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)