Thursday, August 11, 2011

Shards by Avenue Glass

I picked up some beautiful Italian Marble shards from Avenue Beads while I was at Bead and Button but I kept putting off playing with them for various reasons. I’ve worked with shards before and I’ve even made my own but I never really saw the appeal of them. The technique is just to wind glass off the end of a hollow mandrel and then blow the glass “balloon” steadily until a thin-but-not-too-thin sphere emerges. Kind of like a light bulb body. Applying them takes a little effort and technique but…still, no big deal to me.

I finally played with them a couple of weeks ago and after I saw what came out of the kiln, I ordered two more colors.

Take a look!

Italian Marble

Italian Marble

Lunar Rainbow

Lunar Rainbow



Please note, I don’t think I did justice to the Borealis. I read the instructions on striking after I made the beads but I still think they are beautiful!

Take a look at Joe’s work at or on Etsy at

Thursday, February 24, 2011

How Fragile Is It?

The most common question I am asked about my work is "how fragile is it?"  It's a valid question for a person thinking about designing or wearing a piece of jewelry with lampwork beads.  Even more so since I work with hollows and vessels.

My simple answer is that it is as strong as glass can be made to be through annealing and annealing is the process of heating the glass, in a kiln, to the highest temperature without causing the item to melt or deform and then slowly cooling it down to room temperature.  In the process, any stress in the glass from the lampworking process, is removed and the glass molecules settle into their strongest configuration.  Glass that is not annealed can crack or shatter at any time and with the slightest pressure or temperature fluctuations.

Annealing is also the difference between artisan lampwork and imported lampwork.  "Lampworked" beads sold by jewelry supply catalogs and "trading" companies as well as online resellers are rarely annealed and that is one of the biggest factors that allows them to sell their beads at such a cheap rate.  I could talk about the cost savings they enjoy by not bothering with ventilation, safety, fair wages, etc. but...

So when I'm asked "how fragile is it," yes I rattle off the simplest explanation I have about annealing but sometimes the visual works best.  Not every piece I make is a winner that I'm proud to sell and it's these homely pieces that I end up using for myself.  One of which was a cute weessel made from a metallic glass that had one handle just a little too skinny.  I decided to attach it to my cell phone just to see how long it would last given how rough I am with my phone.  Three years later and the cell phone lanyard has broken before the vessel.  Some of the metallic sheen has worn away and, well, it wasn't that pretty to begin with so I am retiring it and starting a new experiment with one of my hollow beads.

If you are interested in a more technical explanation of glass annealing, Wikipedia has a decent article here.

Friday, February 18, 2011

One World One Heart Winner is...

Pea of Ontario Canada!!  Visit Pea's Corner to meet her!

Thank you to all who participated, it was wonderful to meet everyone and I look forward to being a part of the first annual Our World Our Heart event next year:

Until then, I will resume a regularly scheduled blog next week!  Stay tuned!

Monday, January 31, 2011

One World One Heart

Hello and Welcome! On your journey around the world you have now landed in Indiana in the Midwest of the United States. I am your hostess, Julie Miller. I’ve been lampworking, that is making glass beads and beadie type things, for about 6 years now. I used to have a day job. I used to serve 9 to 5 in a cubicle but an early recession liberated me from that and when the next job was just not to be found, I took it as a sign that maybe it was time to take a leap of faith and do something else. I have been working full time in glass every since!

I make glass vessels, wee vessels I call weessels and I make glass globe pendants. I also make hollow beads and other lampwork beads as the whim and muse nudge me. I mostly enjoy working from my studio in my home. I’m a home body and I like to be able to torch when an idea hits me or go visit with friend on the computer. Sometimes, it’s good to just take a nap with cats and go back to “work” later. For the business end of things, I mostly sell online but I also participate in some local and national shows.

In my spare time, I am a rabid movie fan particularly sci-fi. I also enjoy dabbling with jewelry making. I mostly stick with glass and my glassy friends at ISLAGA our local lampwork club and chapter of ISGB.

