from there.

Well, Day 4 started with us finally seeing our first casts! Note to self: alabaster/opalino colours don't cast well, which is rather disappointing. And where there are creases in the glass, bubbles may appear (which could bring us to well-sculpted, farting mermaids, but that's a different story!) ;o) Most of us had thrown some sort of experiment in, and many of these turned out...others...didn't so well.

Then, those of us wanting to do an experiment in casting got do do so. I'd been eager to try and cast my hand, so I shoved it into sand, pinned a leaf down for good measure (allegedly, the veins keep intact), and Tom kindly poured it for me. I saw some fingers poking through the sand as it got transferred into the kiln, so I'm hoping it's a goer!

Demonstrations abounded - elephants, fish, and....oooh yes....dragons! Well, one dragon. Which was especially cool for me, since I missed it at the Flame Off this year! The rest of the day was about producing the flameworked components to go into the I made five different ladies - now, if only I could pick the best bits from each one. Julie kindly showed me how she makes a rose, which is completely different to how I make it, and a great way to do it off mandrel.

Then we had a BBQ, and copious amounts of wine, and, for me, the lastest night so far - very clever when you know you'll wake up at 5am, and will end up doing 5-6 hours' driving before you can sleep again. Ah well!

Day 3

Right......what did we do. Calm breath, remember....oh, it's all a whirl! After our morning discussion (how's it going, where do we go from here?) Julie decided to split the class into two levels of flameworkers, giving separate demos for each group, going into more or less detail accordingly. Other than that, we took it in twos to prepare our casts. Emma and I went first (by virtue of having all our bits and pieces ready - which meant we were the ones waiting for an hour for the kiln to ramp up to a high enough temperature so that our inclusions wouldn't ping all over the place. I don't know whether it was for this reason that both of our moulds ended up ma-hoosive & freeform - would we have stopped earlier if we'd had less time? Nah, I don't think so. But we both vowed to do smaller ones for our final pieces.

I also discovered that I'm a wuss - the radiating heat from a huge blob of molten glass is quite - erm - hot!! But we got ourselves sorted, and, if Flickr ever plays ball today, I'll be able to upload photos!

After that, we flameworked - I made my daily marble, and two ladies after Julie's demo. During this time, the others cast two-by-two (Noah's ark for glassy people). I now think I know what to do for my final piece, but will need to work on the inclusions for that. Our first casts (from Tuesday) should be cool enough this morning to come out - keep your fingers crossed.

We all went out in the evening, which was lovely! And ow, it's nearly breakfast time again.....and there'll be a dragon demo. Excited? Moi??? :o))))) Photo to follow once I get Flickr to play nice!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Day 2 of Julie Anne Denton

On Day 2, we split up, half of us (those who were organised and had produced stuff to go into their casts yesterday) to cast first, the other half (including me) to cast after that. So I spent a frantic hour making roses and leaves on vines – a first, I have to say, and, although I know most joints were rubbish, a valiant effort! Making the mould was like playing with sand – except much, much more serious. We’ve been given our very own mould, about 6x6” and about 3” high. We’d been asked to adapt it to our heart’s content....but only very few of us wanted to mess with it (applause to Emma, who cut off a corner). So, we plonked our mould into the sand, jiggled, patted, checked, adjusted, levelled, hammered, patted, jiggled, until we had a hole in the sand that looked like it came from said mould. This got sprayed with molasses (yup, the sugar stuff) and caramelised with a big propane torch, to form a crusty shell to cast into. After this, we chucked some powders & frit at the bottom. Tom from Liquid Glass did the pouring, and we talked through the specifics – how many layers, who would come from where, then Julie helped on our side, getting our pieces out of the kiln, where they had been pre-warmed. My rose made bubbles, which I’d been warned about – one of them rose to the surface, pulling the petal with it – bummer! The casts will take forever to anneal, so we'll only see Tuesday's and Wednesday's casts - those from Thursday and Friday will need to be shipped out afterwards.

This took us into the afternoon, then there was more planning, more flameworking – Julie demonstrated a tree and a flamingo, and also a big, freeform cast, and set us our task for the next day – buildings or the human form. And so we planned again.

As for me, I can now make a squiggle – which I’m dead-chuffed with, so applause, please ;o)

Monday, 26 October 2009

When it's all worth it...

For months now, I knew that end of October would be busy....very busy! After two days of the UK Wedding Show in Manchester, I got up at 3.20am on Monday morning, threw random clothes in a backpack, and drove for four hours down to Trowbridge (near Bath) for a course with the lovely Julie Anne Denton. So, for weeks, I told myself "just make it to that Monday night" - you'll be able to sleep that night, and all will be well on Tuesday. I don't think I fooled anybody when I tried to look lively yesterday, but, lively or not, I don't believe I've learnt so much in a day for a long time.

The course is about flameworking and sandcasting - flameworking pieces that then get put into cast glass pieces - if that makes sense. We saw a demonstration with Julie doing it, and we had plenty of torch time - aided and abetted by Kim of Liquid Glass allowing us to use the studio until 7pm. I finally turned off the torch at 6.50pm, and the me-time at the torch (the first time to *play* for months since we emptied the garage) was *almost* as good as sleep ;-)

Among the lampworking demonstrations Julie did were one of her gorgeous ladies - this one a juggler - and a dichroic vortex marble. I have to admit I only took photos of the sandcasting demonstration, after that I was busy!!

This is an all-round course - as Julie explained, we'll be having a lot of test pieces and - we hope - one beautiful piece at the end. So we spent time drawing, and thinking, and trying stuff at the torch. The kiln got quite full with all our flamework, including a couple of marbles, a space rocket, and a *lot* of ladies!

