Wednesday, March 25, 2009

From Sketchbook to Reality

Here's the first bead I made in this series, finished last year just in time to wear to the Gathering (but none to sell).

And the carved electroforming on the back.

I was invited to participate in the fifth annual Pismo Bead Invitational, so I'm preparing a bunch of these to turn into jewelry. This is the first attempt, another lovebird with a slight flaw, but still a good effort.

The construction of these beads is very involved. First I paint the black outline with ground glass enamel mixed with oil onto flat glass tiles, which are fired in the kiln to fuse the two glasses.

Then I paint the color in a similar manner (it's in reverse, so that it's buried under a layer of clear glass in the finished bead) and fire in the kiln again. Because the two layers will be stacked on the bead, there will be some depth, with the first wrap buried deeper inside the bead and the latter wrap nearer the surface.

Then I make a base bead in the torch, wrap with a layer of dichroic glass, then with each of the two tiles separately, fussing to get everything smooth and perfect each time. Finally I shape the bead and then cool slowly in the kiln overnight to remove stress.

Then, because that just wasn't enough work, I do the carved electroforming on the surface.

Although I used the same model for the lovebird in both these beads, they're individually painted and carved, with different background and dichro colors, so each one is one of a kind. Tomorrow I'll show the first fish.

Number two tomorrow!