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Happy New Year everyone!

Oh. It’s already the third week in January you say?

Happy third week of 2013 everyone!

 

Let’s see if I can bring this blog up to date.

 

In December, I made a *lot* of stock for a craft fair stall in Retford, which my parents very kindly ran. A lot of lampwork jewellery was featured, which was petrifying since my comfort zone is polymer clay, so I was very pleased to find out that pieces actually sold.  I realise this is common, nay, even expected at places where, you know, one offers goods for sale, yet nonethless it was very lovely news!

 

I also had a very limited amount of Chritsmas decorations in polymer clay for sale at Thorseby Art Gallery. They ran a commission-free space for artists to place their decorations for sale, so it’s not as though I got into a juried art show, but it still gave me a little thrill.

 

The latest of Beads and Beyond has a polymer clay tutorial by me in it, so if you’d like to see how bad I look in pictures, you can check out the Feb 2013  issue.

 

And now for a picspam of craft fair jewellery:

 

redneck

 

spotsdots

 

bluelentil

 

bw

 

flowers

And here’s cat who has no idea who he is, what’s happening to him, or why he’s here: I call him Bemused Cat.

ca

 

I”ll probably be the 1006979676,6078598458th person to complain about Blogger changing its dashboard, but oh well. I do not like. Why are things on the side when they used to be at the bottom? I have to actually move my eyeballs to the right to find things now!

But regardless, I’m braving the confusion and writing a post. How lucky do you feel at this news, huh?

Anyway, last week I graduated from the dining room table to a proper desk (a birthday present) for my polyclay work, and it’s really made a difference to have tools in drawers, and everything within reach. Also, random pieces of polymer clay will no longer get into people’s food at Christmas dinner. Well, hopefully (hey, who hasn’t ingested a small amount of plastic these days? I once swallowed a marble; polymer clay is nothing compared to that)

I’ve also succumbed to a mania for making pinecone beads and lilypad charms from polymer clay, which are now on Etsy:

And I’ve managed to produce a cute little apple out of hot glass. I can’t deny that I’m pleased with him, though his apple-ness may be in question (perhaps there’s some strawberry in his bloodline)

His sister is resting in annealing bubbles now, waiting to go in the kiln.

 
A tongue-in-cheek-comparison of ‘Marketing Speak’ and ‘Reality’
What you see on the artist’s website:



The Graffiti series



Here we see myriad dichotomies assert themselves in a cacophony of symbolism; the battle between the natural, represented by soft aquatic blues, and the urban, rendered as stark, crude graffiti is played out on the surface of the bead; whilst the inherent human urge to simultaneously beautify and desecrate their surroundings comes through as we consider how the artistic savagery of these industrial, tribal scrawls is both a rebellion against the concrete confines of the city and the state, and the expression of a longing for something more aesthetically substantial, a wild, tribalistic echo of the beauty of the natural world. And in the end, we find ourselves drawn into these continual tentative states of negotiation, and discover the wildness inside us all.

What you didn’t see:

Oh boy, time to lampwork. Working on stringer work today, oh yeah. Gonna be a goooood session.
Right, I’ve got a nice flat surface on my bead, perfect for stringer work. Got my stringer, ready to go into the flame and start making stringer magic! Starting with a spiral…come on spiral…nice and round…or square, yeah, okay, we’re drawing a square instead…good, good..Whoa, slow down stringer…not so fast…phew, hands getting a bit hot…let’s draw another square now…or a rhombus, yeah, fine, making a rhombus…with a strange appendage..oh dear, I hope no-one reads anything into that shape….hands getting a lot hot…Oh my God, where’s the stringer going?! It’s melting too fast…it’s out of control…argh, argh, it’s stuck to the mandrel! Now it’s flopping around! Quick, quick, stick it back on the bead…argh, I dropped it…Oh my God, it’s in my shoe!!! It’s burning my shoe!!! Get it, get it…not with that hand, that’s the one with the molten bead on it you idiot! Put that down first!!!

Huh. Well, that went a lot better than I expected.

(extra points to you if you can comprehend that BS up there, because I sure can’t *G*)

 

For the first time, I’ve been feeling like writing a summing-up-looking-forward post about 2011 and 2012, so here it is, in brief bullet-point form (because bullet-points make things both important and impressive)

Things I learned in 2011:

  • I can take professional rejection and not enter a fugue state. In fact, I found I’m not bothered much, and can pick myself up and carry on (personal rejection on the other hand, is still very ouchy!)
  • It is a bad idea to contact people you have fond memories of from school, because they probably won’t remember you. At all. (even if they did go to your house all the time, and you went to their farm…again, ouchy)
  • I’m not good enough to get on Polymer Clay Daily (hee, I know, who do I think I am trying to get on there…but I did have a hidden, tiny hope that has now been squashed)

Arty-crafty things I got done in 2011 :

