Saturday, December 31, 2011

Musings on 2012

As I think about New Year's Eve and the prospect of 2012, I can't help but think about this past year.

All in all, it has been a pretty good year for me. 

Mostly, making beads and playing in the kitchen. 

Here are a few photos from this pasts year:

The Ottoman bead changed it's shape into a teardrop and was renamed Bakbuk (Hebrew for bottle).  This gave me lots more room to play and the need to be symetrical from end to end was cast aside.

These are a from a series of pictures taken of a great set of five Ottoman beads I entered into the Bead Dreams contest (Bead and Button).  Much to my disappointment I did not get into the final selection.  I am not going to be discouraged and am already planning for the 2012 Bead Dreams Contest. 

This is Beatrice Birdie.  She was also entered into a contest - this one through the ISGB.  She actually came in first place!  Whooo hooo for Beatrice.  I was the ecstatic winner of a brand new kiln, which is happily set up in my studio now. 

Still making the birdies.  This one is staying with me, though I will be teaching a class on this very bead at Bead and Button this year.  Click here for the details.

This picture was taken at the Flame Run Gallery in Louisville, Kentucky as part of the Surfact Exhibit.  ISGB puts on the best glass bead shows!  I was honoured to have my bead chosen.  I was even more excited to discover that the ISGB chose an image of this very bead for some of their advertising. 

The highlight of my year had to be teaching at Red Deer College, in Red Deer Alberta.  It was not exactly warm the week I was there, but we kept those torches burning hot and I had the best time.  It was amazing to spend five days with a group of inspiring students and share my love for making glass beads.  I am hoping to do it again.  Perhaps the summer of 2013 - time will tell. 

Had a great deal of fun making some beads from a popular iphone game. 

The latest series of work are Round Ottomans - now in colour!  Not that the Ottomans were ever really in black and white, but I always seemed to stick to mostly one colour (well two if you count the base colour).  I am branching out and having tons of fun with them.

That is my 2011 in beads.  Fun to reflect on the past year as I plan for the next one.  I start 2012 by taking a class at Corning with Lucio Bubaco and Paul Stankard.  I am so pumped I can't begin to tell you.  There is so much to learn about glass that I don't think I will ever have enough time to do it all, but a girl can try.

Hope 2012 is a good year.  Happy New Year to all. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Are they Round Ottomans or something new?

Not sure what to call them.
I have loved this shape for quite some time now.  I nice chunky round piece of glass.  Like a big gum ball.  Big enough to have room for a decent design, but  not too big to wear.
I got out some Aurae and some Gaia glass to play with.  Love the colours you can get from that Gaia.  And the Aurae goes golden (as long as I don't over heat it!)

Here is a great group shot of the ends of the beads.
I am having so much fun with these flower motifs.  I still don't wing it and just end up with whatever number of dots fit - that hardly ever works out well for me.  So far these guys are sets of 8 around or sets of 12 around.  Eight gives me more room to play with, but twelve is so full and such a challenge.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Trying my hand at Toucans

I would like to introduce you to Hector.  He currently resides in my studio.  My studio is very small.  He is hanging from the ceiling directly behind me.  Originally he was found in St. Thomas on a shopping expedition many, many years ago.  I just had to have him. 

(You can see a charcoal drawing of my grandmother in the background)
Hector graciously agreed to be my model recently as I was ready to try my hand at toucans.

It was a wee bit difficult as he is behind me, but I used his colouring and dove in.  

I think the very first toucan is the one on the far right.  Then the second one is the one on the far left.  I thought they were pretty cute, but decided that perhaps Hector was not the best model.  Either for his colouring and makeup and also his location.  So, I hit the internet and found a whole bunch of photos.  I printed these out and gingerly place the piece of paper on my studio desk.  

I absolutly love the biggest picture.  That bird just looks like he has something to say.

So, the very next toucan created was the middle one in the above photo.  He is a bit buzzardy in his shape.  But I was determined.  I am fascinated by their colouring.  Just love the black tips of their beaks.

Once when I was a teenager, we happened to be in a local pet shop.  They had a toucan for sale.  He was $1,000.  I distinctly remeber that I actually had that much money in the bank - that was Everything I had - but I seriously considered if I should buy him.  He was just a youngster and in hind sight I am sure it is a very good thing that I just left him at the pet shop - first of all my Mom would have killed me! Second of all, there would have been the cost of a cage and food, the vet, etc. etc.  None of which I could possibly afford.  But, still I do love these birds.  We used to have a zoo membership and I would always go and visit the one they had there. 

