jeudi 26 février 2009

New Firing in the kiln Now......

These are all ticking away in the kiln right now - I'm off to build my white box before I have to photograph these.

Gardening Hands

No that's not the name of this piece....sorry, I have just realised that my hands show that I have also been doing some early planting int he garden this morning......I think the next thing I need to do for my jewellery photography is to make a 'white box' so that I can photograph things in peace away from the chickens and iindoors, more professional......

This pieces is actually a 'slider' it has a hole in it at the top, made at the time of firing, which has a cord threaded through it - no bail needed.

I will soon - glue permitting be able to photograph my finished items displayed on necklaces, then they will all be on my Etsy shop - Libellula Glass Jewellery -

Pink Candyfloss

I like trying to find names for these pieces..... Pink Candyfloss sums it up, but if I translate that into French it becomes, 'Barbe a Papa Rose', Dad's pink beard - does not somehow conjure up the atmosphere of my piece.......Hmmm, so I'll have to think up two sets of names....I don't think so!!

Blue Heaven

Translucent blue glass, followed by dichroic glass on clear and topped off with a thick clear Bullseye glass capping.

Translucent red pendant with dichroic glass mosaics

Excuse the hand in these photos - I was trying to twist the pieces to best show off the colours.
These pieces without holes will all have silver plated or sterling silver bails attached to them, and will be sold with our without necklaces or cords.

Latest Firing of Dichroic Jewellery

These are the items that were pictured on the shelf ready to fire in a posting a little further back. Dichroic jewellery is very hard to photograph as the 'Dichroic' - 'Two Colour' effect is only really appreciated as the items are moved in sunlight or electric light. Add to that the fact that the colours change whether the pieces are in daylight or electric light and I guess you would have to have about 4 photos of each item to show it off successfully.

Dichroic with the photos

This was truly a Corbieres moment.....I was trying to photograph my latest fused cabochons and the chickens would give me no peace. The chicken at the front peering into the camera is 'Squeaky'. She was hatched all on her own on the day I brought home the peacocks. I was not expecting any more 'babies' and all the coops and arks were occupied, so she had to pass her first few nights with us in a box in the lounge. Ever since then she has alwasy been very attached to us. If we go outside to do something she is first there and flies up to our shoulders - so did I expect anything else when I went outside to take some photos????

Spring is really here, mind you we had a very heavy frost last night -3 degrees C, this afternoon it has been 15 degrees and wonderful.

My glue to stick my bails on the pendants still has not arrived, so I have prepared another firing. I 'won' an auction on Ebay last Thursday, paid for it by Paypal Thursday night and the parcel of glass arrived from Brimmon Glass UK, on Saturday morning - wonderful....I ordered some E6000 industrial glue from a company just up the road in Montpellier, France, paid the same way 10 days ago and it still has not arrived......

I am going to upload some more photos here of the individual new items, which will soon be on my Etsy shop:, just thought I would try selling somewhere other than Ebay, especially when I found out I could put stuff on Etsy for 4 months for the same price as Ebay charges for a week, and the commission is less. It's worth a try but it will be quite strange to coordinate as if things are on Etsy for 4 months I cannot really sell them to anyone else, so I will have to have three boxes, one for jewellery on Ebay, one for Etsy and the other for items I can sell locally at craft fairs etc.

jeudi 19 février 2009

Ready for the kiln

Here is a shelf load of potential items of jewellery ready to go into the kiln. In fact they are firing now as I write this. I cannot wait for midnight tonight when I can open the kiln. The firing process is quite long as the glass has to be slowly brought upto temperature, held at various points along the way, and then brought very slowly down to room temperature. The final process is called annealing and has to be done to strengthen the glass. If this section is skipped or done too fast, then the glass can crack and craze and can even shatter some time later, this would be particularly dangerous for a piece of jewellery worn close to the skin.

I tried to take the picture at a slight angle to show the different layers of glass, some pieces are two layers and some three. Some use thick glass and some think. I am still experimenting with the glass and my kiln, so I keep careful notes of each firing. As each piece looks so different after firing I draw a plan of the kiln shelf or take a photo when it is set up ready to go, then I number the pieces and describe what I did to make the different layers and I also list each particular glass type that I have used. You can see from the picture that the top layer is larger than the bottom one or two layers. This is so that when it slumps down in the kiln the top layer goes slight round the other layers to get a good seal on the edges. The difference in size is very slight, in fact in the photo the differnce on some of them looks enormous, it is not, that's just the angle and the light. As I am an artist and not builder, engineer or other precise craftsperson, I do not measure anything precisely, I use my 'eye. I do not want pieces to be so perfect and contrived that they look as if they have been made by machine.

mardi 17 février 2009

Back to glass fusing.....

