1.17.2018 - Tallish Thinnish Diskish


I've often said that my favorite tool is the micro-mashing tweezer.... that so much can be achieved pinching small malleable drops of molten glass.... So therefore the thinness of glass makes for light's ability to flow through it, and for the color to be more visible.


So then one would assume that my favorite shapes are the tall thin ones...YES.  Tiles, disks, slumped caps, cut flowers, splats, Freefall... only today did I realize how many shapes are derived from the ability to make a tall thin disk.  Mind you - this tall disk, with all the tugging and maneuvering in the flame is holding onto the mandrel only by a footprint of glass that's the width of the disk.  Maybe 1.5mm.  So - it's a gentle process, after all some of the disks are 30mm in diameter.

I've cut these into flowers, slumped them into Freefall beads, glass bead caps, tortured them into submission to make them square... and most often flame polished each side to 'allow' light and easier access.

Oh, I forgot - take two of these, and span the distance with glass - and that's a hollow bead.  While I write this, it makes me think this is probably the most important building block of beadmaking... and I never quite thought of it that way before.  

I wonder what else is possible? 

12.20.2017 - Thinking... and RE-Thinking.

First of all - Happy Birthday Glassdaddy Frank! He proudly turns 82 today, and misses your many chatty emails & being your Lauscha supplier.


I spend about 15 hours, minimum, at the torch every week.  My hands move as my mind directs them... but there's a lot of time just spent thinking.  How to rework things, how to perfect the small things, how to build the big things, get rid of the holes, improve wearability, introduce light/sparkle, and really to push the limits of what we think is actually possible.

The only drawback to this time is that it's solo - meaning no sounding board.  Last week I had some time with a friend from college, and she mentioned one significant issue she has with most earrings that dangle from wires.   She felt that they emphasized the pierced ear hole - and how (often times) over the years - it has changed shape.  I reworked some of the findings this week for just this case - then tested them with my droplet beads.  Even though I've not worn post earrings in decades...  this particular design works quite nicely.  The findings magically give us the pierced ears of a 20yr old!  Sharing ideas is a good thing, improving design is a good thing, and perfection should always be a goal, not an option.


I've just re-joined ISGB (International Society of Glass Beadmakers) as this is the next closest thing to NOT working in a vacuum.   I look forward to more connection with other artists and a renewed view of the big picture of what others are doing... I am always interested - although often I'm marching to my own bead*(LOL - beat).   smiles - and December sunshine, Jill

12.13.2017 - Make That Mandrel Hole Disappear!


Pure uninterrupted color, clarity and sparkle... no, I'm not talking about a diamond... but I've often called this type of earring the "New Diamond Stud"!  The go-with-everything, lightweight, droplet that moves with you and doesn't tire you out. (doesn't weigh much).

As usually happens when the weather cools, my inner silversmith emerges... and this time it was to make custom findings for my earrings.  Long ago my friend Jane had said that I should eventually fabricate my own findings - thus giving my work a OOAK uniqueness.  I've been making ear wires & headpins for years, but no decorative parts for the earrings.  I'm quite pleased with these - and will bring more out soon.  (waiting on a delivery of silver sheet!!!)


It's interesting the process I use to make these beads means I'm balancing a gather of glass on a tiny rondelle that's 1mm x 3mm D, it brings to mind that quote of balancing a dollop of honey on a toothpick.  To add insult to injury - I make two beads to a mandrel so that they pair match... I find that I hold my breath as I'm working on the second one - hoping I remember to flash it in the flame - so as not to thermal shock the first one!  

The one thing I did want to mention is that the clarity & viscocity of the glass is key.  You all know that I work mostly with Lauscha because it can tolerate the heat and not scum or boil, and this glass also tends to be a stiffer glass to work with - often people say they like it for sculptural work as it doesn't move so readily as the Italian glass.  This is so evident in these beads.   


I have always been a proponent of lose-the-hole mentality... and of late have been working to eliminate all signs of it on a transparent (non-off mandrel) pendant... but need to modify some of my tools to achieve this. WORKING ON IT!  as always, smiles - Jill

When I start working - on a new direction, I usually like to work in multiples - below are the pairs (all wired up as matching pairs, as they were made as a matching set) Here are three color groups  I have, while the photo below that shows them shortly after I cleaned them - strung on a wire...
I will sell the beads solo or made into a finished product.

12.6.2017 - Brrr - said with a SMILE!


I've been making those 1/2" diameter beads with scrollwork and designs done with these stringers.  I'm holding 15 of them here...  I apply the design just as if writing on paper... (only much hotter).  I just am hooked, for now.  You know me, I'll transition to something new when it happens... in the mean time... I am having fun!

OK, I know it's Wednesday - and I'm sorry, no update tonight - I made only what brought me joy this week, and it looks a lot like what brought me joy last week.  ONLY I'm much better at it - you know... repetition & refinement!  So.  I'm firing up the oven instead of the torch since the temps have dropped about 35 degrees these past few days - I feel quite like baking.

I'm grateful for a gas stove/oven, I've always felt at home there... and somehow when the world looks so cold... I'm quite content to bake.  Oh... I forgot to admit - I did turn on the A/C last week so I could make soup (oh, and yes - biscotti), I guess I felt the cold coming!


As far as what's been coming from the kiln, I'm working on refining a cabochon based pendant  with a hanging hole, but making it polished on both sides.  It involves some cold work and another torch session... and so far - I can report that it is less successful with the dip in temperatures we've had this week (think temp shock going from kiln to torch).  It's been in the works the last few sessions - with tweaks each time.  I had a fight with my Twin-Spin grinder this morning, but - I am pleased to say that I won!! more on this next week perhaps.

I feel that the beauty of transparent glass is slightly lessened IMHO by a mandrel hole.  I have fought this for years - trying to obscure the hole when wiring a pendant... or obscure the hole by making it disappear - polishing it... but I think I'll be truly satisfied when it's simply *not there*.


See how beautiful this pendant is? Uninterrupted color and transparency? Plus the fun optics... that's where I'm going.  Of course more on that later too.  

I drove to Gilbert AZ a few years ago to pick up a used OXY Generating and holding tank system.  I'm pleased to report that I just (ahem, finally) ordered/received a new gauge... so will be tinkering with getting that up and going as well.  AND a new Oxy regulator so my Smith Little Torch will once again be up and running for those silver projects.


I know... this sounds like a lot, but these are the little projects that are on the horizon and... I'll keep you posted! smiles and shivers... Jill