Thursday, 28 February 2008

Simple Custom Dichroic Patterns

Ok, quick tutorial!
I quick and easy way to make custom dichroic patterns...well when you don't have a lazer engraver or sandblasting unit to hand is etching creme. It's not as precise as either of those two but a lot less messy and it's a good way of adding writing to fused glass should you want to..I write like Daniel Day Lewis's right foot so it's not something I'd want...anywho...

First stage is to 'mask' areas you don't want etched. There are a couple of ways to do this. If you want to be precise you can use a stencil or even a sandblasting resist film to mask the dichroic....I think there's not enough time in the world to do that so I use 'sharpie' markers. They're quite effective..if you add a few layer they're even better! ...One cheating way of doing it is you use card making 'peel offs' to make quite a precise design.

I sketched a quick design using the marker...The key word here is 'sketched'. I did this simply for the blog so I wasn't really inspired at this point!

There's a lot of black here but remember to do the design in negative so the creme will take of the unmasked parts.

Here's the creme. You can use it do some interesting effect on glass but use it with caution! Remember to use gloves as it is caustic and wash you hands after use!...We wouldn't want this stuff reaching the parts that other beers can't reach!

This is the dichroic piece afterleaving the creme on for 5 mins....a bit rough and ready I know but it was just for show....and i'm not Picasso. Wash the glass thoroughly.

Here's the etched dichroic glass in a section of one of my jubilee pendants....purty ain't it!

And now for something completely different!

I'll be starting bi-monthly glass fusing classes from my home studio on 30th March. Details available from the website or you can email me at . I'm limiting the number to 4 so everyone gets a decent amount of attention so drop me a line fi you're interested!


Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Spring Cleaning...and a very British Earthquake!

Well, so much to talk about! It's been quite a hectic week all in all so blogging has been a bit on the backburner. Meetings with accountants and advisors are the boring bits of working for myself but very necessary...especially when, like me you can't remember my phone number let alone tax start date...or whatever was said at that meeting.

I'm also trying to knock some sense back into my website which because of other commitments, i've had to neglect for a bit. It'll be back in shape later this week with some very exciting new lines i'm working, i'm going to be displaying some dichroic glass by other artists! There's a small minority or glass artists who are quite hostile to other artists and sellers. I hope through this blog and my growing list of contacts I can slowly dispell that and get a sense of community that should be there!

Anyway. I usually end up working late through the week so was up for the dramatic earthquake that hit Lincoln in the early hours of this morning. When I say dramatic...I mean a few bits of masonry came down in some village (ok, so they landed on someone which must of hurt), but it was hardly the end of the world. I've had curries that looked more threatening..and with the same wobbley effect. Still it proves how luckly we are in Britain to not be at the mercy of nature as much as people in other parts of the world are...although walking down the sea front outside my apartment is like an assault course at times!

Very exciting news this week is that my work is feature on .

Which is indeed an honour to be among such great work! Check it out and add it to your list off faves!


...back tomorrow hopefully with a mini tutorial of making custom dichroic patterns!

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Competition and Gossip!

Just a short one tonight-i'm bushed!
Ok, so the ebay strike is underway!....Nothing has happened though! No change whatsoever and the sky has not fallen in...which is always nice. I'm hoping it forces sellers to be a bit more customer focused and not so bitchy about other sellers. It's definately not as attractive a place to base a business anymore but that has been the case for almost a year now and nothing looks as though it'll change.
I've had more grief from competitors than customers in the past six months. When craftspeople like me make the same items, from the same material some sellers honestly think their work is pioneering and all others, forgery! They get so bent out of shape once started a smear campaign via blogs etc which was quite funny as the spelling was rather...erm...irratic.
Doing this blog I hope people feel they can ask questions and i'll try and respond in as open a way as I can.
Here's a few new designs...domino dichroic pendant and textured glass pendants.

These are quite a contemporary shape, with a double bail...they look great on a choker! There's a load more on my ebay shop.
These are more from my textured dichroic glass jewellery range. They're very tactile and I guarantee they will get lots of admiring looks from the magpies in the office.

I'm giving away this fused glass plate from my dichroic glass website. It's the first of a new selection i'll be putting on soon. It's eight inches square with a slight curve and will look great on any table.

For a chance to win just help me answer the following question in the comments section..
I'm producing a new range of glass jewellery and home accessories based on this style pattern.
What should I call it?

