Thursday, January 29, 2009

Beads made with Devardi Glass

This is Terra over Devardi Purple and encased with Devardi clear. Beautiful encasement glass, but incompatible. I'll run some more tests because the base was CiM Peace. This photo was taken about 10 minutes after the beads came out of a cooled kiln. The cracks continue to grow.

This is Devardi Purple and Amethyst over CiM Peace cased with clear. Incompatible.

This is ASK Bahia blue with Terra thin stringer and Crystalflipz gold dichroic stringer encased with Devardi clear. Very nice clear--very little scum.

More encasements with Devardi base and dichroic foil. The flowers are Effetre Streaky Pink and Rubino. The last bead is a base of Light Rose covered with T-96C and an overlayer of Striking Color A-7......The light rose turned amber.

Devardi Glass Testing

There is a new glass from India called Devardi. I thought I would give it a try and see what it is all about. The price is very reasonable at $5.99 a pound. There are some good and bad in this glassline, just as there are good and bad in other glass lines. If you are looking for consistency of rod, this glass is not for you. Compatibility testing is a must, since nothing is known of the company history or testing.
The package came quickly and was nicely packed with aquarium filter fiber. I hope they find a way to change this to mailing bubbles or some other safer method. There were a few chipped ends, but over all, the packaging was fine. The bundle was mixed and unlabeled. This is troublesome because there is no way of knowing what color is what so when restocking, there will be a bit of guesswork. Annoying, but not unliveable.
The rods were seedy, scratchy and irregular. They average around 8-12mm in diameter. Some rods had grooves along the side which made for a shocky experience. The worst so far is the opaque olive(?). This is like that Vetro Marbled Avocado--turned to frit in the flame. Others would shock/shatter when reintroduced in the flame...annoying but liveable. This is not the regular shocking from the size of the rod, but I think from the tiny bubbles that run along the length of the rod.
For the most part, my experience has been good. If the clear had fewer bubbles and less scratches, it would be great clear--it doesn't scum if you get a rod without the scratches(I got one!). The other clear rods I got did have scratches and did form a tiny bit of scum. Still, it was better than some of the other clears available on the market. I was pleasantly surprised.

The light rose was a pretty amber rose color but the rods had a coating of what looked like an accidental spray of shellac or something. A scrubbing could not take it off. Subsequently, this color foamed horribly and was not pretty. When silver color was added over it, it darkened to an amber. If the shellac or whatever the coating is, could be removed, this could be a nice color.
I also tested a transparent green and it was a bit fizzy too. Nothing like the clear or the purple which was very nice. From this I figure each color must be tested individually to see if it is smooth or bubbly.
The Metallic Black is a cheap alternative to the expensive Dark Silver Plum or Effetre Black Metallic. It reacts beautifully with silver colors. So far, surface decorations are nice. I have not tried to encase this color yet, but this is a very nice surprise. It does take a bit more time to strike than DSP and sometimes it's hard to get the rainbow, but for $5.99 a pound, it's pretty nice.
Another nice surprise is the aqua. Unlike Moretti, this color doesn't foam or pit. It does react with Ivory and turns a greyish green. Interesting color, but more tests need to be done.
Encasing will need much more testing, as will compatibility with silver colors.
So far I have cracking with CiM Peace based beads encased with Devardi Purple and Amethyst. Also with encased Terra over Devardi purple. More tests need to be done to show which color the Devardi is incompatible with. Another clear encased bead made with a very thin strip of Terra, dichroic stringer and ASK Bahia Blue came out fine. Since the proof in the pudding for silver glass is a wait of 6 months, it can be a while before the final results will be known.
I tested the dark red and it gets brown reduction in it. I will not be using this red, as there are several good reds on the market that will not turn brown. The purple opaque turned grey coming out of the kiln. I also tried some of the semi opaques but I will redo the test because all of them turned opaque. I think these might be like the Lauscha milky way colors that can only tolerate a very quick annealing time. I will try making a couple at the end of a garage cycle.

Overall, much more testing needs to be done. I do worry about how to market beads made with this glass, but that is me. If I knew more about the company and how they treat their workers and the heart they put into the glass, I think I would be more comfortable. I like to support companies that care, and so far Bullseye, Double Helix and American Boro have those in spades! I also like to support Italian glass because of their history and tradition. The island of Murano is going through some tough times and some of the historic factories are being leveled to make way for hotels. I feel that if I support the production of glass in Italy, I am helping to keep their fires burning and subsequently the history of glass.
Anyhoo--it's time to melt some glass!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lalique and Kanzashi

I love Lalique's Art Nouveau jewelry and the traditional Japanese kanzashi/kushi. I didn't realize it, but many of his combs were inspired by Japanese art. I just ordered a companion book to the Rokusho kanzashi book I got last year. This book is a retrospective of Lalique's combs and includes comparison photos of Lalique's combs to some kanzashi. Really gorgeous carved horn sculpting by both Lalique and the kanzashi artists. If you ever wanted to marvel at a flower, look for Lalique's orchids...incredible(and of course, the Blauschkas glass flowers--amazing!)
I love that he themes his work--he tells a story with his jewelry. His work is beautiful yet sometimes has a slightly haunting feel to it that I love. I hope to be able, in some small way, to capture some of the essence and beauty of nature.....
Anyhoo, to the technical aspects......
I have been thinking of how to make combs out of silver and keep it I wonder if I can do part if it in glass and part in silver.....
The question heavy can a comb be before it becomes too heavy to wear? If it is beautiful, would it matter? Or is part of the beauty in its functionality?
Many questions....
I am still working on some steps....haven't tried anything yet......

