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November 30, 2009

Winter Colour Diet - Session 1

So... I thought that I was going to be able to post some test results for CiM Mink today, but last week was a total catastrophe in the studio for me, and out of the three beads that survived the mayhem, one self-destructed this morning on my way to work.  I'm left with two beads and hopefully enough to say to make a decent post.

I didn't make any changes to the palette either before or after this session, so I'm still working with the fourteen colours mentioned in this post.  I won't be making any changes this week, either, unless something exciting happens.

The hardest part about posting these the week after I've made them is that I get sort of fuzzy on what, exactly, I made them from.  This one, as I remember, is a core of  Copper Green with a homemade shard of Dark Violet and some striking silver glass wrapped around it.  The larvae-like thing on the bottom is Aion2, reduced and encased, and the little silver flecks are melted silver micromesh.  There are some silver clumps inside, and some silver on the surface.

I'm not 100% happy with the design here because I think something is missing in the top that should balance it all out.  I need to think about this a little more.

Unfortunately, the one that had the best design was one of the ones that cracked.  I used Mink for the core of this, not remembering two very important things.  1) People say not to encase opalinos, and 2) CiM opals have special annealing temperatures.  Now, I don't know if this cracked ultimately because the Mink didn't want to be all closed in or if I just didn't school it well enough in the kiln.  Regardless, I'm just a little sad about it.  I need to repeat some testing next week with the kiln settings changed so that I can post my Mink results.

Next, we have another Mink bead that was under-annealed.  This one wasn't encased, except for the thin layer of surface decoration that doesn't completely cover it.  Both the core and the end-caps were Mink.  Just look how the Mink super-activated the TerraNova2!  I'm not sure TN2 colours would survive a 1000F annealing, but I am going to try it and find out.

And finally, this last bead is a long monster.  There are so many colours on it that it's hard to remember them all, but I believe this one is a base of Red Copper Green, with Striking Colour Frit, Van Gogh Caramel and Sasha's Silver with Black and Silvered Ivory Stringer.  There's a piece of Dark Violet/Copper Green/TerraNova2 twistie on here too.

I need to stop making them this big if I'm not going to take the trouble to smooth the lumps out of them.  This bead goes in the 'learning experience' box for sure.

November 21, 2009

Winter Colour Diet - Session 0

Last spring, when I did my 'Spring Fling' colour diet, I kept a journal of all the beads I made and the things I learned about the colours I was using.  I found that just going through the exercise and forcing myself to stare at and critique the beads really helped me to avoid repetitive mistakes and to capitalize on neat things I might otherwise not have noticed.

I didn't have a blog last spring when I did this, but since I do now I might as well do it here :)

These beads are from the palette before I 'finalized' it, although all of the colours used in them are still with me.  Thus, this is session 0 of 8.  If you missed my post on why/how I am doing this restrictive palette thing, you can read that post here.


The little lentil on the left is made with Seashell Swirl, Silvered Ivory Stringer (SiS) and a little bit of Taxco Silver Turquoise (which I didn't reduce).  The nugget on the right is Okey Dokey Artichoky, Seashell Swirl, and SiS.  Both beads have a motley mixture of Striking Color frit on them - I was given little samples of them and just dumped them all into the same container to save space, and I rather like the result.

I made these two beads with my new Zoozii's Medium+ Duo press, which I don't have the complete hang of yet.  The nugget shape is giving me particular trouble because it seems to want to leave little ridges on the ends of the beads.  I'll go back to war with it tomorrow.

This bead is Van Gogh Caramel over Light Brown Transparent, with Adamantium end caps and SiS.  I took so long to shape it that I lost the strike on the silver glass, and I draped it with Taxco, Rubino and god knows what else in desperation towards the end to give it some colour.  I really need to practice with these striking colours because I just love them, but so far they seem to hate me like poison!

This one is Reichenbach Mystic Beige with the same half-struck Striking Color frit mixture.  It has Adamantium end caps, SiS and was finished with trails of fine silver wire.

This one is Dark Ivory with Artichoky.  It's got Adamantium end caps, SiS, and stringer/dot decoration with ivory.  I got a little carried away with swirling.  Swirling seems to be my new 'thing' - I can't seem to stop doing it.

Deep inside, this one is Artichoky with the Striking Color frit blend and SiS, all swirled up.  On one side, I applied some silver Dichro and plunged the heck out of it.  On the other side, I laid down a twistie of some reduction silver glass.  I think the twistie was made from Triton, Aion2 and Elektra2.  I tweezed the twistie flat, over-reduced it and covered it with Clear.  The back of the bead was finished by putting a big smear of Adamantium, bordering that with SiS and dotting it with Sasha's Silver.  The whole thing was reduced and then put into the kiln to stew in its own freaky juices.

I like some of what this monster has going on, and don't like other parts of it.  I want to try the plunged dichro thing again because that turned out kind've cool but the other side of the bead needs some rethinking.

Overall, I think I am most pleased with this one out of this batch.  The core of it is either Mystic Beige or Seashell Swirl (dammit!  I need to take notes!), with a little silver and some TerraNova2.  I encased that, plunged it deeply in random places, and added huge swirls.  There's a layer of fine silver mesh strips, encased and melted so that the silver condensed into little dots, and then some more swirling which turned some of the little dots into little sharp lines.  The ends are finished with SiS, and the dots on the front are SiS covered in Sasha's Silver, raked and reduced.

And finally, here is Dr. Strangelove.  I made my own shards last week for the first time (they didn't come out so good... more practice tomorrow!) and this is Artichoky with those shards and SiS.  I'm pleased with the odd twists on the side, but think I could have been a little more inventive with the surface decoration.  I might make another one of these tomorrow and see where it takes me.

These colours are pretty fun to use together, and I'm looking forward to the next 8 sessions with them!

November 19, 2009

The Thrice-Breasted Lentil

I made this bead in Day Two of Sherry Bellamy's class, right at the end of the day when I SHOULD have been watching her demo her Chaos technique. I was desperate to make one final bead that would incorporate some of what I'd learned before it was time to go home, and this is what popped out.

I didn't even notice the "boobs" on it until Holly pointed them out, and at first I was embarrassed to show the bead.  After gathering up the courage to post it and thinking about it for a couple of days I'm over that, and maybe I even like the bead a little now.   It's a little ridiculous-looking, but the world needs more ridiculous.


November 15, 2009

Putting Myself Back in the Box

Since winter has come back again this year (dammit! Why won't it stay gone?) I am back in the studio on Saturdays, and my beadmaking is again limited to once per week. We're looking for a bigger apartment that has a garage/workshop/studio-like aspect to it, but until that happens this is how things are going to be.

Travelling back and forth to the studio means that I need to be really conservative about how much stuff I take with me. I also have to pack it well, since I only have two hands. I'm acutely aware of how many more 'essential' tools I've acquired since last winter, and they now have their own space in a cute little lunchbox that Holly bought for me on eBay.

Both because of my space issues and because it really works, I'm back in my mode of being extra strict with myself about my colour palette. I did this for the first time last spring because I was having trouble focusing at the torch. With too many colour choices in front of me, my attention is really scattered, and I find I don't learn as much about how each colour behaves. The rules of this 'colour diet' program are pretty restrictive, but I've developed them over the last year and I really, really like doing things this way.

Here are the rules:
  1. The palette must have no more than 15 colours. Black, Clear, Ivory and Dark Ivory don't count as colours and are always in the box as staples.
  2. At least five of the palette'scolours must be transparent.
  3. Silver Glass colours do not count towards the total since they are used mainly as an accent.
  4. I must use the same palette (see #5) for at least eight consecutive torching sessions.
  5. I am allowed to make ONE adjustment between torching sessions if I decide that I really don't like a particular colour or if there is a new colour begging for me to try it RIGHT NOW, but if I put something new in, I must take something else out.
  6. If I make any adjustment between torching sessions, I lose credit for the sessions I've completed with the palette to date and have to start over again. (see #4) If the change was because I ran out of something, I can just carry on normally.
  7. I start with around 1/4# of each colour. When I use up all of the rods of a given colour, I can select a new colour to replace it, or just grab another 1/4# of the same colour if I don't feel done with it yet.
It takes a couple of sessions to arrive at a palette I think Ican live with, which is what I've been exploring for the last couple of weeks, but I am pretty happy with the colours I've chosen now. If anyone reading this is interested in joining me on my winter colour diet, here is where my palette will begin:


