Thursday, June 26, 2014

Older Moment and a Damn Good One!

You have got to go and play this for yourself - if you're female and over 30 you deserve to see it.  LOVE IT!  Go to the  site and play the video - it's just GREAT.
Those aren't my legs but they look just like that - hot damn.

Do Over as I work on clay beads

Working on some redo's in clay today.  Tomorrow I'll be doing some more lampworking and when I'm ready to sit down for the day to relax I work on making some clay components.  Yes, it's how I relax.  The one that's complete (glazed, colorful, not so great) in this photo was an original I made about 6 years ago in a ceramic refresher I took with Jennifer Heynen.   I hadn't touched clay since college so I was having a wonderful time refreshing those skills.  I haven't stopped since that class.  I just intersperse it in with everything else.  I know lots of lampworkers who work with polymer clay, fibers, or metals - us artistic types never seem to sit still. 

The original is kind of yucky - I'd never done under glazes and you know how classes are - rush rush rush and learn the techniques.  But I like the craziness of it so I decided that with some alterations it might be an interesting focal piece, albeit a fairly large one.
I put on the wing - Maybe I should have stuck with it but all of a sudden wasn't sure if I liked it for the bigger work - or instead of people thinking it represented a mask they might get some sinister angel vs. devil kind of thing, which it isn't.  So, off with the wing and on with two horns. 
Hopefully the colors I chose for the mask will help to make him a more happy character and less ominous.   I guess I better keep it colorful.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

As if there wasn't another bell or whistle....

Well, who was it that said. "Less is more..."  I'm just not sure but it was a chance meeting with Cindy Jenkins who said something about more never being enough - shucks I wish I could remember exactly the way she phrased it but alas, that ain't gonna happen.  The only thing this aquarium bead is lacking is the turtle.  I had all I could do to handle what I did put in.  Two jelly fish swimming off the ledge (that's the new addition), a star fish, some murrini, coral (yup, that's new too!), other fun stuff (like sparkly dichro) and lichen too!  It's big - about 2 1/2" big.  I should of put a turtle on the back but I had done about all I could do - maybe on the next one.  Yikes!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Making Glass

The photo and the text are from Lauscha Lady's newsletter. Since we were just talking about murrini I thought I'd repost it here because it's a great shot of how hand pulled glass is made.  This is a German glass and very beautiful.  They pull those huge wads of glass to 5/6mm thick for the rest of us to use in our flames. It takes three to do it as one lays down the crossbars the glass lays against or uses a paddle to hold a sag while the other two are holding or pulling the larger gather. I just can not imagine the strength it takes to do that. Amazing stuff glass!  The reason they are referring to the clarity of the transparent glass is that their clear is a favorite among glass artists who want to encase their beads.  It is beautiful.  My favorite is their opaque red...I just love their red.

Hand pulling glass rod.

Hand pulled versus machine made = more pristine.  What this means is that a team of three people are involved in rod making.  Two pull the gather into the diameter needed.  Then a third cuts the pull into meter long rods. This is how it’s been done traditionally for 150 years. That is the reason the clears and transparents are exquisite.  Not touched by hard machines, just pulled in the same manner we pull a stringer.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Maybe it's Karma

I saw a bead - LOL.  Isn't that statement something?  Like I see dead people....thank goodness I do not.  Anyway, I saw some beads on the cheap.  No doubt they were Chinese made quickies meant for the mass trade.  Not particularly good but they did spark something in me so I copied the thought.  Hahahahha - it's Karma, I'm telling you. 

Chinese copies of American creations is rampant.  A dear friend just had her castings copied verbatim and then they used her own photos of her work from Etsy to sell it.  Isn't that sad?  And there honestly is not much you can do about  it.  Yes, there are people who have done that - fought their system.  But far far and away the only reasonable course for any artist is to let it go.  Protect yourself where you can but fighting with a giant may only bring you tears and pain - unless, of course, you're feeling very "David" today.

Currently there is an artist on Etsy who sends beads to have them copied in China and then sells them on Etsy as her own.  With the new Etsy rules you are allowed to do that.  Really nice, huh?  Actually, it's easy to find her - they're on every single page.  In fact, type in "lampwork beads" onto Etsy and you will see the factory takes up a large percentage of every page.  What a shame it's driven out so many artists.  I guess if Etsy is going to grow they must feel a need for the money these factories can provide.  Even an on-line store is just that - a store.  It's up to the customer to decide on how much due diligence they want to extend to researching their components.

