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March 31, 2010

Spring Things

My new palette is so much fun! 

Switching to 1/16" mandrels has brought my overall bead size down, and has really helped me get a better handle on my smaller bead press.  Making smaller beads is forcing me to really think about surface decoration in a more precise way.  Soon, with practice, I might even be able to apply it in a more precise way!  :)

The straight-sided lentils are on a base of Canyon de Chelly, and include silver leaf, TerraNova2 frit, a twistie that included some silver glass and surface decoration in Ivory and Black.

The nuggets are on a base of Silver Pink, and include silver leaf, TerraNova2 frit, another twistie including some silver glass, handmade murrini and surface decoration in Ivory, Black and Canyon de Chelly.


March 27, 2010

Back on the Wagon

It's only been a few weeks, and already I miss my Winter Colour Diet, so I am shifting my gears back to where they are more comfortable grinding along. This time, however, it is not really a diet.  I'm making a bigger commitment to myself this time, and I expect this to be somewhat long term.  The rules are a little stricter this time, too, and it all starts today!

I am allowed to use the following colours as 'staples', and replenish them as I run out. These will not be subject to change, and are to be considered a permanent part of this new palette of mine, for as long as I'm using it.
  • EFF White
  • Black (The last of my Vetrofond for now, to be followed by Tuxedo and then Hades)
  • Clear (REI Crystal for now... I may have to change it up as I don't have much left)
  • EFF Ivory
  • EFF Dark Ivory
  • EFF Copper Green
  • EFF Opal Yellow
  • CiM Adamantium
I am allowed to use the following opaque, transparent and silver glass colours. I am starting with around 1/4# of each colour, and can choose to either replenish them as I use them up or switch them out for new colours once I've depleted that initial amount:
  • EFF Silver Pink
  • CiM Canyon de Chelly
  • CiM Commando
  • CiM Poi
  • CiM Sepia Unique
  • EFF Dark Grass Green
  • EFF Ink Blue
  • REI Mystic Grey Blue
  • DHX TerraNova2
  • DHX OK326
  • PRC Abe's Ivy
  • PRC Sasha's Silver
I am allowed to use metals, dichro, goldstone, and the miscellaneous shards and frit I have on hand more or less indiscriminately.

Once things get going, I need to switch things out with enough regularity that I test at least one, and preferably two colours per week.

Here's a family shot of all of the colours together, but they're not in the same order I listed them in above. Normally this would bother me, but I'm feeling sort of relaxed today.

Why am I doing this?
It helps me to focus at the torch to not have a lot of colour distraction. Limiting the number of colours I am 'allowed' to use forces me to be more creative in other ways. It also gives some structure to my learning process and helps me to determine which colours I will do testing with. I get to be a little flexible, since some of the colours are only in the palette temporarily, which should help me not to get too bored with it all.

Getting to know the colours really well is super-important in this art form, because if you can't predict what they will do with one another, it's impossible to reliably make things that don't look like crap.

Why am I telling people about it?
I just like to share. Also, secretly, I hope that someone reading this will choose to play along with me, and we can share war stories about colours that don't behave very nicely together, and choose the next colours to enter the palette together. Fortunately, I'm willing to settle for just blasting it into the blogosphere.

How did I choose the colours?
I'm not really sure how or why, but every time I make a palette out of my head, it seems to have a similar composition to it.  Some general guidelines that I use (consciously or unconsciously) seem to be as follows:
  • Because I chose eight colours as 'staples', I needed to be strict with myself and not build on that too much in order to keep the set manageable.  I decided I was allowed four additional opaques, four transparents and four silver glass colours.  That gives me 20 colours total, which is my working maximum at any given point in time.
  • I need at least four different transparent colours in the palette, with a good range of saturation. For example, Sepia Unique is fairly light, Mystic Grey Blue is sort of light but also semi-opaque, Ink Blue is of medium saturation and Dark Grass Green is a little more dense than that.
  • A mix of light and darker opaque colours. For instance, Silver Pink is pretty light, Canyon de Chelly is sort of a medium, and Poi and Commando are both a little darker.
  • No hue overlap. I chose the opaques first, and then chose the transparents to 'fit' with them. I deliberately chose transparent colours that were close but not identically hued to the opaque colours I'd already picked. 
  • The rainbow. I always seem cover the whole rainbow in my own muted way, selecting at least one colour from each rainbow hue group. I don't know why I do this, and I never do it on purpose, but I can't seem to help myself. (Silver Pink, Sepia Unique, Canyon de Chelly, Opal Yellow, Dark Grass Green, Commando, Copper Green, Ink Blue, Mystic Grey Blue, Poi)
  • The staple colours are all colours that I just can't see living without right now, whatever else changes. I'm sure everyone's 'staples' are different, and mine will probably change over time, but this is where I am right now
  • I am afraid of bright colours, so I only use a few of them at a time. So silly.
  • Perhaps most importantly, the eight 'rotating' colours are all colours I'm interested in testing and learning more about for one reason or another.