Here is another picture from this week's fusing. The backing glass was a transparent Royal Blue which is very dark. When viewed flat this looks like a normal dichroic pendant on black. I wore it with a black T shirt last night and it looked 'ordinary' - if dichro jewellery could EVER look ordinary!! When I took it outside in the sunshine and put it on a piece of white paper it looked completely different, so blue, then I lifted it up and the light that shone through it was spectacular. The middle layer is a mosaic of dichro glass on clear to allow the light to pass through, although this was not my intention when I constructed the pendant.

Making holes for cords in dichroic pendants

I have learnt all my techniques for making fused glass jewellery from the internet. I had been making tansverse holes in pieces for neck cords using ceramic fiber. I only had a very light fiber and sometimes the hole was uneven and actually collapsed on one side once. Now I have purchased FIBER ROPE from and the process is much cleaner. They sell the rope in two thicknesses, I bought the larger but when I saw it it was way to 'fat', so I unravelled it, it is in three strands. I now use two strands which I slightly dampen and retwist together to form a slightly more solid rope. I then put a little PVA glue, which is what Elmers Glue is, along the gap between the two pieces of glass where I want the hole. Make sure the rope protrudes at least a quarter inch either side of the glass construction. Now sometimes I have found that the edges of the glass on the top of the hole have melted down slightly which makes a hole that opens a little to the back. I did not think this was ideal so I support the rope during firing (the quarter inch that protrudes) on a tiny square of ceramic fiber - this could also be on another little piece of fibre rope. As you can see from the picture above, the hole is very neat on the edge. The dullness inside the hole is just the remains of the fiber rope, I was too impatient to photograph the pendant as I loved it so much. I have since washed it out with a little detergent and a pipe cleaner.

I now have some large beads with vertical holes lined up for firing - these will be constructed later into larger pendants, so that I can pass the cord right through the 'bead' and add other beads above and below. I am always experimenting. I have not made a bracelet yet using this method but it would be very possible to do so, making two horizontal, parallel holes in the fused glass constructions, then stringing the various fused pieces together with stretch cord.

When I finish these pendants with cords I have found it better to use a cord that tones in or matches with colour of the glass that it passes through, as I use a clear glass capping, the top is always clear which looks a bit strange.........I must buy some Royal Blue for the pendant above as it will look much better. I also think that organza ribbon passed through these holes, again in a matching colour, looks even better, it tends to fill the clear glass hole up more.

By the way I think Spring has sprung here in the south of France, we have had three glorious days of warm sunshine - exceedingly cold frosty nights, but fantastic days.

Happy fusing.

dimanche 15 février 2009

Freddy the tortoise

Freddy is very old, about maximum for a Herman's tortoise - he is more than 60 years old. He has been in our family for most of his life, having been brought to the UK in the 1940's. No one can remember him having been any smaller than he is now, so we presume he was already adult. A great many tortoises were brough over from europe and north Africa at this time, they were very popular pets. He lived all his life with my husband's Nan until she was too old to look after him, then he was passed on to her daughter, my mother-in-law, until she went into sheltered accomodation. Now he is our responsibility. We repatriated him to France 6 years ago, a year after we moved here, Herman's tortoise are resident down here in the south of France. When we brought him out here we had no idea that there were any restrictions on movements. My husband just put him in the foot well of the passenger seat in the car and drove him here, he was just waking up from hibernation and with the car heating he was very active by the time he arrived.

We took our new responsibility very seriously and I did much research on the internet to give him the best possible retirement. For many years he was subjected to the then Blue Peter hibernation system - pack them away in October until March without lookng at them......I am surprised he survived. Blue Peter is now a much better informed children's TV series I am happy to say.

He has a very large pen, planted with bushes and landscaped with different strata, covered with netting here because of eagles, foxes and martens, he has a Flintsone's type stone hill with a tunnel for shelter underneath when it is very hot, and a shallow pond. In fact it gets so hot here he goes into Estivation, the summer form of hibernation. I had never seen him do this in the UK.

