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Friday 26 March 2010

Pick of the Week - Textural Treat

A few picks from the wide selection of new listings available from the fhfteam on Etsy. Beautiful textural highlights enhance each of the choices this week.

Jo Bailey

Caress by ElelJewellery

Niobe by Janehamill

Glacier Lampwork Glass Beads by craftyclare

Ice from Fire by Midgetgembeads

Crystal Arabesque Necklace and Earrings by nemeton

Featured Artist - Rachel Elliott

Hello, my name is Rachel and I am a glass-aholic / full time glass artist! I have been working with glass for nearly 10 years now since discovering stained glass through an evening class and then deciding to study it formally as a degree at Edinburgh College of Art, graduating in 2007.

Rachel Elliott with her piece 'Extracting Rainbows' at the British  Glass Biennale 2008, Stourbridge, UK.

I've been running my own business, full time for just over a year now and I guess the ultimate goal is to be able to make enough of a living from the small gift glass that I make and teaching classes, to be able to attend at least one workshop a year and also have time to make sculpture. The main thing about the sculpture is I don't want to have to think about whose going to buy it or where it will go, I like it to be all about the free expression, which is difficult when you are aware that you are spending time on it when you should be making money.

I now work in my own studio, which is a 200 square foot unit I have rented since October 2008 and renovated from scratch to accommodate the equipment and workbenches I use on a daily basis. I also teach from there but it's really too small to share permanently with anyone else who isn't working on exactly the same things as me, at the same time.My inspiration comes from all over the place, but mainly I work with the realistic and representational. Of course there are subliminal meanings behind much of my work but I like everyone to 'get' it on some level, I don't like art that isn't accessible to people because they don't understand the back story of it. I also like people to smile at my work, it's the greatest feeling in the world to see someone come to your plinth, space or stall and beam at what they find in front of them. I know it's really cliche‚ but there are so many other people's work I admire, both in glass and other materials that I couldn't begin to list or even narrow down favourites. I admire all those that strive to create something unique and share both their creations and knowledge with the world.

I really enjoy making and the challenge of figuring out how to make a piece too, sometimes it can be a real struggle to continue to be engaged with a piece once I've overcome those obstacles and usually one a piece is finished, I don't like it and am usually already embroiled in the next one.

Having said that, I really like my 'Storm Troubled Sphere' bead which is in the Tempest bead exhibition. It was a chance opportunity that came at a unique time when I was undertaking work experience at John Hardman stained glass studio in Birmingham, who allowed me the 3 weeks it took to make the bead, as well as my constant holding of tiny pieces of glass in front of the painters asking 'Do you think it needs more detail?'

The 'Storm Troubled Sphere' a 75mm diameter bead made from 60 pieces of glass, hand painted with kiln fired enamel.

Colour, hmm, colour and I have a difficult relationship. My favourite material is clear lead crystal as it is great for making the things I want to from. I love the idea that I am creating something that exists yet is transparent, a ghost of a thing. When I was a kid, I remember telling myself, if a picture isn't coloured in it doesn't exist and I think that was quite perceptive of me as that is how our eyes perceive the world, through the light which reflects back into them. So yeah, I have a real problem using colour as for me I have to ask myself, why am I using it? Is it the colour the thing is in real life and does it need to be? So I usually revert back to the clear safety net!

My kilns are all blue, I have 3 and they are called 'Big Blue', 'Little Blue' and 'Wee Blue' for obvious reasons. The studio is littered with inspiration and I have a strange collage on the back of my fold up cutting table which features Myra Hindley and always raises an eyebrow!

A detail from 'Fringe' a miniature glass allotment made from lost-wax kiln-cast lead crystal and Silver Art clay.

Usually the more methodically I'm working, the more I get easily sidetracked by other little projects, for example during my latest sculpture, my glass allotment, there have been cars, police boxes, Mo'ai and submarines sneaking into the firings to distract me! Deadlines are the biggest deciding factors to the work pattern too, the week before one, its bedlam. I think that's one of my failings, that even if I know something is coming up and I have X number of weeks, I still won't start something till the last possible moment. I also find it impossible to delegate anything to anyone else, or ask for help with things either.

However I do take a pride that everything I make, whether it's jewellery, a bead or a sculpture has been painstakingly made by me and I work very hard to ensure that the piece is unique and not available from anyone else except my studio too.

Some of the LiquidTartan range of screen-printed jewellery and bowls launched in 2010 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the glass industry in Scotland.

My main website is http://www.rachel-elliott.com and there are links from the home page to my various other web presences; Facebook, Twitter, Etsy and the like.

Monday 22 March 2010

Featured Artist - Shahlaa Walsh

Hello! My name is Shahlaa Walsh, I’m 24 and I have been making lampwork beads now for 20 months. I gained my interest in lampwork as many other artists did by purchasing them to make jewellery with. I got so addicted to buying them that I thought it might be nice to have a try at making them. I was privileged enough to be Sam Halliwell’s (of Aurora beads) first student and learnt to make my first beads with her summer 2008. I then started building up my glass collection and renting torch time in a local lampworker’s studio. This is where I began my lampworking adventure. For the past 10 months I have had my own “studio” in my parents’ garage in Surrey where I make my beads on a dual fuel Nortel minor torch. I don’t get too much torch time but I try to get a few hours in each week. My main job is studying at medical to be a doctor but I grab as much time as possible with my torch as it relaxes me and gives me a creative outlet.

