Monday, August 18, 2014

Maunche Beads

A member of my household asked if I could make a Maunche bead after seeing one made by another bead artisan. I didn't know, so i tried, and below are a few of the results. These were made at Pennsic. I've given a few to close friends/household members, and kept one for myself.


Oh, and if you stumble upon this blog entry, and want to purchase one, go to Heart of Oak Crafts on Etsy . This is the person I first saw making these beads.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Pennsic A&S

Artisans Row
There were two days of glass bead making at the Pennsic Artisan's Row this year. Below are pictures from the first day, where Bruni and I spent the whole day making beads, and where I got to share documentation with people!

Arts and Sciences Display


Bead Kiln
Using Bruni's extensive knowledge of pottery, and some research articles we found (particularly this one, and the citation mentioned in this online article), we made an experimental bead kiln. After talking with Bruni, I've included a few thoughts below, but hopefully we will get more written about this later!

From Bruni I learned about building with clay. We used coils, which was a common period method, and we scored the coils to get them to stick to each other better. The article listed above discussed another person's experimental bead kiln, where they used clay, straw, and sand. We included some straw and sand in our kiln, but not as much as the article suggested, so that is something to play with in the future. When making the hole in the side of the kiln to blow air into, we extended that small pipe into the center of the kiln. This was a suggestion made by a camp member, so that the kiln would heat evenly. During our previous try at kiln building, the side of the kiln with the air hole got hotter than the other side, and cracked.

We dried the kiln for several days before firing it. I learned that firing wet clay causes it to pop and shatter. Our bead kiln popped once or twice when we fired it (Pennsic was damp!), but it held up pretty well.  We added coal (with no lighter fluid). Once we got a fire going, we used an air mattress blower to increase the heat. This worked, and the kiln was able to soften the glass (which you see above).  It did not get as molten as when using a torch, but it was definitely soft, and that is enough. The air mattress blower worked to increase the heat of the kiln, but it was a definitely too strong (even holding it at a distance from the air hole). A bellows, or manual air pump would be better.

This is me trying to make a bead. Next time, adding more coal and letting the fire heat up for longer (as well as getting a more regular source of air flow into the kiln) might help get the glass a bit softer, making it easier to shape and work. I don't think the bead held onto enough heat to let me shape it much outside the kiln.

The finished bead. Coil marks are still visible, but they are also still visible on some extant beads I have seen. I had to use cutters to cut the piece if glass off the rod, as the kiln was not hot enough for me to flame cut the glass rod as I would do with a torch. If we can get the Kiln just a bit hotter, using a better air source and more coal, I think this will work well.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Figment Necklace

This necklace was made by request to match the colors of Figment, a Disney character. It will be worn with a viking dress of similar colors. The colors are purple, orange, and pink. It contains annular beads, and lobed/melon beads, both very generic period beads. The larger focal beads are inspired by several types of Hiberno-Norse beads.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Class Notes: Making Period Glass Beads as a Beginner

At Pennsic this year I am teaching a class called "Making Period Glass Beads as a Beginner."

Class Description: Creating historically accurate glass beads is not as hard as you might think. You can make period beads at any skill level! Resources and strategies will be shared with attendees in this lecture/discussion class to help get you on the path to making beads that you can enter in A&S displays and competitions. We will discuss good starting points and first projects. The instructor will use her knowledge of Anglo-Saxon glass beads as an example, and share research and projects that others are invited to use and make their own. This class is appropriate for beginning bead makers and intermediate bead makers who have not done much research into period beads or entered their beads into A&S competitions before. Experienced bead makers are invited to attend to discuss their own first projects and to share additional resources and strategies

You can read my complete notes for this class by clicking on this link: Class Notes.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Stuff for Colin

Colin asked me to make 12 beads that he and Marion could use on the palm coronets they are making for Iron Bog's court at Pennsic. Below are the beads I made him, in Iron Bog's colors of black and white. These didn't need to be super special or even "period" (the theme of their court is a luau!), so i used the opportunity to practice some bead design techniques I've seen in modern lampworking books.

Also, about a year ago,  I had made a few beads with a version of the Iron Bog heraldic charge (because Colin asked, and so he could use them as favors). However, I was never truly happy with them, because I did not have a bead press to help me make a nicely shaped bead with a large flat surface that I could easily draw on. I have since bought a bead press, and I'm much happier with this version of the bead. It made things soooo much easier!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

40 Beads for Bhakail's Gift Basket

Beads given to Bhakail for the Royal's Gift Basket Challenge.
These beads were actually all ones that were left over from other projects! The beads are all reasonably good. Some of them were left over from A&S projects I've been working on because they have minor design flaws. In other cases, the bead was just not quite what I was looking for (the bead was the wrong color, not large enough, too small, the design elements were too close together, or to far apart, etc.).  It is a happy thing that I can put these beads to good use in this challenge.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Recreation of Birte Brumann's Bead Typology

One of my long term projects has been to replicate each bead from Birte Brugmann's book, Glass Beads from Early Anglo-Saxon Graves, and in the process try to come to understand her study and the typology she created. I also wanted to learn more also how bead styles evolved over time during the Anglo-Saxon period. In the end, I was able to replicate all but one bead from her typology to my satisfaction. My summarization of her chronology in the documentation below is very much simplified from her book (her book can be very complex and detailed at times!!) but, it helped me to achieve my goal of realizing some general trends. The documentation includes close up pictures of all of the beads I made as part of this project.

Link to Documentation

Below is a chart showing most of the Anglo-Saxon beads that Brugmann identified in her typology. This chart orders the beads by decoration type and by time period. The chart itself comes from Brugmann's book. I have attached my recreated beads over the pictures of extant beads she used.

Brugmann's Original Chart