Stall Watching

Years ago I would have been mortified to have to stand in front of anybody and have something I had made, examined and criticised.  These days I revel in it because I know what I make is good.  I prefer to sell my beads and jewellery direct through small fairs because if I can engage people in conversation and actually explain to them what goes into creating these tiny pieces of glass, they appreciate what they are looking at so much more.  Hopefully it means that they will appreciate other craftsman’s work in future too, and perhaps ask them how items are made.

Part of it is the art of people watching, are they genuinely interested, do they wear jewellery themselves, will they glance and walk on past?  You have to pick the conversations and know when to go into details and when to just smile.  There will always be people who surprise you.

My favourite reaction is “You actually make the beads?”  It’s the open door that invites me to explain.

Some of the most in depth discussions on techniques result from husbands or partners who get caught up in all the different processes.  I once had a husband try to persuade his wife to buy a pendant because he was fascinated, she wasn’t interest.  C’est la vie.  Recently a gentleman bought a pendant and when I expressed a hope that his partner or wife would enjoying wearing it he replied that it wasn’t for anybody else, he had bought it because he liked it.

My beads travel off to so many different places, and I often wonder about how they are used.  When I meet somebody who has bought from me before they often say that they get a lot of admiring comments about the jewellery, so I hope in years to come my beads are still creating conversations.

Red turtle bead

Education

For me Craft is about learning, the need to constantly improve, challenge yourself, and learn new techniques.  You will always try to do something better than you did it last time, quicker, neater.  That’s also why people like handmade items, if they understand craft they know how many hours of practice have gone into learning to create an item, not just the time it takes to make that one single thing.

Next weekend I’m going on my first glass course for years.  A whole weekend of glass with like minded people.  A new style and techniques to learn, that could encourage a whole new character to some of my work.

Let’s hope I can bring home some beautiful pieces to show.  What would be even more exciting would be to be able to make more at home that are good enough to include for the Christmas fairs!

 

The Week Before

My beads and I are off to the Somerford Keynes fete on Saturday, and I love the week before a fair/fete/show.  Most of the time, if I get to indulge in some bead making, it is exactly that, I play and create and try out new things.  That is half the joy of craft, experimentation, testing yourself to see what you can achieve.  But “the week before” is when I get to sit and really look.  It when I rummage through the box and pick out those beads that are most worthy of becoming jewellery.  Again I play and experiment and try to combine elements to create something that will get that “wow” or “ooo” response, but  most importantly for me it is when I really understand the progress I have made and just the plain beauty of glass.

Part of the process is to also go through my box of previously made items, and see how much I have already of any given colour range.  It is another reminder of what I can do and what styles I have used in the past.  I find it really useful to have that gap.  Rather than make and finish a pendant in the same week it is interesting to come back to the beads and look again, and sometimes I have very different plans for them than I originally envisaged.

Not ready for 2016

It’s the end of April already and although I have been pottering away in the shed, there have been so many distractions this year I have to confess that there has been no serious bead progress made.  I have a new job which means I have less time to lampwork, we have also been planning some work on the house.  When I have been in the shed I have been continuing my work on layering, but haven’t yet got any photos to show.

I’ve noticed that somebody is at least taking a regular peek at my website, so thank you for your interest, I shall try harder.

The best news is that I have booked a new course to go on in the autumn, and will be spending two days learning with internationally renowned glass artist Anouk Jasperse (https://www.flickr.com/photos/anoukjasperse/) so 2017 should bring a whole world of new designs and techniques.

Ready for the Fairs

I can’t make any more.  I have used all my best beads and all my silver.  It’s quite frustrating, but at least I have to stop.  Each time that question comes into my head, “What if I…?” the answer is no.  That is, until Wednesday when I get to frantically make some more beads to replace those that will be happily re-homed tomorrow.

This necklace is one piece that will hopefully find a new home very soon.  It’s unusual for me.  The lampwork beads are very soft colours.  There are purples, red, blues, yellows and greens, that flow into one another and give the whole set a wonderful range of tones.  The colours come from a silvered glass called Luna and depending on how you work with it the colours vary.  They just happened to look fantastic with a set of mixed agate beads I had, and then the copper clasp seemed to jump in there too.  Silver was just too harsh.  Overall the effect is very soft and subtle, and rather pretty.  I think I need to buy some more Luna.

