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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Marbles of weight loss - a positive way to record the journey

Yep, forgot the password (really did) have moved house, started back at a full time admin job, been thrown out of our house because of asbestos contamination.... you name it, its happened so far this year.

But this is a glass blog, so I wanted to get some ideas down for a start.

I need to get onto murrini making and now that I have moved my lampworking equipment over to my Mum's temporarily I am starting a new project. I know, I know, I have many MANY half done projects, but I have an idea, it will get me back in the swing of glass and murrini making and should be fun and sort of functional.

I have got to take off some weight (the story of many fellow sufferers of those of us who happen to love eating - a LOT). 
I have quite a bit of weight to lose and I am going to make myself a series of marbles with murrini representing different weights and some just with positive messages.  I am going to make enough that I will be able to document my weight loss goal with them.

I am thinking of making them with the following messages/increments:
"1kg" loss marbles - nice ones
"1/2kg" loss marbles - relatively simple but nice ones
"5kg" loss marbles (which will be larger and more complex and probably have scenes with murrini inside)
Some small plain-ish ones that say "good try" or "nearly"
A couple that say "oops"

I want to pop them in a large bowl or vase and then slowly move them over to another bowl representing what I have lost. I am thinking this will provide me with a visual measurement of what I have achieved (ie. getting to see the build up of marbles in the "lost" bowl) and give me the satisfaction of moving them around each week and take a minute or two to think about my goals and achievements.  I am probably sounding completely crazy right now, but once I start I will show how I have gone.

This weekend will hopefully see the start of my Marbles of weightloss collection :-)


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Iiiimmmmmm Baaaaaccckkkk

Yep, after a shamefully long period of time I am back and want to try and blog my glassy journey once again.  Its not a good excuse, but I honestly could not remember my password to google - I really am a lazy bugger!

Since my last blog entry, I have been absolutely insanely busy with my glass.  I often struggle to keep up with demand, but to be honest this is often a combination of factors the most common ones being:

1. Genuinely busy with glass work and family stuff
Yep, sometimes I have a hugely long list of things all those lovely people want from me.  I am a devil for saying yes to nearly everything, I really do need to start saying no or putting some sort of caveat on taking the order (eg. it might be 6 months and you will have to remind me again).  I have three girls and a husband and it can get really insane running around for the kids stuff, I often scam off for my glass, but I really do have to participate in my families lives sometimes!

2. Being distracted by other ideas
Very very often I will be working on something and come up with some mad idea that quite frankly, MUST be made or attempted immediately - not next week, not tomorrow, not after I have made the things I should be doing ..... RIGHT NOW!!!!!

3. Lack of inspiration/self discipline
Oh dear, very very often I get asked for a particular glassy item and even though I might really love making that particular thing, suddenly I don't really want to make it any more.  Its not a performance anxiety thing and I haven't really worked out why my brain is being such a massive pain in the butt, but I nearly always need to make the thing that someone asked for immediately or I end up slipping it to the end of the list repeatedly.... usually once I actually make it I enjoy the process and wonder why I was being a pain in my own butt!

The self discipline issue has been a big one.  Particularly whilst I have been off work (admin office work that is) and have ALL DAY to saunter out to my torch and fiddle fart around checking the TV channels and maybe occasionally even do some housework before I finally light my torch.  Many times I have turned the kiln on and then not even lit the torch.... shameful (bad for carbon footprint too).

Now that we have moved house back down to Canberra (a house we actually own) we are shortly building me a brand spanking new studio.  Unfortunately I have to return to the admin work full time to pay for it... but I am hopeful that a reduction in available time will result in me being much more disciplined and encourage me to utilise my time more effectively when I can.  I THINK it is likely that I will be getting more hours at the torchface than I did before and hopefully in a more organised fashion .......  Wish me luck kind people!!! 

I will leave you with a pic of one of my borosilicate glass dongle necklaces.  Glass chain with a short rod holding a small marble at the each end.  This one has a mix of colours and shape murrini, some are commercial and lots are my own home made jobs too.  I am very proud to say that this one won its section and was put into the "standard of excellence" display.  I got a second prize in the bead section too and all together a wonderful prize total from Affordable Inspiration of $250... I had fun ordering a huge glass fest!

2013 Sydney Easter Show dongle necklace


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Five minutes of fame - Magazine profile coolness!

Well, I am hopeful that people all over Australia are running out to buy the latest issue (Vol 9 No 1)of Creative Beading Magazine and turn to page 24 to read my profile!!!!  What can I say, but... "Its Out"!!!!   Yahoooooo! 