  • EFF Red Copper Green
  • CiM Adamantium
  • CiM Mink
  • CiM Tamarind Unique (-1)
  • REI Mystic Beige
  • EFF Okey Dokey Artichoky
  • EFF Copper Green
  • EFF Dark Violet
  • VET Seashell Swirl
  • EFF Light Brown (Transparent)
  • EFF Pale Green Apple (Transparent)
  • EFF Pale Emerald (Transparent)
  • EFF Pale Aqua (Transparent)
  • EFF Pale Ink Blue (Transparent)
  • Staples: Clear, Black, Dark Ivory, Ivory
  • Silver Glass: Assorted Silver Glass Colours, rods & frit
  • Metals: Silver Mesh, Silver Wire, Copper Mesh, Silver Leaf, Silver Foil
  • Dichro: Dichro on Clear (various colours)
  • Goldstone: Gold Aventurine Chunks
In some cases, I'm not starting with the full 1/4# of a colour because I've already blown through some of it in my initial exploration, or because I didn't own a full 1/4# of it when I started. Light Brown Transparent, Mystic Beige and Pale Aqua fit into this category, and they will probably be replaced or replenished pretty quickly as I get going. I am also starting with closer to 1/2# of Okey Dokey Artichoky because I am completely in love with it and couldn't stop pulling the rods and then couldn't make myself put them back.

Another pleasant side effect of this 'discipline' I'm imposing on myself is that I will actually use some colours up and free up space in my glass storage boxes. Those boxes are a little bloated from all of the shopping I did at the Frantz Bash and the glass Mike Frantz sent me when my little poem about Copper Green won me second place in a contest he held on LE last month.

Since it's my poem, I'll go ahead and share it here. It seems appropriate, given that its subject is on board for this ride.
An Ode To Copper Green
In rod form I love you and can't get enough,
It's when I cremate you the going gets tough.
Your colour is tricky and goes all askew
Transforming from green into two shades of blue
With some shades you develop a big, thick black line,
But with purple, the line looks a lot more like wine.
Under clear, you turn yellow! Why is that, o Green?
When you get too hot there's an odd silver sheen...
You spark and you pit and you hate to be hot,
But in spite of all that I still love you a lot.

Here are some of the beads that I made last week as I was making my palette decisions. So far, I'm enjoying the colours and how they play together.

November 10, 2009

Test Results :: Dark Matter

1 - Reduced, 2 - Reduced & encased, 3 - Encased, 4 - Plain, 5 - As a floral, over Slytherin, 6 - w/ Silver Leaf, 7 - w/ Khaos frit, 8 - w/ Gaia/Elektra2/Kronos frit, 9 - w/ Black, 10 - w/ Light Turquoise, 11 - w/ White, 12 - w/ Ivory, 13 - w/ Opal Yellow

If you don't have any Dark Matter yet, you'd better get some.  What an awesome colour!  It looks like brown in the rod, but for the most part, behaves like it thinks it's blue.  It goes all streaky and fun, and it just loves silver.  If there was ever a colour I wanted an unlimited supply of, it would be this one.  Alas, I have been reminded that money also buys things like food, shelter, torch time, clothes and Christmas presents and that it's not really ok to spend all of it on glass.  The pound I have will have to do for now, I guess.

The rods are pretty shocky.  If I were squeamish about glass bits flying at me, I probably wouldn't like it as much as I do.  It's not as shocky as Honey Crunch, but it's not all that far behind, either.  I love it enough to deal with it, but others might not feel the same way.

Worked normally in a neutral flame, Dark Matter develops a purple streakiness.  (Beads 3 & 4)

Under Clear
Encasing Dark Matter lightens the colours a little.  Even though some vendors list Dark Matter as a 'special' colour like Coral, I didn't seem to have any trouble encasing it.  (Beads 2 & 3)  I didn't try to encase it really heavily though.  Maybe I'll give that a shot next time I'm using it.

Reduction
Reducing Dark Matter is a lot like reducing Artichoky or Light Turquoise - ugly rust-coloured patches.  (Bead 2 - also encased) But if you then turn up the oxy and clean off the reduction, it's like a darker, metallic version of itself.  (Bead 1) I haven't really seen this happen before, and I kind've like it.  I wonder if it would happen again, or if it's one of those things you can only make happen once.

Reactions
Dark Matter has fascinating reactions with silver.  (Bead 6, 7 & 8) The silver leaf/foil or silver glass develops a light border around it, and although it isn't evident in the frit spacers because I'm not really all that good at striking silver glass yet, the silver glass really seems to love it.  I have other beads, below, that illustrate that love a little better.

Dark Matter and Black seem to do a strange, shiny purple dance.  Where the Black and the Dark Matter meet, a metallic purple line forms.  (Bead 9) This was in a neutral flame, and totally weirded me out.   Here's a close-up of that:

Dark Matter didn't do anything with Light Turquoise at all.  (Bead 10) Boring!

Dark Matter was really strange with White.  (Bead 11) Where the White was over the Dark Matter, the Dark Matter seems to have curdled.  The line that separates the Dark Matter and White is slightly blurry light purple.  Dark Matter over White just looks like boring Grey.

