Saturday, November 7, 2009

Dimensional Fusing

I've been doing a lot of full fusing lately and wanted to change things up. I took my nippers and cut a lot of little pieces of glass, set them on a black base and did a tack fuse to achieve this effect. I was pretty happy with how they turned out.

I was planning to make more bowls in different colours but cutting up all that glass was tedious and time consuming so I haven't gotten around to it yet. I only had the energy to cut pieces for pendants and earring - which turned out pretty cool!

Monday, October 19, 2009

glass cabinet knob

We redid the kitchen at the cottage this summer. Since I'm not all that handy my contribution to renovations usually entails assisting with the design/layout, holding things steady during construction and making refreshments.

I wanted to make something for this project so I decided to fashion knobs for the new kitchen cabinets and drawers.

I used a streaky blue glass that has a lot of white swirls in it. I was pleased with how these turned out. The kitchen cabinets are white, as is the back splash. The flooring is a dark resilient tile that has just a bit of blue flecks in it. I was hoping the knobs would pull the blue specks from the floor and add a bit of colour to the room.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

frit = easy jewelry

I've done a lot of glass fusing since my last post and really need to get this blog updated.

I recently ordered a few jars of frit (glass that is crushed up into little bits). Frit + jewelry molds = the easiest way to make jewlery! I hade some fun combining colours to make a nice speckled effect. Here are some of the results:

Link bracelet, dangle earrings and pendant in turquoise, green and white

Red, black and white

Green and white

Classic black and white

Sunday, July 26, 2009

rings galore

It's been raining all weekend in Toronto. I wasn't able to borrow a canopy for the weekend so I didn't end up going to the market on Saturday - good decision since it rained, rained, rained. Instead I stayed home and made more jewelry and posted a few more items on etsy.

I'm really happy with the new ring blanks I ordered. I made a bunch of different styles of rings and have used the different blanks to try them out. My favourite ones have a wide band that adjusts underneath the pad - really comfortable but quite the substantial ring. I've been using those blanks for the larger cabochons.

Gumballs anyone? If only my quarter had resulted in one of these!

Millefiori rings

Small monochromatic rings - a perfect compliment to a colourful pendant.

With millefiori.

Love this one - reminds me of a black onyx.

Made matching pendants and earrings for these ones.

In other news, I've booked my next licensing exam (for September) so I'm starting to prepare for that. I was surprised that there were so few exam dates available in the time frame that was open to me (you have 60 days to sit for the exam once you register), and virtually nothing at all at the Toronto office. Looks like I have to drive to London to take the test. Initially I was scheduled for a 7:30 am start time. Ugh. You have to check in 30 minutes before the exam starts and the commute would be about 2.5 hours so I'd have to leave the house at 4:30 am! Nothing like getting a good night's sleep the night before an important exam. Luckily I was able to change my start time to 9:00 am, which is a tad more reasonable.

Monday, July 20, 2009

an experiment in combing

This past weekend was full of glass experimentation and learning. What this really means is I tried new things, had projects not work as planned (I'm being nice here - I had some miserable failures), and learned what not to do at my next attempt.

My first project was a bowl made of transparent glass with millefiori pieces inset. I went with a clear base and green transparent glass and picked out a variety of millefiori colours/designs that I arranged in a pinwheel design. So far so good. Off the glass went into the kiln. I peaked in at the crash cool phase and during the soak and all looked good. I let it cool to room temperature (I swear, if it wasn't for safety I would only fire overnight - it is SO hard to wait for the kiln to cool before looking and unloading!) and was pretty pleased with the finish piece.

Until a noticed a crack!!! Yup, much to my dismay a big ole crack started spreading through the piece! I chalked this up to glass incompatibility until I put the next load in the kiln and paid better attention while the firing schedule was reviewed and saw that it was WAY off. Somehow the program had been changed to only 2 segments: ramp up to 1150, slower ramp to 1465 and then turn off! No hold on the way up, no soak, no crash cool, no slow ramp down! I had had some trouble switching between user programs a few weeks ago (from the full fuse progam to the slump program but was eventually successful and was able to slump a few projects) so I must have altered the full fuse schedule without knowing.

Lesson learned: ALWAYS review the firing schedule - even when you are not changing it at all.

My next project was to experiment with tempered glass. I brought home some tempered glass, shattered it and then attempt to fuse an oval mound that would later be slumped into a bowl. I wanted to preserve the fragmented look of the glass so I used a tack fuse schedule. I hoped this would bind the glass enough to become a solid piece but retain the individual grains. Nope - another failure. The pieces just barely adhered to each other and were easily broken off.

Lesson learned: tempered glass does not behave in the same way as fusible glass. Try a full fuse next time.

My last experimentation of the weekend was glass combing. An exciting but terrifying technique. Combing is the act of drawing a tool across molten glass. It involves opening the kiln at a temperature of around 1700 degrees F, which make it one of the hottest activities you can do with your kiln.

