a delicate balance // pebbles

How would you balance an egg? And several tiny glass spheres?

a delicate balance: WiP

I allowed myself some play time in the studio last weekend and this came out of it. Of course I didn’t have quite enough time to finish it yet but I couldn’t wait to give you this first glimpse!

a delicate balance: WiP

The glass spheres balance on 1mm mandrels…just like that necklace with the sprouts I designed in class and I used the last bit of that same silver wire I had molten & pulled. They were fun to make! Juggling with molten glass… ๐Ÿ˜€

The colors are equally playful: white/black and yellow/orange/red/blue/green in both pastels and transparents, all mixed.

They’re going to be pendants & earrings.

The Pebbles now have a different personality: subtle and serene.

pebbles

Preferably with a little ball chain…

I collected all the neutral colors I could find in my studio, all the variations of white glass:

pebbles in all the neutrals I could find:

1 -Vetrofond odd Belgian lace
2 -Vetrofond odd Seashell
3 -Effetre light ivory
4 -Effetre pearl grey
5 -Vetrofond Odd Pink Swirl
6 -Effetre Uranium yellow pastel
7 -Effetre avocado
8 -Effetre sage
9 -Reichenbach CoE94 Sahara
10 -Lauscha Milky Way
11 -Effetre Tongue pink
12 -Vetrofond Odd Ivory
13 -Effetre silver pink
14 -CiM Ginger
15 -Effetre pastel pink
16 -CiM Butter Pecan
17 -Reichenbach CoE 94 Champagne
18 -Effetre white (with stringer to the left) CoE 104
19 -Reichenbach CoE 94 Florence Opaque

In the end I didn’t use no.7 and no.9, as their color was a little too pronounced. So I made a bunch of tiny beads…

pebbles

They will be pendants and brooches.

a delicate balance: WiP

a goddess pendant & designing spiritual jewelry


As you probably know by now, I love designing after certain themes or concepts. One that I hold dearly is the talisvrouw series that led me to explore a feminine spirituality in bead, necklace and pendant design.

My interest in pagan and folk religion taught me how meaningful jewelry can be and how popular and widespread talismans and amulets are, whatever religion or age. Jewelry that goes beyond aesthetics and fashion and becomes magical: it protects and gives strength to the wearer (if you believe in it, that is!).

Of course the believing is optional. Aesthetic appreciation wil do just fine! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I just wanted to explore the concept of spiritual jewelry with things that were meaningful to me.

The elements I wanted to use were clear from the beginning:

A fine chain made from the tiniest gemstone beads and handmade silver beads from Thailand and Bali. I start out with a set of colors/stones and a certain fluid rhythm in which the links are arranged. Just a cluster of colors & shapes.

A chain is a symbol in itself, made up of individual links. It’s being part of a greater entity, of having roots that go way back, way deep. It reminds me of a dream my favorite author and storyteller C.P. Estรฉs had, in which she stood on the shoulders of a very old woman -she apologized and wanted to get off her and told her it should be the other way around because she was strong, but the older woman replied that it was perfect the way it was, because she was standing on the shoulders of her ancestor, and that line went all the way back to the center of the earth. Or something like that. I forgot where I’ve read it, but love the image.

-I choose the gems mostly for their color and form, not particularly for their symbolic properties. I’m not so sure what to think of that, although I am crazy about certain stones and less crazy about others. Some of my favorites you can find here. The Balinese and Hill Tribe Thai beads are handmade and especially the Thai beads are incredibly detailed for their very small size (1mm diameter!). They just seemed perfect for this project.

The neolithic spiral designs were my inspiration for the glass beads that would become amulets (I also use the spiral in my logo). The spiral stands for evolution, the way it expands from the center but if you travel the other way around it could mean a journey to the self, getting to the point (literally), unraveling the truth -whatever that may be. A psychological healing process can be described as peeling layers of an onion -you seem to be confronted with the same *shit* over and over, but each time you get a little closer to the core of the issue. And it does get a bit easier each time, a little less layer to peel off.
The spiral is also a Great Goddess symbol of the neolithic (check out the tombstone at Newgrange, Ireland) and finally, it’s a great design to translate on a lampworked glass bead.

The first necklace was still beaded instead of linked. Then with the Dryads (right) I made the chains a lot longer and attached the spiral bead pendant to it so you could wear it long or double. I loved the beads but wasn’t entirely happy with the pendants, so the idea of creating a seperate pendant with integrated goldsmithing and lampworking techniques grew on me, and that’s how the goddess pendant came to life.
A black-and-white reproduction of Minoan pottery showing the descent of the goddess became my model, and this summer the pendant became fact. I wanted to create a human figure, even as stylized as she is with a flower as her face and a curved, organic bead as her body because these “little people”, dolls, saints, house gods, teddy bears are rich in symbolism as well.
They are the little helpers we can trust with our deepest secrets and fears and they tend to talk to us in dreams.

She’s the first, but you can bet there are more to follow…

work in progress & results:

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essential vintage for the warm glass artist

Or: this is how you can make your own frit!

