Tuesday 30 November 2010

A snowy weekend at Higham Hall

What a gorgeous weekend to be out in the middle of nowhere in the Lake District.

I was at one of my weekend Glass Bead making courses at Higham Hall when the snow started.

An hour or so later and everything was white, crisp, and utterly beautiful.

There was a small panic on Saturday morning as three of my four students were non-residents and therefore would struggle to get into the college as it is up narrow, steep, back roads. Eventually they did arrive safely, although they did miss a couple of hours of torch time :(
Everytime we left the studio, which is based in the mansion house's old Stables (all modernised of course) we took a really sharp cold intake of breath - wow, it was chilly!! Good job we had nice warm food and home-made cakes to warm us back up :)

Still, we got some lovely beads made and everyone seemed to have a great time :)

This is Mo and Noreen...

And...Helen and Mary.

...all concentrating very hard.

I made a quick tree bead while there, but it had a huge air bubble inside so it split :(

It was a wee bit hairy driving home on the Sunday afternoon as it has snowed again, on top of already compacted snow! I did wonder if I was going to have to stay, but attempted it and managed to get home in just over an hour - it usually takes about 40 mins so not too bad.

Friday 19 November 2010

My First Pot Melt

I should stop going onto glassy websites, the stuff is way too tempting, and after a few glasses of wine a couple of weeks ago I went onto the Slumpys website and ended up with a load of new molds for glass bowls and a Pot Melt kit !!

Having never done a Pot Melt before, and there being no instructions in the kit that arrived, a lot of Googling and asking advice followed.

So, what is a Pot Melt? Well you simply fill a bowl with holes in the bottom full of bits of scrap glass (compatible of course), prop up the bowl and fire the kiln to a high enough temperature to allow the glass to melt and dribble out.

First of all I lined the bottom of the kiln with a really expensive fibre paper (cost £10 for a piece big enough to line the kiln and you can only use it once!!) then layed a steel casting ring, also lined with fibre paper, on top.

Next I put the bowl prop in over the top of the casting ring.

Then I found all my scraps of compatible glass and filled the bowl. You are supposed to use 3.5lb of glass to make a 12" melt, but I did just under 3lb otherwise the lid on the kiln would not have shut !

There was supposed to be a gap of about 3" for airflow, I am lucky if there was half an inch!

A pat for luck, and a long night chewing nails ahead.

So, this is what I found in the morning......

A gorgeous ceramic bowl full of smeared glass :) Except that is just a piece of the kit which will need to be re-used, so a waste of prettyness really.

Hmmmm....obviously that half a pound of glass does make a difference, as the casting ring was not full.

Still, it's my first one and lessons were definately learned from the process....

  1. Find a cheaper option to line the kiln with, cannot afford to line it at £10 a time.

  2. Do not use as much dark glass, although I didn't think I had, the darker colours really took over.

  3. Buy a smaller casting ring, or make my own :)

  4. Get a spirit level and check the kiln, as the melt was half an inch thicker at one side than the other.

  5. Buy a grinder to take the fibre paper off the back of the disc with :) (Any excuse!!)

Monday 15 November 2010

A good tidy up.

I treated myself to a "Pot Melt Kit" from Slumpys (more on that later) so as you can imagine I was desperate to try it out when it arrived at the weekend.

I opened the workshop door and my spirits sank, everyone uses my workshop as a dumping ground, probably because it is nearer to the house than the shed. It was full of BBQ coals, hay for the animals, the canopy off the garden swing and loads of other random objects.

Three hours it took me, 4 repeats of an Olivia Newton John CD (It was the only CD I found in a box of rubbish under the bench) and numerous mugs of tea.

Finally it was done, and I could get to play.

Thursday 11 November 2010

A big glass bowl.

My friend Carol & I took a class at Tullie House in Carlisle. Unfortunately the title of the class was wrong and we ended up doing something we have both done a few times before - glass bowls. (we expected to be Cameo Engraving on glass).
Still, we were there so we might as well put the time to good use, we thought :)
I decided to do a large square deep bowl, I took two squares of clear glass 30x30cm and some turquoise blue coloured glass.
I cut the blue into wavy lines and layed it on top of one of the sheets of clear.

Inbetween the strips of blue I added some coloured frit (broken glass).

Onto the other piece of clear I tore up some silver foil and layed it into place so it would show between the blue.

I then sandwiched the foil inbetween the two clear pieces.

Next I cut up some thick fiber paper into the same wavy shapes.

This would be layed underneath the glass when in the kiln to give some texture.

The glass was then put into the kiln twice, once to fuse down and soften the edges, melting all the bits in flush. The second firing was to form the bowl by slumping it into a shaped mould.

This is my friend Carol. :)

Her bowl was a little bit different but the same technique.

She cut two oval pieces of glass, one clear and one a striking pink (striking colours change in the kiln).

She then chopped up some random bits of dichroic glass to decorate it with, and textured it using some fiber rope all curled round.

Sunday 7 November 2010

Earrings Galore!

My Mother-in-law asked me if I could send "some of my stuff" down to her in Oxfordshire, so she could take them to a craft group she attends.

How cool, I thought, and got to work packing everything up. Unfortunately a lot of my stuff costs quite a bit of money due to all the hours I put into certain pieces, so I thought I should send some cheaper items too.

So, today, I got to work on making earrings, I haven't made earrings for ages and ages, in fact I would say months, and do you know what? I quite enjoyed it. Theraputic is the word.

I just brought out a big tub of mixed beads and some earring findings and got to work. Took me about an hour, with a couple of cups of tea made inbetween, to do 22 pairs. These will be offered for sale at £2.00 each, so I hope now that the stuff I have sent will suit most peoples pockets :)

Wanna see?