Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Polymer Clay Challenge : May 2013

I have been playing it quite safe with these polymer challenges so far mainly because I haven't had the time to make anything too extravagant.  That doesn't mean the ideas aren't there.  Believe me I have loads of beads/ideas I want to make but unfortunately I just don't have the time.  I do record everything in my sketchbook so the ideas don't get forgotton. 
I have made beads like these before and I liked the colour combinations so much that I wanted to have another go at making them.  Now, whilst making these beads I realised that not only do I need to record my ideas for designs I also need to record exactly how I make them.  You are probably thinking, "Isn't that what your sketchbook is for?" .... well, yes and no.  I initially draw the designs, colour combinations and inspiration for the beads but usually when taking a piece of work from a sketch book into reality you change a few things here and there.  It is those little changes that I don't record.  I also become easily sidetracked into making other things along the way ..... I don't record those either ..... grrrrrr 

I need to make more time to make flower canes as well.  I really enjoy making them, it is quite therapeutic you know! I want to develop the shape of the petals a bit more and add some depth to the flowers.  Lots to work on .... just need the time ......

I used the beads to make a very long necklace and matching bracelet.  I combined the polymer clay beads with my handmade lampwork glass beads and separated these with heamatite seed beads. These were all connected to a black chain, combined with a string of blue sparkly seed beads and blue silken thread.  
I am using all my polymer clay beads to make an affordable jewellery range for when I attend craft fairs and jewellery parties.  I am really enjoying making them all too because I can sit and make jewellery with my family whilst they are watching a film.  I do lose a few beads here and there when my children decide they want to have a go making an item of jewellery .... but what can you do?

Sarah xx  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Flowers on a Beach.

There is coloured glass called Rubino Ora (also known as Gold Pink) which gives some beautiful rich colours depending on what you use as a base colour. My favourite of these colours is the deep, rich pink colour you can see in the photograph above. Here I have placed Rubino Ora on top of effetre's pink. Very pretty? 

It is also a real pain to work with! I started to use this glass when I worked on my first torch the Hot Head and it gave me so many nightmares until I learnt how this glass reacts. Don't be put off if you are using a Hot Head torch by the way because this bead was created on one! So I did manage it ..... eventually!

This is a glass that you have treat with respect!  It is very reactive and if you don't heat it correctly who will either lose the colour or end up with dirty grey scum marks on the glass.  It is a very naughty glass, a challenge to work with but redeems itself because it produces some gorgeous colours depending on the colour of the bead you are encasing.  This is one of my favourite types of glass because it opens up so many possibilities. For instance, here I combined rubino ora with while glass to make a set of my signature implosion beads.  I wish I had taken a close up of this photograph so that you could see the depth of colour increase in between the petals.  It is very effective. 

There is a lot of science/chemistry with this glass and I am umming and ahhing as I write about whether or not to include it ..... I will leave it this time because I want to write a series of posts about different types of glass, how they react and the different effects you can achieve using different colours.  Whilst I am writing about future posts I am also going to write about the tips and tricks to achieving a beautiful round bead with lovely finished puckered bead holes.  I am currently working on this and it should be out next month.
Anyway .... back to this blog (see this is how my mind works at the moment ... sorry).  In this set of beads there a wrap of Rubino Ora on top of CIM Heffalump.  It creates a beautiful deep, rich pink colour.  Now, if you look closely you can see what I mean about the reactive nature of this glass.  Look closely at the little white petals and compare the petals on the pink glass with the petals on the turquoise.  Both sets of petals were created using white glass in exactly the same way.  The Rubino Ora has reacted with the white glass and created a pink halo around the outside of the petals and intensified the pink in the centre giving a vein effect.  Do you see what I mean? 
 This glass has a tendency to do this with most colours and creates some fantastic results.  For example ....

Here Rubino Ora was added on top of a blue dot and melted into the glass.  The Rubino has spread out across the dot and created a really cool reaction between the turquoise base bead and the blue dots.  If you add stripes of colours across a bead (including a stripe of Rubino) the effects are beautiful. 
I made this focal bead back in 2008 .... crikey where has the time gone?  This bead consists of an ivory base encased in rubino ora with trails of opal yellow and dark blue.  Look at how different the colour is.  It is a very rich goldy/orange colour, again a reaction of the glass to ivory....  Have a play yourself an see what you come up with.
So, here is just a little insight into the world of Rubino Ora.  I will write again about this glass and perhaps add a few of my favourite colour combinations and reactions next time ....
Most of the beads and jewellery in this post can be found in my shop.  If you click on the photograph a link will take you straight there.
Sarah xx

Monday, May 20, 2013

Delightful Lampwork Beads!

