Wednesday 28 September 2022

Making Even More Glass Beads

 A couple of weeks ago I was back at West Dean College to make more glass beads with Sarah.

Hollow beads

I was pretty nervous, I wasn't sure what to expect.  This was a 3 day improvers course looking at dot placement and decoration of beads amongst other things.  I was sort of expecting everyone to have a home studio and be attending to improve their skills. 

Beads with silver wire encased

I was also going to use the course to decide if this is really something I want to do and if I should set up my own studio.  No pressure then.

Spotty beads

I arrived on Monday evening for dinner and the health and safety briefing.  All the other ladies had made beads before like me, and like me they just wanted to learn more and have a play.  No-one else had a studio and so we were all in the same boat trying to remember how to make glass rods into pretty beads.

Beads with silver wire unencased

It was very satisfing to find that I did still remember what to do and even though my first couple of beads weren't the most amazing, they were bead shaped and reasonably even.  Hooray!  I'd remembered how to make beads.  Now I could start to work on how to make them better.


This time it felt a bit like learning to drive a car.  Having to wind your glass and melt it, then keep it warm while melting glass to decorate with, then hold everything in the right place to get the heat of the flame without buring anything.  So often I found I'd pulled my work above the flame when it should be under the flame.  And then trying to do tiny dots and my hands were shaking!  But as I practiced I got better and I learnt that there really isn't any need to rush.  Just think about what I want to do, then take my time.

My dots got better and better.  The best bit of being on a 3 day course is you get to see most of your work the day after you make it, so you can try again or improve on it if you want.  I only had to leave 6 beads behind in the kiln annealing when I went home on Thursday.

Beads with silver foil

My favourite of the whole lot is my dragon scale bead.  All it is is layers of dots, but it just looks so much more complicated.  I've found myself thinking about other patterns I could try and what other colours might look like.

Dragon Scales bead

So the course was another fab experience and now all I have to do is convice 'im outdoors that we can fit a studio into a garden that has just been landscaped...

Flora beads

Tuesday 20 September 2022

Nettle Cordage

 The week after attending the Nettle Fibre workshop I set out into the woods behind our house to forage myself some nettles.  I got a good haul and while most are currenly sitting outside for the dew retting process, four lengths got processed straight away, the stems split and the woody inners removed.

The next day I then worked through my ribbens, removing woody bits I'd missed and cutting off extra bits which would get in the way.  This gave my a much more refined material than the one we used at the workshop.

I then started twisting the pieces together to create cordage.  This is like string and what our ancesters would have made from natural fibres years ago.  

Over the course of several weeks I twisted all my fibres together to give me a cordage somewhere in the region of 5.5 meters in lenght!

I have an idea of what I want to use it for, but it's a project which will take some time.  Step one complete.  I'm hoping there will be enough for a couple of different ideas.  Watch this space.

Saturday 10 September 2022

Itsy Bitsy Bear Hug

 A while ago I found this free cute tiny bear pattern and wanted to have a go at making it.

I downloaded and printed the pattern, before sticking it to some card and cutting the bits out ready.  I found some felt in my stash and cut out bear bits and heart bits.  I even started sewing them together, but then I found out that I find this sort of sewing really boring!

I'd do a couple of stitches then think of something else I needed to do, so the pattern and bits got put away.

However, I am starting to commute into the office more, so decided to take it with me to do on the train.

This worked really well.  It's small enough to fit in my bag and not get in the way while sitting next to people on the train, and because I don't have a wifi signal I can't get distracted unless I look out of the window.  

One journey into London and I had a bear that just needed stuffing.  He's really sweet.  Only 7cm tall he would fit in a pocket to take some love with you if needed.  He'd probably go through the post quite well too.

I shall have to see what else I can use my commute time for.