Tuesday, 9 November 2010

by george, its Lush!

What a fabulous weekend! 6-7 November 2010 – the first time that George Harper East and I taught our “by george, it’s Lush!” class. 

The venue was Mango Beads studio in Barnstaple, North Devon.  
Manda and David have created a wonderfully calm, comfortable space, that manages to be both fun and inspiration, without detracting from the serious business of melting glass!

Six eager students arrived around 10am on Saturday and after a welcoming cuppa and chat, they each claimed a workspace and gathered round to choose their glass colours and watch my first demo.

We all worked happily till late in the afternoon, making a range of beads in bright funky colours, with spots and twisties, silver foil and presses.  

Lunch was eaten quickly – no time to relax for too long, there were beads to be made! I think I worked them pretty hard, everybody was tired out by the end of the day!

Most of the group met up for dinner at Pizza Express later that evening.  It was lovely to have chance to get to know each other better and relax with a well-earned glass of something!

On Sunday morning, everybody arrived bright and early, excited to open up the kilns and claim their beads.  

After much examining and admiring, and a fair bit of cleaning and even some etching, it was George’s turn to take charge. 

She set up her command centre at the far end of the studio and produced an impressive collection of pliers, hammers and other metalworking tools that I wouldn’t even know the name of!

In no time the group was turning loops, wrapping wire, hammering and filing and beautiful, unique jewellery collections were appearing all around the room.

Everybody went home proudly wearing their own earrings, bracelets and brooches – armed with new skills, knowledge and friends!

Check out my Flickr album (the photos were taken on my phone, so the quality isn’t great) and Manda’s for more pics.

We will be running the class again at Di East’s studio in Leicester on 19-20 March 2011.  We’ll also be back at Mango Beads with the class again on 8-9 October 2011 and will both be teaching other classes in Barnstaple during 2011 too.  Watch my website for more dates and details.
The team

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Messy Testing ... Tuxedo

A confession .. I've never used CIM Tuxedo before yesterday.

But now I have, I will again, cos I like it!  I definitely found it less stiff to work with than the other CIM black, Hades, and it kept its colour really well on white and clear.  Also I find Hades tends to break, rather than shock, when I'm heating it - Tuxedo didn't do this.

First of all I made three little black beads using Tuxedo, Hades and regular Effetre black 591064.  You can see from the photo that neither of the CIM blacks performed too well in this test - they both show some slight reduction and shadowing around the edge of the white dot, whereas the white dot sits clean and crisp on top of Effetre black.  

When used as dots on white, the Tuxedo fares better than Hades with only a slight metallic edge, while the Hades shows considerable bleeding into the white.  Again though, the Effetre black is crisp and sweet.

I have read that both the CIM blacks do exciting things when used with silver foil so I made three big hole beads and rolled them in a strip of foil.  I melted in the silver, allowed the beads to cool off then wafted them through a reducing flame - I think they all look the same!

Hmm, not having much luck so far ... how about trying out some webbing.  This time I added Effetre Intense Black to the party.  The photos speak for themselves - top marks goes to the Intense Black, closely followed by Hades.  The Tuxedo has certainly softened and spread, and the Effetre black hasn't webbed at all!  

But the biggest surprise result in this test is the colour of the different blacks - I expected the Effetre black to appear quite purple when etched, but look at that Tuxedo - its indigo!

Finally, I think Tuxedo has worked really well on these "crab" beads, simple black dots on the edge of Effetre Clear 006 lentils, etched.  

I know from past experience that Effetre black doesn't work in this design so have previously used Hades.  
Tuxedo is around a quarter of the price of Hades so I know what I'll be using in future ;0)

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

On The Button!

Everybody needs buttons!  I'm almost tempted to whip out my knitting needles and whip up a woollie!

I'm running a promotion till 26th July - spend £10 or more on anything in my website and you can get a free sample button.

Just visit the Button page, scroll down to the bottom and add the Free Sample to your shopping cart.

Cute as a .....

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Hearts of Brass make Hearts of Glass

I love hearts, I love presses ... I have lots of heart presses!

I've got presses from Holland, Spain, Germany, America and Canada here, and I've made hearts with all of them to show you how they compare - unfortunately though they're not all currently available for sale, I have added links for the ones that are.

Here are the hearts in their presses (apart from A, Kaz is currently making great use of this press!) 

And a closer look at the heart beads on their own.

All of a-e are from Beadpress.nl and, apart from the Love Triangle, are in the 'puffy' style.  There is also a 32mm version available, similar to 'a', but not 'long'.  

The Beadpress Folk Art trio has changed slightly from the photo - the smallest heart is smaller so should be perfect for dainty earring beads.  
You can see it here alongside the similar Cattwalk duo.

I only have one press, C, from Bavarian Beads but they do have more hearts, including a new longer shape that I'd really like to try. D, the hearts and grooves press from GoodGlassCo is sadly not often available - these hearts are always popular on my website (make more, Magdalena!).  Personally I find the Zooziis Sweetheart too flat, although its a nice size.  F is no longer available, but I think that the Beadpress hearts fill the gap very nicely, particularly the Puffy Trio 'd'.

So, time for my personal favourites ... it is my blog, after all ;0) 

I can't pick an outright winner, but in joint first place are the Beadpress Love Triangle - its not too wide, not too puffy, not too flat, not too small, perfect for simple spotties ... 
... and the Bavarian Beads M Real 3D.

It is quite a wide shape, perfect for more elaborate decoration (all my seaside hearts are based on this shape), and easy to elongate by adding a little glass round the bottom, or across the shoulders.

