Wednesday, 13 May 2009

What's in a name?

I like naming things differently each week. Call it a hangover from being a linguist, but I know most bead makers think names are important. In my search for ever new ideas for names, I don't always get it right. Sayings, for example, seem to evoke a more direct response than, say, place names or ...(I know!!!) Vulcan words (I was particularly stuck that week). So, something is definitely in a name. I already picked the category of names for this week, although this week won't be particularly productive. So meet: "Into Temptation". Question is: What will it be next week?

Monday, 11 May 2009

Patience, grasshopper

Am I the only one who always wants to make beads way beyond my skills? It didn't take me long after my first lesson to decide that round doughnut beads would not be the be-all-and-end-all. I still have the first bicone I was happy with. It's maybe an inch long. When I got into sculptural beads, my first roses looked like something the sugarplum fairy might have left behind...from *her* behind. And you've already seen Cyril the dragon. So why can't I settle in a comfort zone? And why do I always want to know more than I do?

Have you noticed? It's not just me. It seems to be a trait inherent in bead makers, no matter their level of skill or experience. If you can fume, you want to paint with enamel, if your dot placement is perfect, you want to sandblast, electroform and engrave. Is it just me, or is this hobby salvation for the easily bored, those always striving to push themselves somewhere new? Here's that first bicone. Lest we forget how far we all have come :-).

Saturday, 9 May 2009

I've been tagged

Thanks to the talented Kelly Boulter (whose stunning slate grey necklace I'm wearing whenever there's no danger my son will rip it off my neck!), I've been tagged. So........8s about me (all of them, in no particular order):

8 Things I'm looking forward to:

1) Cuddling my son in bed tomorrow morning
2) My garage getting done
3) Holiday in September
4) Meeting up with Becky in June
5) Getting my new torch & second oxycon
6) Growing old with hubby
7) The next Robert Crais book, whenever it might come out

8 Things I did yesterday:

1) Answer emails
2) Sort a room booking
3) Read about staff-student partnerships in HE
4) Make beads
5) Juggle toddler and laptop
6) Get petrol
7) Ponder whether I should buy a second torch
8) Have a take-away

8 Things I wish I could do:

1) Play the piano
2) Speak more languages
3) Be an amazing ballroom dancer
4) Make time to practise singing again
5) Turn wood
6) Make amazing boro sculptures
7) Sleep on demand
8) Resist the lure of chocolate

8 Shows I watch:

....aaah, I knew this would fall down somewhere. Okay, let's try.

1) Heroes
2) QI
3) Dr Who
4) Torchwood
5) Have I Got News For You
6) Read a book instead
7) Read a book instead
8) Read a book instead

Oooh, now I get to tag 8 people. Eek! Do I know eight who haven't been tagged? Okay.

4) Becci - Fired Silver
6) Alison - Alibali Jewellery
7) Veryan - Beadypool
8) Helen - Blue Fairy

Choo-choo bracelet

So many of my lovely customers have sent me photos of their creations, and I've been remiss in showing them off! You can see them in the customer gallery on my site, but I thought I'd take it in turns to give them more of the limelight! Speaking of lime, when Sarah Lamb of came to our stall at the Flame Off in Towcester and commissioned a train in pinks, turquoise and lime, I couldn't wait to see what she'd do with it. And here it is! 

Sarah's jewellery often features brightly coloured wire coils, it is so funky and fresh. I'm really chuffed (geddit?) that this little choo-choo made it into one of her creations!

Friday, 8 May 2009

A rose is a rose is a rose?

