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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Taking the next big step.... Gallery work!

Ok, I have sort of been teetering on the cusp of being ready for some gallery level artistic work - both in a technical know-how sort of way and also emotionally if you know what I mean!  Essentially I think I am ready to enter the scary and possibly incomprehensible world of Art (note the capital A on that word).  Whilst I do think I am not made of the right sort of stuff for the beard stroking "juxtaposition" using art world, I am hoping that my work will speak for itself. 

You may be wondering why I have taken this path and why now - interestingly enough it was borne of a strange mix of encouragement by others mixed with a healthy dose of the poops with one individual!

 A short while ago I met a very highly respected artist who is a friend of a friend and I had been told that this person was "lovely".  Unfortunately when I met this person, they literally looked me up and down and I was found wanting, they then sat with me and the other person for more than thirty minutes managing to not speak, nor look in my general direction (I am sure there would have been a good fart in my direction if that had been possible too, such was the lack of friendliness).  Whilst my own murrini were marched out in an effort by the host to engage us both in conversation I was left feeling like a complete non-entity.... the questions on MY WORK were asked of the host.... then host then (being positive and enthusiastic) was answering........... interestingly after this experience I did tell the host exactly what I thought of the Artist in question (rude being the most mild description I could think of) and it was suggested that the artist is good to know and can help my career and get my work into galleries........... PIGS ARSE was I ever going to let that rude bugger help me............ sorry I didn't mean to degenerate into a rant, but I would rather stay incognito for ever than owe them a favour!

I have stewed over this person and thought in a stubborn way that I would try to get my own work into a gallery.... of course being a complete fool I decided to ring two of the most well-known and posh galleries I could think of... I have sent off the pics and..... consquently have not heard back!  One lady was very helpful and explained to me I was making the mistake of thinking every man and his dog could put stuff if thier posh gallery..... (she said they get about 20 or so emails with pictures of peoples work every day asking for consideration).  I did explain that I had actually shopped in thier gallery myself on a number of occasions (buying anniversary gifts for old bosses of the truth be known) and she was much friendlier after that.....

....... STILL haven't heard, but every time I think I will give up the whole idea.... well, I make more stuff to take into other galleries some time.  I think I will just have to work my way up the ladder and maybe enter some of the big glass competitions sometime.......aaaaarrrrgh!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Glass clasp solution.... and the toggles have it!

I am in a good mood today, I finally completely and utterfly finished my fancy dongle necklace and even made a clasp for it.

I have spent many hours trying to work out a clasp solution for the glass necklaces and last night, thought well .... bugger it, I will try making my own glass toggle clasp.  The added bonus of making a glass clasp is that 1. it will match the necklace and 2. I can genuinely say that the necklace is completely and utterly glass in its ENTIRETY!

I had given making glass toggle clasps a bit of a rip in the past and needless to say had only limited success.  They did work, but looked unwieldy and ugly and I suppose I didn't have the experience I do now and they weren't particularly neat and round so I was loathe to put one of those ugly monstrosities onto my painstakingly made dongle necklaces....... but I have now changed my mind!

Here is a pic of the toggle I made last night for the latest necklace.  I decided to use some of the helix twist cane for the loop rather than just some clear and I think it looks great.  I used a short bit of helix cane with clear blobs at the end for the toggle bit and just measured the whole thing as I made it.  Actually I did stupidly make the toggle stick first and then had to match up the loop...... the second one I made I did the other way around and that was MUCH easier!  I also found that if the loop is more of an oblong shape then the toggle stick is easier to get in lengthways and then sits better at one of the smaller ends.  The other issue I had to sort out was how to get the whole shebang to sit nicely.  I had put a stem on the toggle stick and found that if I bent that stem at nearly right angles it sits beautifully against the neck!

Oh, you might see that I also popped my signature against the loop end too..... had to sneak in somewhere didn't I. 

Below is a pic of where I thought I would try something a bit new.... a bit "dangly-er".  Here is a pic of the start of that next experiment.......... I am obviously having some fun with these, even though they take hours and hours at the torch (the dongle necklace took me more than 12 hours of torch time counting making the chain (which I am getting much faster at) then making the components for the dongles (either murrini or helix twists) and then of course, putting the lot together.  Interestingly it is all worth it when its finished off, definitely some job satisfaction to be had there!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Clasped to the kiln floor!!!!!

Well, its not quite as bad as it sounds, so everybody relax!

I have been on a true marathon of dongle necklace and bracelet making (8hrs torch time yesterday alone) and thought I would try a bit of an experiment.  My glass chain necklaces are a bit of a challenge to work out a perfect clasp (I usually end up making a slightly bodgy toggle clasp out of glass to match the necklace), but the bracelets are extremely difficult indeed.  I personally do not like toggle clasps on a bracelet anyway, but on a glass one..... ppppffft!  The glass chain jewellery does NOT  survive being dropped, my hubby explained in some complicated physics-y way about transfer of energy or somethin'.... well, they almost explode into the original component parts if dropped onto a hard floor... I know, because I did it... twice!  Therein lies the issue with the toggle clasp on a bracelet, let alone a tedious delicate and dare I say it.... bit expensive bracelet for someone! 

