Tuesday, 28 September 2010

And The Answer is.....

Thank you to everyone who had a go at guessing what strange glass items I was making last week. The answer was..... Dog Whistles!

Set just above the range of human hearing but they can be heard by dogs (and cats, but they are above being summoned by a whistle!) these whistles can be used as a training aid. The metal is gold plated, giving it that bright brass look without having to polish! At the other end is a link which can be attached to a keyring, bag, belt, or hung around the neck on a cord. I have made a hollow borosilicate glass centre with lots of colour to make it more eye-catching.

I imaged them straightaway as being an ideal addition to a Steampunk utility belt or purse. As Steampunks are likely to get into many scrapes and adventures, I can see this being quite useful; whether it's crash landing an airship in the Artic and needing to get the attention of a passing huskies train, or distracting werewolves in the back streets of London, I am sure this will do the job while adding a touch of extra style to any outfit!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Marble Video

One of my most asked about items is the flower marbles I make. Maybe because I know how they are made I don't really think about it, so I was surprised when people asked me questions which I thought odd, like 'do I buy them and put glass around them?' I even had some people asking if they are real flowers inside! Initially I was surprised at that one, the idea of putting molten glass over real flowers! Toasty! Then I realised what a compliment that was, that I'm getting them more life like!

I figured the best way was to show how it's done. The problem with that is one of these can take me 35-45 minutes, depending on how well it works and how complex they are. I decided time lapse was the best way, so I speeded up the action three times to make this little 12minute video.

My camera memory is a bit limited, so I had to cut making the coloured glass cane that makes the stripy flowers, and the first ten minutes. Also it has a bit of a tint as I put a spare pair of safety glasses in the front to remove the sodium flares the glass produces - a previous attempt was just lots of bright yellow glows!

I hope you enjoy it, I just wish I could work so fast normally!

Monday, 20 September 2010

SteamPunk Saturday & Competiton

It feels like ages since I've been at the torch, what with so many events and things going on. One thing I've been wanting to do is make more Steampunk inspired stuff, but I seem to be easily distracted by pretty shiny new glass and techniques to try out.

I'm trying to make a conscious effort not to do 'sticking cogs on stuff.' I'm not saying there is anything wrong with 'sticking cogs on stuff,' but the genre is more than cogs. I guess it's part of the genre becoming more known, and thus more commercial, and cogs and gears are quite iconic. There is a whole other host of motifs that have yet to be explored. Also, making cogs out of glass is difficult. I know, I've tried.

One very common yet now seldom seen Edwardian design was faux marbling. You still see it on old books, and was done by floating oil based inks on water, making pretty swirls in it, then passing the paper under the water then up to 'stick' the colour on. Faking marble with paint on decor is even older, I have a copy of a 1600's book on how Paper Mache and wood was made to look like tortoiseshell and marble.
When I started making the razors (some exciting news about them coming very soon!) the first comment my 'other half' said was the effect reminded her of a tortoiseshell. Since those early ones the handles became more colourful, and now they remind me more of these old marbling effects. The name 'Steampunk Tortoiseshell' seemed to have stuck though!

I am also too practical for my own good, and even when I try to make Steampunk stuff often they don't get finished unless they 'do something!' This weekend I've been marrying up my 'Steampunk Tortoiseshell' glass with some brass parts (no cogs!) to produce something that does something, and is also wearable. Whether that 'something' is useful is another thing altogether! I'll announce what it is in a few days time when I start listing 'it' in my Etsy shop. However if you'd like to leave a comment with a guess the first one to get it right I'll send a free handmade marble to! No limit to the amount of guesses, and as an extra clue this device is unisex, and can easily be held in one hand. I can't wait to see your guesses!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Be a Revolutionary Rebel - Make and Buy One-off's!

Black Gilson Opal Heart inside red Pendant

Recently I applied to some of the 'professional' selling sites, the ones that go after adverts and write-ups in the glossy posh women's magazines as the place to buy from. Initially I was a bit disappointed that they weren't interested in what I have, but thinking about it again I can see how what I do doesn't suit their way of working, The more I think about it, the more I realise I am probably the complete opposite of what they do!

Everything I make ends up being a one off. It doesn't mater if I try to do the same thing twice to make a pair (now you see why I don't list many earrings!) each piece is always slightly different in some way. My curiosity often gets in the way too, 'what if I add green to the next one, or add this, or take that out?' and suddenly I'm making a one off again. If I put my mind to it I can make several flower marbles in a row, but even if they are the same colour they end up with the petals and shapes slightly different.
ZOOM!! Rocket pendant -listed st Etsy Store

For those who like one-off's this isn't a problem, but when listed in a glossy magazine I can see how that might be a problem. I remember an Orchid seller I used to know having the same problem when trying to win a contract with a large well-know chain store. Although he won on them being raised in England, he couldn't guarantee that each plant would be the same, which is what they wanted for them to all match on the shelf, so they went with a Dutch grower instead.
One of the things I found great about doing the stall last week was that people were so excited to be able to buy pendants that they knew were one off's. I'd forgotten what an usual and rare thing that has now become in our mass-produced society.
Tadpole Squiggle galaxy - listed at Folky

Not being able to 'knock out' twenty closely matching flowers does mean that I photograph and list each item individually. This week I re-jigged my photo setup for the twentieth time, as I seemed to spend hours taking photos that still weren't any good! Finally I've got a set up I am happy with, (for now!) and I'm getting more consistent photo's, and each is taking a lot less time too. This means I've been able to crack on and list the HUGE stash of pendants I've made recently, and start to re-fill my Etsy and Folksy stores.

