Monday, November 20, 2017

Studio Time: Down the Knitting Rabbit Hole - My First Sweaters

I blame Irma.

Well, I started falling down the knitting rabbit hole before Irma, but Irma clinched it. Nothing like evacuating to Alabama and having four days to focus on knitting.

I finished...frogged and re-knit my very first sweater. This is the Old Town sweater from Sunday Knits. This one took six weeks.



And then I went and knit a version in white for my niece. It was originally supposed to be for my sister, but I used a thinner yarn (smaller gauge) so it fits my niece better. This one took two weeks.




And now I have three four projects (two baby blankets, a scarf, and a hat) at the moment with a few others percolating in my head cast on my needles.

I knit my first pullover sweater in linen. This is gorgeous Prism Euroflax Linen yarn. I had a skein of this yarn in my stash when I decided to take on this sweater. I ordered two additional skeins from Desert Designs Knits to complete the sweater. Normally different dye lots can create a very jarring transition, but it worked out okay with this sweater. And I'm SUPER happy with the result of this sweater. In fact, I have a request to make one for another friend.  I've been able to machine wash this in super delicate and dry on delicate and it turns out perfectly. It's getting softer and drapey-er with each washing.



I've been pairing the sweater with another Sunday Knits item - the Sonoma Stole is perfect for the slightly cooler in between weather for a Florida winter. I get to wear my warmer knits!!!


While learning to knit with linen, here is a list of references that have helped me.

Here are the linen posts:
http://fluffyknitterdeb.blogspot.com/2006/06/l-is-for-linen.html
http://untangling-knots.com/2016/05/20/6-things-to-know-about-knitting-with-linen/
http://www.knittingparadise.com/t-172115-1.html
https://marvelknits.wordpress.com/2015/06/11/knitting-with-linen-technicalities/
http://www.ravelry.com/groups/linen-and-hemp-lovers
http://knitbot.com/blog/2013/5/9/knitting-with-linen
http://knitbot.com/blog/2013/5/22/finishing-with-linen
https://www.interweave.com/article/knitting/knitting-with-linen-yarn-and-knitscene-summer/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaPdU20WdzQ


Adding lining to a knit piece:
http://techknitting.blogspot.com/2008/05/best-way-to-attach-lining-fabric-to.html



And a side note on a cool stitch called the Linen Stitch for future knitting...


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Kanna Earring Designs

Current earring designs I can re-create in either glass or polymer clay. If you need light earrings, I recommend polymer. If you like the beauty of glass and can handle a little bit of weight, then go for the glass.

1. Simple Drop ($18 Retail)

2. Loop and Triple Drop ($35 Retail)

3. Cherry Blossom ($47 Retail)

4. Lagoon ($35 Retail)

5. Lasso and Lariat ($47 Retail)

6. Graduated Drops ($22 Retail)

7. Stacked Loop and Triple Drop ($41 Retail)

8. Icicle and Drop ($47 Retail)

9. Twig ($59 Retail)

10. Cascading Droplets ($35 Retail)

11. Byzantine Chain with Large Bead ($47 Retail)

12. Rope and Bead ($39 Retail)

13. Triple decker small bead ($29 retail)


14. Endless Summer ($24 Retail)

15. Simple Silver and Bead ($24 Retail) - sunstone variation

15. Simple Silver and Bead ($24 Retail) glass bead variation

16. Confetti ($69 Retail) - Glass and carnelian variation

16. Confetti ($69 Retail) - Glass and carnelian variation

16. Confetti ($69 Retail) - Flamenco Variation 

16. Confetti ($69 Retail) - Pink Swarovski Crystal and glass bead variation

16. Confetti ($69 Retail) - Green peridot and dyed shell variation



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Studio Time: The Value of Production Work - Learning about Striking Reds

One of the things I'm learning with doing the same bead over and over and over is that I get to know the nuances of everything... the glass, my tools, my environment. In the first four mandrels I pulled from the kiln, I saw the clear evidence of the value of making the same beads over and over again to learn how to work the glass to gain consistent results.

