Tuesday, 30 December 2008

My Favourite Christmas Gift...

Well, I'm back after spending Christmas with family in England. I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas holidays! I think my Bronze Knife was well received and it cut the cheese - so thats a bonus! I got a few nice gifts but I think I was most chuffed to get this little fella above. Isnt he cute? He was made by my very talented friend Lynne Glazzard and was a complete surprise! I'm keeping an eye out for more to be made as I think this little one needs a friend!

As ever at this time of year my thoughts turn to my aims and goals for the year 09. I tend not to make resolutions for myself as I only break them, but goals are something that can be worked towards in a really positive way. I'm still working on my Masters Registry and have a few big events coming up in 2009 which I am really looking forward too - The Metal Clay World Conference in Chicago being one of them! Does anyone else have any big plans for 2009?

Monday, 22 December 2008

My Beads on the Creation is Messy site!

I was chuffed last night to log into my e-mail and find that Kathy Seamands of Creation is Messy liked my pansy beads so much she popped them on her web site! Lampworkers will know and love CIM glass - the range of colours they offer is fantastic!! You can check out the CIM web site (and the little pic of my featured beads) here.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Bronze Cheese Knife

Well - I hope the man I made this for dosent read my blog - as the Cheese Knife Survived!! It has a few small cracks on the surface that were not there prior to firing - but I dont mind them -besides it Christmas on THURSDAY so I'll have to live with them! I threw it about a bit before polishing to check that its strong - and its certainly seems to be!! I have been working on improving my photographs too. Hope you like the new look - and the knife of course!

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Dragon Scale Beads

Due to the generosity of Amber Van Meter there exists on Lampwork etc a short tutorial on how to make Dragon Scale Beads. I had a go - and made these - and have to say I really like them! I think I'll be playing with some colour combinations and see what other effects you can get, lets see how long they keep me away from pansy beads .....

So Christmas is just around the corner - I really wasnt aware just how soon it is! A good job I realized that Christmas is NEXT THURSDAY because I am making some presents.... I have been making something for each close family member - but there is always one person thats hard to buy or make for. Its a man (wouldnt you know it lol) and he isnt big on wearing jewellery. So I had a good think and came up with this - a Bronze Cheese knife. Heres a picture of it before I had totally finished it. Its in the kiln right now - such a shame it was too long for the firing pan!!! I'll find out if it has turned to dust tomorrow! Fingers crossed - hope he likes it!

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Dots, dots and more dots - oh and some Pansies

Well, I have been putting in time on my torch again this week - and was drawn again to dotty beads with different reactive glasses. The top lot featuring develish EDP and the bottom two sets Cim's Cranberry Pink (which is their Rubino). I am loving CIM glass at the moment and just cant get enough of it!

If you are a lampworker then you may be interested to check out Sarah Hornik's latest publication - "Sarah's 12 favorite Colour Schemes and WHY they work". Its available as either a calender or a pdf file which is great if, like me, you are impatient! Its another lovely and inspiring piece of work by Sarah with serious eye candy! Buy one here!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

I'm in PRINT!!!

WOW!! For the first time I am in print. There is a Lampworking Forum called Frit Happens. For the past two years some of the moderators have asked for submissions for the calendar. This time I sent a picture of my bead ring and my pile of dotty beads - and they were used!! My beads feature for the picture for April! I am THRILLED! If you want to check it out click here.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Images for Etching

I'm excited as I am expecting to get my hands on the "green" etching kit that Sherri and her husband Dan developed really soon. But I have been thinking about what images to use. I'm happy to draw some simple patterns directly onto the copper with a Sharpie but what about more complex patterns? What will work well? I dont have the answer yet - I need to experiment - but in my flicking through Flickr (get it :D) I found a link to the entire works of Kunst-Formen der Natur, by Ernst Haeckel, 1898. This book is in the public domain and features incredible illustrations. Even if they turn out not to be ideal for using in copper etching they are sure to inspire!

