Tuesday, July 18, 2017

More Marble Adventures

So in my last entry I mentioned that I've been playing around with marbles. Since then, I've made quite a few more and I'm feeling more confident in my off mandrel work.

Here is some transparent blue over a core of white with silvered ivory linework. I've etched this to give it a glowing seaglass kind of look. I really love this glowing effect.

 This one was my first marble with a new larger marble mold. I think I might have gotten a little excited about the large canvas to work with and I completely covered it with lines.

 Transparent teal encased around a white core with sky blue linework. I really love the linework in this one. One side has a heart and the other a star. It feels like happy sidewalk chalk from childhood.

Here is my most recent one from the weekend. It's the largest one I've mad so far at 27mm. I tried combining some traditional boro styles of marbles with my stringer work. So, one side is a vortex, while the backing has been embellished with stringer that I left slightly raised. 
This vortex style feels like a slight turning point for me because of the clear. The marbles that I haven't been showing or selling aren't quite meeting my standards because of the clarity of the clear glass. Most people who work with effetre know that the clear often has quite a few bubbles and scratches in it. When dirt and oil get caught in these scratches on the glass rod, it turns into "scum" on the finished glass product. There's nothing physically wrong with it, but when you are trying to create a clear lens to showcase and magnify, that scum and bubbles can be distracting.

The marble above  has been made with larger diameter clear rods that I've cleaned very well using pickle. Pickle is a very mild acid that metal workers often use to clean the metal before soldering. The larger diameter clear also helps because less surface area of the glass rod is exposed to the elements.

I'm still working on finding the best clear for me to make marbles with. Next up to try is large diameter rods of the newly formulated super clear. After that, probably double helix Zephyr. 

To be continued...

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Lost my Marbles

The past few weeks, I've really been enjoying making marbles. It started with my paperweight class a few weeks ago. During class, we didn't use a single mandrel. As someone who has been a beadmaker all of my glassy career, that can be rather intimidating, but I got used to it. I am looking forward to experimenting more with what I learned in class, but I have some tools on the way first for vacuum encasing.

Meanwhile, I started playing with marbles since I became comfortable with off mandrel work.

There was a bit of a learning curve.

But I finally got to the point where I wasn't having any thermal shocking, so that's always nice.

And now I'm working on finding my marble style.

There's still quite a few challenges. The main one I'm struggling with is keeping the transparent colors from getting scummy. The clarity of borosilicate clear is tough to compete with in soft glass. Maybe this will be what finally gets me to put some effort into learning boro.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Paperweight Class with David Graeber

So this past weekend I commuted to Expressive Glass in Buffalo to take a class on paperweights with David Graeber. I had a great time and learned lots, so I thought I would share a few pictures with you.

Each flower in the paperweight is created off mandrel in advance. It's crazy how tiny they need to be to fit in the paperweight. You can see in the picture above the tiny pinpoint flame he's using to create the rose in the below picture. The other thing that I really liked is how in sculpting these, he only used his torch and a pair of tweezers. Tools are wonderful, but it's nice to have the ability to create something with just the glass and the flame.

My first flower that survived on day one. It's not too bad, but definitely not the rose above
 Below are all my components from day one. They are about how you expect class work to be, not sell-able or even that great, but a learning process. I actually really liked working so small because there was very little worries about thermal shock. Being the frugal glassworker I am, I also liked not needing too much investment in materials.

My first components were still waaaay too big to fit in the small paperweights we were making in class, but practice makes perfect (or at least good enough) as seen in my day two picture below. I even managed to make a tiny kitty. It just wouldn't be my work without a cat of some sort included. The grouping of the cat, blueberry, rasberries and flower ended up going in my paperweight. I wish I had a picture, but that will have to wait for another time as it went immediately into the kiln and it will be shipped to me in a few days.