Here is a set of lampwork beads that I developed in my wierd quirky style in cranberry pink, teal and turquoise.  I made a very similar set of beads called Elise and wanted to experiment and see what the beads would look like in this style. 
CIM Cranberry Pink is a gorgeous coloured glass.  One of my favourites but I do try to use it sparingly because it is very expensive.  It is also produces interesting spreading results when you use it for dots .... let me explain ...
I started out with a plain turquoise bead and added some small widely spaced, pale blue dots.  Normally as the dots melt into the glass they will retain their shape and remain widely spaced.  That is until I add cranberry pink dots on top of the pale blue.  The cranberry has the effect of making the dots spread until they hit the next dot and form pentagon/hexagon etc ..... shapes taking up all the available space on the bead.  A very clever effect!  This can be achieved without the cranberry by adding very large dots, close together on the surface of a bead and melting them in, but it never looks quite as effective as when you use a colour like cranberry.  It creates a very interesting pattern and also has a great effect on the colours as well. It almost concentrates the colours around the edge of the shapes ..... I have written another blog post about this glass so I will stop for now but there is more to come later .....
This is one of the reasons why I like working with glass.  There are so many different techniques and effects to experiment with.  It makes it very exciting and as long as you are not having a creative block, every moment at the torch is different.  I am one of those people that need to be challenged all the time and I thrive on this, so for me lampwork is great.  My little brain is doing star jumps trying to work out new ways to create with glass. 
But, all of this does come with time and from starting with the basics.  If you are new to making lampwork beads, make sure that you take time to practice making a round bead, adding equally spaced dots, experiment with colours and be patient with yourself.  It will all come with time. 
Anyway, enough of my ramblings ..... about the beads .... This is another great colour combination. Bright pink and bright turquoise balancing each other out and looking very delightful!  Hence the name ....

There are 13 beads in the set. These include 7 decorated beads and 6 spacer beads. The beads range in size from 18mm across to 9mm width to 15mm across to 8mm width. The spacer beads range from 12mm across by 7mm width to 11mm across by 5mm width. All of the beads have a 2.5mm bead hole.

These beads are available in my shop on Etsy.  All you have to do is click on one of the photographs and a link will take you there ....
Sarah xx

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Entangled Beads!

I have spent the last couple of weeks having a complete mind block.  I have sat at my torch with ideas but nothing seemed to work.  I would open the kiln the next day and think "mmmmmm" rather than "WOW, that's cool!" Then like a bolt of lightning something triggered in my brain and I made these beads .....
Annoyingly, I have made beads like this many times before but have never explored this technique further.  Perhaps like many things in life I just needed to wait for the right moment.  Now, I have re-discovered this I am on a roll ...... I can't stop myself ..... I am thinking of new colour combinations in my sleep.  I am once again disappearing up to my shed/studio/shed to make lots more.

These beads form a new collection of beads called my Entangled Beads.  All the wisp and tendrels of colour trapped within the glass, entangled and twisted together ..... you get the picture and if you look at the first photograph you will probably see where I am coming from.

This set of beads - Earth Filaments comprise 5 lampwork beads handmade by me.  I have used the same combination of glass for each bead but every bead is OOAK (one of a kind).  The beads range in size from 17mm across by 12 mm thick to 12mm by 10mm. The bead holes are approximately 2.5mm.

My beads also look fantastic strung from a sterling silver chain. The advantage of this is you can swop and change the beads as often as you like to create individual jewellery statements. If you would like some ideas about what to make with my beads click my Amber Shock Post.
I had a very lovely compliment the other day from a friend who didn't realise that I took all of the photographs myself.  Every photograph included in my blog/facebook/website/twitter/shops has been taken by me.  I hadn't realised until now that I should be quite proud of this ......

If you want to purchase these beads or view more of my work then all you have to do is click on one of the photographs and a link will take you straight to my shop.

Sarah xx


Sunday, May 12, 2013

My Shed/Studio/Shed

I was asked by the very lovely Catherynne Kessell (she makes beautiful jewellery) about where and how I make my lampwork beads.  So this post is to show you around the world of Beadscrumptious Beads ......  My wonderful, amazing and totally gorgeous husband (have to write that because he actually reads my blog) made me a beautiful shed/studio/shed because he was sick and tired of finding all my tools/toolboxes/kiln/beads/everything scattered all over the kitchen.....oh and sick of me moaning if he left his toolbox around ..... well what can I say with all of my things, there just wasn't room for his as well!

Let me take you on a little tour of the inside of my shed/studio/shed ......

The first thing you see is my bookcase.  This is now jam packed full of books, sketch books and magazines.  Lots and lots of inspiration for those moments when my mind has gone blank and my hands refuse to make what my brain is telling them.
In the back corner you can just about see lots of very brightly coloured sticks.  These are the glass rods I use to make all my lampwork beads.  I store them upright in metal cutlery holders from Ikea.  Not very fancy I know, but space is limited in my studio and when I am working I like to be able to reach over and easily grab a new glass rod.  In an ideal world I would have them all colour coordinated in easily accessible tubes but this works for now.