This experiment was fairly successful but the technique was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I definately need a lot more practice before I'll be able to make parallel, even drags but that wasn't the goal here - I simply wanted to try moving the glass around and not burn myself or catch anything on fire (success on all three accounts there!). I stuck my arm in and tried to rake across the glass as fast as I could a few times. Not very precise but good enough.

Lessons learned: get a proper rake with one fork that is designed for kiln work (thicker metal, long rod and good handle) instead of using the turkey fork from the kitchen. Seriously. Another lesson learned: at this temperature glass spreads out and raking results in uneven edges. Be prepared to do much more cold working than usual.

Before firing:

After firing and raking:

I also did 2 jewelry loads but the last load was still cooling when I left for work this morning so I'm not certain if those pieces turned out. I had ordered some better ring bands as well as bracelet blanks before I went on vacation and was dying to use them (hmmmm...I may have a problem with patience - I think this is the third such comment in this post alone). I made a bunch of new rings and my first bangle bracelet and link bracelet. Pics to come soon!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

cool cufflinks

I can't believe it's been so long since my last post. Even with the best of intentions I can't seem to keep up with regular posts! It's hard to know where to begin - a lot has been going on lately. I attended my first outdoor market, was accepted for a really cool new fashion and art market opening in Toronto, took a 2-week holiday and got into many, many new glass projects.

I'll start with the market. On Saturday June 20th I packed up all my wares and headed up near St. Clair and Spadina as a vendor in the WychCraft Market, my first show/market ever! Unfortunately the weather was awful and the market was a dud. I think all of 6 vendors were there (I'm sure only the ones with canopies showed, I'm sincerely hoping others were scheduled for the day). Hardly any potential customers were coming through but I did have a few people stop and about half of them made a purchase. My first sale was my favourite plate from the "shattered" series. I felt sorry for the other vendors who didn't make many sales and were getting their products wrecked in the heavy rain and wind. A definite benefit of having all glass-made items! I'm told that it's usually fairly busy with foot traffic in the area so I hope it was only the weather keeping people away - I'll be back there next Saturday to give it another go.

I've been expanding my jewelry repertoire and now make bracelets, rings and cufflinks in addition to pendants, earrings and sets. I decided to start making cufflinks as I was planning my vacation, which would include a road trip to Bethlehem Pennsylvania to visit some friends. I wanted to bring something for my friend's husband and decided it should be handmade glass cufflinks. My friend has already been inundated with glass items but her spouse hadn't! Ahha! The perfect target. So after ordering the cufflink blanks and waiting forever for their arrival I got to work. I ended up making a variety of different kinds - dichroic, layered, streakies. I thought it was quite clever of me to make a matching set of jewelry for the couple - pendant, earrings and ring for her and cufflinks for him. You know, just in case they wanted to match when going out. The gifts were well received which made me pretty happy :)

Here are a few other cufflinks that are going up on etsy.

My sister, who paints and recently started making cool urban necklaces, forwarded me information about a new market starting up in the Distillery District in Toronto. The Portobello East Fashion and Art Market Toronto is an upscale venue offering unique pieces from local designers and artisans. A little different than the usual craft/farmer's type of market and much more my style from what I can tell.

We decided to apply to be vendors at the market and were accepted. Such a perfect situation - not only do I get to hang out in the Distillery District for the day (love that area) and sell my jewlery and housewares but I also get to share a stall with my sister and hang with her!

Info about the market from their website:
"Opening July 26th and held the last Sunday of every month thereafter, Portobello East will be held at the Fermenting Cellar in the trendy Distillery District. Portobello East showcases only the hottest Canadian designers and artisans. With over 80 designers on show each month, any fashionista or art aficionado can find something to suit their unique style."

If you're local you have to come by. I've gone through the website and checked out all the vendors listed - there is going to be some amazing stuff there!! We're scheduled for September 27 & October 25 so far but we'll also be signing up for November 29 and December 12 & 13, which is their special holiday market. My sister is also on etsy, check out her artwork and jewelry

I've been busy with my housewares line too but will wait for the next post to get into that. I tried my first "combing" today - exciting but scary. It'll be hours until the kiln has cooled but if the project worked I'll take some pics and post.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

magnets for the market

So next weekend is the craft market! This weekend I made 1 kiln load full of new items (cufflinks and rings) but mainly have busy slumping plates and bowls, fire polishing items and figuring out how to package and display my stuff. I think the hardest part of this process has been deciding what to charge! I wonder if people will try and haggle? Hmmm...I didn't factor that into my pricing.

I'll be bringing along my houseware items and jewelry but wanted to be sure I had small, inexpensive items that anyone and everyone could use so I made a stock of magnets. Who couldn't use some funky magnets on their fridge? Why not use a little piece of glass art to display your child's drawing, a favourite recipe or your to do list?

Here are some of the magnets I'll be taking to the WychCraft Market: