Diana East BBQ

Diana East is a highly respected conceptual lampwork glass artist, she is visiting New Zealand and will be having a BBQ at the studio on Saturday 19 Feb 2011 at 1pm.

We will also be doing demonstrations and in general catching up as lampworkers

Just bring your own meat and drinks and I’ll provide the salads

Hope to see you there 🙂

Healing, spirituality & friendships

2011 and who saw that coming?!?

It doesn’t matter who you speak to they all agree, 2011 followed 2009 and what the hell happened to 2010?

I was sitting on my loo looking at my calendar remembering the day Helen said “that calendar is awful you need something more interesting” well I didn’t get to change it and the year has passed already. My theory is we weren’t just busy ourselves but the world was busy, there was so much going on around us that we feel like it happened in our lives and for some unfortunate few it happend to them.

Most I have spoken to have new year resolutions to simply slow down, take stock and try get through 2011 at less than light speed. When I asked one friend what his resolution was he said “get drunk a few times” I asked what kind of resolution is that, his reply “achievable”

I myself had my tarot cards read for the first time ever, the message was clear Healing, Spirituality and Friendships. Quite timely with my surgery due at the end of January, Healing sounds great. I have also decided to find my inner voice and have booked meditation classes at the Buddhist temple up the road. I started running today, and have decided to spend as much time with friends as possible.

I am so looking forward to this year, I have decided to spend the whole year focusing on upskilling, creating designs for me (finally have my own jewellery to wear) and to explore colour.

This is very timeous given Anastasia is our guest tutor for Bead week. That is an event I cannot wait for, Helen, Kari and I have been lusting over her beads since we started and now finally meeting her is a reality. I contacted other studios who have had Anastasia teach. The feedback is she is a technical methodical tutor that will leave you with skills not just ideas so I am looking forward to that.

I have also decided to run Bead Week at near cost, hopefully we will be able to secure local tutors and offer the workshops at a very affordable rate so we can teach as many as possible as that is what it is all about… learning and loving glass

If you want to come up I have some accommodation available, tent sites in my garden and maybe others in Auckland will offer space in their homes to accomodate as many as possible… watch this space 🙂

Anastasia Coming to New Zealand June 2011


$1400 includes materials listed below, some tools must be provided by the student
Duration: Saturday 4th June – Monday 6th June 2011 from 09h00 – 17h30 per day
Where: Born to Bead studio 12 Minaret Drive Bucklands Beach Auckland

This class schedule includes:

“Tree beads”

Focusing onto the use of hair-thin stringers, the class will contain every step necessary to make a focal bead with a complete design.

–       how to use hair-thin stringers (includes drawing of lines from every angle and tiny dots)

–       how does it work on different backgrounds, such as opaque or transparent glass, or on enamels

–       focal shaping for imagery

–       background design (use of enamel, thin stringers, frit, silver leaf, different glass colour reactions and advice)

–       how to draw a tree off glass on glass

–       different ways to create leaves (tiny dots, enamel, both)

–       use of  two-colour stringers definition of a tree



Focusing on different ways to use enamels, this class also contains techniques like leaves, floral elements and murrini, with the end result being a focal bead.

–       Easy to apply enamels (including safety!!!)

–       different ways of heating the applied enamels

–       applying different layers of enamels and mixing colours

–       enamels on different backgrounds/colour reactions

–       enamels and transparent stringers (dots, stripes)

–       separating colours from each other

–       cutting technique

–       enamels inside of a bead (resulting into a spiral)

–       techniques for creating leaves and flower petals

–       murrini cane applications

“Ocean shapes”

Focusing on shaping, this class includes different techniques to create organic/abstract shapes in beads, concentrates on heat control, but also on other components like canes/murrini…all of them related to the ocean.

–       squeezing without using a press (masher, paddle)

–       compensating design for using different  glass in a shape (for example ivory=soft, clear=not that soft)

–       creating different layers of sculptural components on the front side of the bead and keeping them in balance

–       shaping by adding and removing glass techniques

–       application of enamels and their influence onto a shape (introduction)

–       hair thin stringers in creating ocean movements and designs

–       cutting and pushing techniques

–       pulling technique

–       creating waves

–       Creating sculptural elements by using thick stringers (heat control!)

–       sculpturing of holes

–       corals (on the surface of the bead and small coral shaped beads)

–       tide pools

–       creating different murrini and cane and using them in beads

CiM – Rose Quartz

Basic behaviour
What an amazing colour, finally a COE104 pink that is stable and sexy! the behaviour in the flame is much the same as Gelly’s Sty in other words you can get it hot as hell and it won’t burn out. A translucent colour it is neither opaque nor transparent, just a very pretty soft pink.

Tips and Tricks
As it is not fully opaque it is best used as the core bead. I have also encased Rose Quartz in Rubino oro, clear and Amethyste all create a beautiful shade. As a stringer I would suggest using it over the top of an opaque colour even white to offer just a slight shading of pink. The darker the opaque colour the more likely it will affect the pinkness of Rose quartz.  I have found that you would need to have a highlighting colour under it if using for dots and spots as it is not a solid opaque colour and can dissipate if used over a dark colour

Complimentary colours
I have used it so far with Effetre Dark Red, Kryptonite and Effetre Light Grey.


