Saturday, June 27, 2009

Chalcedony - Yay!!!!

I've been having a bad couple of weeks, but thanks to a special delivery from Mona, the Glass Fairy (seriously, that's what I call her now) over at Gaffer, things brightened up considerably. Mona knew I'd been dying to try out Gaffer's G-109 Chalcedony so she hooked me up. She and the girls sent me a most excellent 'Box o' Joy' to play with and I finally had a chance to dig into it just a tiny bit.

Thanks, Mona. You rock!!!

Now, I'm going to post some pics, just so you can see the colors. Don't laugh. They are lumpy, unbalanced, wonkies. These are not beads that were made with the intent to sell or even ever have anyone see them and I am well aware of the fact that they quite suck. I was just trying to get an understanding of how Chalcedony works, torch settings, etc.

I only had about an hour to play so things are pretty basic but I love this glass so far. It melts like butter, blooms like spring and is a piece of cake to use. It positively puts some of the other striking colors to shame.

O.K., here goes. I can't believe I'm showing these beads to the world but...whatever

This is my first bead. It's just a gravity spiral over black. The edges have a stripe of clear because I wanted to see what it looked like encased. I love the color in this one and I did basically nothing to get it. Just super-heated, let it cool to almost cold, then did a deep re-heat and Voila!

This is the second one. It's an encased gravity spiral over a black base. I can't believe how much of this color remains so brilliant, even after encasing. It's color is much better in person, richer and earthier. Not sure why they look so pastel in the picture.

I made this one last and treated it a little differently. I wanted to see what the color did if I struck it after encasing. You can see that they are much softer, gentler colors. I don't know if this is always the case, but I'm going to find out next week.

And this was my final bead. I'd been wanting to make her from the start, but I wanted to try the glass out first. She's pure Chalcedony, topped with a little sprinkling of Chalcedony frit. I love her. And don't worry, I didn't squander my entire stock of G-109 on her. She's very petite, only an inch tall!

That's it for now. I can't wait until next week when I can play some more. I have a couple of ideas that I think are going to work out beautifully. I'll share pics.

Monday, June 22, 2009

What's up?

Is it possible to blog on a regular basis?
Is it possible to blog in the summertime?

Is it possible to do anything other than run from place to place, shuttling between movies, parks, pools, sleep overs, roller skating, ice skating, swim practice, swim meets, parties, play dates, the beach, etc.,,,?

In my mind, I thought this summer would be different. My kids are older now, a little more independent and able to entertain themselves. I pictured them having long, lazy days of relaxing, kicking back, swimming and playing outside, eating snow cones, doing craft projects, catching up on reading, watching videos - all while I joined them periodically while still managing to keep up a steady production of work.

Instead it's been a steady stream of running, running, running.

No beads have been made in days. No floors have been vacuumed, no socks have been sorted, no listings have been created. I haven't even downloaded the pictures from the last day of school from my camera yet.

And, to add to the mix, it's been incredibly hot. The heat index has been hovering between 105 and 112, with insane humidity. Nobody has any interest in going outside unless it's straight into the pool. If my cat hears the door open, he runs for his life in fear that someone will make him go outside. My studio is well over 100 degrees, even with my little A/C unit chugging away. (I think it might have curled up and died from sheer exhaustion.) I don't even want to think about my power bill.

Still, I'm hopeful. I really want to get some work done, some pictures posted and something interesting accomplished this week.

I hope....

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fairy Circle

When I was little, I was totally in to fairies and all kinds of make-believe, magical woodland creatures. I'd go off by myself, out into the woods or fields looking for elves, or trolls or horts. I was completely in a world of my own.

While some people argue that I still am, I think that I'm much more practical nowdays. (well, a little more practical, anyway.) But, when these beads came out of the kiln, I swear the first thing that came to my mind was, "Fairy wings!"

Something about the color, or the way the light dances across them or the way they shimmer just looked like gossamer wings to me. I didn't name them Fairy Wings because, well, that just seemed a little creepy. Like, as if they were made out of fairy wings. Eeewwwwww!

Anyway, they're awfully pretty. They are, of course, made out of Aurae. I'm starting to feel like the DH spokesperson or something, I swear.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Glorious silver glass

I loved the last set of Aurae beads I made, Northern Lights, so I decided to do a little series of them - using different shapes.

Here is Northern Lights II. These are barrel shaped and a bit larger than my original set was.

I've had so many people contact me, asking 'How did you get that color?' and 'Are those really that blue/purple?' and saying how nervous they are to try out their Aurae or that they're not sure what to do with it or how to make it work. My advice is the same as with regular glass.

Just play with it.

I know it's super-expensive, premium glass but you have to always be prepared to experiment. You have to just grit your teeth and tell yourself that it's OK to blow a rod or two, learning the potential of a new product. Otherwise, you end up with the same thing as everyone else. I probably spend at least 50% of my time at the torch just playing, experimenting and trying out ideas, no matter how wacky. OK, maybe we should make that 70%.

Triton and Aurae both have so much more to offer than just shimmery gold or metallic blue beads. Not that those beads aren't gorgeous, but it's so much fun to push it and see what else you can get.

So, if you're curious about this glass, just give it a go and work with it. But I will give you some specific tips that I've found out along the way:

1. Reduce very lightly for a super-luminous almost ghostly effect. Just shimmy the glass in and out of a barely reducing flame once or twice. It won't look like much happened, but when you encase, the color just blooms right in front of your eyes.

2. Cool your bead with a brass shaping tool or press. It must be a chemical reaction, because my colors are so fierce when I cool with brass as compared to graphite.

3. Use a variety of different base colors. Don't get stuck in a rut. Aurae over transparent cobalt is out of this world!

4. Try out encasing with a variety of different colors. Don't just use clear. Seattle Blue is gorgeous over both Triton and Aurae.

If anyone is interested, I could post some pics of different experiments - some that worked and some not so much. Let me know.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

School's Out!!!!

Wow, that was a whirlwind week. Man oh man oh man, am I beat.

The last week of school is always hectic and this time it was even worse because my daughter's moving on to Middle School now. Notice how I capitalized that, 'cuz it's THE most important thing in the world?

Anyway, there was just a lot going on and I felt like I was gone all day every day and never got a thing accomplished. My house is a wreck, my studio is a disaster, and I don't have anything cleaned to photo right now. Maybe later.

How about all of y'all? Is everyone on summer vacation now? Any big plans? Are you headed to the seaside? Grand Canyon? Or are you planning long days spent watching cartoons with the blinds pulled, eating cereal for lunch and never getting out of jammies?

We're planning some of those, for sure. But, we've got some stuff going on and some places to go and people to see, too. It's not all 'Ben 10' and Wii and Fruit Loops, I assure you.

I'll chat more about that later.

Anyway, I do have a gorgeous 'wave' set ending on eBay tonight. It's Aurae and it's really, really nice. The beads are pretty big, too, for olives. Check it:

~Wave Rider~
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