Try Something New

Autumn is upon us (although we keep regressing back to Summer in Philadelphia).  Time to try something new!  I sold my beloved kiln and controller that I used for bead annealing, fusing glass and, most recently, metal clay.  I want to upgrade to a kiln that can handle cone 6 firing so I can work with porcelain on a regular basis.  Here are some new baubles I’m currently working on.  Cone 6 white porcelain and Mason stains, unglazed.

YouTube videos

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The same, with a cold finish
Five Star Bronze Clay Torch Fired

I wrote a  review of Prometheus Clay while back.  This time I tried Five Star Bronze Clay which is also torch fireable.  And I can say that Prometheus clay wins hands down, at least for torch firing.  I find Prometheus easier to condition, easier to work with and I got more consistent results with the torch.  I have not tried kiln firing with 5 Star Bronze yet.  I’ll let you know the results when I do.   But the BIG story is that I am now making my own bronze clay.  I saw Alan Wiggens’ YouTube videos on the subject and decided to give it a try.  I read about metallurgy to get an understanding of the sintering process so I could find the best deal on a powdered bronze that would work.  Preliminary torch fire tests have been successful!  Not in making a finished product, but in making metal that I can pound out with a hammer.    I am eager to test my homemade clay in a kiln which is how Alan Wiggens recommends firing it.    Stay tuned.

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Bronze clay ready for my future kiln.  The lighter clay is my homemade clay.  The darker clay is Five Star Bronze.

My mother made bread every week when I was growing up so the process is no mystery to me.   I generally throw flour into a bowl,  add yeast and some honey and sugar to feed the yeast and park it under the kitchen tap and turn on the water.  No measuring, no recipe.  And no salt.

I have a friend who says that the flour and bread we buy in the United States is stale and a bit moldy and that is the reason most (not all) people have a problem with gluten.  (I have another friend who gets sick every time she eats pasta in the U.S. but can eat all the bread an pasta she wants when she goes to Italy).   So I decided to grind my own flour.  I got a grinding mill and 40 lbs of wheat berries.  Grinding your own flour is not cheaper than buying it, although there are wheat berry bargains to be had.  And the process is labor intensive.  First, you have to drag the 40 lb bucket into the house.  Then you have an argument with your husband about where to set up the mill.   Then you and your husband have to watch an [expletive deleted] video to figure out how to get the [expletive deleted]  lid off of the [expletive deleted] bucket of [expletive deleted] wheat berries.

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Next comes the grinding.  After hand cranking the wheat berries,  we learned why we refer to arduous tasks as a “grind.” (Or maybe he knew already.  He has a Ph.D. in English Literature).

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Here is the flour.  What you don’t see is all the[expletive deleted] flour around my kitchen.

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Nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven,. Well, almost nothing.

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BreadMill

And in the spirit of trying something new,  let me introduce you to our new motor for the grain mill.  It makes a sound like squealing pigs on steroids, but it does the job.  And the towel is to keep down the flour dust.

Now, on to trying the autolyze process.

On a final note, even Boris is trying something new.  He is off the Prescription Diet and is now eating a new, almost as expensive Hills Science cat food.  And he likes it!

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New Work from the Beading Yoda

I dropped in on my friend and neighbor Jeri Schatz (AKA Beading Yoda) to show her the rings I have been making and to get some tips and constructive criticism.   (Jeri studied goldsmithing at the Kulicke-Stark Academy in New York and served an apprenticeship there before she moved to Philadelphia and began beading.)  After we were finished, I asked her t what she was working on, and she took down to beading central so I could see for myself.

 

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The Beading Table

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Beaded Beads

Bracelets

Bracelets

DuoandRAW

Super Duos combined with seed beads

Multi-layered Geometric Bracelet

Hands

 

InProgress

New  necklace design

 

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A geometric bracelet that moves wonderfully when you wear it.

Sampling

Geometric, Herringbone, and Peyote

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More bracelets with Super Duo beads, triangles, bars and seed beads.

Trinkets and Some Bowls to Hold Them

It’s not like I don’t already have enough beads, but having access to a pottery studio, glazes and a bead tree has made new beads magically appear in my workshop.  The items you see below are pendants and a couple of bead comes.

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Here are some beads in their greenware state and decorated state  after bisque firing and prior to glaze firing.

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And if bead making was not enough, I been making  little trinket bowls to hold rings and other small treasures.

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I am having fun with different glazes and textures, and finishes.

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And I have also been having fun making components for the Into the Forest  collaborative polymer clay project.

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A Hoard of Beads from the Hermitage (and Jewelry too!)

Since I design and make jewelry, I am always on the lookout for inspiration, and there is nothing better than getting to see ancient pieces up close. Here are a few I saw at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.

