Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Practice, practice, practice . . .

. . . makes perfect, or so "they" say. What with my fixation on fire and my love of colored glass, I've wanted to learn lampworking for many years. Lampworking is the process of making glass beads (mainly) with a torch. I bought my first torch in the early '90s. It attached to a small can of MAPP gas which one could purchase at Home Depot for around $8 and it might last a couple of hours if one was lucky. After a few feeble attempts I pretty much gave it up.

Moved to Atlanta. Spent the next several years creating with stained glass, started doing a little fusing, made and sold LOTS of wind chimes on eBay back when there were only four of us doing them. They have evolved into "kinetic glass sculptures" which is my way of saying 'if you want to hang them outside in the wind, do so at your own risk.' Want to see them? Go here:

I sure do digress, don't I? Anyway, the closest I got to hot glass during those years was when I fused it in the kiln as in the little Candy Corn "chimes" and a few others that can be seen at the link above. Next, we moved to Florida and I lost my mojo for making the "sculptures." Around this time my lovely niece Heather, a fabulous jewelry designer, piqued my interest in making jewelry by wrapping a bead show and PMC class in a trip to my favorite place, Boston. How could I refuse? I was hooked on PMC and since I already had the kiln, my adventures in jewelry making began.

The trip to Boston was a great success, save for my (lack of) automobile navigation skills. Some time later we partnered up for another trip, this time to the Bead & Button show in Milwaukee, WI. I registered for a lampwork class which really did nothing for my skills or confidence. That isn't meant to be a critique of the class or instructor, it just didn't work for me. We had a great time on the trip, though, and decided on a repeat a couple of years ago. This time I registered for a class with the outstanding lampwork artist, Leah Fairbanks. If you aren't familiar with her art, go here:
and prepare to be amazed at what a woman can do with a few glass rods and a torch.

I came away from the experience with Leah amazed at her talents and my lack thereof. To be fair to myself there was a certain lack of logic in registering for a class with Leah when I had yet to be able to make one ... round ... bead. This time, though, the desire to learn stuck with me a little better and I finally convinced my long-suffering husband that I needed a real torch and a real oxygen tank to go along with the propane tank pilfered from the BBQ grille.

Too late to make this long story short. I am now determined to find more time for the hours of practice that I evidently will need. Not to postpone using lampwork beads in my jewelry, I recently purchased some focal beads from a fellow Etsy seller, blue seraphim. I then decided to spend a couple of hours trying to make simple, small, preferably round beads that I could use in my jewelry as accents to the focals I had purchased. Here are my results:

Yes, for the more observant among you, that IS a diaper the beads are drying on. And yes, I am that old but that is a story for another time (Tom).

Here's a photo of my beads alongside the purchased focals. Not too bad, eh? You'll see them listed in my Etsy shop soon. And while you're visiting Etsy, please take time to browse the best collection of handmade goods under one virtual roof!


Anonymous said...

That Boston trip was outstanding! Just what I needed at the time too! I'll never forget how good it was for me.
I'm glad you're still working on lampwork, it's only a matter of time before you master it. I'm positive of that.

Tommy said...

Those look awesome, Momma! Teach me? I like Heb's work too. Don't show Onya...

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