Let fire inspire

Captivated by the magic of working with glass, Rebecca Weddell creates beautiful and unique lampwork beads and offers a range of beadmaking courses.

The joy of learning

Earlier this year I did a teaching course (Level 3 Award in Education and Training, or ‘AET’ for short), which I absolutely loved.

I have taught lampwork glass beadmaking and jewellery-making to students of various ages and experience for many years now, but despite this I found taking a formal college course in teaching to be incredibly rewarding. I’m happy to report that I passed with really good marks, and I was presented with my certificate at a celebration evening at the college on Thursday.

I know I love teaching what I do - I always have. But it’s the joy of learning this last week that I’ve been thinking about. I’ve thought for some time that education is wasted on the young (don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting for a moment that we stop teaching our children!) in that it is only in adulthood that I have found myself truly appreciating that opportunities to learn are valuable gifts that need to be appreciated.

I didn’t enjoy school. I struggled socially, so threw myself into the academic side of things. So far, so successful - but the wheels came off when I went to university. I took the academic side for granted, and chose to focus more on social interaction. I got my degree, and not a bad one, either but I’d love to have that time again to really make the most of it!

As a teenager and later as an adult I’ve continued to go on courses for my own creative development, and to seek out keys for the next creative door. I’ve been a student on a whole variety of courses:

Beadmaking, silver jewellery making, beadwork, bead stringing, wirework, painting, typing, computer literacy, computer-aided design, printmaking, drawing, tai chi, precious metal clay, paper cutting, flower arranging, picture framing, glass fusing, pottery, French, dressmaking…. and probably some more that I’ve forgotten I’ve done!

I don’t necessarily carry on with these things. I’m not a fluent French-speaking florist who makes her own clothes for practising tai chi in - absolutely not. But I get so much out of learning something new, gaining experience in something I’ve found an interest in and want to pursue, finding ways to use new skills in my existing artistic practice.

Many professionals continue to train throughout their careers. My best mate is an osteopath with her own successful practice, and CPD, or ‘continuing professional development’, is a significant feature in what she does. Adding more strings to one’s bow is very valuable. Pippa is a cranial osteopath with particular interest and expertise in treating chronic pain.
You can find out more about Pippa and Osteopathy for All here.

The Award in Education and Training Level 3 is a nationally-recognised qualification that allows you to teach adults in non-compulsory settings. You can teach in the community, in Further Education colleges, in Adult Education Centres and in the Armed Forces.

Visit the Teaching Entrepreneur Association to find out more about the value of teaching and learning, as well as to take practical steps towards your own career in teaching your specialism to others.

I enjoy learning. I enjoy teaching. And I’ve enjoyed learning to teach! I’m thinking of taking more courses, too… now what should I learn next?

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Torchtime

Yesterday I had the pleasure of welcoming Rosie and Susan for a session here at the Let Fire Inspire workshop. Rosie is a returning student, and came for three hours of ‘torchtime’ to work on her own projects. Her friend Susan is, like Rosie, a keen beader, and had been looking forward to trying the captivating craft of lampwork glass beadmaking for herself.

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A recent project at Betchworth Beaders had been to make ‘beaded beads’, and Rosie was keen to make lampwork beads in colours to complement them in a jewellery-making project. Here’s a snap of the beads in question, together with the beads she made with me on her previous visit to the workshop which she had brought with her for reference:

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Rosie chose some glass rods to work with, and narrowed her selection down to opaque violet and pearl grey to complement the shades she’d used for her beaded beads. The finished jewellery will also be incorporating silver, which I think will look stunning!

Susan, like me, really loves her greens and blues and bluey-greens and greeny-blues - looking at at the beads she made you can tell that she’s a lampworker who’s right on my wavelength!

 Susan’s beads (bottom of picture) were made on a half-day beginners’ course, and have been strung in the order in which they were made. Rosie’s beads were made independently of any tuition, as she built on her existing experience at the torch flame to work on her own projects.

Susan’s beads (bottom of picture) were made on a half-day beginners’ course, and have been strung in the order in which they were made. Rosie’s beads were made independently of any tuition, as she built on her existing experience at the torch flame to work on her own projects.

 Here are the beads as they came out of the kiln having been annealed overnight for lasting strength - an essential part of any hot-glass making. As you can see, they are still on their mandrels. The powdery-grey coating on the mandrels (which makes them look rather like sparklers!) is called ‘bead release’ or ‘bead separator’ and is a sacrificial layer of clay between the steel of the mandrel and the glass bead itself. The layer is applied anew each time a mandrel is used. Beads are removed from the mandrels by dunking them in water, holding really tight with pliers and gently gripping and turning the bead. The final step is to file the residue of the bead release from the bead holes - also a job for underwater! The powder is harmful if breathed in, so it is absolutely essential to remove it.

Here are the beads as they came out of the kiln having been annealed overnight for lasting strength - an essential part of any hot-glass making. As you can see, they are still on their mandrels. The powdery-grey coating on the mandrels (which makes them look rather like sparklers!) is called ‘bead release’ or ‘bead separator’ and is a sacrificial layer of clay between the steel of the mandrel and the glass bead itself. The layer is applied anew each time a mandrel is used. Beads are removed from the mandrels by dunking them in water, holding really tight with pliers and gently gripping and turning the bead. The final step is to file the residue of the bead release from the bead holes - also a job for underwater! The powder is harmful if breathed in, so it is absolutely essential to remove it.

The Workshop, 8 Village Works, London Road, East Hoathly
Lewes, East Sussex, BN8 6QA
01825 840638

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