Tales from the Torch: May 19/08

It’s long weekend here so instead of gallivanting like i normally do,  i decided to stay home and make some beads.  I’ve been either sick with the flu or so busy for the past several weeks that i haven’t been able to enjoy much torch time.  This weekend has really made up for that though – just got all these out of the kiln and i’m pretty happy with the results.

First, some focals:  I’ve had a really positive response to my floral attempts so i’ve decided to practice some more (plus a couple other ideas)… all about 2″ long.  From left to right:

Swamp Daisies – (sold) this is a big bead and it really wanted to be made:  I ran out of fuel about halfway through, had to pop the bead in the kiln, wait for the torch to cool down so i could change the propane canister and then slowly reheat and finish it off.  It’s my ongoing attempt to develop a love for that finicky copper green glass – the verdigris colour is intriguing but i’m still struggling to control the amount of that dark residue it develops.  (and yes i know the name isn’t very sexy – if you have a better suggestion let me know)

Blue Lagoon – another encased floral, this time i added the flowers first then the encasing.  I had planned to add another layer of encased florals but frankly i ran out of patience.  It’s encased with Lauscha clear and while the optical clarity is truly magnificent that clear layer was so stiff it took bloody FOREVER to melt.  At several points i was ready to through the whole damn thing (burning molten glass and all) across the room.   

Part of the problem is the limits of my torch, part is due to the Lauscha clear being really quite stiff but the other though is just the process of encasing florals – you have to slowly heat the clear layer enough to smooth it out but at the same time not get everything so hot that you soften and distort the layer of flowers and the core just underneath.  So you’re constantly twirling and swooping the bead in and out of the flame and slowly, slowly, slowly melting smooth that clear layer – an incredibly tedious process.  Somewhat like toasting marshmallows to a delicate golden brown at a bonfire except that each marshmallow takes a freaking HOUR to roast.  (ok, i’m done venting.  perhaps i’ll just put the Lauscha clear aside until i get a hotter torch). I must say, I have now developed a new respect for the beadmakers who make encased florals for a living… (siiigh, i must really not have cooked it properly as it has slowly cracked in half over the last few weeks)

Summer Garden – This is me playing to create something cute and fun and completely unlike my usual stuff (do i even have a usual yet?).  The Teenager declared this one as his fave while making sure to gruffly add the qualifier that of course he “…doesn’t like flowers but it’s still nice.”

Buttercup Swirl– Again something a little different and summery with some encased stringer spirals.  Those spirals were supposed to be a pale pastel yellow but came out bright buttercup yellow instead.  Now i could go into a rant about paying a premium for an “odd lot” glass that looks soft and creamy in the store ad but then strikes to a colour pretty darned close to something i could have bought for a 1/3 the price but i won’t. cuz i’m done venting.  so there. 

ZigZag – this is a weird one.  i was inspired by a room in a decorating mag designed with these colours – it’s odd but i like it.

And here is a custom order i’m working on – pregnant goddesses.  These were too much fun to make.  As i was sculpting each one it reminded me of the last few months of my pregnancy and how alternately excited /scared /annoyed /exhausted I was as i heaved myself around with that huge belly. 

Here’s a side view – they’re not just a little bit pregnant – these babes are nine plus months and ready to deliver at any moment! (i think that grey goddess is having triplets…)

And finally a rear view – cuz no pregnancy ever passes without this extremely important question:  “Honey, does my butt look big?”

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Tales from the Torch: Feb. & March (part deux)

I’m back on the Teenager’s computer again as the kitten Busta finally finished chewing through my laptop’s power cable.  Now doesn’t having a cat usually mean no pets chewing random valuables around the house??? i might as well have a dog.

Soooo… until i decide whether to replace the power cable and harddrive on my laptop vs buying a new one, i’m trapped in that teenage hellhole again… damn cat.  Anyhoo, i did manage to backup most of my pics from the last meltdown so found a few more from February and March. (I didn’t torch much in April/May as I had the flu.)

These random beads were for a long bead exchange on LE.  They’re all about 2-2.5″ long (except the purple one) which isn’t huge for me at all – my beads are normally 1.5-2.5″ long.  I think the winner made a bead something like 11″ long.  not sure what one would do with a massive (and fragile!) piece of glass like that…  I wanted to try bigger but about 4″ is my max. anything larger seems to be beyond the limits of my current torch – i can get there but it takes forever to melt all that glass and the results are seriously ugly.

 

This Chocolate Goddess was part of a gift package for Valentine’s Day… 

 

My sister snapped up this Winter Garden pendant as soon as it came out of the kiln… Note my improved stringer control – that Corina stringer DVD has really helped.

I’ve been torching all weekend and have some new beadies cooling in the kiln right now.  I’ll try to post them tomorrow…

Latest additions to my collection…

 

I found these two quirky items from a UK ceramics artist while randomly surfing etsy (click either picture to get to her store). 

They are tiny, handmade and absolute perfection.  The base is offwhite clay with embedded glass (you knew there’d have to glass included, right?) and gold and platinum highlights. 

I had the teal pendant custom made and then found the purple brooch in her store – i LOVE purple!  I’ll need to wire the pendant or maybe make a necklace for it. i think i’ll wear the brooch to an event i’m attending tonite.

I keep picking them up to look at them ‘cuz they’re just too perfectly precious…

 

A recent custom order…

Tusk: this order was fun – the client wanted a different and personal take on the (currently very trendy) ivory tusk/bone/horn pendant thing.  It’s about 2″ long.

Took me a few rather comical tries before i finally figured out how to make a tusk in glass…  Quite impressed with myself actually as this is not only my first tusk but also my first successful bead with a horizontal (as opposed to vertical) hole.   

ivory tusk

I was asked to give the pendant the look of antique ivory – i think i accomplished that quite nicely.  The ivory base reacted beautifully to the silvered stringer by crackling and turning a bit golden…

Here’s the back view:

tusk back view

Tales from the torch: Dec. 24th/07

Another bunch of custom orders: requests were for oranges, reds, browns, golds… plus your first glimpse of anything “floral” from me.  They’re all around 2inches long or so.

 Red, orange, browns and golds

From left to right:

  • oval floral: (sold) this bead is my fave, I’ll have a hard time letting it go.  made with my new crunch bead press received for my b-day.  I’m realizing more and more I’m not really a “press” person – i find i only use them to start the bead and then refine the shape to suit my own tastes.  wish I’d realized that BEFORE i bought a pile of them…
  • rectangular tree: this bead was a total surprise – i layered the gold from the oval to the left over the orange from the teardrop to the right expecting a more muted orange but got this earthy brownish gold instead.  pretty cool… It has a bit of sparkle from the silver and gold leaf plus a bit of reduction around the bottom.  i left the frit partially raised so it feels great: all nice and nubbly
  • floral teardrop (sold): I like the shape and pattern on this one so much i think I’ll try it again with different colours.  Most noticeable here is how much my stringer (spaghetti sized threads of glass) control has improved – I can actually draw stems and leaves now!
  • flattened teardrop: this bead is a completely different and slightly retro direction. love it but the bottom half broke coming off the mandrel.  I’m thinking it’s either incompatibility between the glasses or else i didn’t keep it warm enough while making it.  I’m going to remake it to see which…