Monday, 17 August 2009

A diamond shines best when it is cut

I need to take time out from this blog.

It has been a fantastic experience for me, and as a consequence I have found the power of personal journalling. Expressing to myself the things I wouldn't express here.

I spoke last post about how I am finding that I am removing things from my life, to discover who I truly am. Well I need to let go of the blog for a month.

I have been told that blogs grow naturally when you do certain things, and most of them I have been doing. The blog hasn't grown. I was analysing what it is that could be getting in the way. I think there are a number of things
  1. I haven't added much content which is useful, other than an insight into me and where I am going
  2. I am in that confused state between bead maker and artist. That's gotta mean that I don't attract people from either group

This all sound like I'm being harsh on myself, but the truth is I hope I'm not. I genuinely feel that I am coming out of a deep phase of grief and trying to discover the new me. And its not the me who went in to this, and that included my art. I need to give myself time to truly discover me and what it is I now want to present to the world.

Thank you for your interest in my work, and I will be back at the beginning of October - if not before - to let you know where my world is heading.


Friday, 14 August 2009

Studio Update


I’ve come to realise that when a girl features in my pictures that the picture is pretty much a self portrait of what is going on in my life.

I put all the flowers on because I thought they should be there.  If I was an artist and and glass artist, my picture should have more glass in there.

Only I was wrong.

As I looked at the picture I realised I needed to strip away the stuff that shouldn't be there.  But to do that would be painful and do damaging to the picture, but I knew I needed to do it.  Knew I needed to get rid of the flowers.

Its kind of like what is going on in my life, I feel like loads of things are being stripped back, taken away.

Some of it is easy but a lot of it is hard.

I’m now at a point with the picture that I feel like in my own life.  The yellow centred daisies have gone, and the picture really does lock a lot better.  The problem is I think I need to do more.  I think I need to completely sacrifice what I have now to get what it could be in the future.  And like in the picture, I don't know how much that will cost, or what it will look like.

I almost feel as if I need to create balloons which are fragile and can fly away, becoming what they were meant to be, rather than spring flowers which are here for a short season before they die.  In my own life I feel I need to let go of things which I feel have defined me, defined my pain, defined my path to go on the journey I was created to be on.

Monday, 10 August 2009

7 Things You Need to Make Glass Beads - Glass

At a bead fair I was discussing with a potential bead maker about what kit they should buy when they started. So what kit do you need?

  1. Glass
  2. Something to heat the glass with
  3. Mandrels to wrap the glass round
  4. Bead release to stop the glass sticking to the mandrel
  5. A way to cool the beads down so they don't thermal shock
  6. A way to clean the bead release out of bead
  7. … and a kiln if you want to sell your beads

Yup it really is that simple. But I have to say it’s scary that this is the minimum you need to make a glass bead, given the amount of tools I have hidden away in my shed.


There are a number of types of glass on the market but in the UK the cheapest and most easily available glass is soft glass with a CoE of 104.

OK so what does that mean? A CoE or coefficient is about the rate of expansion of the glass. Basically different glasses cool at different rates. A bead with a two different types of glass in will crack with what's known as a compatibility crack, when one glass cools quicker… not good if you’ve spent ages making a bead.

Satake Glass

This is amazingly soft glass has a CoE of 113 or 120. It is favoured by Japanese bead makers, and wow can they make some lovely beads. They often have a very distinct style due to the lower melting temperature and wonderful colour pallet. In the UK it’s quite hard to get hold of this glass, the main supplier being Satake Glass USA. To use this glass effectively you need a special burner.

104 Glass

When people talk about glass beads they often talk about Murano glass.

You can get Murano glass rod or another brand Venice glass Effetre (3 brothers who split from Murano glass) to make glass beads. Effetre. In the UK Effetre is often what people start with.

There are a number of brands of glass which are have a CoE of 104

  • Ask
  • Effetre
  • CiM Messy Colour
  • Double Helix
  • Lauscha
  • Northstar
  • Reichenbach
  • Vetrofond

Theoretically they can be used together in the same bead. I say theoretically because every now and again glasses that you think should work together give you cracks that look like incompatibility cracks.