CiM Clockwork Orange

This is an amazing colour and I’m addicted. When you first view the glass rod you are not sure if it is opaque or transparent. I have listed it as an opaque on my website as I cannot decide.

What I do know is this colour is so vibrant and delightful. In the flame it appears to shift from transparent to opaque depending on how hot the glass gets. In a neutral flame the glass appears to be translucent not quite fully transparent but definitely not a solid colour. In a reduction flame it appears to shift to being more opaque.

The glass melts easily and can handle some punishment without burning out. It holds it’s colour in stringer form or being used as a base colour. It etches easily and you can get a decent frost within 5 minutes of etching. All round a very easy colour to work with.

Give it a go and post your comments here I’d be interested to see what you think about it.

If you don’t have any of it in stock, click here to buy it

Studio safety – ventilation

I remember the first time I made beads under the watchful trained eye of Peter Viesnik. I was so hooked on the first go I couldn’t wait to buy my own studio kit. I was then introduced to Judith at Annie Rose, I walked into their amazing store and just wanted everything!

I couldn’t wait to buy my studio kit. Judith walked me through her setup in their teaching studio and showed me all the items I needed to set up my own studio. The great thing about buying my studio items from Judith and her team at Annie Rose was that I did not need to worry about the safety of my equipment. Judith had already had the controller and kiln tested and verified for use in new Zealand by an electrician, the pipes each had their flashback arrestors, all I needed was the bottles of gas an I’m ready to rock.

I went online and Goggled safety in a studio. I came across a number of blog posts suggesting that I needed to have a breeze in my studio to ensure the gas in the room was dispelled. I read that if I leave a door open, a window open and have a fan blowing from one to the other then all will be great. I’ll basically be creating a draft between the door and window with my fan, I’m ready to rock.

So being being excited about my new studio I switched on my fan and spent the whole day lampworking, maybe 6 hours at the torch. I started to feel a little weird, light headed and slightly nauseous, I turned off the torch, switched off the bottle and bled my lines, went inside to get a glass of water. within the next hour I developed a headache and felt quite lethargic. The headache got worse and worse I eventually maxed out the number of pills I could take but the headache would not dissipate. It stayed with me for almost two days and I was lethargic for close on a week.

The fact of the matter is a window, door and fan is not an adequate solution to ventilation. Ventilation is very important. If you are going to love your hobby or art then you’d better be sure it won’t make you sick. The first mistake I made was to not pay heed to which way the air way moving outside my studio or if the even was a breeze. Likely there was no air movement at all and the fan was ineffective as it was the sole source of moving 25 cubic meters of air. The second mistake I made was to not have my desk in the direct path of the breeze if any. The third major mistake I made was to assume that even if there was a breeze, the air was likely creating an eddie or pocket of gas being trapped where my desk was located.

I would suggest that if you have no manner in which you can extract the air directly above the flame of your torch you should not be lampworking. yes there will always be those who have no ventilation and have no known side effects but I have had personal experinec of being poisoned by my artform. I have also met others that have almost passed out at their torches beacuse of mixed fumes in their garage or have developed respiratory issues from the use of gas, glass and silver fuming.

I would say never underestimate the dangers associated with lack of ventilation.

So how does one ensure adequate ventilation?

You can purchase a ventilation system fro a reputable supplier, there are numerous benefits to this:

– A professional with the experience of climate control and movement of air has designed the unit
– The unit will have been inspected and signed off by relevant authorities for it’s sale
– In an insurance claim the unit that has been purchased through an authorised reseller will have a producers statement associated

Assuming you decide to install your own ventilation the good old kiwi number 8 wire way then you would need to consider the following:

– a range hood is only good if it has a decent motor, the motor and fan must be able to draw the noxious by product of your flame away from the torch. If the fan has to draw the air of an entire room it is unlikely to be effective. Ideally the range hood should only have to draw the air around your torch so it would be best to box it in around the space you work in, the smaller the volume of air the better the drawing of the range hood
– the range hood must be ported outside, you cannot use a range hood that just filters and circulates the existing air in the room
– ideally you should also have an extraction fan installed under the table as some of the combined gasses are heavier than air, it slips off the desk and accumulates on the floor
– your working space should not be in an area that could have combined fumes such as petrol

I myself spent a few thousand dollars on my ventilation after my experience and due to public liability. There is a great post online by Kristan Horne through NZGBA on her ventilation which I also view to be effective. http://www.nzgba.org.nz/wp/2010/04/12/my-ventilation/

Finally, you are able to buy a product from gas companies that comes in a tube, you can release the tube contents which creates a smoke and fills the room; then put on your ventilation system and watch if there are any eddies that are being created where pockets of gas could collect.

The moral of this post is ventilation much be extraction, not an open window with a breeze. Safety first and you will be able to love glass beadmaking forever

CiM is in the house

Check it out!!! we have got our first shipment of CiM Creation is Messy COE 104 compatible to Effetre and Vetrofond. The colours we have imported are complimentary to the existing ranges of COE104 supplied by Annie Rose, so come on into the studio and have a look.