March 25, 2010

Test Results :: Yellow Ochre

1 - Plain, 2 - Plain - reduced, 3 - w/ Silver foil, 4 - w/ Silver foil - reduced & encased, 5 - w/ TerraNova2 frit, 6 - w/ Elektra frit - reduced, 7 - w/ Copper Green, 8 - w/ Vetrofond Black, 9 - w/ Opal Yellow, 10 - w/ Ivory

Because Vetrofond Yellow Ochre is an 'odd lot', batches of it vary.  I have two different kinds of Yellow Ochre -- I have some rods that are more yellow in colour, and smooth, and then I have some rods that have a rough texture to them and are more greenish.  I have a slight preference for the greenish variety, but I like both and they aren't really much different in terms of how they behave. I tested the more yellow variety here.

General Impressions
Yellow Ochre, like Ivory, is a pretty soft opaque colour.  On my imaginary scale where Opal Yellow is 1 and Black is 10, I'd put Yellow Ochre at around a 2 or a 3 to describe its 'stiffness'.  It's a pretty flexible colour in that while (again, like Ivory) it is sort of violently reactive to silver, it seems to behave somewhat normally around other colours.  It's a little bit streaky, which can be fun.

I didn't try it this time around, but this colour makes interesting silvered stringer.  It is also good as a base for organic designs when you want a colour that will 'pop' a little more than Ivory.  I have also really enjoyed it in vine cane with some of the other Vetrofond odd lots like Swamp Moss and Lemongrass.  This is another colour I am hesitant to encase too deeply.

Reducing Yellow Ochre by itself does not have any apparent effect on the colour or texture of the bead.  (Bead #2)

Yellow Ochre behaves very similarly to Ivory in a lot of ways.

Silver sort of blackens (greyens isn't a word, right?) Yellow Ochre, and sits flatly on top of it. This is almost identical to how silver behaves with Ivory. (Beads #3 & #4)

Like with Ivory, the reduced silver glass colours tend to pop more on Yellow Ochre than the ones that require striking in a neutral flame. (Beads #5 & #6) I got some colour in the TerraNova2 frit, but because of the reaction with the Yellow Ochre, the little frit bits all have a black outline that sort of obscures the colour.

With Copper Green, Yellow Ochre develops a black outline. (Bead #7) I'm going to be a bit of a broken record and point out how similar this reaction is to how Copper Green behaves with Ivory.


There are no real reactions between Yellow Ochre and Black, Yellow Ochre and Opal Yellow or Yellow Ochre and Ivory.  There's a tiny amount of colour bleed between Ivory and Yellow Ochre, and that's just about it.

Here are some fun beads, some of them new and one a year old, made with Vetrofond Yellow Ochre:


March 23, 2010

Mission Accomplished - Tropical Sunset

Effetre Sedona is NOT UGLY! :)

I made these beads on the weekend, and the colours remind me of a tropical sunset. The blues give just a hint of ocean, and the mottled pinks and oranges make me think of the way the sun sets in the Caribbean.

Collection of beads made with Sedona, Leaky Pen, Dark Aqua and Anise White

These beads are a base of Clear, encased with Sedona. There are some random trails of a handmixed colour I made with Leaky Pen and Dark Aqua. The flowers are Anise White, and the little stamens are the same handmixed blue transparent.