These are the second set of toucans.  I am improving.  No hats for these birds - seems sacreligious or something!  I have started to try them in funky colours.  We shall see what happens next time I get some studio time!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Wow! A New Kiln

Sometimes you just never know what will happen. 

I love to attend the ISGB Gathering.  It is such a wonderful full three days just crammed with beadmaking.  Demos, displays, vendors, open torch, contests, auctions.  And, the people - lampworkers everywhere.  Who could ask for anything more.

I have been participating in many of the fund raising activities.  I love the ISGB and all that it stands for.  This year I was honoured to be asked to contribute a piece to the live auction, I had a piece in the silent auction and I created this little birdie for the Trifecta Beaded Object Contest.

Every year there is a beaded object contest at Gathering.  I have contributed pieces in the past.  It is always fun to make something out of the ordinary.  This year it was entitled "Trifecta" in honour of us being in Louisville, Kentucky.  The three themes that we were supposed to consider were: Baseball, Horses, and Fancy Hats.  I think they wear these fancy hats to the horse races, though I have not had the pleasure of attending a horse race in Louisville. 

Once I did attend the horse races in Mexico City.  That was many, many years ago - I spoke very little spanish - well none really and was staying with a family.  The rebel older brother took me to the races - I think he was wagering some money - I was all of 17 years old.  What I remember best is that the race track was so beautiful.  I certainly do not recall any fancy hats, though there was this very fancy dude that rebel older brother was very intent on talking to.  I have alwasy wondered just what was going on.  But, I will never know.  Anyhow, I digress. 

The deal with the Trifecta is that you purchase tickets and put them in the box (this year it was little bags) for the one you like.  A random drawing is made of the tickets and one person is the winner of that beaded object.  There is another side too - the top three pieces that receive the most tickets win prizes for their creators.

My little birdie had the most tickets!  She came in first and would you believe, I won this:

You just never know when you make something what will happen.  I never would have believed it if you would have told me in the spring that that little birdie would be everyone's favorite bead.  Thanks so much to everyone who voted for her.  She has a good home with the lucky winner.  All beads need good homes, don't you know - especially ones with faces!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Red Deer Here I Come!

I  am teaching at Red Deer College this coming week (July 18-22, 2011).  It is a five day class - five days of straight lampworking, six hours a day!  I think I will be in heaven!

I am hoping to find some personal torch time too!  The studio is open in the evenings, so we shall see if there is some time for me to play too!

I have been having such fun with the newest beads.  The Bakbuks are still lots of fun and I am branching out with colours.

This is the latest bunch - from the last couple weeks of June 2011.  These beads still remain challenging, the third one from the left is unsellable as there are two small cracks near the bottom where it got too cold.  I was experimenting with twirling the lines - I was really liking the fact that the look like wee little flowers but are not quite so predictable.  Anyhow, my attention was focused there and you know what that means - I forgot the rest of the bead for just a little too long.  Ah, well - I will wear it myself.

Birdies are still fun to make.  I have consistently been putting hats on their little heads.  They now look somehow naked without the hat!

This is Grannie Bea.  I think she is staying with me too.  I don't know - something about her is too cute for me to say goodbye just yet.  I had been focusing on brighter colours for the birds - those of you who know me know that I would just use ivory glass in everything - so I was trying to stay away from ivory birdies!  But I think I like this colour for a birdie!  The dots are a fancy tag glass - I am lousy at getting the fantastic colours out of all those silver glass, but some of these dots are a really cool purple.  Of course, they are the dots on the bottom of the bird!

It is nice to be travelling in Canada for a change.  Cell phones being what they are, it is much easier for me to post and keep in touch while I remain in Canada.  I am packing the camera for Red Deer and have every intention of posting pictures in a timely manner.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Where does the time go?

I guess I am not really a very good blogger.  My last post was in February and now it is early July!

Spring was busy with the Oasis Bead Show and then my beloved Toronto Bead Society - Bead and Jewellery Fair in May. 