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Red

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Its that time of year (Nearly).  We’ve done Halloween, we’ve done Bonfires and now Christmas Fairs are on the horizon and everything starts turning red and white.

I’m still working on this set, having set them out today I think I still need a few more to make a really stunning necklace.  I’ve tried them with white or red pearls and with ruby swarovski crystals but think it will look much more classy with plain silver.  Each flower is made of two layers of glass, white then red.  What I like about this is that you have red flowers on the face of the bead, but that through the bead you see the reverse, the white flowers behind.  It gives them real depth.

Technically these beads are quite a challenge.  If you start making the flowers on too big a base bead by the time the flower is finished the bead won’t fit in the brass press.  Too little glass and the ends of the bead won’t sit nicely against other beads.  The flowers are made with circles of tiny dots of glass.  The circle is melted and poked with a steel pick, so that the glass is pushed in and the petals draw together.  That distorts the bead shape.  Each flower is then covered in clear which traps a minute bubble of air at the center.  Not enough glass now and the bubble breaks through.  It has taken me quite a while to create flower lentils that I’m happy with!

Easter!

I can’t believe it’s nearly Easter already.  I have really struggled to get focused so far this year, for a whole host of reasons.  One reason is that I have very little time available at the moment due to my “day job”.  The less time I have the harder it is to concentrate on creating, and having those ideas for colour, pattern and shape.  There is nothing more demoralising than sitting in front of the torch and not knowing what to do.  On those days I rarely like the beads I create so I end up going off to do all the other jobs that need doing, a very unproductive vicious circle.

The other reason I have lacked focus so far this year is because I’ve been preparing to run a Craft Club at school, giving back some of my enthusiasm for craft.  Clearly I won’t be showing them Lampwork, but I’ve spent a lot of time thinking through all the great crafts that I can share with them.  It’s been an interesting insight into my own preferences and the kind of crafts and styles that most appeal to me.  I was quite surprised at how much fabric featured in there, and then comforted to see that it is the same layering of colour within that craft that I enjoy achieving in glass.  The letters went out to see who is interested today, so soon I shall be able to see how the pupils and parents respond to my idea.

Today I’m posting because I finally have a bead worthy of showing in 2015, and a picture that does it some justice.  So enjoy my teal heart and hopefully it can be a positive turning point to a more successful second quarter.

Teal Heart

Teal Heart

Autumn Glow

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It is lovely to be back at the torch after my long summer break.  Rather confusing as to where to start though.  I have been practicing with Cabochons (Cabs) but they are proving a little tricky so I don’t have anything to show yet.

Meanwhile I have gone back to something I was working on a couple of years ago, transparent colours with a pale core, which seem to glow from within.  Previously I was just creating simple rounds, but now I’m a little more confidant with these ovals, I thought they could be lovely pendants.  I think they will roll as they are worn, so do I keep them simple, or add tassels?  The one below might well be destined to hang from a hammered silver ring and have long chain tassels.  Off to the workbox then to see what I have to play with!

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New Brewery Blues

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It’s actually more turquoise than blue if you want to be particular.

May I present my collection for the exhibition titled “Journey,” by the Creative4UM group at New Brewery Arts, Cirencester. We are taking over the Pop-Up Gallery for two weeks starting tomorrow, so today I have been finishing, labelling and listing all my goodies.

The Creative4UM is a wonderful group of friendly artists and makers living and working near Cirencester. I’ve found them a huge support this year, and this will be the second exhibition I have been involved with as a result. The title of Journey is an interesting one and I’m looking forward to seeing how everybody else has interpreted it. Within my Lampwork it was hard to think how best to reflect the title. I could have shown a progression of beads. I could have shown some of my first and some of my latest, but when I’m not there to explain that would be difficult to get across. People might just think I have some very bad bead making days (Which is true!, but not the point). So I chose a more simple interpretation. I thought of travel, which led me to the sea and holidays and that became the blues and turquoise that you see above. The patterns of sunlight on water gave me the excuse to use lots of silver and sparkles and suddenly there I am playing with my favourite colour.

I hope the visitors like what they see. It should certainly compliment the work of my fellow jeweller in the exhibition Sally Davies (www.enamelledjewellery.com). I’m sure I shall find out what people think on Wednesday when I’m stewarding, let’s hope the sun is shining and everybody is cheerful.