Whew, that was a bit of tangent - sorry.  Anyhow - this is my interpretation of the Buddha that influenced me.  Mine's better!  Of course.  And it comes with some great extras. 

I tend to use my "Hug and Kiss" stamp on the back of any bead that's appropriate.  I created it and sold some but I so love it.

I love Buddha and all he represents.  Buddhism is one of the great religions of the world and I'm all for Peace, Love, Happiness and the freedom to worship as you please in peace.
Judging from this post you could probably surmise I'm also for turnabout is fair play!  Go Buddha!  Aren't I feeling a bit Zen......

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Tidepools and the New Murrini

I couldn't wait to try the new murrini.  Not to bad at all.  I will have to try a few more but this was fun.  

This is a smaller bead - there are a lot of great things going on but I made it before the turtle murrini was complete. 

See my little turtle back murrini?  This bead got all the bells and whistles....starfish, baby turtle, all the lichen, and goodies deep within the tide pool. 

These are great fun to do - they take a lot of time (some times two hours in the torch) but it's fun to design as you are working.  The bead at the top is already listed on Etsy.  The photos are bigger only because my turtle beads hasn't been photographed for Etsy yet.  It will probably get listed over the next couple of days.  I can't wait to make more.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Turtle Murrini

Murrini is ancient...a thousand flowers is what the translation boils down to.  I learned murrini making from Loren Stump.  The current king of murrini making.  No one does it as complicated or as well as Loren. You will certainly enjoy this demo from Corning and will give you an idea of how complicated this can be.  Yes, thank goodness there are easy murrini we can all make but there's nothing like that feeling of holding up a glob of glass and knowing that you are going to having this incredible miniature to work with when it's all pulled out. 


Look at the size of piece of glass he is holding and working on.  Trust me - this is not easy.  And all of this to make a murrini that might be pulled as small as 1/4" or smaller.  Of course, these large and complicated murrini's of Loren's are not pulled to this extreme - they are meant to seen.  But, it is glass and the blending that goes on to create the depth (WOW) - and think about the amount of minute details in a piece that is 28mm X 58mm.  This is considered a large and extremely complex murrini.  It has a price tag to match - it's a collectors piece.

The detail in this is incredible - it was made in sections, heated, and assembled.  I believe you can see the process on Loren's site.  It's highlighted above so you can easily go and look at his amazing work.

Can I do this?  Oh hell no.  I've made the faces and learned to do simpler murrini.  There are very few brave souls who would even attempt what Loren is capable of making.  He is the maestro of this form - a master.  I bow to the temple of Stump on this one.
But, if you're going to learn to do something you might as well sit at the feet of the master - and so I did.  I took my first class with Loren when I was a red and raw rookie.  I dropped hot glass on the floor - burned a hole in the plywood protecting the floor - was totally embarrassed and learned more than anyone should have the privilege of learning.  It has held me steadfast through all of these years.  I took the second class with Loren some 15 years later and was much better prepared.  I also got a nasty burn because I got distracted and moved my hand into the path of the flame.  What is it about his class that makes me reckless - it's beyond me and has never happened - before or after.  Just with him.  What a putz I can be...maybe there were stars in my eyes.  I do know I was trying to hard and needed to relax.
But what about this turtle murrini you're saying - since I titled this post that way.   Well, here you go.  I wanted a turtle in some of the tide pool beads that I'm making.  You can't exactly do an intricate turtle shell on them so I thought I might make one.  I saw one on Corinna's beads - (she wrote the first and definitely book on beadmaking - Passing the Flame) and decided I needed to make one.
Crap - what was I thinking - I got way carried away.  I looked like Loren holding up a glob of glass that was an inch thick and 2+ inches wide.  I know better - really I do.  You're supposed to start small - its a single smallish murrini not a piece of a complex one.  By the time I was done (an hour and a half later) I needed some extreme massage from the DH to recover.  I hope the murrini works out when I use it.  I pulled it way to small for some of what I want to do.  It's an issue for me for sure - and boy did those lessons come back - I could hear Loren yelling in the background - "Don't make it look like a bone when you are pulling it - that means not enough heat was applied to the ends."   Grrrrrrr, and a bone shape I had - as you can see.  Heaven's allowing, it will be cute on the beads.  And worth the hour plus I spent creating it.

