Monday 27 September 2010

Rings in Silver Clay

I've just come back from a fabulous course at Higham Hall. It was strange being the student and not the tutor for the weekend, but it was so much fun and I was totally re-inspired.

The class was "Rings in Silver Clay" with Tracey Spurgin..... this is Tracey.

So, as the course title suggests, we were learning how to make rings from Silver Clay. I have dabbled with Silver Clay in the past, but really really needed to step up my skills.

I started with this glass cabochon ring, making the base first around a wooden mandrel, pressing it into a texture plate to get an interesting design. Each stage has to be dried out as firing damp clay would result in failure.

Next I wrapped the glass cabochon with a clay 'snake' curling it round to hug the glass.

After the ring base was fired, I then assembled the two parts. After leaving it to dry out completely I somehow managed to accidentally seperate them so had to re-do this whole stage. I was extra careful the second time.
I added some fired silver balls for decoration, and to fill in any unsightly gaps, and it was fired again at a slightly lower temperature to prevent damaging the glass.

After a good polish with a brass brush and some polishing papers, I dipped it into some Liver Of Sulphur. This was to eventually give the piece an older, more antiquey looking finish.

After a good buff with some silver polish and a soft cloth, the ring was finished. I was extremely chuffed with myself too :)

I made a second one to make sure I could remember all the stages !

I then went onto make one of Tracey's fabulous flower rings, making a D-Band ring - the first one broke into four pieces so I had to start again. The flower and the leaves were made seperately and then assembled before the whole piece was fired.

For the third ring, I made a huge chunky D-Band ring, then at the plaster dried stage I faceted the ring to give it this multi-edged design. It's so solid and shiny :)

The ring in the kiln, just fired.
I also made a little pendant with the scraps of clay.

At the end of the weekend we were invited to join the Arabian Dancers, who were also at Higham Hall, to dance. It was quite good fun, although a touch embarrassing as we didn't have a clue what we were supposed to do !

If you ever get the opportunity to take one of Traceys classes, then I wholeheartedly recommend it :)

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Dichroic Square Necklace

I like to carry little beading projects with me wherever I go, in my little tobacco tin :)

A weekend at Higham Hall teaching glass bead making leaves very little spare time, but just in case I didn't spend two hours in the bar each night, I thought I should take something to do.

So, I dug out a Dichroic open square I had previously made in my kiln, and found some matching beads. I didn't want to do anything that required any concentration, so I took no pattern, no books, just the stuff that I had already stored in my memory.

In the end I decided on a simple spiral stitch, I was a little dissapointed as the gorgeously bright pink beads, that looks gorgeously bright pink in the packet, turned out to be pale pink when they were stitched up. This often happens, I should have tested them before I left home, nevertheless I carried on. I managed about 2 inches in the whole weekend :)

Of course, once I got home the little project got forgotten about for about two weeks until I needed to re-use the tin. So last night I decided this was NOT going to be one of those UFO's (Unfinished Beady Objects) that I have many of laying about and sat down to finish it.

So I completed the spiral rope, added a peyote tube and loop for a clasp, and a peyote bail to hold the square. It became quickly apparent that the bail needed to be stitched to stop the square moving about, so I added a little glass disc bead in the centre. I think it finishes it off nicely.

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Fun with little glasses.

I was wandering around a charity shop ages and ages ago when I cam across some little port glasses, and some lustered glasses (not sure what drink they would be for). Being the glass-magpie that I am I just had to buy them, they were only about 20p each so I didn't break the bank :)
Now, what to do with them. I kind of wanted them to still represent drink glasses, so I knew I didn't want to do my usual trick and take a hammer to them.

I arranged them in a cascading manner in the kiln and shut the lid !

So, this is the result, a weird kind of wall hanging. I quite like them.

Next time I am going to incorporate some wire to hang them with as I have been left wondering how to hang these ones up :)

Sunday 5 September 2010

Higham Hall / Sept 2010

Just completed another fabulous weekend teaching absolute beginners how to make glass beads at Higham Hall.

Set on the Bassenthwaite Lake, this place is so peaceful and calming, no phone signal, no email, no TV. Just glass to melt, amazing food to eat and Cumbrian Life magazine to read - although I did sneak in a Martina Cole novel.

My students this time were Linda, Catherine, Angie and Sheila, and what a fabulous bunch of people. We laughed all weekend and had a great time. Here they are with all the beads they produced over the weekend.

And here they are concentrating very hard at their beadmaking.

We had a little hiccup on the saturday afternoon when we unexpectedly ran out of Oxygen and the spare tank was empty. We were at a loss what to do, but a mercy mission to my own home 40 minutes away, saw us with a nice healthy new tank to play with. Phew ! disaster diverted. It wasn't me who went though, the Principle of the college went, and I am so glad when I saw how his car scraped the road nearly with the weight of the tank ! My poor car wouldn't have liked that very much :)
But, thankfully, we were able to carry on and the Ladies made a whole string of beads, plus a Tree Bead each.

They must have all enjoyed it as they have all rebooked another class in February. Looking forward to it already. :)