One thing I’m not too good at is figuring techniques out on my own. I pretty much stick with doing what I’ve read or been taught in classes – and that’s a lot of stuff! Sometimes I do test beads – for example I made test beads with the Val Cox frit that I got a few months ago. I have them all arranged nicely, but I haven’t gotten a chance to label them yet. I also made several test beads with CiM Pink Champagne over several base colors – they aren’t labeled yet either. I’m not too good at the test and sample thing either it seems. Oh well. But figuring stuff out on my own is something I haven’t really done a lot of.
Take this stripe bead here. I learned how to do this in Cindy Jenkins’ book Beads of Glass. This is a great book by the way. So, you make a base bead, put some dots of color on it, then wind several wraps of clear on top and melt in. this makes the first bead here – the one with the green stripes. Nice. But I’ve been looking at Kandice Seeber’s beads and she has the nicest stripe beads. (And other beads too…) I’ve been wondering how she gets such nice stripe beads. So, I was pondering this the other day and it occurred to me to melt the dots in before I put the wraps of clear on them. Now I was on to something!
I don’t have a picture of the first bead I made where I melted the dots in first – there was a smudge and I was too lazy to retake the picture. But, the next step was to try more than one color of course, so I picked out a couple of blues from my jar full of stringers. And, here we have a nice little stripe bead with two different colors of stripes. I tried it with green dots first, but the green dots spread all over the place and didn’t work well.
The final bead I tried was white dots with a transparent color – CiM Leaky Pen in this case. I was really happy with how this bead came out. My dot placement had gotten a lot better with the practice and I just love this color anyway. I also like how the white peeks out the sides a little bit. I can do all sorts of color variations with this modified technique – I don’t have to use clear to make the wraps on top of the dots, I have several lighter transparent colors. And I don’t have to use black as a base, I can use any color opaque OR transparent. There are lots of options, the important thing I discovered is to melt the dots in first, and then add the transparent encasing.
I haven’t posted in a while for several reasons. I took a week off to clean the house a bit, and then I got sick, but mainly I was struggling creatively. I don’t know if this is a winter phenomenon or what, but I’ve read in several blogs that other people have been having problems too. I’m not sure that knowing that helped me. I think it just added to my angst. Two things have helped bring me out of this to a degree. First, I went to a bead show last weekend and after looking at the beads people had out I realized that I don’t have to be making what I consider to be “art” with every bead. All I have to do is make nice beads. That freed me up quite a bit. The other thing I’ve been doing is making beads for Beads of Courage. These beads are round and can be any pattern or color, which is nice because I can make a single round bead and not have to worry about making a set or pair or whatever. These beads have been fun to make.
I have an Etsy shop and an Artfire shop set up – it was my New Year’s resolution to try and sell beads. Well, what with the struggling creatively and so forth I haven’t really listed anything – and here it is March already! So, I sorted through all of my beads the other day and discovered a few things. One is that I had more beads that I consider worthy of trying to sell than I thought I had. I had several focal beads and a few sets of pressed beads. The sets are just simple beads, nothing too exciting, but they are pretty (at least I think so).
Another thing I discovered sorting through my beads is that I have more duds now than I thought too. There were several beads I originally thought were good beads, but now I think they aren’t really so good. My standards have tightened up. I’m getting better at making beads. This is great, but it might mean that I need an even bigger bucket to hold my duds.
The third thing I realized while sorting through my beads – and this is a corollary to the first two things – is that I’ve made a lot of beads! I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise, but I obviously haven’t really been keeping track. After a year of torching regularly, I have quite the bead collection – most of them (by volume) duds now. But still, I have a lot of beads I consider to be good beads. I need to do something with them! I need to work on my jewelry making skills.
And finally, I want to spread an important tidbit of information. These beads are a base of Effetre Dark Sky with Raku frit. Now this color looks a lot like Turquoise to me, and it does the same thing as Turquoise. It forms dark, kind of shiny, scummy spots. Of course these spots would come off if I etched the beads, but I didn’t want to do that. So, I searched the web and found an archived lampworketc thread discussing the best way to clean these beads. After reading this info I decided to buy some toilet bowl cleaner called The Works. And it does work! And it works fast! So, I just wanted to pass that on.