Saturday, 6 December 2008

More Pansies

In between trying new, and frustrating things I am taking a break and making more pansy beads! I'm really liking round beads at the moment - and had a go at making a round pansy set. Its tricky to get the exact same amount of glass in the beads- the flowers are made up of three layers of dots, but I'm happy practicing.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

If at first you don't succeed.......

try and try again right?? I'm not so sure. During the weekend on the course somebody mentioned that it takes a silly amount of hours to become an expert in something - it was thousands!! Now - I'm not really trying to become an expert on anything, but I AM trying to build a hollow on a fine silver core. Its not working. To check that it wasnt my hollow bead making skills that were at fault I made a hollow - and its quite nice even if I do say so myself. Its big enough to go on my Christmas Tree too (when I get one) - so thats not the problem! But no matter how many times I try its like the glass just collapses and falls in on itself. It must be possible, others can do it. Maybe I will experiment with no caps, a thinner core and caps with no core and see if any of those combinations work. Any way - here is what my bead looks like after I got cross and threw it in my water jug ...... its a shame I cant somehow fix the shattered glass as I happen to think its really nice!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Bronze & Fine Silver

A wee while ago I made some bronze bits, I said I had plans for them.. ..well here is the first made up piece. It needs a chain - I have one in mind but its taking me a while to make, so I thought I'd share this with you meanwhile.

I set the bronze after firing the silver - measuring and allowing for shrinkage before firing. Next time I may try setting the Bronze in paper type and also with more traditional Silver Smithing methods. The rings are Sterling Silver that I have made myself and soldered closed. My Silver Smithing class is coming in very handy! Here is how it looks at the back . . .

Monday, 1 December 2008

I'm Home!!!!

Well, I'm back after a great weekend on The Red Hot Minx Course! I had quite clear goals and I achieved one of them - which was to make a hollow bead. Suprisingly I got it first time! Maybe I shouldnt have given up so fast when I tried it months ago! I was thrilled - my second hollow is pictured above.

Our second day was spent playing with pmc. I made some cores onto which I will build a clear hollow bead- the hope is that this will allow you to be able to see the little sea shells I have set onto the core! Sally and Leigh are great teachers and Diana Easts Studio is just perfect. We drank endless cups of tea, ate too much food and had too much fun!! And the biggest bonus of all is that I made new friends!

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Competition Beads!!!

Finally - I have settled on which beads I will enter for the Beads & Beyond Competition. Its a good job too seeing as I'm off away tomorrow and the deadline is the 1st December, it was a case of enter tonight or not at all! These pink rounds are not my entry (I havent nailed the shape yet) but they similar in theme to my entry. They took me AN AGE to make but I loved making them. I'm far from expecting to win this competition, there are some seriously talented lampworkers around, but I have enjoyed giving thought to my entry and pushing myself to try something new to me.

So once I have hit the send button on the e-mail to the magazine I need to pack! I'm going on an exciting new course called Red Hot Minx. Its a collaboration with Lampwork Artist Sally Carver and PMC Artist Leigh Armstrong. We'll spend two days playing with pmc, glass beads and also working with them together. I plan to spend my time experimenting with making a glass bead directly onto a metal clay core. Its been something I have wanted to try ever since I discovered Barbara Becker Simon. Her beads feature in this stunning necklace above. I'll take my camera and promise to post lots of pics when I get back! I cant wait!!!!!

Monday, 24 November 2008

Reconstituting Metal Clay

One of the great things about metal clay is that there is no waste. Even if your clay dries out completely you can reconstitute it back to workable state. Here I have outlined the method I use for reconstituting my clay - I'll talk through it step by step.

* Put all your dried clay into a pestle and mortar and grind it right down.
* This part isnt photographed - but pour your dust into a glass and get a stocking and pull it as tight as you can over the neck of the glass and SIEVE the dust back into the pestle and mortar. (Do this over a large piece of paper to allow you to catch any wayward clay that does not sieve where you want it to - just pour back in once you are done).
* Now you should have separated the fine power from any lumps which will be left behind in the glass.
*I take a double layer of clingfilm and depending on how much clay I am working with pop it into a little pot or dish.
* SLOWLY add water drop by drop and mix in to the powder. And Mix it all up.

