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.

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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.

Who knew?

I met my latest student, Jo, on Twitter - it turns out she lives not far from me at all, and just happened to be looking for a local lampwork glass beadmaking tutor! The power of social media is quite something!

Jo and I spent a really enjoyable session in the Let Fire Inspire workshop on Wednesday, working through a progressive variety of decorative techniques. It was great fun! Thanks to being bang in the middle of Artwave Festival the workshop was looking its best - it's been a very busy time, but the extra level of tidiness, thanks to Artwave, has been a big help!

Jo is a fabulous craftsperson already - she makes gorgeous handmade jewellery and gifts, including beautiful silver and enamel pieces, and fused glass items.
Check out Maisy Plum here.

Here's what Jo got up to at the torch flame:

 Winding the glass at the torch flame.

Winding the glass at the torch flame.

 Barb the cactus, my workshop mascot, feels the heat.

Barb the cactus, my workshop mascot, feels the heat.

 Torching up close.

Torching up close.

 A bunch of gorgeous flowers - sorry, beads - straight out of the kiln.

A bunch of gorgeous flowers - sorry, beads - straight out of the kiln.

 Barb offers her services as supermodel. She rather want to hang onto these ones.

Barb offers her services as supermodel. She rather want to hang onto these ones.

 The finished beads, strung in the order in which they were made. First bead is at the one o'clock position.

The finished beads, strung in the order in which they were made. First bead is at the one o'clock position.

Thank you for having me. Absolutely loved it and want to come again.!!

Thanks for the photos...I shall be posting later.  

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

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