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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cab me up scotty! but throw some beads in for good measure!

Yup, I have made cabochons before, but mostly those cheating puddle of glass which I generally refer as my dead bead graveyard.  You know the ones where you clean your dodgy old beads really well then ramp the kiln up to "puddle-ising" temperature and then ramp back down through an annealing cycle.  Well, on my list yesterday was to make a few off mandrel more complex boro cabochons.  I figured it would be MUCH easier to make these off mandrel than to use a cabochon mandrel and then have the buggers fall off.  Generally speaking I find that working with boro is hard enough on the bead release and mandrel let along expecting it to cling precariously onto a flat surface... plus it is not really necessary.

I thought I would make a couple owl cabochons first off and after making the first one realised... woah, how would someone cab around the ears and head?  So to help out I popped on some clear in those areas so the back of the cab was basically oblong and at least rounded off somewhat but left the  owl sort of raised up a bit.  After this first one and the fiddling about with the clear, I figured I might as well try making a small flattish owl and then applying that to a flat disc of clear and see how that works out.... much better and easier to do as it turned out.  The large blue owl (with the slightly smudgy eyes after all my buggerising about with the backing) was the first one and the little white owl is the one I applied separately.

The other cabochons I worked on which could be fun for the seed beady types to play with was some eyeball cabs.  They came out well and were rather easy to make, but I am getting dangerously low on that lovely iris cane, so I might have to give them a break for a while I reckon. 

Here is a pic of some of yesterday's efforts, cabs and some beads.  I have popped a couple beads onto beadable pendant bars for selling at our local florist (someone I have been promising some stock to since May..... BAD Nat!) and since that is on my list of to do's I am starting to get them ready for her.

Have a lovely week everyone,

Nat :-)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Making a list and.... checking it twice!

I am a chronic procrastinator... it is quite true, at least where it concerns custom orders.  I really do try not to take any of them to be honest, but ... well, they do seem to slip in.  Its usually to help out a friend or of course the dollar gets me sucked in, after all its nice to know that what you make is already sold!  But, I find personally that it totally kills my lampy mojo and I don't enjoy the process at all.

I have managed to find myself with rather a long list of "things to do" that I have carefully sidestepped around for some time.  This morning I decided to actually write them down on my whyteboard near my torch and go through them one by one in a planned approach that I could even have the satisfaction of ticking each one off.  In a slightly naughty way I wanted to work boro and soft directly into the kiln and this is how I approach this conundrum....  I wrote my boro items onto the list first off and ran my kiln at the hotter temp needed for boro.   Once I crossed the line to start working soft glass (yes there was an actual line on my list to remind me) I ramped down my kiln to the soft glass temperature and then worked through some of them.

Did I get to the end of the list you might ask.... the answer is NO, but I got more than 1/3 of the way through the list of odds and sods that I have put off.  I shall rewrite my list for tomorrow and include some of the bigger jobs (restocking murrini for Affordable has to be on top of that list I reckon) and so I shall dose up on some headache medication (I have been having headaches for over 3 weeks and a CT scan is being threatened by the doc).

I can't wait to melt glass again tomorrow and it felt really great to package up and send off a few orders that have been patiently waiting.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Sun.... the SUN.... quick!!!!

Yup, that was my catch-cry this morning when I woke up and realised that there was actually some sun showings its face this morning.  After a week of overcast rainy weather I was VERY keen to get out and photograph some beads.  It has to be said that the boro beads in particular take much nicer photos in the sun than otherwise and so dressed very sharply in Ugg boots, pyjama pants, ratty old coat and no bra with hair sticking out in all directions I armed myself with the camera, the beads and a white bust.  I am fairly sure some of the neighbours will not recover from the scene for years to come and I definitely got a few interesting looks, not all directed at the fact that I had a jewellery bust on top of Leo's car roof and was taking photos I am sure.

First off I have been making some owls out of boro lately.  This was borne from the eyeball crafting and somewhat inspired by seeing the last Harry Potter last week.  I also have to give a nod to a very talented lady called Beth Knapp Tyner who makes the most lovely owl and bird beads out of soft glass (see her etsy store here ) for inspiration.  Beths Owls are incredibly realistic and not is not at all what I am going for, but her form and colour are just wonderful.

