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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Lets hear your tiger ROAR!!!

Well in between sick kids, sick husband and being crook myself I have been a bit slack on the lampwork front lately but one thing I have knuckled down and finished this morning was .....da dada da...... my tiger murrini!!!!

I started with the eyecanes which I had to resist from making them blue-eyed... I have a "thing" for making eye canes blue, I have no idea why really, but I do! I ended up using a thin ring of opal yellow with CIM Ghee around as the coloured bit of the eye. I had totally forgotten about making the shape flat on the top at first and to try and fix it I simply heated the top of the cane (a lot) then squished it flatbefore filling in with the white around the outside. Thank goodness it worked out fine, though not as good as I wanted it to be!

Once I had made the eyecanes and the mouth area as planned I didn't realise that I had forgot to make the ear canes..... until I was halfway though constructing the murrini - don't you hate it when that happens!

I started by preheating two sets of mouth and eye canes (one set as a backup) to about 580deg C which means than when it is reintroduced to the glass it will not shatter! Normally I only go to 560deg but given that the canes are all sitting right next to my bead door at the bottom of the kiln I thought I would go up a little higher this time (for which I was grateful because the first mouth cane shattered into little bits but the second one survived). I worked this murrini from the mouth upwards and outwards, adding stripes and colour and building up to the cheek area before applying the eye canes, then finishing off the head until I liked the shape. I was fairly upset with myself when I realised I had forgot the ears, so I just made some up on the fly.... they worked ok I suppose. I then encases the head with clear between the ears and around to the sides, but left the neck unencased so that I can attach the murrini to a tigers body without causing difficulties. I also left one section of the pull really thick (about 1.5cm diameter) and kept it in the kiln to anneal and I want to use this bit to be cut on a a trimming saw, polish the slice then apply to a tigers head Loren Stump style (may be a bit too much for me... but you gotta try these things don't you!)

Onwards and upwards, this murrini is NOT perfect, but hopefully will be quite cute and recognisable as a tiger when applied to a bead at any rate!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Birth of a complex murrini idea - bring on the tiger

For anyone who is even vaguely interested, this is how I plan my complex murrini.

I start off with an idea of an animal or object. I then ask myself "how will this apply to a bead and how can it be used". I need to consider if I will make a murrini that is complete unto itself (a complete picture like a swimming frog) or it is something like my monkey face murrini which I can apply then add a body. Some murrini like feather murrini are applied, left raised then raked with a thin stringer of glass. Others are designed to apply but leave raised then heated so that the sides pull in to form flower-like designs.
Once I know how I want my murrini to be used, then I do some research. I have a look at the real-life animal pictures and if possible/available any cartoon style pictures too. I usually print off a picture that really shows the colours and shapes, then do a pencil drawing of roughly what I want to produce. Once I have a look at the drawing I then break it down into some component parts to make individual canes (eg. eyes, nose, legs, body etc.)
I usually start with the eyes as my first point, I find that they sort of set the feel of the whole murrini when constructing later.
My latest plan is to make a tigers face. I reckon the good think about a tigers face is you can have it peeping out of the grassy savannah, can make a cool stripy body and put the head on. I will make sure that I leave a good sized piece of fairly thick cane, should I decide later to build a body and apply the head too - but in the meantime I will pull some smaller cane to use on beads (which require fairly small diameter slices, but not miniscule).
Tomorrow I will at least do the eye cane and maybe the ear canes. This tiger murrini will probably take a LOT of work but I will update as I go!

Death of a cocky, birth of a flamingo!

Well after applying myself to making some lovely pink feather murrini (and some white with yellow for sulfur crested cockatoo's I will use later) I spent quite a lot of time making a very busy and quite large Pink Major Mitchell cockatoo bead......... it broke!!!! I think it was a combination of working a bit too large, being obsessed with the small details and not keeping the whole thing evenly warm..... and using one of my old mandrels that had the cheap crappy bead release on it (kept for making spacers ONLY).
After feeling "in my waters" that there could be issues with the cockatoo, one of which was just too much detail and very busy looking even before it went into the kiln, I thought I might make something else that required pink feathers........ a flamingo! I really slapped this one together, but yet, the kiln gods were pleased and this is what came out!!!!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Parrot prototype using rainbow feather murrini

Now, whilst I was in my recent murrini-fest obsession (still not out of it to be honest) I was going to make a parrot head murrini. I have in fact made parrot murrini before, early on in my murrini making career (if you can call it that) and after the gorgeous Jan Cahill showed me a beautiful bead made by the VERY talented Kim Fields I wanted to make myself a parrot bead in the Kim Fields style too. Sooooo..... rather than invest loads of time in making a parrot head (which would look rather two dimensional on a 3D parrot) I made some rainbow feather murrini which is fast and easy to make!

I had to force myself not to look again at the bead Jan showed, I did NOT want to copy in any way, but only use the memory of the bead for inspiration and this is what I came up with (and got out the kiln this morning).I am quite pleased with the look of the bead, but feel that I can make VAST improvement on the placement of the green feathers and the colour of the rest of the parrot. You can see the rainbow feathers on the back look quite good, but I am also thinking that I need to make some feather murrini with different colour combos to more accurately imitate real life parrot colours! I do think the murrini would have looked better with the Pea Green as the end colour and therefore show more of that colour which would blend better with the rest of the green feathers!
Oh well, live and learn. I am thinking that I might try to make some pink graduated feathers and apply myself to making a Major Mitchell pink cockatoo! I was also thinking that some pink feathers would look good on my mate's (Maxine - glass by girlfriday) Pink Flamingo's.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bravery Beads program by Cure Our Kids

Well, I have been particularly slack of late and feeling commensurately guilty about not sending in some of the beads I have made for Cure Our Kids Bravery Bead Program. Here's the latest bundle to send off .