My inspiration for lampworking really varies. There are a couple of artists whose work has inspired me to persevere and find my own style. I have been blessed to have a one-to-one session with Julie Fountain of Lush Lampwork; I love her simple but effective styles and her use of colour. I also truly admire Keiara Wells of Wishing Wells Glass. She has a way with glass that I can only dream about; she makes the most beautiful kitties and cupcakes! But I also gather my inspiration from my everyday life. Because of my science background I love to see reactions between different glasses and the viscosity of the way glasses work with each other. I think I’m still finding my style with beads, but the lentil is definitely my favourite shape and I adore my new heart press which makes the cutest puffy hearts! I like to take ideas from what I see around me, I recently made a union jack heart focal from a vintage heart hanging in my living room! I love to work with pixie dust as I love the shimmery goodness of a sparkly bead. I suppose that’s where “all that sparkles” fits it!

Probably my favourite piece I have made so far was a focal I made on my hot head a few months after I started making beads. It took me an hour to make this focal but it was great! I love it because it is often so difficult to make big beads on a hot head without them cracking! My other favourite beads are anything with silver glass! I love silver glass, it shines, its sparkles, and its unpredictable. I’m still experimenting to tame the beast that is silver glass but I’m having great fun doing it!

I love the fact the within lampworking there are so many colours of glass to experiment with but I am guilty of working too much with my favourite colours! I love blues and pinks and can’t keep away from them! When I see new glass come out I can’t help myself if it’s blue or pink to buy loads of it! Eeeek!! The way I work with making new glass totally depends on my mood. I do try and write a list of things I need to make and ideas I’d like to try in a notebook but I often forget to get it out so end up just playing about! But sometimes things just come together and then it works and looks great, other times its a bit trial and error! My strengths definitely lie with getting to grips with presses early on and creating good shapes and colour combos. My weaknesses in glass probably lie with creating bigger beads and having the patience for making sets! Its not that I don’t like sets, it more because I have such a limited torch time each week I try to fit in as much as poss and sometimes sets just take too long!! My goal for my glass art in the future wholly depends on my future career as a doctor! When I qualify I will have less time for it but I plan on keeping it going even if it’s on a very small scale and I will hopefully one day move all my kit over and have a little studio as part of my own home.

If you like my beads and enjoyed reading about me, you can find me here:
Blog: All That Sparkles Beads Blog
Etsy: All That Sparkles Beads

You can join All That Sparkles Beads on Facebook, and if you would like to receive my newsletter, please drop me a line to shahlaa@hotmail.co.uk.

Thanks for reading, happy beading!

Thursday 18 March 2010

Pick of the Week - The First Faint Glimmer

Having spotted the first flowers of spring, some beautiful florals for you all!

Jo Bailey

Featured this week are

Muse Flower Power Bead Set by beadsbyvicki
Stretchy Floral Bracelet by bubblefizz
Moonflower bead set by BumpyBeads
English Garden Florals Set by IzzyBeads
Pretty in pink by Midgetgembeads

Thursday 11 March 2010

Pick of the Week - Spring in Silver

Special Silver-laden offerings this week. Hoping this selection inspires you all!
Jo Bailey

Featured this week are

Pearl Shell by Lemonkitten
Moonlight Stroll Bangle Tangled Knot by chatelainejewellery
Aquaris Shields by craftyclare
Sterling Silver Swan Hook Clasp by mizgeorge
Olive Whisper by FinishingTouchJewels

Friday 5 March 2010

Pick of the Week - Through the Looking Glass

Fitting in with the general internet-wide Alice theme, some appropriate items from the FHF Team.

Jo Bailey

Featured this week are

Drink Me by flyingcheesetostie
Teapot Pixie by flyingbead
Cute Kitties by bykieara
Through the Looking Glass by RedsBeads
Hearts and Flowers by Izzybeads

Wednesday 3 March 2010

Emerging Challenge - Hilary Thompson

FHFteam are running a challenge right now on the theme "emerging" Here is gorgeous lampwork focal bead entered by Hilary Thompson of Spa Town Beads

Hil Says:
"Force of Nature" - inspired by nature. I do a lot of walking in the Cotswold countryside and it's fascinating to see tiny, delicate flowers "pushing" their way through the tiny cracks in stone walls. I just love the textural contrast it portrays.

You can find more lovely lampwork created by Hilary at SpaTownBeads0407

Tuesday 2 March 2010

Emerging Challenge - Emma Mackintosh

FHFteam are running a challenge right now on the theme "emerging" Here is a stunning pixie pendant entered by Emma of Flying Bead

Emma Says:
I was inspired by an article in the latest glassline magazine, showing bandaged faces. They are glass sculpture but I wanted to do a pendant with an Eastern, semi-veiled look - emotions/character emerging from the veil. The idea of a face half-hidden, half in view behind a veil is really appealing. I wanted a nomad, the glass had other ideas and I've ended up with very otherworldly pixies, but still with that half-veiled/half-revealed image. Their eyes have lots of expression - and again, eyes are a mirror of feelings coming from within, half-veiled and half-revealed.

You can find more stunning jewellery and lampwork created by Emma at Flying Bead

Emerging Challenge - Jennie Lamb

FHFteam are running a challenge right now on the theme "emerging" Here is a wonderful lampwork bead entered by Jennie of Raspberry Rings.

Jennie Says:
I seem to be seeing the Union Jack everywhere at the moment from furniture to fashion. Is it the credit crunch that has caused this, or the fighting in Afganistan? I have read that when things are hard the flag emerges to give us all a subliminal boost of pride in our nation! The football this summer will also no doubt put the flag on the map for many people. This bead was born off that influence, I 'deconstructed' the flag but you can see the Union Jack and the Flag of St George almost emerging seperately from the bead depending on what angle you look at it from. The colours immediately make me think of the flag and I think thats the point when the flags start to emerge from the bead!

You can find more stunning jewellery and lampwork created by Jennie at Raspberry Rings