Monday, September 28, 2009

Birthday Beads

For my birthday on Saturday, I spent the weekend taking a wonderful workshop with the Goddess of Fine Stinger Perfection, Holly Cooper. For someone who hadn't made a single bead since the Kim Field's class in mid-August, this was a bit of a challenge!

This is the second bead I made on the first day, working with dividing the bead up into even spaces and raking.

The first wobbly bead of the day was this poor thing. Wonky!

Holly works on a Hothead torch, with just propane and no oxygen. I stuck to my oxy-propane torch, but I may dig out my old Hothead just to give it a try. It's clear that the stringer work would be much easier on the cooler, slower torch.

Even so, I learned a lot about fine detail work, especially raking, that I know I will use in the future. These two drop-shaped beads found me struggling with popping stringer and cracked beads, a sure sign of no torch time recently. I had the fun experience of finally getting the stringer to go on nicely on the pink bead, only to have an intact ring of it pop off, hanging on the mandrel between my hand and the bead. A few minutes of trying to get the almost-but-not-quite round ring aligned properly on the bead to melt it in place left me accepting less than perfect placement. Just when things start going better, different issues arise!

This enamel bead looked seriously ugly in the flame, but better once cooled:

The bird bead was my favorite, although I went too far with the dots. It was quite exciting to realize that I really might be able to draw in more detail with glass. I can't wait for an opportunity to hop on the torch and give this another try.

Here's the fine scroll bead that I bought from Holly. The bead is only about 1.25" long, so all that stringer line work is really fine. The patinas that Holly gets from long exposure to the low oxygen atmosphere are really beautiful, too.

Although it's apparent I need some practice, practice, practice, I feel I CAN do this if I just invest the time. So now I need to think about how to incorporate this into my own vision.