Will I be making paperweights? Probably not any time soon, but I might try making some tiny flowers to add to my beads. I am going to try to build a tiny vacuum encasement setup to maybe play with marbles or decorative scenes in the future. We'll see.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Electroformed Pendant

One of the newest techniques I have been playing with this year is electroforming or electroplating. That is a process where metal is deposited on a conductive surface using an electrical current in an electrolyte bath. 

It starts with my glass.

combined with copper, epoxy clay and microbeads for texture.

Next the non copper surfaces are painted with a conductive paint.

Into the blue electroforming solution below and connected to a battery.

12i-24 hours later I end up with a super shiny copper formed piece

Next comes the finishing and sealing and my piece is finished.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Back at it Again

Well, if you're still with me, then you are probably aware that I am an erratic blogger at best. But, here I am!

What's new since last time I posted, you might ask? Let's start with my newest style of bead

Blinging dichroic and a pink kitty cat with a crown and cubic zirconia collar. The cat is actually "drawn" in the flame with hairthin pieces of stringer freehand. Her tabby drawings are made with silvered ivory. The entire bead is about the width of my palm and is more intended as a collector piece, though it's not too heavy to make a necklace with it. They do take me a few hours for each bead and I end up using my most expensive glass in them. They really are a labor of love and a stretch of my abilities as a glass artist.

Why have I started making these?

Well, they make me happy and they bring a smile to people's faces. I think the world could use more of that lately.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Monthly Giveaway Time!

I'm holding a Giveaway for the month of July/August. Each time you do the following, you get an entry:
1. Comment on the giveaway picture (via blog or Facebook)
2. Share (share multiple times for multiple entries)
3. Like (or love or whatever) 
4. Join my new selling group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1436935033269274/
I will draw with a random number generator on August 26th.
Make sure your comments, shares and likes are on This post, so I can count your entry. I am currently limiting this to folks within the US because of the recent hike in international shipping charges, but we'll see how things go in the future.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Metalsmithing Challenges

Today I'd like to share a little project with you. It's not very good to be honest and there's lots of mistakes I made, but it's a bit of a milestone for me since it's my first time fabricating a bezel set ring from scratch at home with nobody holding my hand and showing me every step.

While it's not the prettiest, that entire piece is made by me. The cabochon, the bezel setting, the ring shank, everything. I took a metalsmithing class in the summer of 2014 and then another one in 2015 and I could never recreate my results at home. Not to fault my teachers at all, it was mostly me trying to get the tools and supplies together and just not putting in the time. All the time between classes and trying it myself didn't help me either.

I had quite a few challenges when I was first trying to just get my little smith torch running. I had propane and a spare oxygen concentrator, but getting everything set up with proper fittings took a little trial and error. When I finally had it working out, I couldn't get the torch to stay lit. It kept blowing out. It took me an embarrassingly long amount of time to figure out that it was the oxygen concentrator.

When you start up an oxygen concentrator, you let it run for a few minutes to get the air flowing. I had the valves of the torch shut during this startup period and when I would light the flame, all that air that was building in the lines would come out at a higher pressure when I opened the valve, blowing out the flame. I had experience with this in my lampworking torch, I have no idea why it took me so long to figure out that a jeweler's torch would do the same thing.

Next I ran into the challenge of working with copper compared to silver. I love the look of both copper and silver, but silver is expensive! I get very anxious about the price of supplies and I have a hard time making those learning mistakes when they are expensive. For a comparison, a 6" x 12" sheet of copper is about $13 and the same size piece of silver is $250. Needless to say, I started with copper.

Copper is not as easy to work with though. Every time the copper is introduced to heat it gets a nice coating of soot and firescale that is a pain in the ass to clean up every time I needed to retry getting solder to flow.

So these are some of the things I've struggled with since my first metalsmithing class. Maybe you can see why this ring is such a huge accomplishment for me.

Going forward, I'm going to try to get through all of the copper that I have before attempting with silver. Hopefully that should give me a good foundation for the basics and get me a larger jewelry collection.

Wish me luck :)