Wednesday, 17 August 2016

LFCC, Birmingham, and Sunden changes of plan

Firstly a big thanks to everyone who came and saw us at London Film and Comic-con at Olympia. For those of you who keep up with my random Facebook postings you’ll know at one point it was touch and go if I’d make it at all! I’m so glad we did, the new layout made walking around a lot easier with wider aisles plus less stair climbing with almost everything on one floor. I’ve already booked for next year, so I’m hopping to make that a regular appearance from now one (fingers crossed!)

 Although this past month has taught me that all plans can suddenly change at the last minute. A combination of transport problems and ill family member two weeks before LFCC caused some very fast change of plans, plus a few sleepless nights trying to re-arrange everything I’d put into place months before. I do dedicate a lot of time and energy before these events to ensure I have everything I need as well as a good choice of some of my best glass for people to choose – but then I also expect last minute things to go wrong, and as much as I make contingency plans forgetting to pack things like enough business cards does still happen!

Recent events behind the scenes means that I am going to have to radically change a few things over the next few months, and regrettably November’s Birmingham MCM at NEC is going to have to be one of the events I am not going to be able to attend. It’s really a shame, as it is such a relaxed event, we meet such great people there, and as a bonus Birmingham has some of the best curry houses we get to visit too! At the moment we may also have to miss the March 2017 one too, but I’m hoping things get resolved before then so we can make our return then. Also I am only able to get to Covent Garden one day a week at the moment, on Tuesdays, and I am also hoping in the next few months that I will be able to get there for more days too. I do also hope to also increase the amount of glass in my Etsy shop too, which not prepping for Birmingham will allow me more time to concentrate on too.

One show that definitely we will be at is London’s MCM Expo at Excel on 28-30th October. Not only will we be back with as much as I can carry but we will be in exactly the same spot at May, with a ‘booth’ style stall too which makes it much easier to layout and display the glass for you to see. I’m already making new aliens for it, I’ll be extending the range of coloured inks for dip pens too which previewed at LFCC, including three new metallic colours. There will also be pendants, marbles, more rings and earrings, and if we have room some more boxes and ‘B-Movie’ cushions too. I do hope to see you there, so long as nothing else happens in the meantime!

All the best


Tuesday, 19 January 2016

New year, new glass

Happy New Year! It seems so long ago already, but maybe because I've been so busy melting glass it's taken me this long to share all the new news with you.

Firstly thank you to everyone who came and saw me, or bought on line, this Xmas. Its great to see so many people supporting handmade crafts, Covent Garden has such a buzz with people. Of course the next few months are a lot quieter, and much, much colder, so I won't be there every week from now until March. I'll be staying in front of the flame thrower to keep warm and make new glass for you, but do keep an eye on my Facebook page for when I'm next there.

Of course I have been refilling the Etsy shop over the last few weeks, the past few months have been amazing as I have now sold to 23 different countries directly from my Etsy shop since opening it! And what a range and diversity of countries; Argentina, Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Turkey, to name but a few, with about ten of those new countries added over the past few months alone.

I'm delighted to also announce my glass has gone even more international with a shop in Sweden now stocking a small range of my potion bottles and teapot earrings at

The keen eyed (and Swedish speakers) will recognise that translates as 'Witches House' and by coincidence I have been working on a new range of blown glass, base around tiny caldrons. A few of these went into my Etsy shop today, I hope also to extend the range of colours and make some larger ones too, they are quite fun plus like my potion bottles the smaller ones can fit tiny corks to fill them.

I've also taken the chance to upgrade and tweak the design of my classic potion bottles, and add a little extra 'evil' to them. I'm now producing a few with a skull and crossbones design pressed into the hot glass. Unlike so many mass produced bottles this means it isn't just a bit of paper stuck on, with coloured dye or paint on the bottle, it won't wear off and adds a textured design to the bottles. A few of these are also going into my shop too.

