First Experience: Lampwork

My first taste of lampwork was certainly interesting. I wanted to be able to make beads and I got talking to a few US lampwork artists after a disaster in trying to use polymer clay. I met Martin Tuffnell at a local bead fair and he explained the hot head torch to me. It seemed like the perfect way to try it out, I did need to convince my husband though (let the lady have a flame thrower.)

The Starter Kit

Making Beads

  • Hot head torch
  • Bead release
  • Mandrels
  • 1 kilo mixed glass

I also needed to buy MAPP gas and some Vermiculite to slowly cool the beads, both bought from the hardware store.

What it was like

My first attempt and to be honest I was a little scared. I had to ignite the gas coming out from this torch. (note: we don’t have mains gas, I have never put a match near gas.) I asked my husband to supervise/help if I needed it.
It took a few attempts but I finally got the torch lit. I had at least had the foresight to have dipped the mandrels in the bead release earlier that day.

It was time to make a bead I grabbed a rather random rod of glass from the bundle and tried melting it, all the while glancing over at the written instructions that accompanied my kit.  The glass was melting, I had managed to get some of it on the mandrel (though as I noticed afterwards I had broken the bead release) There was a rather wonky lump of glass attached to a stick in my hand, I was doing it.

I was laughing, the feeling of making this first bead was one of the best feelings I have ever had related to a craft. I did as the instructions said and turned the mandrel slowly and use gravity to round out the shape, it became more rounded. This was it I had a bead and, at that time, it looked amazing. It was actually still slightly wonky but it didn’t matter, I had made it.

Is lampwork something you have ever wanted to have a go at?

Learning Tri-Quad Stitch

examples of tri-quad stitchLearning new skills and developing them is one of the most enjoyable parts of the creative process, closely related to the elation of a successfully completed project.
One of the things I wanted to do this year was develop my head weaving skills beyond peyote and herringbone stitch, while there is an awful lot you can do with those stitches after a while you do want to try something a little different.

While I was learning how to use Google+ (another learning curve for the year.) I happened to find a few beadweavers and I stumbled upon a lovely piece. I was also pleased to find that the artist behind the piece kept a blog and had a tutorial for the very stitch used in the design.

Tri-quad stitch by Eyekandy Creations

I like to make small samples of stitches and keep them for future reference with the instructions. The photo shows me making the first test. I had decided to use up some size 11 seed beads from my last project and picked out a few 4mm glass pearls for the dangles. My beading thread is fireline and a size 12 beading needle.
The instructions were very clear and the very handy hint of three up two down meant I didn’t have to look back at the instructions every time I started a new round. As you can see from the photos the first section turned out pretty well and then I had to add the larger beads in.
On the first one I had to un-thread the beads and go back because I had one to many beads over the top of the larger bead which made it a little slack. The tutorial mentioned you may have to decrease or increase the number of beads at that point dependant on the size of beads you were using.
I got to the end of the test piece with no problems. It did look to me that the tension was a little slack so I threaded back through the whole piece rather than just enough to secure the thread to tighten it up a bit. (I did make a little mistake when I was threading back through and bunched up the beads on the very end.)

tri-quad beadweaving finished sampleI did still think it still didn’t look right, either because of my tension or it was because I had used fireline which is a more rigid thread than nymo or ko so I made another test piece using nymo thread (which personally I’m not keen on but I wanted to see what difference it would make.
The result, I think the stitch certainly looks better. It’s more fluid, I can’t curve the one on fireline like this one as you can see in the picture and I am a lot happier with it, though if I was making a full piece I would favour the similar ko thread over nymo because the fibres don’t part as easily.
Working the stitch for the second time as well made me realise how well the instructions had sunk in. I was always checking with the first test piece. But once I had got to the first pearl second time around I didn’t need to check the instructions at all. I was also a lot more careful retracing the thread path to secure the stitch.

So there we have a new stitch. What do you think of it? and if you would like to have a go don’t forget to check out EyeKandy’s Blog.