Sarah Hornik has arrived and is getting soaked in the city no doubt hahaha welcome to Auckland is all I can say 🙂 Sorry Sarah Island weather is all I can say

The world best travelled Kitty

I think this story is too adorable for words…

Kitty is perhaps the most adventurous cat in the world. She is the beloved cat pet of a French couple/explorers, Guillaume and Laetitia who are on a mission to travel from Miami, USto Ushuaia, Argentinapurely on foot. They are currently in Columbia, heading south.

Their cat, Kitty, is often seen resting in the backpack carried by Guillaume while they are hiking down the road. They even set up a little umbrella on the backpack to give the kitty some shade from the sun.

Kitty enjoys the trip as much as the couple. She often climbs on the shoulder of her daddy to get a good look at every new scenery. She does not seem to be shy or bashful about meeting new people and visiting new places. If we have an award for the most adventurous cat in the world, I’d said Kitty is purr-fect for it. You can see the updates on their journey and more photos at their website

Lisa-Jane Debut video blog

Yes can you believe it?!? my very first online blog has begun. This is quite exciting and strangely scary as I didn’t think I woulod have anything interesting to say (you will probably agree 🙂 alas it is done the first unedited raw version of my webcam…

Let me know what you think

Laurie Caroll’s studio

Today I was very fortunate to get a hot cup of tea some awesome conversation and a peek into Laurie Caroll’s newly bought studio.

Laurie has purchased a small shed as per his post you can see how the construction was done. The cool thing about the shed he bought is you don’t need foundations to build it on the floor is raised and wooden. The other cool thing about his new studio is the natural light with the three small windows he opted for.

Laurie has been investing is some funky tools which I wanted to share with you and hopefully he’ll put the suppliers on the post where he sourced these fabulous ideas from. The first is the Creation Station, what a wicked setup! It comes with two elbow rests and two wrist rests so you have your whole arm supported while beading.

The second funky tool is a rotary tool in which you insert your nadrel and it turn the bead for you without you developing thumb rsi. Very clever device that has varying sizes for different mandrels, and also has variable speeds so you can have it turn slowly or fast. very clever.

I also really liked his new torch, wanting to get into boro sculpture (if anyone knows of great tutors for this in NZ please let Laurie know) so he purchased this torch. Holy heck it looks industrial and masculine so I had to get a photo of it 🙂

Thanks Laurie it was really fantastic to meet you finally and see your very cool setup.

What do you get from entering?

I remember the very first year I entered the glass bead competition, it was the first year we formed NZGBA. I sort of forgot about the deadline and had only been torching for a few months but to be fair did actually own my own torch so chose not to enter in the beginners category as I felt having a torch meant I was serious and should participate as such. The theme was Aotearoa, and I played with concepts such as sea and mountains. I imagined creating a towering Mitre Peak encased in clear with floating clouds and sea on the lower half of the bead. I then though it would be awesome to separate the two sea and land with a Maori motif a koru type design with dots and that would be very challenging. As I thought about it more the design became even more complex and I ended up creating a wire wrapped pyramid, supposed to be a silver fern, and encased it in Light grass green and Light blue glass, then tried to create the motif. I was working full time so only had a few hours a week to try something new.

Then the deadline was suddenly on my doorstep and I had to take a day off work to try get my design into the competition in time, alas I missed the deadline but the girls at Annie Rose were kind enough to include my bead. When we had the awards ceremony and I saw the beads that had been entered I was absolutely floored. I could not in my wildest dreams imagine how Justin created his Pacific Sunrise bead, when I asked him and he said it was a reversed incalmo I immediately thought, holy heck I am such an amateur.

I then saw Tokiko’s amazing bead and her layers of petals and the depth she got from the colours, I lusted over flowers like that for the whole year following and still have not been able to create one quite like hers (how does she keep those crisp clean edges?!?). The next bead that amazed me was Donna’s bead with her beautiful flowers, amazing twisted cane and the absolutely gorgeous 3 dimensional lady bugs. I remember hounding her the next day to teach me encasing as I had no idea how she managed to keep everything 3D and not smeared. People were asking me “did you enter?” “which one is your bead?” I was mortified with my efforts, I entered half assed, I barely threw it together last minute, and had no practise and it showed, as I was new and no-one knew me I was able to lie convincingly and denied ever entering.

I left that competition with so much enthusiam to be Justin Culina, to have flowers like Tokiko and to achieve the incredible encasing that Donna had, and to put in the effort. The following year the competition was announced.

I was secretary of NZGBA and was so excited to prove to myself that my skills has improved from the previous year and to put a bead in that my peers would look at and say wow she really gave it her all. I took months to design my piece, I eventually decided on learning new techniques. My approach was to use the competition to test my skills and push the boundaries. The competition was being judged on technical ability so I approached it as such. I chose techniques I had no experience in, the implosion bead as I love these, then the murinni which I used as the iris for my eye, stringer control which I used to wrap the bead in vines, and pink glass which till then (and possibly still now) I loathed. First I made implosion beads for 3 weeks, one after the next. I could have easily made over 25 beads to see if I could get it right, I tried different colours, I tried different dot sizes, poking, pinching, flattening, melting and eventually settled on my technique for implosions that I created in my time. Then I was nervous adding it to anything so the next step was to practise stacking beads as totems, I must’ve made about 15 totems before I thought I’d be able to stack the beads without destroying the implosion I’d worked so hard on.