I'll try and blog every day, so watch this space! Photos of the course will be uploaded here.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

UK Wedding Show

How do you know you're doing a busy fair on your own? When it takes you two-and-a-half hours to eat a simple sandwich, that's when!

Yes, I'm at the UK Wedding Show this week - which seems a bit odd, since other people with stalls include House of Fraser, John Lewis, the BBC, and other huge names.....but also an 'owl bearer', i.e. having your wedding rings delivered by an owl (no, the owl is not at the stall). I'm half way through, one day down, one day to go - only time will tell whether it was a worthwhile investment :o)

Friday, 23 October 2009

Studio update

Okay.....builder came today, and built up one gable - it has to be propped up for a week for the mortar to set, to make sure the RSJ doesn't buckle. And it has to set for 3 weeks before they can drill a hole for my ventilation. So....if it doesn't rain tomorrow, he'll do the other end. If it does, he'll come on Sunday - and if it rains then, we'll be set back another week - aaaaaaaah!

It's alive!

The new Now Forevermore website, that is. It's part of a one-two punch, the second update will happen at Christmas, with 'View Cart' buttons, 'Customers who bought this also bought', and feature buttons. But for now, I'm a happy bunny - I hope you like it!

Monday, 19 October 2009

Excuses to drink Champagne...

I've not blogged much about what's happening with Now Forevermore, but, truth is, things have been a little hectic! I'll be at the UK Wedding Show at Manchester GMEX this week-end, and have been frantically preparing. I've finally got round to making champagne jewellery, with beads created from a bottle of champagne. I know plenty of people have made beads from recycled bottles, and I'm excited to add that service to my wedding range - fingers crossed it drives home the uniqueness of what lampwork can do for your wedding, lol! I made enough beads for cufflinks, two pendants (only one in view), one pair of earrings, a bracelet, and a big hole/pandora bead - now all I need to do is update the website before the big day, and all systems are go!

Saturday, 17 October 2009

With effort, like a squirrel

There's a German saying 'the squirrel feeds itself with effort' - presumably referring to a lot of effort to get into one dinky little nut. Anyway. The building inspector came Monday and gave the go ahead, but the builder could only come out Saturday. So yesterday, they started. They were also supposed to finish, I think, ready for the roofer to move in on Monday. This got slightly scuppered when it took three hours alone to remove a stone ready for the RSJ to hold the gable end. So they said they'd come back today (Sunday) to carry on. That was before they saw that the RSJ they had chosen was buckling under the first two rows of stones they'd managed to build up......about four rows to they took them down again, and the build is now held up until they can find the right RSJ for the job. There's another German saying - 'things that take forever will finally come good' - here's to hope, lol!

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Trials and tribulations

Well, when we found out we needed a Building Notice and requested it on Tuesday, all looked well. When the form still hadn't arrived by Friday, the munchkin and I took matters into our own hands, drove down and filled in a form there and then. Things progressed quickly, and, fingers crossed, a planning inspector will come out tomorrow (Monday). Slightly sour feeling when I think it was supposed to be finished now, but holding on to the excitement of how lovely it'll be once it's done.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

At the end of the rainbow...

When I saw this rainbow ending directly 'inside' my garage (soon to be studio), I couldn't resist. You can't tell on the photo, but it really continued down in front of the houses and into my future artistic home. The builder (John) came yesterday and started digging the foundations, but found that there are some there already - unusual for a garage, and a happy coincidence. So rather than taking a photo of a small pile of concrete rubble, I thought you might prefer a rainbow.

As for torching in the cellar........NOT my favourite pastime, lol! But it's good to stay busy and be able to fill orders!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Complications... serious ones, just enough for me to wish I knew more about how these things are done. It's our own fault - we overlooked the 'conditions' in the building regs! So when I called and asked whether they seriously wanted us to cart a huge slab of stone in to them (as well as a slate), I was told 'yes'. And the need for a 1:20 drawing of the roof flashings is somewhat hampered by me not knowing what they're talking about, and our roofer being a roofer (and a very good one!), not an architect. Did I mention our fabulous roofer? He's rising to the challenge and getting out pencil & paper, and will also take care of the carting of slabs & slate. In the meantime, foundations for the back wall will be dug by our builder tomorrow (which made me double-check the days of the week!)

So, all's good in the world of studios, just a bit confused!

With no new studio pics, here are some amber rough pups, my favourite of the bead sets currently on my site ;o)

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Day 3

Well, end of Day 2, really! The roofers are done for now, seeing as they don't have any stonework to work with and lay the roof on! So they'll be having a day off today, and I'll need of something else to blog about ;o) The stonework needs building up to the gable, and the back, which also has a garage door, will be built up to have a 'proper' door and a window. There will be two conservation grade velux windows in the ceiling. Already, it looks so much more spacious inside. I'm in the process of finalising my ventilation system, before pressing the 'order' button.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Day no. 2

It was still a bit dark when I left this morning, and the angle is a bit disorienting, but, essentially, the roof has gone! It was an eyesore, tarp and pitch and whatever - the new one will look much nicer, pitched, rather than flat, adding extra space. I don't know if I'll update you all every day, but whenever there's anything to see, I'll share it here!

New beginnings!

After nearly two years of waiting, the builders finally started on my garage, turning it into a beautiful studio. Waiting for this has been frustrating - I bought a fabulous big torch (bearing in mind my 'normal' torch isn't small, either) as a second torch a few months ago, and, with a promise of builders just around the corner, decided to be patient and set it up in the new forward about 15 weeks!!!

I'll be so excited to see this project finished - I'll be able to hold open studios, teach, torch with natural light (luxury!) is what my 'studio' looked like in January 2008 - quite a while ago, I've since (in fact, that same month) had a dual fuel torch, an oxycon, and a kiln, but the generic set-up (i.e. the garage) remains the same. Cosy, huh?

I'll keep you all updated on progress!