  • Had 3 magazine tutorials published
  • Worked on the FHFTeam blog with a great group of people
  • Became better at lampworking (…comparatively)
  • Made jewellery out of my own lampwork beads (eeeee! that was exciting)
  • Made a lot of polymer clay beads that I, dare I say, liked
  • Set up a website and online shop for my beads

Things I have decided for 2012

  • I will just stop reading sites and blogs that annoy me, instead of wishing I could say something ranty about them. Reading them with suppressed irritation doesn’t do me any good, and saying something would just inject bad vibes into places other people like (which isn’t fair, because it’s my problem not theirs!)
  • I will makes what I like. So there *G*
  • I will try again to improve my photography skills
  • I will get a proper storage system for my polymer clay

Other news since I last blogged: I got a lentil press as a present – and I’m unreasonably excited about it, especially as I also received Nelli Rees lampworking book, which is lovely.

You can win a prize from me, by commenting anywhere on the FHFTeam blog and becoming a follower – here’s a picture:
Or you can choose to have a gift voucher from Continuum Designs instead, if you don’t care for bracelets. We’ll be doing a giveaway every month this year, and the team blog is getting full with hints, articles and a *lot* of eye-candy. Seriously, there’s a heap of gorgeous pictures (and there are mine too! *G*)
 

Yay, I love lampworking – I’ll go do some! :D :D :D

Boo, it’s cold in the shed :(

Yay, the torch has made it all toasty now!

Boo, all glass hates me :(

Yay, that last bead looks good!

Boo, now I have to wait 13 hours for the kiln to finish :(

Yay, beads are ready!

Boo, cleaning beads sucks :(

Yay, I can watch Smallville while I’m cleaning!

Boo, Smallville still sucks :(

Yay, Lex is on screen!

Boo, I stabbed myself with the reamer :(

Yay, cleaning’s finished!

Boo, all my cleaned beads are ugly :(

———————

Being a lampworker is a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Sigh.

 

I don’t think I’ve blogged about this, but I hit a wall with my crafts a while ago and just stood there staring up at that wall for a while(and occasionally banging uselessly into it over and over like one of those malfunctioning androids you see in a lot of sci-fi)

I have ideas, but invariably my fingers will refuse to cooperate, or the clay/glass/wire start doing things I don’t want them to (on a side note, I’ve lost count of the number of times I jabbed myself while trying to cut and manipulate 1.25mm copper wire. I have a lot of respect for proper wire-workers *G*)

So I’m just plodding: making tiny plain lampwork spacers in the hope that the practice will benefit me in the end; clearing out my clay table; mixing polymer clay colours.

Anyway, in the spirit of clearing my head, I’ll be posting some polymer clay work I’ve been doing over the last few months that have been hidden away in my bead tins. They’re variable in quality and concept; I’ve been thinking, ‘I’ll just perfect that, and then I can use it in jewellery’ but I can’t seem to get past doing more that prototypes.

I don’t know about anyone else, but sometimes I hold so tightly to something that it begins to almost suffocate me and being stilted in that way is anathema to getting work done.

I have more to purge :D

I’ve also come face to face with synchronicity in ideas – I purposefully avoided reading about carving when I was making my own take on carved beads, but I’ve just now come across the same idea, documented, I would guess, about 10 years ago. I’ve never looked into carving except for a few comments people have made about lino cutters (which are apparently scary tools, prone to slipping, and with a tendency to gouge more than just clay.) And I guess the reason I didn’t look into it is precisely because it’s a pretty simple idea, and I didn’t want to know that it was already in use. No harm done, I never thought about claiming it as My Very Own Special Technique (who would want it, for one thing?), but it’s always funny to see this happen…especially when you’re apparently a decade or two behind everyone else *G*

 

Eeeeehehehehe….Another lampworking post. By the way, I really do giggle like that when I lampwork, because I loves it. Certain steps are becoming easier, and it’s really great feeling like I’m learning something again, doing research and practice, and seeing the improvements (however slight!)

newbie

From left to right –

Gaia encased in clear – I’m really pleased with this encasing because there’s no apparent bleeding of the core glass into the encasing layer. On the other hand, the core glass was meant to be a reactive glass, and instead it stayed a lovely but plain emerald green, and I also used Effetre 004 clear for the encasing; the scummiest clear known to the glass world!

Colbalt Transparent rolled in silver foil with a Pale Blue Transparent encasing – I love this effect, even though there’s less encasing, and more intermingling of the glass! The silver foil has also fumed a bit, I think, where the ‘encasing’ is shallower, but where it’s silvery, it’s lovely.

Colbalt Trans rolled in silver foil with clear encasing – same as above, but the encasing is better except for a few spots where the clear layer had gaps in it, and the base colour was drawn up through them. Quite cool appearance though; I know some people do this on purpose to get a more dramatic effect.