A little background about the glass I use

I use glass from Effetre, and Italian glass company based in Murano, Italy. The other glass manufacturer I enjoy working with is Creation is Messy, an American based company working with a chemist in China that manufacturers the glass. Their colors fill in gaps on the Effetre palette. I also use Vetrofond (Italian) and Lauscha (German) in small amounts.

Learning about Striking Reds

As you can see, I did different things to the glass and obtained a variety of results from the same glass. That's because most reds in glass are what is called "striking" red... you get different results based on heating, cooling, re-heating, shaping, etc. Some of my earliest experiences with striking reds back in 2009 were extremely disappointing. I couldn't get any consistent results. But, I also didn't do a lot of experimentation. I worked in small batches and kept moving on to new things. By making large quantities and doing very basic beads as I build up a stash for the Bead & Button show, it's forcing me to slow down and learn.

For the color family I created that I'm calling "Santa Fe" with Reds and Turquoises, I like the variety of results that are produced. But, when I get to a point where I want to create very consistent results (for example, if I wanted to create a set of transparent beads for a necklace), I need to pay attention to when and how I work the glass in the flame and how to work it so it produces the specific effect that I want.

I started using Lauscha Red but it wasn't quite the red I wanted and I found my stash of Creation is Messy Sangre. Creation is Messy has a range of red colors, but this is their base color and it is much more consistent and easy to strike and get pleasing results than the other reds I was working with (well, for me, as a newer glass artist).

The top mandrel is the closest to the original rod. The second mandrel shows the three different results you can get from the dark burgundy red, the transparent red, and the basic opaque red.




Research on how to create colored glass

Here was an interesting article on the basic formulas to achieve different colored glass. In the lamp work world, we rely on manufacturers to come up with the formula for the glass colors and we buy rods of glass in those varieties.











This last mandrel with the tiny spacers shows how light the glass can get... I have some beads that are so light they are almost clear with a slight orange/yellow tint. Some are yellow. These show orangey-red. If you're trying to show a more dynamic color way, this is a way to get those high lights and low lights and a range of colors around a base color. 



More information from highly experienced artists

Creation is Messing - testing page 
Laura Sparling
Kandice Seeber - Color Addiction

Working with striking reds has been a huge learning experience.  and I look forward to another long play session as I get to know this valuable tool of working with striking glass to achieve the results I want.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Studio Time: Going to Bead College (aka the 10,000 Bead Project)

I was talking about my 10,000 Bead project with a fellow artist (Brenda) and what I was learning as I went along. By making the same beads over and over again and not doing any complex designs yet, I'm learning the nuances of my tools and supplies. Her comment, "Oh! You're sending yourself to Bead College!" I guess I am! Right now I'm working on my Associates Degree, in other words learning the basics and setting a foundation. 

For example, I'm learning how to use my torch effectively, getting less scared of lighting it, learning the value of adjusting the PSI on both the propane tank and the oxygen concentrator. I'm learning the difference between neutral, oxidizing, and reducing flames. I learned about reducing flames through a painful 37 Bead mistake. 




I'm also learning how to pay attention to safety issues and correcting them immediately if something seems off.

Another side effect of this project is that I'm learning the nuances of the glass. I'm making the same beads over and over again. I'm learning which glass tends to shock easier and how to manage shocking. I'm learning to extend my glass stash by fusing rod ends onto new rods to use up as much as possible.  I'm learning which types of glass work quickly or slowly and how to adjust my torch accordingly. For example I find ivory to be some of the softest glass and need to work it in a cooler flame to retain more control over it. These are the beads that go the most "organic" on me. Also I was trying to work faster by working with a hotter flame. I actually found I could work faster with a cooler flame since it didn't make the glass as molten and I could control the shape through gravity better. 


Another example is through making the same bead up to 100 times. Here is an example of the progression of making disk beads from early tries to middle improvements to final solid designs. I have to confess I love the shapes and texture of the beginner beads. I hope to be able to retain the ability to keep the texture even when I'm more skilled. 

Beginner beads. These are being held back.



 Better....



Best....so far.... the more I make, the more I learn, and the more I enjoy it.




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!