Anyway, whilst the sun was out I took a quick pic of this dongle necklace.  It is plain with no murrini which went against the grain somewhat but it is an order, so it had to be done.  I think it came out looking a bit like drops of rain or bubbles of water and quite like it now its done.  Unfortunately making the dongles clear did not really save me much time at all which was a bit annoying.  I still have two half finished and one more to make which definitely keeps me out of trouble!

ps. I am sorry if I appear rude and don't reply, but I have not been able to post a reply on blogger for ages..... I have tried and tried and its just keeps making me log back in...... I shall try to sort it out, but in the meantime please know that I appreciate the comments greatly, thank you!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Eye eye! I will be keeping an eye on you!

Hahaha, yep and the bad puns can roll on...and on... and on!

 I have working slowly on my next dongle necklace and .....ta dahhhhh, its got eyeballs on it!  I know, I know, its the next level of crazy (not to mention a gazillion hours of torch time), but I think it will have a real impact when it is finished.  I am finding the odd momka cane I am using for the iris really interesting in that one will come out bright blue, then one will come out with green flecks, then one will come out with a green ring around the outside etc.  It seems really random and I am trying to see if striking the glass helps bring about this change or not.... so far I have not been successful in controlling the colour change effects, but I am happy with some random-ness in my life on occasion (it will irritate me just a little tiny bit until I work it out though).

I thought I would just have a quick posting tonight, I will have some more interesting stuff to chat about tomorrow I think!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Experimenting with japanese print inspired style

First off, it has to be said..... no I did not do a class with Anastasia recently (or ever), but I suppose there is only so many looks you get with enamels on a base bead and some stringers thrown on!

Well, I have a burning need to make some beads lately, both for monetary reasons and for creative satisfaction.  I have been playing just a little with some enamels and these top two are the results of that playing.  I made them both on a base of devardi glass and used some thompson 104 enamels in two different tones just laid beside each other to give me a sort of interesting base.  It has to be said also that once the enamel is melted in, it felt like it gives a nice surface for some stringer work to me (now that was a pleasant surprise).  I have been working on a series of japanese print inspired beads and wanted something reminiscent of cherry blossom branch pattern.  They don't look japanese I am sure, but the effect was nonetheless quite nice and I was happy with the colour and form of these.  I really think that next time I need to use some of the gorgeous reichenbach porcelain white for the blossoms to give the really dense bright white and allow for really fine tiny dots too.... shall add that to my cart with Affordable for sure :-)

After these cherry blossom brances I tried something a little more strange again..... some bamboo stringer work..... I REALLY don't like how this came out, but I do admit that if I used a base of white and just kept the bamboo a little simpler and took a little more time to make the bamboo finer it still has some possibilities.

Now this third one I made whilst thinking more about Japanese prints and was a very quick and dirty job (please excuse the bad pic too).  I decided I wanted a cherry blossom effect which I was quite dissapointed with as it bled quite a bit (shouldn't have used that intense black now should I) and the blossom dots were clunky and I didn't take much time with the shaping, but hopefully you can see where I was headed.  I wanted it to look like a japanese print on a wall!  I also masked off a branch shape at the top and the centre feature area, then etched this fella.... Definitely needs to be sorted out but once again its a start.

This was one of those days when nothing turned out how I wanted it to turn out, and yet was not a complete dissapointment either.  I have loads of ideas for some new directions to try out now and that sort of inspiration is always welcome!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

And the "eye's" have it

I have been off line over the last week or so for a number of reasons....
1. General slackness
2. Lost camera and therefore nothing to show off
3. Jaunting over to my friends glass studio to melt glass

The most pleasurable of the three was of course going to Goglass studio ( and melting a pile of the lovely Gail's glass into "stuff".  The other exciting thing was that Gail has not long ago returned from the GAS (Glass Art Society) conference over in Seattle, USA with loads of info, new toys and tools and even some gorgeous Momka borosilicate glass (odds, 2nds and testers etc.) that she gave me some of...... gotta love that lady!!!!!

