Petal Progression: Glass Tabs and Lentils

Watch Me Create has moved!

Visit www.watchmecreate.com and continue to follow 14 artists as they blog about their work and creativity!

Don’t forget to bookmark the new location!

How to Work with Metallic Stringer


There are a lot of metallic glass offerings in the lampwork world, but unfortunately very few of them are in the 104 COE (coefficient of expansion) range. Many of the silvered glasses that came out recently have high levels of silver, but achieving a true metallic look with them can be difficult. When I want to a very shiny metallic look, I use Reichenbach cane.

lydia muell ashton jewels glass lampwork beads

The bead above is an illustration of bead that I recently made that incorporates metallic stringer work. The base of the glass is clear encased Double Helix “Kronos”, goldstone and silver blue dichroic glass. The metallic stringer work on the surface of the bead is Reichenbach Iris Blue. Using it with 104 COE glass can be a bit tricky and takes a little practice because Reichenbach Iris Blue is a 96 COE glass. Although the COE range between the two glasses is fairly wide, it is still suitable for surface application if used sparingly.

Before I started making my bead, I pulled several thin stringers of Iris Blue and set them to the side. Once I was ready to apply them, I made sure that my bead was VERY hot. . .Still glowing red. I applied the stringer in a neutral flame, being sure to melt it until it was well adhered to the surface of my bead. Iris Blue melts like butter when applied in high heat, but you must apply it hot, (leaving the stringer only slightly raised on the surface) or the stringer will pop off later. This takes a bit of practice, but after you work with it for a bit, you’ll begin to recognize the precise point in which to stop melting your stringer before moving on to the next step.

Once the stringer is melted onto the surface, you will need to reduce your oxygen to a very rich propane flame. Flash your bead through the flame a few times and you’re done.

Lydia Muell is a glass bead maker who blogs in her studio from Lexington, NC. For more information please visit here website at ashtonjewels.com.

Fear as Inspiration

Torch time is play time for me. Normally, I sit at my torch, start melting some glass and feel my worries flow away with the first molten drop that hits the water. Yes, I do that on purpose. I take a rod of cheap glass, get it nice and gooey and let it drip into the water. There is something very therapeutic about watching the glass flow to a watery, sizzly death. The sizzle makes me smile and I imagine my troubles flowing and shattering just like the glass does. After that first drop I am ready to work.

Sometimes though, fear creeps in despite my watery therapy. In my last blog I mentioned that I needed work on my dot placement and stringer control. I normally take a very laid back approach to practicing both of these. If I goof then I do a gravity swirl and call the bead an organic. It’s a very no pressure way of working. Now, however, the fear has replaced my normal no pressure attitude. Why? Because at the end of this month I am taking a class from Kim Fields at The Vinery in Madison, WI. Kim Fields is a wonderful bead artist but if you look at her work you will see that a LOT of it deals with superb stringer control. And take a wild guess at what I don’t have 🙂

As the class gets closer the fear gets stronger that I will make an idiot of myself in the class so I’ve been practicing. This is my latest attempt.

wmc070920a1.jpg

As you can see, I need a lot of work. This is where the fear comes in. The fear is what makes me be more serious when it comes to practicing my stringer control. Without it I would probably look like a complete fool when I went to my class. With the fear I will keep practicing each time at the torch and hopefully will improve enough by the time of the class that I am able to do justice to Kim’s teaching. In cases like this fear is both my friend and my inspiration.

Wish me luck, and an extra dose of Fear!

Heather is a self-representing artist who creates and blogs out of her home. Her work can be found here and on Ebay and JustBeads under the user name squareonebeads.

How to work Terra Glass: Getting Somewhere

I’ve been working more with both etching and encasing Terra (a Double Helix glass). On this first set I’ve used a Terra base (in my experience Terra doesn’t etch) with some Effetre black for surface decoration. I’m really pleased with the results. I love the contrast of textures between the etched and the smooth surfaces:

wmc070831a1.jpg

I’ve also been working more on encasing Terra. Finally I’m getting a system down with this glass that’s working for me. However, some days when I work with it I get more reds, other days I get more purples. It seems to depend on which way the wind is blowing. Maybe with practice I’ll get more control over the colors. Here are my latest encased Terra beads, I’m really happy with this group, too:

wmc070831a2.jpg

I know there has been plenty of helpful discussion in the forums about working with Terra, but here’s my little tutorial on encasing it:

The most important thing I’ve discovered about this glass is it likes to be worked quickly, because extended heating fades out the colors.

