29/12/2009

Kitzbitz does Frit!

New for sale at Kitzbitz Art Glass....48 drool worthy Gaffer Frits

I am knee deep in luscious frit and merrily making test beads in to the wee hours at the moment and plan to add bead pics and working notes for each block colour by the end of this week!! For the time being, here are a few of my favourites for you to see.











You can find more of my beads and glasswork on Etsy and on my webshop too.
Jo x

15/11/2009

Kiss me with silver coz I feel blue

One of my favorite things to do is to kiss silver to glass and make shards. I have had a crush on Grumpy Bear silver infused shards for quite a while, with their little droplets of shiny beaded silver but I also love Chalcedony shards made this way for their veil like transparency and webbed organic silver reaction. It occurs to me that it would be fun to put some other CiM blues through their paces and so...let the messy testing begin!

This is the paddle pic for Chalcedony from CiM



My scrummy pic of silver kissed Chalecedony shards, although taken indoors; it shows the soft translucency and organic pattering given to the glass by the fine silver infusion.



Here are my Chalcedony shard test beads. The subtle veiled effect is preserved after application and there is very little further organic reactions created by further heating of the silvered Chalcedony shards.



This is the paddle pic for Grumpy Bear from CiM



This pic of silver kissed Grumpybear shards has been taken under artificial light giving a slightly turquoise hue to this glasswork which is not true to life.



My Grumpybear test beads are by far my favorite of the silvered shard test beads, with a secondary organic effect of brown striations appearing during the application process.



This is the paddle pic for Smurfy from CiM



Here is a snap of my Smurfy shards - twinkling with droplets of silver. There is less reaction between the silver infusion and turquoise base than I would have anticipated and have found when creating silvered turquoise shards from various shade of Effetre glass. I think these shards are simply beautiful.



And here are my Smurfy test beads. As you can see, the silver remains in droplets on the surface of the applied shards, with a very small amount of secondary reactions during the application process. On one of my there is a small amount of a terracotta reduction colour where I have placed the shard to the bead surface in a slight reduction flame.



This is the paddle pic for Cornflower from CiM



These shards have had a double layer of silver and have been blown thicker than the other test shards that I have made. You can see the intense reaction from the Cornflower with the heavy silver infusion in lush green/grey organic patterns and striations. It a wonderful quirk of the making by hand process that I stumbled across this beautiful reaction and for future batches I would be tempted to use fine silver foil as opposed to fine silver leaf.



The deep and intense looking Cornflower blue works so well as shards. The initial organic reaction created in the blowing process is preserved on the shard surface during the application process. All in all these are very pleasing shards to work with.



Some notes on my test bead base colours:

CiM Clear: Much better than Vetro clear and Effetre 004, with respect to scumming and bubbles, not as good as the latest batches of Effetre 006. To be fair this is the first rod of CiM Clear I have ever used and the rd did have some surface scratches which will have added to the degree of scumming I experienced.

Reichenbach Antique Clear: This glass is a personal favorite of mine and my current "go to" for encasing, scum free, smooth to melt, relatively stiff. A very light green transparent which gives depth and a slightly victoriana look to my beads.

CiM Sapphire: Scums/boils easily in a hotish flame, though worked cool it behaves much better. Personally I like a few tiny bubbles in my beads to add interest and sparkle so working with this exceptionally beautiful shade of blue transparent holds no worries for me. Not a colour I would use for making ribbon twistie as stretched out tiny bubbles can make twistie very shocky.

CiM Cirrus: Interestingly this colour creates a beautiful green hue to my flame. An added element of nice when working with this glass. I found it a tiny bit shocky but once the end f the rod was hot, melted smoothly. As with CiM clear, it is the first time I have used this glass and so have much to learn about its striking properties.

CiM Split Pea: I love the deep striations that naturally occur when working with this relatively new addition to the CiM colour pallet. A softish glass, well behaved and easy to work with.

