Last weekend I spent a fantastic two days at Tuffnell Glass on a lampworking course with Angelika Kaufmann who taught us some new techniques for controlling hair thin strands of glass to draw onto a bead!
We started with flower beads before moving onto making butterflies and and owl bead on the first day. Here’s what I made:
On the second day we were all back at the torch, but this time making lampwork flowers, houses and finally an elephant bead.
It was really good fun apart from my arms felt like falling off as each bead took 40-50 minutes to make!
If you’re interested in taking up lampwork or attending a master class with one of the lovely artists out there, you can see the courses available at Tuffnell Glass:
I’ve been playing around with various new glass colours that are now available in the UK and I particularly like the new ‘Sunset’ CIM colour. It seems so versatile, especially when different subtle shades can be encouraged from the glass by applying different heat. It’s also great when encased in clear. I thinks it’s my favourite opaque orange glass – even nicer than Effetre Coral!
I have been making lots of lampwork hearts at the moment as the shape is interesting to work with and, well, who doesn’t like a heart! I also have to think about what decorations I can apply to such an irregular shape.
I particularly like them when they’ve been in the stone tumbler (like the two sets below), but I have to make the beads as smooth as possible first, otherwise the beads end up with shiny patches where the stone tumbling can’t reach. I finish these shiny areas gently with a bead reamer and put them back into the tumbler again to improve the finish.
Black Stone Tumbled Heart Focal Bead
Purple Flower Heart Lampwork Bead
Spots and swirls work really well on a heart shape, or just applying simple sweet flowers to them can make a simple statement and doesn’t detract from the purple swirly shades in the lampwork heart as in the picture above.
Alternatively, wiggling Double Helix Helios over dark ivory gives a lovely effect as you can see a dark line where the two glasses touch.
Golden Lampwork Heart
There are just so many possibilities to play with, I don’t know what to try next!
I recently ordered some new freshwater pearls in various colours that I needed. This is what arrived! I love the colours and natural textures that these pearls have as well as the almost luminous quality that some of the natural coloured pearls have below.
My favourite ones are the pink ones at the front, although I love them all. I’ve already started to incorporated some of the purple ones into my designs, including this beaded bead necklace below. In this necklace, I’ve hand stitched tiny beads around a wooden core bead, which makes this necklace extremely tactile.
“Berrilicious” Beaded Necklace
I like to mix different types of glass beads in my designs including hand made lampwork beads and Swarovski crystals.
Swarovski crystals are great if you want a lot of sparkle, but are especially nice when you only use a few to accent the design rather than overpower it. Again, I use the same principle with the freshwater pearls – a few can really enhance a design by giving it variety.
One of my favourite types of glass, besides lampwork and Swarovski crystals, are fire-polished glass beads. These are the purple faceted beads that I’ve used in this necklace. They reflect the light on the surface giving a gentle shine as the light catches the facets, unlike Swarovski crystals, which reflect light on the surface and through the bead increasing the amount of light reflected back.
I’m now off to see what else I can make with the pearls…
I love handmade items as I can appreciate the time and effort that goes into each piece. So much so that my Mum has recently re-discovered crocheting and bought a new book to make quite a few miniature creations. Needless to say, I received one of these in the form of a snail.
What can I investigate next?
Isn’t he cute? Yes, I know that snails may not be your favourite mollusc, but this one isn’t slimy, it’s very colourful, won’t eat any greens and won’t run away (not sure ‘run’ really describes a snails movement!). What better kind of creature could you want?
Here he is examining some nettles.
I haven’t got a mouth so I can’t eat them!
He’s currently living on the mantle piece with my other small ceramic animal collection and is looking quite inquisitive, that is, for a crocheted snail.
I also feel like finding my crochet hooks now so that I can have a go too, if only I can remember where I put them?
I was rather excited to receive my delivery of the new glass from Double Helix called Notos. When I opened the package, I must admit that at first I was slightly disappointed at the pale blue-grey shade of the glass. It didn’t excite me one bit. Anyhow, I though it best to give the glass the benefit of the doubt and made some spacer beads. To be quite honest, I wasn’t sure how to describe the finished beads as they have a blue-grey base with a golden metallic finish. You would think that with the colour combination that the beads would look green, but they don’t.
I’ve spent time playing with this glass and found that it behaves fairly similarly to triton when reduced and encased in clear – although a bit paler in the blue shades. However, I prefer it as a surface decoration as it’s quite interesting with the two tone colour effect that it seems to have.
Double Helix seem to select unusual names for their glass, so I decided to look it up. Notos appears to mean Greek wind gods according to Wikipedia. I can’t make a link, but perhaps you can?
This is the latest batch of spacer beads that I’ve made – you can see the two tone colour combination as well as the odd bit of pink that appeared after reducing the surface to it’s shimmery colours. I love Double Helix’s Notos glass now!
I love making beaded beads, especially if they’re easy and quick to make. With that in mind, I’ve written this detailed beaded bead tutorial to make these stunning, but quick, charm beads which take under 30 minutes each. All you need are some fire-polished beads in your choice of colour and a selection of Toho seed beads. The beads will fit nicely on a bracelet or necklace and they look really effective on leather too!
Beaded Bead Tutorial - Charm Beads
Here are a couple of examples as to how I’ve used these beads in pieces of jewellery.
Green Beaded Bead Necklace
Beaded Bead Necklace "Embers"
I hope you have as much fun making these beaded charm beads as I have. I’m planning to expand my range of tutorials in the next year, so watch this space!
I’ve just uploaded a little video from my workshop, shot in timelapse as the morning sun shines through the window across the glass on my work bench, and while I make some beads. The photography’s by www.newfocusphoto.com.
I recently bought some Creation is Messy (CiM) maraschino glass and it’s a lovely bright red. It encases white beautifully and gives it a transparent red-orange colour, as in the swirly lampwork beads below. Some colours of glass can boil easily, but I’ve found this particular colour to be fairly stable and easy to use.
Purple Sunset Lampwork Beads
What to make? I decided to make some lampwork strawberries as it’d been a long time since I’d made some and thought that the colour would make lovely bright coloured strawberries. However, I was quite pleasantly surprised at the finished colour of these beads. They have an opaque core with what looks like a thin layer of clear encasing on the outside. To me, this just enhances the beads, but it’s something to consider when using this glass.
This glass is one of my favourite ones as it’s such a cheerful colour.
These strawberries have small spacer beads made with dark red Effetre glass – you can see the contrast in colour, which I love.
It’s that frantic time of year for me where I seem to be permanently loading and unloading the car getting ready for each craft fair. I’m usually well prepared and take something to make in between the busy periods – this time Christmas decorations!
These decorations are quite therapeutic to make and look lovely on a tree. I’ve got angels, baubles, holly sprigs and trees – this year the baubles are a new addition to the collection. I’ve decided to try and come up with a new design each year, so if you have any bright ideas and would like to suggest something that involves wire and beads, please do!