The supplier I use in the UK is Tuffnell Glass, or Off Mandrel who I think give a great service.

Bullseye Glass

Bullseye has a CoE of 90. It is slightly stiffer than 104 and cools when you are working it more quickly. This means it is great for fine stringer work. Bullseye also has the most amazing pinks and purples. The best place in the UK to get it is Warm Glass, Off Mandrel or Creative Glass.

Borosilicate Glass

Pyrex is a brand of borosilicate or boro glass. Boro glass has a CoE of 30 to 33 and is classed as a hard glass… and wow is it hard in comparison to soft glass. You need a hot torch to work it but it does have some fantastic advantages. The colours you can get from Boro are amazing due to the amount of gold and silver in the glass. It is also great for sculpture and making glasses. Available Tuffnell Glass, Off Mandrel and Creative Glass

There are other glasses on the market and I guess that this is only an introduction to the glasses out there.

So what do I use?

I tend to use Effetre glass coloured glass and Lauscha clear glass for encasing my beads. I tend not to use the silver glasses or reactive glasses, but that’s because I tend to make beads with a sculptural quality. It’s also because I’m a bit of a miser and some of the glass can get really expensive… especially if you are importing them from the states.

End Note

The only way to know for sure if a glass is compatible with another is to do a compatibility check. I will write another article explaining how to do this.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Studio Update

otter - you are not alone

Last night the friends I was supposed to be visiting cancelled as Hannah was rushed to hospital with difficulty breathing and suspected problems with her pregnancy.  Clearly this touched many of my buttons and left me feeling a bit shaky.

I spent today with her 3 kids 2-13 years old looking after them as dad was at hospital.  It was generally going well till the 13 year old decided to do lunch and ended up serving me a single piece of toast with butter, less than she had given all them including the 2 year old.  Turns out there was no other food in the house.

Any way, I got home tired with a very low sugar level knowing the good news is that at the moment they have found nothing wrong with Hannah but there will be ongoing tests.  That didn't stop my irritability because I was so hungry. 

There was a parcel waiting for me which was full of some affirmation cards I have been working on for a little while.  The otters above are from the series.  In there were reminders to breathe and that I am enough as I am.  Seriously good timing.

I have completed 11 cards and I hope to either get to 15, 20 or 25 cards in a set.  Look out for them in the near future.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Pink Fritties Giveaway


Its sad but the winner of these little beads hasn't come forward.  So I’ve re-done the draw and the winner is Aster Sadler. 

Please get in contact so I can send them out…


Monday, 3 August 2009

Love, Joy, Peace

085 copy Taken at London Zoo last week

So where has this whole happiness thing come from.  How come I’ve finally got to a place where I can say that I’ve woken up and feel happy?

I was mulling the Christian concept of the ‘Fruits of the Spirit’ – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control.  For years I have thought I can do those but I realise there is a difference between doing them and being them.

For me the key things in this are receiving love, joy and peace. 

Why specifically receiving love?  I think that giving love is about patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and faithfulness.  For me if I am automatically behaving in this way it is because I feel loved, peaceful and joyful.

Self control is important because it means I am actively deciding to put my self in a place where I can receive love, experience joy and be peaceful and actively avoiding situations that steal love, joy and peace.

So receiving love

  • Spending time with my DH
  • Spending time with family
  • Spending time friends
  • Generally being around people who love me and accept me as I am.

So Peace

  • Eating and drinking right
  • Exercising
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Journaling
  • Meditating

And joy – and this is where I have to say I’ve realised that I’m struggling.  What I have learned over the last few months is sorting out how to do the love and the peace thing.  I’m just short on the joy. 

Part of that has to do with a very strong work ethic, part of it to do with a lack of money thing but primarily to do with my tendency to hibernate when I feel down.  Given that I’ve been feeling down for a while I’ve stopped doing stuff.  I no longer sail, ski, scuba dive, canoe, go to the theatre, dance… so this is the next step.  Doing stuff and avoiding hibernating. 

Good plan I think