Monday, November 24, 2008

Up the mountain ...

I have not done a lot of hiking for years, but recently I got a pair of hiking boots for my birthday, so when the lovey told me that he was meeting some friends on Table mountain on Sunday, and did I want to come with (since I had the new boots) I could hardly say no, now could I?

So with a lot of fear (I really hate heights) I dressed accordingly, used about a litre of sunblock and donned a hat. We got a whole picnic thing together (lots of German sausage, cheese and rolls) to enjoy at the top.

Leo is a marathon runner. So after the first 100 meters I told him to meet me at the top, I could not keep up with him. OK, I was panting and sounded as if I was in dire need of a macho rescue guy who could carry me down the bit that I had walked. I could see in Leo's eyes that he thought that I would bail out. It was a wonderful sunny day, with the slightest hint of a breeze, making it all very comfortable (if you exclude the half a meter steps that you had to take ...).

I took lots of pictures - my handy excuse for a rest. After the first hour I got a bit better and started to focus on a rock or outcrop just ahead of me. Diana, if you can make it to there, you are allowed a break of one minute. And that was what I did. Just a few more steps, remember the look in Leo's eyes? Show him that you are not a moaner and a giver-upper.
The new boots really helped a lot. My ankles never wavered, and I could walk/climb/heave myself up the next rock. At last I was in the shade of the gorge. Water was dripping of the overhanging cliffs, and some Chinese tourists refilled my water bottle with some fresh mountain water.
About 200 meters from the top Leo rescued me with a welcoming bottle of Icy cold Savanna. It tasted like nectar from the Gods. Suddenly I had more energy and could keep up with him. His friends were already at the picnic spot, having a good party going. Leo was proud of me. I was even prouder of myself. Wanting to do something, and actually doing it is 2 entirely different things. I have climbed my mountain.

Throughout these pictures, I have tried to include a ribbon of tarred road. That was our starting point. In some of them you could see teeny tiny cars parked. I do not know how high the mountain is, but my body told me today that it was VERY high!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ring tutorial

I have promised a tutorial, and here it is, finally!

Prepare your mandrels as per usual manner. If it is a new set of mandrels, you will need to give it a good glow in the flame, and then a water bath. Then I normally use a fine sand paper, and give it a light sanding to create a 'key' for the bead release to adhere to. All these mandrels were freshly dipped, and the bead release is still wet. (Not that it matters, I use a flame dry release, so no problems!)

Take your ring mandrel, and put it in the centre of the flame. (It is OK, I have been doing this for the last 6 months, and never had a ring mandrel burn through!) You want to heat that mama till she glows pink in the flame. If she is not hot enough, she will loose temperature too quickly, and your glass will pop off as you attempt to lay it on. Really, let her get cross!

Now add your spirals of glass around the centre of the mandrel. I do it very slowly, working a lot of times with my mandrel in the flame, and just taking my time; turn the baby while I control the thickness of glass that I add. Note how my start and finish is graded. Even so I might still have a bumpiness. Oh and do not correct any wonkiness yet ...

Melt that in. When I add glass to the ring mandrel, I normally do not have an even coiled rope look between the glass and the mandrel, but more of a pushing technique, which cause some of the glass footprint to be a bit wider than the rest. that is OK. Now I will get rid of that uneven footprint. I heat the glass well, making sure that I turn the mandrel the whole time. I also focus direct flame on the glass from an angle where it meets the mandrel.

When you have one fat circle and a nice and even footprint, let you bead cool a bit, and the look at it from all angles. This is also the time that you will correct the meandering ring . Use your marver and nudge the glass a bit left and right to make sure it is straight. Is there an area that needs more glass? Oh goodness, yes.

Add extra glass as needed. And then melt it in, of course!

You now have a basic ring shape, and you can leave it as it, change it, what ever! At this stage, it would be a bit uncomfortable to wear, so I suggest to flatten it a bit. Do not roll the glass on you mandrel. (OK, if you want to, do it; but believe me, I had quite a few that separated from the bead release when I tried it in this step ...) Rather use your marver, and press gently on the glass, and while you turn the mandrel, gently pat it a bit flatter. When you have spread your footprint a bit, you can roll the glass on the marver.

Spread the glass till you have the width/thickness that you want. Correct a wonky edge and decorate, etc.

When you are happy with your bead, pop it into the kiln, but be careful! that mandrel is till very hot, and will transfer the heat to the glass, making it soft for a bit longer. I normally twirl the mandrel in my kiln, let it rest on the edge of my beautiful kiln door (grin) for about a minute before I lay it on the kiln floor. If not, I will have added kiln floor decorations to my glass ring!