CiM Ming: Wow! such a beautiful glass. A little shocky at first but then I do tend to work hot. You may be able to see that Ming and Chalcedony are very similar in shade once the Ming has been struck to opaque.

Batch variations - Spotlight on Heffalump

All CiM glass is handpulled in batches and so it is reasonable to expect some variation in colour from batch to batch. Often times it is not possible to tell the difference, but occasionally a batch variation is noticeable in rod form. I order both from Tuffnell Glass a U.K stockist of Messy Color 104 and also from Frantz Art Glass in the U.S.A. I noticed that my most recent purchase of the usually utterly gorgeous looking Heffalump looked insipid and washed out in comparison the first batch I bought in.

This is the paddle pic for Heffalump from CiM



And here is a quick snap of the two batches of heffalump that I have in my glassy stash. The newest "washed out" looking batch is on the left. The rod colours both look very different from the paddle pic as I took this snap late last night in artificial lighting. In fact the batch on the right looks very similar to the paddle pic in natural lighting.



My test beads are split rounds, newest batch on the left, older batch to the right split by a line of SIS. The clockwise twist in the SIS is so that I can easily tell which rods made which half of the bead once they are off of their mandrels.



Once worked in the flame there seems to be no difference between each side of my test beads. Happily this means that I could mix and match between either batch of Heffalump and achieve consistency in creating a set of beads, despite there being apparent differences between the batches in rod form.

08/11/2009

Mini Mo' Colour Club - Rose kissed November

I run a lampwork glass colour club for 12 ladies and each month I send out the little glasswork packages of twistie, shards and murrini that I call Mini Mo's (Mini Mojo's). There are two strands of the Mini Mo Club, Amethyst and Beryl and so I make two colour sets each month one for each strand.

I love putting these collections together each month; picking my colour inspiration from all sorts of places...this month is a little different, because this month I have fallen in love with Roses. I have been putting together an encased rose murrini tutorial for the Mini Mo' Colour Club, you can find it here.

Heligan Garden - Amethyst Strand



Here are my test beads for Heligan







The base glass is CiM Mojito and the frit is Chalcedony from Gaffer.

Sleeping Beauty - Beryl Strand



Here is one of my test beads for Sleeping Beauty





I have been desperate to try out my new flat lap grinder and so made a freeform encased bead to look like a geode to see what these cobalt blue rose murrini look like under encasement.

Jo x

03/11/2009

Tutorial - Encased Rose Murrini Bead

Recently I have been making some pretty rose murrini intended for encasement - they can be a bit tricky to handle so I thought a little tutorial would be a great idea.



First an apology - there are some shockingly poor quality photos, with my low tech camera, which is wearing Diddys taken under bare bulb artificial lighting of my studio. Hopefully as step by step images, they will be enough to illustrate the basic techniques that I use for this kind of bead making.



Firstly a quick snap of the pre-prepared glasswork that I will be using - nipped chips of cobalt rose murrini, some ribbon twistie, vine twistie and a bit of white latticino. I will also be using a Graphite bead roller but this method works equally well for gravity shaped beads.



Step one - Add a few wraps of glass to your mandrel



Step two - marver the glass to fit your press or bead roller. If you are making a gravity shaped bead then marver until you are satisfied with the tube shape.



Step three - add vine twistie (or frit, or enamel, or silver foil) to your tube



This is what my base bead looks like with twistie applied - I like to wrap the twistie on from underneath the tube, turning the mandrel towards me as I wrap. This makes the twistie pattern less distorted.



Step four - melt in your base decoration and marver in to a smooth tube shape again.



Step five - recheck the length of your tube against the press/roller that you are using. I like to start on the smallest size in a graduated bead shaping tool so that if my base gets worked so that it is too long I can move up to the next size. For gravity shaped bead this is not important but do pay attention to your bead ends as the neater you keep them at this stage, the neater the end result will be.



