Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Studio Time: Starting a big project

I've started a project I'm calling the "10,000 Bead Project." Right after I committed to that in my mind and to my coach, I got accepted into the Milwaukee Bead & Button Show! This is huge for me. I've been applying to juried shows and this is the first one I've been accepted into. And, this is a huge opportunity since it's focused exclusively on beads and buttons! 

I got the good news at the end of February, so March was about refining my designs and choosing a number of design to productionize. I was busy making beads in March, but I realized my approach was seriously inefficient. I looked at my pile of ideas (below) and chose designs to turn into production sets. 

Polymer Clay

I continue to explore the Texture & Patina theme and bring it into my work below. I create bi-color and tri-color carved beads and coordinating spacers.

I've also been experimenting with leaf and the patina...

And large carved focal beads. These are some of my favorite so far.

Lampwork Glass Sets

My first forays into making glass beads were very disappointing. I had forgotten so much about lamp working! I scorched my first batch of 37 beads. While they are still interesting, it was a huge disappointment, especially because I know they're "wrong" ... i.e. I didn't do this intentionally. I was really hoping to get the beautiful glass colors. My next small attempt was MUCH better (next photo and the real colors you should be seeing.)

So, the lesson was: I was working in a reducing flame (which is too much propane). I had forgotten how the flame should look. I didn't have the pressure up high enough on the oxygen either so I was working really really slowly. I ended up ordering a new, bigger torch. That has also been a learning experience, but as I'm learning by repeating the same bead over and over again, I'm getting much deeper and nuanced experience in the tools. I'm learning how to get the flame hotter, how to keep the flame a little cooler so I can work slower. I'm learning where to point the torch so it doesn't get clogged if glass shocks and gets stuck to the torch. I'm learning how to clean the torch if a small piece of glass does get stuck. I'm learning the pressure of the my oxygen concentrator and propane canister.

I am writing this as a lessons learned for the month of March. I needed a month to experiment and nail down the designs I could make into production sets (multiples of the same beads). I needed the time to learn my tools and improve my techniques.

Now that I have about 2,000 beads of production under my belt, I feel more confident about attending the Bead & Button show as an exhibitor! As I've reviewed the current body of work I've been collecting, I realize it's all very basic. But, basic techniques are the foundation of any good artist. That's a subject for the next post!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Studio Time: A collection of my best work

Attached is a body of work in lamp work glass beads and polymer clay beads from 2009 - 2017. 

My beads are simple and basic and I make a lot of my own beads into jewelry. I describe my style as organic and textural. I don't do a lot of focal beads. I create a lot of basic beads that are the foundation of most pieces of jewelry.

Patterned Beads - Lampwork Glass
Dots and reactive




Quirky Dalmation dots with Red

Simple dots

Textural nuggets and basic rounds

Swirls Beads

I created a technique for creating messy swirls of color. I mix opaque, opalescent, and translucent colors. Sometimes I do a simple mix of 2 colors up to 4-5 colors.

Polymer Clay

These are carved polymer clay beads that were a breakthrough design for me that allowed me to combine my glass with polymer.

Most of these beads are made with polymer clay and alcohol inks.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Studio Time: Art Retrospective - Lampworked Glass Beads

I had so much fun with the polymer retrospective,  I decided to do the same with my lamp work glass. Kind of fun to look through my art history. It took me a good six months in glass before I was able to form decent beads. 

Very First Beads

I bought the Fireworks kit from Hobby Lobby. Got brave. Turned the torch on and made them lumpy little globs of glass. Still proud of them.

The top three beads are from the class we took to learn how to work with the torch, hold the glass and mandrel. I found it useful to work with someone a little more experienced in working with glass, especially with something as serious as an industrial torch.

Ooooh, some very very ugly beads. Especially that "broccoli bead" where I'm experimenting with dots.

The first bead I kind of like. Except the ends are pointy and sharp instead of well-formed dimples.

Experimenting with transparent, but not with enough high contrast.

Introduced higher contrast. Another leap forward.

 Took a wire wrapping class.

Bought a kiln. Was experimenting with stringers in imperfect scrollwork on big chunky beads.

Gift for my sister. Need to restring the glass beads, but necklace otherwise held up well.

Esmeralda Necklace. Really loved how this turned out. Used fine silver and wrapped in layers of green glass.

Favorite colors of course! Rusty red and pale blue. Lots of dots. Learned that I didn't do perfect placement very well, but started adapting to organic placement.

Really proud of these beads. I created twists in multiple greens and blues, created a small tube bead, then heavy wrap in clear glass. Squeezed the bead. Then layered a brown tree truck and varied greens for leaves. Rather imperfect, but it turned out like I imagined in my head! That was kind of fun! Doesn't happen all the time.

Learned that the simple reactive beads were much more interesting to my audience than the art beads.

First commission for a bridal party.

Starting to learn chain maille.

Mixing chain maille and glass.

I got a new lamp work setup in Hong Kong! So happy to get back to glass back in 2009.

A gift for friends. They liked the giraffe theme so I experimenting with learn how to create that type of design. Fun!

First introduction to swirl beads. Kiwi beads in a transparent core and opaque outside. This spurred a new level of experimentation for me.

A fun quirky set I called, "The Dalmation wears lipstick." Inspired by a pair of polka dot black and white shoes with red toes.

The first time I tried the lariat style. Love this and need to come back to it.

Lush lampwork bracelets.

Learned how to stretch my beads by using different styles of beads in the same necklace.

Beads I made in my home studio in Greenville. This is the first time I started creating collections. 

Cotton Theme

Frost Series (clear glass, etched)

K... that was fun. Now I need to get back to glass.