I guess I'll never be a 'designer' with people wearing exactly the same handbag with the same logo in every city, but I know that when I box up and post out a pendant or a bottle stopper that the person at the other end is getting something unique, and that gives me a warm glow in itself. It's almost as if I'm being an underground rebel against the mass-produced culture! Viva La Revolution!

Monday, 6 September 2010

Dark Mills 2010

What an amazing weekend! Where do I start? We travelled up to London on Friday so we would be ready for an early start Saturday morning, having picked a hotel literally a stones throw from Merton Abbey Mills. We even bumped into the events creator on the tube on the way there! After an evening catching up with old friends I didn't sleep much as had too many 'did I pack that?' going around my head!

A big breakfast then I dragged a body bag sized case to the venue and started setting up at 8 am. Although the event didn't start till later, I got plenty of interest from locals out walking dogs and grabbing coffees. I had a few manic flurries, but the day was fairly quiet - well almost! I didn't realise quite how close to the stage I was, and from midday I started having to do a lot of shouting! After about 6pm I could feel a sore throat coming on, not to mention the sore feet! It was a really hot day but being close to the hotel I did manage to dive back to change while Ellie, my OH, took charge of the stall (including getting the first sale of the day!)

I got to talk to lots of people, so many were really complimentary about my glass, it was so nice for people to be able to see the colours and depths to them. Some people said I'd given them too much choice! Although I'd planned to stay open till 10, by 8 we were dead on our feet so threw everything in the case shut for the night. We'd originally planned to go to the 10pm bar/club, but after a quick bite to eat we were ready for bed! So much for my rock-'n-roll lifestyle!

Sunday was a much more relaxed day, but turned out to be more amazing still! We were able to set up later, so got a bit of a lie in, before forgoing the rather disappointing hotel grub for breakfast in the Waterwheel cafe, a smart move as it was soooo tasty! We were due to have a stall next to us on Saturday selling wigs, but sadly her car broke down. When Ghoulia Peculiars http://www.myspace.com/ghouliaspeculiars managed to make it on Sunday everyone was suitable overwhelmed by the amazing handmade creations she bought with her. Wigs don't even come close to describing them, even a full head masks to transform the wearer into a wolf! Her Ophelia wig was so long she said it still trailed the floor when a 6ft model was wearing it (with heals!) There was quite a bit of trying on, even the compare Dave Disaster ran away wearing a rather fetching floral one onto the stage! One of the things that made the event so enjoyable was that all the organisers and co-ordinators were so friendly and helpful, and very, very well organised!

I managed to get more breaks during the day, and after 8pm we slowly started packing away just as a troupe of fire performers started to heat things up! Ellie got some fantastic shots of them (I'll upload more on my facebook page from the weekend.) About then an Alien wandered into the venue as they started an open air screening of the film. Someone must have called for help, as an exact copy of the 'Ghostbusters' car turned up to deal with the Alien menace! It was a slightly surreal but very fun end to an weekend full of amazing sights and sounds - I just had to get a shot of me by the car!

I've not counted the pennies exactly, after the extra expense of the hotel room and travel I may not have done more than break even, but it was such a great weekend it was so worth doing. It was great to meet so many people, thank you to everyone who came up to see my glass and chat, I certainly hope I'll be able to do it again next year!

The stall set out ready! I need more coffee!

Pondering customer - too much choice!

Wow! Wigs and masks from Ghoulia's Peculiars

Julia from Ghoulua's Peculiars fits an amazing blue wig

It's not a full moon is it?

Stall organiser Steph tries out the Medusa wig!
And Compare Dave Disaster tries something in pink!

The gathering crowds and the very smartly dressed singer from Ghostfire

Look - You forgot to polish those boots!


Alien Vs Ingela from http://www.veilofvisions.com/
Ooops! Alien decides this is a good time to leave!

Can I get one of these?

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Last Minute Threading!

A quick reminder that I will be at the Dark Mills festival this weekend in Collingwood in London http://www.darkmillsfestival.com/market.html , I'm still working like mad putting everything together, I have my tick list so I hope I don't forget anything! One thing I have been checking is the weather, especially after the winds and torrential rains of last weeks bank holiday weekend. The good news is it looks fine and warm, ideal as so much of the event is outdoors, and I am sure there will be some amazingly dressed people at the event to make my currently purple tinted hair look rather tame! I am very much hoping my new cyberpunk pendants will find some new homes to go along with some amazing outfits!

A quick couple of photos of some luscious red pendants, each with some lovely Gilson Opal heart-shaped inclusions! These will be on the stall this weekend, so long as I get a move on and get the ends crimped and them boxed and packed in time! Must dash, there are some last minute glass snakes that need putting on cords! If you are coming along I hope to see you there, if not have a great weekend! :)