Bead Groundhog Day

November 13, 2012

Today is a shed day and I have to tell you I seem to be featuring in my own personal version of bead groundhog day, I have been trying to make a particular bead for literally weeks now. It's not particularly complicated or fancy but I really want it to work. So here is the deal... basically I take a tiny footprint of glass, melt on another 3 layers of colour, some sparkle, encase in clear, add a couple of murrini, some stringer, dots oh and the kitchen sink whiles I'm at it, then press it. The problem is that I want the beads to be 20mm diameter, which is my perfect bracelet size, and lentil shaped i.e.  a nice slender convex profile with a defined edge and that combination of size and shape doesn't take much glass. If there is too much glass on the mandrel when I press it it will do one of two things, the glass will either squish out around the edges so I lose the nice crisp edge and the bead is more oval shape or it will squish out sideways and the bead will have sharp holes neither of which is what I'm looking for.

I keep getting sharp holes, not in the pointy way I did when I started making beads 10 years ago but in a really irritating, barely detectable, 99.9% smooth, that probably most people wouldn't notice, kind of way. Of course George thinks I'm nuts, he can't feel it at all but I can and that is what matters, if I'm not happy with it then it isn't right. I have marked the width on the mandrel, measured the footprint, measured in the press leaving 1mm then 2mm gap at each mandrel edge, measured, measured and measured again and it is still not working for me., it's driving me up the wall.

At this point I must have made more than 200 (yes really) of these beads and there are maybe 10% of them I would be happy to use. I was about to throw the towel in, after all if you keep doing what you have always done then you will keep getting what you have always got and really how much glass am I prepared to waste?... did I tell you I have been using murrini made from the extremely rare and very pretty tequilla sunrise? The beads are lovely, I really want them to work but I'm running out of ideas. I have two last thoughts... one is to try a plain bead and to check the press I'm using, it was one of the cheaper presses out there and it is possible, although not likely, that the press is at fault. The other is to just use a larger or differently shaped press but that seems like defeat, surely I haven't made all these beads to just give up on them?

Red Lampwork beads
Red  groundhog day beads


Also in LampworkJewels

Bead Soup 7

January 23, 2013

I am on the horns of a dilemma... The sign ups for the 7th Bead Soup blog are fast approaching and I really, really want to take part again. I absolutely loved the last one, if you remember I was paired with Elaine Robitaille of Too Aquarius who sent me a package of her spectacular polymer clay beads. I loved working out how to use them and I only got slightly stressed about posting my final piece. I also loved visiting the blogs of the other particpants and seeing their bead soup ingredients, reading about their inspiration and process to their final pieces.

Selection of purple flower polymer clay beads
My delicious soup from last year

I am somewhat over subscribed at the moment...
I have several Facebook Groups which I signed up for in a flurry of new year enthusiasm but it's looking less and less likely that I have time for.
I am commited to my once a month blog circle, which doesn't sound much but I really try to take time over writing, reading and commenting on it.
I am already doing the Art Jewelry Earring challenge.
I have an exciting e-course starting in the next week or so
My mothers house is due to exchange and complete over the next 4-6 weeks, which means I have all sorts of packing and organising shenanagins to sort out.
not to mention various teams and forums that I am active in
and mostly not forgetting
I want to make some beads, I really want to make some beads and there just aren't enough hours in the day.

So I think that I need to scale it down a bit and work out what I can sensibly achieve. I am still undecided but it is looking unlikely that I will sign up for Bead Soup 7 however just because I can't doesn't mean you shouldn't. Lori is accepting all applicants this time with 3 different reveal dates so click on over to Bead Soup 7 and check it out. Sign ups are from 25-27th January that is just four days away so mark your diaries.

Oh and don't be surprised if I suddenly show up over there having had a last minute attack of the sod it, I just fancy a bowl of soup.

Purple floral polymer clay necklace
Soup is served

Earring Challenge Weeks 1 & 2

January 20, 2013

I recently signed up for the Art Jewelry Elements blog Earring Challenge to make one pair of earrings every week for a whole year, the earrings have to feature at least one artisan component. Every two weeks there will be a reveal with some of the earrings being featured on the AJE blog. There is also a Pinterest board which is looking fantastic already with challenge participants.

Both my first and second pair feature gorgeous polymer clay beads by Elaine Robitaille of Too Aquarius. Elaine and I were partners in the Bead Soup challenge last year and I have been waiting for an opportunity to use these wonderful beads since last autumn.

Week 2/52

My first pair are Flower Fairy Earrings with Elaine's flower beads, gemstone beads and Swarovski lilac opal crystal beads wire wrapped with Bali silver headpins.

Flower Fairy Earrings

Flower Fairy Earrings

Week 1/52

My second pair with some of Elaine's daisy beads are simply wire wrapped with copper and copper beads. I wanted to make something simple but with lots of movement. I have to tell you it was a real test of my wire working skills as I am not used to working with copper wire or light weight polymer clay beads. Also I didn't have any copper ear wires so I made these myself. I clearly need to practice working with copper as it is much softer than sterling silver. I really enjoyed making these earrings and I'm looking forward to experimenting and practising my skills on my next pair.

Copper Earrings

Copper Earrings
Check out some of the other blog hop participants below there are some wonderful earrings out there.

New Beginnings

January 17, 2013

I love the start of the year, a clean slate bursting with the of possibility of adventure.The start of this year finds me deep in family stuff. My 76 year old mother has sold her house and we are currently packing up the last 48 years of her life and all that goes with it. Layers of the lives of the people who lived there are being trawled through and sorted out. Tons of crap punctuated with bright sparkling jewels of memories, photographs, books, the occasional treasure which has lain forgotten about for decades, it's an emotional roller coaster, heart breaking at times.

I can't imagine how hard it must be to be leaving the scene of your entire life for nearly 50 years. The memories and ghosts of the people you loved most and other, bit part players you were rather less fond of. I do know mum, although sad, is really looking forward to finding somewhere smaller, easier to keep and cosy, her new beginning.

It's not just mum leaving, it's me too. When the removal van pulls away from the house where I lived from the age of 3 I will be leaving behind the house I left for school every morning waving to mum through a gap in the trees, the house where I experienced the highs and lows of being a teenager, the house I first I left for a bedsit in Dulwich at 19, the house where I set off for my wedding at 24, the house where my father and brother both passed away. It is a place packed with so many of my memories I know I will be overwhelmed with sadness.

On the other side of that though I can already see a gleaming new path, liberated from lifelong fears and expectations. It feels as if I really am throwing out the old to bring in the new by exposing things that have laid under dust for years and actually deciding I don't want or need them.

My new beginning is a big one it involves business plans, travel plans, new beads, new jewelry, lots of things I dreamt about for years. Finally, as Howard Jones once sang, I will be able to throw off my mental chains and I am beyond excited as to where it's going to take me!

This post is part of a "New Beginnings" blog circle, if you would like to step this way and follow the link the next blog is by Jean Wagner - New Beginnings