After lots of looking about I just happened on some large ornate-ish parrot clasps in a local bead shop.  They are the idea size, but I don't like putting base metal findings on something like this.... still, in the interim I thought I would try out the clasps.  The funny thing is I thought I would be a complete smart-aleck and attach the clasp using a glass ring which would then go through an annealing cycle in the kiln......... hmmmmm!  The great mystery was going to be how would the clasps survive? would they turn black? would they melt?  Well I popped a cheapy clasps on two bracelets and left in the kiln last night (leaving the clasp end right near the door at the bottom front in case that helped at all).  I was overjoyed to see that they did survive, unfortunately the little lever bit did not.... It melted right out and left two little puddles of "metallic stuff" on the bottom of the kiln (luckily just picked off).  Here is the offending articles afterwards!

On another more positive note, I did mostly (I found one link missing a dongle this morning DOH) finish the necklace and then went on to make a rather cute tiger stripe bracelet.  I also came up with the cunning plan to use one of my name murrini to end off the bracelets which was pretty cool.

Oh, I piled up the two bracelets and the necklace which made a fairly cool photo and let me bask in the results of two days of fairly solid torch time....... YEAH!!!!!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Evolution of a glass necklace

I thought I might to steer somewhat clear of the murrini fest over the last few days and have decided (finally) that I would make a couple gallery quality pieces. I have done the boro chain and dongle style before (something I dreamt of then tried and it worked quite well) and the bottom picture is one of my early efforts using some purple handmade murrini in the marbles on the ends of each dongle. This was using some 3mm chain and I kept each dongle quite short. It is really nice to feel and is actually very comfortable to wear but I did move onto larger 5mm diameter links with large dongles which were very flamboyant indeed.

I have decided to try out a slightly new style of this necklace using finer 3mm stringer chain once again, but with much longer dongle-y bits in all different lengths and colour combo's. I also resisted the urge to use murrini in the ends and instead, I am going to use little tiny helix twists (a technique learnt from the lovely Justin at imagine creations) on each end. I have made a start yesterday (well by start I mean about 6hrs of torching to get to this point) and thought I would show off how it is going. I have only done less than half of the dongles so far, but you can see it will be busy, but hopefully interesting as well.

I wanted something that still had the movement (chain and dongles all move around loose) but looked a bit busier than the fine stuff usually did.  After I finish this one off, I am thinking I might make a big chunky one again...... WAY less hours of work to do the big stuff for sure.    I will try to remember to upload a pic of the final result.  The only issue I have now is finding exactly the right clasps for these buggers.  I have made glass ones which don't feel completely safe and did find a fabulous large ornate parrot clasp design that was perfect..... just not precious metal!  I think I might buy a few large parrot clasps in sterling silver at about $20 each, it would be a bit of a waste to spend days upons days making this style to throw some cheap-arse crappy clasp on it..... it seems there is always a challenge some days!

Original dongle chain testing with murrini

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Reopening the Etsy shop..... What to sell?

Well, here I am again, still on a murrini making fest..... something I have a feeling might stick with me actually!  BUT.... I have finally bitten the bullet and reopened my Etsy store.  It has been shut for nearly a year now and that is a little bit embarassing to be honest, but now I am in a quandry..... what should I sell in there. for anyone interested!

I don't intend on selling murrini, I am happy with the arrangement to sell via Affordable Inspiration ( which saves the local glass buying public postage fee's and me the hassle of adminstering, advertising etc. the products and mailing them off then panicking about how fast they will get there.  Although maybe if I do make some larger complex murrini and go to the trouble to polish them etc. I may sell the odd slice for collectors, but I hardly think that would be a frequent thing I will indulge in.

I do have lots of experimental stuff, that in the past I would list under my kiln trash'n'treasure category.... these are things I don't think are quite what I was aiming for and therefore are unhappy with them.   Sometimes it will be the colours I used or how they came together or the shape of a sculptural bead that does not match the picture of what I had aimed for in my head.  I can totally understand the thought process of only listing "the best of the best and stuff I am proud of", but in reality, what I am proud of for technical reasons, may not be what the bead buying public want.  In the past my kiln trash'n'treasure category on Etsy was by far the best seller.  I price things in this area quite cheap, I feel I can't ask a lot for something that irritates me and also if I keep it in the house too long it is at risk of being cabified (melted in the kiln to a puddle) or fritilised (crushed into flakes I can use as decoration on another bead).

Hmmmmm....... I think I am leaning towards the slightly cheap and cheesy option of selling off what to me is a bit weird in the Trash'n'Treasure area and to worry about the impression that I am also cheap and cheesy to boot..... LOL, maybe I am!!!

On the bead front, above  is a pic of my latest experiment into boro implosions.... honeycomb with a bee.  I will also pop on a pic (just the slightly bodgy end) of the bottom half of my new signature cane.... the year!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bad timing = bad murrini pull

Well here I am back again and this time with a tale of woe (not really VERY much woe, but just a little).