I added a little too much water here so its sitting next to me open and as it dries a little I'm giving it a massage and folding the dried parts on the outer parts of the cling film INTO the clay. By tomorrow I should have a nice big ball of clay to play with. I'm a lazy reconstituter - it comes from the habit of just sticking holes into a lump of clay, adding water, covering and leaving it for a while, massaging, adding more water etc - It could take DAYS! So I dont mind that this method takes a day. I'm hoping it will be ready for me to use tomorrow.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Metal Clay Masters Registry

Its been a hectic few days but at the back of my mind all the time has been the Metal Clay Masters Registry I am working towards. I have a sketch book full of designs, and I think I am about ready to mock up my first pieces. If you havent heard of the Registry yet then rest assured you will - its the highest qualification in Metal Clay in the world. With 51 projects to complete in groups of 10, its a real challenge. Anyone can register, and its not tied to any one metal clay brand. It really is all about the art!

Thursday, 20 November 2008

New Course Dates

LinkI've been busy setting dates for 2009. Here are our regular diet of Metal Clay Classes, from left to right: UV Resin, Fingerprint Charms, Capturing Nature, The Magic of Art Clay, Ring Making, Hollow Lentil Bead, Silver Rose and the Level One Certificate. You will find the dates and more information on these courses here. We have still to set more Bronze Clay course dates and as if that wasnt enough I'm planning other brand new courses too. Any body got a cloning machine?

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Chameleon Designs Swap

I think I may have mentioned before - one of the things I love about what I do is being able to give things away and participate in swaps. Yesterday I received this beautiful paperweight from Becky of Chameleon Designs. She took a shine to my Bronze Lentil Bead, and I to this pink glassy ball :) All of Becky's work is stunning. I only hope she like the Bronze Lentil Bead once it arrives!

Monday, 17 November 2008

Hadar's Book Arrived!!!!

Hadar Jacobson's new book :"Silver and Bronze Clay; Movement and Mechanisms" is GREAT!!! Full of lots of great designs split into different sections, Dangles, Hinges, Spinners etc. It has a full chapter on Firing Silver with Bronze and is simply overflowing with great projects!! I cannot recommend this book highly enough!! Get your copy here.

Friday, 14 November 2008

New Skill ? New Beads!!!

Well, I got my beads through the post following my lesson with Mindy Macgregor of Moogin Beads. She has the patience of a saint!!! Over and over again I tried with the hair thin stringer and over and over again I hashed it up! We practiced on a clear bead so I could just melt my mess in and start over. Eventually it seemed I was getting a little better until FINALLY It clicked!!! My euphoria was maybe a little over the top - I have a long way to go - But I HAD never ever had much success with stringer - and this stringer was SERIOUSLY thin! My beads from the lesson are above.

Since my lesson I've been practicing a little, first by pulling stringer so thin I find it hard to pick up and then decorating my beads. I've managed to produce these. I am quite chuffed. I love the colour too - CIM Glacier if you are interested!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Rainbow Petal Tutorial

How pretty is this bead!!! I was reading some of the great discussions over on the Lampworking Forum that is Lampwork Etc and came across this tutorial by Amy Trescott. I just had to buy it. If you think its just as pretty as I do then you can check it out on Amy's web site here.

Monday, 10 November 2008

New Book - Silver and Bronze Clay

I'm really excited about this - Hadar Jacobson's second Metal Clay book - "Silver and Bronze Clay - Movement and Mechanisms" is available for sale!

I have ordered mine and cannot wait to get it. If her first book "The Handbook of Metal Clay: Textures and Forms" is anything to go by then this book will be excellent. Hadar has immersed herself in experimenting with BronzClay for months and now we can all benefit from her experiments and findings. Find out more about Hadar and her work here.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

This and That

LinkThis and That

1. New Silver Core, 2. More Pansies, 3. Organics4. Not available

I was desperate to come and give you all the news from my lesson, but a photo says more than a 1000 words, well - a photo of the beads I made at the lesson will anyway - so we'll just have to wait until I get my them some time next week! Lets just say for now though that I had a great time!