Step six - spot heat your tube where you would like to place your murrini. Pick up the murrini with tweezers and press it firmly to your base tube. If it does not stick then your base need was not hot enough. Reheat it and try again. If the murrini are smaller than 5-6mm I find that pre-warming them on a torch top marver is not necessary. Less is more, so depending on the size of your bead, two or three murrini will be plenty.



Step seven - do not put your murrini in the flame once they are firmly attached to your base. Heat some clear or light transparent glass and place dots on top of each murrini. This will stop the pattern from closing up when you introduce the murrini back in to the flame. It is a good idea to flash your bead through the top of the flame next to stop it from getting too cool and cracking.



Step eight - heat the covering dots of glass and gently flatten them. I turn the flame down low to do this.



Step nine - run some latticino in the gaps between the murrini. Again I do this in a very low flame. No need to melt the latticino flat but a good idea to turn up your torch and flash the bead through the top of the flame again at this point.



Step ten - From this point on you will not be putting your base bead back in the flame. Work close to and just behind the flame to keep your base bead warm. Add generous blobs of your transparent glass to your base bead. Make sure that you completely cover all of your raised decoration. I find that if the end of the encasing rod is really hot and runny before I dab less air bubbles will be created.



Step eleven - once your raised decoration is all covered add more blobs of clear so that your bead has a roughly even coverage.



Step twelve - melt in down your blobby encasement using a moderate flame. Too hot and your glass will start to run smudging all of your raised encased elements. It helps to "pat down" some of the larger blobs with a marver to get your bead roughly into shape.



Step thirteen - gently press your bead into the press or bead roller to get it roughly in shape. If you have added too much clear then move on up to the next size. If you are gravity shaping this step is not needed.



Step fourteen - add small dabs of your encasing colour where needed to fill in any dents and smooth out the shape of your bead. From this point on I stop using a bead roller and use gravity shaping to finish the bead.



Step fifteen (optional) - add further twistie decoration to the outside surface of your bead.



Step sixteen - melt down any surface decoration and finish gravity shaping your bead



Step Seventeen - heat one side of your bead at a time and tip your mandrel to let gravity create nice dimples at your bead holes.



Step Eighteen - Admire your handiwork. Flash your bead through the flame thoroughly to warm before popping it in to the kiln.

You can find my glassy offerings on Etsy at Kitzbitz and pre-prepared glasswork in my U.K. Art Glass Shop

23/10/2009

Adventures with Gunmetal

Gunmetal is pretty special stuff, it can be tweaked in the flame to give a strong shimmering silver patina. You can catch a glimpse of this as you are melting down a rod in the flame but I find the best and easiest way to create a strong surface patina with this glass is to flash your finished bead through a very small oxygen rich flame just before putting your bead away in the kiln.

This is the paddle pic for Gunmetal from CiM




I find that Gunmetal is a super soft glass to work with, melting just as quickly and easily as a white opaque glass. It also seems to hold the heat and stay runny longer once out of the flame in the same way as light opaque colours do. I have found Gunmetal can "cannibalize" surface decoration if used as a base and worked too hot, I have lost some of my white latticino surface decoration in to the focal in my test mini set.



I also find that it is difficult to get dot work to stick if there is the slightest patina of silver on the surface of a Gunmetal base bead so building up your base in a very slightly reducing flame works best for me when I want to add further surface decoration.



As shards, Gunmetal looks a deep transparent purple before application. For the best results I use the same technique to apply as I do with premium Effetre hand pulled Dark Silver Plum (DSP). I turn the torch flame right down with the propane dial only, creating a very small oxygen rich flame. The results are instant when you add Gunmetal shards to the surface of your bead, glistening and shiny silver. Very lovely indeed, and at just a fraction of the price of DSP.


Gunmetal shards over CiM Sapphire



Gunmetal shards over Reichenbach Antique Clear

I tend to work hot preferring transaprents for their stiffness and for that reason find working with Gunmetal a challenge. I adore this glass as shards.

Jolene