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After Annealing The Beads/Design

Once the beads are annealed in the kiln (see my previous posts) they are ready to incorporate into jewelry.  Thus begins the process of design.  I am constantly seeing design all around me.  I take pictures with my cell phone, or on my camera.  I grab a pen and paper and sketch out a design.  Sometimes a design comes from something I see someone else wear.  Maybe on a TV show or walking down the street.  Sometimes I find a picture in a magazine I clip out.  Sometimes designs just pop into my head, from trees or nature.  I have even dreamed designs.

I take all the sketches, photos and magazine pics that I collect, and scan them into my computer.  I save them in pdf format.  I place all ideas in a folder I call ‘sketch pad ideas.’  Then I break them down into two categories.  The first is ‘Others Ideas’ the second is ‘My Ideas’.  I sign and date all my original sketches and write notes on the sketch.  Others ideas I do not sign, but still date them and write notes on them.  That way when I start looking for ideas I will remember when and where I saw the idea.  I never steal someone’s design, but I use others ideas as a launching pad to stimulate my mind.  The collection of sketch pad ideas are just that, ideas.  A place to start.  I look at someone’s piece of jewelry and think, how can I change that and make it my own unique piece of jewelry.

Example:

 

The drawing above was an idea I had for a necklace for a birthday present for my Daughter, Becky in December 2005.  It was drawn on my computer in Paint program.  Since then I have a computer program called Bamboo.  (My Son’s family gave me Bamboo for Christmas in 2008.)  It is a drawing tablet that looks like a mouse pad, and the mouse looks like a fat ink pen.  You draw with the mouse/pen on the tablet just like on a sketch pad, which draws right on the computer screen.  I love the Bamboo sketch pad.

This necklace was designed around the small Topaz gems.  I purchased them then had to design a necklace that would fit the small Topaz without overpowering them.  Thus the making of the very small clear glass beads.

Below is the finished necklace which has 6 of my handmade beads.  They are small, clear, wrapped in dichrioc glass and it has 5 Mystic Topaz gems, with a Sterling Silver clasp.  Topaz is the Nov birthstone, my daughter’s birthstone.

 

The closeup shows the small hand made beads.  They are about 5 millimeters, and the Mystic Topaz are about 8 millimeters.  I hope this blog post gets your design juices to start flowing or at least gives you some insight into my mind and how I come up with a design for a piece of jewelry.  Christina

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Making Glass Beads, Part 2

After I make the beads, I put them in my kiln and fire them.  The process is called annealing.  It strengthens the glass so the bead will not crack and break.  The glass has gone through severe thermal shock in the making of the bead, starting with the glass at room temperature to the very hot flame of the torch, about 2000 degrees, then slowly cooling again back to room temperature.  Annealing them takes the glass up through all the temperature ranges slowly, allowing the glass to slowly acclimate and strengthen.  I hold the kiln at 940 degrees for 30 minutes, which is called soaking, further strengthening beads before slowing cooling the kiln down.  This process takes about 3 1/2 hours.

 

My kiln is an older model, I have been using it since the 1980’s when I bought it new, but I love it.  I usually spend several days making about 75 to 100 beads.  When I have enough beads to cover the kiln floor, then I anneal them all at once.

In creating a piece of jewelry I will be selling to the public, I want a finished bead that I know will endure.  I don’t want to have a bead crack in half while someone is wearing the jewelry.

Christina