I will also be endeavouring to make more marbles this year, last year I was plagued with shoulder injuries so haven't been able to make as many or any flower marbles due to the awkward angle I need to hold the glass at for these. That's on the mend, so I hope to get back to adding lots of new galaxy and space marbles soon, and already have put quite a selection of micromarbles for the Orion's Belt prop on line. However I may have to hold back on producing more earplugs, as I am still not happy with the way the designs are working, and need to do some serious tweaking to get a process I am happy with, so apologies to all those waiting for various sizes and designs, I'll re-launch those properly once I've got them right in a few months time.

Monday, 16 February 2015

New Little Worlds 2.0 are coming! And this time they're Alien!

New Alien little worlds being cleaned
Long time no blog, but as I've been taking a few extra weeks away from Covent Garden and Greenwich I've been catching up on a few things, including new ideas.

Tiny 'Men-in-Black' marble with penny for scale

Lately everything has been small, from smaller and smaller little galaxy marbles for people making the 'Men in Black' prop (or just who like small cute marbles!) to a return to finding a replacement for the little world earrings I used to make.

For those who didn't read about if previously crack-in-world,
Past Little Worlds that had problems with batches of cracking glass

or haven't seen them, I used to make some little tiny world earrings and pendants that had multiple layers of glass to produce clouds with 23ct gold leaf as islands and continents. They were getting more and more 'Earth like' and was about to explore a way of even adding poles to make them even more realistic when I ran into some problems with the glass I used for them.

It was pretty exotic stuff, and also needed lots of layers which didn't always play well with each other, I could have a failure rate of 20% some days, added to which it wasn't even the usual borosilicate glass that I use so have to clear the decks to stop cross-contamination of the different glasses. One of the types I used was becoming harder to get hold of, and after waiting a few months got a precious 1/2lb from the American factory that makes it. That's when disaster struck.

I always had a higher than wanted failure rate, but this last batch was terrible! Out of about 50 I think only 3 didn't crack in half before I even got them out of the kiln. Contacting the factory seem to also fall on deaf ears, and later talking to people 'in the know' found out they'd been having problems with this for a while. Even when I did get them to work the colours weren't nearly as good or as reliable, so I decided to start looking around for an alternative.

I made a few back in January of last year, and one or two looked quite interesting. One batch mostly went a boring bloody brown colour, but a few of these were an amazing multi-coloured medley of blues and greens giving them a real Neptune effect. Some stayed a little lighter red and whites to make passable Jupiters too. However time constraints and swapping from Greenwich to Covent Garden didn't give me time to explore them further - until now.

I'm still tweaking the formula, the effects are quite random, but revisiting them I'm getting some lovely colour combos. There is a failure rate, but so far it's around 5-10% which is much better if it says like that. There are the green and blue Neptunes, a few with purple whisps, brown and reds for Mars, and even the odd Jupiter too. Plus it's given me ideas for new glasses to try, one is producing a green-yellow that's quite weird, and even some slightly metallic textures too. As for Saturn, no, not doing that one yet!

Pairing them up is going to be quite a tricky one though, but hopefully I'll have some in the Etsy shop soon, and will be bringing them along to the MCM Expo in Birmingham on 21-22ns March at the NEC.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Handmade Glass Lace Bobbins

I answered a desperate call over on the UK Lampwork forum 'Frit Happens' a week or so ago for 'help, can anybody here make glass lace bobbins?' After a quick google images to remind me what a lace bobbin looks like, I cautiously answered 'maybe, possibly.' I know, it's a cop-out answer but I've learnt the hard way not to commit myself to making something before I've tried - some of the simplest looking things turn out to be the hardest. I know some people run towards commissions, I tend to run away!

After a few emails with the lady who wants them I had a go at a few designs since the kiln was already on and hot! It was unusal trying to match them to an existing design which was hollow, I made these in solid glass which I'm more comfortable with, plus I think it gives them a nicer weight. Sizing was tricky, as she needed a set of ten, so I remembered a bit from my class with Jennifer Umphress where she showed how she used simple cardboard templates to make some of her large complex glass frames, and a permanent marker to size the glass. I ended up making a few more than planned, altering the existing design to make it more my own style, plus simplifing parts of the design to make it easier to keep them straight when making.