The next step was creating the eye, I studied Dustin Tabor and Stephanie Sersich, I took out a book on drawing eyes, I studied making murrinis, and eventually I shaded a murrini cane that had various colours of transparency and started creating eyes. Again a number of tries, then I did eyes in totems to see if I could handle the glass all in one go. Finally, after all this preparation I sat down and created my totem. It came out perfect! I was so excited I sat down to make another and it sucked. It took another 6 totems before finally I gave up and went with the original “hole in one” bead that I had made. I was so proud I couldn’t wait for everyone to see it. I was so nervous on the night of the awards as I had participated I was not allowed to judge or even see the entries before the awards evening. When I got there I found that only Donna; one of the hero’s who had inspired me to really stretch myself was in the competition. I was so disappointed I really wanted to see how my skill and hours invested would hold up against the likes of Justin, Donna, and Tokiko. As it turned out I won the competition. I couldn’t believe it! just 12 months previously I denied my critter bead and left it in the cold homeless (I threw it away! poor thing), and now with my totem I had won. I was so proud of the hours and their fruition. It was awesome.

The following year when the competition was announced “Translate your world” I was pressed to achieve the same as the previous year, not win the competition but rather take a new technique one I had never used and learn it, and master it (well I’m still not sure you can master anything in glass in one lifetime but you get what I mean). The earth bead used Fusing, sheet encasing and enameling. Each bead took about 3 hours from start to finish. I made, broke and mangled 8 separate worlds before the final success. Again I won and I was proud. I had invested no less than 24 hours of torch time to gain the skills I had learnt for that bead.

This year I am unable to participate as I am President, but I wanted to share my story with you becuase I wonder how many of our members are still approaching the competition as I did in my first year.

I ask you what are you learning?
What techniques are you choosing?

How many hours are you actually investing in developing yourself? Which artist will you be on the awards evening night? Will you be the one who denies ever entering or will you be proud of the work you have submitted? Will you really give it a go?

How will your skills in the last 12 months on measure against your last years competition entry? Will you be eager to show your peers what you have achieved?

In my mind this is the purpose of exhibitions, competitions and calls for submission. It gives you a unique opportunity to focus on your art, the passion to focus, upskill and really stretch your boundaries, it is an excuse for you to stop your production every day run of the mill beads and really test yourself as an artist. It gives you the opportunity to be taken seriously by your peers, for those who really get what you have done and say well done you have really improved since last year, we can see your hard work, and your efforts. This year which is the only year I want to win the competition the first prize is a wild cat torch, I urge you to think about this and really put your efforts in. I want the world to someday stand up and think Wow New Zealand has something to contribute, and to think that the competition has had some part in making that a reality. I want each and every one of you to enter, who cares if you win or not, it’s what you learn in your efforts to give it all you got to win that torch, win that Bullseye and Gaffer glass, get a whole days free tuition. So let me ask you this… What do you get from entering?

Born to Bead Survey

Born to Bead has now been in business for 2 years and I am blown away with how fast that has gone for us.

Now that we are over the critical 2 year mark we would like to ask for some feedback on your thoughts of the studio and what it has to offer. We are currently offering workshops in Lampworking, Fusing and Art Clay silver and the ability to rent the studio until you invest in your own.

We have an opportunity to expand our offering to include Glass, Tools and studio equipment but need your help to know how we are currently doing, how you view what we are doing and would this expansion be of interest to you.

Whether you have done a workshop or not your feedback will help us with our business.

Please be so kind as to take a moment to answer the 6 questions in our survey.

Click here to start your survey

NB answers are anonymous

Akihiro Okhama

In that moment my life flashed before my eyes.

There have been those momentous occasions in my life that have had an amazing and profound impact on the path my journey follows. You always remember the first job interview, the first pay check, the first love and for those of us most fortunate discovering your passion. I had always had an understanding of what was possible with glass and torching.

In May 2009 we had the Annual Bead Competition which was hosted at Annie Rose. Annie Rose had brought out a Japanese Glass Artists which 12 of us had enrolled to understudy. I remember the night before the class was to commence Peter Viesnik, Carolyn Hewlitt and myself went for a vino and to see an art exhibit at The Quarry (a must see when in Whangarei). Upon returning to the studio Aki had placed his beads and marbles out for display and sale.

As any self respecting woman would do I reached for the most expensive item on the table, a marble. The marble has a dark black background inhibiting light entering the centre so you had to move the marble to gaze into it… It was this moment that my life flashed before my eyes, not the past but the future!

I have never seen anything like this in my life. Three miniature bouquets of flowers in intricate detail, roses, arum lilies, ferns and leaves clustered on three separate plains creating a tunnel of floral designs in a marble no more than 7cm in diameter. I didn’t realise this was possible. Who knew this could be achieved with the equipment I have in my studio.

A path of development began to form in my mind, a goal to be able to create such beautiful intricate designs and be able to do so in the comfort of my own studio. The task laid before me and the journey I am to take was all starting the next morning when I would be introduced to Aki’s world of glass.

