Monday, 26 April 2021

Non-bead gubbins

Where the heck is time draining away to? I cannot believe how fast the last year and a bit has whooshed by. How can doing nothing, going nowhere and seeing nobody eat time at such an alarming rate? It feels like about three days since my last non-bead post but that one was at the end of March. Crazy.

Anyway, again, not much to report. I had a trip into the city centre for an eye test a couple of weeks ago. I'd not been there since the beginning of March last year when I did the Cambridge half marathon. That event started and finished on Midsummer Common which is home to the Camcattle cows at this time of year so I stopped by to say hello to the beautiful creatures before my eye appointment.

Red Poll cows on Midsummer Common

They are Red Poll cows and they are so calm and happy munching away as people go about their business on and by the common. Here's an article about the cows from a couple of years ago.

There follows a random photo of one of my favourite Cambridge post boxes which I walked past on the way to the optician.

Victorian post box in Cambridge

We have quite a few Victorian post boxes in the city and I love that they're still in use after all these years. I think I was just excited to be not in the shed and out and about and I was like "Oooh, cows! Post boxes! The Hot Sausage vendor! Greggs!" and had to take some photos to mark the moment.

My eye test was meh. I've had glasses for short sightedness for a couple of years now and I only had to wear them when I needed to; for televison watching, the cinema (remember the cinema?) and basically whenever I wanted to properly see anything further than four feet away. The optician said I've got the same problem that watchmakers have in that with the beadmaking I've spent so many years looking at stuff a few inches from my face, my distance vision has suffered. My right eye is particularly bad and I was quite alarmed when I couldn't read the top row of the eye chart with it. It's got much worse since my last eye test so I have new glasses that I have to wear all the time now, so that's taking a bit of getting used to. My up-close vision is crazy good and the new prescription enables me to wear my glasses without them interfering with detailed work, reading and the like. This means I now have to wear prescription specs for making beads so it was goodbye to my didymium glasses and hello to some polycarbonate purple clip-on and flip-up jobs that make me feel like I have the eyes of Johnny 5.

Johnny 5 from Short Circuit

I'm sure I'll get used to the new flameworking face furniture shortly but in the meantime don't be expecting any kind of complex beads because my eyes are still in the process of reprogramming my brain as to where the flame actually is.

In crochet news...

I finished my Rainbow Sampler Blanket on Saturday! 

Rainbow Sampler Blanket - pattern by Haak Maar Raak

I got the blanket all washed and dried the same day and let me tell you it's a flipping delight to cosy under in the evenings.

Rainbow Sampler Blanket - pattern by Haak Maar Raak

I enjoyed crocheting every single row of this blanket, even the ones I had to frog and redo whenever I muffed up.

Rainbow Sampler Blanket - pattern by Haak Maar Raak
So many stitches...

Rainbow Sampler Blanket - pattern by Haak Maar Raak
...so many rows

The blanket is H U G E. It's just under two metres square so it's about the same size as a double duvet.

Rainbow Sampler Blanket - pattern by Haak Maar Raak

Thanks to Kirsten of Haak Maar Raak for such a brilliantly-written, clear and highly enjoyable pattern.

So what's next on the crochet front? Well, I'm working my way through a marvellous book called Granny Square Flair by Shelley Husband of Spincushions. I also have Shelley's Siren's Atlas book and I have learnt so much from both of these books - false stitches, standing stitches and other ingenious ways to create seamless-looking crochet. So yep, I'm making every square from Granny Square Flair at the moment and no doubt they'll become yet another blanket. I have fifteen squares done. The latest five are currently wet blocking but here are the first ten I made.

Crochet squares  - patterns from Granny Square Flair by Shelley Husband

I'm using Rico Creative Cotton DK in the shade Natural. These squares are 150mm and I'm loving all the different patterns and textures. I'm also really enjoying the single colour thing, mainly because the crochet becomes all about the stitches and the pattern instead of colour, but also because there are way fewer ends to weave in!

