Saturday, November 29, 2008

Avenue Beads on

Want to watch Joe of Avenue Beads work hot glass live in his studio? You can on! Here's the link:

Warning: This is too much fun. You will get sucked in and not get any work done. There is a chat going on at the same time as the live feed, and Joe answers people's questions as he's blowing a shard or heating a giant blob of glass in the torch. What a multi-tasker!

He says he's usually in his studio nights and weekends. Just click the link to check if he's there. As I'm posting this it's Saturday night Nov. 29th and he is broadcasting right now.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Elven Pendant

I've been making a few more silver glass gemstone pendants. They've been inspired by J. R. R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring and The Silmarillion audiobooks I've been listening to when I make beads, and also by my desire to use silvered glass in a way that looks like precious metal jewelry. Here's a photo of a recent pendant:Elven PendantHere's a photo of the back. In addition to the big "gemstone" on the front there are three smaller gemstones going across the top of the bead:Elven Pendant BackStay tuned for more of these pendants, I was just photographing another nice one today!

CiM Sangre - A Luscious Pomegranate Red

Mmmm... Pomegranate!Pomegranate with Red BeadsIt's the end of the fruiting season for the beloved pomegranate tree in our back yard. This is the pomegranate's last clinging fruit, named by my daughter "The Tiniest Pomegranate Ever." It's about the size of a ping-pong ball! While I was sitting outside cleaning beads, she picked it and brought it to me. The skin had burst open, revealing seeds the exact color of the beads I was working on.

The red glass is called "Sangre" from Creation is Messy. It's a beautiful blend of transparent and opaque red, making a visible spiral where it's wound around the core.

I've used Triton for the scroll designs, and I was happy to discover that the Sangre did not get sooty and dark when reduced.

Sangre is a great color, definitely my favorite red for the way it holds its yumma-licious color even when worked hot for a long time, and it doesn't have a bad reaction with silver glass. Its mix of transparent and opaque red gives it a lot of depth and lets light in through the bead.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Silver Glass Gemstone Beads

At long last I have tried something that's been brewing in my mind for a few months: silver glass beads that look like precious metals and gemstones.Elven Pendant The pendant is made with Psyche, Triton and a big dot of clear. I love how the clouds and blue sky are reflected in the "moonstone." I'm so happy with the way it turned out! Here's the back:Elven Pendant - Back I made a set of beads that go with it:Elven GemsI'm planning on putting these in my Etsy shop tonight. If I can part with that pendant, that is. I'm trusting I can make more like it.

A little side note: I'm a big Lord of the Rings fan, and I've recently discovered the unabridged version of the trilogy on audiobook. I've now also gone out and bought The Silmarillion on CD, which is a long book by Tolkien that tells the history of Middle Earth... I am obsessed! I was listening to The Fellowship of the Ring audiobook when I made these beads... I think it had an influence!

Audiobooks are a great way to pass the time while making beads!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Kids! *Sigh*

These are two of my favorite photos from the web. Whenever I have one of those days I just remember these photos and know I'm not alone!...and you just know that's permanent marker and oil-based paint!
(Does anyone else see Snuffle-upaguss in the corner of that TV?) :-D

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Stringer Pullers

There are lots of ways to pull stringers. I used to grab the blob of molten glass with my tweezers and pull, but that was only occasionally successful since the glass usually slipped out of the tweezers, drooped down to the bench and gave me a very curvy stringer. My preferred method now is to melt two rods of the same color together into a blob and pull. However, when I don't have a second rod of the same color handy, I reach for my trusty "stringer pullers":They start out as a short of one of the stiffer 104 c.o.e. colors, usually clear (visible in the upper left corner of the photo), which I use as a punty to grab the molten glass blob. Then I just continue to use that clear punty as a stringer puller time and time again. It's fun to see the history of what colors I've used. The stringer pullers stay on my bench for years, sometimes breaking, but I just pick up the biggest piece and keep using it as a stringer puller.

The stringer pullers are so colorful now, they're inspiring me towards some bead design but I can't quite figure out how exactly to translate their random colorful-ness into beads.

My First Beads

Stashed in an old "Whitman's Sampler" chocolate box, back in a forgotten corner of my bead closet, I recently came across the first beads I ever made:My First BeadsThese are from my first beadmaking class in 1997 at Snow Farm in Massachusetts. I'm glad I still have them. Now that I look at them all these years later, they're not half bad!

If you are interested in lampworking classes, glassblowing, or other kinds of craft classes, and you're anywhere near New England, I highly recommend Snow Farm. It's art camp for grown-ups! The setting is a beautiful old New England farm, complete with rolling hills, a pond, and barns that have been transformed into classrooms and studios. Don't pack a lunch, instead sign up for their healthy and delicious home-cooked meals and eat in the dining hall with your fellow art campers!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Silver vs. Gold

I use a lot of Triton glass in my bead designs, which tends to reduce to a gold luster. Lately, some of my customers have been requesting metallic beads in silver because they design their jewelry with silver findings. These requests have led me to work again with Psyche glass, which reduces to a very pretty silver-blue.
These beads are made with Nyx and Psyche. They're in my Etsy shop:Nyx and Psyche BeadsI've pressed down with a tool on the Psyche scroll designs to flatten the stringer. I thought it looked more like "hammered silver" that way, especially over the "patinated copper" green of the Nyx glass.

I continue to design in gold Triton, of course, because I love the color of gold. I think there's something special about being able to have a gold-looking bead or piece of jewelry during times when real gold is so expensive. There is something warm and healing about gold, too.

As for myself, I tend to wear silver jewelry, probably like the majority of people. Look for more silver Psyche designs coming soon!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Eye See You!

I made beads the night before Halloween, and this is what emerged! I've always wanted to try an eyeball. I used a base of CiM Marshmallow, the absolute perfect eyeball glass! The iris is made with a Kronos/Intense Black twistie, the pupil is an Intense Black dot, and I added a lens of clear over the top.Eye Bead - BeadAbundantThe hardest part was rounding out the bead without distorting the iris. I realize now that if the Marshmallow base bead were much bigger in comparison to the iris, more like a real eye, it would be easier to make round.Eye BeadIt was a lot of fun to finally try this. Maybe some of you have seen the amazing glass eyes that Pipyr makes? They're like dragon or creature eyes. She has a tutorial on how to make them for sale on her website.
Practice, practice, practice!