Jim Loewer, Glass Artist and Teacher

I met glass artist and teacher Jim Loewer earlier this month on the  POST tour of  1241 Carpenter Street.  He studied fine art in college and graduated with a degrees in teaching and painting but always had a fascination with glass.  After spending a few years as a teacher, however, he decided to  follow his passion and became a full-time glass artist.   He taught himself by trial and error and now he is a  a successful wholesaler of his work.  If you take a look at his on-line gallery, it’s not hard to understand why.

Even better,  Jim has decided to go back to his roots as a teacher and give lessons in lampworking and glass blowing!  Here are some pictures of him demonstrating how to make a multi-colored  glass sun catcher.

Jim Loewer1. Jim’s torch.

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He has heated the end of a glass punty, added colors and has blown it out.

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Plunging on a graphite surface

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After some additional steps he breaks the disk off the glass punty and puts it the kiln.

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The finished product.

Jim offers regularly-scheduled pendant design workshops, and glass blowing lessons for one or two people.  You can contact him here for more information.   Click here to read some reviews from people who have taken his classes.  And check out his Etsy and Facebook pages.

Ugly Bead Beauty School

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Yes, there is such a thing as an ugly bead. I should know because I have made so many of them.  The ones you see below are glass rejects that I have accumulated over the years.  They suffer from such defects as garish colors, drippy dots, pointy ends and general whopperjawdidity.

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I had a sack of ugly beads that I had saved over the years.  At first I thought I would give them away.  But why should I give away crappy beads?  Then I thought I would toss them.  “No,” I decided, I’ll put them in the recycling bin.  “No, I’ll sprinkle them in flower beds in the neighborhood.” No, that didn’t feel right either.  And then I decided to pull out the kiln and see if I  could make them into something beautiful.  And Viola!  All the glass cabochons in the picture below are made from the ugly beads you see in the pictures above along with a little dichroic, Moretti rod chips, stringers and some flat clear Moretti.

 

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I put the beads in the kiln a few at a time and melted them (after cleaning out all the holes thoroughly) I broke up some beads and rearranged the pieces.  Some beads I stacked on top of other beads and put a stringer of a contrasting color glass  down the middle. 

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Orange bead stacked on a blue bead with aqua stringer.  Spacey!

If I only liked part of the fused cabochon,  I cut it off and combined it with something else I liked. 

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I added dichroic class for interest to some of the cabs.  I didn’t want to use too much.  I think that fused glass cabs fill of dichroic glass are boring.  The cab above is a disk bead with dots around it stuffed with goldstone stringer and topped with a layer of clear. Later I fused it to another partial cab that I liked.

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Sometimes I liked the bottom of the cab more than the top.  So I just cleaned off all the shelf primer,  turned it over and fused it again.

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This one is a clunky star bead that I fired with a layer of clear over it.  I considered trimming off the places where the color did not flow and firing it again, but I like the contrast between the clear and the color. I like the bubbles too. The white dot in the middle is where the hole in the bead was originally. 

I plan to post some more specific directions and before/after pictures.  By the way, the glass is Moretti and the kiln is a Jen-Ken Bead Annealer hooked up to a Kiln Controller.

More Glass Beads from my Work Shop

I had a friend who traded working in polymer clay for glass. She reasoned that when she screwed up polymer clay it was ugly but no matter what you do to glass, it’s still beautiful. It’s hard to disagree, although some of my glass work might be an exception to her rule.

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 I only make lamp worked beads in the summer because I do not have a proper exhaust system to suck out the fumes. In the summer I can open windows, doors and run a series of fans to keep the air moving. But when the autumn becomes brisk, I put the glass away.

beads4.jpgSilver.jpg  Being a summer only lamp worker means that I don’t have the torch hours necessary to get as adept as I would like. On the other hand, I find that I am pretty much able to pick up where I left off when I light the torch in the spring.

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 The beads above are made from  lead glass or moretti glass and some of them  are enhanced with fine silver.  I love the blue bicone.  That’s blue and a bit of green translucent lead glass fumed, raked and paddled smooth on the bead.  The beads are sitting on a fiber blanket in my kiln waiting annealing.  I cool them in a fiber blanket when I first make them, but that does not anneal them!

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I batch anneal my beads rather than heating the  kiln going every time I light the torch.  I think it’s more energy efficient.

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Here’s the Jen Ken Bead Annealer that has served me well.    It has a manual control and for a few years I had to monitor the kiln like a hawk  and make sure it was moving through the annealing cycles properly and making adjustments. 

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Then  I found this baby for a reasonable price a few years ago.  Thew price has gone up since then.  A digital controller  is great though and  a separate controller can be used with different kilns.   I like the flexibility.  Now all I have to do is enter my annealing schedule and the kiln does the rest.  Yes, I still have to watch and monitor but fiddling with the dial is a thing of the past.

