Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pushing Buttons (again)

I'm really getting into this button making thing.
All of these are shank buttons.

What else is there to do when the view from my desk is this wintry nonsense?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pushing Buttons

Finally, after a few disastrous tries, I have made glass buttons with shanks.

I am making them on the ends of mandrels and forming them with a graphite button mold.

The shanks are wound from 18g wire and epoxied in place.

No, they won't come out.
I tested one with pliers by first wiggling and then yanking on the shank.
The button broke in two but that stinkin' shank was still firmly glued in the broken glass.

They are a good size.

The profile is nice.

And they're a great, fun way to use up bits of rod, twisties and frit at the end of the day.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Ancient Recipe

Here's something I haven't made in ages - fake ancient beads.

It couldn't be easier.
Make a bead and then roll it, while it's still hot but not drippy, in plain old baking soda.
I have my soda in a small stainless steel dish.
Put the soda coated bead back in the flame and watch it sizzle.

Start way out in the flame - if it gets too hot you may not get good fizzle and the bead might stay sort of shiny. Some colors work better than others, start with turquoise it goes crazy.

The more baking soda the bigger the craters.
Want more pitting? Roll it in the soda again and burn off the soda again.
When you have the perfect, perfect amount of crusty ancient-ness put it in your kiln.
Most of these beads were triple dipped.

Just try it, you'll get the hang of it right away.
Be sure you have good ventilation.

When they come out of the kiln they can be a little too crusty and rough.
Rinse them off in water.
Then brush them with a very stiff brush to knock to off any loose grit and clean out the craters.
Lastly, I give them a light coat of Renaissance wax, let dry and buff.
The light wax coating makes them much nicer to the touch.

1 - 2 - Testing 1 - 2

A pair of large test beads for a necklace.

These turned out just as I hoped.

A barrel core of Cim's "Peacock" rolled in Double Helix "Triton" frit with a bit of fine silver wire added.
Slightly reduce the frit and then encase in pale apple green transparent.
Shape and anneal.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Old Worsted

Making mittens.

If you go to enough household sales you will eventually find everything you need -
even wool from Woolworths.

My friend Jackie took this picture yesterday at the coffee shop. She was very impressed with the vintage wool and how quickly a wee pair of mittens could be knit.

Yesterday they were just so much string. Today they are a pair of 4th birthday mittens.
It's a great, simple and free pattern. Find it here.
Hmmm, what to put on my needles next?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Studio Snapshots

Watching the trains come and go after an afternoon spent making beads.
I am thinking of taking a larger studio space but can't imagine giving up this view.

A new stool. The little foot rest is on a hinge so you can move it to the perfect spot or tuck it away underneath and out of the way.

So many marvers - so little time.

Everyone else's blog photographs of their studios are so sunny and sweet.
My studio is more gritty than glamorous, I suppose the same is true of me.

I love my little glass penthouse.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Darling Clementines

January is definitely the month for citrus. Up here in the frozen north we dream of tropical groves and settle for heaping bowls of oranges and tangerines. I was inspired by some lovely, tiny clementines that came with their leaves still attached, a real wintertime treat.

The little fruits are Cim's "Clockwork" encased with transparent orange.
The leaves are Cim's "Peacock" with a little bit of petroleum green frit.

They're light and fun, easy to wear and sunny enough for dreary January.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Little Bird Bracelet

Late to the party, as usual, I'm suddenly all about leather cord bracelets.

I've devised a clasp that uses one of my off mandrel leaf pendants.

Just a leather loop and a few knots.
I've thrown up a bunch of snapshots here to help you get the gist of it.

The glass beads are Cim's peacock with trails of golden iridescent Double Helix Aurae.

The beads were made on 1/8" mandrels so that two 2mm leather cords would fit thru their holes.

The bracelet features a little chubby bird.
His beak is a little bit rounded off so that he won't peck you in the wrist, or chip off in everyday wear.

Very simple and sort of sweet.
A handful of the leaf pendants are available in my "Belvedere" etsy shop if you want to try one - as well as the bracelet.

Friday, January 04, 2013


I sold way more earrings last holiday season than I expected.
By the end I was crafting pairs, and pairs, almost every night to replenish my dwindling stock.

It got pretty desperate. I was practically out of my own lampwork beads. I did have some piddling glass headpins left. So, I dug into my "other" bead stash and whipped up some fun stuff.

The headpins are simple balls of Raku glass on the ends of 20 gauge brass wires. Stack on some hand-carved bone skulls and then some old bone roses on the left pair and some rock crystal beads on the right pair and... viola! you've got earrings.

The point is to remember that not everything has to be complicated - and - that you will never, ever actually run out of beads.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Nothing But Blue Skies

I made this sterling and glass necklace for my sister as a Christmas present - she has the bluest eyes.

The core of each bead is pastel sky blue rolled in superfine silver blue frit, each one is encased in pale transparent aqua. Every bead as a trapped air bubble, or two, in the encasing.

I don't have a lot of patience, so making all these matching beads in one sitting was an act of devotion.

It looked wonderful on her.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Foiled Again!

Here's an opulent necklace made with encased silver foil, a technique I hadn't used in ages.

Each bead has a black core that was wrapped in fine silver foil (not leaf) and then encased with a transparent color.

I wanted them to look ancient so I was not too fussy with them. Each one was hand shaped into a rounded, long rectangular bead using a lentil press. They're chunky without being too heavy. 

This piece was a hard one to let go - I really loved it.  I have seen a snapshot of it on the woman who received it as a holiday gift and it looked great. Maybe I just need to make another, similar one, for myself.

P.s. the secret to this technique is to not let the flame touch the silver before you get it encased. Once you wrap the core bead in the foil don't put it in the flame, just keep it warm above the flame and get all the encasing on there before you start the final melting and shaping of the bead. Also, don't let the bead get super hot as you shape it or you can "lose" the foil.