Sunday, 27 February 2011


I have actually managed to get some torch time in even though it has been half term!  I couldn't decide on a colour combo so I went for colours that I rarely use.  I also decided to practice some of the techniques I learnt with Lorna, in particular getting enough glass on the mandrel to use a press.  I did a bit of straight line practice and chucked in some murrini that I've had for a while just for good measure.

Recently, I ordered some clear glass rods, I thought I had ordered some thick ones but alas they were the same size as the kilo I ordered not so long ago!!!  With plenty of clear glass it made sense to practice with my lentil press with a clear base.

I am rather fond the floral set on the right so I think I will experiment with different colourways.

One of the things I love about working with glass is that you never quite know for sure whether colour combinations are going to work.  The resulting beads are nothing like what I had in mind, although, I think they work.  They put me in mind of 'carnival'.

This was a first for me.  Not only did I manage to make beads, I also made them into jewellery, phographed them AND I have posted these items in my shop!!!

I hope you had a good weekend.  I wonder if this week will be productive with the children back at school....?

Sunday, 20 February 2011


to become a member on the Frit Happens street team on Etsy.  Anyone who is interested in lampwork beads, and UK Lampwork bead makers in particular, should visit where you will find friendly banter and lots of glassy goodness to feast your eyes on. 

If you really want a treat visit the Street Team on Etsy by opening then type fhfteam 2011 into the search box.  I guarantee you will not be disappointed!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

My Workspace

I thought I would introduce you to my lampwork workspace.  I would like to call it a studio but really it is a space in my utility room.  We have moved house recently and the pennies wouldn't stretch to a shedio.  I don't think I ever got around to posting pictures of my previous workspace.  I didn't fully appreciate at the time that I was REALLY spoilt for space.  We converted our garage to an office/workshop, the plus side was the amount of space and storage I had, the downside I had to go outside and wait for it warm up.  The plus side of my workspace in the utility room is that it is always warm and I don't have to leave the house, the downside being the lack of space and storage.  However, one mustn't complain.  I am hoping to one day have a space in the town but all in good time.  So, introducing my workspace (drum roll please):

This shot is taken from the doorway and shows my Nortel Minor and my SC2 kiln.  As you can see my kiln bears the scars of my impulsiveness.  I got the kiln, unpacked it, read the instructions (honest I did), fired it up, started to make beads and popped them in the kiln.  After a while I noticed that actully the kiln seemed very hot and when I looked inside my mandrels were drooping!!!!!!!!!!!  YIKES, switch off quick.  I am relieved to be able to report that no great damage was done, only aethestic....... 

This second image is taken from the other side of the room.  My dad very kindly made me the storage for my glass.  The stock is looking very measly though, might have to remedy that with a little online shopping trip!  I had to come up with a quick solution for storing my mandrels the other day.  I used to have sand in a plant pot but when it came to moving I decided to get rid of the sand thinking I could replenish from the sand tray.  However, I couldn't find the sand the other day, 'its in the garage somewhere' the other half assures me.  Being short of time I decided to raid the old play dough that has gone all grey.  It did the trick but its not easy to just grab a mandrel without pulling the whole chunk of play dough and all the other mandrels with it!  Must add sand to the list of items to be rescued from the chaos of the garage.

So there you have it, my little work corner. 

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

A Day with Pixie Willow Designs

Last weekend I spent a great day in the company of Lorna learning some more about beadmaking.  Top of my list was stringer control, specifically straight lines.  Lorna explained that it is easier to learn stringer control on a flat surface so we should start with using a press to get nice a even surface.  I have used a bead press before but I always applied a 'guesstimate' approach with how much glass to use which invariably left me with too much glass.  Here are my attempts with Lorna's example sandwiched between:
So the shape isn't perfect because we were looking to get the flat surface.  The dots are random because I was messing about with using such fine stringer.  However, I have to say that I was mighty pleased with the relatively straight, unbroken lines.  Must remember the mantra 'snap off me end' (winks at Lorna).  From stringer control we moved on to twisties and murrini.  Lorna showed me a great easy way to make simple murrini that, with practice, can give lovely results without the faff of optic moulds:

   Apologies for the small picture.  Lorna's is the right hand bead (as if I have to explain that).  I was amazed at how straightforward it could be to make murrini, it could be dangerously addictive.  Next on the list was twisites:
I have had a go at making twisties before but I haven't had much success with getting a consistent twist.  But with some expert tuition I made a very respectable twistie, I can see that this can become equally as addictive as making murrini.  I have now invested in a pair of glass cutters!!!
Another item on the list was cabs.  Mum and I have seen the cab mandrels at Tuffnell's and always fancied having a go.  The skill here is in building up the glass to make a nice even shape without disturbing the bead release on the mandrel.
Just in case you're not sure, mine is the one on the right (tee hee who am I trying to kid?)  Having made my cab shape I was at a loss as to how to decorate it so I melted on the rest of my twistie.  Lorna also showed me how to make a cab without using a cab mandrel but by using a rod and a press!  This is why paying for some tuition is so worthwhile, I have learnt loads in a short space of time, not only in terms of technique but also in tips and tricks. 

The final items on my list were shaping dots and how to make the big hole beads with the stacked dots that are then raked.  I have played around but something wasn't quite going right, I know now where I was going wrong.  Lorna then took it a stage further and melted in the stacked dots to give a lovely swirly effect:

Thankyou Lorna for a great day!