It is in this moment standing there with pure clarity that I realised I will be creating glass in miniature for the rest of my life and I will always be continually learning, I had found a passion that would keep me on the edge of discovery for the rest of my life, and I couldn’t wait to begin…

Silver Coring with tube my way

OK so I have spent all but 3 hours trying out these new techniques of coring beads. I have come up to my way of making it work so whether it’s orthodox or not time will tell.

First ensure the silver tube you buy will fit over the Pandora or other brand fittings. Then adjust your bead release to ensure the bead hole will fit the tube.

First I cut the tube to the width of the bead keeping only 1mm in length past the core hole width (don’t cut too long or the flaring doesn’t fit the bead). Using a small doming punch just slightly bigger than the inner diameter of the tube and flare the one end open.

Hold the tube in the flame until the whole tube is glowing red. I used a very little oxygen just to give me the heat but too much and your silver will liquefy.

 Once glowing hot drop it into a tub of water to quench it

Now for the pickle. I am using Sparex. I believe you can use a healthier one called Citrus pickle but have not found it in NZ. I purchased my pickle at Regal Castings in Auckland. Mix your pickle with water and heat on a heating element in a casserole dish. It is not necessary to boil the pickle it simply needs to be warm to be effective with the amount of silver we are using. Sparex is an acid salt of sulphuric acid.

The fumes are unpleasant and I wouldn’t imagine healthy for you. Some peeps use a crockpot limiting the steam. I have excellent ventilation so a crock pot at home may be best. I wore a mask and goggles in case of health concerns. Pickle for approx 10 minutes or until the tube is white. This will remove any firescale.

The silver is now soft enough to actually use. Place the tube through the bead and place the previously flared end on top of a solid surface i.e. an anvil or something similar. My workbench came with pegs so I have used this to stabilise the back of the bead.

Using a small doming punch start to flare the unflared tube, I use small jewellery hammer and tap very gently, tap too hard an this is what happens

Once you are certain the flaring has begun, use a larger dome punch and increase the flare. Flip the bead over and flare the other side with the large doming punch

Slowly open the flare on both sides of the bead. Once flared you can switch to a burnisher. Use the burnisher to smooth the edge of the flared tube from the core outward thereby giving a smooth edge to the tube. Repeat until satisfied with result.

Voila you have a cored silver bead!!! stay posted for more exciting ideas on silver coring your beads.

Dustin Tabor

Dustin Tabor is without a doubt a master at dot control. It’s not only the dot control that impresses all of us it’s also his eclectic disciplined style of bead. The colours, layers and designs he creates by layering depth and having an all round amazing eye for balance. I have tried to get him over to New Zealand alas he is not able to travel as he is settling down with his new wife. Hopefully they’ll choose New Zealand as their anniversary destination. We can dream.

Sarah Hornik

Sarah Hornik has to be one of my favourite artists. Not only is she a wonderful person but also a highly sought after tutor. We have secured her visit to NZ in 2010 expected to be here in February March and will be visiting Hoglund Glass, Born to Bead and Annie Rose on a tour through New Zealand.

Clarity on Clear

Lauscha clear is without a doubt my favourite, but in being vocal about this I have discovered that we all have our own faves. Depending on the COE that you are working with you no doubt have your own favourites. What I can advise if you ever get the option is to hand pick your rods. Effetre clear in my experience is quite a dirty clear and often has lines of fine bubbles known in the industry as scratches.

Bead release Mud or magic

Bead Release we all have our days don’t we. It’s a little like mixing paint either too much or too little but every now and then we find our mixture, that perfect balance between bead release and water. However, it doesn’t always stay that way, as you use your release the water gets less and the release thickens. I like to mix my release on the slightly watery side. Too thick and I find that I have issues with it cracking when heating it. Any comments here would be greatly appreciated.

One thing I have noticed with bead release is the lumpy aspect. Many of my students who now dip their own mandrels simply use the release mixed with a spoon. I take the time to use an hand held food processor (not to be used with food once dedicated to the studio and annexed from the kitchen). I blend my bead release to get a smooth baby food consistency. This process does however create bubbles in the release. I then bang the bottle on the table and the bubbles up to the surface. Ensure you tap the bottle on the table every time you mix or use your release. The blending means no lumps which means when cleaning your core out you don’t have speckled white spots to content with.

The other thing I have noticed is that the water separates from the release over time of being sttled so when you dip the mandrel you get a very see-through coating, so you will always have to stir it up just like paint before painting.

Kiln programming – what’s that all about?!?

When choosing a kiln for your glass work I would recommend investing in a digital controller. Many kilns come with simplistic controls. When working with glass, these are most often not precise enough to achieve the right results. Digital controllers are the best way to achieve the desired results. There are many different manufacturers and each controller will have manufacturer specifics that you need to be mindful of. However, the concept of annealing and firing are pretty similar so I will try to be a generalist about this as possible. I use the Perfect fire HDTP-56-55 digital controller; parts of this post will be specific to this controller as it’s the one I know.

Think of a firing cycle as a sequence of events much the same as baking. First you prepare the ingredients, then you combine the ingredients then you bake it at the exact temperature for the exact amount of time. It’s impossible to bake by mixing up this sequence of events, imagine baking the ingredients before you mixed them (the analogy comes from my recent endeavour to master muffins!). In any event firing cycles are the same. You have a sequence of events that must take place in order; this will give you the desired result.