When I have got home, first off I resisted the urge to commit some of the interesting odd rods to murrini-i-fication (anything that looks interesting at the rod end is at risk of this around me I will totally admit).  Today I could resist no longer, there were some really cool looking rods that had loads of tiny weeny little inclusions that pretty much just look like heaps of tiny stripes.... I thought.... oh, now that might make a really cool eye iris if I let the centre pull in and just pop on a black dot for a pupil then lensed in some clear..... and indeed it did!!!!

Here is a couple of the efforts from today, I am hoping they are not too strange for someone to wear and I particularly like the larger one with the fine white twisty pattern around the edge.  Sorry about the slightly dodgy pic, it was taken inside and with my daughters cheap and nasty camera!!!

This interesting cane slightly struck to a blue / green tinge and with the lense on top looks rather realistic!!!!  My husband Leo now apparently is in desperate need of a white eyeball marble!!!!!!

I don't really like those eyeball pendants with lids on them - just creep me out a little, but I can see the lure now I have a wide open eye pendant.  I thought they might be good for those who like the Turkish style keep-the-evil-eye-away type pendants.  I told the kids I would make an earring set and hang them backwards on my ears so I can say I have eyes in the back of my head...... ha ha ha ha!  I also threatened to make Leo a brown eye....... with some brown toned stripy cane of course ;-)

One upsetting thing is of course that these canes are real one-offs, they are not production and I don't think will ever be no matter how much fun I am having with them.  Here is where the hoarder in me rears its ugly head telling me to put them away safely for when I really need that special thing..... aarrrrrrrggh!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Blast from the past.... using some VERY early murrini

I cannot blame the lovely Mr Loren Stump COMPLETELY for my murrini obsession, although he does bear a great measure of responsibility for the improvement in them thats for sure.  Every once in a while I go through my murrini stash and come across some of the early first ones.... usually this makes me scrunch up with some shame and think that I should hide them somewhere they can't be seen by the general public, but not yesterday.

I often participate in the monthly bead challenge run by the gorgeous Jan Cahill ( ) on our local glass bead makers forum here in Australia ( ) and this months challenge is Fantasy!

I had made up my half of a dragonfly cane,was quite happy with that and was in the mood to try a bead or two for the challenge.  I decided that if I cut some thin slices of the dragonfly wing components off the dodgy end of the pull they might make a cool fairies wing (possibly cooler if they didn't have black outlines).  So I threw a couple in the kiln and made a bead.

The process I use when just sort of playing with this type of bead is a bit painful you could say.  Because I sort of want it to grow as I go along there is no pre-planning (apart from the wing component) and I end up scrambling around looking for bits and pieces with a hot bead waving around like a mad woman.  I decided that I would try some enamel on the bottom of a fairy simple tab bead which once I had made that base decided I wanted some simple murrini flowers on there....... MAD crazy-arsed dash to the box of floral murrini to find the old simple ones I made a couple of years ago.  Once I got them onto the bead I decided I wanted a full fairy and now needed some ivory stringer... juggling of the mandrel and the rod in the same hand ensued.... once done I wanted a component cane in purple for the dress.... more juggling and swearing... I am sure you get the picture!

When I put legs and arms and a body with a dress onto the bead, I realised this fairy needs a face of a certain size.... Going through my randoms box of murrini in one hand whilst try to keep the bead warm in the other must have looked odd, but finally I did find a bag of small faces (from a time when I pulled everything too small).  The very FIRST face cane I had ever made, complete with non-matching sized eyes and a too small mouth.... I had got to the point where I no longer cared which face, just any face will do so I grabbed one of the murrini I NEVER use and usually hide.  Surprisingly the size was just right and once I had thrown on a shock of hair she looked quite good.  I popped on one of the dragonfly wing slices and sort of wrapped it around the bead, because it was really too big, but I was really over the drama by now and just wanted to finish up I went ahead.  I also decided that since this bead was going to look really bad anyway I might as well try out a small slice of the 2011 signature cane and see how well it applies next to my signature monkey face..... quite well as it turns out!