The rules!
Competition ends 26th March and answer will be picked at random from a selection. All inappropiate answers and comments will be removed as nesessary. Postage will be paid for and the prize will be posted within 7 days of the competition close. No replacment will be available in the event of loss or damage whilst in transit. The prize cannot be exchanged for cash alternative. Entry not limited to the UK.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Dichroic Glass Fusing Books

People quite often ask how I started glass fusing. I think when people look at fused glass pieces what they mean to say is 'How Can I Make this?' Well I had the same reaction when I first looked at dichroic glass. I've always loved working with my hands. I studied Architecture but preffered making models than working out how a building stays standing. The office was never for me! I worked a series of jobs with no future before I decided to just go for it and work for myself. The last one was in a jewellery shop which I kind of liked but hated my boss! He sold fake goods and took exception when I refused to rip off the people who ventured into the shop. I used to practise making fused glass at night when I got home. The final straw in the last job came when my boss got so annoyed that I was making more money selling my pieces in a local hairdressers than he was in his shop. I can't really remember if I was fired or walked out... it was probably a good thing!

Anywho...the point is...the ways I learnt was with 3 things....trial, error and this book.
This book, Contemporary Warm Glass by Brad Walker, was so helpful in starting out. It answered all the little queries I had about kilns, firing glass and techniques. I bought this before I bought my first kiln which was a very good idea because before reading this I had no idea what a kiln shelf was let alone shelf primer....I though I could melt any old glass! There's several tutorials in there that'll give you basic techniques that you'll keep refering back to time and time again.
The link to Amazon where you can purchase it is on the right hand side of the blog. I genuinely recommend this book to any glass fuser!
The next book I'm going to recommend is this-
Kiln Formed Bracelets, by Jayne Persico...again the link is on the right hand side of the page.
This book is my new favourite! I bought this book when I wanted to learn how to make the dichroic glass bangles that are now a feature in my shop and this book tought me everything, from what kiln to use, to how to size the bangles correctly. It's got loads of tutorials from some very unique dichroic canework to making dichroic watches. Again it's one book I keep on reffering to!

Saturday, 9 February 2008

GlassKanvas on

GlassKanvas was featured on this past week, how exciting!
It's a great honour because the work featured on the site is so beautiful I have to restrain myself from looking at it too much in order to preserve my bank accounts! The site featured some of my dichroic bangles and dichroic pendants and got some nice comments.

I have to say that it made my day so thank you cuteable and thank you too swirlyarts!

On another note....I'm going to start a series of glass fusing jewellery classes, starting in March and i'll post details up soon. It'll be aimed at beginers to intermediate level fusers. I'll be teaching compatibility, cutting, kiln use and dichroic techniques. It'll be for groups of 4 and depending on the level of interest will be held once or twice a month from my home studio based in the heart of Liverpool City Centre.


Friday, 8 February 2008

Dichroic Glass Donut/ Doughnut Tutorial

Well...what a week! I've been trying to get around to this tutorial for days but as usual work and life got on top of me! January is supposed to be a slow month but the opposite has proven to be the case this year. Let hope things get back to normal soon! I'm working on a great new range of dichroic glass jewellery, I'll have pics next time!

Anywho.. First things first!
Glass donuts are easy to do but with so many things in life, you need the right equiptment!
For my version you will need-
A drill can buy a reasonable for £30/$60, nothing flash!

Diamond core drill...2 sizes, one around 35mm and another roughly a half to a third the size, around 14mm

Safety googles

Protective Gloves

This method is great for using up all your scrap/mis-shapes and the great thing is that it's a great way of recycling because not only can you make dichroic cabs whilst you're making the donuts but the scrap you make can be used again to make more donuts.
Firstly you need to fire a slab from which you cut the donuts. I use hot damz and arrange them in a square. If you're not familiar with them, they're kiln furniture you can use to build dams to control the thickness of pieces as they fire.
Fill the square with scrap but don't over fill. You want the fully fused slab to be around 1/4 inch thick, any thicker and the fired donut will lose it's shape. If you're using dichroic glass scrap try and keep the dichroic layers all facing the same way to avoid them 'repelling' each other as they fire. A good tip is to use either clear or transluscent glass along side the other scrap, it give the finished piece real depth! You can simply use layer dichroic glass if you wish...4 layers of 2mm is about the thickness you should fire.

Fully fuse your scrap slab and don't try and skip the annealing stage. the slab will be subject to heat later on in the manufacture so you want the slab to be as stable as possible.

Arrange your drill press on a level surface and make sure the surrounding area is covered to protect it from water splashes.

