Wednesday, August 4, 2010

10 Day Glass Marathon

Today was the last day of 10 nonstop days of workshops and the 2010 ISGB conference. My first two days were spent with Leah Fairbanks. Leah makes beautiful vessel shaped focals that are encrusted with raised botanical designs.

Even though lampwork has been around for centuries it has only taken off in the U.S. in the past 18 years. Leah was a part of that original group, there were only a dozen lampworkers at the first ISGB conference 18 years ago. The 2010 conference in Rochester, NY had over 400 participants, and you know how many lampworkers are on etsy. Needless to say I was a little starstruck. Leah is a wonderful generous teacher and I would highly recommend her class. We also had a great group of women from all over the country and as far away as Australia.

Leah is pulling a cane here, when we talk about stringers and twisties this is what we are talking about. She showed us how to layer transparent glass to create colors that are not commercially available. These stringers were later used to decorate the beads with floral designs.

This is an example of one of Leah's beautiful beads, all those flowers on the surface were made with the pulled stringer. In the center of the flowers she has also placed precious and semi-precious stones in a bezel of gold. You can't see it very well but the top of the bead has been faceted at a grinder, this is called coldworking.

This is another one of Leah's beads.

In a glass workshop the instructor usually demos a bead and takes the class through it step by step. Then we all go back to the torch and give it a try. These are some of the beads that Leah demonstrated over the two days. Oh, to bad I don't have pictures of mine.

One thing that I got out of the workshop that I did not expect was improving my bead shaping skills. The above bead shape is a bicone, on my beads that middle part can end up anywhere on the bead. I now know how to get it in the middle of the bead on purpose.

Remember the cane that was being pulled in the top photo? This is a picture of a complex cane, is built up layer by layer and then pulled and twisted at the same time. This one was a rainbow design.

Maybe now I can live up to my name Gardanne Glass by adding some raised flowers to my bead designs.

Tune in tomorrow for the shopping portion of this series.


Lori said...

The floral beads are incredible. After trying out one simple bead myself, I have a new respect for you guys. The class sounds fascinating.

Rebecca said...

I definitely have major respect for glass artists. Especially when it comes to the creation of beads. The intricate details packed into just millimeters. Amazing! Eager to see your new glass works!