I am not sure if these will be marketable at all, but I will be having loads of fun with them.....

Monday, January 5, 2009

Kanzashi fun!

Since I was a kid, I loved to make dough flowers. Mom taught me how to shape roses and mix the dough from scratch. One of my fondest memories was of my Mom making blue roses on toothpicks and painting them with shellac. She would do each of them and line them up on some styrofoam blocks until they dried. Then she would make pins or decorate combs. I was obsessed, and would make roses whenever I had free time. I would try and make them more and more realistic and decorate pins and hair combs. In class, I would take the kneaded rubber erasers and make roses--anything that was in the least bit doughy turned into either a flower or a horse.
Years later, Fimo came around and that was really a neat medium for flowers. It was harder to form than dough, but pretty. I think I still prefer the dough my Mom taught me how to make. It makes for rock hard flowers and kinda looks similar to cold porcelain. In Japan, there were clubs formed around bread dough decorations and I found several publications at the local J-bookstore. I pored over their techniques but felt that forming by hand was better than all the molds or presses....Then this interest naturally transitioned to sugar, and now to glass!

Making glass flowers has taken me back down memory lane....It's fun and relaxing. Mom is still making kanzashi(the Japanese hair ornaments) out of fabric and beads. I gave her some of my beads and can't wait to see what she will come up with. In the meantime, during the holidays, I decided to make a couple myself, using Glass beads and Swarowski crystals. What fun! I feel like I am 5 years old again and making dough flowers :-D

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Shogatsu and Mom's Amazing Feast

Happy New Year! or Shogatsu Omedeto! In Japanese....
January first is a special day for Japanese people, and my Mom is the one in our family to keep up the tradition. The day before, Mom slaves over the stove, concocting amazing culinary feasts. All the cooking has to be done before midnight. At midnight there is a noodle dish that is eaten called "toshi-koshi soba" which means literally the year traversing noodle.....something you eat to cross over into the new year. When we were kids, we would watch Kohaku Uta gassen--a singing contest with all the Japanese stars of the year vying male against female. Red is for women and white is for men. very fun. It is still a nice custom that my sisters enjoy :-D but I seemingly have not kept up with.
In the morning of the first, it is customary fro the man to get up and do the cooking of the miso/mochi soup called Zoni. Dad is not one for tradition, so Mom is the one who makes it in our house....Supposedly men were to do it as a way of purifying the kitchen for the new year....hmmmm....
Anyhoo, The meal starts with new leaf green tea and zoni, and then the sky is the limit. Mom used to make Tai--a Sea Bream that is tied and broiled to look like it is jumping up. She also made chicken and salmon teriyaki and a host of other things. She still makes more than any family can eat for 5 days....sushi, sashimi, taro root, many dishes and they are all absolutely amazing. Many of the dishes have symbology, like beans. Beans are called "mame" and to be "mame-mame-shii" menas to be industrious. So to ensure you will be industrious throughout the year, you eat beans. Kurikinton(chestnut beans) for money, shrimp for long life, kombu for enjoyment/happiness adn kazunoko to be fruitful........all delicious.....It is one of Mom's treasures that we savor and think about all year.....Thank you Mom!!!

Purple Orchid

Another Tiki bar...this time in El Segundo. We went to eat at Farm Stand first. I must say that this restaurant had very tasty relatively inexpensive food in a nice, casual yet urban setting. Most of the food was Italian but there were small hints of Middle Eastern flavor choices mixed in....My Lemon Chicken came with a delightful Cherry Rice that was similar to the dish I cannot forget from Shiraz Restaurant in Sherman Oaks. This version was a hint sweeter and didn't have the deliciously sour sumac sprinkles....but it was tasty and different. DH got a walnut pomegranate chicken, hoping it would be similar to our beloved Muhammara dip....but it was not, yet still very tasty. We were very happy to have been introduced to such a great place to eat. When we are down here again, we will definitely visit again. The service too, was wonderful and they even gave us coupons for desserts next time we visit! They must have read our minds!!!
Purple Orchid was just a couple of blocks away, and it was a huge bar. It was very clean and the drinks were tasty...not too sweet and served in a tiki mug...yay!
What a delightful evening...