Set up the drill with the larger of your diamond core drill bits.

These are usually used by plumbers to cut through marble or granite worksurfaces so work well with glass.

You're best to put something over the base of the drill to drill onto, and old towel or piece of carpet works well. Also, have to hand a water bottle in order to cool the drill bit as it's working through the glass. Wearing both your protective gloves and glasses drill the glass with the core bit, making sure the drill is set to a fairly high speed other wise you'll simply blunt the dimond coating. Keeping the drill bit cool as you work with the water and don't try and 'force' the drill otherwise you'll leave the cut glass uneven. You should be able to quite easily cut a circle through the glass. It doesn't if the cut piece is even...a minute or two with the grinder should see to that.

Next step is to fit the smaller sized bit. Work out where the centre on the cut glass circle is and line it up with the centre of the bit. Cut through the glass making sure your wearing the gloves. At the this stage you need to work slowly! If you try and rush things now it'll simply crack the donut and you'll be swearing like a marine.

Carefully wash your cut glass and fully fuse! When you fuse ground glass, drilled glass etc slowly ramp the kiln up to full temp to remove the marks left by the diamond coating.
Here's one I made by simply stacking 4 layers of glass....rembember, the thicker you make the initial slab the less control you'll have over the finished piece.
Hope that clears up a few queries...leave a comment if you have any questions etc..i'll try and answer ASAP
It's i'm going to bed. Forgive the grammar if it's bad, my tired eyes can't cope!

Friday, 1 February 2008

Ebay Sellers Strike Feb 18th-25th

Anyone familiar with ebay or any of the popular online forums this week will know that the online community is not happy with Ebay's latest policy changes...well most of them anyway.

I sell dichroic glass jewellery via Ebay and these change will effect me heavily.

Ebay has lowered the cost of listing items, whilst taking a greater percentage of the final value fee once the item sells.

It has also withdrawn the ability of sellers to leave negative or neutral feedback to buyers.

At first glance these changes don't seem to drastic but i've no doubt that they will be the straw that breaks the camel's back in terms of using ebay.

Whilst the lower listing fee is welcome this is only because ebay has lowered visibilty on UK auctions to the extent that a larger proportion of items sell and when they do I barely cover the costs. I use Ebay mainly to advertise now.

Not allowing sellers to leave feedback is potentially far more dangerous to the sellers. Sellers are now far more exposed to 'neg blackmailers' who effectively extort sellers against the threat of ruining their feedback profile. Also, what's to stop a unscrupulous competitor from 'negging' you if a seller cannot leave reciprocal feedback?
When it comes to fashion jewellery and handcrafted jewellery, I think the feedback system will now become more of a 'critic' than an honest feedback of the transaction.

I have always prided myself in honest and efficient customer service and in my 20, 000 ebay transactions I have only ever left 1 negative feedback but i've a feeling the negative feedbacks will now start flying about and therefore lose the effectiveness of them in the first place.

The strike is due to take place in a few weeks...should I take part? Based in Liverpool, UK I was hit badly by the October/ November Royal Mail strike which lost me a great deal of money and nearly cost me my livelihood. I'm not sure I can afford to take part, but then again can I afford not to?

The out come of the whole thing is that i'm now much more focused on other outlets than Ebay.
I'll pay much more attention to my website and ETSY...let ebay put itself out of business!

Ooo New Dichroic Pendants!

Well, I really have been so busy this week trying to keep up!

Things are really quiet in terms of selling...I think the credit cards bills have been stinging people. As a result i've been really slogging myself trying to get things made to sell...whilst trying to get together my paperwork-the tax man cometh!

Anywho-tutorials! I've not done one in a few weeks to i'm going to get a few done over the next week or so. I'll do a troubleshooting guide and another for making dichroic donuts as i've had quite a few emails that i've busy answering!

These are a few images of my new range of dichroic glass jewellery. I'll be adding them to the website soon but for now i'm going to ebay them. I call them scraffito dichroic pendants.

For anyone who doesn't know my rather irratic job history....I used to do a lot of textile art and also studied architecture, although I found the practise of being an architect quite soul destroying. Anyway, I transfered some of the designs I used in my textiles...which were often based on church architecture onto these dichroic pendants.

They're a kind of blend of architectural shapes and stained glass windows. I'm still in the early stages of these designs so i'm hoping they improve but for now i'm happy with their look. I'm expecting some new glass tomorrow with some brand new glass colours from CBS so I can't wait to see how these look with them.