I started a concurrent crochet project last night (I always like to have two yarn things on the go at once so I can switch between them) and this one is a way to use up some of the massive amount of spare yarn I have left over from the Rainbow Sampler blanket. The pattern I've gone for is the Flowers in the Snow blanket from the Solstrikke blog. Yes, it's another blanket but I adore the challenge of a blanket. There's just something about them. My family had better prepare themselves for blanket gifts because I already have enough of the things here. I'm very much a process crocheter; I like the finished item but I love the process of making of it.

But yes, I started making a bunch of motifs from my leftover Scheepjes Colour Crafter last night. I've put all the yarn in a box and I do a lucky dip of three colours and then make a motif with whichever trio I've picked. This way I'm not overthinking it and I've been pleasantly surprised with a couple of the resulting combinations. They give me bead colour ideas.

Crochet motifs - pattern is Flowers in the Snow blanket by Solstrikke

Alas, each one of these motifs has six ends to weave in and then there will be two more ends per motif when it comes to the joining part of the process so what I'm lacking in ends weavery on the Granny Square Flair squares I'm more than making up for here.

Right, I think that's way more than enough chatter from me. I need to get my arse down the shed, don my Johnny 5s and make some beads. Have a good day!

Sunday, 25 April 2021

CiM Testing: Almandine

Handmade hollow lampwork glass beads made with CiM Almandine

Almandine is another cloudy transparent. It’s the same as
Lake Baikal but with way more red pigment which has resulted in this burgundy kind of colour. Unusual and very nice.

Again, no working issues.

Almandine will only be available at L’Age du Verre.

The beads were photographed indoors in natural daylight.

CiM Testing: Lake Baikal

Handmade hollow lampwork glass beads made with CiM Lake Baikal

This is one of CiM’s cloudy transparents – transparent glass with cloudy transparent pigments added to it – and it’s a beauty.

Lake Baikal is a transparent blue with red and pink pigments that give the blue a soft purple glow when the light hits it just right. It’s flipping lovely.

More hollows because I was in hollow bead mode, or to be more precise, refining hollow bead mode, and figuring out how to get consistent results with them. I get like this with certain beadmaking techniques.

Handmade hollow lampwork glass beads made with various CiM glasses
Hollow beads made with various CiM colours

I’ve always been quite hit-and-miss with non-blown hollows and occasionally I like to buckle down and spend a while trying to figure out why the misses occur. It’s always a good exercise in learning how glass works and calculating what you have to do with it (or not) to get the results you’re after.

Anyway, Lake Baikal is a really well-behaved glass and a gorgeous colour. Nice one, Creation is Messy!

All beads were photographed indoors in natural daylight.

CiM Testing: Streamers

The new Creation is Messy Streamer glasses are all transparent with stripes of various opaque colours running the length of the rod. When used they result in ribbons and wisps of colour suspended in the glass.

I’ve put these together in one post because usage wise the Streamers are all pretty much the same. They melt smoothly with no shocking, hazing or bubbling. Great to work with.

This glass needs to be used carefully to get the best out of it. You can’t just slap it on the mandrel all cattywampus (I recently discovered that word and I’m so pleased I was able to just use it) and expect it to look great. You need to wrap it or layer it on with care so that the streamers can stream.

I feel that this glass lends itself perfectly to discs and hollows due to the way these types of beads are constructed. I opted for hollow beads and all of the ones pictured were made with the two disc method, not blown.


Sea Anemone

Handmade hollow lampwork glass beads made with CiM Sea Anemone

Transparent pale purple with orange, yellow, green and white streamers


Prometheus

Handmade hollow lampwork glass beads made with CiM Prometheus

Clear with red-orange, orange and blue streamers


Solar Storm

Handmade hollow lampwork glass beads made with CiM Solar Storm

Clear with red-orange, orange and purple streamers


Bird’s Nest

Handmade hollow lampwork glass beads made with CiM Bird's Nest

Clear with orange, yellow, green and black streamers


Bewitched

Handmade hollow lampwork glass beads made with CiM Bewitched

Clear with indigo and purple streamers


Carefree

Handmade hollow lampwork glass beads made with CiM Carefree

Clear with green, purple and blue streamers


All beads were photographed indoors in natural daylight.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

CiM Testing: Jacaranda

Handmade lampwork glass beads made with CiM Jacaranda

Obviously I was going to love this glass because it’s purple.

