Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Bead and Button Trip

It's been a couple of weeks since I got back from my trip to Bead and Button. What with getting over my jetlag and some family commitments its taken me a while to get round to writing this blog post.

Readers of my blog will know that I won a scholarship given by both the ISGB and the Bead&Button Show. The goal of the scholarship is to support an ISGB member who sees artistic excellence and the education needed to further explore their passion for glass, metal work, jewelry making, and more. To be the recipient of such a generous scholarship proved to be an incredible experience for me. It included a stipend for travel, a Master workshop, additional classes, tickets to all events, hotel accommodations for the entire length of my stay, and much more.

I wanted to go to Bead and Button to expand my jewellery making skills and I wasn't disappointed. I made the most of the opportunity and took a class everyday starting with a 4 day Master Class in Precious Metal Clay with Celie Fago. Most of the students had taken a class with Celie before and I was very lucky when my benchmate immediately offered to share her tools and guided me throughout the class - A new friend was made - the first of many. 

Class watching Celie demonstrate.
Pieces waiting to be go in the kiln to be fired.
Me hard at work

 A generous teacher, Celie shared many techniques which enabled me to produce a fantastic bracelet complete with charms from my local beach which I had brought with me.

My finished bracelet along with some other pieces.
 The class ended with a graduation dinner held upstairs at Milwaukee Public Market. It was nice to socialise with the rest of my classmates.

My next class was 'Riffing on a zipper' with Maria Richmond. 
Maria's examples of what were were about to make.
 Making headpins is my niche so when I saw this class combining a zip, wirework and headpins I knew it was the class for me. I brought some flower headpins that I had made at home and they were a big hit with the other students who all asked where they could buy them from, so some potential new customers for me.
Me wire wrapping
Getting there.
I was very happy with the completed necklace and had lots of compliments when I wore it for the rest of the day.
Me with Maria, wearing the necklace I made.
My finished piece.
In the evening was the 'Meet the teachers reception' I had no idea there were so many! It was an opportunity to see all the projects and tools of the other teachers and meet the teachers I had yet to take classes with.
Thursday was the only lampworking class I signed up for and my first taste of Borosilicate glass. Lucas Clarke - a real character - shared his skills with turning glass tubing into a miniature chandelier. 
Lucas Demonstrating.
 Having some experience in making blown hollow beads I was able to grasp the technique fairly quickly and ended up with a reasonable sized chandelier at the end of the day - but could have done with a few more hours!

My finished chandelier
 The mysteries of metal finishing techniques were shared by Kay Rashka on Friday. A very informative and useful class with tips on using the best accessories for the Flex-shaft. We had great fun bashing bits of metal and there was even chocolates supplied to keep put strength up!

Tools with chocolate!
This was the first piece that I made in class. I had plenty of time left so I made some additional components.

The skills learned led nicely onto my next class, a mix of torch fired enamelling and tab set pendants with Kati Andara.

Some examples of torch fired enameling
Kati showing me how to solder.
My finished necklaces.

These pieces were made with copper and I was so surprised to learn that we were going to silver plate them! I enjoyed Kati's class that when I saw her project for the next days class and as I had a free day I decided to take that class too! 
The project for the next class.
 I didn't have a polymer clay piece with me for the necklace so I made an enamel one for it. Unfortunately we didn't quite have enough time to finish it in class so I will do that at home once I have bought some bits and pieces.

Both classes expanded my skills with working with metal and gave me lots of inspiration.

The 'Big Bead Jewellery Bash' was great fun with Blingo, the fastest bead threader and hoop the bottle (of win (I won one!)) to name but a few of the great entertainments on offer.

Last but not least was of course the shopping! Beads everywhere you looked - it was all a bit overwhelming and far too easy to get carried away!

Bead & Button run a competition and the winning entries were on display. Some amazing work but I was stunned by these two seed bead nceklaces.

I ended the show tired but very happy and a head bursting full of ideas and very grateful to the ISGB and Bead & Button for having awarded me the chance to go.

Thanks for reading.

Linda x

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

GBUK Jewellery Category Winner 3rd year running!

I recently entered the annual GBUK (Glass Beadmakers United Kingdom) competition. The theme for the competition was Sea Life.

I had a couple of ideas in my mind. The first was coral flowers, I had a look online and found a picture of Zoanthid Coral

I set about making some zoanthid coral headpins and discs, experimenting with different colours

as you can see I had some failures. They were very hard to keep warm in the centre as they were so thin.

I even had a go at making a octopus tentacle - which sadly again broke :-(

Then I remembered as a child I went to a Sealife Centre with my family whilst on holiday. I remembered being fascinated by a round fish tank in which the fish swam constantly round and round in the same direction.

So I started Googling shoals of fish

and came across the works of Jo Downs in Devon. She makes the most amazing Shoaling Fish for wall displays.

Hence another idea was born, a shoal of fish swimming around the neck.

