Search This Blog

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Chained up on Maille.... all in glass

I know... I know.... I have ten million other things I should be doing right now.  I should be getting some stock for the local shop, making murrini for Affordable and packing to go to the glass studio for Loren Stumps classes, but nope..... none of the above!

I am feeling guilty and a bit naughty too, but I have had an idea perculating about in my head for quite a long time and decided to try it out..... Glass links Chain Maille.  I aware it has been done before (a lady by the name of Kim Edwards does some absolutely bogsmacking work in this style) but I wanted to try out some byzantine chain rather than my usual dongle-y ones.  Here it is... it worked quite well and was made in boro (because I am too much of a lazy slug to try this in gorgeous italian soft glass).  I just used 3mm glass stringers to make the links.... some closed and some open that I close in the flame after putting the pattern together.  It was fun, but fiddly as buggery as you can imagine.  I don't think this will be a common thing for me to work on to be honest, but at least I can know I tried it.... its all about the fun.

 On a slightly dissapointing front, my kiln has been playing up quite a bit over the last few days and after trolling about online and finally downloading the manual for the controller I have discovered the thermocouple thingo is stuffed....... aarrrgh!  I am really hopeful my extremely handy and helpful husband Leo can wave a magic wand and fix it up, or worse case go to the electronic shop and buy a bit of wire or something to sort it out, but we will have to see.  Lucky I have my new kiln to collect in about a month......YAHOO!

I have been playing about a LOT with my bead soup.  It is so gorgeous that I don't want to bugger it up and are probably trying to get a little too fancy rather than think about the form of the thing...... I am going to zen out, watch bridesmaids (the movie) and see what comes of some random beading then.....  Nat :-)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Buttoned down..... or up.... or just buttons!

Well apart from some secretive work on my Bead soup project I have been asked by a local bead shop to make some interesting lampwork buttons.  Apparently they have a visiting teacher who worked with button jewellery and they thought it would be nice to have some unique lampwork ones available too (and some beads from me as well....YAY!).

I haven't had my button mandrel holder out for quite a while (probably more than a year) and to be honest it was apparent in the few few lumpy jobs that came out of the kiln.  Getting the glass between the mandrels is quite easy..... getting it there evenly without leaving pointy holes to grind off later (and leave evidence too) is a whole 'nother kettle of fish!   The other challenge I had was, sitting at the torch, looking at the flame and thinking.... what the hell am I going to actually try to make.  I ended up coming inside the house, grabbing a notebook and writing a list of things that I would like to see as a button rather than just basing it only on my own bead designs.  After I put a few ideas down, I went back to the torch and things went rather more smoothly.  I tried each thing in order and that kept the momentum up.... Momentum is always good when working with glass, I basically got on a roll and made quite a few.  My main plan was to just make some buttons at the end of each session, but I thought I would try a heap out and then make more or develope the ones that worked out best.

Here is what I got out of the kiln and cleaned.... you can see a couple slightly dodgy ones there that have to be weeded out, but at least it gives me somewhere to start with!

I did some dichro fish ones a while back and might revisit those as well.  I made a rooster one, but dropped him on my kitchen floor and broke off drumstick!  I am gearing up to finish my bead soup blog swap item, get ready to work with Loren Stump later this week for nearly a fortnight and get my murrini order up to date.......AAAAARRRGH  Sometimes there is not enough hours in a day.... sometimes there is not enough days in a week and as I am getting older, one day, there will probably not be enough years in a lifetime..... but its all part of the challenge and the fun!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Bead Soup is in the house!!!!

Well, first off, let me apologise for not having any updates for more than a week.  I somehow managed to faint after visiting the facilities in the middle of the night and knocked myself unconscious on my bathroom floor for some time.  Apart from some mild concussion for a few days, I managed to fall with my head tucked under and have pulled the muscles down my neck, spine and shoulders..... very sore stuff!  The doc thinks my blood pressure dropped suddenly, lets hope there is no repeat of this!