He had a companion until last year, an Iberian tortoise called Benji, who unfortunately died, of old age, having been brought to the UK not long after Freddy, he moved to France with Freddy. We are looking for another companion but do realise Freddy is now very old, we are also retired now and so we are considering the possibility of rehoming him at a tortoise sanctuary near here, just outside Perpignan. Until then he is well loved and has loads of visitors, he is alert and seems to know his name, if we stand in his pen he comes and stands on our feet.

samedi 14 février 2009

Billy the cat shares with the tortoise........

It really was cold today and Billy realised the tortoise was under a heat lamp and decided to share with him. He does not show up well in photos as he is so black........The tortoise woke up a couple of weeks ago when we had some really mild weather. It is hard to find a place around these buildings that stays below 50 degrees F all the winter.

First piece of dichroic jewellery on Ebay!!!

Well daringly I have put this pece of jewellery up for sale on Ebay. in fact, ref. number 320341242900, it is probably far too cheap considering the work that goes into a piece of dichroic glass fusing. My next pieces will have silver bails and leather cords so they will have to be more expensive. I am testing the market really, as in France the market seems to have been flooded with cheap mass produced dichroic jewellery from China, and glass fusing is relatively new out here. In the States I think things have happened in reverse. Crafts people have been producing dichroic fused jewellery for some time and it has a good reputation so buyers know the difference and will pay the prices for artisan produced work. Anyway we'll see what happens.

Tomorrow I am going to experiment with glass fusing paper between the glass. I was sent a free sample, but have read that some people have not been too pleased with the outcome as they thought the backing paper would disappear and it doesn't. So again, I will experiment and report back.

My Paragon SC2 kiln went beserk the other day, I switched on and the only programme that would show up was PRO3, not my fusing programme. I discovered the red 'UP' arrow would not work. I was disappointed as I really had to fire something to give to people coming for dinner the following evening. So I labouriously programmed the kiln using only the down arrow......this took ages to do, especially programming in a hold of 10 minutes, when I had to hold my finger on the button all the way down from 999.9.....!!! Then half way through firing the temperature started to drop on its own and I tried to correct it and skip a segment......this did not work so I ended up just standing next to the kiln and watching the final part of the process and adjusting the kiln manually. I emailed the company in the UK that had sold me the kiln and I had a message immediately that Paragon in the US were sending me a new controller, so maybe it's a problem they know about. I hope it arrives soon as I already have two kiln shelves full and ready to be fired.

Today it has been really cold, never getting above 3 degrees. All the cats were inside sleeping in various warm places around the house, the sofa was covered in a heap of cats and dogs and the kittens, I call my 'Pusst Cat Dolls' were all in a pile on the chair by the Rayburn.

The picture is at the top for some reason, I thought it would appear here......

mardi 10 février 2009

Including silver wire in fused jewellery

Here is a picture of a piece of fused jewelery I made yesterday with a piece of silver wire added between the glass layers to act as an attachment for a leather thong. Not one of my successes or I am being too picky maybe. I had protected the wire with ceramic fibre and covered it with some dichroic glass and a clear topping. I was disappointed to see that the wire had more or less passed through the dichroic and was too apparent for my liking. I had expected it to be further back.

I do not know how to recitify this I will probably ask a question on on of the glass fusing forums, but I have thought of adding an extra layer of glass, so it would be stacked like this:

5.Clear on top
3.thin black
2.wire insert
1.thin black at the bottom

Since I am really only at the experimental stage with all of my fusings I will probably try this out. I have had quite a fvew great pieces and only a couple of failures. I have kept very precise notes and have 'invented' a form for myself to show the kiln shelf layout, side by side with a list of the composition of all the pieces.

I am writing this as I wait for my next firing to finish. I was confused to find that when I switched on my Paragon SC2 kiln this morning, the controller would not work properly. The 'UP' arrow would not work at all, which made it a long process to programme as I had to hold my finger on the down arrow for ages to come down from 99.99 to 00.10!!! And I could only access Programme 3. I have sent an email to the company in the UK where I bought the kiln and hopefully they can tell me if it something I am doing wrong. I dread having to send the controller back to the UK to be fixed, but it is all still under warranty.

Today was a typical day Chez nous.......constant visitors, and I have just beenup and down like a Yo Yo serving drinks and checking on the kiln sitter all the time. Anyway it looks good.

France has just had its second hurricane in 18 days, and they seem to have decided to give them names like in the states. The latest, yesterday is called Quentin and the one 17 days ago hsa been called Klaus......I have no idea why they started with Q and why they are not going in alphabetical order like anywhere else? Who knows???? Maybe it will be explained.