Most manufacturers call a firing cycle a program. So in your controller you will have a program for bead annealing or a program for fusing glass, or a program for setting ArtClay silver. Each program is made up of its own unique sequence of events. My controller can carry a series of 55 separate segments. So I can specify 55 segments on my controller. Some controllers have no more than 8 segments available. What’s important here is to know which segments belong to which program.

For example I have Program 1 = Bead Annealing. This program consists of 4 segments. As it’s the first program in my kiln, when I want to anneal beads I start at segment one. The next program in my kiln is will thus start at segment 5 because the first 4 segments belong to Program 1 = Bead Annealing. Keeping a log of these programs and which segments belong to each program is paramount to managing your kiln effectively.

Some controllers come pre-programmed but I always advise to get to know your equipment. For example, I used my pre-programmed fusing firing cycle (starting at segment 32) for fusing last night. The program uses full power to get to the desired temperature 740°C which takes only 15minutes to get to that temperature. Because I had increased the dimensions of the sheets of glass I was using the full steam ahead was too fast and my glass could not handle the sudden shock of heat, the result? It exploded all over my kiln. So now I need to create a program that caters for a slower pace to get to the desired temperature.

Each segment consists of its own sequence of events. So basically the hierarchy of programming looks like this

Program (recipe) = Segments (ingredients) = events (stages of progress)

So each program is made up of segments. And each segment is made up of an event

Now we move onto events, this is where all the magic of firing is held. Having done research on various manufacturers I have found that for the most part they all use the same sequence of events.

I’ll try simplify firing cycles for you.

Quite simply from a cold kiln you want it to get hot, stay hot and then cool down. Sounds simple doesn’t it? So the process of:

– Getting hot = Ramping up
– Staying hot = Soak (NB for lampworkers, your beads must soak for at least 30mins after the last bead has gone into the kiln)
– Cooling down = Ramping down

My controller has 3 types of events that I use:

– Cont = continuous ramping until the desired temperature is achieved
o Ramp rate = time it must take to reach the desired temperature or °C per hour
o FULL = use maximum power to get to temperature as quick as possible

– Conr = Continue regardless i.e. heat up or cool down at the arte specified for X minutes/hours. When the time is reached proceed to the next event regardless of the temperature. Like ovens kilns can come varied some kilns are “hotter” than others i.e. they retain heat better by design. So even though you have set the kiln to reach 200°C in 2 hours, it may not be 200°C within the 120 minutes. Continue regardless means move onto the next event after the 120 minutes whether or not the temperature is 200°C

– End = self explanatory, the program has ended. If you do not have this segment at the end of your program then the kiln will move onto the next program so it’s paramount to have an end event as your final segment of each program

In practise:

Ok all fine and well in theory but how do we put it into practice? Let’s say I am about to start lampworking. I want to put my newly made beads into a kiln that is holding a temperature of 515°C which is specified for soft glass (COE 96 – 104). I want to make beads for about 2hrs after work. Then when my two hours is over and my last bead has gone into the kiln, rule of thumb states the bead must be in the kiln for no less than 30 minutes before cooling down starts. Because we are working with soft glass the rate off cooling should typically be an hour till reaching 200°C at which point the kiln will switch off. The Program, segments and events look like this:

Program 1

– Segment 1

o Event = Cont (keep heating until you reach temp required)
o Ramp Rate = Full (use full power to reach desired temperature)
o Soak time = 2 hours (I have 2 hours to add beads to the kiln)
o Temperature = 515°C (it will ramp at full power to 515°C and hold this temp for 2hrs)

– Segment 2

o Event = Cont (keep heating until you reach temp required)
o Ramp Rate = Full (use full power to reach desired temperature)
o Soak time = 30mins (hold this temp for 30mins after the last bead has been put in)
o Temperature = 515°C (it will ramp at full power to 515°C and hold this temp for 30mins)

– Segment 3

o Event = Conr (cool the kiln at the desired rate aiming for 200°C over 1hr)
o Ramp rate = 315 (515°C – 200°C=315; 315 /5.25°C = 60mins)
o Soak time =0minutes (once 60 mins at ramp rate of 315 is reached the next segment starts as defined by Conr)
o Temperature = 200°C

– Segment 4

o Event = End

Pixie dust safety

Since my last blog post I have been playing with enamel powders and Mica powders aka Pixie Dust. Enamels powders are made up of ground glass in a talc powder form. Read the enamels powder section under glass alchemy for more information. What is important to know about safety is these enamels are actually glass powder. Mica powder has been described in the tutorials section. Again Mica powder is in a talcum powder format. Originally I read a whole heap of warnings and thought them a little over the top. This last weekend I went away to the Purple Palace for a retreat and used both enamel and mica powder. The palace does not have ventilation but rather has two open windows a door and a fan assisting air flow.

I used three methods of application. I poured the powder into one of my moulds and pressed the bead into the powder, I also used a tea spoon and rolled the bead in the edges of the powder, finally I sprinkled powder using an old tea strainer.

