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

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