See My Work with Patty Lakinsmith for the ISGB/Bead and Button Convergence Exhibit

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Learning is So Much Fun!

Well, as I said at the beginning of the year.....I'm determined to learn a lot of new things this year. And I'm doing it!!!

This week I started lampwork bead lessons with Joyce Horn of Joyous Creations. It took me quite a while to find someone who gave lessons at a location near me, and I was fortunate enough to meet Joyce on a social/art site called Artists in Wonderland.  She lives about 40 minutes away, definitely doable and is quite a find!

So Monday I plugged her address into my trusty GPS and off I went! Brooksville, where Joyce lives is a little out in the country, and the setting is woodsy and peaceful. Her house is lovingly decorated with all kinds of art, and it's fun just looking around. Her husband built her studio away from the house, and she has a cozy set up with lots of work stations, a kitchen (yay for coffee- always on!) and a large table and chair set up for discussion, lunch and other things we girls do when together. (talk, talk, talk...)

I was a little intimidated by the sight of all the tools, torches, glass rods, etc. but determined to learn as much as I could. After demonstrating basic techniques she let me get at the torch. I've always been facinated by the physical properties of all things when heat is applied, one of the reasons I took up metalsmithing in the first place, so it was a wonder to watch glass melt! Layering and watching what happens to the colors was so cool. I was chomping at the bit to see how my beads turned out...but of course they needed to be annealed in the I didn't get to see them that day.

On Wednesday I went back....and Joyce had taken my beads out of the kiln for me to see! Joila! Beads!
Well....sort of. Since it was my first actual experience, with the exception of a short time at the torch during the torch time at the Gathering in July, making perfectly shaped beads was not something I could easily do. But for a newbie, I guess they didn't turn out too bad. And it's certainly nothing that practice, practice and more practice can't fix!

Here are some pictures we took. I'm certainly not finished with the lessons....I'm ready my book - Passing the Flame, by Corina Tettinger - and I'll go back to Joyce next week. She's such a warm, bubbly person, I'd look forward to seeing her, even without the lessons!

Joyce, smiling as usual!

I'm really concentrating here!

The final product!

Aw...ok...not great, but I'm proud of them!

I really look forward to next week!

That's it for now,

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Working with Brass

Well, one of my new year resolutions was to actually read some of the wonderful art books I've been collecting all these years! I started out with Practical Joining, by Tim McCreight. And lo and behold! I learned the solution to a problem I've had for a long time when working with brass.

If you work with brass then you've probably had the problem of winding up with a coppery color after soldering and pickeling. Now I have to tell you that I've spent hours trying to get rid of this annoying characteristic of brass, and never really new why I was having this problem. But I sanded and sanded until I could sand no more! Been there? Done that?

Well, in Tim's book (pardon the familiarity, Tim, but I feel like I know you so well) he identified the problem as the use of Sparex in my pickle. Most of us use it for our silver, and I never gave much thought to how it affected brass. In his book, he provided a formula using Hydrogen Peroxide that removes the pinkish color. Geez - it really pays to actually read these books!!!!

Anyway, make the pickle with Sparex, using hydrogen peroxide instead of water - about 1 tablespoon of Sparex to a cup of peroxide. Warm the piece and dip it into the solution. The rosey color will dissolve in 10 -20 minutes. He does warn, however, that if you leave the piece in the solution more than that, it will become etched and turn black. The black can be removed, the etching can't. Thankfully, I have a trusty old egg timer, and I did watch the piece carefully, so I didn't have this particular experience.

This really does work, and I have learned how to save myself precious hours of sanding by using this solution. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you!

Notice the pink around it? I finally oxidized it with a brass oxidizer to bring out the detail and cover some of the pink. I like the affect, but now I don't have to do that anymore!

That's all for now,

Saturday, February 5, 2011

New Year, New Adventures!

Well, I know it's February, but happy New Year everyone! We had our usual New Years Eve party and a good time was had by all!

Now that we're well into the start of new year, it's time for reflection - again. I've made a few significant changes in my life, after much consideration, both personal and professional. Most of them have to do with reducing the stress that I seemed to be living with for the past year.

From a professional perspective, this is a wonderful thing. I'm spending less time on the computer and more time in the studio - withdrawal ain't easy! And I'm getting ready to take my art in a new direction.
Though I will continue to make designs for my shop on Etsy, I'm going to be taking some classes and learning new things.

This coming week, I'm going to start lampwork beadmaking class. This is actually something I've wanted to do for quite a while, but just never could find the time. Before another year passes by - and each year seems to go by faster than the year before - I am determined to learn this new skill. I'm also going to learn enameling - finally. Those of you who know me well, know that I've always wanted to do a suite of designs as an ode to Kandinsky. His use of geometric forms and brilliant colors has always attracted and inspired me. I'm hoping that with the use of lampwork and enameling, I will be able to add the colors I see as part of my designs. I will probably make some pieces wearable, but I'm actually leaning toward larger pieces, more sculpture like. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, I did make some designs that are now in my store. Take a look and let me know what you think.

That's all for now!

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