Until I get my new beadies I thought I'd share with you a bit of this and that. First up is my newest and second Silver Core. I think this is an imprvoment on the first more rounded core and yet some people at my silver smithing class preferred my first attempt. Second is some more Pansy Beads with 5 petals this time rather than 3 in my last sets. These are not so dark in real life - I like them so much they may be keepers. Next up is a set of my recent organics. They are a mix of silvered ivory and my beads that feature on the Creation Is Messy Web site. I tried to ban myself from making them - but I cant help myself. And lastly is the beautiful necklace that Lynda Cheney made from the set of Beads I gave her. She has paired them with some stunning pure silver beads (that she made) and a lovely Byzantine Chain. This photo does not do this piece justice, but was the best I could do!

Friday, 7 November 2008

My Turn for a Lesson

These beads are the very first beads by Lynda Cheney from her wee lesson with me last week. I was very impressed! Well today its my turn to be a student as I'm off for a lesson this afternoon with Mindy MacGregor of Moogin Beads. Mindy is such a talented artist I cant wait to even just watch her work. With any luck I'll return with a new skill - the ever elusive Stringer Control :)

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

New Stuff!!

My creation

Well, it was a hectic week last week - but amazingly I still have some work to share with you. On the photo mosaic you can see the BronzCLay heart I made that shows how true it is that a mistake can in fact become a feature. It had a little embellishment on it that fell off in firing leaving a hole, but I rather like it! I managed to finish off my Byzantine Chain that Lynda Cheney kindly taught me how to make, and I think it looks great with my large core beads! And finally there are some pictures of my new "Pansy" beads. I adore making these so expect more in the coming weeks! If you would like to read a little summary off the BronzClay weekend class then you can do that here.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Its all over and we LOVED IT!

Its 11:15 pm and I'm just about starting to wind down from all the excitement of the weekend! It was incredible and though I have played with the BronzClay before I saw it do things I have NEVER seen before! I'm also much wiser about how to etch safely and cannot wait to make lots of my own texture plates! I'll be sure to come back and tell all tomorrow, but for now check out the photos I have added to Flickr!

Saturday, 1 November 2008

What a Great Day!

Well, I'm home and have had such a great day! Sherri is as ever a wonderful and generous teacher and I am so lucky to have the opportunity to work with her again! Tomorrow her husband Dan will take over a little as we cover the etching process, so its really like two classes rather than one. I promise to pop back tomorrow with all my photos but in the meantime here is one which shows all our hard work on my hot plate! I have never seen it so full!!!

The Day Has Come

Well, time flies. . . . the day has come, its the weekend of our workshop in Bronzclay with Sherri Haab!!! I've written so many lists, ticked things off, written more lists, and still think I have forgotten something! But - there is a rather nice room in a very nice hotel awaiting several lucky class participants to join Sherri and her husband. We'll be learning how to make our own copper etched texture plates and play with Bronzclay! What a great way to spend the weekend

I'm going soon armed with only my imagination and my camera!!! Expect LOTS of photos later on!!!

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Brilliant New Calender

I really am liking the postman at the moment, as I've just received my copy of this beautiful calendar. Available from Holly Gage's web site this publication is a must for Metal Clay fans! Its jam packed of eye candy from some of todays most innovative metal clay artists. Evey page just has you drooling!! There are also details of many competition deadlines - hopefully some will be international Competitions so us in the UK can join in the fun!

Holly's web site is worth a visit in its own right, check it out here.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Skills Swap

One of the greatest things about being in a community of creative people is the way you can do skills swaps, a kind of teachery "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" thing! So yesterday Lynda Cheney - (The Chairperson of the Art Clay World UK Guild don't you know!!) - travelled all the way to Edinburgh from her home rather far away for a lesson in lampwork from little old me. She picked up a rod of glass and a mandrel and after only a short while was having a go at the Lentil Press and Organics! A True Natural if ever I saw one. Here she is at the torch having fun....In return, before our delicious dinner, she showed myself and Gil (aka to me as "mum") how to make a beautiful Byzantine Chain from her hand made Sterling Silver Jump Rings. A delicate operation but thrilling to see the chain build up in front of your eyes! Gil and I cant wait to finish our chains!! Here is Lynda making the chain and Gil watching closely. I'll be sure to post pictures of these chains once they are finished!

