Saturday, November 21, 2015

The soon to be coming winter colours of snow white and clear ice

Wedding Signing Pen - One of a Kind  - One Available
With this pen in your hands, imagine signing a book at the wedding? I've had this "6" ball point blank pen" in brushed aluminum for a bit now and while preparing my wares to display and sell tomorrow, I decided to finish it with my white and clear hand-made lampwork beads. It works wonderfully together for a perfect fit. Just as instantly, I thought wedding, why of course! I must say it feels pretty significant in the hands. It has a really nice weight to it. It has a tiny lacy spacer bead on top of a white stripped bead, a white bead with raised clear dots, a clear bead with three white flowers, another bumpy bead, a large clear and white lacy bead, and a medium sized clear bead with a row of flat white dots for a total of 7 beads.

I am packing it away for its' debut tomorrow at the "A Gift of Art" Christmas Show and Sale in the beautiful Newcastle Community Town Hall.  I will also debut it on ETSY after the show if this one is still available... I only have this one, but I can certainly take commission orders for any custom colour combination or one similar to this one here. This one is one of a kind. Looking forward to tomorrows' show and I hope to see your smiles and many new faces!
Hope to see you there!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Snowflake Ball Donation

My donation to the Snowflake Ball in Ottawa... and hoping it gets listed on their website soon. It was a donation I made earlier this year, and they are now waiting for all the donations to come in first, before they list them... is what I have been told. The necklace is a hollow transparent handmade bead on a 30" sterling silver chain with a larger toggle clasp which I incorporate into the design. The solid sterling silver earrings are made with simple white and clear stripes which I love to make. Stripes are fun to make. Simple elegance with timeless pieces.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Peony Jewellery

Here is a sneak peak at my latest line. I can't wait to introduce you to my full blooming peony jewellery this weekend at the Peony festival in Oshawa. I think I will call it "forever blooms" but I am not 100% certain as of yet. I will be adding these and all my jewellery on ETSY, or some other venue in the coming months. It is allot of work, but because I won't be doing many shows this summer, I thought I'd at the least get it all online. So, without further ado, may I present to you forever blooms!
a more traditional style with a tail of crystals
side view to show some more detail
modern drop finish. I will have about 5 of these available.

view from above, shows how you would see it while wearing it

another birds eye view of the three full blooms

not peonies, but similar pink flowers with modern ear hooks, all solid sterling silver too

made with a tail too, but shorter and works well on a choker chain, only one available

Friday, June 5, 2015

fourth day of peony trials

Hey, I think I have solved the peony puzzle! Three different canes were pulled, the careful layering of dots, I think 12 in total for each flower, then three flowers per bead, and then covering all the opaque glass with the final encasing. It is not that easy and many techniques are used. Not that I am any kind of a glass master, far from it, but these do take a fair bit of skill to make. These here have a tiny bit of glass scum, but I think they still look pretty good, even from the side view, shown on the far right. Okay, heading to make some more, and hopefully I'll catch the scum before it gets added. This new line will be my "always in full bloom" series. If there is any interest, I will make a PDF. Click on the photo to get a real up close of the detail.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Peonies, Peonies and even some glass Peonies...

Hello and welcome to summer 2015! Seems we keep vacillating between spring's cooler weather and a really hot summer day. So when its been cooler outside, I've been working away on some new glass cane and then I made these beads. I had a bit of a "proud feeling" to have found these in the kiln the next day because it seems I had found a solution for the wavy petals. I made another cane for the middle part as well. I love how they turned out. They really do look like peonies. Of course I'll never be as perfect as Blaschka! His amazing glass plants were used for botany study at Harvard and were commissioned by the Ware family. Leopold and his son worked their entire lives, yes, I'll repeat, their entire lives, 24 -7 making tiny replications of the wonders of nature. It is definitely on my bucket list to see these collections one day, and the links above are great sites of his work for you to see.