A Few Words About Sedona
Sedona is super-soft, and it boils really easily. It can be shocky. It devitrifies, resulting in an oddy, chalky film building up on the surface of the bead while you're working it. It is so prone to devitrification that if you hold a rod of it in the flame underneath a bead made in a completely different colour, that other bead will develop a film on it that makes it look like its been etched.

One of the focals from the large picture, above, etched to rid the bead of devitrification.

To get rid of the devitrification, you can reduce the bead in a dragon's breath flame. Not all of the devit will go away with this method every time you try it -- it can be stubborn stuff. But the mottled surface colour is pretty attractive.You can etch the devit away as well, which results in a more even finish.  I like it etched very much, but I like the shine of the dark pink parts in the previous picture, too.

Sedona turns yellow when you use it with silver, which can be sort of nasty and unappealing. It's really reactive, and easily influenced by other colours. I didn't get a chance to run comprehensive tests with this colour, but I will definitely get to it eventually.

In spite of all its issues, I think Sedona and I are going to have a long relationship. I don't mind fussy, hard-to-work-with glass if I can get these kinds of results out of it.

March 18, 2010

Test Results :: Tongue Pink

1 - Plain, 2 - Reduced, 3 - w/ Silver foil, 4 - w/ Silver foil - reduced & encased, 5 - w/ TerraNova2 frit, 6 - w/ Elektra frit, 7 - As a floral - over Clear & Swamp Moss, 8 - w/ Vetrofond Black, 9 - w/ Copper Green, 10 - w/ Opal Yellow, 11 - w/ Ivory

General Impressions
Oh, what to say.  I didn't have a great Effetre Tongue Pink experience. I don't think I like it. I like pinks that cooperate with silver (Oh Seashell Swirl, how I missed you on Saturday!), not gunk it up. But at the same time, some of these reactions are sort of interesting, and if I'd been planning for them I might have been able to deal with them more effectively when it was time to make my 'fun beads'.

I didn't have much luck at all striking my sad batch of Tongue Pink, but I know from experience that there are batches of this colour out there that are actually nice, so it's hard to write it off as a colour completely.  Some of the reactions are truly bizarre.

In general, Tongue Pink behaves more like an ivory than it does like a pink.  Its reactions with silver and Copper Green are similar but different to what Ivory does with those elements.

Tongue Pink goes dark brown when it has silver on it.  (Beads #3 & #4)  I'm sort of tempted to try some Silvered Tongue Pink Stringer with some of the Tongue Pink I have left, just for kicks.

Silver Glass and Tongue Pink don't get on so well. (Beads #5 & #6) The reduced Elektra bead looks nicer than the TerraNova2, but let's be honest, they both look awful.  I won't be using a lot of Tongue Pink under silver glasses now that I know.

There is no noticeable reaction between Tongue Pink and Vetrofond Black. (Bead #8)  There's no reaction between Tongue Pink and Ivory either, but I'm not showing that picture because it's sort of grainy, so I'm telling you about it here.

There is a very subtle dark line reaction between Tongue Pink and Copper Green. (Bead #9)  This is also one of the only beads where the Tongue Pink showed any inclination whatsoever to be pink.

There is a less subtle dark line reaction between Tongue Pink and Opal Yellow. (Bead #10) Plus, the bead looks sort of dirty and fouled. This is the other test bead where I actually got some pink.

I'm not a veteran user of Opal Yellow, but I want to learn more about it so I've added it to the set of staples I am using to test with.  I have never seen Opal Yellow behave this way before, and I'm sort of intrigued, but possibly it's just because Opal Yellow and I haven't been properly introduced yet.

Here are the 'fun beads' I made with Tongue Pink, although they were made slightly less fun by how not-nice they turned out.


Ugh, ugh, ugh!

Bet you can't tell how I feel about Tongue Pink.  In fact, I know you can't, because the distaste I have for all of these beads I've made with it is sort of too complex and huge to really describe with mere words. Even words as effective and succinct as 'ugh!'.

I only have two rods left, and I really hope that if I ever buy this colour again I get a nicer batch of it because the one I'm using up is hideous. I know it can be nicer, because here is one of my first beads, ever, from July 2008. I need to trot this one out because the difference in the colour of the Tongue Pink is really amazing:

In any case, the moral is that you really need to try it for yourself, but if you find yourself with Tongue Pink that won't strike to pink no matter what you do with it, just pretend it's white, use it for flower petals and move on.

