Monday, September 15, 2008

Sometimes I Like to Melt the Glass

If you look around here a little bit, you'll find that I like to melt glass occasionally. On those days that the sun isn't melting everything else.

Today was a glorious and beautiful day to melt glass. Hello Fall. I love you.

Incidentally, I do not blow glass. I merely melt it in a very hot flame, on a stick (called a mandrel). Blowing is a skill I have not yet acquired.

Since I've been making a few beads recently, and since I haven't inflicted pics on my blog-folks in a while, and since I had a request for pics (via twitter), I was persuaded to post some.

This first bunch of beads will be a necklace, or maybe a necklace and earrings. I will probably bead it with some lapis and/or malachite. It's for an old college friend I caught up with recently. Maybe if she likes it, I'll get to go visit her and her hubby and her four children, none of whom I've ever met. Bad friend. (Last time I saw them, she was pregnant with #1; it's been a while!)

These beads are for various things. The lower right one is a bit of a boo-boo, although a few people have told me they like it (I don't, since I know what it was supposed to look like.) The clear pink one is closer to what it was supposed to look like, and two of the three smaller beads will be earrings for my mother-in-law.

I made this set for Robin, although I can't say that I'm really happy with it. She asked for red and hot pink, which poses a certain number of problems, glass-wise. Red with hot pink doesn't offer much of a contrast, and the one glass that gets close to hot pink is a little temperamental (more on that later). So this may or may not have a happy ending; I may just trash these and start over. The base beads are clear, and the stripes are made with a twisted cane made from red, white, and pale pink clear. Why there are yellow and dark patches in these beads, I have no idea.

These beads are made with what's called raku frit (frit is just small pieces of glass). I've sold three of these to the nurse at my neurologist's office, who is a beader. She's quite anxious to get them, so I've been trying to finish up everything I want to make so I can get everything annealed (cycled through a kiln to strengthen the glass). I don't yet have a kiln, so I have to take my beads to a glass shop for the service and leave them for a day or two. Maybe someday I'll have my own...

Some beads make everyone love them, and these seem to fall into that category. The silver is called plum silver -- it starts out as a dark purple color but has a chemical reaction to a high propane flame (my torch has two sources -- propane and oxygen -- so you can vary the amount of each in the flame for various effects). This is a fairly simple bead design, but it's striking and goes with everything.

This is a bunch of miscellaneous stuff. The two on the top left were an experiment with a very expensive glass that someone gave me to try -- it's called Michaelangelo, and you'll see why later. A friend wants those beads for a necklace. The blue bead with gold squiggle next to it is made with dichroic glass, another expensive glass type that reflects different colors depending on the angle -- very pretty. On the top right is a bead that I made when trying to learn stringer control (how to make straight lines with tiny rods of glass). I had people insist to me that those were wires, not glass, so I assume I succeeded. The two beads on the bottom were made with another expensive glass from the same friend that gave me the Michaelangelo; this color is called Black Pearl. It's like plum silver only more so: it starts black but turns bright silver in a high propane flame.

These beads are all ones I learned to make by taking a class from my favorite "famous" beadmaker, Corina Tettinger. They're better to see in person. The top left is an encased floral (i.e., a flower bead encased in clear glass). There are five layers in the bead, so it's fairly time-consuming. The next one to the right is called an asteroid bead and is difficult to photograph here (and I did a miserable job). It's a black base bead, wrapped in silver foil, which is then burned off. The dots of color are made with ivory glass with silver foil burned onto it (called "silvered ivory"). This makes a rainbow effect. Then the whole thing is encased in clear. This isn't a great example; I'm going to try again and see if I can do better. The pair on the right is clear purple, with a layer of clear and gold dots on the outside. On the bottom is a bead made with twisted cane (like the first three pictures). Again, you can't tell in the picture, but when I encased it in clear, the bead ended up with a row of perfectly evenly spaced bubbles between the rows of twisted cane. It was a happy accident.

Now we come to the two best beads I made last night. This one isn't part of a set (at least not yet). When I mentioned before that the hot pink glass is a little temperamental, here is a perfect example. The dark color in this bead is supposed to be that hot pink (which incidentally is in the twisted cane bead above and turned out the right color there). In the bead below, it came out more of a dark brownish purple. You just never know with that color. The other colors in the twisted cane were clear pale pink and opaque ivory, so you can still see pink in the bead. All's well that ends well. I'm really pleased with the shape of this bead.

Last is not least here; I saved the best for last. The only colors used here are white and Michaelangelo, as hard as that is to believe. I made the pendant initially to go with the other pair of beads that I'd made (the ones my friend wants made into a necklace). When it discolored the white, I was kind of upset; I almost didn't finish making the bead. This is why you always finish making the bead -- you just never know what you have until you're done. I love this bead. It didn't translate as well in the smaller beads, but I'll take it anyway. I'm seeing now why my friend says Michaelangelo is her favorite color. It's very reactive, meaning that it does cool things with other colors of glass. I see a purchase of expensive glass in my future (don't tell my hubby!).

That's what I've been up to. Now, if y'all will excuse me, I have some more glass to melt...


Cindy said...

Wow - you've been a busy little melter! I love the last one too - it almost looks like one of those cool knot things. Like everyone else, I love the black and silver ones. Those will make up beautifully I'm sure! I think the raku frit is SO cool looking!!

Tammy said...

I love the heart and the flower!
They are bead-utiful! ;)