Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sweet Valentines

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day! Mine was great—I had two teenagers who acted loving all day long (I know, I know...they kinda *had* to, but still, it was nice! LOL), and Kraig bought beautiful flowers for all us girls and gave me about 10 lbs. of candy that I really don't need, but appreciated. I swear, he went out and bought the industrial-strength sized containers of M&Ms, red licorice and chocolate—so I think I'm set for at least the next month or two (depending on my cravings and ability to resist). Hah!

I also made some heart-shaped pendants for Katie and Ashley to wear, as well as one for myself. My first attempt at making a heart bead a few weeks ago resulted in the girls both spontaneously blurting out that they thought it "looks like a butt!"—and it kinda did—once they put that image in my head! So, we all laughed like crazy people and I decided to wait on any more attempts for a while. But with Valentine's Day providing all the inspiration I needed, I tried it one more time—focusing on a shape with less "curvage" that yielded much better results that made them think it was actually a heart, and not another body part. ;-D Theirs are made with CIM's gorgeous Sangre red glass and sweet little white heart charms. Mine is made out of Dark Ivory and a Triton+Hades twisty that has a stunning metallic sheen that's hard to see on screen, with a freshwater pearl on a black velvet choker. I think they turned out pretty cool, and have several other heart designs floating around in my head I still want to try out soon.

Anyway, I hope you all got lots of love from friends and family! Now...I just need to know if anyone wants to join me later for a diet/exercise program after we finish eating all our candy?..... LOL

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Beadmaker's Odyssey (Part 3 of 3)

Here's the last bunch of pics of the rest of my torching sessions to date. I hope you enjoy looking at them, and if you have any suggestions on how I can improve my skills, please don't hesitate to send a comment. And if you're a newbie like me, I hope I've inspired you to keep plugging away and have fun with it!

It's hard to see from this pic, but I challenged myself to make the 3 dotted beads on the left using 3 different shaping techniques. The tube shaped bead has some silver glass that isn't showing up well, and the bead on the right is actually little white layered flowers. They all came out great and I was so happy when I opened the kiln the next morning!
Days 23 through 28 (early November 2008): You've seen this pic before in a previous post, when I was going crazy doing the testing for Creation Is Messy (CIM)...
Day 29 (12/1/08): These beads were made for an Ivory Reaction themed bead swap I participated in on the Lampworking Etc. community board. The one in the middle was one I did during the CIM testing, but the others are all new, using Dark Ivory and Hades glass...
Days 30 & 31 (early December 2008): These beads were made at the same time I was making my wine stopper beads for possible Christmas gifts (see earlier post). It was the first time I'd attempted such a long tube bead and the Tornado bead technique, and boy, was I scared! LOL But they turned out awesome, with no cracking at all!
A close up of my Tornado bead, which has a Triton core and clear encasing. This pic doesn't do the beautiful mother-of-pearl effect justice at all...Days 32 to 37 (late January 2009): In preparation for the CHA show, I went on a frenzy of bead making over a few weeks, so I could create some jewelry pieces to show editors at the show. The best beads—which I used to create the jewelry—aren't here, but the rest look pretty darn good too! I did some fun design experimentation that I'm anxious to explore further, so I'll try and post pics of those later...A close-up of my first hollows, which I discovered are really fun and relaxing to make! I love their simple and sheer beauty...Another favorite bead from these sessions, using Vetrofond Cosmic Storm Odd, clear and Hades. You can't tell from the pic, but it has all sorts of coppery sparkle running through it that looks especially nice in the sunlight...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Beadmaker's Odyssey (Part 2 of 3)

Are you ready to see some more? During these sessions, I'm playing around a lot with color and learning new techniques like using a press, making floral designs, and experimenting with silver glass. Here's pics of Days 11 through 21, for your viewing pleasure!

Playing around with my new Zoozii presses and pretty frit mixes...
During these next 3 sessions, I got to play with some new Double Helix silver glass colors, to see what I could get with the Hot Head torch. It's a little hard to tell, but the first two sets have a gorgeous metallic sheen...This was a pretty great day—I had a double dose of glass mojo goin' on! ;-D
I finally upgraded to a Minor torch and my friend, Lara Lutrick, helped me set it up. (I have to admit, I was too intimidated to try it on my own at first because I was afraid of the bigger flame. LOL) I was amazed at how much faster and easier it was for me to create beads with this awesome torch—and I've been kicking myself ever since, wondering why I didn't upgrade earlier, instead of struggling with the Hot Head for so long?!

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Beadmaker's Odyssey (Part 1 of 3)

Ever since I first started making my own glass beads (lampworking) last year, I've been keeping track of the beads I made each day so I could see what kind of progress I was making. I finally got a chance to take photos of them, so thought I'd post them for a fun "retrospective" of where I was and where I am now. I took one very basic "intro" class I took several years ago, and I got a kiln and a lampworking kit, but didn't touch them until last January. I think it's kinda hard to start up a new hobby when you don't have any friends to learn it with, and maybe it was the artistic atmosphere of the Seattle area or something—but I decided it was finally time to jump in with both feet! ;-D Besides that first class where we learned how to create a basic bead and make dots with stringer, I've been learning everything else on my own by reading lots of books, watching demos online, and lurking on a few message boards. I've also met some awesome glass artists that live around my area, and they've been wonderful in helping me out if I have a question or am totally confused about something.

For a long time, was pretty hard for me to get to the torch on a consistent basis, since we've been remodeling our home and it took a lot of energy to get our girls settled. So I really didn't get "into the groove" until November when I needed to do a lot of testing for Creation Is Messy. Nothing like a little deadline to get the creative juices flowing! LOL I really wish I could have torched more often before that, but am pretty happy with my progress so far and am trying to get to the torch at least once or twice a week now. So without further ado, here's the beginning results of every torch session I've had—a grand total of 37 so far! I'll post the rest of my pics over the next two days, so be sure to check back and see those too, k?

Note: all these beads were done on a Hot Head torch, which made v..e..r..y.. s..l..o..w going. I swear, my first beads took an average of 30 minutes to make, and they were pretty simple and small! So I usually gave up after a few hours and didn't have much to show for it. Many times I'd make mistakes, but kept going—figuring it was the learning that mattered, not really the final results for a while. I focused on getting basic techniques down and learning how colors worked with each other. And every bead I've ever made is shown here, with the exception of a few that cracked apart or went so haywire that I had to dunk them in the water jar before I could finish. So please don't laugh too hard when you see how funky some of my first ones look, okay? ;-D

The black bead on the far left is the first time I made what I felt was the "perfect" bead—it had beautiful shaping, dimples, and perfect dot placement—I think I was staring and fondling it for a week, I was so thrilled! LOLMy first attempts at full encasing, where it took so dang long to melt the clear, I ended up cooking the crap out of it and got soot lines. *sigh* I have been known to overcook stuff in the kitchen too, though... LOL
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