And this is it!

Disclaimer: This is a method that I have figured out for myself. I am sure that other's might do it in this manner, or completely different! When I make a glass ring, I try and have a glass thickness of at least 1,5 mm or more. This will create a stronger ring that will last longer.

When wearing a glass ring, I have 2 rules. Do not hit an inert object (husband, dog, wall, table) while wearing the ring. I suggest removing it, hit said object, and return ring after frustration was vented. Secondly, remove a glass ring from you finger when you work in soapy water. The beauty WILL turn into a flying missile if not removed! Place back on finger once hands are dry.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

the men in my life

After working just plain too many hours for the last couple of days as a nurse I had enough, and cancelled my second shift for the day (I guess working from eight in the morning till 5 is enough) that was due to start at 7 pm till midnight, and opted to go and visit Leo last night.

After a brief catnap I arrived at his house at 9, and found him still busy in his studio. I got a serious fun toy at the Convention centre and for a while we played catch in the night garden with the lighted bouncy ball. It is small interactions like this which really keeps us close. Just doing silly fun things because we can. Afterwards I helped him cast moulds (my very senior job is to fettle the edges and sometimes the boss will allow me to use the compressor to release a plaster mould) till about 11 pm. I had found some lovely vintage music at a discounted price over the weekend, and Smokey were filling the air while we worked, watched by the shop supervisor, Thomas.

Thomas has been living with Leo for the last 5 months, and the 2 men really get along fine. Leo grumbles occasionally about the damn cat, while stroking his tummy. Tommy is a man's man and love to sit in Leo's studio, just keeping him company.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A busy few days

I have promised to make a tutorial on how I make glass rings. The good news is that I have taken the pictures, bad news is that I have been unable to compile the tutorial yet ... I have been working shifts back to back for the last few days, and in between I have to make more pieces for an up and coming exhibition this weekend.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Wonderful oppertunities

I had a late start this morning - only got up after 9:00 and it took me some time to wake up fully. Coffee helped a lot!

I had a meeting with Ingrid at the Old Biscuit mill ( to discuss our upcoming exhibition running from the 22 November till 6 December. The shop is a hot and stained glass gallery, and I am so excited about it all! On Saturday's the place is really abuzz with trendy people shopping at the Neighbourhood market on the premises, and I plan on distributing leaflets at the gates to gain more feet to the gallery.

After that we quickly went into the city centre where we met the very gentle and beautiful owner of The Cape Gallery ( who will be hosting us from the 7th of December till the 10th of January 2009. Are we already there? Gosh, the times really flies! We will be co-exhibiting with a painter, and I am REALLY looking forward to it. both owners loved my work, and is happy to host us!

I will be at the Old Biscuit Mill on Saturday's to help and answer questions. Something I really hate. I do not mind talking about the process and techniques, but when people start looking at my work I just want to crawl into a hole! I also have to get around the whole pricing thing. I know that I totally under price myself, and that is most probably due to a host of compounding factors.

Anyway, I had my 'feel good' time, now it is time to to grind and go and work that torch!

Have a good day!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Markets, and such

For over a year I did the 'market thing'. Every Saturday I would pack up all my beads and jewelry and props, and drive to an outdoor market. Some days were good, some bad. Spitting rain, sunshine, had to be there. I had build up a nice client base, but it tired me. Yes, I know 'doing the market' is good - you get to see first hand what the client wants, interacting with them and all. but it reminded me too much of my years of selling pharmaceuticals. So I stopped. I took a break, and got happy again.

But this past week I did a few markets again. At the same time I had, for the first time in almost a year, a severe bout of insomnia. Being awake till 3 - 5 in the morning, and having to get up at 8 is not a lot of fun. But I have committed myself, and did it. Was it good? Was it fun? YES! Today my best friend came to visit me at the market. We had freshly made carrot and orange juice (she opted for the beetroot mix), chatted and just caught up on everyday gossip. How was my week? KAK. I told her about my Internet saga. She told me of her essay that appeared in the national newspaper, which was beautifully written.

And I chatted to customers. I looked at their reaction to my new designs, and came home with a better understanding of what works, or not. But the best of all was a woman who absolutely freaked out about my work, and requested an appointment from me next week. She owns a shop in an upmarket district in our city, frequented by tourists and trendy locals. WHOA! What a lovely way to end a seriously miserable week! Ooh, and yes! and I made money too!

