Sunday, 27 February 2011

That was the weekend that wasn't

This weekend's assault on London's fairs turned into a fairly bleak affair, and has left me battered and bruised.

Friday I was at Spittlefields market, which was indoors so at least I didn't have the weather to worry about. I did get a quick snap of the stall on my mobile (so quality is a little poor as I forgot my camera) . Despite the clothing stalls near me doing slow but steady trade, it was pretty quiet. I'd hoped the nearby office workers might be around, the weather was a nice crisp spring day too, but I did very badly. By the end of the day I'd only sold one pendant, and that was to the stall holder next to me, which didn't go near covering my costs of the stall and travel.

I had better hopes for the next day, when I took myself off to Camden to take a place at the craft/fair-trade market. Despite leaving extra early I was scuppered by London Tubes. After carrying my huge case- it's about 4ft tall and 16inch square - which contains all my stock, stand, and covers, down various stairs in Moorgate station I found there were signal problems. After ten minutes the tube moved to the next stop, which then stayed there with no idea of how long it would take. I needed to be at Camden before 9, and at 8.30 I lugged my case back up to the surface (more stairs!) One bus to Camden turned up, but it was packed, so I tried looking for a cab - but there were none. About to give up and walk back to the train station to return home I spotted a cab and was on my way. At 9.05 and £15 lighter I got to the meeting point, and was lucky enough to get a stall, and it was indoors!

I tweeked the stall layout, putting up a bright purple cloth backdrop to hide the wall and piller behind me, and had plenty of people looking, but the rain and cold kept alot of people away, although I did get to chat to some nice people who liked what I did. At the end of a very long day I had just covered my stall and travel expenses (but not the extra £15 cab fare!) I didn't get home till 9.30, and originally had planned to do Sunday as well, but by this point two days of standing and then carrying a huge weight had done me in. I may well try Camden again in a few weeks when it's more 'in season' but for now it's some Radox and deep heat for me! And then looking at cases or trolleys with bigger 'stair-friendly' wheels!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Boiling pink, and getting ready for the weekend

Since the sudden removal of the day-job, it seems there are less hours in the day than I previously believed! Gone are those hours of staring at spreadsheets that turned five minutes into an hour, and replaced by... oh, staring at spreadsheets working out if I can afford to do this! This time though what feels like five minutes is usually an hour!

I think almost everyone who I've spoken to have been amazing positive and think that I am doing the right thing. Certainly looking at the alternatives (a 'proper job') seems both a step backwards, and the options and positions open are very limited. That's not to say I do keep getting that little voice in the back of my head wondering if I am doing the right thing. This weekend though, fingers crossed, I shall be in London with a new stand and new pendants! I am more than a little nervous!

I've been ploughing into making new pendants ready, and having more time at the torch has had some unexpected bonuses. Along with exploring new shapes and styles I've dusted off some 'troublesome' colours that haven't worked in the past. One of these, Solara, was supposed to be tones of yellows and purples, but just bubbled horrendously, and either stayed clear or went and unappealing 'ear-wax' colour! However with more firepower I've started getting some rich amber tones, and although there are some bubbles left trapped inside they actually add a more organic feel to the pieces. Here are a quick couple of shots in different lights, this is one where the purples seem to come out in certain lights which doesn't really get picked up well by my camera, along with the patterns I've added to them.

One other is a wisteria colour, which also was like handling boiling jam. I've managed to get this to stay smooth, and now rather like it, which is great as pink is closely related to this colour. I had a try again with pink, but I still have trouble with it, but I think I am getting there! I've also managed to get some shaving brushes made and listed on Folksy too!

At present I am hoping to have a stall in Spittlefields market on Friday, between 10am-4pm - although I don't have a guaranteed place, so won't know if there is room until I get there, so I am keeping my fingers crossed! Saturday and Sunday I will be in Camden market, in the crafts and handmade area just over the bridge. The weather is supposed to warm up this weekend, so lets hope it stays dry as well, maybe I'll see some of you there!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Snakes, Gin bottles, and a busy week!

New snakes with the eyes painted on, waiting for them to dry. The bright orange ones are a lovely soft glass called 'Clockwork' that I couldn't resist making some non-glow ones in too.
Well it's hardly been a quiet week, amongst everything else I need to do I've been filling up the kiln to bursting point!