I am still playing with my new style of beads.  They do have a name - Bakbuk beads - Bakbuk is the hebrew word for bottle.  I was making one and thinking about things that it reminded me of and I thought of that old TV show "I Dream of Genie" and the wonderful bottle she lived in.  I think if I were a genie I would like to live in a fancy bottle. 

Here is one of the latest of these beads: I am trying to branch out and play with more colours.  This can be difficult for me.  Each of these beads takes at least an hour, sometimes two, to create.  What if I don't like the colour combination? 

This one is a really pretty bead.  In real life it is very difficult to see the colour differences between the red and the brown.  Though in the photos I could more readily see the two colours.  Sometimes red glass is too brown and other times it is too orange.  Fussy, fussy me is never quite happy with our selections of reds.

I am gearing up to teach at Red Deer College in just under two weeks (I leave in 11 days to be exact!).  I have an almosst full class and a five day plan of beads to make.  It should be tons of fun.  I google-walked around the campus just yesterday and the place looks lovely!  I hope the weather is nice when I am out there.  I am getting really excited. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Turning a corner

It is funny the way things happen.

I love making my Ottoman beads.  They are full of details and take a great deal of concentration.  Somedays I just don't have it in me to concentrate quite that hard.  Other days I think why do I want to make another one of those - have I not made enough of them.

Then, there are days when I just want to make them in different colour combinations and continue to tweak them.

Recently I started playing with light hearted creations - novelty glass you may call  it.  I have participated in a local Toronto bead show for many years and was quite surprised to see that her description of my work included those words: Lampwork glass by Amy - beads, pendants, novelty glass  The first time I saw that I was not impressed, but I have always had some quirky items and I suppose it is novel.

Recently I decided that perhaps I could combine the novelty (owls) with the Ottoman.  I started with a squat little shape and began to decorate it as an Ottoman bead - in the end it was really quite nice and I did not have the heart to put eyes or wings on it.  

I had such fun that I made another, and another.  I am still trying to find a good name for these large, intricate, teardrop shaped Ottoman beads - Owl Ottomans? Teardrop Ottomans?  In any case here is a selection of the latest of these beads.

It was a snow day here in Toronto.  I had hoped to have many hours at my torch, but it somehow did not work out that way at all.  I think I have spent the entire day either in the kitchen or here at the computer.  I have a baker's dozen of fresh bagels, which are delicious, if I do say so myself and perhaps Saturday will bring some new Ottoman beads.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

2011 Brings on the Birdies

Sometimes I get something into my head that just has to get out into the glass. 

A number of months ago I had this image of a dancing elephant wearing a hula skirt.  She found a home quite quickly and I never made another like her.  I do like elephants and sometimes think I will try again.  I really think she could use some tweaking.  There are so many little details about her that I see and say, oh come on - you could do better.  But she has quite the cute personality. 

Recently I got it into my head that I wanted to make birds - now many, many of us make birds.  I had this image of birds with hearts on their breasts and hats on their heads.  Now, the earliest ones did have hearts on their breasts, but really, they could use some work. 

Turns out there are many things to consider when creating a bird - especially one wearing a hat - that mandrel can be quite bothersome!  Some of the first ones I did not have the hole going all the way through - not exactly a bead - and they are sort of hunchbacky - again, I need some perfecting.

I like to take an idea and play and play, tweaking as I go. 

My Ottoman series is very detailed and exact, these new beads are much more playful to look at and to make - I don't have to be quite so exacting.  I have been having so much fun with colour combinations and different colours on the beaks - I am having too much fun with stripey beaks. 

I also decided to try my  hand at making legs for the little guys.  I don't have the very best tools.  Last year at Bead and Button I took a class with Anne Mitchell - she advised to have tools with long handles as they are easier on your hands and the ends don't poke you right in the middle of your palm - Wow - Anne is right - I will be looking for better tools as my  hands took a beating as I tweaked making birdie legs out of wire.

I have been continuing with the birdie theme and tried my hand at owls - well, they are too much fun - again I can play with all kinds of crazy colour combinations!  I actually think that that guy on the left has no wings!  Hmmmm - I will have to go and check him out - perhaps they are just little wings hiding - perhaps they got forgotten in the adding of toes!  Silly me!  He could be a new species of flightless owls - related to the ostrich?

It is winter here and today it is much too cold for beading.  We have also had tons of snow recently.  I took this photo on the back porch about a week or so ago.