Bravery Beads is very similar to the Beads of Courage run in the US health system. Bravery beads rewards children who are terminally ill with different beads for different tests and treatments which they add to strings which sort of map where they have been and what they have gone through. Most of these beads are commercially available ones donated by larger businesses, but they also like to have some "specials" for special occasions which are made by lampworkers like myself. Quite a lot of the aussie lampwork community have supported the program by making some standard sets which are given to each child on the program and myself and others have also made some regional beads which are given to the children to identify which hospital they are based at. Here is one of the beads I made for a hospital on the north coast of NSW, the unit was called the Possum Unit so thats what I did!

I got my finger out recently and made a few other beads to send in. One of the most popular ones that I have come up with was my X-ray bead. I actually made some white skull murrini to apply to them as well and I reckon they have come up even better now using this. Bravery Beads told me that these x-ray beads were treated like "gold nuggets" at the hospital and could I please send some more.........OF COURSE!!!!!!

I made some "people" beads too which are small but fairly sturdy (we can't have a bead breaking on a sick little kid!) and these were quite fun to make. I am determined to make some more each time I torch!
There are always a few extras to send along too, now I need to make some more dogs heads for the PET scan etc.! I have been trying to make at least one bead for Bravery Beads program each time I sit at the torch, but slackened off a bit. Now to make up for my laziness, I am determined to make at least 3 each time I sit at the torch and send a parcel once a month!!!!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Putting a smile on your dial

Yesterday I was having a big think about how to get a cute smile on a small bead and had a quick look through some of my collection of ex-dental tools. In there was a sort of scoopy one, so I showed it to Leo and he ground it back half way for me and viola....... a smile maker.

I have been particularly guilty about my slack efforts for the bravery beads program lately (have not been keeping up at all with my once per month parcel of beads..... its been nearly 6 months) so I thought I would use the newly created smile imprinter to make a few "people" beads. It worked fantastically!

After making quite a lot of Bravery Beads I felt inspired to see what else I could do, so I made a torso to match the head. The glass moved in mysterious ways and produced to me what looked suspiciously like a bridal gown:

After making the bridal gown I thought I should make a bride's head to match and this is what came out:

Then the next project, pretty lady goes to the races in 19th Century (don't even ask where this came out of my brain, sometimes I even scare myself) and this was the result. I was getting a bit Frustrated with not having canes premade so she was a put thrown together colour wise, but I have made a few colourful ribbon canes for my next efforts today.

I did have fun making the hat though!

Buggered if I know what anyone would use them for, Leo suggested I make a groom as well, like cake toppers. I am thinking a pirate might be much more fun!!!!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Murrini Fest - addicted to making murrini ;-)

Yep, I have always been fascinated with murrini.... always!

For those who do not know what murrini are, it is where you construct a picture in glass then heat and stretch out into a cane. When you slice the cane there is the picture in each slice and you can insert these into your other glass creations - like little tiny works of art! For anyone who has had the hard candy that has a picture in it or fancy sushi then you have a good idea of how its done.

I started making myself some murrini when I had only been lampworking for 6 months eventually I graduated to making complex face canes and feeling rather pleased with myself until I did the Loren Stump course last year and learnt how to do it so much more easily and with better results. Its a bit embarassing to look back at the early attempts now and to think of the dodgy pulled where I ended up with a thick stringer between two dogbones of glass!

I have been making lots of aquarium or ocean related murrini over the past 12 months and last night made some black tip reef sharks and some leafy sea dragons too. I am still in the mood for making some multiple pull complex cane murrini, but have yet to decide what I want to do (I have made toy police cars, swimming frogs etc. before but want something brightly coloured and interesting).

I have also decided to write up a fairly comphensive tutorial on different ways of using murrini - this is not going to be an item that I sell or anything (I wouldn't be so presumptuous) but loads of people ask how to use them and it would be easier to have something written with some pics! I might have to see if some lampy friends could proof read it for me and try it out to see how clear I have been.

Easter Saturday and the house is empty - three girls gone shopping with Dad......YAY!!!!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Pink Bling floral necklace - sparklefest on chain!

Ask anyone who knows me - I am not a pink frilly/fluffy sort of girl at all.... Yet, this necklace was a concept piece that turned out very sparkly and just a little bit pink!!!!

I used the bellflower press and some clear boro glass and bent each petal ridge out to give the impression of an open flower. After making the clear ones, I was thinking about just a hint of pink with clear around the edge, but I was a litle bit heavy handed on the pink compared to what I had planned - still it came out fairly nicely anyway!

I love the clarity of the clear boro on this, but felt like the sparkliness was a bit over the top with the swarovski crystals, Czech crystal balls and Miyuki clear ab cubes...... bit jarring to the eyeballs, but would be nice for a formal evening when something blingy is the thing you want!

I am thinking of making some sets of the flowers to list in my Etsy....hhmmmmm, but the laziness may kick in first!

I had a dream last night about a macaw murrini....... I am feeling very like making some murrini right now - I will post up some results in the next few days!