Here they are side by side

I also couldn't live without my GoodGlassCo press - unfortunately it doesn't have pins, so you do need a Cattwalk-style base to use it properly, and it is hard to get hold of; the hearts are small but nicely proportioned.  

I wrote a simple tutorial on how to use this press, and had a version printed in Beads & Beyond magazine, February 2010.  This technique is really the same for all the heart presses.

I definitely recommend the Beadpress Puffy Trio - this is my favourite of all their Puffy shouldered hearts, I think the largest heart of the three is nicely proportioned, the smallest is great for earrings or dangle charms, and together they make a useful addition to your studio.   I like the Cattwalk shape too and  the Beadpress Folk Art Trio.

Spotty heart anyone?! 

(other colours are available, haha!)

Wednesday, 7 July 2010


Okay, okay, its true, I am ... the Tuffnell Glass Secret Tester!

Saying it loud and saying it proud :0)

So, without further ado, let me tell you about some lovely glass that I've been playing with this week.

Sedona 591255 and Striped Pink 591253: When I first opened the package I thought I had been sent two lots of EDP - Sedona and Striped Pink look very similar to each other and to EDP.  After trying them out I did a bit of reading and found similar comments on Lampwork Etc, where I also learnt that apparently Striped Pink is EDP with a Rubino core - whatever it is, I like it a lot!

Both Sedona and Striped Pink devitrify just like EDP, giving a good heat bath at the end does remove most of the devit - but it could be better to embrace the bit of chalkiness!

The Striped Pink is so gorgeously purple, I think it should be renamed immediately (Striped Purple will do!), it reminds me of Zimmerman Purple Rose.  I made simple daisies in Sedona, Striped Pink and EDP to compare them all, and also made simple encased beads in each colour too - which quite clearly shows the different shades (and puts paid to any evil tendencies!)


I like to 'fume' dark ivory with EDP (hold the end of the rod very low in the flame, and the bead above it, let the fumes bathe the bead and the surface will turn matt and devitrify) so I tried it with Sedona and it worked!  By the way, EDP fuming wasn't my idea - I got it from a post by Debra Jennings.   Please only try this if you have really good ventilation.

Both Sedona and Striped Pink work well with silver leaf, fantastic organic reactions.  Oh, and happy bonus, they were both far less shocky than I expected.
Olive Green 591025: I love this colour, although I think its really more of a transparent lime than olive - like green sweets!  Its really fresh and zingy over white, works great with silver wire and accepts dots well, unlike a lot of Effetre greens that tend to swallow other colours.  

Olive makes a nice base for silver glasses.
Butternut 591414: nice autumnal ochre, with a tinge of orange.  Looks great with silvered ivory stringer; I hoped it might react with silver leaf simply melted onto the surface but it didn't really do much (try this with Dark Ivory, roll bead in a scrap of silver leaf then reheat just enough to make the surface 'swim' a little and blur the edges of the silver), still nice though!
Silver Pink 591255: very pale pink when used on its own, turns a lovely pale yellow under silver glasses and makes a great base.  Save it for silver, its too pricey to use on its own ;0)


I received this wonderful message from a customer recently, it touched me so much, I need to record and share it.

"Thank you, the pendant did arrive today  ;o)
It’s stunning, absolutely stunning.

You are very talented and your love for your work shines through.
I just thought you’d like to know that it’ll be going to a very good home......
I’m sending it to my best friend who lives on the Gulf coast in Florida.

She is heartbroken and devastated by the damage that the oil spill has done to her beloved ocean.
Hopefully your wonderful artwork will remind her how perfect and beautiful the sea will be again in the future, when it’s had the time and opportunity to repair itself."

Thank you, Sarah Baker, for taking the time to send this to me and reminding me of the sad events on the other side of the world.  I hope your friend loves her new necklace and that there will be some recovery of the Florida coastline very soon. 

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Super Simple One Tool Bracelet Tutorial

Gather the following ingredients:
2. 2mm sterling silver end caps, one eye, one hook
3. A selection of 8mm Greek ceramic washers

Slide the beads onto the leather.

Take them off.

Put them on again.

Keep putting them on and off till you're happy!

Pop an end cap onto one end of the leather.

Use a fine pair of pliers to squish the centre section of the cap onto the leather.  

Don't press too hard!

Put the almost-finished-bracelet on your wrist and check the length.  Cut the leather, add the other end cap, and squish!


Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Its a Small World!

Isn't the internet wonderful?  And isn't Flickr fantastic? I check my Flickr activity every day (often numerous times each day!), its such a great way to keep up with what people are doing, get feedback from your peers and there's so many pretty pictures to look at!

I was browsing around one evening when I came across this necklace by Angie of Weirdly Wired.

I love the simplicity of the shell bead, and how the swirl is off-centre.  I just had to rush out to the Torch Porch and whip out the dark ivory and make a glass version. (I love how it nestles in the copper disc too).

I'm sure many people will understand when I say that its all about the making - once a bead is made, and cooled and cleaned, maybe photographed, certainly stroked and admired for a little while - well, then I'm satisfied.  I don't need to keep it, or do anything with it, I need to pass it on.  So I asked Angie if she'd like it - fortunately she didn't think it odd that a complete stranger from halfway across the world would ask for her address!

Now, I haven't exactly been pacing, I've not been quite that impatient ... but I hadn't forgotten about the little shell-like bead, and I have been .. anticipating .. what would become of it.

Wow, now that's what I call star treatment!

Doesn't it look fantastic?  Gosh I love that clasp.

Angie's wire work is really beautiful, she has great imagination and a very professional touch.  Take a look at the bigger picture of this wonderful necklace and the rest of her photostream here