During a recent visit to Adelaide, I enjoyed a fantastic days tuition with the very talented Stephanie Gough. This led me to reminisce about my glassy journey to date!
Back in May 2009 I found myself admiring some lovely glass lampwork beads made by Dee Elgie, on a craft forum. I had been making jewellery for several years and thought how amazing it would be to make my own beads!
I sent Dee a message asking how easy it was to get set up and what I would need. She was very generous in sharing her knowledge and sent me a long message back with details of what I would need and where to get it.
Well, I immediately went online and ordered myself a starter torch (a single fuel hothead), a cannister of MAPP gas, safety glasses, mandrels, glass, bead release, a book, and a blanket to cool the beads.
I was so excited at the prospect of melting glass,and set everything up as soon as it arrived. My first attempt resulted in some very wonky misshapen beads, several of which cracked in the cooling blanket! Dee provided lots of advice and was an invaluable source of information.
I soon realised that I needed some help, and signed up to an introductory class with Sarah Lamb at Artshed Arts in Ware. That was it, at the end of the day I was addicted to glass!!!!
I soon found that using MAPP gas was both expensive and inconvenient. (It freezes up very easily and cuts off). So my next step was to upgrade to a bulk fuel setup with large canisters of propane. I also purchased vermiculite and a slow cooker to cool my beads in a more controllable way.
After practicing for several months, I signed up for a second class with Sarah Lamb, this time to learn how to make hollow beads.
I was also introduced to a glassy forum, Frit-Happens, by Helen Wyatt. Helen provided me with lots of tips to improve my bead making, and was a great source of information.
In April 2010 I attended my very first Flameoff, a huge glassy convention, with demonstrations, chances to try new torches, and lots of glassy goodies to buy!
Shortly after Flameoff, I upgraded to a dual fuel torch, a Nortel Minor, an oxycon, and a kiln. I now had a proper set up which helped me to make faster progress.
Since then I have taken further classes with Sally Carver (Redhotsal), Kaz Baildon, Claudia Trimbur Pagel, and Stephanie Gough.
I have also spent a small fortune on glass, frit, murrini, bead presses, bead rollers, and various other tools.
I've a very long way to go, and need to practice hard to improve, but it is an amazing journey and I am so grateful to Dee and Helen for all of their help and encouragement in getting me started.