Test Glass Lace Making Bobbins
The customer, luckily, liked what I'd come up with, so asked me to make the ten. I did a bakers/glass makers dozen which was a good job as despite the template the sizes varied a little more than I wanted. I'm guessing getting too closed to the template and lightly charring it probably didn't help much in that regard!

They were so different to the type of glass I normally make they were surprisingly therapeutic to make. I don't know if I'll make many more, it has to be a hard-head business decision of having enough demand, but I can already see scope for ways I can make really special and unusal ones. 

The finished Glass Lace Bobbins
I'll probably make a more robust template if I make some more!

Friday, 14 March 2014

My Lampwork Manifesto

I've not published anything on the blog for a while, I've been using the immediacy of Facebook to relay any news, so I thought it a good time to re-think and re-state some thoughts. I'm thinking more about my 'art' side of things of late, and as I'm in more radical mood today I've re-written my 'artists statement and intention,' which has turned more into a manifesto, and explains 'why lampworking' as an artists medium. I don't expect everyone will 'get it' or understand some of it, but I think and hope it might strike a chord (no pun intended) with a few lampworkers who might read this.

Lampworking is rock ‘n' roll. Not that corporate-MTV-boyband rock ‘n' roll, but the sawdust and spilt beer on the floor, stale smoke BO filled dirty dark basement, ear-bleeding howling broken amp rock ‘n' roll. Furnace glassblowers are the orchestral movement; choreographed and rehearsed, we appreciate them in awe as they come together with grace and practise to produce beauty. We do love the fused workers jazz creations as they layer colour on colour, tone on tone, but we can't work that way. Spontaneity and individuality are why we work alone to bring life our crazed obsessive visions that we can't explain. We have to show and shout and smash and burn, to create.

In garages and dark unloved rooms we make our noise, thrashing and practising at guitars or torches to learn how to express ourselves. Cuts and blisters for both, and we continue through bleeding fingers as the music takes shape. The language is the same; one talks of larger amps and mixers to make bigger noise, the other bigger kilns and oxycons to make bigger glass. For one it's a Stratocaster or Les Paul guitar, for the other a GGT or Herbert Arnold torch; a blank tape or a clear rod of glass. To get them we play our cheap battered instruments, busking in streets or flea markets, making what we have to to pay for the creations in the back of our minds. These are not middle-of-the-road melodies or Christmas tree trinkets, these are single minded visions, drawn out of the darkest depths of our mind. There is no expectation anyone will even understand us, so we carry on alone, hoping our peers and idols might give a nod and say 'cool'. That's the only bread we have to keep us going in the hope of finally getting a proper gig. A dive bar, a tired art boutique at the wrong end of town, our first real gig, and the hope that it will eventually lead to that football stadium or whitewashed gallery. Always the fear that we'll burn out and give up before we reach our dream, and, if we finally succeed, our inner vision has taken over and nothing is as important as the next cool rift or lattachino.
  And both are the only jobs where you HAVE to wear dark glasses indoors. Rock on!
(Lampwork Manifesto - Copyright Glenn Godden)

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Crack in the World

The world cracked from side to side..... and around the middle, across the top, and everywhere else!
The terrible blog title comes from a 1964 sci-fi disaster movie, 'Crack In The World', but in this case it should be millions of cracks as I struggle to get some little world earrings made. Producing them is turning into a disaster movie of their own!

I've been wanting to get some of the glass that makes such lovely cloudy effects for while now, and about six weeks ago I ordered about 3/4lb of this precious glass that hardly anyone seems to stock from a European stockist. And yes, that's in old school pounds weight, as glass producers still use imperial measurements as if they are sweet-shops (which, for anyone who works with glass, they are really!)