March 12, 2010

Test Results :: Kryptonite

1 - Plain, 2 - Plain - reduced, 3 - w/ Silver foil, 4 - w/ Silver foil - reduced & encased, 5 - w/ Silver glass frit (Gaia, Elektra, Nyx) - reduced, 6 - w/ TerraNova2 frit, 7 - As a floral, 8 - w/ Celadon, 9 - w/ Tuxedo, 10 - w/ Ivory

When I first used CiM Kryptonite a year or so ago, I didn't really like it very much, but now, after testing it and using it in some of my organic beads, I have no idea why. It was clearly a completely misguided first impression, because I definitely don't feel that way anymore.

General Impressions
Since semi-opaque colours are generally a little stiffer than opaques, I wasn't really prepared for how smoothly and readily Kryptonite melts down. That was the first of a few pleasant surprises this colour gave me as I put it through its paces. It's beautifully reactive and so nice to use!

Kryptonite is also silver and silver glass-friendly, it stays opaque enough in thin layers that you can still see it over Clear and it is curiously non-reactive with Ivory. I guess there are oddballs in every colour family, but the Kryptonite just doesn't do the things I assumed it would from all of my other testing.

I've grown really fond of this colour, and now I have to go buy some more, because I don't have very much left.

Reducing Kryptonite seems to make it a little milkier and somewhat kills its inner glow. (Bead #2) It's much brighter and prettier before you turn the propane up, but that milky look has its uses and appeal as well.

I love all colours that behave this way with silver, because it generally means that silver glass will LOVE them. Kryptonite is no exception to this general rule that is forming in my brain.

Bead #3 has silver foil melted onto the surface, and it mostly disappears and balls up and leaves a greenish/brownish residue. In Bead #4, I reduced the silver and then encased it which has made it do that fun shiny blanket thing you see in the picture.

These beads are sort of misshapen -- sorry about that. In the bead with TerraNova2 frit (Bead #5), the frit struck (and kept its strike!) reasonably well, confirming two important things. First, it confirmed that running away from Khaos frit, fast, was the right choice for me. Second, it confirmed that Kryptonite will make a spiffy base for striking silver glass.

This is further supported by what the reduced silver glass did in Bead #6. Now, this test wasn't really great because I accidentally left this bead in the kiln and annealed it twice which might have exacerbated the fuming on the surface. The silver glass reduced beautifully though, and stayed that way even through an extra cycle in the kiln.

There is some bleeding between Tuxedo and Kryptonite, and it's interesting how the Tuxedo has turned the Kryptonite lines almost to purple in places. (Bead #9)

I also think that it's interesting how Kryptonite made Celadon separate. (Bead #8) Kryptonite really does seem to behave more like a pink or a brown than a green or a blue.

And, strangely enough, Kryptonite doesn't really seem to react with Ivory very much at all in Bead #10. The Ivory has gone a little funny where Kryptonite is on top of it, and the Ivory has separated a little on top of the Kryptonite, but where's the dark line? Beats me... but am I ever thrilled to know that there is a green/blue colour I can use with Ivory without getting that reaction. I love the dark line reaction as much as the next person, but sometimes you just don't want it.

Here are some fun beads made with CiM Kryptonite:


March 9, 2010

Winter Colour Diet - Session 17

This was my last winter colour diet session, and I am feeling a weird mixture of relief and nostalgia. It's been really fun, I've learned an awful lot and I really appreciate the structure of it... but at the same time, I need a change.  Well, of course I do... I've been doing this since November.  I have test results for CiM Kryptonite to post, and those will be up sometime this week.

Now it's on to Defuglification!  I've assembled my palette of colours other people seem not to like, and will be giving them a workout for the next couple of months.  If the concept of defuglification is foreign to you, or if you are intrigued and want to play along, go here for more details.

I'm still going strong with my 1/16" mandrels, and don't even really miss the bigger ones. I am having such better results with my bead presses that it's hard to imagine going back, but I suppose I will eventually. I predict it will only be a couple of weeks before I feel a burning need to make an enormous bead and have to break out the 3/32"s.

