When inspiration strikes

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Lately, I’ve been using up a lot of my small scrap glass to make small glass dots.  I cut the scraps into tiny pieces and then place them on a kiln shelf to be heated until the pieces form dots.  I use these dots as design elements in my plates etc – sometimes as the centre of a flower or just a dot decoration.dots

Here’s all the scrap glass laid out on the kiln shelf.  I left it overnight as I usually start my kiln in the morning in order to take advantage of my solar panels.  As I walked into my studio the next morning, I couldn’t help admiring the layout and was inspired to use the nice pattern (when the dots were properly formed) for a plate design.  So I took a photo as a reminder.  When the dots came out of my kiln, I had to thoroughly wash them as opaque glass tends to pick up kiln wash on the underside. Kiln wash is used on a kiln shelf to prevent the glass sticking to the shelf but if the glass is not properly cleaned between kiln firings then the residual kiln wash can become trapped, leaving a scummy look on the piece.

fused dot plate layout

This photo shows the finished dots laid on a piece of clear glass ready for tack fusing (heating the glass until the pieces are hot enough to stick together but not flatten).  Whilst the design isn’t the same as my original photo, I like the way the different coloured dots flow.

It’s a lovely tactile plate and I’m happy with the result.
fused dot plate

The Bead Show 2015

It’s almost that time of year again where Melbourne has a mid year bead show. The Bead Show is a relatively new show only starting out last year and expertly run by Jo and Prue who have many years of experience running this type of event. This year, it’s being held from Friday June 19 to Sunday June 21 at Box Hill Town Hall.

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I exhibited my lampwork beads last year and met quite a few new beading enthusiasts. A big banner advertising The Bead Show had been set up outside the Box Hill Town Hall prior to the event and this attracted many people that had never been to a bead show before. They found lots of stalls full of beads and findings, in fact most things you need to make jewellery. Some workshops were offered in various techniques too.

Over the last few months, I’ve been busy in my studio melting glass and making lampwork beads. Making the beads is the fun part as I really enjoy working with molten glass to create a miniature work of art. They have to be cleaned before being sold though and this is quite tedious, and like housework, one of those jobs I put off until absolutely necessary.

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As well as focal beads, I will have lots of bowls of smaller beads available. I find that people like to fossick through the bowls to find treasures.

The Bead Show is also a chance to catch up with previous customers, friends and other stall holders. Spending time chatting about beads is always enjoyable. Even better when they share the creations they have made using my beads.

Alpaca scarves and beanies

alpaca1Majacraft spinning wheel copyIt’s nearly that time of year when you need a nice warm beanie or scarf to ward off the chills of winter.  Alpaca fleece is incredibly warm, soft and it’s not itchy.  Alpaca fleece comes in a natural colours ranging from white, fawn, beige, brown, grey and black.

I bought my first 6 boy alpacas in September 2010 as paddock munchers but also hoping to one day learn to spin their fleece. I learnt to spin the following year by going on a short course and received my Majacraft spinning wheel for Christmas.  I love my spinning wheel – it’s made out of New Zealand Rimu and is a double treadle wheel.

Currently, I have 19 adult alpacas and 9 cria (baby alpacas).  Clover, my first cria, was born in July last year and it was an exciting moment to see a newborn in the paddock. My family take turns naming these adorable furry bundles.

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alpaca2So many alpacas create a lot of fleece waiting to be spun.  First, I card the fleece.  Carding separates and straightens the fleece to make spinning easier.  Next I spin the fleece by drawing it rhythmically into my spinning wheel to form one continuous yarn which is wound onto a bobbin.  When I have two bobbins full of yarn, I spin the two yarns together to ply them.   I then wash the finished yarn to remove all the dirt and set the ply.  Alpacas love to roll in dirt patches so their fleece is pretty dirty.  I either knit up the yarn as it is or sometimes I’ll dye white fleece to create a more colourful scarf.

It’s very satisfying when I complete a beanie or scarf knowing that my alpacas provided the fleece.  A large range of scarves and beanies are available at the gallery all throughout the cold months. Who will you choose to wear? Perhaps a black scarf from Sarge? Or maybe you’d prefer fawn from Moptop?

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Festival of Glass 2015

tapestry plateIt’s just under a week to go to the fifth annual Festival of Glass on the third Sunday of February. The event is held at Christian College, 40 Collins Street Drysdale. I’ve attended all previous festivals as an exhibitor and will be exhibiting again this year. It’s a wonderful opportunity to talk glass with people, which I love. Admission is free.

The Festival of Glass is an initiative of the Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Assoc. In their words – ‘The annual Festival of Glass celebrates the beauty and versatility of glass in art, craft and industry and promotes collaboration between people who work with glass.’

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Making a Fused Daisy Plate

daisy plate step6I made a daisy plate last week and thought I would take photos at each step of the way.  These plates make me feel happy when I’m making them – they just look so nice and bright. This plate is 30cm square and the plate has a slight curve to it.

Making a plate is a two step process.  First you fuse your design into one piece.  The piece is then washed and placed onto a mould to slump into shape.  Fusing and slumping require different temperatures. To try to fuse and slump at the same time will distort the pattern.

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