I have never had something like this done before, so after I got over my intial surprise at being asked, I was excited and fearful in equal measure.  Excited, because lets face it, its not every day you see your own name in print let alone a whole profile on yourself.  Fearful, because what if the editors didn't realise that you weren't actually that important or accomplished or clever and when they write the article I sound like a knob!!!!   Well, thank goodness Sharon (or Shazza as I think of her) who wrote the article on me was absolutely lovely and extraordinarily clever at putting it all together.  She is a journalistic genius to make me sound so interesting and yet not resort to a single untruth!!!!  LOL

One part of my magazine article journey that really did not work out was the profile picture of myself... lets just say that my eldest daughter Grace and and I had about 500 digital photo disasters and then promptly gave up to let my beads speak for themselves

.... here were a couple of the rejects LOL (although I have used the one with my tongue out as a facebook avatar.... just to scare my mates mostly ;-) 

Along with making a huge effort to try and catch up with some orders and odds and ends, I have been manically working to get some stock into my etsy store.  A bit of a recent sideline has been making some tiny eyeball cabochons for use in jewellery design which has been fun.  I have decided to use them as a way of testing out some glass colour and frit, sort of like a sampler... some are human and realistic, but there are also some ring-in's and I have definitely had fun making a few zombie apocalypse style :-)

Here's a little handful of the eyes..... elicits many opportunities for Puns I reckon!!!

I am having a fabulous time with my glass lately...... I would spend all day and all night on my torch if I could... its a good feeling!!!!!    :-)


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Beads... beads and more beads!

Its actually interesting the way my brain works (but scary no doubt LOL).  First I work hard to get beads made, then I flitter off and do some off mandrel work.... then I flitter off again and try out some strange "I had a dream in the middle of the night" sort of torch session.  I really do wish I could exercise some self control and settle down to doing just the one thing each day!!!!

Given my excitement at the fact that Creative Beading Mazagine has just done a profile on yours truly.... not just a wee little mention.... but a whopping three and a half whole pages!!!!  I thought I should actually put some stuff into my etsy store... specifically some beads... just in case anyone wants a Natalie Monkivitch special if you know what I mean!

Well, when I checked the pathetic stash, there was hardly a bead to be found, so off to the torch I have gone... with a mission.... to make a set.  Yep for those that know me well the word set usually sets my knees to knocking and causes a watery feeling the bowels.... Set allergy it might be called (but slack arse lack of self discipline it really is)!!

I am very pleased to say that I did manage not one set.... but two fairly big (for me) sets.  I also got right into the swing of bead making again, not that I had stopped or anything, but I had definitely been distracted.  I have had a real ball with it.  First off here is the first set I made using scrap twisties off my workbench, they are italian soft glass and using the bead press (another thing I am usually averse to).
Green Scrap bead set
After being so pleased at the success of the first set, and with the satisfied feeling that I had actually knuckled down and achieved something, I made some twisties for a second set in different colours.  I hope everyone notices that I EVEN made the spacers to match..... yahoo!!!
Pink, blue and turquoise twistie scrap bead set

Amazingly I have managed to photograph them and list them in my etsy, although I will admit to a fairly lengthy delay in removing them from the mandrels and cleaning them.... I seemed to keep walking past and thinking of something more interesting to do ..... as other glass bead makers will attest... cleaning beads is not the funnest part of the whole process!!!

Of course I went back for a second torch session and made some off mandrel cabochons for some more pocket watches.... I particularly like this dragons eye one.... I don't even know why, but it looked rather cool in real life.  It probably won't sell or anything, but that is part of the problem with making things only to your own tastes... I hardly ever make anything yellow or orange unless it is for a particular person, its time I branched out a bit I reckon!!!

Dragons eye cabochon on pocket watch


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pocket watch fun.... and the cabochon has it!

My glass cabs glued onto the little pocket watches

Well, whilst conducting my usual late night "surf the large chinese supplier website because I can't sleep yet" internet use, I came across some really cute little pocket watches with rather cheesy porcelain cabochons installed on the front.   I thought to myself that these would look so much better with a nice glass cab on there and decided to dip my toes into negotiating with the chinese supplier to get something custom made..... little did I know that about 1 million (prob only really 50, just felt like more) emails later, it looked like they have made up exactly what I wanted.

So I paid, stalked the postage tracker until they arrived into my hot little hand......... Cute, great.... but not exactly what I wanted.  The big issue I had was that the surface of the watch where the cab gets glued is not exactly flat.... not even a little bit flat... bugger!

The domed surface for the cab to go onto
Well after some brain storming with a lampy friend Darcy we came up with the cunning plan to remove the front from one of the watches and try using it as a push mold on the back of a hot glass cab to give the perfect shape to cab for annealing and then later gluing on... it was a plan!