This bead is a core of an experimental Ekho batch, with Triton, Clear and silvered Ivory. I wish I'd done some swirls inside, but overall I am pretty happy with how it came out.

And now you can see why I wish I'd done the swirls inside on the last bead.  I love the way this looks. This bead is a core of one of Double Helix's attempts to recreate Terra, with Triton (over-reduced but still neat), Clear and silvered Ivory.

This bicone is a base of Thüringen Herb rolled in silver foil with a twistie made from Thüringen Herb, Kryptonite, Double Amber Purple, Leaky Pen and Abe's Ivy. There are some random wraps of Triton on the surface and some Ivory dots. I'm a little bit in love with this bead and haven't been able to make myself list it on ArtFire yet, but I'm sure that will pass.

This one is a base of Simply Berry with Triton, Clear and silvered Ivory. It looks a little like a kimono acid trip.

Here we have a base of Celadon rolled in silver foil with the same twistie I mentioned above. There is a little silvered Dark Ivory stringer parked in there, and the dots on the ends are Ivory. It's a strange little alien bead, but I love it anyway.

This little plasmablossom is Abe's Ivy over a base of Transparent Light Brown. The dots and flowers are Ivory, and the scrollwork is silvered Dark Ivory.

This plasmablossom was less successful, but it looks better in person than it does in this photograph. I over-reduced the Triton and it went all yucky. The Triton is over a base of Light Brown Transparent, and the deco is Ivory and encased Goldstone.

I am really enjoying Abe's Ivy. The innards of this bead are Abe's Ivy and Clear, and the decorated end is Abe's Ivy, encased Goldstone and Ivory. This is a new design for me and I"m not really sure where it's going, if anywhere.

These are sort of a new thing as well. I'm getting the hang of my crunch press, finally, although I sort of wish it was bigger and deeper. I really enjoyed making them, and I like how organic their shape is.  I'm going to keep playing with this and see what happens.

The one on the left is a base of Thüringen Herb, rolled in silver foil with a twistie made from Kryptonite, R170, Abe's Ivy and Thüringen Herb. The ends are Avocado and there is SiS wrapped around each end.

The one on the right is a base of Kryptonite encased with Sasha's Silver and Clear and decorated with SiS, Kryptonite and some murrini I made a couple of weeks ago. 

March 5, 2010

Winter Colour Diet - Session 16

Session #16 of my Colour Diet was a little light on beads, but I made up for it on Sunday last week.  I'll have those beads this Friday and I can't wait to see what they look like.  It's so hard waiting a whole week to see them!!

All of the beads are made on 1/16" mandrels, as part of my new initiative to keep the overall bead smaller, and I did some experimentation with shapes as well.  It's always a bit of a trade-off at the torch... do I make stuff I've more or less gotten the hang of and end up with better looking beads at the end of it all, or do I throw all the cards up in the air, experiment, and see what happens?

Well, Saturday was an experimental day and I think the results were not all bad, but they were certainly mixed.  You can decide for yourself.

This first one is a core of Clear and Silver Brown with Abe's Ivy on one end, goldstone stringer swirls and Ivory dots.

This new take on my plasmablossoms (which I fully intend to explore further) is a base of Celadon, with silver foil, TerraNova2 frit and a twistie made from Thüringen Herb, Leaky Pen, Double Amber Purple, Abe's Ivy and Kryptonite.

These little focals, one square and one sort of T-Shirt shaped, are a base of Multicolor Dark with Ivory, encased goldstone and Clear.  This is another set of concepts I want to play with a little more to see what happens.

This is a weird experimental bead made with Magic, Vine Cane (leftover, not sure what was in it), Elektra and Clear.  I'm not sure I'll ever do this again, but it gave me some ideas.  I like having ideas.

Lots of decoration on this little plasmablossom.  The base is Dalai Lama (yay!  I kept a little of the colour!) with Silvered Ivory, Ivory and Aqua.

This last focal is conical, and sort of thimble-sized and thimble-shaped.  It is Ekho, Clear, Tamarind Unique #2, fine silver wire and Ivory with a little encased goldstone.

Last but not least, these little decorated spacers are Celadon with the same twistie I described above, some silver foil and random (too random I'm afraid) Ivory decoration.