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New Year

Its that start to the new year thing again…..I’m trying desperately hard not to make any resolutions other than to be healthier and try to balance work and life a little better, its harder than it sounds, not the balancing part but the not making any resolutions, I’m not dead set against them, I’m just terrible at keeping them and really don’t need the self imposed guilt trip!

So, my plans (not resolutions) for the new year are as follows:

  • Look up more, pay more attention to the gorgeous place I live and enjoy just being here and now!
  • Come up with some new and exciting ideas for beads (not quite sure how thats going to happen, I’m hoping that a dust mote of inspiration will strike, the stars will be aligned and all will be good!)
  • Try to be healthier, not just in my diet but I need to move more, the downside to shed life is largely not moving about enough.
  • Work outside my comfort zone, I want to try new things, things with glass, things with metal (theres other mediums I could add to this list but I really don’t need to start another hobby with all the paraphernalia that goes along with it!)

I think thats probably enough to be going on with 🙂 so I’m going to leave you with some of the photos I took on New Years Day, we took a trip to Glen Etive and it couldn’t have been more beautiful!

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Workspace Sharing

Recently my best friend moved house, like me she’s a lamp worker, her new place doesn’t have a shed, or workshop, no where for her to light her torch and melt until her hearts content. Lampwork is a meditative process, it can be restful and restorative, when you are told that you can’t do it, or you’re restricted for a period of time it can feel like your world has shrunk, like a part of you is cut off, with this in mind I offered my friend the use of my second torch.

I dont think I was really prepared for the benefits of shared workspace, I don’t think I was prepared to observe how differently someone else worked,prepared and used their tools. I have spent time with other people in their workspaces, I have taught people in mine, but this is different, my friend has the space set up in a particular way to suit her needs, where I am scattered she is neat, where I know where my tools sit and can just reach for them hers are laid out ready for use.

The week my friend took me up on my offer was a bad one, I was in a creative slump, feeling lost and directionless, contemplating all the other things I could take up without really seriously considering any of them it would have been really easy to resent someone invading my space, I didn’t, I actually enjoyed the company, the chatter and feeling of camaraderie, having someone on hand who totally understood my slump and didn’t utter the words ‘you should’. The silence wasn’t awkward, it was companionable, it was easy.

Having chatted at great length about being in a bit of a slump we decided to create ourselves a private Pinterest board for things that inspired us. It has proven already to be a wonderful source of ideas, not only for colour combinations but for patterns and structures of beads, my favourites so far have been a series of totems, gorgeous brightly coloured poles with lots of pattern, you can see the pin here https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/398005685800173378/

Below you can see the dolls I have made inspired by those poles.

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I think the best part of all of this is the genuine excitement and thrill of making something new, having someone wonderful to bounce ideas around with,  we have even been talking about collaborating on some projects 🙂

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Something Different.

I have been making beads for nearly ten years, granted the first couple were a huge learning curve, and it certainly took a while before I had anything I felt was saleable and even longer before I could confidently say that I had something that was distinctly mine in terms of style.  Its not really any surprise that my mojo has taken a little bit of a hiatus recently and in some respects I think my confidence has thought ‘ooh, mojo is on its hols, I think I will go with it!’  I will be honest, its a pain, and a worry, I don’t want to go back to working for someone else, I love that I am home with my kids, I love that I get to listen to audiobooks while I work and drink tea whenever I want, I don’t have scheduled breaks and if I want to sit and eat my lunch in the sunshine and dip my feet in the kids paddling pool I can do that too 😀

 I don’t love the fear of not selling enough, or the realisation that selling in quantity has become validation for what I am doing. I wish with my whole heart that I could pop back to the days when earning money from, what was then a hobby, was a wonderful bonus to what can only be described as the absolute pleasure of melting glass and turning it into wonderful new shapes.

So this week I decided to cut myself a little slack, I pulled out my rather dusty paint box and started to play 🙂 I don’t know what will become of these yet, I think that little notebooks might be rather nice but we will wait and see. For now the pleasure lies in watching the paint float across the page and mingle its colours dandelion girl1 lostgirl2

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Experiments

One of the things I love most about what I do is the opportunities to diversify, as with so many other crafts, one often leads to another and another, in some respects its distracting, in others its a joy, I will never be at a loss for things to do, try, learn. It does on occasion leave me with a sense of panic that I will never have enough life time to experience or try out all the things I want to do.

Anyway I digress, this week I was having a long overdue tidy up in the workshop, and was distracted by some discarded copper sheet (my kids do this when I ask them to tidy their rooms, they always end up playing with forgotten toys and the room never gets cleaned) I started by cutting a circle of copper and using my sandbag and a ball pein hammer started hammer in a spiral from the centre ( its at this point I wish I had taken photos of the process) after repeatedly annealing the copper and gradually hammering until I reached the outer edges I ended up with a small copper dish, I know I haven’t done it properly because the edges of the dish shouldn’t be fluted so I must read up on properly sinking bowls.

Having left the project alone for a day I had another look at it and decided to enamel the centre, I have some lovely enamels that I use for glass beads, I layered them up and then heated the kiln, it has to get really hot for the enamel to melt. copperdish2

You have to be careful moving the unfired piece to the kiln so you don’t disturb the powdered enamel.

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You can see from the second photo that the enamel has fired but there are still small spots of it where its moved slightly when I’ve placed it in the kiln.

When it comes to this type of work I am a complete novice, I really do need to read up more on the proper processes, but it was a fun distraction project and I am left with a pretty bowl that looks like it has a pool inside 🙂

 

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Bunnies

When I first started on my lamp working journey I was determined not to create character beads, its odd really but at the time they somehow didn’t feel quite ‘proper’ ….I know, right!  Since then I have had a massive change of opinion (helped along by selling a good few of them) Character beads are a touch of escapism, a journey into the storybooks and favourite toys of childhood.  When I was little my favourite teddy was a rabbit (called raddit) so in honour of the easter holidays I’ve been making bunnies.

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Kiln Treasure

This week has been about trying out new ideas, playing with colour combinations and thinking about where to take my work next, it often feels like I’ve been making dolls for so long that I have forgotten where all this started, with a huge passion for beads, making jewellery and components.

These are my first lampwork headpins. IMG_3480

One of the greatest joys of trying out new ideas is opening the kiln in the morning, its like finding treasure, the anticipation of finding out if what you’ve made has worked, if your ideas have translated successfully into glass.

I love the versatility of these pins, they make great simple earrings, perfect dangles to a charm bracelet and are made more interesting by the addition of beads to the stems or wire wrapping, I can’t wait to see what my customers make.

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