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Tuesday, 1 February 2011

A Day with Pixie Willow Designs

Last weekend I spent a great day in the company of Lorna learning some more about beadmaking.  Top of my list was stringer control, specifically straight lines.  Lorna explained that it is easier to learn stringer control on a flat surface so we should start with using a press to get nice a even surface.  I have used a bead press before but I always applied a 'guesstimate' approach with how much glass to use which invariably left me with too much glass.  Here are my attempts with Lorna's example sandwiched between:
So the shape isn't perfect because we were looking to get the flat surface.  The dots are random because I was messing about with using such fine stringer.  However, I have to say that I was mighty pleased with the relatively straight, unbroken lines.  Must remember the mantra 'snap off me end' (winks at Lorna).  From stringer control we moved on to twisties and murrini.  Lorna showed me a great easy way to make simple murrini that, with practice, can give lovely results without the faff of optic moulds:

   Apologies for the small picture.  Lorna's is the right hand bead (as if I have to explain that).  I was amazed at how straightforward it could be to make murrini, it could be dangerously addictive.  Next on the list was twisites:
I have had a go at making twisties before but I haven't had much success with getting a consistent twist.  But with some expert tuition I made a very respectable twistie, I can see that this can become equally as addictive as making murrini.  I have now invested in a pair of glass cutters!!!
Another item on the list was cabs.  Mum and I have seen the cab mandrels at Tuffnell's and always fancied having a go.  The skill here is in building up the glass to make a nice even shape without disturbing the bead release on the mandrel.
Just in case you're not sure, mine is the one on the right (tee hee who am I trying to kid?)  Having made my cab shape I was at a loss as to how to decorate it so I melted on the rest of my twistie.  Lorna also showed me how to make a cab without using a cab mandrel but by using a rod and a press!  This is why paying for some tuition is so worthwhile, I have learnt loads in a short space of time, not only in terms of technique but also in tips and tricks. 

The final items on my list were shaping dots and how to make the big hole beads with the stacked dots that are then raked.  I have played around but something wasn't quite going right, I know now where I was going wrong.  Lorna then took it a stage further and melted in the stacked dots to give a lovely swirly effect:


Thankyou Lorna for a great day!

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