Now, I had no idea how I was going to create these fish. I knew I wanted them to have be sparkly, consistent in size and I knew they had to be made on a piece of wire so that they could be incorporated into a necklace, other than that - not a clue! So I started having a go at making some fish....

Aren't they hideous? How on earth was I going to get them to look alike?

Then my glassy friend Monique Swinkels came over from The Netherlands for a visit. I met Monique at The Gathering in Houston 2 years ago and we've been friends ever since. I went over to visit her the year before last (blog post here) and back in November last year, she came to visit me. I took her on a tour of the Isle of Wight where I live and visited the glass studios and Tregear Pottery. I'd seen the works of Tregear before but had never been inside their studio which is in Niton. Because it was out of season we were the only visitors and we were very lucky to be treated to a tour. We were also shown their new laser cutter machine which they use to cut out paper to use in their designs. It was the same time as the Great British Pottery Throw Down was being shown on the BBC and they featured one of Tregear' Basins with a Whitebait motif created using these paper cuts.

There it was again, that shoal of fish, something was telling me this was what I had to create so I asked Monique (as she has a lot more experience in flame working than me) if she had any ideas on how I could go about creating these fish. I especially wanted this elongated design. When we got back to my studio, she asked me to show how how I went about creating the fish. I showed her one - I must admit it was a bit of a disaster lol! Monique said I need to create the fish using some cane. ?????? I looked blankly at her - I had no idea what she meant.

I knew that last year Monique went over to Richard Collinson's studio to learn how to make paperweights. Colin creates tiny flowers and fruit which are then encased with clear glass to create the paperweight. Have a look at this amazing video to see him at work

Monique wasted no time in creating some gorgeous marbles like this Romantic Rose one.

You can find this one and more for sale on her website

She then showed me how to make a cane and added a sparkly bit of dichro to it. They she went on to make a fish. This is the fish she made.....

Wow! I was blown away, I had no it could be done like this. I thanked Monique for showing me and when she went home I set about teaching myself what how to make the canes and fish.

I really wanted them to be silver - like the fish are that shoal so I set about doing experimenting with white, silver, clear and grey glass and incorporated some sparkly silver mica flakes and silver foil.

You can see my first attempts at fish aren't brilliant but they are a lot better than the previous ones I had made. In terms of how pretty the necklace would look with the fish in silver I wasn't happy, I didn't think they would show up enough against the skin, so I decided to try them in turquoise shades. Then I decided that having them all the same colour didn't work either as they all blended into each other, so I added blues and greens to the mix. This worked better. I had to experiment with different layers of transparent and opaque glass to get the shades I wanted.

Canes that the fish are made from.

I had trouble with the canes exploding when I put them back in the flame. Luckily I have a Bead Cube kiln which sits right next to me on the bench so I put the cane back in the kiln in between each fish. I also put the fish in the kiln by attaching a punty whilst I made the headpin with a small blob (yes, that is a technical term!) of glass so that I could stick the fish onto it.

To create the base of the necklace I had some 5mm black rubber tube and had in my mind that I would use. Poke a hole in with a pin and then glue the wire in.

It was hard to get the holes in the right place and get the fish at the heights I wanted so I abandoned this idea and used the same method as I used on my two previous pieces 'Circle of Fire' and 'Snow Queen'. This involves wrapping the wire with florists tape - the same way as a headpiece or tiara would be constructed. This gives me more adjustment.

I experimented with using wrapping hand dyed recycled sari silk around the base to get the look of seaweed but I didn't like the look.

My husband suggested adding some seaweed - he doesn't always come up with the best ideas but I made some anyway just to see what it looked like, but I didn't end up using it.

Eventually after making many many fish, I had enough to finish the necklace. It fastens with a magnetic clasp.

I asked Steve Thearle to come round to my house and photograph the necklace, here is a shot of him taking one of the photos. He used some bathroom weighing scales for the dark base as he couldn't find his perspex - it worked! It amazed me that he could take such a fantastic photo with such a simple set-up.

Here are the photos of the finished piece which I name 'Shoal'

and me modelling it. Steve has got some magic softwear that luckily makes my neck look less wrinkled that it is lol!

The competition entries had to be in by the end of February, I worked on the piece off and on over the 3 months. Then it was an agonising wait until April - no showing the photos or the necklace (except to a few close friends and family) as it has to stay anonymous until the competition has taken place.

The entries were judged by the visiting glass artists who were teaching and demonstrating at Flame Off - the annual convention of glass beadmakers and flameworkers held at Uttoxeter Racecourse last weekend and also by the attendees.

I am proud to say that my necklace won the Jewellery Category and was voted people's choice.

This is my 3rd year of entering and winning the jewellery category of the GBUK competition.

These are my two previous winning entries

Circle of Fire

Lillies Adorned

Now you can appreciate all the hard work that has gone into making this competition piece.

I hope you like it and thanks for taking the time to read my blog post. Please take the time to comment if just to say that you popped by.


Linda x

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