I was running a little low on glass when I took this photograph.  The press that you can see is for silver coring beads.  I haven't used it for a while ... As you can see there is the odd item of artwork made by my children.  Since this photo was taken I have acquired three puppets made from recycled materials and a picture of a chicken by my youngest son.  I can't see my glass rods at the moment ... if I have time I will take a picture.
To the right of my glass rods are a few tubs of frit (crushed glass) in some very pretty colours.  When you are making a bead and it is nice and hot you can roll it in some frit, re-shape the bead and when it cools the frit blend will add some very attractive patterns/colours to your bead.  I will save this for another blog post. 
My studio is gradually being taken over by artwork made by my children.  They made these at school from recycled materials and they are fantastic.  A pink elephant and a shark.  They are very proud that I have kept them safe in my studio.  It does however, create a few difficulties trying to grab a glass rod quickly.
I have mentioned in previous blog posts about making lampwork beads on mandrels.  These are the metal coated rods poking up out of an old plant pot.  The pot is filled with sand and works very well as a mandrel holder.  The rods are all coated with a special substance called bead release.  I make the beads on top of this coating and when they are cooked I place the rods in water and simple twist the bead off the mandrel.  If I made a bead directly onto the metal it would stick permanently to the metal rod.
Moving along my workspace we come to my baby!  My duel fuel torch, bought for me one Christmas by my very lovely husband.  I have a Nortel Mega Minor and I love it!  It is a great little torch and does everything I need for now ..... I have two arm rests to help keep me steady when I am doing any detailed stringer work and some foam pads for my elbows.   I also still have my first torch ... The Hot Head that my son is going to start using.
Finally, we have my kiln tucked away in the corner but within easy access so I can pop my beads in when I have finished making them.  Underneath the kiln you can see my oxygen concentrator.  My torch is fuelled by oxygen and propane.  Over to the right is the bench I use to make jewellery and polymer clay.  It is actually covered with polymer clay at the moment and looks like a complete mess ..... I took this photograph a long time ago ....  My notice board is now overflowing with inspirational cards and pictures that I have collected on our holidays.  Particularly from Barcelona, one of my favourite destinations at the moment.  It is beautiful there....
These are some of the photographs lurking around on my notice board.  I am a keen photographer and am always taking millions of photographs ... too many!  I try to capture every moment and I love colours.  I will save this for a future blog post too, otherwise I will be rambling on for hours.....
I have given you a very brief tour around studio.  A place where I spend the majority of my time making beads, singing along to the radio and posting messages on facebook and twitter.  I should have added a few pictures of my chickens too because they are usually sunbathing in the doorway or pecking in the flower bed under the window.  My cat comes and sits out here with me as well.  I feel like Dr Doolittle!
I will finish this post with the picture my youngest son made of a chicken ......
Sarah xx

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Emerald City!

I write blog posts about each individual bead set to help promote my lampwork beads (obviously) but also to help keep a record of the beads I have made and the inspiration behind each set of beads.  It is also great when the beads have sold because they will be immortalised within this blog.  I can peruse at my leisure and remember the beads I have made, look at how my style has improved and changed and remember the moments that led to the development of each individual bead. 
I can't really make the same set of beads again because each bead is an individual entity but I can look back when I have one of those moments when the creativity won't flow and sometimes gain inspiration from a set of beads that I have already made.  This is what happened with this set of beads.  I was sat in my shed listening to the musical "Wicked" and looking through my bead when my hand suddenly rested upon a rod of Emerald glass.  Why not try this style of beads in Emerald?
It is a gorgeous colour.  Such a deep intense green, I will definitely be using this colour again.  This style of beads is a welcome release really to the precision of making implosion beads.  I have a few more lampwork bead sets like this to share with you but now that summer is coming I can sense a change in my style .....
This bead set is available to purchase in my shop on Etsy.  If you click on a photograph a link will take you straight there.
Sarah xx

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Polymer Clay Challenge - April 2013

This month I decided to submit these beads for my polymer clay challenge.  I am always making round beads and decided that I would have a change.  I didn't realise how difficult it would be trying to get them all the same size.  I thought I would be clever and use the same amount of clay for each bead which was sensible and works for round beads.  The problem came when I tried to shape them.  On reflection I could have made my life a lot easier if I had of used a bead press but sometimes when you are overcome by creativity you don't have time to order and then wait for the postman to deliver essential items.  Still, I have learnt a lesson for next time!
So, what did I create with these beads?  Perhaps I should have written that before the photograph .... oh well!  Yes, I made a necklace.  I have been making lots of necklaces lately using my polymer clay and lampwork beads.  I used plain turquoise lampwork beads because the polymer clay beads were so brightly coloured and vibrant I needed a contrast.  I choose turquoise as an accent colour to pick up the swirls of turquoise within the polymer beads.  I separated my beads using bright pink and I mean bright PINK seed beads.  I am having my very own seed bead revolution at the moment and I have been using them for everything!  However, they are incredibly fiddly, half of them end up on the floor or up the hoover so I am not sure how long this obsession will last.

I found these metallic flowers at a bead fair and they make brilliant connector/focal beads.  I like to hang a cluster of dangles from the bottom of the necklace for a bit of interest and just because I like it when they all jingle together.

The beads were very simple to make but the effect is very striking.  I am definitely going to make some more of these for myself in lots of different colours.....but using a bead press.....

Sarah xx