Frit is crushed glass (= lovely picture from combustion glassworks!)that you can use to decorate beads with, or sprinkle on glass pieces to be fired in a kiln (with fusing). It’s a very thankful technique, it gives nice, organic results even without a lot of practise! I had to delve into my archive (it’s an aarghh-ive actually, hehe) to find a good picture with a bead with frit decoration on it. It’s one of my first from 2005, from when I just used a plumber’s torch: effetre transparant pink (“rosaline” I call it) + ivory frit…(on a piece of flat polished rose quartz!) (click to see full size!)

So…what’s with the vintage and how do you make frit?!
It’s so simple. I know you can buy ready made frit and frit melanges, but it’s so much more enjoyable if you make your own AND indulge yourself in some necessary vintage/antique shopping as I did yesterday morning! ๐Ÿ˜‰

You see, the key ingredient of this recipe is an old coffee grinder (1), preferably one with a cat and an umbrella (because that’s just wicked). Of course you need the glass -in this case a piece of effetre transparant cobalt rod (4), but it works with any kind as long as you can make the pieces that go in the grinder small enough -hence the other tools: a rod cutter (3) and a glass nibbling pincher (2) that I normally use for my Tiffany/leaded glass work to get hold of the small bit of glass and to snap it off the rod. Try to cut the pieces as small as you can, under 1 cm length. It’s nearly impossible to snap them off with your bare hands so use the pincher as a lever and protection for your hands!

As for the grinding, it seems to work best if you just put one or two pieces in it, and add bit by bit as you go. Also, look for a coffee grinder that has a closable lid -you don’t want glass fragments flying your way!

The result (5) is what you can see in the plate (note: this has to be vintage too of course… ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) – it’s frit of all sizes, from chunky bits to dust. If you wish you can sift them, or use it as it is!

As for the rest, I’ve been doing all sorts of stuff lately except spending time in front of the torch or in my goldsmithing studio, instead I’ve been doing some necessary reorganizing of my home… It’s funny how one decision –of installing a rocking chair– starts a chain reaction of things that need to be done! And there’s no way to postpone them, it’s so small here that everyting has to fit perfectly. Well, that’s the charm of my tiny cottage…

Right now I’m living with the contents of two book cases piled on the floor so there’s just a path to get from on side of the living room to the other. The big carpet that almost covered 2/3 of my living room before is lying partly folded, in the middle of the “path”. I want it gone, but there’s the small detail of the piano standing on it, way too heavy for me to even move, so I’ll have to ask a professional piano mover to do it…

I hope this can be done before September. I’m starting the goldsmithing course @ Syntra Kortrijk then and I hope to dedicate myself more to my art!

Last school year was pretty hard with my new job (oh, I totally forgot: they found a way for me to stay a couple more months, weeee! ๐Ÿ˜€ ), library school and my new glass studio, redoing my site, opening a web shop, etc… I felt quite scattered at times. There’s so many projects that are still awaiting their creation! I’ve been itching to make bigger pieces again, sculptural or stained glass windows.

Like the mysterious “project 2008” I’ve been hinting of: I first got the idea when I heard about the Canvas Collectie in January, a new national art competition. Had plans for a light object I’d be meaning to create since ages, it seemed, but I quickly realized that that competition wasn’t really a forum for me (my art isn’t exactly provoking or controversial -all I really want is create “a thing of beauty”, and you know your Keats. I’m only a century too late to hop on the Arts & Crafts/Jugendstil/Art Nouveau train, but that’s ok, I’ll find my own way!), and I didn’t have enough time to finish it anyway. So that’s one pile of sketches and a handful of small test thingies in glass and copper.

Then I had the bug for making a new stained glass window for my cottage: again, plans, sketches, colour schemes… and that’s it.

Then another idea, also one that has been simmering in my brain for some years: a stained glass window with which I can combine several glass techniques, both warm and cold… Well, at least that one is under way. Although it will probably take some more months before I can actually start!

Now the last one is the microcosmos glass garden, an idea I really want to elaborate more! I took this picture of the prototype to remind myself to keep working on it -it will probably take me to strange new places, like collaborating with other craftspeople…and who knows what else! LOL.

That aside, I also have a handful of necklaces for the different collections waiting to be finished…

Life as an artist is soooooo hard!

๐Ÿ˜‰

portrait of the goldfish as a young uhmm…

goldfish…

Here he is, among friends!

I did finish the necklace a couple of days ago but the pictures I had taken with my new (2nd hand) Nikon D40 camera weren’t quite as I had hoped for (teaches me for playing with it without consulting the manual! :-p) -so I went back to my trusty old one to take these. Just to take these. I’ll show you what pretties the new one can make…another night. ๐Ÿ˜‰

And even though I haven’t quite gone public with announcing my dawanda shop yet (besides this blog), two friends had already discovered it and surprised me with buying something at almost the same moment! That made me very happy. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks for your encouragement, you know who you are.

spring lanterns

…and something to look forward to: I’m working on opening shop on dawanda! It’s not quite done yet (have to figure out the terms and conditions and other serious stuff) but one thing’s for sure: there will be lanterns hanging all over the place! Or at least these:

spring lanterns!

…iets om naar uit te kijken: ik ben bezig aan een webwinkeltje op dawanda! Nog even de formele dingen uitpluizen, daar ben ik geen held in, maar dan…een feestje met lantaarntjes! ๐Ÿ˜€