Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Playing with Reactive Silver Glass

I've always loved reactive silver glass, as a lampwork bead buying addict they were always the first beads I searched for when browsing for new beads to buy.  The effects and colours that can be found in some of  these beads are just WOW!!  So when my lampworking journey began you can probably guess that some of the first glass I bought was the reactive silver glass.  I bought a single rod of some of the colours that I loved - Double Helix Luna, Ekho and Terra.  I also discovered TAG glass, the same kind of glass but by a different company Trautman Art Glass, also with amazing colours so I bought a few rods of that too!

Little did I know how difficult this glass was going to be to get those amazing colours that I loved!  Look at the piccie below, this is how that glass starts off...beige, colourless!

I read and read and read some more about how to get this glass to work, every time I went to the studio to work I would persevere and try again - nothing happened for me, all I got were poopy beige colours or lots of 'nothingness' - sooooooooooo frustrating!

These are some of the first beads I made using a tiny bit of Double Helix Terra 2...a tiny bit because this glass is omg so expensive! haha

Not great are they considering the next picture shows how they are supposed to turn out...

Image taken from

I wouldn't let this glass beat me and I kept on trying!

FINALLY! I got somewhere...The above beads were all made with Terra 2.  Now to get the others to work.  That would be easy now, right?  Erm, nope! 

Each silver glass likes to be worked differently, some like it hot, very hot, some like lots of propane, some prefer very little propane, some like to be worked high up in the flame, others prefer it low down in the flame.  PAH! I gave up, I stuck the rods in a jar at the back of my work bench and didn't touch them again for a few months.  I'm not a quitter so they eventually worked their way to the front of my bench again and I decided to have another play.  Still nothing, I felt like I had tried everything and was so frustrated.  I had a chat with my lampworking friend Debs about it the next day.  She talked me through it and found a video on YouTube that she thought I might find useful for working with the TAG glass.

I watched the video a few times and the next day went to play some more!  I wasn't hoping for much to be honest...

I followed the artist, Dawn Scannell on the video word for word...OMG it was only flipping working! I couldn't believe it...after all these months of poopy coloured beads, I had finally got it to work!!

Look what came from the kiln that day...the most gorgeous beads made with TAG Dalai Lama glass!

And the next day...TAG Fire Lotus!

I was so, so, so excited and happy!! I finally got it to work after months and months of trying...Thank you Debbie Dew, you're a star! 

These beads were made using Double Helix Ekho

And this focal was made using Luna 3

There are still loads of different colours to try, so guess what?! I ordered some more hahaha...Just need the nice Mr Postman to bring them now, the waiting is killing me ;0)

Thought for the Day:  NEVER GIVE UP!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

The Decision...

I just thought I'd share this with you, it's not really about lampworking today but I felt I needed to explain a little bit about the situation I've found myself in recently.

Here Goes...

I had been pondering over which way to go with my businesses for a while, you may know that I'm also a jewellery designer and, well, to be perfectly honest. that side of the business has really been struggling with the current economic climate.  I'm not 100% sure why but part of me thinks that most people, including the market that I aim at are being careful with their pennies and in most cases jewellery is a luxury that the ordinary working class person just can't afford.  When times are tough, something has to go right?  I also believe that because there has been an incredible boom in the craft market and so many people are now making jewellery that the market is saturated with handmade jewellery and it's just not different any more...who knows?!


My business is a full time business, my bread and butter, and unfortunately it just wasn't paying as well as it used to.  It's fine if you're a hobbyist just wanting to make a few ££'s back for the cost of the materials but its a whole different ball game when you're trying to earn a living from it...Yup, I have dreaded bills to pay too ;0)

At the end of 2012 I knew I had a decision to make as far as Enchanted Handmade Jewellery goes...

I decided that I'm going to be taking a bit of a break from jewellery for a while, I'm going to be continuing my bespoke service, I love making jewellery to order.  By working this way I won't have huge amounts of retail jewellery hanging around my studio unsold but I get to 'keep my hand in'.  This also cuts down the amount I spend on materials (eeek if only you knew how much I spent on beads!).  I'll be concentrating more on the lampworking, which is really where my heart is.  There is so much to learn and I'm really very lucky to have gained a fantastic following already.  Why not come and join us on the Fyre Faerie Facebook page which I update regularly, or take a look at my Etsy shop to buy yourself a set of my beads...