At first there was no issue with the powders and using them, but then after about 10 minutes I started to notice a post nasal drip in the back of my throat and a slight grating feeling when swallowing. As the next hour progressed I noticed sinus like symptoms and a definite strong irritation in breathing through the nose. This worsened as the day progressed resulting in a blocked nose, sore throat and annoying post nasal. The effects lasted just short of two days and 8 days on my throat is still sore.

DO NOT underestimate how careful you need to be with these two powders. Use a face mask and ensure you have adequate ventilation. It is not OK to have air movement you must have extraction. You also need to respect that these powders are now resting on your working surface you will require the use of a face mask when cleaning the surface to ensure not getting the powders airborne and up your nose.

Pixie Dust or Mica Powder

Just recently I had a student who had arrived for her studio rental with a package just purchased from Annie Rose. The package included enamel powders and mica powder aka pixie dust. I remember when I first started beading I bought a huge tub of pixie dust, I couldn’t wait to use it and no-one appeared to know what it did.

I made a round bead (well I was a beginner so maybe not too round) squished it into the graphite paddle swathed in this magical sparkling powder stuck it back in the flame to regain the shape I lost in my eagerness.

When the bead came out there was a murky brown cosmic smear and I was bitterly disappointed. In true beginner fashion I researched pixie dust on lampwork etc and found that most people had issues with it and many did not get the required result. The tub got placed on my bookshelf in the too hard corner and in two years I have never revisited it.

Now two years on my student has reignited the interest, out came the tub, dusted and cleaned ready for a second run.

Here’s what I found. In researching pixie dust I have discovered it is a form of mica powder and is sometimes referred to as such. Mica is a mineral that is mined and used in various industries. Sometimes it is actually used as a replacement to glass (huh?) yup they use mica sheets in greenhouses instead of glass as it has unique heat resistant properties. Without being an amateur scientist Mica is for all intents and purposes a fire retardant material. And in this statement lies the trick to working with pixie dust.

NB: Please refer to the information on safety before proceeding with these two products

First prepare the vessel in which you will be holding your pixie dust. I say this because if you are using a round bead and want the whole bead covered you need a deep rounded mould shape in which to hold the pixie dust. This is such that you can roll the whole bead in dust as opposed to rolling it over a surface. This will ensure you get the pixie dust all the way to the edge of the mandrel.

I used various vessels: shot glass to coat the whole bead when made at the end of the mandrel, a square shaped small bowl for bicones, a tea strainer for odd shaped beads, and a teaspoon for any shape where you wish the dust to coat the mandrel ends of the beads.

If you are creating a tube, square or flat surface bead then you would have your pixie dust laid out on a flat surface which you can then pick up on the flattened surfaces of your shaped bead.

Assuming you want an avant garde shaped bead it might pay to have your pixie dust in a container that allows you to sift or sprinkle the dust over your bead (important to have a catchment material such as paper or a large bowl under your bead so you can catch the excess pixie dust.

As a fire retardent you need to be sure that the bead is solid i.e. can hold it’s shape when you apply the pixie dust, but quickly flash your bead in the flame so the surface is molten or else the pixie dust won’t adhere.

When you have applied the pixie dust lightly tap your mandrel with a tool to ensure excess dust is removed from the surface of the bead. Excess dust that is not adhered to the bead will affect encasing as the encasing will adhere to the excess dust and not the bead leaving you with a bead that will crack between the excess dust and the encasing.

Once you have removed the excess dust, put your bead at the very back of your flame and slowly turn it, do not overheat it at this point, that results in the murky effect. Simply keep your bead out back and slowly work it until the bead gains a light glow. It is at this point you can either kiln your bead or you can encase it. Encasing the dust will protect it from further heating so you can marver, melt and decorate at will.

Pasta, Pasta, Pasta

Pasta Pasta Pasta, now I know we are cooking with gas but anyone thinking Italian. No I’m not refering to hot Italian stud or flaming hot Ferarri. Instead I’m referring to hot Italian glass, well more the temperature your glass decorations can withstand. As a tutor one of the most common mistakes I see made by students is the inability to manage heat control and thereby control their decorations. Very often when learning we place our dots and decorations on hastily, then hold the bead in the working part of flame until molten, at which point we realise that it’s gone too far and the bead starts to warp, decorations start floating around. It’s at this stage I bring out the pasta. Think of glass as pasta, al dente. Pasta will continue to cook once removed from the stove. When adding your decorations don’t melt the decorations down completely. Rather heat the bead until the decorations are two thirds where you want them to be then remove the bead from the flame and wait for the glass to settle, it will continue to cook when taken from the flame. This gives you better control over the resulting pattern. Slow down and your decorations will thank you for it.

Reducing flame silver foil

It’s not often we can find a trick that hasn’t been widely publicised, I think I’ve found one. This is an awesome effect if you get it exactly right. Wrap your bead in silver foil and burnish. Some people at this point add new blobs of coloured glas either in a pattern or randomly over the burnished silver. Slowly melt these decoration flat. At this point the silver foil will have a dark or flat finish on the surface of the bead between the coloured dots added. If you reduce the flame and flash your bead in and out of the flame, the silver finish returns to the surface and gives you a mirrored effect. If you reduce too much then the silver will go black, simply increase the oxygen to remove the carbon deposits and retry the effect.