Watch I "killed" to give me the cab mold

So, even though i was still feeling a little bit under the weather, I fired up the kiln yesterday and tried out the idea using both borosilicate glass and then some soft glass.  I used the boro first (because the kiln was ramped up hotter to start with this, then I ramp it down later to the soft glass annealing temp).  I made up the cab using a slice of my recent boro butterfly cane in a large diameter... the cab was looking nice, so I heated the backside up nice and hot and plunged it onto the "mold".  First off there was some really nasty smells.... then a spitting sound and then when I lifted the cab up, this is what I found!
melted mold after first use
There is no doubt.... I killed it!  Clearly not made of stainless steel, but probably zinc or something.  In any case I was grateful for the good ventilation in my workspace thats for sure.

After this cab, I ramped down the kiln and resorted to plan B..... shaping the back of the cab by hand and just using this mold as a guage for diameter.  I tried using the stumpshaper (the curved bit) to make a concave back..... nope, not neat enough.  Then I tried using the back of a teaspoon and .....yahooo, it worked.  This option works, but is not completely ideal I do admit.  I am thinking of getting myself some graphite and sanding it into the shape I want and using that as a mold which would be MUCH better I reckon.

Some of the tips I got from this first batch other than shaping the back for gluing.... keep it slightly smaller than you think.... heat the back of the cab quite hard and then press down to give slimmer sides which sit nicely on the watch front.   I am thinking there are a complete raft of interesting things that can be done with these watches.... it has been a difficult track to run, but worth it in the end!
Butterfly cab glued onto pocket watch front.... this one was a little bit thick around the edges as my first one

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I can haz..... the flu! :-(

Yep, I have got it.... those dreaded lurgs that seem to be all over Sydney - aka influenza.    I don't want to spend my time blog whinging....(is that called Blinge-ing? LOL) but I have found it fairly difficult to get out onto my torch and actually melt some glass.  Interestingly enough it is not just due to incapacitation by illness.... it is my frame of mind and how being sick effects my creativity I think...... needless to say I have spend a fair bit if time in bed with the electric blanket set on 2, my ipad to play words with friends and pondering the great wonders of the universe... or my navel, whichever comes first ;-)

I thought I would share my experiences of lampworking when in different frames of mind.... sounds weird I know, but trust me - there appears to be a pattern here!

Good mood, kids well behaved and feeling fit
This is a conchatenation of ideal circumstances for me... I am happy and excited to be working, feel like I have almost unlimited patience and like to make really complicated objects de glass!  You can see from the examples below that I tend to use a lot of murrini when I am in a good mood:

aquarium focal bead

Back of burlesque bead

Feeling a little "out of sorts"
Hmmmm, you know that feeling when, well, nothing really excites you.  You feel fine, but just not terribly enthusiastic about anything in particular.  I often feel like this when I have an order to fill, I think the fact that I am somewhat constrained in what I will be making can sometimes stifle the fun out of the process.  I tend to feel this way EVEN if it is something that I really enjoy making, I am sure the psychologist types out there could easily research into what causes this particular reaction, but for me, it is just bloody annoying!  I do find that once I have made a start then it is all sweetness and light.... but 'till then, think Marvin the Manic Depressive Robot goes to work on the assembly line and you will have a closely matched thing to me walking out and lighting the torch!

Frog pond focal bead

Very badly shaped vomitus focal
Cranky or angry
Well, this is not the time to be torching for me, nothing good and NOTHING nice comes out of torching when I am in a bad mood.  The only advantage of Cranky torching for me, is that is can get the bad mood out of my system, unfortunately it is from punishing the glass somewhat though....ouch!    When I am in a bad mood, I slap the glass on, I try to force it to do what I want, when I want and how I want.... of course, it is an epic failure as a result.  To be honest when I cranky torch I could almost just get everything out of the kiln in the morning and throw it in the reject bin sight unseen, not because I am still cranky, but purely because it is ugly, unbalanced horrible stuff!

Cranky torching = beads barely safe for human eyes LOL

Distracted mood, is really thinking of other "stuff" not glass
Yep, I have torched in this stage and to be honest it is another one of those regrettable incidents that is only evidenced by more items in the reject bowl.  I have put eyes where eyes do not belong.  I have picked up the wrong colour and used it in the worse place (think murrini faces with a big birthmark) and have totally forgot to shape the base bead which means the end result is .... disturbing!