I count myself very lucky to be a published designer and my work for the magazines Making Jewellery and My Creative Diva keep me busy.   I really value my work for the magazines and I'll still be coming up with designs for them, so if you're a fan of my work you'll still be able to follow it.  I'm also thinking of creating some quick and easy tutorials for you to follow right here on my blog.

You can visit the Making Jewellery website and learn how to make one of my earring designs.  The beautiful vintage style earrings below...

I have a great Steampunk Design in this months issue of Making Jewellery magazine which uses materials supplied by International Craft...I was chuffed to bits to find it on the front cover of the free Steampunk supplement, there's a sneaky preview of the project below, but do get yourself a copy its on sale right now!

I can now tell you too that I have taken on the position of In-House Designer for International Craft!  I'm very excited about this, they are a fantastic bead and findings supplier and I'll be designing some great tutorials with their supplies just for you to follow.  The first project is complete and is in the process of being made live on the internet for crafty folk all over the world to use. Watch this space!  I'll let you know when and where as soon as I get the go ahead...

Soooooo, after that you now know what's going on in my world!  I apologise for the length of my ramblings, wow I did go on a bit didn't I?!

Please feel free to share my blog amongst your friends on Twitter and Facebook or any of the other networking sites you use.  It'd also be really great to see your comments here, unfortunately with blogging you do sometimes feel as though you're rambling on to yourself, although I am used to that somewhat! LOL :0)

Sunday, 27 January 2013

The Fyre Faerie Studio

I managed to remember to take the camera up to the studio with me so I finally got some up to date photos....maybe I should have tidied up a little first?

You can see that I like to have everything I need to hand, so it is a bit messy.  If I tidy up I can never find anything haha.

The photo above is my torch area.  You can see just some of the glass I have, the rest is stored in tubes under the bench.  I like to have a selection of different colours on the bench to inspire me.  You can also see that I have jars and bags and more jars and bags, and more ja....(ok you get the idea) of frit.  I do have a bit of a passion for frit, ok you can call it an addiction ;0)

Here's my torch.  It's a Carlisle Mini CC dual fuel torch, it runs off a tank of propane which you can't see, it's safely stored away...and it's also connected to an oxycon (short for Oxygen Concentrator). An oxycon machine takes in air, separates the oxygen from all the other chemicals and produces almost pure oxygen.  This oxygen pumps through a tube which is connected to the torch from the machine , when mixed with the propane it creates a flame which is a much higher temperature making the melting of glass much quicker.  Some lampworkers run 2 oxycons to their torch which produces even higher temperatures for the melting of really tough glass like Borosilicate (Pyrex) glass, I only use soft glass at the moment so I only need one ;0)

A nice selection of glass rods - Lots of lampworkers store their glass in an amazingly tidy and organised way,  in tubes or racks by colour.  They then take out the colours they want to work with...that would be much too organised for me! You should know by now that I like mess and am totally dis-organised in the way that I work, so this doesn't work for me.  I do have storage tubes underneath my bench with the separate colours but I like to take one rod from each colour and store it in this pot on the bench, it helps me with co-ordinating colours when making beads.  I can instantly see that maybe a few colours that you wouldn't necessarily think of putting together do actually look good ;0)

Another collection of glass - My lovely brother bought me this selection for Christmas from Tuffnells Glass Creative Collections range of glass. In here I have Think Pinks, Eat your Greens and Cool Blues.  There are some gorgeous colours included in those collections, and I can't wait to play with all of them.  I have tried out a couple of the pinks so far ;0)

This is my kiln...I think (NO, I know!) this is the most expensive piece of equipment we had to buy (eek) thank you Andy!!) but it really was a neccessity.  To start I was using annealing bubbles, I made the beads and then had to put them straight into a container of annealing bubbles.  These bubbles are tiny little balls of silica, when you place your hot bead into these bubbles it creates an insulation which allows the glass to cool down slowly, this minimises the internal stress on the glass, usually preventing cracking...I had lots of beads crack using the bubbles which is really annoying I can tell you!