Here my peonies are made with 3 layers of petals and clear glass between each to give it that 3-D affect. The middle gets pushed inwards and hence that perfect little bubble of trapped air. They will eventually be made into finished jewellery pieces, but first I will need many more. Now that I see how they turned out, I'm inspired to continue. For now, I just wanted to share a tiny bit of the new work I've been doing. What makes it special is that they are specifically made for this upcoming outdoor venue I will be doing in a couple of weeks!

I will be at the 11th annual Peony Festival located in the beautiful Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens on June 13 and 14th from 10:00am to 4:00pm on both days. I will be inside my white canvas tent within a small group of about 20 vendors, so I won't be too hard to find. I haven't done an outdoor show in ages, so please pray for nice weather for those two days. Until then, I don't mind the cooler weather and working on a hot torch. It is not a show I've done before, but I have heard wonderful things about this venue, and I also love gardens.

I find gardens are great places for the soul. Simply just breathing-in all the luscious smells of those peonies sold me, and I bought my application right on the spot. Honestly, I do realize that the show is mostly about the Peonies, the gardens, and the award ceremonies. But just in case, I thought I might stir some curiosity with my own glass peonies. I found it to be a bit of a challenge but I love making flowers. It's really natures ultimate aesthetic isn't it? I had been working on this new cane to emulate the petals of the peony flower. I've made a few of them so far that are pictured here, and now that the cane is made, I'll go ahead and make more. I'm looking forward to this show, to be in the gardens, meeting new people and also seeing some familiar faces. Luckily, there is now an art contest, so I guess I will be entering these there as well.
Here is one sample from another new set I've also been working on. It is a sample piece from a commission that I delivered yesterday. I think I'll name this collection "for the love of flowers."

Just sharing

Just sharing my love of flowers. One day last week, I made about 7 hearts in a 6 hour day. All the cane was prepared ahead the day earlier. I took breaks, but when you are on a roll and its going well, its going well. You have to pay attention all the time, you need to know your steps of what you are doing and you must be in control of the glass. I had a mini breakthrough and discovered a new trick for the bail and I will use it forever! Just something so simple, but made all the difference in the world, and that is to prepare a bump where it will attach first.
I will show you the peonies I did today later on. They are also very labour intensive and the beads are large, well allot larger than what I normally work with. I always think about the end result and how heavy it would be to wear, so they definitely won't be good as earrings, but we'll see. Anyways, I added yet another center cane, a yellow stamen, and it turned out beautiful. So these will have three layers of petals, with clear in-between each petal and two more canes added. However, we'll see when I pull them out of the kiln tomorrow morning. Perhaps I'll snap a picture of them right there in the kiln before they get cleaned, but I won't say more because tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Expect the Unexpected 2015

I am delighted to share with you that I will be participating as a guest artist on the Durham West Studio Tour held this weekend on April 25th and 26th from 10:00am to 5:00pm. I will be one of three guest artists at The Cultural Expressions Art Gallery at 62 Old Kingston Road, Pickering. This free, self-guided tour of 30 Artists at 14 locations is where you the visitor, will get a unique opportunity to engage with working artists and invited guests in their studio spaces to discuss techniques and processes. Many of the artists will have their presented works available for purchase, all adding to the idea of the event as a virtual treasure hunt where you will certainly expect the unexpected.

Here is a peak at some of the preparations. On the left is the glass bead making station where it all  starts. Effetre soft glass rods are heated and wrapped around a stainless steel rod that has been previously dipped in a ceramic medium. This ceramic medium is very similar to what potters use on their kiln shelves. They use it to be able to remove ceramics off of their shelves after it has been kiln fired. Similarly, I use it for removing the bead off of the stainless steel rod (mandrel). While the bead is still hot, the mandrel with the bead on it go directly into a kiln. An annealing process removes any stress in the glass. Beads that you get at dollar stores are not annealed and will break when they hit the floor. Mine are hard like the marbles you played with outside as a kid. Annealing basically means the glass soaks at a high temperature for a period of time, then gradually cools at a controlled rate. Beads won't be ready, even to look at, until they are removed from the kiln when everything has cooled down completely. The bead still on the mandrel at this point is soaked and the bead is removed. Then the holes of the beads are cleaned to remove the inevitable residual ceramic medium. 