Collections include items from the Culture of the Peoples of South Siberia exhibit and Ancient Relics of the Art and Culture of Eurasia

Beads of a Different Stripe

I have been busy trying  lamp working techniques this summer.  Striped beads are made differently than I would have thought.  Instead of drawing stripes on the bead with a stringer you  lay down dots, put on a layer of  clear glass and melt it slowly.  This serves to magnify the dots underneath which appear as stripes!  How cool is that?  Here are the basic steps:

Base bead

Make a base bead

First dotsAdd some dots.  Don’t melt in.

dotsAdd dots on top of dots.  Don’t melt in.

 Clear wound aroundAdd a couple layers of clear over the dots only.  Think of a shape like the planet Saturn with its rings.

 wind

 Begin to heat the clear glass.  Slowly so the glass doesn’t pop or crack.

 wrapsBring up the heat to melt the clear glass.  This magnifies the dots underneath

TorchingPick it up a bit and keep the mandrel turning.

heatingWhy?

Stripes taking shape2Because you don’t want your bead to sag.

Stripes taking shape

Let the bead cool slowly and keep it turning to maintain the shape

coolerAlmost finished.

Beads2   And here are the finished beads.  This could get addicting!

Don’t forget Bead Fest this weekend!

    

A Golden Age

I have lately  been binge-watching  historical mini series’  set in the Elizabethan-Era. I started out with Elizabeth R, (very good-how could anything with Glenda Jackson be bad?) followed that up with The Tudors (historically inaccurate but beautiful costumes) and have just finished watching The Six Wives of Henry VIII. (The best of all-acting, script and historical accuracy).  But I watch for more than acting or script or history.  No, I watch for the jewelry.

The reign of Elizabeth I of England is often referred to as The Golden Age of English History, or the English Renaissance.   I do not dream about what it would have been like to live in the days of Shakespeare and sonnets.   I have to admit that  for me, plague,  bear baiting, public executions and religious wars are major turn offs.   But then there is the jewelry. Here are some images I found on the Internet along with some links that provide fascinating information about jewelry (Western European mostly) from the late Middle Ages to the Late Renaissance.  

 

 

 

 

Victoria and Albert Museum

Lucrezia Borgia

 

 A young Elizabeth I

 

I am currently in jewelry design mode and have been trolling the Internet for interesting visuals.  Here are a few good links I’ve found:

Late Middle Ages Early  Renaissance

Italian Renaissance

Medici Jewelry

Royal Collection Trust

The English Crown Jewels

 The Cheapside Hoard

Jewelry and men in Tudor and Jacobean England

Girdle Prayer Book

You might also be interested in

A modern twist: Elizabethan Beads post here.

Enjoy!

The Big (Blog Hop) Reveal

It’s time for the 8th Bead Soup Blog Party Reveal! Here is what I made from the beads my parter Marta Grabalowska sent me. Her blogs are http://galeriakota.blogspot.com/ and http://wilkmademe.tumblr.com/.

My bead soup was not my typical color palate and I consider that a good thing! I realized that I had some pink seed beads in my stash that I thought I would never use. They were almost identical to the ones  in the soup. I mixed them with  beige and tan beads of a similar value  and threw in some turquoise  beads to make a bead crochet pattern. I used the remaining beads as embellishment.

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The copper clasp holds the rope closed. I beaded around the focal cameo and went for an asymmetrical look. I am very happy with the result. Thank you Marta!!!

Here are some more pictures.

Thank you Lori Anderson for making another great beading experience possible!! You can find a list of all the participants on Lori’s blog.

Jeri’s New Jewels

Not many words this week, just pictures of  new beaded baubles from Jeri Schatz.

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    The beauty of these little elements is that you can make a bunch of them in your favorite palette and then combine them with one another or other elements (beaded beads?  lampworked beads?) to make a one of a kind beaded creation.  

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And the possibilities for making clasps, closures and focal pieces are unending!

  Jerri  teaches beading and is currently offering classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology  in NYC and The Bead Garden in Havertown, PA.

What I Made at Clayathon

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I decided to try making hollow beads using marbles as cores.  The technique goes like this:  You cover a marble ( mine were 25mm and 32 mm) with  clay, poke a little hole so air can escape and bake for 20- 30 minutes.   You slice  the clay open and slip out the marble.    I learned a neat tip from Olivia Surratt.  Don’t cut all the way around the marble; think clamshell.  If you leave a bit of clay attached you will be able to line up the halves perfectly.  Then I glue the bead back together with cyanoacrylic glue.   You can also use Genesis Medium and pop it back in the oven for a bit to set it.

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Marbles covered with white clay before baking

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Finished bead.  I got the texture from rolling the bead in salt before baking.

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Beads covered with zig zag canes before going in the oven.  After they come out.  I sand and buff.

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Some of the finished beads strung with bicones and spacers

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You must admit she looks stunning with or without the beads!

For more Clayathon pictures, press HERE

We’re Having Bead Soup Again?

This is one leftover I  never tire of.  I am just back from Clayathon and will post pictures later today.  But for now I am looking forward to participating in Lori Anderson’s 8th Bead Soup Blog Hop

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