Thank you for taking time out of your tour to visit with me! If you would like, please leave a comment below. I will add your name to the drawing for this lovely sea shell globe necklace. I know it’s an odd keepsake from the Midwest but would you really want a globe full of corn or soy beans? The globe was blown at my torch, filled with sea shells from Florida, and sealed with a handmade sterling silver cap and wire bail. It’s strung on brown greek leather cord with a sterling silver C clasp.

To win, you will need to leave your name and email address or a way to contact you if you win! I will choose the winner and contact them on February 17. (If you do not respond with a mailing address within 5 business days, I will choose another winner) This opportunity is open to everyone around the world. If you win, you win, no strings attached and no shipping charges apply.
Good luck and happy journey!

Friday, January 14, 2011

My Favorite Glass: Devardi

I love getting my hands on new glass and playing but I think I could benefit from being a little more constructive and methodical in my testing and experimentation. So, to put me on that path, I am going to post, a couple times a month, about different types of glass and my results; a virtual journal that I can share (and not misplace).

I stumbled across Devardi glass while browsing on the ABR Imagery website. Some of the colors looked intriguing and others looked like the standard effetre colors.

To begin, Devardi glass is from India and, per the website it is hand pulled and lead free. Their goal is to provide a more economical glass option for lampworkers and given that most of the glass is $6.00USD or less per pound, they seem to have achieved that goal. I bought a couple of rods of colors that I thought looked interesting and here’s what I found.

Overall, the rods are hand pulled and not very consistent in diameter. This doesn’t pose much of a problem to me and I can work with it. I do recommend inspecting each rod before use for inclusions. I’m not sure what these are, some look like kiln brick, but these are foreign objects, not glass, that will cause the rod to explode when heated. These tend to appear at one end and can be nipped out or carefully heated and tweezed out.
Examples of the hand pulled nature of the rods 
Examples of inclusions

The transparents are stiffer which makes them ideal for hollow beads but a little tricky in blowing out for vessels.

Then, there are the bubbles. Some rods seem to bubble up like seeded glass and others less so but I think if you are using this glass, you should count on some bubbles and just work around it. I love bubbles so I’m a happy camper!

In summary, I bought a good stock of some of the interesting colors and look forward to adding them to my permanent palette but the colors that are similar to effetre, well, I’ll stick with the devil I already know.

Now, the fun stuff, the colors:

Dark Rose and Rose (I didn’t try pale rose). Can you see the difference, not much of one is there.

The dark rose rod is on the top with examples to the left and regular rose rod on the bottom with examples to the right.

Ink Blue.  I really like this ink blue better than effetre not only for the price difference but for the fact that Devardi Ink is much lighter.
Devardi Ink

Effetre Ink

Ice Blue.  The photos that ABR and Devardi have for this glass are criminal!  This may be my favorite find of them all!  This light blue is more aqua than effetre light blue and unlike the transparent pale and light blues and aquas of effetre, Devardi Ice blue does not scum up when worked hot.
Ice Blue

Dark Purple.  This was OK in a hollow but the heat involved in making even a small vessel caused it to devitrify.
 Examples of Devardi Opaque Dark Purple

Cranberry.  This has the same problem as any other transparent red by any other manufacturer which is that the color burns off if it’s pulled too thin.  However, the color is great and it isn’t cloudy like effetre transparent red.
Devardi Transparent Cranberry

"Opaque pink".  Devardi currently has two colors that they call opaque pink.  One is called lipstick pink and the price is $10USD per pound.  I didn’t try that color but I did try the other “opaque” pink.  I would be hard pressed to tell the difference between this color and medium pink alabaster.  It has that semi opaque/opalino/alabaster quality in rod form and at every stage in the flame especially when it shocks and shatters into a pile on your bench.  If you choose to bother with this, preheat it in the kiln first.
Devardi "Opaque" Pink

I hope you enjoyed a brief tour of my experience with Devardi glass!  I have a list of glasses to explore like this so stop by again soon!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tease n Run

Here are pictures of what I will be posting on Etsy for the next week or so.   I will be talking about the glass I used for the beautiful honeysuckle pink and violet purple in a new post and feature coming this Friday:  My Favorite Glass Color!