Friday, 16 July 2010

Lamp worked glass beads

I don't often get the chance to make something for myself but did manage to finish myself a necklace of lamp worked glass beads before I went off on my trip to France.  It was made to tone with a specific outfit but the combination of colours means I can wear it with all sorts of things.  It is slightly more russet than it looks in this picture and I particularly enjoyed making the beads with the raised dots, for the first time since I got the new torch!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

North Yorkshire Open Studios '10

My studio will be open again this coming weekend as part of the North Yorkshire Open Studios.  The introduction on the Open studios website says 'artists and makers across the whole of North Yorkshire will invite the public into a host of intriguing spaces. From hidden locations on the North Yorkshire Moors and harbourside huts in Whitby and Scarborough to suburban living rooms in Harrogate and beautiful back gardens in the remote Yorkshire Dales.'  I maybe am in the category of 'hidden locations on the North Yorkshire Moors' but it is always lovely to meet people who have managed to find their way here.  I hope the weather stays nice so that they can also see the stunning views, at their best.  It is absolutely glorious here at the moment, reminding me of why I love living and working here.  During the weekend I will be demonstrating the making of lamp worked glass beads and maybe even doing some enamelling.  I am always happy to give the occasional quick demonstration to explain some of the techniques involved in the making of my work and this open weekend is the ideal chance to try and interest a few more people in these addictive processes

Monday, 31 May 2010

Paper textures and enamelled accents

My good friend Joy Funnell and I are preparing to teach a class at the Art Clay UK Guild Conference in York in September.  I have begun to make some new paper textures and really need to get on and complete some samples fairly quickly.

Enamel on glass beads

I was recently asked a question about using jewellery enamels with glass for making beads.  I didn't really know the answer but decided to give it a try.  I had read something about combining materials and keeping the proportions of the added material small, particularly if uncertain about the CoE.

The left hand bead was made using Effetre Clear glass.  I heated the end of the glass rod in the usual way and dipped it into the SOJE27 Deep Blue.  I then proceeded to make the bead around the mandrel sifting more SOJE27 over it.  The enamel seemed to spark a bit in the flame and as you can see there is some pitting around the bead hole.

The central bead was made using Effetre Ivory with SOJE119 Rich Grass Green sifted into it during the making around the mandrel.  The addition of the enamel seems to make the glass spread along the mandrel rather than keeping it's neat shape.  I added more Ivory and more enamel in order to try and improve the shape.  The Ivory is a reactive glass and has become very dark when reacting with the green enamel.

The largest bead was begun using Effetre 591204 White.  When I had made a nicely shaped small bead on the mandrel I sifted SOJE27 Deep Blue over it.  I then encased it in Effetre Clear glass.  This largest bead is 12mm diameter.

They have all been annealed in the kiln.  I think it would be interesting to try more combinations of glass and enamel, but as with everything else it would need a lot of testing and making of samples.

For anyone interested the Guild of Enamellers have a dvd in their library of masterclasses given by Diana East.  You have to be a member of the Guild in order to borrow from the library but the subscription is currently only £20 per annum.  There is a book available called The Enameled and Etched Beads of Diana East and their Intricate Images by James E Kervin  that has lots of step by step pictures of Diana sifting enamel to make her beautiful beads.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Playing with paper clay

Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time playing around with the art clay silver paper type.  I have used it for a few things in the past but never really enjoyed handling it or exploited its particular properties.  I have used it to cut patterns and create an overlay but yesterday finally realised it would be perfect for making the tiny curled flowers I used to make using copper shim.

Anyway here are some of the bits I made yesterday which were more successful than any previous attempts although I have no idea what I will do with them.

I have created the texture by putting the fresh paper clay between a folded sheet of paper with a piece of fabric and feeding it through my rolling mill.  You have to be careful not to get the pressure too tight or it causes wrinkles and creases which then become weak spots in the sheet.  I have then cut out the pieces using a couple of craft punches and twisted and fired them, following the firing instructions in the packet.

They don't have a great deal of strength but were polished in my magnetic polisher without any ill effects.

I will have to order some more of the paper type now so that I can carry on with this experimentation.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Bead using the photopolmer plate

Here is a partly made bead in art clay silver.  I have rolled out a thin sheet of clay over my new photopolymer plate.  I then moisten the back of the clay to give it maximum flexibility while I drape it over a form.  I leave it on a warming plate to dry and when I is dry roll out another sheet, place the part made bead onto it and trim it around with fine nail scissors.  I have found that cutting the sheet with scissors creates less distortion of the edges of the clay sheet than trying to trim it with a knife or blade.  I am in the process of constructing a series of irregularly shaped beads for a bracelet.  I drill the holes once the clay bead is fully formed and bone dry, just prior to firing.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Using the photopolymer plate

Once the photopolymer sheet is finished I lightly oil it using olive oil.  I tend to spray the sheet lightly, rub it all over with my fingers which removes any excessive oil and then if it is a particularly deep texture I sometimes brush into the texture with a flat nylon paint brush that I keep especially for this.

Then I can use the sheet just like any other texture plate - usually by putting my roller guides on top of it, the metal clay in between and rolling over firmly in one movement.  If you roll backwards and forwards the clay can shift slightly and you get a blurring or double image so it is important to ensure you do make the roll in one firm action.  Once the clay is rolled down to the thickness of the roller guides it can't get any thinner anyway!  You can use a texture plate on each side of the clay with the roller guides sandwiched in between.

If I am using the plastic back photopolymer sheet I usually flex it slightly to tease up the edge of the clay and remove it.  If I am using the metal backed sheet then I simply tease the edge of the clay up with my thumb and peel it off.  Turn it over the check the imprint.  Then I usually put the clay onto a small piece of non-stick baking parchment so that I can cut out the shape.  Form the piece gently in the usual way, dry and fire.

More photopolymer plates

I have been doing some more work using photopolymer plates to create my own textures.  I originally learned to create these plates in a workshop run by Katie Baum at an art clay conference.  To make my original plates I tended to take a small image and cut a piece of the photopolymer sheet to fit the image, then expose and process the sheet.  What I am now doing is creating a small panel of drawings of patterns to fit the size of the sheet and making a texture plate with a whole variety of patterns and textures on it.

I draw the patters onto thin white card then photocopy them using my computer printer.  I have found that I can create a denser image using the printer on photocopy mode rather then scanning the images in and printing them.  I then print them out onto normal A4 copy paper with the density slightly increased and with the printer set at maximum I print 2 copies of each image onto OHP sheet.  I have found I can just cram 4 images (2 copies of each of 2 patterns) onto a sheet of A4 and that they then fit the size of a sheet of the photopolymer.