I put one layer of Terra straight down on the mandrel as the base bead. I get it really hot, until I see the surface start to turn transparent and get a “shimmer” like what some people see when heating raku. The Terra glass at this point is so hot that it balls up and makes those irksome pointy ends along the mandrel. I take it out of the flame and gently marver it into a cylinder shape to get rid of the pointy ends. I don’t put it back in the flame after marvering. I let it continue to cool until a brown color starts to appear, then i gently waft the bead in the end of the flame or just under the flame so the heat is light, and watch for the dark brown color to propagate across the bead.

Wherever dark brown develops on the bead, the color will end up more intense with dark reds, blues and purples. Where light brown forms, the colors will end up in the lighter pink/yellow range. If the desired dark brown does not show up and i’m only getting wisps of light brown across the bead, I reheat the whole thing and start from the beginning. I super-heat it, marver it, and watch for the brown again. I’ve noticed that Terra can get “tired” after too many re-tries (so can I !!! ). If this happens I take a deep breath, then run a Terra stringer around the bead giving it a fresh layer on top.

When I’m satisfied with the brown colors, I take my Terra base bead out of the direct flame and encase it. I do my best not to reheat the Terra base too much which would fade out the dark brown color. After I apply the encasing glass, I marver and shape it just like I would with any normal bead. However, by the time I’m done with my shaping, I cool the bead down a little and look at it and these magnificent colors have magically appeared!

Practice is really the secret to this glass. And the wind blowing in an auspicious direction of course.

Playing Favorites with Color

I don’t think there is a single person out there that does not have an absolute favorite combination of colors. And even if you don’t want to admit you have favorites… you know you do.

wmc070829a1.jpg

My favorite happens to be purple and green. I never was much a pink lover, though it’s cute. Blue is devine but not for me. Red can be so rich and regal. Oranges and yellows are great on a tree in Fall but I still always come back to purple and green.

I find that when I get a challenge or request from someone for a certain color combination, I tend to jump to the “primary” version of the colors. I think in my head… well, blue and yellow is gonna be bright… or red and yellow, hello, that is fast food, gross. But give it enough time to stew in my head and those colors start to change. I start seeing a lighter sky shade of blue with streaks of a soft daisy yellow. Or I might start to see deep dark red with a touch of orange mixed in with opal yellow (so not your average fast food colors).

How does all this relate to “favorite” color combos? Well I think a lot of people tend to find a favorite and stop there. I’ll admit it! I got stuck at Moretti Pale Ink (very purpely), Dark Lavendar, and Grass Green as my “favorite”. But I sort of had an “AH-HA” moment the other day. I have been playing a lot with Copper Green and the beautiful seafoamy color it turns when etched. I just love it. And what did I do? I kept putting it with my “usual” favorites. It finally hit me… silly girl, metallic silver plum is purple too! And oh shut up, when you etch it is a fantastic eggplant color. (Sorry you can’t see it so well in the picture, but those are yummy colors!)

wmc070829a2.jpg

What I am getting at here is making a more postive effort to explore the range of colors in your favorite combos. And I think in doing so, you’ll be able to find new, creative variations on the other combinations of colors that enter your life. It is little light bulb moments like these with color that makes me that much more excited to come up with even more combinations.

Kerry Bogert is blogging about her glass art beads and jewelry from her home studio in Ontario NY. Check her work at www.kabsconcepts.com.

Romantic Inspirations

070819a1.jpg

It has been incredibly hot here for weeks now. It’s difficult to sit working over a hot torch when it’s 103 degrees out and the air conditioner is working less than adequately. In order to get through those hot and miserable sessions, I tend to encourage my mind to take me to places that are cool and comfortable. During my mind’s journey, I found myself revisiting the romantic evenings spent outdoors with my husband as we enjoyed our fireplace in early Autum. It’s almost as though the stars were put there just to give us a spectacular backdrop for those special moments. We treasure them because they are non existant in the summertime. The air is so humid and the mosquitos are on a seek and destroy mission this time of year.

When I created the set “Celestial Romance”, it was the nostalgia of those special Autumn nights that inspired me. The crisp cool air settling on my shoulders and back, as my face, hands and arms are warmed by the fire. Often times my husband is star gazing. . .He calls my attention to shooting stars and constellations as I sit nestled beside him watching the flames dance in the dense blackness of the evening.

How does one interperet this idea in glass? I first thought of cobalt blue as a base glass, perhaps black. . .None of those ideas really felt right to me. Then I realized that a very deep violet and blue would better serve as a starting point for what I had in mind. I sat staring a bit at my rack of a glasses trying to pick just the right ones for my idea. I chose Double Helix’s Terra glass as my special base for it’s color shifting properties. Although tricky, if worked properly I could pull deep hues of purples and blues from the glass. I also needed a sparkling texture to similate a celestial sort of feel, so dichroic silver was applied over the Terra glass footprint, and encased with crystal clear glass. Even though I was off to a great start, I had no idea where to go from there. I put my first bead in the kiln and walked away hoping to return the next day with another idea.

As I sat thinking a bit more about those romantic Autumn evenings, I recalled the vase of fresh hydrangeas that sit in the center of our outdoor dining table. In early Autumn, they are beginning to dry out. . . Their color is fading from their once vibrant purple and blue to cream and rust as their petals lose their hydration. That would be the idea that I would use to make the decorative beads that would go in my “Celestial Romance” set. The Terra glass flowers that I had been using in my other beads lately would be perfect for translating the feel that I wanted the beads to have. Of course I needed a special accent to finish the look of the shimmering night sky beads. Gold-stone came to mind, but didn’t exactly seem right to me. Instead, I chose Iris Gold reduction glass. . .When introduce to a propane rich flame, warm tones of metallic gold rush to the surface of the stringer work providing a look that is much like gilded gold.

Lydia Muell is a glass bead maker who blogs in her studio from Lexington, NC. For more information please visit here website at ashtonjewels.com.

Masks and Goddesses and Labyrinths! Oh, My!

Almost sounds like a chant from a children’s book, doesn’t it? Masks and goddesses and labyrinths! Oh, my! Well, it isn’t “Lions and tigers and bears! Oh, my!” but I’d have to say it is becoming a creative chant of mine. Each of these elements has inspired me at different times during the past year, and each one has also involved a bit of a creative conflict for my ego.

angelinabeadalina glass maskYou see, about this time last year, I finally started making focals and sculpting more. I felt like I’d finally found my unique glass “voice”. Now, I have to tell you that my pride makes me want to have a unique, recognizable style of my very own. . . but my mind always reinforces the idea that “there is nothing new under the sun.” I spend quite a bit of time delving into spiritual and cultural ideas. I check out non-fiction books from both the children’s and adult section of the library. I Google key words and surf from link to link, looking for the particular scrap of information that will inspire me.

However, all three of these themes got the ax the first time I thought about trying them! So many other people have made masks, how would that be unique? Teresa Laliberte’ is known for her goddesses, and what could I add to that? Labyrinths? Lots of people have done those, too. I even wrote about that one the other day in my blog, noting that I could think of at least two people who’ve probably made labyrinths in glass (Teresa Laliberte’ and JC Herrell both came to mind). Almost the very same day I wrote about that, Sheila Morley was writing about meeting Margaret Zinser and her amazing maze beads!

angie garren glass goddessSo, here’s how I reconcile the “gotta have my own unique voice” and the “there’s nothing new under the sun” concepts? Well, I started making masks right after our family visited Disney World last Thanksgiving. After seeing them hanging practically everywhere in the Animal Kingdom, the light bulb clicked on– people all around the world have been making masks for thousands of years, and I could any I make my own touch. I made lots of masks after that realization!

As for goddesses, I’ve made so many now that I can’t even remember which one came first– but I do know the book that set my creativity free was Shakti Mantras: Tapping into the Great Goddess Energy Within by Thomas Ashley-Farrand. Gaia is my current goddess glass obsession.

Labyrinths have emerged from my glass just this last month, after I kept running across information about labyrinths while googling medicine wheels and mandalas. Yep, that was my signal to finally do my own versions:

Masks and goddesses and labyrinths! Oh, my! Guess how they all melded together last week at the torch? A Buddha figure (using many of the same techniques I use for both masks and goddess figures) emerged, wearing a labyrinth pattern around his shoulders (you can trace your finger all the way around a real labyrinth pattern):

angie garren glass labyrinth beads angelina beadalina glass labyrinth bead

Angie Garren, aka AngelinaBeadalina, sculpts glass, ponders the world’s plethora of spiritual beliefs, and pours the chocolate milk and plain milk for James and Katie in her home in Illinois. Stop by her gallery pages to see what she’s been up to glass-wise, and check out her blog for the story about what happens when Mommy tries to combine her real job with her glass obsession 🙂