Monday, June 29, 2009

Drilling Beach and Fused Glass

The following was published on Handmade News

Now that Summer is quickly approaching, visions of beautiful sea glass are on many people's minds, both jewelry designers and their buyers too!
On the Etsy and Artfire forums, there have been a number of questions on the best way to drill sea glass. Teams and Guilds are wonderful in the value they have as a brainstorming tool. Whether you're looking for advice on a new technique or just a better way to do something, they're a great resource for bouncing ideas around. Here's one of the questions I was asked as a glass team member:

Question: I have a collection of sea glass and I wanted to make a bracelet using the glass. My first question would be, what do I use to drill the tiny hole in the glass? And my second question is, would fishing line be fine to string these sea glass beads onto or would metal wire be better? Please keep in mind that I have no experience with glass or beads or any type of jewelry making.
Answer: I love beach glass, all shapes and colors and textures! I use a cordless Dremel drill with a diamond bit to get the hole you're looking for. You would need to drill underwater (hence the cordless drill, because combining water and electricity = yikes!). You'd be drilling underwater both to reduce stress on the glass and to keep the drill bit cool. Use either a piece of styrofoam or a piece of modeling clay on the bottom of a water-filled container to keep your glass steady. The water should cover your glass and the styrofoam will give you some grip and stability while you're drilling. You should be able to feel when you have hit the styrofoam or clay when your hole is completely drilled through.

Start the drill at a low speed which you can increase once you get started. Just go slow and easy and do some practice pieces first, with glass you don't absolutely love, just to get the hang of it. Try to drill on a slight angle at first to get the hole started; it will then be easier to continue from that point and your drill won't "skitch" as much. Take your time and with practice it will become easier to drill both fused glass or sea glass.

As far as stringing material, I'd keep away from fishing line because it is too brittle. You could use Tiger Tail, Acculon, or a similar type of beading cord instead, so your beautiful jewelry will hold up to wear. Most important, have fun with your new beading hobby and when you're ready to take your hobby to the next level, I'd encourage you to join one of the teams or guilds on Artfire or Etsy!!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Safety and Protection While Drilling Glass

The following was published on Handmade News

In a previous column on Handmade News, I shared tips on how to drill beach and sea glass. In part 2, we'll look at a question asked in the Etsy forum about how to protect yourself while drilling glass. One of the best things about posting in forums is there is always someone (or a dozen someones!) willing to help out, especially members of teams or guilds who can offer many viewpoints. Along with my advice is some terrific input from Mary of who is an accomplished enamelist.

Question: Since I am relatively new to fusing, I have a question on how to protect yourself from silica dust. I am at the grinder every day shaping my glass and noticed a lot of dust covering everything in my studio. So it's probably safe to assume that some of this is getting into my lungs, not good. I have read articles stating the little paper masks are not enough to protect your lungs from this sort of dust, so what do you do?

Answer: Good ventilation is necessary in your studio and work area, but sometimes ventilation alone isn't adequate protection. It's a good idea to wear a respirator or mask with a filter any time you're around airborne particles of glass (silica). It's the silica that can cause damage to your lungs and eyes. I use a respirator mask for grinding (even though everything gets soaking wet), for scraping kiln wash off shelves, for using powdered frits, if I'm vacuuming out the kilns or studio, etc. It's also a good idea to keep a bowl of water by your workspace to frequently dip your glass pieces in, both to keep the dust down and to cool off the glass. And remember not to bring food or drink into the studio!

Mary adds that ventilation and a good respirator is the way to go. Exposure to silica dust can cause very bad lung problems. As an enamelist, I'm working with powdered glass all the time, so I have to be extra careful. I would also recommend good cleaning habits in the studio. Areas where the dust builds up should be wet-mopped or wiped down with wet cloths. Never sweep glass dust as that will cause it to become airborne again.

So that's the glass pros advice on how to protect yourself while at the grinder. I know that whenever I have a question about pmc or art clay, I'll find the answer from a knowledgeable team member. Some wonderful collaborations have come from different teams joining together. So go ahead, ask those questions of teams and guilds!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

My Dichroic Glass article is in Etsy's Storque!

See my article on dichroic glass in the Storque!

Here's a step-by-step pictorial on how I make my dichroic glass creations
Photo 1: Dichroic glass in its raw form
Photo 2: Me cutting the glass
Photo 3: Glass stacked in the kiln and ready for firing
Photo 4: Pieces after firing
Photo 5: Finished product ready for jewelry findings

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Handmade News

I'm excited to announce that I've joined the Guilds & Teams Dept. of

My first column published today ~ on Drilling Sea Glass & Fused Glass and you can read it here

Handmade News is all you'll need for news about the handmade world and the crafts in it. Check it out each day. My columns will publish on Sunday and Wednesday in the Guilds and Teams section!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Irises from the Garden

Perfection is when you wake up to new blooming treasures from your garden. My gardens are relatively new (we've been in our house less than 3 years) and we've been taking our time getting the gardens just right. In the last month or so, we've been making a Sunday trip to one of the local nurseries and just picking out two or three things at a time.

One of my favorite flowers is the beautiful iris and these are glorious orange (many of you know this is my favorite color!) and black with just a hint with very deep purple. These are in the front of the house in front of the lattice on the dorch (in Willow World, dorch = deck + porch, hahahaha!) I also chose a Monarda and something called Goat's Beard (hahaha) and I'll post pictures of those when they come up.

What's blooming in your garden today?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Inspiration for today


"Learn to let go. That is the key to happiness."