Sunday, March 1, 2009

Lampworked Lumps

Several years ago, when my eldest godchild, Caitlin, was thinking about pursuing an art career, I made the offer of a lampworking class together as a birthday gift. Although she is pursuing other career aspirations, the annual lampworking class tradition continues and we both enjoy these weekend workshops over the torch. This will be our 5th year - and we're both looking forward to it. We take our classes with Stephanie Maddelena who teaches in lots of places, but we really like the set up at Hudson Beach Glass.

Lampworking, however, is a lot harder than I ever imagined. Here's Caits, hard at work at one of our early sessions.

The thing about working with glass is that it's hot. And pretty frickin unpredictable. And you can't use your hands to shape it, except with other tools. So getting things round, square, even, flat, symmetrical, etc is really, really hard. Hence, the lumps. The other thing about glass is that when it's hot, it's orange. So you really don't have a good idea of what color you're going to end up with (although the color rod you start with is a pretty good indicator), especially since some colors react with other colors, and some colors change depending on the temperature of your flame. So after all the classes we've taken, I can say with some assurance, that I'm pretty good at creating lumps of various colors.

Last year, I spent lots of time encasing beads, which means that you start with colors and then add clear glass on top of the colors to make it look like its underwater, or something. Notice that none of these are perfectly round, flat, square, cylindrical, or symmetrical in any way. But the colors are pretty. The next step, which I am very, very far from mastering is to actually use these pretty colored lumps. This is my first unedited and very juvenile attempt at stringing. This necklace is too long, too heavy, and has terrible wirework, but I do like the combination of the silver findings, the various silver beads and bits, and the addition of some purchased small boring beads in the same palette as my lampworked beads.

To see some REAL work in this area, visit my sister's Etsy site, Nancy's Ear Candy. She actually knows what she's doing, whereas I'm just playing around.