Now onto my bead soup.  It ARRIVED!!!!!  and, its gorgeous.  My swap partner Niky is so very clever she sent me a sort of Peacock coloured theme in purples and it is a divine mix.
Niky even sent me some lovely english lollies called parma violets which are the yummiest violet flavour (yep, I have a "thing" for them) and I am rationing them out slowly... one a day!

I will have to try and get some more pics of the beady goodness out of the plastic bags and maybe some progression pics before the big unveil next month (without giving too much away of course), but this mix is so lovely I am sure I will make a couple of things out of it rather than squishing all that goodness into one article!

On a lampworking front I am about to go and work as Loren Stumps technical assistant again.  This time for two back to back Loren I and Loren II courses.  I am really excited about it and just hope I can be helpful to the students when they need/want it, I suppose worse case I can make sure they are all fed and watered (last year I hand fed chocolates to some of them whilst still torching.... LOL)  One of the best bits for me personally is that Loren is running an under the sea themed level 2 course, so I will see him make that gobsmackingly gorgeous complex fish murrini..... Oh yes, there shall be some secretive notes taken.... well, maybe not at all secretive, but I can't wait to see how he does it.  I have to add that Loren is an absolutely top bloke, a brilliant teacher and a real genius with what he can do with glass... an inspiring man to be about I can tell you!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Introducing my bead soup blog swap partner..... Niky!!!

Yep, its my first bead soup blog swap and I have sent off my bead soup to my partner Niky of Silver Nik Naks ( ) who makes the most wonderful jewellery using chain maille and beads.

Have a squizz at some of Niky's beautiful work:

Of course this makes me worry about the lampwork I made for her, seeing as this is just gorgeous stuff, but I hope she likes the mix!!!

I have been working on some bobbin beads, lampwork beads made around a stainless steel sewing bobbin.  I popped on a bail for a pendant and here is a pic of some of the ones I made on Sunday..... bit of a bugger that I have got enamel on a couple of the bobbins (which looks quite yuk to me) and some just didn't at all turn out how I wanted them to.... but Ce La Vie (or however you spell it). Such is life!

Time to do some listing on Etsy and then get out to my torch and make some murrini for Affordable.  I made a large boro fish murrini which took about 2hrs to heat and pull on my little minor torch (I should have got my Phantom out for that one) and after all the frustration, the fish is AWFUL..... some days the kiln fairy just happens to bypass your house I suppose..... LOL

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Buy one thing at the bead shop.... I DONT think so!!!!

Yes, I am quite ashamed of myself this morning.  I decided that I just need a little touch more "stuff" for my bead soup recipient and so I went for a little drive to my lovely local bead store.  Its a fabulous shop which has just recently moved premises and expanded into clothing as well in a very large store space with the beads and findings well organised up the back.  Fortunately for me I got to chat with the owner Lenore who is a very lovely lady who was extremely helpful and even offered for me to put some of my lampwork stock in there too.... gotta love that!  The only problem was, Lenore was a bad enabler... ha ha ha.  When I asked if she has any sterling toggle clasps in stock she excitedly told me she had quite a few left over from a buying trip about four years ago and she got them out of the cupboard for me......ooooooooH WOW!  They were gorgeous and quite cheap.  She explained that she hasn't bothered to weight and reprice any of them so they are a price from 4 years ago... which was quite apparent I have to say.

In any case I went through the containers like a rat up a drainpipe and managed to spend nearly $200, only narrowly avoiding the massive and fancy $60 each gorgeous ones (might have to sneak back after payday I am thinking).  Here is a handful of some of the ones I got, the little purse one is particularly cute, but the teapot and a spoon for the toggle is just so cute I could eat it up.

I think I might be in danger of becoming a toggle clasp 'ho if you know what I mean.  I have ordered many nice ones from Bali before now, but I am already feeling the pull to go back into the bead shop for more.... soooooo nice and sooooo cheap!

One thing I did pull out of the kiln last night from yesterdays torch session was this boro fish pendant.  It is not the prettiest fish I have ever made and to be honest it is a little large for a comfortable pendant (unless you like large pendants of course).  I was trying out some ideas for fish scale effects and slapped the rest together sort of spur of the moment.  I think it looks a little like a blue guppy.

