Monday, June 21, 2010

Revisiting the Passion

I've always had a fascination with glass. I originally started with stained glass years ago and even though I still have my tools and a supply of materials in the basement, I moved on to other techniques. While I greatly enjoyed the thrill of glassblowing and lampwork, one-day workshops I took over successive holidays, I also knew I didn't have the right facilities at home to continue with either activity. But thanks to the new studio I mentioned in my last post, I now have a place to work.

After a three-week refresher course, I'm hooked again. No wonder. There's something addictive about working with flame. It's not just working with volatile materials -- a combination of propane and oxygen -- to melt glass, but it's also honing your skills to give it shape the way you want. The simple act of forming a glass bead is not easy at all, although the experienced lampworker makes it look effortless. Here are a few shots taken during instructor demos at my workshop. to give you a sense of the process.

Shaping the bead is step one. The creative process gets more interesting when you start looking at embellishments -- adding dots, stripes, different colours, encasing your bead in clear glass to give a 3-D effect. Once you're satisfied with the design, you then move it to a kiln to start annealing. Simple explanation: the bead needs to be "baked" and gradually cooled for it to be hard enough to last. Once out of the kiln and cooled, the bead needs to be cleaned and finished and this means removing the metal mandrel, any residual bead release coating on the inner core and sanding all sharp edges.

Even though it will undoubtedly be some time before I'll be sharing the results of my experimentation with you, thought you'd like to see what can be achieved when you have some knowledge. I bought this barrel bead recently from a local lampworker and created a simple coiled bail for display on a black leather cord. Enjoy.

You have to start somewhere

Q. When does a hobby stop being a hobby?
A. When you no longer continue the activity for pure enjoyment.

That being said, I’m a hobbyist who enjoys creating. My current interest is mostly jewellery – glass beads, metal, natural stone and minerals. I get a kick learning a technique or working with a medium I haven’t tried before. The problem is what do I do with all the items I’ve made. My solution is this blog.

I’d rather see the bracelets, necklaces et al find a home with someone who will enjoy wearing them as much as I did making them. If I can cover my costs as well, then I can afford to keep trying new projects without going broke. Sounds good in theory. Hope it works.

Look forward to hearing from you by email if you see something you like or have questions.