I got a quick photo of some of the latest batch, excuse the wobbly photo as I had to peak through the kiln door to get this shot and I don't think the auto focus liked it much!

One of these new things I've been making are some glow-in-the-dark glass snakes. I got a batch of unknown glass rods a little while ago, and they don't seem to be compatible with any glass that I have. Rather than waste it I found that the glow-in-the-park pigment that I have (non-toxic non-radioactive I am pleased to say!) mixes very well into it. I ended up doing a separate kiln load just for these. Normally I would dot on some eyes with a different colour, but since they might crack and fall off I've used some bake on olive green glass paint. They glow really well, the pigment remains much stronger than when I tried mixing it into boro, and work especially well under UV blacklights too!
Before having the eyes added, in normal daylight (the blue one and leaves are from the Bombay Saphirre bottle)
Exposed to UV light, even with a little shade in daylight these little fellows really glow!

At the same time I decided to make use of a Bombay Sapphire gin bottle that's been laying around the workshop for ages. (I didn't drink any of it either, the bottle came from a friend!) If you've not seen it, the bottle is made of a stunning pale blue glass. Almost all the lampworkers I know covet these bottles, and often make them into earrings and beads. However I didn't realise how tough the glass was!

I wrapped the bottle in a plastic bag, and gave it a sharp tap with a hammer. Nothing happened expect a shrill perfect note that left my ears ringing! A finger in one ear, I tried again a little harder. Same result, and when the ringing in my ear had stopped I tired again. After a few attempts, tinnitus, and the worry I was going to damage my hearing I stopped and wondered about putting a call out on he Frit Happens glass forum to see how other people tackled this indestructible bottle! I then thought of glass cutters, and put a pair on the opening of the bottle, and within seconds had turned it into nice tidy shards of glass!

It wasn't too bad to work, and made a few test leaves and a nice snake out of some of the shards, I'll certainly get around to melting down the rest of the bottle now. Ontop of all of this I've even been working on a new display stand. This one has solid shelves rather than the fiddly dowel ones that people had trouble putting boxes back onto, and also takes a lot more boxes. I'm still not 100% sure where I'll be, but I hope to be at large in London next weekend if all goes well. In the meantime I'll be filling and emptying the kiln as much as I can ready!

Monday, 7 February 2011

Stepping off the Ledge

I have some rather momentous news. As you may or may not know until now I've been having to divide my attention between glass and a 'dayjob.' I often have other full time crafters asking how on earth I manage to do both, and it is tricky at times, normally it's making glass which suffers though when my job becomes too busy and stressful - although going off to spend a few hours melting is a great antidote to stress, which was one of the reasons I got so into it in the first place! (Plus it's addictive!)

However for sometime now I've been really struggling with the day-to-day 'difficulties' of work, and last week things came to a head with some rather grim meetings and I decided enough was enough. So I quit!!!!!!

I won't bore you with the details, after all that's now part of my old life and very negative, I am more interested in moving forward to a more positive future. I don't have a job to walk into, but it feels like the right thing to do if only for my sanity and health! Added to this there have been so many strange coincidences and bits of synchronicity lately, it just feels like the right time. My other half always used to say 'let the universe provide' and would have faith in herself and just go for it. Years ago she moved to London to live with me, with no job, and by noon the next day had a job a short walk from my flat! So many times lately I read the quote 'leap, and the net will appear,' to which I always remember the part in 'Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade' where he steps off the ledge of the cliff, to find there was a bridge there all along hidden in plain sight by an optical illusion. You just can't see it until you are on the bridge. I think it's about having faith in yourself, something the cooperate world seems unable to inspire anymore.

I am still weighing up my options, but it's between going and getting another job and carrying on like I was, or going for it and striking out on my own. After a particularly nasty meeting last week, which left me feeling a bit battered, I called a number I'd had got of a market manager in a very large venue to test the waters. After 20 seconds of telling him what I made the reaction was amazing - and so opposite what I'd just endured - and was offered priority of a stall any day I wanted, whenever I wanted and was hugely positive and upbeat.

Now I wasn't planning on doing lots of fairs or a regular stall originally, and I'd want to check out some more venues first, but the idea is very tempting. Faced with a return to cooperate life where saying 'no' to added stress earns you a black mark what would you choose? Live in fear, or make the leap?
Note; The picture is one of my own that I did a few years ago, if you look very, very closely, you might just see a little man on a treadmill who's driving the big rusty machine ;)