Tuesday, June 24, 2008

My first home made lampwork

Well, of sorts. Having been bitten by the lampwork bug since my visit with Kalera Stratton, I think that was 2005, I took a class from Eva Anderson-Terada (who was the one to tell me that "this town needs a bead store") this past January, then a (rather way too big for my purposes) used torch came up on the local Craigslist and I decided that this time I wasn't going to procrastinate like I usually do when it comes to spending money, I went last week and bought myself a hothead kit.

It took sleeping over it a few times, and getting to the weekend to put together something where I can make beads. I wouldn't exactly call it a studio, but it's rather well ventilated by being outside, yet out of the wind (no cracked beads in my first batch, even without a kiln). As I can't find didymium glasses that fit over my reading glasses I borrowed some welding goggles from work, those do fit, but as Eva told me, I didn't really need them for the soft glass. I got myself some clip-on sunglasses, and those will probably do for a while. The hardest thing to get going was to get the mandrels dry on that almost 100% relative humidity day - but if it hadn't been raining I probably would have been working in the yard -, of the first 14 mandrels the bead release cracked on 9 during drying. So, I used the others, had myself a break after washing the mandrels off and re-dipping, and started again, and a 3rd time, but after that my 14 mandrels were used up. One time the bead release cracked when I already had glass on the rod, so it went straight into the water bucket and turned into some greenish sand.

One thing happened that I found rather curious: when applying the glass for one beads the bead release released. Turning the mandrel the glass stayed in place. So I said, well, if this one doesn't want to be round I'm just going to leave it as it is.

The colors I used aren't exactly my colors. They came with the kit. As I didn't expect to get anything near viable out of this first attempt at home made beads I took the colors that I would least likely have bought.

The cloudiness in some of the beads is probably due to using propane, but I thought I'd give that a shot as we have it anyway and those little Coleman bottles are getting rather rusty. And at least for the time being I'm going to stick with propane. We have propane anyway and it gives me more time to get the glass where it's supposed to go. You can tell from the "accidental pendant" that it's not exactly going where and how it's supposed to go just yet.

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