Wednesday, 25 February 2009


I've not been able to post much here, both physically and mentally, as a dear friend passed away last week. This has been rather a shock to the system to say the least, especially since you really couldn't wish to have met a nicer man. I will be away from around 4/5th March for his funeral, and back around the 10/11th so my shops and website will be a little neglected until then.

Monday, 16 February 2009

May you live in interesting times...............Father Ted!!!

Some years ago I heard of a ‘Chinese curse’ (which may or may not really be Chinese at all!) which was very subtle, and seems to sum the world up too well – ‘May you live in interesting times.’
Sounds fine doesn’t it? Humm! We’re not even though the second month of this year and it’s been such a rollercoaster ride already I’m not sure which way is up some days! It all seems to have a knock on effect with creativity - I’d heard many people warn and complain about losing their ‘glassy creative mojo’ and now I sadly see what they mean. This Saturday I spent way too many hours fiddling with glass tubes and producing distorted globs of glass. I even tried using a new glass blowing mandrel I’d yet to get the courage up to use. The glass started to inflate, then pop, and I spent so much time with it in the flame I managed to melt through the steel and the front dropped off!!! I’ve never done that before! I started hacksawing off the front to tidy the wound, but it was so hard I blunted the saw.

In space of actually managing to get some proper glass made, I decided to do something different and put together a tutorial on my website for gold leaf handling for beginners. I saw so many bad and unhelpful directions in glass books with people trying to use bits of paper and the like, it seemed it might help a few people out. Gold leaf tends to stick really easily to fingers! (If you want my best tip without reading it – dust your fingers with talc!) It's now on my site
Of course it reminded me of my neglected gilding, and the chessboards I used to make, in fact I have one in the shed/workshop that was so very nearly finished. Do you remember an episode of Father Ted when he got a car to raffle? There was a small dent which he tapped to knock out, but made a different dent instead, until a few hours later the car was covered in dents and ruined? Well that last chessboard is like that! There was one small blemish on one square which I was going to leave……. I think you see where that’s going! I try to learn that lesson about handmade, but it so difficult not to want to make it all perfect!

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Two Steps Forward....

Sometimes it seems like it’s two steps forward and one step back. I have been struggling to get some torch time in, but it seems that when I should have time, I have other commitments or am too tired to manage it. The boro colour experiments were going quite well, however, I have discovered something dire – my kiln isn’t working properly!

It’s become such a vital piece of equipment for me. Before, I had to put them under a ceramic fibre blanket to cool and hope they wouldn’t crack. I'm in conversation with the kiln makers, so am hoping to get it resolved quickly. It’s limping along but I'm paranoid about filling it up with lovely beads only to have it suddenly stop and leave me with a kiln full of cracked ones! EKK!

However, on a much brighter note, I did manage to play with some ASK glass that I swapped on Frit Happens for a marver I couldn’t use, and I like what I got! It’s a heavy silver content glass, so it should come out with lots of metallics and colour change effects. I tried over some Lapis blue and even used my neglected lentil press! I never make lentils! They really seem to suit this style. Hope to get some photos on flickr or the website soon.

Talking of which, I have finally added an on-line shop to as I know some people don’t want to set up Folksy or Etsy accounts. It also gives me a chance to put on a few low-valued beads without having to charge more to cover loads of listing fees. Plus, I’ve come over all generous like, and to celebrate I am offering free postage! When I get back running properly I am going to start putting some new bead sets directly onto the site, so watch this space!

Monday, 2 February 2009

Random Hamster

Between the Walls
Originally uploaded by RandomHamsterling
One nice thing about getting out of my studio and ‘meeting people’ whether they are in the flesh, such as our first East Anglia Etsy meeting this weekend (Hi Lisa and Kathy at www.!) or on line.

One of my new online contacts is the wonderfully named ‘Random Hamster!’ aka Tracey at who has got a wonderfully quirky sense or humour reflected in some of her pictures on sale at Folksy, as well as some dramatic darker photographs. I actually prefer the darker ones of the moment, one she has of a carousel in black and white looks so creepy! As soon as I saw it I had Siouxie & the Banshee’s ‘Carousel’ in my head, and I don’t remember the last time I listened to that! It has that same brooding quality of something sinister about to happen ‘Such little hearts to miss a beat……..’

We seemed so saturated with advertising images making the world appear dayglo it’s great to see someone using their camera to peer though the gaps at a darker world beneath, and reminding us of things long buried to be forgotten. The carousel even reminded me of being stuck on one was I was tiny, and I remember not liking it very much either, amazing! I would never have remembered that until I saw that picture. The picture above is of Battle Abby, and I daren’t think what’s around that corner…

Tracey has kindly given me a very glowing report in her blog, as well as throwing me a new headache/challenge which is providing interesting; to make some of my implosion flowers into an earring/ear-plug. I started in earnest on Sunday morning, re-programming my kiln for the higher Boro annealing, only to find it had developed Alzheimer’s and couldn’t remember the next steps in it’s program! An hour later I sort of got it going, hastily changing it once it got up to a heady 530deg C as it thought it should only stay there for 1 minute, not 7 hours! . I then followed with an annealing/strike firings, this is the highest I’ve fired to so far, 570deg C and I will need to fire even higher soon as well! After a few attempts I think I got what I was looking for, although getting a predetermined size was tricky as I normally let the glass decide it’s own shape and thickness. This is certainly an interesting idea Tracey has put to me, for those with ear plugs the range of body jewellery is often limited to wooden dragons and steel shapes. I have seen some very interesting dichroic plugs, but they tend to all be made in America. I shall post picies when the kiln is cool. That’s if the kiln remembers to cool down…….