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Big Holed Bead on the mandrel

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Lead glass silvered

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The same bead cooled.  Aren’t the colors great?  That’s translucent lead glass similar to what you see in the picture below.

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Happy bead making!

Don’t  miss Beadfest this weekend!

Attack of the Killer Beads (or Blog Hop Part 3)

OMG! Beads! Millions of Beads! Not killer bees, Beads! Well, I felt the same adrenalin rush but in a good way when Kristen’s beads arrived. I haven’t been able to put up pictures until today because my card reader gave out. Well, here they are. Ta Daa!

I love blue, I love encased beads and I love crystals.

And not only were there beads, the package was tied with beautiful ribbon which will probably find its way into the necklace.

I am starting to play around with design ideas in my notebook.

And since I love to take pictures, here are some more.

I think this will be my last post on the Blog Hop until the Big Reveal.

Nothing but Chandeliers: Context and Meaning

I am currently off traveling and taking interesting pictures I hope.  This week’s topic is chandeliers.   I don’t own a chandelier but they have always mesmerized me with their graceful Siva-like arms and multiple lights.  There were lots of ornate  glass chandeliers in Venice-in the shops, in hotels and theaters and in public places.  Not so many in Singapore but those I did see reminded me that it was a colony for hundreds of years. Why? A different context? Isn’t it interesting how an ornate glass chandelier means one thing in Venice and another thing in Singapore?  As you ponder this question, here are some pictures.

CONTOURS OF A RICH MANOEUVRE 2006 NATIONAL MUSEUM OF SINGAPORE Suzann Victor Artist

The Glass Ceiling

Dale Chuhily gives a new meaning to the term “glass ceiling”. His blown glass creations grace the lobby ceiling of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.  I filmed it earlier this week between classes at Clay Carnival Las Vegas. I will post about that fabulous gathering soon.

I hope you enjoy the video.

Jewelry from the Trash Can

I have been exploring textile arts and learning  techniques for incorporating them into jewelry.  And making up a few of my  own.  The bracelets below are from recycled materials:  old clothing dyed, stamped, painted and shredded, cast off electrical wire stripped and straightened, scrap stained glass tumbled and drilled, some gilded twigs from the sidewalk, pieces of old jewelry, and old plastic bangles or wire forms,  There is no plan; I just start to wrap and embellish.   I hit some of the bracelets with a heat gun to see how it would affect the fabric.  Depending on the fabric, it will burn, seal the frayed edges, or melt the fabric to reveal  what’s beneath.  I got this idea from a video by  Textile  and Mixed Media Artist Maggie Ayres.  There is so much information out there.  Don’t limit yourself to what you already know or think you have to take a class (unless you are learning how to use a torch, or another technique where proper safety instruction is vital).   Don’t be afraid to try something new!

More Collage Jewelry

I am doing a demonstration on making collage jewelry for the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild this Sunday.  You can have a lot of fun making little assemblages, pendants, and memory pieces.  Press here for some how-to information and tool suggestions, and here for books I have found to be helpful and inspiring.

Mixing It Up

This year, I’ve  gone from a metal and soldering frenzy to a  lamp working frenzy, to a  glass and ceramics tumbling frenzy, to a glass fusing frenzy, to a felting frenzy.  Every so often, I get in the torch enameling.  And there are always the seed beading designs I’m  working on.  Did I mention that I ruin a lot of stuff?  But some of the metal can be recycled and most of it started out as recycled anyway. (I used to have a lovely let of brass charger plates.)   The fused glass can be cut up and refused.  The lamp working failures can be turned into frit or  become elements in fused pieces so long as you keep the COE straight.  And you can use an ugly felted bead as a base for another bead.

I decided to combine the polymer beads and lamp work into a necklace and make a clasp. The polymer beads are interspersed with the lamp worked beads.  Many of the lamp worked beads are fumed with silver and the focal  bead is hollow .  For for the clasp. I made jump rings and soldered them to copper washers from Harbor Freight that I textured with my home made texturing hammers.  I’m not sure if I am happy with all of the polymer beads; I might make  some new polymer beads at Clayathon .    But here’s what I have so far.

Collage Jewelry

First I cut the clear glass and a piece of stained glass (from scraps) for the back.  The tiny collages  come from my scrap paper collection- magazines, menus, calligraphy,  newspapers, metal leaf, washi paper. (I like to troll the streets on recycling day).  I also used some Dover images of Japanese woodcuts.  (If you are ever in Tokyo, do not miss the Tokyo National Museum where you can almost get your fill of them.) I also used bits of wire, stones and tumbled stained glass that I drilled holes through,  and pieces of twigs colored with Prisma markers and coated with epoxy resin.   The frames are wrapped with copper foil tape and soldered with lead free solder.



Here’s some more from an earlier post.