The airports in the north of France were all closed yesterday, but Air France had predicted the chaos this may have caused and they pre-booked thousands of hotel rooms and people were just put in taxis and sent away for the night. Maybe there was an ulterior motive here as well. This was the airport building that collapsed not long after it had been built a couple of years ago.....maybe they were just avoiding a potential disaster of this happening with an airport full of people sleeping on the floors. Of course it was a full moon, I have been keeping weather records for over 6 years now and we often seem to get dramatic changes in the weather around the full moons, yesterday was no exception. We in the southern corner near Spain escaped very lightly, just heavy rain and some wind. Apparently there are 500,000 homes without electricity again in the north west. We tend to get very little coverage of this on French news - not like having Sky News or CNN constant coverage.

OK I need to get supper in the oven and switch my fused glass off - best not to get them mixed up...............

samedi 7 février 2009

Art Clay Silver with fused glass

I have read recently that these two media go very well together. So today I will try to put one of the cabochons I made yesterday onto a 'mount' of art clay silver. I have some fine silver bezel that I could surround the cabochon with first and then attach the whole thing to a backing of rolled out metal clay. I will cut a hole in the back of the backing as I think this will benefit the dichroic glass cabochon, allowing the light to shine through.

I have been experimenting with metal clay now for a few months. For anyone who has never used this it is 99.9 per cent pure silver mixed with an organic binder to the same consistency as pottery clay. This means that this can be worked as clay, no traditional metalsmithing involved. No hammering, no cutting - just use like clay. There is no waste, every tiny bit of scrap can be saved and put in a jar with a tiny bit of water. This makes your 'slip', a very wet form of clay which can be used to 'stick' together components parts of a piece of silver art.

The piece above was my first piece of silver clay jewellery, a wearable piece of artwork. I am sorry the photo is not too great. I am experienced with pottery and using clay in all its forms as an art teacher, but to work on a piece so small I found really difficult. I am used to throwing large lumps of clay around a table or a wheel. Metal clay arrives in tiny packages of 7, 20 or 50 grammes.

We have sleet and snow again here in the south of France so I will be inside today experimenting with the metal clay and glass combinations. I have found some great links and tutorials for these media and will publish them in my next posting.

The cats will be glad I am staying in today.

vendredi 6 février 2009

Kiln sitters and power cuts

Two posts in one day?????? I have just watched a Blog video tutorial on how to add photos so here goes......

This is a picture of the whole kiln shelf of glass fusings I made yesterday. It was nerve wracking programming the kiln, I was holding my breath. I started and stopped it several times to make sure the programme was correct - OCD showing itself??? LOL. All was going well when we had several power cuts.....we have been having them since the hurricane and snow this area of France had about 10 days ago. Anyway the kiln sitter would not reset itself so I had to try and reprogramme it after each power cut. We had three cuts in all and having read more about cuts when firing I realise I was really luck as the cuts were right at the beginning and the last one was near the end of firing so no damage done.

It is fascinating to watch the glass through the kiln window as it starts to sag and melt and change shape, this is when the glass is fusing together. I had not a clue what was correct at this stage and I know that some experienced fusers will stop and start their kilns according to the state of the fusing pieces. I had no idea so I just let the kiln do its job, I can make adjustments another time.

Scary this blogging lark.......

Suddenly a whole new learning curve to climb - blogging - never thought I'd start a blog.

I was inspired to do this after reading another blog via the Warm Glass Bulletin Board. I have recently started to learn how to fuse glass. My birthday present last year was a small Paragon SC2 kiln, at that time this was intended for making silvery clay jewellery, now I have progressed to making fused glass pendants and cabochons. Ultimately I think I will merge the two things together.

More about the jewellery later.

I live in a remote watermill in the French Pyrenees mountains, in the wine producing area of the Corbieres (lovely red wines, some great rose wines too).

My husband and I retired out here in 2002 from the UK and have never been busier! Hence the title of this blog - 'Another Quiet Day in the Corbieres'. Something happens every day to distract us from our plans for renovations made the night before. This catchphrase is a standing joke among our circle of friends, because there really is no such thing as a 'Quiet Day in the Corbieres'.

The animals keep us busy, all of whom are rescued strays, even the llama. We have dogs, cats (11), tortoises, goats, chickens, a rabbit, a peacock and pea hen, and are surrounded by loads of wild life, wild boar, badgers, lynx, deer, muntjac, foxes etc. So feeding and putting to bed are major daily events.

The initial photograph on this blog is of my most recent new venture in making fused glass. When I learn how to post more photos I will make up some albums. Until then please make do with this.