Dark Matter forms a dark line reaction with Ivory in exactly the same way that most other colours that are 'special' do not.  (Bead 12) Because the dark line sort of blends in with the Dark Matter, the Dark Matter on Ivory (and Ivory on Dark Matter) dots and lines look nice and crisply defined.

With Opal Yellow, the Dark Matter seems to spread a little, but also seems to lose its inclination to be interesting and just looks a little flat & brownish.  (Bead 13)

Here is a little scrollwork set that I made with Dark Matter and a Double Helix Odd Lot.  You can see in the picture that the Dark Matter struck almost to turquoise in streaks.  I don't know if this is the natural continuation of it's initial strike to purple, or if the silver glass is what brought it out so strongly.  I did press the lentil a couple of times so the heating and cooling from re/pressing it might have helped it along.  More experimentation required, but regardless, it's a pretty cool effect.

It's not obvious from the picture, but my beads made with Dark Matter and silver glass all have a slightly matte gunmetalish finish.  They seem to get this naturally without any special effort, but it is more pronounced in the large lentil than in the spacers.  I wonder if this is because of the silver glass or if it's something that just happens as you strike it.  Again, more experimentation required.

November 5, 2009

Test Results :: Okey Dokey Artichoky

1 - Reduced & encased, 2 - Encased, 3 - Plain, reduced, 4 - Plain, 5 - w/ Khaos frit, 6 - As a floral, Slytherin core, 7 - w/ Elektra2/Kronos/Gaia frit, reduced, 8 - w/ Silver leaf, 9 - w/ Ivory, 10 - w/ Light Turquoise, 11 - w/ White, 12 - w/ Black, 13 - w/ Opal Yellow

I appointed myself an unofficial colour tester in October, and I got through two whole colours before I got sidetracked and started doing other things instead of working through the list I'd carefully compiled.  I'll get back to it.  Eventually.

In the meantime, I'd like to share my test results for Okey Dokey Artichoky, one of my new favourite colours.

Okey Dokey Artichoky rods are an unassuming ochre-y green that seem like they might melt and look somewhat like vomit.  But au contraire, when molten, Artichoky looks like a blue-ish turquoise transparent instead.  That's its first trick.  The blue mostly disappears after you've annealed the bead except for the odd bit of streakiness.  Unencased Artichoky, after annealing, looks like a soft blue-green, a few shades darker than CiM Dirty Martini.

The rods are a little bit shocky, but not as bad as some of the Vetrofond Odd Lots or even some of the other Effetre handpulled colours.

Stiffness
Okey Dokey Artichoky is a fairly stiff opaque 104 colour.  On a stiffness scale where 1 is Opal Yellow and 10 is Black, it's probably  an 8.5 or maybe even a 9.  I think this means it will be good for fine stringer work.  By "fine", I mean "not like the stringer work displayed in the test beads, above."

Under Clear
Okey Dokey Artichoky looks somewhat lighter and more blue when it is encased.  (The first two spacers in the picture are encased, the second two are not)  Encased Okey Dokey Artichoky reminds me a little of unencased CiM Dirty Martini.

Reactions
Okey Dokey Artichoky is very reactive with silver.  The surface fumes a yellowish brown.  Silver Leaf looks great on Artichoky.  (Beads 5, 7 & 8)  This means it will be fabulous in organic designs with silver and silver glass.

Okey Dokey Artichoky behaves like a turquoise/blue in that it forms a dark line reaction with Ivory. (Bead 9)

Okey Dokey Artichoky does NOT react with Black, White or Light Turquoise.  (Beads 10, 11, 12)

Okey Dokey Artichoky spreads and discolours slightly over Opal Yellow, and Opal Yellow on top of Artichoky seems to make it greener.  (Bead 13)  It doesn't really seem to separate or do anything else really interesting though.  It might be fun to use it in place of Copper Green in the classic Opal Yellow/Copper Green/Rubino match-up and see what happens.

Reduction
Okey Dokey Artichoky doesn't do anything useful when you reduce it apart from develop an ugly red patchiness similar to what happens when you reduce Effetre Light Turquoise or Sky Blue.  (Bead 1)  This means reducing it is a mistake that should be avoided, unless that happens to be the look you're after.

Colour Density
Although Okey Dokey Artichoky looks like a transparent when it's molten, it's dense enough that when used as flower petals, you can't even see through it a little bit.  (Bead 6)
    Here are some more Okey Dokey Artichoky beads.  This colour is so much fun to use!  These beads both have a base of Artichoky, with some silver glass frit and SiS.  The bicone also has some fine silver mesh stuck to it.  The nugget was rolled in Silver Foil.