My kids absolutely loved this fish pendant, but then again if I put a bit of dogpoop on a necklace, they would probably love that too!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Time for the Bead soup to be sent off!!!

I am VERY excited to be participating in my very first bead soup blog party and I now have my swap partner Niky......YAY.  She makes the most gorgeous chain maille jewellery you have ever seen, you can find her here  The only problem I am having now, is the usual anxiety associated with swapping with someone you don't know and worrying that you might send too much, not enough (not likely to be a problem, I would rather overcater for a party if you know what I mean), its ugly, they won't like it, it just doesn't inspire them or even worse kills thier mojo outright..... you know, the usual exchange/swap stuff.... Ha ha ha ha!  Next I am sure I will be worried about doing her lovely bead soup some justice, goodness knows I can make jewellery when I put my mind to it, but this isn't just slapping some beads onto tiger tail, I want to really make something fabulous...lets hope the grey matter comes to the party with me and I come up with a great job!

I have just about got bead soup ready to send and could even have it off today with some luck, but in the night I had a brainstorm and now want to make a particular thing I think Niky could really use and have fun with (as an added extra that she can use whenever she wants to down the track sort of thing).  Wish me luck everyone!!!!

I have been working hard on getting my murrini order ready to send and have come up against a little hurdle..... my Frog Song murrini which is like a swimming little frog and one of the UGLIEST murrini I have ever made is sold out.  You might think this sends me the message that what I think is ugly others can use and make beautiful, but I find it hard to imagine making more of that ugly cane.... Maybe I should look at this as an exercise in self discipline, but these murrini look more like a frog that got squished on the road by a car than anything else to me.  Maybe I should make some dead cane-toad murrini just for fun.... now I like that idea quite a bit more!

I have made a few beads lately and seeing as I have been on a mission to catch up on orders, both informal and formal ones, I made ANOTHER belly dancer bead.  Why the capitalisation on another you might ask, and well... so far I am up to about belly dancer bead number 14 and still not happy.  This one I managed to reduce the silver glass I was using as her coin scarf and discoloured the side of her belly.......aaaarrrgh!  I shall have to get onto another belly dancer bead and I am sure that when I make one I think is good enough (its for a well-respected lampworking friend) I will breathe a massive sigh of relief for sure!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Filling the bowl..... My husband earns his wife-taming stripes!

On Saturday my husband was rather excited and leapt out of bed at about 7am.  Why you might ask? Well....not only had my parents given him a bag of money (change in gold coins of about $100 worth) there were a number of local garage sales on......aaarrgh!

Now I have been on a mission to try and get rid of extraneous stuff (mostly not mine though, I am quite emotionally attached that! LOL) and when Leo comes home to swap cars so he can go back and collect the BIG thing he bought, well.... I didn't exactly have a tantrum, but I sure made my displeasure felt about the whole situation in no uncertain terms!

It turned out to be one of those times where I should have bitten my tongue!  He came back with a very nice wooden corner cabinet for the grand total of $3 that fits beautifully into the dining room and fits all out board games perfectly!  It does need a rub back and re-varnish, but then so does nearly everything in the house...sometimes even me!! 

If you have a look he even popped a lovely large glass bowl and thats when things got interesting!

Leo made the suggestion that I fill that bowl with all my rejects, orphans and experimental beads!  He said it would look really "cool" in there and that guests could fossick amongst the beads for fun.  My first reaction was that it is an inspired idea and how thoughtful he was about my art and how lovely that he would make a place for it....etc....etc... until he said those dreaded words..... "now you don't need to leave them on the kitchen bench".... which of course totally ruined all the warm fuzzy feelings I was having towards him for his kindness and realised that when nagging me not to leave my beads and stuff on the kitchen bench (in the most annoying place I do admit) he has had to resort to giving me an alternative.  10 Points to the man who has changed a womans habit without argument!!!