I have been busily making extra cane pulls of my 3D ladybugs and whilst in the middle of pulling out to large diameter cane.... right at the critical point..... out comes Rose one of my twin 9yr olds who sort of sneaks up (well walked up boldly behind me in actuality) and says very loudly just behind my ear.... "MUM".  Needless to say it scared the beejesus out of me, I jumped, I screamed (just a little) but worse of all..... I very quickly pulled my hands jerkily apart after very carefully heating my murrini just perfectly.  It probably goes without saying that the heating up part and the picking just the right time to pull out is really, really REALLY critical on a 3D pull, even more so than on a regular round encased murrini.  I had in fact left this pull just a bit too hot and was balancing the heat and the fluidity (don't you love that word.... flu-id-it-tee) to use gravity to help me even out the balance with this disaster occurred.

I am quite ashamed to say that I yelled "Rose, look what you've done" which was an instant response that I had to go inside afterwards and cuddle her and say sorry.  After consideration, how much of this was her fault..... none would be the logical answer!   I thought to myself that really, I am a mother first of all and when my kids want to come and ask me for an icecream or break up an argument, my first loyalty lies with them, not the glass........ but that glass.... it is insidious I tell you.  When I am working I am very nearly oblivious to the outside world, it is part of its charm to be honest.  Who cares about an unpaid phone bill when you are holding liquid glass? or whether the kids have an icecream for dessert?   Well, I think I might need some further consideration of this dilemma.  Not torching when the kids are out of bed is one answer, but when the glass calls to me with its siren call..... well, I cannot find it in myself to ignore the call!!!

I reckon I have made well over 100 murrini by now and recently had been sitting high on a secure knowledge that I "know" how to pull murrini exactly how I want to to pull it turned out I was wrong, the world encroaches and we have to allow for that (especially with kids).  But in any case, here is the offending pull, complete with a bit of regular cane pull for comparison......  Geeze and I thought I was all grown up with murrini pulls.........

Friday, June 3, 2011

Thinking ahead....

Well, people that know me well will know that I am a real bugger for not anticipating "stuff".  I am the girl who goes to the shops at somewhere like Aldi with no bags and is left trying to juggle 20 items in the front of her jumper and get the money out at the same time.  I am the girl who pulls up to the pay parking exit and then realises that the parking card is in her bag, in the boot of the car... and I am the girl who remembers five minutes before visitors come that she has not vacuumed, done the dishwashing or cleaned the toilet......

I am also frequently the girl who is halfway through a bead that requires a particular colour stringer and realises she not pulled any........  you can see where I am going with this I am sure.

With my murrini making on the other hand I do seem to be finally learning from past mistakes, perhaps this is aversion therapy at work....  ie. go to put the next component onto the complex murrini gather and realise that the component in question is resting all lovely and still cold beside the kiln, not in it!

Nowadays I go through the whole thing in my head, like those elite athletes.... each movement, each component, each tool I will require are all selected and put where they will best serve me before I light my torch....

I make sure I line my components up in my kiln to prewarm in the order that I will require them, configured in such a way that they are easy to grab and grab them in such a manner that I do not have to juggle things around before putting them together. 

Here's an example of preheating in my kiln, on the left (closest end to where I work), I have my new christmas beetle body components, the left end one is facing end on so I can pick it up with a boro punty with a blob of 104 on the end easily, but the second part of this one is side on.... why? you might ask, but to get the second component onto the first I use the haemostats to pick it up, thats where the side on comes in handy.  I have found when preheating component canes and reintroducing into the flame it is much better to grab the murrini with haemostats at the sides and so the second slice is sitting sideways to easily grab that one and apply onto the first the right way around. 

The ladybird canes are ready to grab with a punty, put some clear scrap and pull out to bead diameter (3-6mm).  Now the canes have been soaking for about 1hr so its off to the torch for me.

Have a great weekend everyone!!!!  

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Something bugging me!!!!

Well, not really much to be honest, but I am really wondering about something murrini related......
..... what the hell are people doing with so many ladybird / ladybug murrini.  Once I started stocking these at Affordable Inspiration they seem to be literally flying out the door.  I am struggling a little to keep up with making them!!!  Don't get me wrong I am totally not complaining at all, I think it is really fabulous that people like my murrini enough to go and buy them, but I would dearly love to know how these little fellas are being used!

I learned from Loren Stump how to make these little 3D murrini and they are fabulous for placing on the outside of a bead or of course for use in paperweights.  At the time I was soooooo impressed at being able to learn a 3D pull (one without clear surround and maintains the shape of the glass) that the fact these little beasts were so very cute eluded me.....  Yep I went off and made a cartoon police car to see how far I could take this 3D thing.  I was very pleased with the outcome, but it was a complete poop to cut up... still fun though!

I am now thinking that perhaps something that might really be cute and different would be some little bugs (like the ladybugs) that were made out of metallic glass and with some judicious reduction could come out something like christmas beetles..... I think it might be time to go and have a troll at Flickr to see of some bug enthusiasts have some inspiration pics for me today........ FUN!!!!!!!!!