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Wednesday, 17 June 2015

My Summer Garden

Toby likes to pose in all garden pictures. This one is the path to the Summer house

For the past few weeks I've been putting in a fair amount of effort to get my garden up together in readiness for Open Studios at the end of July. Usually I work around the garden at a slower pace. The problem with this is that as the weather gets drier, the ground get harder, making weeds more difficult to get out and newly planted shrubs difficult to establish. So although I'm still losing the battle with weeds, the overall impression I think looks quite good.
This shows some excavation work in readiness for  the raising of the path, to save me paddling in wet weather.

One of mum's lilies

I thought now would be a good time to take some photos, while everything is looking lush.
Pots waiting to find their Summer resting place.
A peony on the patio [and a purple sedum I rather like].

The next three pictures show the side path in Winter, Spring and now in Summer.
Winter pots

Spring pots [and another posing Toby!]

And the same pots in June

Friday, 12 June 2015

Combining Lampwork and Fused Glass

I have always found my fused glass pendants to be very popular with my customers. I can see the appeal: they are bright, eye-catching and can compliment clothes simply and inexpensively. Although my pendants are hung on suede or satin cord, many people have a favourite silver or gold chain they like to use instead. Some have several pieces of fused glass that they interchange to go with different clothes.

The problem is I've always felt I am not very good at it. With beads I can be free and easy, in my opinion handmade beads look better if they are not quite perfect. It sort of distinguishes them from mass produced beads. However with fused glass it is completely different. The best fused glass is precise and balanced in shape, arrangement and design. The best examples of this are Nina Bulley and for stunning objet d' art, Pauline Evans
Both of these artists will be taking part in the Isle of Wight Arts Open Studios next month [July 2015]
The other problem with my fused glass is that I have not invested enough time to get to know what happens to different glass when it's in the kiln. It's a bit like the old days when I use to take a roll of film to Boots and eagerly await the prints, but on opening them up, finding only six or seven out of twenty four that were any good. Thank goodness for digital cameras! Well fused glass is just like that. I carefully prepare a tile of what I think are going exciting pendants. On opening the kiln however, some glass has slumped unevenly, any tiny mistake I had ignored before, now is emphasised and looks wrong. Making beads is relatively instant in comparison, I know straight away whether a bead is going to work or not.

Well I thought it was about time to have another go with a different approach. My aim has been to combine lamp work bead making with fused glass. I have briefly tried this combination before by literally making a flat bead and then fusing onto glass. The problem was the bead release, which no matter how much I tried to clean out of the hole, still left an ugly rough bit behind. This time I am making the 'beads' on the end of the mandrel rather like the way I make stud earrings. There is less bead release to remove and if there is any residue, it is hidden within the layers.

Lampwork 'beads' made especially for fused glass

What I also wanted to do is to create an effect that wasn't so slumped or melted. A little less like a melted ice cream and instead have more defined edges. This I did by experimenting with different kiln temperatures and timings. I am making progress with this, but not quite there yet.

Anyway see what you think. I have found some lovely simple silver plated bails on Etsy [hotfusedglass] and will hopefully have some pendants ready for my Open Studio weekend from 17th - 21st July. More photos to follow in a future post.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Open Studio Yearbooks Have Arrived!

I know that Summer is here when the Isle of Wight Arts Open Studios Yearbooks arrive I feel a tiny tingle of excitement when I open one up for the first time and find my entry in it. It also means that it's only six weeks to go and I really have to step up my preparations.

My daughter, Ellen won't be able to join me this year with her weaving, as she's rather busy with work in Whitstable. I am pleased to say I won't be on my own however, as for the second year running, Jude Allman will be sharing open studios with me. Jude makes fabulous stoneware pots, bowls and ceramics.

I enjoy open studios, as it is a great opportunity to demonstrate how I make my glass beads. It's also super to chat to old and new visitors in my garden workshop.