Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category


Back 2 Basics Challenge Part One – Shapes

February 13, 2012

Improving my technical skills is a goal I set for myself for this year. There are many skills I could work on, but the top two are shapes and use of color. This post deals exclusively with my plan to perfect the basic shapes I make.

I’ve decided to focus on the following shapes in soft glass because they are standard and make use of the tools I already own. I plan to make at least 30 good beads of each shape before moving to the next one.

Donuts: This is just a “round” bead but it should always have puckers at the holes, which is achieved by laying down a thin and straight “footprint.” I want to be able to make consistent sizes, and that comes with practice. Sure, you can buy a $60 tool to make your donuts are all the same size, but why spend the money when it just takes a little practice? I’ll make 30 each for 1/16″ and 3/32″ mandrels. Michelle Bryant of “The Spacer Queen” on Etsy makes wonderfully consistent spacers.

Donut beads by Michelle Bryant

Tubes: These can be hard because it’s difficult to get an equal amounts of glass all the way around for the full length of the bead. I’ll do this on 3/32″ mandrels and shoot for 2″ tubes. I hope to make them straight and even enough to stand upright on each end. This should be good practice for foundations of bi-cones, lentils, and many other shapes. Cherine Parrin of “Flame Crazy Lampwork” on Etsy makes fantastic tubes.

Tube bead by Cherine Perrin

Disks: The hardest part of making a disk is knowing when to end the disk so that the profile is consistent from disk to disk. Again, Cherine Perrin is my hero when it comes to these.

Disks by Cherine Perrin

Bi-cones: The bi-cone shape is similar to a tube at the ends, but the glass builds to a graceful curve in the center. This is not as easy as it looks. My goal is to make them balanced enough so that if they are flattened they are even and still stand straight. The key is incremental shaping at eye level using my kote (a Japanese shaping tool that looks like a trowel). My friend Lisa Atchison of “Touch of Glass Designs” on Etsy is my go-to girl for bi-cone perfection.

Terrarium bead by Lisa Atchison

Smal/Large Crunches: I have two crunch presses – a thick one and a thick one – and I can never seem to get the right amount of glass on my mandrel for these tools. I’ll make 30 of each size. Once again, Cherine Parrin is my inspiration for perfecting my crunches.

Crunches (or "squeezes") by Cherine Perrin

Okay. That’s 60 donuts, 30 tubes, 30 disks, 30 bicones, and 60 crunches for a total of  210 beads! Now, for the second part of the challenge: new color combos!


Crazy for Boro Buttons

February 4, 2012

When nothing is going right, and even sometimes when everything is going great, I can usually fall back on boro buttons.  As you can imagine, the market for buttons isn’t nearly as good as the market for beads. Many call making buttons a “labor of love,” but I have some marketing ideas that just may change that.

I’ve tried many different ways of making them, and various ways of attaching a shank. I hear that button collectors and prefer attached glass shanks instead of using glue to attach a manufactured shank. I think I finally perfected my technique of making the shank’s hole with a tungsten pick and fire polishing the hole the best I can and I can see great improvement in my buttons over the past month.

I have many buttons posted in my Etsy shop right now. They average 22mm in diameter and are priced at about $10 each.


Beginning Again

February 1, 2012

Yeah, I know.  It’s the end of January 2012, and you don’t have a clue who I am and if you do, you probably wondered where I’ve been for the last  year. Well, I could write a book on what I’ve been up to, and I may do that some day. All you need to know right now is that I took a walk through some fire, gained some perspective, and here I am. I took a “road less traveled,” so to speak, and that’s just the way I live my life. I sort of like how Liz Gilbert says it in “Eat, Pray, Love”:

In the end, I’ve come to believe in something I call “The Physics of the Quest.” A force in nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity. The rule of Quest Physics goes something like this: If you’re brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting, which can be anything from your house to bitter, old resentments, and set out on a truth-seeking journey, either externally or internally, and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher and if you are prepared, most of all, to face and forgive some very difficult realities about yourself, then the truth will not be withheld from you.

About a month ago, as I was rounding the last bend in my little “quest,” I remembered that I still had all this glass and equipment. I could sell it all and walk away from the umpteenth artsy-crafty venture in my life, or fire up my torch and see what happened. I chose the latter.

I expected to make brilliant beads right off the bat, but of course that didn’t happen. I don’t think I realized that until I looked back over my stash last night and laughed at myself.  But, I feet the ability to create and explore while balancing the pressure I put on myself to produce and make this “hobby” pay for itself like before.

My heart and universe has been expanded. I’m beginning again.

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