My cleaning station is basically my laundry room and I didn't take any pictures, but on the right is one of the messy tables in my assembly area. The cases in the top right show my crystals which I use as embellishments, like the clear Swarovski 4mm bi-cones. It can get pretty hectic, usually working long and crazy late shifts (my record being about 5:00am last year before Maker's Hand). Yup, perfection is a disease, and I am all to aware.

I do think it is allot easier to make a "single" or a "one-of" bead like this photo of my heart pendant on the left, then it is to make a group of same size, shape, and coloured beads. When you have many of the same beads in one piece of jewellery, and its not made by a machine, by the millions, it is allot more work. So, the assembly of ready-made or purchased components is much easier then first having to make components from scratch. I'm just explaining why it seems to take so long, or why it is so much more work. Actually, a dear friend made the suggestion that I should just make beads like many others are doing now, but I love the design. Its my raison d'etre, and if I ever stop designing jewellery, I will always involve design. A good part of my life has been doing design including the design of our century home for the past 10 years. I also love doing shows (for the sheer exercise and having a goal) and meeting people (I'm not very social, so I understand that I really do need this). I don't want to just sit and make beads, besides its not healthy! So, I do a bit of everything and unfortunately the progress is much slower than for say someone who only does glass, or who only does assembly of jewellery. My glass beads are fairly simple, but they are also simply elegant. Hopefully they will stand the test of time as well. 

I've always had a bit of guilt about making and selling jewellery because it is simply not a necessity in life, and for our planet, to adorn oneself with jewellery. We all have to do our part for our planet, and to also lesson our footprint. Perhaps to a certain extent, that is why I don't do very many shows. I have thought about making my own headpins and jump rings, but for now, I do buy these ready-made. In essence, the assembly and design stage becomes just as important and probably more important than the glass bead making.

Many glass artists only sell glass beads by themselves. Sometimes too much effort is required in designing finished pieces. My pieces are worn everyday and clients are surprised by how many compliments they get and also by how well they are made. Not having formal training in either jewellery design or glass, I do have to depend on the work selling itself. Many people don't even realize my pieces are made by hand and are most likely to think they are simply assembled. We all like to stick to what is known or previously approved of and we are a shy bunch in Canada. All I can say is that I guarantee my work on all fronts, and the big plus is that you probably will never see your jewellery on anyone else. I am far from doing production work.

My professional background is graphic design (by the way I'm always looking for new clients and new projects) and I was very lucky right from the beginning of my career to have designed my own work and not from under the guise of an Art Director. All my printed pieces are 100% original. I never ever copied or even extrapolated my graphic designs and I still try to continue in the same vein with my jewellery pieces. I have seen copies of my work, especially this head from a catalogue cover I did many moons ago.
The beads are all handmade and lend themselves to being one of a kind. In any case, I really find putting the pieces together challenging because I try to keep it fun, fresh, interesting, and always with a sense of timelessness in the back of my mind. I like seeing how each bead will be used in the final piece. I do sell some loose beads but never from my latest designs.

Its a harmonious assemblage and I've pulled apart many pieces because something wasn't quite right. Sometimes, it is not at all what I originally envisioned. Either it is not comfortable, or practical and most of my pieces are worn everyday. It is not as formulaic as one would think. A slightly different size or shape, or even the colour is off because I used rods from two different glass orders and the dye lot isn't spotted right away. Usually, it is detected only at the last stage and after photographing the finished pieces with daylight fluorescents. Perhaps someday, my line will be only a few different pieces. For now, I don't have that big of a market to be able to make only a few kinds. Until then, you can enjoy that my pieces are so different from each other and that I've sold pieces years ago that are still adorned today. So thank you for your support and I also look forward to meeting new people on the tour, and also seeing some familiar faces.