Monday, 27 October 2008

Artful Blogging

From looking at the blogs of those who follow mine I have discovered a magazine called "Artful Blogging". The Blog by Jennifer Borek "Glass by Jennifer" featured a post about this magazine at the weekend and I was so intrigued! A Printed Magazine about Blogging?? Whatever next! Well, whatever next was me reaching for my card as I had a peek at the serious eye candy inside.. . .

It will take a while to get here, but I'll be sure to feedback about it once it arrives!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

A Quiet Week

I've been quiet this week - a sprained ankle, friends funeral and sickness bug have seen to that, but I thought I'd share some things with you. When I first started lampworking I was drawn to these type of beads, they are similar in looks to Boro but are made from soft glass. I'm revisiting the basics and essentials of bead making - the other week it was dots (which I'm still obsessed with) and now its encasing! Now I just need to get rid of those pesky bubbles!!
I said I while back I was going to ban myself from using my lentil press. I failed, I love this shape! I just keep going back to it no matter how hard I try not to!

Taking advantage of my idle kiln I fired my Bornzclay. This is how it looks right out of the kiln, without so much as a going over with a brass brush! I like how it looks, kind of ceramic I think! I have plans for these bits, I only hope it works!

And Finally I thought I'd show you my new ring. This makes me chuckle as I was so envious of the lovely bits of jewellery that were made at the Capturing Nature Class last week that I had to make a ring for myself! Its in need of a bit of a Liver of Sulphr Bath but it will have to wait as I dont think I can take the smell of it just yet!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Great New Book!!

I have been aware of the work of Catherine Davies Paetz for a wee while now and was super excited to see that she had written a book "The Little Book of Water Etching and Enameling for Metal Clay". My super cute and signed copy has now arrived and its a great edition to my library! Its not a book for beginners - and its not lengthy at 28 pages but its well worth a read if like me you have been wanting to do more water etching and enameling on your metal clay! Looking at the pretty pictures is just the inspiration I needed - you can look at Catherines work and buy the book here.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Fractal Beads

With the Beads & Beyond Lampwork Competition in my mind I am having great fun playing with new ideas and designs. I had fun making these last week and have named them "Fractals" because funnily enough, they remind me of fractals :D !!

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Nature Class a Hit !

Todays Capture Nature class was great fun! I'd been looking forward to it for a while and really enjoyed it when the day came around. I'd collected a fair selection of things to use including some rather special sea urchins which just looked nothing short of awesome when used with the metal clay. Everyone made such amazing pieces of jewellery - I wished I could have kept them for myself!! Here are the pieces of stunning jewellery that were worn home today...

Saturday, 18 October 2008

New Tools means new beads

Take one set of new Dapping Punches, a Hammer, and some sterling Silver Tube

Drill, measure, cut, anneal and hammer a lot -and here is what you get! My very first ever Silver Core Bead!!!

Its not perfect, it hasnt even been pickled, but I loved the process of making it and am really looking forward to making some more! Once I perfect it I'll be incorporating some metal clay bead caps with certain designs. Endless possibilities, and lots of new tools to and bead presses to lust after!!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Whats on my hot plate...

You know- with so much bronze clay about at the moment in preparation for Sherri Haabs class in November I felt it would only be good form to play with some more Bronzclay! This clay allows real freedom. You can open a 100g packet and just play with it! Here is whats on my hot plate today .. . . .

The BronzClay has a unique smell as it dries - I think its a bit like Fake Tan so for today the studio smelled like a beauty salon! Sadly though no bronzed beauties to be found in my studio- only me at my torch. I'm be hoping that the kiln fairies have been kind to me - I'll find out when I go to my studio in the morning. The minds of many a lampworker in the UK are on the competition in the Beads & Beyond Magazine. I wonder if my entry is in the kiln right now...