So I waited, and waited, and waited a bit more. Without going too much into the sordid details after several weeks, a lack of communication from the supplier (which would have smoothed things considerably) I eventually had to take it to a paypal dispute to get my money back. I got the refund, but not the glass I really needed.

So, now it was an order into an American stockist, which turned out to be super fast. They recommended using DHL for a few extra dollars, and considering the delays I'd already had I figured it was better to have the glass as quickly as possible. The last order I'd had from The States came from USPS (US Postal Service) was still moving around in the USA in the first three days, this delivery was picked up from the USA warehouse at 4pm Wednesday afternoon (their time) and on my door step before noon on Friday! Amazing, even more considering the USA is half a day ahead of us too, so they lost time flying it here!

So, kiln on, 23ct gold leaf ready, and I start making worlds. Or rather, I don't. This batch seemed to be reluctant to make the nice cloudy effects, I made a good 20-30 or so to see how they came out, and switched to another type I had that doesn't always make such nice clouds. I expect a few to crack, normally they are straight in half, and the second batch were mostly fine, but the new glass I'd waited so long for was a disaster! As you can see from the photo's, they have some severe incompatibility cracks, normally caused by mixing two glasses with different expansion rates together (COE) which may be the clear I normally use. It's always been fine in the past, and worked with the other glass fine. I have tried emailing customer service of the factory, but they don't seem interested in answering their emails to tell me if they've had anyone else have problems with this batch.

So this means that little worlds are going to be delayed even longer now, whilst I figure this out, or try to get another brand of glass to perform the same tricks I could get out of this one. I've even been giving serious thought to making my own, it'll probably be quicker to get that way! I am experimenting with some new world designs though, so watch this space.

In the meantime, and on a more positive note, I am now finally getting my Etsy shop refilled. I've been posting on Facebook to let people know, although I've been doing so much I'm worried all my Facebook followers are going to start thinking I'm spamming them! There are lots of new pendants, marbles, a few pens and pins, although earrings may be in short supply for a few more weeks, however when there are they may be some more unusual designs, so keep an eye on my status!

Bah! A days work and loads of gold leaf wasted :-(

Thursday, 22 August 2013

The pens are finished - and off to amazing desks!

Last week I finally finished the last of the pens, and as a bonus the company printing the boxes for them had them dispatched in record time. I always find it's the one thing that is out of my control that slows things down or puts an unexpected halt on progress, so I was delighted when they turned up a week before I expected them. This meant that I could package them up, and deliver them a full month ahead of the deadline.

Despite the weight I decided to deliver them in person, as I really didn't want these in the hands (or hobnail boot) of a courier company to loose, drop, throw around, and all the other jolly things that can go wrong. Like I said, minimising things that are out of my control that could go wrong! Also for the weight and size of the boxes the return ticket to London wasn't much more than posting plus I could wizz around a few stores to pick up some supplies too.

First stop was the offices of Academia Europaea  who I can now announce commissioned the pens. I am glad, and very relieved, to say they were delighted with the pens, most of which will now be sent to Wroclaw University in Poland where they will be handed out during a major gathering there of Europe's top academics. Apparently many will be given out with prizes and scholarships, and a few as a thank you to some of the special guests as well, which the Secretary of the society mentioned included 'a couple of Nobel prize winners,' which I must admit I didn't quite take in when he told me this. I certainly never expected any of my pens to end up on quite such illustrious desks! As it is their 25th anniversary year they wanted something a little more original and interesting than a mass produced pens and tie pins, so I was delighted to hear that my dip pens fitted the bill. Although the various academic luminaries who will be getting one of the pens don't know yet, so don't tell them!

For me it's been a great commission to do, and it's a real bonus to hear that they are going to be a small part of such a large event to honour the work of some of Europe's leading minds - plus to be in their offices and on the desks when they return home. I certainly never envisioned this when I first had the idea to make dip pens.