When using annealing bubbles the beads still need to be annealed in a kiln! Luckily a very good friend of ours who has a kiln kindly offered to anneal the beads for us.  Remember, Andy and myself were hooked on this new lampworking thing, we were producing masses of beads by the day and these beads were then being put into plastic tubs, being transported to another village about 6 miles up the road, left there until Leigh had time to put them in her kiln and then we had to fetch them back....not ideal really huh? hahaha

The kiln made everything so much better (once we had understood the instructions!) Thank gawd Vickie another lampworking friend, who also makes and supplies frit! at her little Emporium, was on the end of the phone to talk us through it, or I think we'd still be sitting here now, 4 months later trying to set that kiln up hehe.

Now the beads go straight from the flame into the hot kiln where they stay until the next day usually.  The kiln heats up to a certain temperature where it stays until I've finished my days bead making.  It then ramps down slowly by 50 degrees an hour until completely cool and the beads can then be removed from the kiln and they're fully annealed.  Then I need to remove them from the mandrels...soak them in soapy water, clean each bead thoroughly with a diamond reamer in a dremel tool to remove all the bead release(yuck, the worst job in the world!)  OHhhhhhhhhh, did you know that bead release is really quite harmful if inhaled?!  When you buy those cheap lampwork beads from China for instance, the powdery residue you find inside the hole of those beads is bead release.  Please take care when using these beads because you really don't want to be breathing that nasty stuff in! All good lampworkers remove every trace of bead release before selling their beads on...anyway, carrying on...I then need to rinse, etch in acid(if I want to add a matt finish to the bead) and finally photograph before sharing them with you guys and listing them on Etsy!

Phewwwwwwie! Did you realise how much work went into those beads?!

Here's my jewellery making area...yep, more mess and clutter

Another view of my beading area.  How many beads?! ;0)

Even though its messy and cluttered, I LOVE MY STUDIO!! I can lose myself for hours and hours in that flame, it's a great little space to work in.  Even in the snow...which we've had plenty of this last week, I almost needed a sled and a pack of huskies to take me to work last week LOL

That's all for now...I'm off to the shedio now to play with fire :D

Have a great day you guys!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

My New Blog...

Well I thought it was about time I started blogging about my brand new lampworking adventure!

To be able to lampwork has always been my dream! One of my main aims when I started jewellery making all those years ago was to eventually be able to make my very own glass beads to use in my jewellery designs. In July 2012 that dream finally came true. With the help of my lovely partner Andy I finally had a fantastic Lampworking/jewellery making studio at the bottom of our garden.

We travelled to Cardiff, Wales, and stayed a few days with a friend of mine Debbie Dew who has been Lampworking for a few years. She let us 'play' on her torch and we (myself AND Andy) were instantly hooked! Debbie sold us her spare torch and oxycon which were 2 of the main things we needed to start the adventure.

The lampwork journey had begun!

For weeks after we got home we spent almost every waking moment in the new studio. Painting, drilling, putting electrics and light in there, adding ventilation and safety precautions. Within a month we were ready to go...

The photo above shows the studio on the day it was finished, it is now nothing like as tidy!! There are rods of glass, frit, silver in various forms, tools and beads, beads, beads everywhere.  I will get new photos, I promise! I may tidy up a little bit first though... haha

The area in this photo is now my jewellery making area, I have a workbench and lots of storage full of beads and findings here...along with a heater, a stereo and lots of mess! I have heard that a creative mind is an untidy mind...Perfect for me! ;0)

By the end of August 2012 we were both producing beads! Ok most were not very good ones, but everyone has to start somewhere!  It was great because Andy was just as hooked as I was. The bad side of this is that we had to share the torch time lol...first out of bed was usually the first on the torch!

I've learnt a lot since then, both by buying tutorials by various lampwork artists and also trawling the internet for advice and doing a 'helluva' lot of reading and research.

It's now January 2013 and I'm looking forward to sharing the rest of my glass adventure!