Monday, January 26, 2009

Playing with Fire, Day 2

On our second day of Lampwork Beads class, our instructor (the creative and unflinchingly patient Louise Mehaffey) was setting us up for the reveal -- the moment we'd see the beads we'd created the night before, having left them in the kiln overnight to anneal.

Louise had sorted our beads by each person's signature bead color -- for every "real" bead you created, you finished the mandrel with a mini bead in your signature color to mark your work. Mine was green by virtue of where I happened to sit in class. (This was a total accident -- but a happy one since green's my favorite color!)

As she distributed our piles, I was shocked to see about 20 beads had made it through the kiln!

Granted, many were misshapen -- for every halfway round bead I made, there's one that's listing to the side like the Tower of Pisa -- or with odd color combos (yeah, uh, I meant to do that!).

Seeing how the beads turned out was like receiving a bunch of really tiny presents.

That's because partway through making a bead, when the piece you're working on has turned orange from the intense heat and you can't remember what color you'd just applied, sometimes it was a crap shoot in terms of how it would look.

But, getting the hang of melting sticks of glass via torch, winding the molten glass to drip in a controlled manner around a little metal stick, was harder -- yet more exhilarating -- than I'd expected.

And then there's the fact that so many beads end up not making it out of the kiln intact -- we newbies tend to heat our beads way too hot and which can result in all kinds of weird effects in the glass.

Or, if you don't get the bead into the kiln while it's still hot it can crack in the kiln or soon thereafter.

That first day, it became apparent there are a ton of things to think about when doing lampwork.
You basically have to tap into the part of your being that is ambidextrous, because you end up doing different tasks with both hands at the same time.

On Day 2, I made a few favorites over and over, for practice. And in the end, I just may be able to make something from them! (This is just a prototype.)

Although I don't think I'll be rushing out to buy a kiln or a torch anytime soon, I definitely think I'll be renting some studio time sometime soon.

This was just too much fun to not try again!


Kitty said...

these are lovely, Spandrel!!!

keep at it. Obviously this is a hobby you love!

spandrel studios said...

Thanks, Kitty! It was a lot of fun and taking the class reminded me that I love to learn new things!

bob c said...

I absolutely LOVE it when you feed me - even when you take credit for all my wonderful work!

your right brain

heather said...

really lovely--but the best part is how much you enjoyed the process. :)

spandrel studios said...

Hey there, bob c, you're right, my brain's been thanking me ever since!

Hiya, Heather - it's true, the process geek in me was really thrilled that I followed through on learning something I'd long admired... And to end up with some kind of cool results was just icing on the cake!

Thanks, Kitty! I can rent studio time until I decide whether to really dig into this as a serious hobby. Or aybe I'll give another creative endeavor a try - I took the class with a group of lovely painters and potters, and I've always wanted to dig into some clay...