Sunday, September 18, 2011

Glass practice

There is no wasted session when it comes to glass.  Even though it's possible to spend two hours over the torch and end up without a useable bead (this happens often), I learn something about the way the glass moves in the heat and where to place extra glass if I want to move a design element to the middle or the's always helpful to the beads I make later on.

Last week Ben drew some adorable little Halloween characters and asked me if I would make him some beads like the guys in his picture.  Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year, so there was no way I was going to turn down the request.

So here is what I came up with--
     the spider:

    and the skull:

But I couldn't just stop I made a few more things to go along with those two.

    A witch:

I love the wart.

   A ghost:

   A bat:

   and an eyeball:

Here is the whole group:

   and the final set put together for Ben to use as a zipper pull on his backpack:

But what is Halloween anything without glow in the dark elements?  So I embedded some glow in the dark glass in the layers...awesome.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Broom cast pieces

I love everything about broom casting. The process is involved but the ability to put my silver scrap to genuine use is fantastic. (Especially now that silver is $40 an ounce!)

Retrieving the broom cast pieces from the straw is like opening presents--there are fabulous surprises in there. Some duds too, but it's very cool to see the results. Some of the silver sort of wraps around the individual straw pieces and I have to slide them off the end to see what it looks like.  Those are great to use in jewelry because they have little areas that stick out and under and I can tuck a few pieces together.

Assembling them into an actual useable piece of jewelry is extremely time consuming. It's like putting together a teeny tiny puzzle by dropping the pieces into place with tweezers. I map out the piece by laying it all out, then take it apart to flux and add solder to it, then put the puzzle back together again, hopefully in the same (ish) order it was in before. My family thinks I'm out at my workbench making jewelry, but in my head I'm really doing this:

I have the tweezers. I grasp the silver and care.full.y. place it where I think it will go. Sometimes it stays there, but it often slides or falls, occasionally taking other pieces with it. So all of this stacking and re-stacking takes forever.

The soldering is also a guessing game; under the torch the piece seems to swell from the heat and the flux as it sort of bubbles up. When everything settles back in, the pieces don't always end up where they're supposed to. Soldering the broom castings = multiple attempts.

So it can be frustrating and unrewarding. But when it works, it's glorious...probably because the road to the final product is filled with disappointments. 

Over the holiday weekend I made broom castings to work with and made two rings. Forget the sanding and polishing--just the broom casting sessions and the soldering took almost four hours.

But I love them. And that's really an understatement. I think they're weird and cool and interesting and fun all at the same time. And if nobody else thinks so....well, they both fit me and I would be happy to keep them!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Not so hi hats

I've seen these all over the blogosphere and have wanted to try them for literally years--Hi Hat cupcakes.  I'm not sure where the name really comes from but the concept is simple...cupcakes with chocolate dipped frosting.

I started with chocolate cupcakes and peanut butter frosting (as far as I'm concerned you can never go wrong with that combination).  The general idea is that you swirl the frosting high on top of the cupcake--at least that's how I've seen them in the past--then put them in the freezer for a while to firm up before dipping them in melted chocolate.

I think my frosting turned out to be more like regular height...something to keep in mind for the next time. Once they were all frosted, I put them in the freezer while I got the chocolate coating ready.

I poured a bag of milk chocolate chips in a glass pyrex measuring cup and heated it in the microwave for 20 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until they were completely melted.  I added a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil (I'm not sure it has to be peanut oil, but I had a little note from some recipe I found forever ago that said peanut that's what I used) and stirred it in.  I dipped the frosting portion of the semi-frozen cupcakes in the chocolate sauce and set them up to cool--easy.  Messy, but easy.

The only downside to these is that you have to store them in the fridge.  If they are left out at room temperature, the chocolate doesn't hold up too well. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Glass focal bead

This lampwork bead is another product of the vacation time I took at the beginning of the school year.  I added green copper glass and fine silver beads to an ivory base, then finished it with a leather cord and sterling silver findings.