I’m not neglecting polymer clay though – I made a kaleidoscope cane a few days ago and produced these (and as you can see, I may be learning lampworking and kaleidoscope caning, but my photography skills are staying pretty level at the ‘what on earth is that in the picture?!’ stage):

Toggle

Abstract

Bezel Beads

And I’ve put them up at Continuum Designs

I’ve mostly stayed away from kaleidoscope (or mirror-image) canes because getting an aesthetically pleasing colour mix *and* mix of components has proved quite challenging. However, I was reading through Carol Simmons’ blog (a master of complex caning) and found an older post about experiments using only a monochromatic colour scheme. So I forgot about colour and stuck to tones of blue, with some white and black, and concentrated instead on putting together the canes – and it really helped, thank goodness.

 

Hahahahahawhee.

Ahem. Sorry, that’s the sound of me getting back into lampworking. Thanks to the lovely June of Beaujolais Beads I had my first play with the torch for around 6-8 months, as well as a go with some presses. It’s really strange but my first beads after the break weren’t absolutely hideous – you’d definitely recognize them as beads, albeit plain ones – but the session I did solo right after that I produced some strange undersea creatures, and wads of chewing gum on mandrels. After a few hours of cursing the torch I went back to it in the evening (it’s easier to see the flame) and finally made one or two beads that I’m pleased with (in the sense that at least they’re not hideous *G*). Why yes, I do have a picture:

And because I’m determined to take you on every step of my lampworking journey (STOP RUNNING AWAY) here is the undersea creature I made (totally on purpose of course):

 

I’m one of those silly people who think that because they know about something, everyone else must have found out about it beforehand *rolls eyes*

To counter that, I’m doing a short post about the Frit-Happens Forum Team, a community-based Etsy team centered around glass artistry and jewellery that is handmade primarily in the UK (although some other countries are represented too). It’s a pretty great team, filled with lots of loveliness to look at including artisan lampwork beads, jewellery, and other glassy items, as well as silver findings perfect for finishing handmade jewellery.

So please check into Etsy and tap ‘fhfteam 2011′ into the search box, and I’m sure you’ll find a cornucopia of British prettiness *G*

(Although I’m a member, I’m not a glass-seller, so this post isn’t as biased as it seems :D )

 

This week’s Sunday Browsing brings lampwork treats…literally. It’s food-themed glass, with a little bit of a quirky twist to some of the beads, so enjoy drooling, whether it’s over the lampwork or the yumminess :D

You how fans of lampwork drool over glass? Well, I can’t look at these lampwork chocolates by EnterTheFlame without doubly drooling; I feel like I can taste rich, creamy truffles just by staring at the details in this picture; my favourite part has to be the fine frit that serves as cocoa dusting on some of the chocolates.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/59314822/choco-licious-glass-art-lampwork-beads

From girlfriday1962, a cute take on the old cliche of pickles and ice cream for the pregnant – personally, I love how the both the sundae and the pickle are looking suspiciously and little worriedly at each other, as if they’d never expected to be in each other’s company. The added bonus is that if used for earrings, this wary look would be re-focused onto the wearer, to reconfirm their dubious cravings *G*

http://www.etsy.com/listing/42081022/cravings-for-ice-cream-and-pickles-glass

Juiciness and freshness seems to drip from these lovely watermelon beads by glasstastictreasures, which manage to merge a little kookiness with a lot of class – unusual, but not too ‘out there’!

http://www.etsy.com/listing/51798006/summer-fun-watermelon-lampwork-bead-set


Here’s a whole bakery in a bead set from cemlampwork1, including pie, cake, donuts, and a superb chocolate covered strawberry, all perfect as charms for pastry maniacs (on second thoughts, you might be wise to keep these away from maniacs of any kind…they’ll put anything in their mouths).

http://www.etsy.com/listing/55871273/sweet-tooth

From the perfect crimped pastry edges, to the melty dollops of cream (non-dairy, I assume *G*), beadbrains has a talent for tiny slices of pies The detail in this lemon pie is fantastic, for example; the streakiness of the yellow glass filling mimics real lemon curd brilliantly.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/30342294/free-shipping-for-this-lemon-curd-pie

Frogs and lizards perched on lampwork beads is quite the trend, but aardvarkartglass has taken it about eighteen steps further, putting these glass creatures on all sorts of junk food from lizards on Ramen Noodles, to this frog on a Twinkie (being from the UK, I’m not 100% sure what a Twinkie is, but American TV has taught me they’re food-esque cake things that will outlive everything except cockroaches in event of an apocalypse)

http://www.etsy.com/listing/51853944/aardvarks-frog-on-a-twinkie-bead

lampworkgarden has masses of cute sculptural beads, but my favourites are these hot foamy drinks, drizzled with caramel stringer, and rising from pretty little green and blue cups. Delicious.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/49375355/caramel-drizzled-drink-lampwork-glass

 
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