Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Boutique Glass

Boy, I don't mean to be a grump fest this week but yes, I have another gripe. I'm partially responsible but I also feel the boutique glass I used is mostly responsible.

First a little background. I'm a firm believer in seeking inspiration ELSEWHERE... i.e. not from other beadmakers. And I was majorly impressed with this set of sheets from Crate and Barrel.

I just knew they would make the perfect bead... and they did!

 It was big and fantastic and opaque yet transparent. It was amazing! WAS???? Yes, WAS!

It's full of cracks:

Why? Not because of heat control. No, as I mentioned earlier, the fault lies in the way I make large beads and the fact that I used boutique glass.

A bead this large uses just over a whole rod of glass! And, to save money and not waste pricey glass, I make a smaller core using "trash clear" - the ugly, cheap, not-clear-enough-to-case-with clear. I then reverse case with the pricier stuff. I get the same effect but I don't waste money... generally. With the prices of beads dropping lower every day, it makes sense. Also, I like using a clear core because it holds the heat of a large design well! Softer cores can get limp under that much heat.

But to get that shade of purple... translucent and opaque at the same time... I foolishly chose a boutique glass color.  This particular glass (And please, beadmakers... if you out them in your comments, they will be deleted!) is known for it's spotty annealing schedule with temps ranging from 940 - 1070!

That is the very reason I buy so little of the boutique glass. We have a fellow Fire Diva who makes gorgeous stuff with boutique glasses mixed with other 104 glasses. But when I try... I get cracks! Between the higher price and the fact that I feel many of the colors produced by boutique companies are near identical to the Italian glass that has been produced for generations, I just can't justify it.

And as a fickle artist, I often don't know what I'm going to make when I sit down at the torch. How DO you plan for quirky annealing temps?? Make a plan and work from high to low? But how do you keep track of the temps??? A schedule in your shop, over the kiln? I just can't wrap my brain around it.

Save for the fact I love this color purple, I've not invested in much of the stuff... thank goodness. And even this color really gets my dander up... sometimes it's rich and lovely. Other batches I've seen are pale and icky! And I'm expected to pay more for this... something I can't just call up and order. I have to see it to make sure it's the version I love? No thank you!

But all is not lost. I made a matching set of SMALL lentils using only the purple clear core.

And a matching set of spacers.

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