I'm making roses again. Lace beads were taking over for a bit, but now roses are back. And with them comes that extra bit of special acquaintance that I make with glass, that only comes with roses. Yes, on 'normal' beads, you can test how quickly glass flows, and countless reactions with other glass. But I need to make a rose to understand the glass itself. Not its relationship to other glass, just that one colour. For a rose, I need a gather. Some glass likes to gather, it just blobs happily. Other glass folds, and needs to be coaxed into just melting to itself. Some glass doesn't like the heat needed for a large gather, and burns or devitirifies.
I need to squeeze a petal. Some glass gets so molten, it makes the most fragile-looking petals. I need to be careful - customers want to wear these, not put them behind glass (although some have done ;o)). Others stay so thick, they look more like buttons than leaves. They'll need teasing later, to give them flow and definition.  Some don't like the mashers, and crack.
I need to bend the petals round the rose. Some melt so easily, the whole petal disappears before I can get the marver to it. Others stay rock soling like an ironing board, refusing to budge.
When all the petals are up, I need to tease the whole rose into shape, crimping, pulling, twisting each petal. Some glass doesn't like being teased. I understand that. I don't like beaing teased either.
Finally, if it's silver glass, there's a whole load more. Making a rose is perfect for striking glass. By default, the rose goes in and out of the flame, all the time. But glass that overstrikes is useless - it is impossible for roses, and only the last two petals turn out pretty. If it reduces, then what am I reducing? A rose has recesses - ever part of it is a different distance from the flame, protected by petals or exposed.
A rose is not a rose is not a rose - and that's why I love making roses. 

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

The last dregs

Yesterday, I needed new gas. Is that ever easy?? I think this is the fourth big tank I've gone through, so three exchanges. The first time, I got back to find out that the gas was 'dirty, and messed up all my beads. I had to go back and exchange it. The second time was after the floods, and I didn't realise the shop I exchange my gas at was affected - a trip in vain. Yesterday, toddler and I left early (read: I finished work early, picked up toddler ealy, and off we toddled). Toddler on one hand, 17kg (empty) gas tank in the other, we entered the shop. Got a new one in record time. Got to the till, got my card out (gone up in price! By a fiver, too!) - the card machine's not working. Only option, take toddler and race to the nearest cashpoint. Cars are stagnant outside, so it's a walk. No buggy. And the shop closes in less than 30 mins. Toddler goes up on shoulders, and off we race. Toddler was happy on the way there, but by the time we were on the way back, he was not a happy bunny. We did make it with five minutes to spare. So beads did get made last night. Hurray! Thought I'd share some of my handmade jewellery instead of beads...although, of course, they do include my beads, too. Have a nice day, everybody!

Enter the Dragon

I played with boro. Welcome to the Dark Side. I couldn't help it, there were all these large torches at the Flame Off, and the promise of bigger sculptures was too tempting. So I made a dragonfly. And then someone pointed at the dragon some proper artist had made (I still don't know who it was), and said 'why don't you make a dragon?

So I did.

I've never sworn so much (apologies) and laughed so much making anything. It fell apart, it got fused back together, and it's got clump feet. It's also not an 'it' - it's a 'he'. He's called Cyril, nd he's a swashbuckling daredevil of a dragon. And I love him.

I have just bought a kilo of boro rods from the fantastically talented Julie Anne Denton, who is moving to Switzerland and is shedding glass. Not literally. I'm half hoping she's infused these rods with some of her talent, which I'll then be able to pick up. I've also bought 'Flameworking' by Elizabeth Ray Mears - it came yesterday. Everything in place - apart from a second oxy. However, the lovely Becky has bought me 'Boro on one oxy', a tutorial. All I really need to do is to get started. Wah!!

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Message on a Bead

It's been so long since I blogged, it's disgraceful! And it's not like nothing's happened, either. I mean, there was the Flame Off!!! How could I not have blogged about that? Ah well, I wrote it up for the fabulous German bead making magazine Vorsicht Glas!, so once that's out, I'll shout it from the roof tops, and you can all buy a copy and learn German to read it ;o) Seriously, I will write something in a while, if only so I can post a photo of Cyril, the wonky dragon I made there!

But I'm just as excited about a more recent
 event.......the taming of the blasted stringers!! 
And as a result, I've been writing on beads. If anybody had told me that I would be offering custom Japanese/Chinese signs (kanji) and custom messages, I'd have laughed them out of the door :o) And yet......lo' and behold...I'm rather chuffed with myself, except now there's another avenue to pursue...hmmmmmm.....what beads should I make next?