Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Beads of a Different Kind

Last weekend, my friend Lara and I took at class at Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle to learn how to make mini sculptures in glass. Boy, was it a blast! Rachel Rader was our instructor and she was really fun and taught us how to make several different shapes on the glass rod itself. It was so strange working without a trusty steel mandrel like I'm used to, but it didn't take long to relax and have fun just playing around and seeing I could come up with...

(from left to right)

1) These fried eggs were the first thing Rachel taught us how to make because they're fairly simple and it was easy to learn how to "punty" them off the glass rod they were made on (a process of transferring the shape to another glass rod temporarily), before putting them into the kiln to cool down.

2) Next, we moved on to berries, which was a little harder than you might think. The technique of adding all those tiny dots next to each other requires a lot of attention and patience. I went for a raspberry and a blackberry and they look yummy enough to eat!

3) Then we learned the most complicated technique, which was how to create faces. Rachel showed us how to make a life-like human head with nothing but a butter knife and poker tool. When it was our turn to play, we all took different tangents and created other fun designs using the same techniques. Lara made a funny little alien that had us cracking up. I started out making the panda head, but halfway through, I realized that I wasn't quite sure exactly how their faces really looked. But I muddled through, laughing the whole time because of his funny expression that he ended up having. Doesn't he look like he's wondering where the rest of his body is? LOL

4) Next, I tried a more human looking face and made a little Flower Fairy. I love her little button nose and dimpled smile, but unfortunately one eye started melting down the side her face, which gives her bit of a distracted expression. I already have several other fairies that I know I'd like to make soon. Next time, I'll try to get those eyes better! ;-D

5) And finally, we learned how to make 3-D flowers by creating individual petals and leaves, then adding them to the center one by one. We only had 10 to 15 minutes to make them at the end of class, so mine is a little wonky because I was slapping them on so fast. But I loved this technique and it surprisingly turned out kinda nice in the end. I'm thinking these would make awesome Christmas gifts this year too!

Overall, this was a great experience and I'm so glad I tried it! This was actually my very first formal class I've taken in lampworking, besides the 2 hour quickie workshop I took about 3 years ago when I was first introduced to this art form. Back then, I learned how to make a simple donut shaped bead, and how to make and apply basic stringer to it. After that, everything I've learned has been self-taught by reading books, exploring internet message boards and tutorials, and watching videos and live demonstrations whenever I can. And of course, lots of play time on the torch! *Ü*


  1. Very cute....especially the panda!

  2. Thanks, Shirley! He just makes me laugh every time I look at him! LOL


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