Whirley off mandrel work

I tried something new yesterday - new as in for me ...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I've had lots of time to sit and think these last few weeks, while working in my studio. Normally I sit and listen to classical music while I create. An old habit from the days when I was studying towards my nursing degree. Classical music calms my soul and it almost become a white noise, as I tend to hit the repeat button, and the same tracks will play endlessly. I reach a stage where my hands work on auto pilot, my mind elsewhere.

For some time I wanted to change the path that I am on. Do not get me wrong in thinking that I want to stop Lampwork! Not in the least, only a change in what I am doing. As much as I love creating jewelry, I realise that I need to expand my horisons, and look at new ways of incorporating my beads into different types of articles. I know that any new path would not be me creating the wheel, as I am sure that just about everything out there has been done hundreds of times already.

Please check out my blog in the following months, as I would for sure show my new ideas here!

Secondly, I had been totally overwhelmed by the total kindness of people these last few days. Thank you to every one that had sent me kind words!

When I made a boo-boo of humangous world altering proportions last week, I was initially sickened by what I saw happening on one of my favourite web sites. A lot of soulsearching happened on this side of Mother Earth, and I decided to supply all the information about this sad topic on the web. A partial bit of what I had e-mailled to someone, was re-printed in a manner that distorted my original intentions. I will accept responsibility to be 'die vark in die verhaal' (direct translation: be the pig in the story) if I am guilty. But this time I do not believe deep down in my heart that I had done anything wrong (excluding the fact that I had E-mailed someone who, although her e-mail adress is readily available, does not want contact with strangers).

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wavey Ribbon tutorial ...

I have been playing a bit around last week, trying to do something, but I could not transfere the brain picture into the glass at hand. Instead I created something new/not new. Just a few tecniques thrown together, and something nice popped out.

Here follows the tutorial that I had put together tonight while torching with one hand, the other trying to take pictures:

I used 3 rods of glass: Transparent Black, Clear (and clear stringer) and a silver glass stringer.

First I made a disk about 3 windings thick on the mandrel.

Melt the disk down to a fat doughnut.

Add 2 windings of clear in the centre of the doughnut. Just flash it in the flame, so that the new application of glass is 'glued' to each other.

Apply a row of dots with the stringer. Any type of glass could work. Want rainbow? Go for it! Do not melt if flat, but just gently melt the dots a bit down. If you have used a silver glass, reduce it now.

Add 2 windings of clear over the dots. Make sure your clear rod is very soft, and press down over the dots, as you want to cover the dots with the clear.

Hit the glass with your flame, but make sure that you only heat the edge of the glass; if your rod or the centre doughnut gets red hot, drop or raise your mandrel! This will allow the glass to melt and pull the dots into a line - old tecnique no 1!

To help the glass and the lines to pull to the mandrel/bead hole, focus heat first on the one side, and then on the othe side of the bead. Make sure that the other side is cool while you do it, as you only want to shift half of the bead at a time. You may angle the bead/mandrel at a 45 degree angle to aid the glass to flow. This will reduce the base colour that shows on the side, as that will be sucked into the mandrel, and your outer glass will move closer to the bead hole.

This is what the bead should look like:

Heat the whole bead to the base colour, and use your mashers/parrallel press, and press the bead gently, turning it in 180 degree turns. Shape it into a barrel. Heat it regularly, as you will damage the bead release if you try and shift cold glass.

Press it as long as you want you bead to be. Be careful not to press at an angle. Try to maintain the same thickness through out.

Heat the centre of the bead and either allow gravity to shape the flow of the stripes, or use your marver to drag the stripes. Technique no 2 - Gravity bead

Use a clear stringer to shift areas that you had spot heated to create more swirls. Experiment!

When you are satisfied with the look, melt the bead into a neat barrel again. I use my masher to aid me.

Encase the bead with clear.

Make sure that your ends are neat and straight.

Super heat the whole bead, and flatten it, should you wish. Decorate surface as you please.

Sorry, image dissapeard, but this image is not really neccesary, is it?

Pop bead into a kiln. If you do not have a kiln, and use Vermiculite or a fiber blanket, I would not advise you to flatten the bead, as this will increase the chance of the bead to thermal crack.

Disclaimer: This is not a new tecnique. This is just my interpretation of the encased stripy bead and gravity beads. By creating a clear portion of glass between a solid base and the waves I am able to manupulate the ribbons that I have created, without distorting the base too much.

Go well