Friday, April 24, 2009

Spring is Here!

It finally feels like Spring in Rochester. Of course it's thundering outside as I write this, but it was beautiful out today and tomorrow is supposed to be even warmer. After work today I enjoyed myself outside with the kitties and did a little gardening. It felt good to be outside. Here's a couple pictures to share. We also found a little toadie. The cats didn't really know what to make of him, but it was cute watching them.

I have some beads to post, but they still need to be cleaned. But I will share them because they are super sparkly! Everyone needs some sparklies to bring some cheer. Oh and I didn't forget about the beadcam. My internet has been very flakey lately and I've decided to only leave the camera on when I'm actually making beads. I still hope you'll be able to see me online sometimes.

Anyways, it's workout time and then torching time. Yay!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

New Bead Sets on Etsy

Hey everyone, thanks for the comments on the torch cam. It hasn't been up as much. That's only because I decided to only have it running when I'm actually torching. Otherwise you'll be listening to me workout. Some people recognized that I was watching the Colbert report while running on the elliptical. I thought that was kinda funny, but it's probably more than you want to hear. Thanks to everyone who gave me feedback on it or just stopped by. I appreciate it.

I've got some new sets on etsy tonight. I've been playing with metallic black and more double helix glass. I keep making mushrooms too. I kinda want to make one into a little cellphone charm for myself. I'll have even more sets tomorrow!

I'm hoping to get some torching done tomorrow as well, so look for me on camera.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Live Streaming Torch Cam!

Alright, it took me a little while to figure it out, but I now have a live streaming torch cam! Yay! I'm still testing things out, so bear with me. Any constructive criticism is appreciated. Unfortunately I spent all my torching time figuring this out and now I need to go to sleep since I'm due in at work in seven hours. Blech. I should have some time tomorrow afternoon to evening so maybe you guys will see me then.

I believe it is set up to be a chat room, but honestly I'm way too distractable and I'll probably drop hot glass on myself if I try to chat. I know there are other people who are capable of multitasking, but not me. I don't want anyone to think I'm ignoring them.

I've also noticed that most of the other live streaming video feeds on this website are younger folks. I feel a little out of place, but who knows. Maybe I'll infect them with the beadmaking bug!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Trying New Things

A while back, I purchased a pound of clear boro glass. The only reason I bought it was for fuming silver and gold onto my soft glass beads. It's been sitting on my work bench since February, so I thought I'd play around with it. I've only really worked with soft glass, so working with boro was very different for me. It's very stiff and much slower to melt, but very nice for sculpting.
After some time, some failed attempts, and looking through Milon Townsend's book, I managed to come up with this.

It's far from perfect...very very far, but it's still a big step for me. I don't know if I'll ever work in boro, but it was a lot of fun.
So what do you do to push your limits in your craft? I'd love to hear.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Lampwork Beads From Double Helix's "Triton"

I've recently had the opportunity to use glass rods by Double Helix. Double Helix is a small family run business that was started in 2005. They make some wonderful reactive glass. I'm behind the times as I just recently purchased my first batch of glass from them. Here are some of the first sets I made with "Triton" glass.

Triton is described on Double Helix's website as, " producing a satin iridescence, swirls of multi-colored silver and retain its luster under clear." It really makes me think of an abalone shell. When it is left on the surface, it's super shiny! I love this glass!

I have the entire weekend off of work, so if I can get all my chores done early, I'll be making a lot more beads out of this wonderful glass. You'll be seeing them on my Etsy and possibly Artfire.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hot Chocolate on a Snowy Day in Rochester

There is not much better on a cold snowy day than a nice cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream on top. It's supposed to be spring here, and we had a few days of nice weather to tease us. Yesterday I woke up to a sheet of ice on my car and an inch of snow on the ground. I was not happy.

Today the snow is starting to melt, I don't have to go to work, and I have a nice cup of hot chocolate, so I'm happy!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Annealing Lampwork Beads

Ok, so I'm sure you've all browsed through lampwork bead listings on Etsy or Ebay. I'm sure you've seen listings that say "annealed in a computer controlled kiln." What does that mean?

As glass is heated, manipulated, and cooled, strain occurs in the bead. It doesn't matter if you use the same rod of glass or how fast you work, or even if you try to slowly cool the bead using the torch. That stress is inevitable. That is why annealing is absolutely necessary. If the bead is not annealed, sooner or later that stress will catch up, and the bead will likely crack.

It is important to heat the glass until it reaches a stress-relief point, or annealing tempurature, and hold it until all the stress has left the bead. After being held at the proper tempurature, the beads are slowly and evenly cooled, so no more stress occurs until they are room tempurature. This process takes several hours. I usually let my kiln run overnight.

Many imported beads are not properly annealed and can break and chip easily. When I leave my own beads on the desk, I drop them all the time, but I've haven't had one break on me yet because they're properly annealed. They're like rocks! When you are shopping for handmade artisan beads, ask if they are annealed. It will ensure a long happy bead life.

What is Lampwork?

So a lot of you reading this know what lampwork is, but I know there are a few that might not. It is the process of melting glass with a torch. Some people make sculptures, ornaments, beads, pendants, whatever. It's similar to glass blowing, but on a smaller scale. Whenever people give me an odd look when I tell them I like to make lampwork beads, I just tell them it's glass blowing. I know the two are different, but sometimes I get too lazy to explain.

When making beads, I wrap melted glass onto a steel mandrel and use gravity and tools to shape my bead. Then I add whatever decorations I want for that design. Often times I'll encase everything in a layer of clear to really magnify it. After that I put the bead directly in a kiln and hold it at 960 degrees. This removes any stress in the bead that would cause trouble later. Slowly the tempurature is lowered until the annealing process is done. I clean the beads, string them and photograph them.

Anyways, here's a few pictures of my studio and me making beads. Enjoy!