April 2009 Beads of Courage

What an amazing day we couldn’t have asked for a better day in weather. Did anyone else notice that Sunny Sydney is flooding and Rainy Auckland is sunbathing… I’m just saying I noticed it

The day started with an unreal show of volunteers for the Beads of Courage program. The Times article has generated a wonderful increase in interest to help us donate beads to the Child Cancer Foundation. The CCF let the children in our know we had the day happening and we had a few visitors come over to see how their beads are made. A big thank you to everyone for the help and visitation. It was fantastic for us as artists to meet children that are directly benefiting from the program. Now us lampworkers have to get melting as we need way more beads than volunteers, don’t clean your beads as we can do that on the day of the next BOC.

The team who volunteered with Beads of Courage a big thanks to everyone it was much appreciated. here we have Sean getting initiated by Karilea in the art of grinning and bearing it when a rod experiences thermal shock here we have everyone hard at work, Debbie and Eva cutting and packing, Frances, Helen, Kari and Liz lampworking and me being totally paparazzi . Happy children helping Debbie package beads, all in all a very successful Beads of Courage day and hopefully we’ll have many more as productive as this day, we have packaged up an additional 30 beads so it’s very exciting that we can actively contribute. Annie Rose were very kind enough not only to shut shop and join us (MWHA I love you guys) but they also donated a whole heap of beads for the program.

I am unsure how to handle money donations as we are really running this program as a voluntary program, however we need to pay for boxes for the Butterfly beads. I am looking to negotiate a manner in which you can purchase the boxes from the company who provides them as part of your donations. Stay posted I’ll be emailing you all to ask for your help with this.

2008 Wanganui glass festival

I’ve just received word that they are planning the 2009 Wanganui glass festival and we will be hearing the details sooner than later. This year they are also looking to include a jazz music festival. I would like to propose us hiring a van and have a retreat with a few of us. I’ll work on costings and see what packages we can come up with for us to share the drive down. There will be workshops available as well for those who wish to try their hand at glass fusing with David Traub, and hot glass at Chronicle glass studios.

Here’s what happened at the 2008 glass festival, great fun! had by all.

2008 Wanganui Glass Festival…
Year on year the Wanganui Glass festival is growing not just in size but in quality and experience. I absolutely LOVED the festival this year. My friend (Helen Moore from Moore beads) decided to take a road trip to the festival and see what it was all about. Following a somewhat late night and pickled celebratory evening after the NZGBA first (very successful) opening evening of our 2008 Wearable Glass Exhibition; Helen and I hopped into the car at 06h30 and headed down to Wanganui. The trip by Wises standards should have taken an approximate 6hrs, we managed to stretch that to 9hrs. Such a glorious day of sunshine and cloudless skies we were greeted halfway by the magnificent Mt Ruhapehu and had to stop for a few hours on the mountain. catching the shuttle up as we weren’t sure of the roads Helen and I bought tourist passes and faffed in the snow like real Jaffa’s boots and all.

The whole main street has glass artists exhibited in shop windows, everyone of note from Katie Brown to David Traub, Dominic Burrell, Karen Ellett, Greg Hall, Lyndsay Patterson, Brendon Sole, Rachel Ravenscroft, Mark Rolinson, Larinae Steward and our very own Donna Sole. The list was extensive too many literally to mention here and with that alone I was very impressed. Not to mention the beautiful town of Wanganui! Tulips and blossom trees lining the streets, fantastic cafes with delightful decor, boutique shopping that would appease the average Jaffa appetite and an ambiance of peace and happiness. Not once did we feel threatened so all those who warned us about dangerous Wanganui have yet to experience Danger Danger in Whangarei.

We had the pleasure of attending UCOL’s student exhibit and regretted missing the opening ceremony at Chronicle Glass studio.

This is a festival not to be missed next year and I urge you if ever you played with marbles and grew a love for glass objects you simply cannot miss this festival next year.

Wesley Fleming – Creepy Crawleys

Vicky from Gingasquid has sent me a link to Wesley Flemings website. Wesley makes bugs beetles spiders and others. At first I thought he was using Boro which is usually the glass of choice for sculpturers but on closer inspection he uses Effetre. This offers more respect in my opinion as soft glass is nowhere near as forgiving as boro which will harden and not thermal shock, where soft glass will soften and is prone to shocking.


The Beads of Courage program is a very niche charity program that we as lampworkers can become very involved with. There are few opportunties such as these where we can offer our art to a child who has reached a milestone in their treatment or has had to undergo an act of courage during their journey. It holds a special place in my heart to be able to offer an open studio where artists can gather and put their hearts and soul into beads for these children.

Last week we were very fortunate to have The Born to Bead studio aired on MaryTV, an internet based TV station here in New Zealand. Click below to view the interview.


please note this content is copyright by MaryTV and Born to Bead Ltd

What colours glass?

Glass is typically created using silica, soda-ash, lime and in some cases potash. The colour in glass is introduced using metal oxides and chemical compounds

Metals include Iron(II) oxide , chromium, manganese, sulphur, selenium, cadmium sulphide, cobolt, tin oxide, arsenic, copper, copper oxide, industrial gold, nickel, chromium, cadmium, Uramium, silver nitrate to note a few.

 The combinations of these chemical compounds