About Me

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North Somerset, United Kingdom
My parents were worried when I ran around with scissors – now I play with fire and (intentionally) break glass! Based in the beautiful South West of England, close to the sea and often the scene of beautiful sunsets, I am inspired by the countryside around. Working with sea glass collected from remote beaches, soda lime glass from Murano, Italy, Europe, USA and beyond, I create artisan beads, for use in my own jewellery or for you to enjoy in your own creations. But I couldn’t stop there; continuing the theme from round rods to flat sheets, mostly from the USA, I break large sheets of transparent, opaque, multi-coloured and dichroic glass into much smaller pieces to make a kiln-formed range of bright, colourful jewellery and home decoration. Each piece I make is individually designed around the shape, size and beauty of the materials and intended to be unique, wearable, usable and affordable. All my glass work is kiln annealed for strength and durability and designed to give pleasure for years to come.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Cooking on gas!!

Well, I've had a busy couple of days! As mentioned earlier, my lampwork bead making kit arrived on Friday. Knowing that I'd easily be side-tracked; knowing if I didn't get my tax return done on Friday then it'd still be bugging my conscience in a week's time; I refused to let me unpack it until the tax return was finished and submitted. Actually, like a lot of these things, it didn't take long to do - I am quite organised really and had been putting paperwork together as it arrived.

So it was unpacked and laid out in my studio whilst I thought of the best set up. So much glass to play with! The kit should have come with a doming block (odd how I didn't think I'd need one and sold the one I had with my other silver work tools) and a book by Cindy Jenkins. I already have one of her books and had recently treated myself to 'Passing the Flame' which most people consider the bead maker's bible. I say 'treat' - it's over £50 so 'treat' is right. Emma at Tuffnell Glass offered to swap these for more glass so who am I to refuse - it's not as if I won't need any more.

The kit came with a bench bracket for fixing the Hothead torch to the worktop but I found this pointed the torch skywards and it wasn't a comfortable angle to work out. I also struggled to get the torch hot enough to melt even the softest glass so finally stopped lurking and posted my first question on Frit Happens, a forum for glass workers. Other members empathised and rallied to my aide so today I've managed to get a hot torch melting glass.

Late night Googling and I came across another bead maker's website where she had had the same problem with the bench mount. She had used a metal corner bracket from the DIY store, bent to a suitable angle so I thought this worth a go too. 3am and insomnia, or was it just thinking about lampworking in my little studio, I had a 'light bulb' moment when I realised that part of my problem was I couldn't get close enough to the torch head. I am using the old worktop in my studio which has a cut away area which fitted with my home made jeweller's bench. The torch head is 6 inches further away from me than it needs to be.

Today being Sunday, husband was at home expecting a day of rest and relaxation. Thinking this to be far too sedate for a man of his advancing years I 'persuaded' him to come to Homebase with me to pick up 2 2-metre lengths of kitchen worktop so the work surface in the workshop can be changed to one without a big cut away. Weston-super-Mare has 2 branches so I thought it the best chance of getting what I wanted. I ignored AA signs for T4 parking (is London Heathrow terminal 4 that close? Isn't Bristol airport getting ideas above its station? What's T4?) and joined a very slow moving queue heading for the town centre. It took a long time to get to the first roundabout and head back homewards. We did visit the 2nd branch of Homebase in the town, to find that they might be bigger than another local branch I could have chosen, but they don't sell worktops to take away. Nor would the other one, apparently it is closing down (why? it's the better and newer of the two).

Clearly a lot of people do know what T4 is, I'm still none the wiser and happy that way. Fate had taken a hand. We headed back to our 'local' branch of said DIY store, bought 2 worktops, albeit a limited choice of only fake marble/onyx but hey, that's what Fate wants me to have then that's what I'll take; I want to get back to my torch! Armed also with my L shaped brackets we head homewards. Darling Husband is now worn out, has arms like a gorilla from carrying my worktops into my workshop and has been giving me 'don't ask ever again' looks ever since. I can't understand why. Fortunately we have a local handyman who grumbles a lot less and will be more than willing to sort out my worktops, install my cooker hood (for extracting the gas fumes) as well as a growing list of other little jobs my husband is not willing or is unable to do and show interest in what I am making now.

For anyone else wondering how to get the end of their very hot torch away from their nose, here's how. And I have 3 brackets spare in case this one shows signs of wear or I want to change the angle again. They were surprisingly easy to bend by hand - I discovered that after I had struggled to bend them with a large hammer. I've fixed the Hothead torch to the bracket with the jubilee clip that came with the bench mount. I've turned the bench mount upside down and back to front and am using it as a safe surface to work from and the upturned end is handy for resting the hot pieces of glass I've finished with, until they are cool enough to go back in their handy recycled holders (jam jars). Yesterday's foray into the same branch of Homebase we went to today (don't ask) yielded vermiculite for an old slow-cooker that once kept my safety pickle warm in my silver working days. Now it warms the vermiculite so I can slow cool my beads ready for batch annealing when I next go near someone with a kiln who can anneal them for me. I will get a kiln eventually but think I'd best be sure I'm continuing with this before I spend that kind of money.

Today I've applied all the information members of Frit Happens (love the name) have imparted, managed to get my torch pointing towards the wall and not my nose, managed to get it hot enough to melt every bit of glass I've picked up today from the delicious selection I have been sent (I could spend all day just pairing up colours) and managed to make some beads. So here they are in all their glory. No, they are far from perfect but not too bad seeing I've had 1 three-hour lesson, a little play with a not very hot Hothead yesterday and only a couple of hours today, thanks to T4, whatever it is.

I had planned to drill some sea glass, but today was not a 'sea glass drilling day' (a.k.a. nothing went right) so I went back to my torch! I think now it is a case of the 3 Ps (practise, practise, practise).

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