Here's the results.   I think this bead is an example of two wrongs can actually turn out ok.... not perfect, but definitely OK!!  She is rough there is no doubt about it, but it is a good start for some new ideas.... one of which means I really do need to pull the wing cane bodgy end down a bit smaller!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Murrini then beads... then murrini again :-)

Well I have to say that I am a little bit pleased with myself today.  I exercised some self control yesterday and finally got the wing cane pull done for my next dragonfly murrini (the complex wings with transparent lobes types).  Today i will at least put the half cane together and maybe even the full dragonfly cane if I am lucky!  I am really happy with the component cane and did the same graduated transparent blue I did the first time, boy was I tempted to go for a green transparent, although I think next one might be purple which I reckon would look very nice.  One of the really good things about making the same complex cane is learning from past mistakes, the first dragonfly cane had a rather strange little bum cheek sort of arrangement going on, but this time I shall make the transition smoother I am sure.  I will try to get a pic or two later today if I can get some nice slices of wing.

The other thing I did with varying degrees of success last night was make a few beads for my Etsy store and a couple orders.  More of the burlesque ladies popped out of the kiln this morning... mostly not quite good enough, but one or two were ok!

About 18 months or so ago I did some experiments with fully encasing wheels and cogs from old watch parts.  I found that if I was very careful about not heating that particular area again after encasing then they turned out fabulous and looked just like cogs and wheels floating inside the transparent glass.  I thought I would try out some surface stuff (inspired by a lovely Australian Lampwork artist Sally Shepherd who has recently been working with surface design using steampunk style parts) in addition to my usual encasements.  I used Aurae over clear and reduced a little for the strange little robot in the middle of this pic of last nights work!  The watch parts I used for the eyes had quite long protuberances on the back which came in handy for inserting firmly into the glass.... I quite like it, but I have seem MUCH better robot beads about I am sure!

The other thing I experimented on last night was using some enamels to make stockings on my burlesque beads.... I am quite happy with them on this purple lady, although next time I will use ribbons rather than the dots for studs on the suspenders.... please excuse the bead release residue on the mandrel, I was too keen to take a pic whilst the sun was out to wait and take them all of the mandrels and clean them first!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Torn.... murrini, fancy necklaces, beads or cabs!

As you can gather I am a bit unsure of which way to melt glass right now.  I am in a boro fancy necklace sort of mood, should be making some beads for my Etsy store ( ), could be melting the dead beads into cabochons or make some more murrini.   I have made a couple more of my dongle necklaces up and they have come out great, but are getting the murrini itch back again - a good thing knowing that I need to restock for Kerry at Affordable Inspiration( ).

I did make a few beads the other day in soft glass, just keeping the hand in sort of thing, and came out with the Ugliest bead I have ever seen.  I nearly died when it came out of the kiln and I really wonder what I was thinking when I made this monstrosity.... I am thinking I might clean it out really well and slump it into a large cab.  If it is not bad enough just to be this ugly, it is criminal that it should also be one of the largest beads I have made too.  I am hoping that by cabbing it to death... melting it into a puddle in the kiln, it might come out much improved or at least interesting and usable for for someone to bead around..... I will get a pic once I can get it out of the bead graveyard (my word for the beads that didn't cut the mustard and get puddle-ised into cabs).

One of the other beads I made turned out ok, not great, but not shockingly bad either.  This was using a free frit sample of Fab Frit called Mermaids Tail ( ).  It was very nice to use, even for someone who hardly ever uses any frit at all.  I might have to change my ways and start using a bit of frit for sure now!  Its a shame her boobs are nearly as high as a set of shoulder pads and she is rather a strange shape, but the tail came out nice using Green Tea a lovely pale green with the frit.

I am still facing the same dilemma I started with though..... should I make more fancy necklaces whilst I am in the mood, make some bead stock for the Etsy store, slump some of the dead beads into cabs or .... let those little murrini sneak back in..... I think the murrini might win - they always do with me!!!