Here is my old bead storage area, between the kitchen sink, the phone and the coffee machine (oh, and the kids slushy machine which is too cold to use right now anyway)

Of course I shall still have to remove the mandrels and clean them and stuff, but at least I won't be building up a massive pile of odd's that slowly spread out over an ever increasing area!

Best of all....... I am now on a mission to fill the bowl!  Everyone's happy!

Nat :-)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I'm in the Bead Soup Blog Party...whooohoooo!

It is possible that many of you are far more observant than me and have noticed I have a button with link to the Bead Soup Blog Party over at the bottom right!

I have joined up because to be honest it sounds like a real Hoot!  Plus I am thinking it will get me making some actually jewellery again (I have been very slack for quite a while now).  I think it sounds like great fun to make up a set of beads to send off over the ocean (unless I get an Aussie in my swap, possible but not likely I am sure).  I was on the torch today and thought I might make up some beads to send off, but then after lots of thought, I decided that it would probably be better to wait for my swap partner name and then do some sneaking about on thier blog to see what colours they are into (or anything else sort of special they might like).  I will be making a marathon effort to get my beads off really quickly given that the reciever will have the maximum time to make up something with them and I am hoping my swap partner does the same sort of thing.  As it turns out I will be off for two weeks in the beginning of September working as Loren Stump's Technical Assistant (soooo excited, I loved working with him last year), but this will be leaving me with very little time to do the making part of my swap.  I figure if I can have mine all finished up and photographed then I will have it all ready to upload on the party day (day to post up the finished article then go around to everyones blogs and drool over the all the loveliness!!!).

I have my half of the kaleidoscope murrini cane done, last bit tomorrow....YAY!  I have promised some more marine life murrini to one of Kerry's lovely customers and will get some of the components done for that too if I can.  Even though I am catching up on my TO DO list, after adding in some more, it seems that it is the perpetual to do list.... always something more to do!

Nat :-)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Off my back, on my feet and murrini-ing!!!!!

Oooooh, that feels so good to get back into some serious murrini-festing around here.  I have been so focussed on making stuff for my etsy store and getting side-tracked with some experiments that I have let my murrini making slide a little.  I have a whole lot of stock I need to get down to Kerry at Affordable Inspiration and in my defence I have been getting rather organised (ie. making large murrini and leaving some in component form for the next time rather than just making enough for right now).

I have also been really crook this week (that ill for those non-aussies) and have spent nearly a whole week in bed with no voice and whinging about the sore throat (mostly silently to myself to be sure) and having the frustration of needing to yell at my kids and only having a completely unsatisfying tiny squeek come out!!  Well, the antibiotics have now kicked in and the kiln is hot and its time to murrini. 

I have three constructed canes I am doing today, first off is the dragonfly cane final assembly (ie the two halves).  this is dragonfly cane number two I have made (the first one is back in the archives in this blog with some notes on how I came up with the planning for it).  The wings are a little fatter on this one and I will admit that I was not quite so anal about the graduation of colour, which I might add barely shows on the smaller diameter stuff once pulled down.  This one was made to restock and therefore, is still very nice, but not perfect.  I am hoping to avoid the "bum cheek" dilemma I had last time by making the body just a streamlined straight line.

Here is the second cane I will be putting together.  This is some more monarch butterfly cane, the last one I did I had a scare from one of my girls and accidentally put the two halves together off centre.... I am determined not to make that mistake with this one!  One thing to keep in mind with using the oranges and yellows in canes like this is that they are a bit unstable and rather prone to cracking.  Usually once they are pulled down this issue less of an issue, but I always anneal even my final small diameter pull fully just in case.  To be honest it also makes the canes very nice to chop up neatly which is always a good thing!

And finally, I have decided that I should revisit my efforts at a kaleidoscope cane.  I am going to put these three together and fill with some other colours into a triangle shape which I will make into another component cane.... hopefully by the time I pull this out a couple more times you don't completely loose the detail, but considering that I found this one particularly ugly, I figure it can't hurt and I can keep my fingers crossed for a pleasant surprise anyway!