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!