Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Like playing the piano

Doubtless you may have wondered where I have vanished to lately? Hibernating for winter, abducted by pirates? Sadly it’s more a ‘Lost in January’ than ‘Lost in Space!’

Apart from just trying to get through the day-to-day, I’ve been working on some larger longer term ‘stuff,’ hopefully more about that soon. I was surprised how whacked out I was by the Christmas flu, and the odd side effect caused by not being at the torch for a longer period. I’d forgotten how to make nice things!

At least that’s how it felt as getting back to it I seemed to only produced only wonky pendants and shaver handles in various shades of puce and congealed algae green! It took me back to my hot head days (a starter torch for soft glass), and remember that when I spent an hour a night on it I could see my work improving, but a huge intense day session might just produce poor work and frustration.

I guess it’s like learning to play the piano. Not that I’ve ever learnt to play the piano, but I think the analogy is right! It took a few days before it all started to click again, and then all the subtler bits started coming back. Also I noted how much slower I was working, which speeded up a little the more I worked. The next day was much more productive, with more and more looking ‘as they should’ with more details and colours in the pendants and marbles I was making (choosing them as they are were more second nature to me). I even managed to have ago at a couple of jellyfish brush handles, I feel very guilty as I know a few people have asked about these and it’s taking ages to get them right. I am nearly there, and hopefully within the next few weeks I’ll be back up to where I was before xmas again!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Silver Lined Big Holed Beads

I've finally had a chance to make some silver cored beads! I started by using brass tubing before using more expensive silver, and the first couple I made went really well. I used some reject beads with dents and imperfections on them. Once polished up the brass was really bright, they almost look gold! The hole through the middle is about 4.9-4.7mm, and the metal is put in after the beads have been made and cleaned.

I also tried some copper, but it was much thicker and I kept cracking the beads, but I'd got more confidence using the press and so switched to silver. I had some breakages, I seemed to go just a little too far at the end as one broke into three bits. Typically it was a really nice bead too! The next couple came out ok, then I had two nice ones chip, I guess I was getting too over confident at this point! Both were made with blood red glass with purple lusters and sparkles, I will certainly make some more of those as I really liked how the effect came out. I took some photos of them before I have to smash them up to get the expensive silver back out.

Finally I got three nice silver ones made, including quite a chunky one with some nice green swirls. Oddly even though I used the same silver tube the hole came out a little smaller (about 4.4mm, the others are between 4.9-4.7mm which I am told fits alot of the bracelet chains made for these beads) I guess as there was more silver in this one.

It's been quite expensive buying the press, silver, mandrels and bits and bobs, but overall I really like the effect, and boro really lends itself to these sorts of focal beads. I should have tried doing these years ago, especially after prowling around shopping centres this weekend. I am so spoiled looking at some of the amazing handmade ones from other UK lampworkers, I didn't realise how boring the mass produced ones are! I am certainly going to make more of these, I am going to have fun dreaming up new colour combos, so please let me know if there is any you'd like to see!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

The Plague!

My plans to get stuck into lots of projects over the Xmas break really didn't go to plan. Just before Xmas we were wiped out with the flu/cold bug that was going around this year, and still haven't really got over them even now. It did rather put a damper on the festivities too, as we didn't go anywhere but alternated between lying on the sofa or bed! We got in a few treats to nibble on, but a lot of the nice rich food has gone to waste as chicken soup was about as much as we could manage. Unfortunately it seemed to go to my chest, and next trip to the bottle bank won't see me taking lots of post new-years champagne and beer bottles but cough mixture bottles!!!

This has put a delay on working on the shaver handles and big-holed silver cored beads that I wanted to have ready in the new year. I did manage to get this little bit done on my Steampunk radio project before I got too wiped out. The paint effect on the brass plate has been drying for about two weeks, and needed a little bit of touching up where I took the masking away, but it's looking quite good. I originally was going to have it flat, but couldn't remember how I did that so went for this stippled texture which I think makes it stand out a bit more. There is green and blue in there to give a slight peacock iridescent effect.

The box will need a few more coats and rubdowns to get it right. I am using ruby shellac varnish, which I mix up myself. It needs gently rubbing in with a cloth, followed by rubbing back, then re-applying. The more layers I can add the better to give that feeling of age and depth. I need to leave the plate at least another week now for the touch ups to dry, so it'll give me time to keep adding layers before I start assembling it. I am not sure I am yet up to sitting over a hot torch with large lump of hot glass to make shaver handles so I think the next job will be the silver cored beads. I've got some test beads made, so now I need to anneal then core them, then hopefully I might be up to getting back to glass!