Fish..... sorta
Butterfly..... sorta

Sick... unwell.... think I am on the edge of death sort of thing
Oh yeah, most lampworkers have done it, and probably better than me, but when I am sick I am just incapable of taking any joy in melting the glass so I don't do it.  This is when I break out the dead bead graveyard  - clean off the shitty old soft glass rejects and whack then into a VERY hot kiln walk away and they into little puddles....voila, cabs!
Dead bead graveyard - cabs

Well, the only problem I can see with this journey of self discovery is..... how often am I actually in a good mood for glass.    Thank goodness I am usually in a good mood.... probably 6 days out of 7 I would say.... phew!  

There is one true exception to these observations of myself.... that is when, some middle of the night or heat of the shower bat crazy idea strikes.... all bets are off.... glass is melted in a frenzy - "things" are made!  LOL    All said and done, I think a positive frame of mind and approach to the glass will result in better work by yours truly.  I admit that it shows a distinct lack of self discipline, but that is how my crazy brain works and I like to operate on making interesting stuff... not production line work (even thought that would pay the bills, I hope my hubby Leo is not reading this one) !

Thursday, August 9, 2012

All Chained up

Well, following on with my theme of work progression I thought I would blog about my boro chain making and its still evolving state :-)

I started making some boro glass chain work after seeing a gorgeous necklace made by a lampworking friend that was a little bit...... organic in shape.  After some serious thought I came to the conclusion that I could make chain and fairly neatly if my idea worked.... off to the torch I went!  Here is the very first boro chain I made.  I made alternating Amber and clear links, partly so I could see where I was on the job and partly because I wanted something a little different than just clear at the time!

First boro chain work - 2009
At first to get my links really neat and round I used a piece of thick walled stainless steel tubing my husband Leo got for me at a garage sale which I clamped onto my workbench.  I could then heat the rod roughly to the length I required to wrap around the tubing then finished off each link using punty's (holding the work with a rod of glass for the unitiated).  If the shape was not quite right a large diameter graphite reamer did wonders.  Then came the tricky bit.... the joining links!   I found out fairly quickly that it was easy to accidentally fuse one link to the other.... accidentally face the flame past the link you were working on and cracking another one.....etc...etc.   I quickly worked out that working up under the flame was the way to go and using a small torch like a minor made the job fairly easy to be honest.

I made the chain...... I liked the chain..... but........ the chain was boring!  Yeah, I know I could have used different colour links, but that was not challenging enough..... enter... the dongle!

Momka sunflower cane murrini dongle necklace
Yep, following a good hot shower that nicely stimulated the grey matter, I decided to insert a section of rod through each link with a small marble at each end....... oh, clearly it worked, but OMG was it a nightmare to heat.  I found at this point that fighting the weight of the glass as the necklace built was very difficult and badly complicated how well sealed the punty should be.  To overcome that I made up a little wooden stand that I could sit the majority of the work onto underneath the torch... yeah it got scorched, but I reckon it saved the work from having a cracker of a time (if you get the pun) LOL   I also found a few problems with keeping the work warm given the large volume of glass on the first marble end when putting on the second one..... yep... many a crack occurred for sure!

I tried different dongle ends as the fancy hit me... bumpy ones, helix twist ones, murrini ones:

Bumpy dongle necklace
helix dongle necklace

Its sad to say, but I went through a real "dongle" phase.... everything got dongles on it, fun and fiddly, but time to move on again.  Thats when I decided I would try making some actual chainmaille in glass.... this is a fairly simple pattern, but it turned out quite well I thought

boro glass chainmaille

At this point I decided to go back and revisit the chain links itself...... coloured chain links made out of helix twist rod came out rather nice, but was a bit busy when put all together.... so I made some work using an alternating clear link!

Blue helix twist alternating Chain links
Then I had a play with the shape of each individual link.... here is my triangle necklace.  It sits rather awkwardly off the neck, but surprisingly looks really great when worn.  Bright and different, but definitely for the person who has some real sense of self and is a little bit out there I reckon!

Triangle chain necklace

I came up with another way to decoration the chain what would satisfy my need for fine stringer work (something I actually enjoy quite a bit) and still use the boro chain.  I made a couple of these necklaces, a gumblossom floral one and this ocean themed surface decoration chain linked necklace.  They were a ton of fun to make, but incredibly fiddly and I don't even want to think about the investment in time they took me, but they came out really beautiful in the end.  I am thinking I might make myself one of these, but flowers and butterfly murrini or something similar.

A glimpse of reef

I can't really say where I am heading with this chain work, but I know I am definitely not there yet.  One of the nicest ones I made was just clear chain, with clear dongles.... it looked like drops of water around your neck.  I am thinking I might make a clear fine chained small dongled clear one next..... that might look quite nice I think!

Seaspray necklace - clear chain, clear dongles