Jacaranda is like a less translucent/more transparent version of Crocus.

Jacaranda is transparent in rod form but it developed a soft mistiness as I used it and it has retained this after annealing. The effect is really pretty.

Handmade lampwork glass beads made with CiM Jacaranda

The rod was ever so slightly shocky in that it fractured several times but not enough to send fragments flying. Apart from that it’s fuss-free.

Handmade lampwork glass beads made with CiM Jacaranda

These beads are CiM Foam encased with Jacaranda – three with a thin layer and three with a heavy one – and the polka dots and spacers are CiM Lapis.

The beads were photographed indoors in natural daylight.

CiM Testing: Lingonberry

Handmade lampwork glass beads made with CiM Lingonberry

Lingonberry is a transparent, utterly gorgeous cranberry pink.

When I test CiM glass I tend to avoid reading other testers’ posts (don’t hate me for this, other testers – it’s nothing personal) until I’ve used that colour myself, so I’m not influenced by what others have done or discovered. After I’ve used a new Creation is Messy colour and I’m writing up my findings on my blog, I go and fetch the link for the colour on the CiM website and I have a read of how other testers found the glass. Pretty much every tester mentions that Lingonberry has a ‘butterscotch cast’ or that it yellows in certain lights. I didn’t find this at all. I notice that Alexis Berger used Lingonberry to make a glass flower on her Hot Head torch and she didn’t get the butterscotch/yellowing either which makes me think it could be a working temperature thing? I work slow and cool (not the Fonzie kind of cool) so maybe that’s a reason for no yellowing?

Now, on to the unfun part of my findings… . I made six beads with Lingonberry. All of them were CiM Foam encased with a thin layer of Lingonberry. (The polka dots are Reichenbach 104 Deep Black if you’re interested.) As I was cleaning the beads three of them cracked. The other three are okay at the moment but that doesn’t mean they won’t develop fractures further down the line. We shall see.

The cracks are compatibility ones as opposed to thermal ones. The photo below shows the fractures.

Handmade lampwork glass beads made with CiM Lingonberry

Obviously this only means that I found that Lingonberry has compatibility issues with Foam. It doesn’t even mean that others couldn’t combine those two glasses and create stable beads. As I always say, there are so many factors and variables involved in beadmaking – torch, working style, technique, what phase the moon is in etc – and two beadmakers can use the same two glasses but get entirely different results. So yeah, I got cracked beads but that doesn’t mean you will; I’m just telling you what I found.

The beads were photographed indoors in natural daylight.

Friday, 9 April 2021

CiM Testing: Scotch Broom

Handmade lampwork glass beads made with Creation is Messy Scotch Broom

CiM describe Scotch Broom as a transparent yellow but I’d say it’s more translucent. It’s my favourite kind of yellow; a warm, rich mango one.

Handmade lampwork glass beads made with Creation is Messy Scotch Broom

The glass is very well-behaved. It does require a little bit of striking to get an even colour but a waft through the cool part of the flame as a final step is all that is required to do this.

Handmade lampwork glass beads made with Creation is Messy Scotch Broom

These beads are CiM Foam (white) encased with a thin layer of Scotch Broom. The polka dots are Reichenbach 104 Deep Black and the spacers are Effetre Black 064.

Handmade lampwork glass beads made with Creation is Messy Scotch Broom

Scotch Broom is a delicious-looking glass and I do hope I’ll be able to get my hands on some.

All beads were photographed indoors in natural daylight.