You can see from the photos on the top I had quite the handle bars on this piece of murrini I was pulling and how it cracked as it cooled.  I never put the ends in the kiln just the cut sections you can see in my fist (complete with doggie hair).  The last photo are of some of them after I lapped them down.  I haven't much on the way of an index fingerprint after that but I have a nice selection of sizes. 
No, that's not all of the murrini I ended up with.  Those sticks in my fist were each about 4 or 5 inches long and since you use tile nippers to cut them into pieces less than a quarter inch thick you get quite a few.  What is on the paper towel is only what I might use when I'm ready to try them. 
As soon as the first tide pool or aquarium bead is done with them I will post it here.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

On the Bench Today

My friend Susan and I are going to do the bead Show in Southfield this fall.  I haven't done that show in a very long time.  Since I now make ceramic beads in addition to the lampwork I decided I might as well show both types of work so in the evening when the TV is just in maximum overdrive I've pulled out the old table to work.  So far I thought I'd start with sets of rounds that I can paint with colorful decorations.  I'll try to make about ten sets.  They're a little on the labor intensive side when you aren't just putting one color of glaze on them but if I limit the sets with the fancy paint jobs and then work on regular glazes for others it will all even out I hope.

So here is the removable bench:  The largest beads are hollow - no one needs a lot of weight around their neck.  Jennifer Heynen taught me how to do this and frankly I just love it. 

The larger beads are about 1 1/2 " large.  See the plastic spoons?  It's my tip for keeping them as round as I can.  I tend to roll them around in there and they round back up nicely. 

Have a wonderful week.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Cleanliness is right up there with Raising Spirits

Every dog has their own personality.  Our Nellie (first retriever) was a priss with everything until it came to water.  She loved water but didn't swim and didn't like her head wet.  So she acted like the lake and rivers were her swimming pool.
Trudy, our now oldest on the other hand thinks water is for ducks and is totally disinterested unless it's for a drink or the occasional bath tub - reluctantly!  And then comes Daisy- - - - hahahahaha.  She blows bubbles in the water bowl and is totally not intimidated by it one single bit.  She acts like a firefighters airplane picking up water in the lake with her lower jaw open - then she closes it and moves away from the bowl as she closes her "hatch" around the water and....out it comes from all directions.  Water - It's for pawing, frolicking, blowing bubbles, and otherwise jumping around in and having a great time.  We could tell she would like it because she did the same thing with her water bowl as a puppy and when I was careless the toilet.  My kitchen floor is a constant puddle - as witnessed by the towel I keep on it so I can drag it around with my foot.  I guess you could reframe that by saying my floor is constantly washed.  Trudy (the elder) does a three lick rhythm and never gets a drop anywhere.  Viva La Difference

Here are some photos of the "water baby" and what I'm working on.  Enjoy.

Does anyone have an technical questions they'd like answered about lampwork or metal?  I'm open.  Post them in the comments and I'll answer them on the next post.

I've never put a video on the Blog before so I hope that this works. Here is Daisy in her new pool. We try and find things which she will enjoy that we can keep in the yard and aren't too stressful. She's enjoying this, don't you think?

She has an inhibited joy when playing in the water.  I can't wait until the lake is warm enough that I can take her in to strengthen her back leg muscles.   I was told it would be good therapy for her...probably for me too.
Back to the torch - enjoy the video....

Friday, June 6, 2014

It's June - Holy Cow - and new work!

We wanted summer so badly and now we are being carried off by hoards of angry mosquitos.  I finally sprayed the yard for the dogs sake.  We can't have those ticks and fleas bothering them.  Yes, they also get the regime of vet prescribed stuff but you want to make sure the bases are well covered. 

I've made some beads - you'll see them listed on the Etsy  I'm finally getting back to business.  Daisy has had a short reprieve as her muscles are catching up to her size.  No, unfortunately it doesn't mean she won't have to have surgery.  She is still in deep water there but because we have been careful she is walking and joyful.  We're trying to give her every opportunity to get into that adult body before we plow ahead.

As to the metal - yup, been playing around.  I've a few things that need finishing and I'll post as it goes but here are a pair of earrings I finished.  I wanted to see how a loop would do hung freely from a tab.  Pretty good.  Lots of freedom of movement.  Everything is all soldered up nicely - and I like the Amazonite chips woven around the edge of the hoop.  It just needed a little something.  I went through my chips and showed a friend a rose quartz and a mixed batch.  She laughed at the pink - she's so not a pink person.  So I went with the blue/green.

All sterling silver, nice oxidization, handmade earring wires, everything soldered so nothing is going to come "undone"
What do you think of this style?  I've been working on some new tin pieces too and some cast earring pieces to hang lampwork beads from.  I was interested in creating some original intermediate links for earrings. 
Yup, been busy - how is your summer going so far?
Hugs, Sharon