Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Monday at Uni.

Last week I tried painting a design on a sheet of glass, and then sandwiching it between two pieces of glass. It was then fused. When it started out it was blue, green,brown and yellow, as you can see the brown turned into green and the yellow washed out. But I am still pleased with the result. I don't think that Wedgwood or Royal Doulton have anything to worry about!!!

I have decided to slump the flat circle of glass into a bowl. I have no idea how this will turn out. The instructor (I use that term very loosely, she hasn't done a lot of instructing so far!!!) 'thinks' the bowl may be a little too deep, so we'll have to see how that goes, fingers crossed.

My other experiment was to use all the ends of glass rods I had left over from bead making. It was a bit of a mixed result really. All the glassed used was of the same COE but for some reason it broke into two pieces. I think it might be to do with the firing process rather than the mismatching of glass. Anyway I managed to rescue the biggest part of it by trimming it and sanding the edges.  Today when photographing it I have noticed that there are some very small cracks so I don't think its long for this world!!!

Spurred on by the painting last week I actually went in with a plan of action. I found a pattern that I quite liked  and I copied a version of it in black ceramic paint. I think its quite striking, I ladled the paint on thickly in the hope that the colour will stick and stay strong and opaque. I then sprinkled pink Mica on the second circle of glass, flipped the first over and made a sandwich with it. In my head that will come out black with a sparkly pink background, lets see what happens in reality!!!

I started to run short of time so my second piece was still wet in this photo, I did the same as the circle one except this time I used sepia paint and red/green mica . The instructor came over and by way of encouragement said - 'such a lot of detailed work when we don't know if it'll work'!!! Thanks for the vote of confidence Mrs Instruction lady!!!  Onwards and Upwards!!!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

New Beads!!

I have had a very productive weekend on the bead front. It has been a few weeks since I was able to get back to the torch so it was nice to spend a bit of time having a go!! I really feel that I have started to make progress, I have a large lentil press and all of a sudden I am able to make lentil shaped beads on a regular basis, which is such a relief!!

I am even happier with these, I have not been able to master the hearts and yesterday it suddenly fell into place, the right amount of glass in the right place and I managed to produce hearts Whoopee!!!

These two gave me a chance to experiment with different glasses. The one on the left has a black line through the middle, but its purely a reaction between the two glasses!

I can't make up my mind about what colour combos I like best. The pastel colours are nice and the bead reminds me of a spring day, green grass, blue sky with clouds and on the middle blossom trees with falling blossom. On the other hand it might just be a a pastel coloured bead!!!

The one on the left is an experiment with some reactive glass covered by clear glass I don't think I heated it long enough as parts of it look murky, but its an interesting outcome. The one on the right is a fairly plain bead with a splodge of the reactive glass from the first one.

Today Beth and I went to Stevenage and did a bit of shopping, I cleared out the car as it was packed with assorted junk and was long over due on the sorting front!! Mum and Dad have had a new bathroom fitted, so we bought a few bits for them from town. It looks very nice. The plumber, Alan did our bathroom and he is such a craftsman!! It will be nice for them to finally be able to actually use the bathroom again after months and months of a leaking bath.

So back to work for what no doubt will be another busy week. Have fun!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Home Again.

Tonight I am pleased to report that Mum has arrived home. Just like all the small things in the NHS it was traumatic and long winded. The return to home process started yesterday. She was prepared for the off in the morning, bags packed dressed and sat in a chair waiting for 'transport' . There she sat all day, fretting and uncomfortable waiting for the trip home. Eventually they told her at 8pm that the transport department was closed and they simply hadn't turned up. So she had to stay for the night.
Today they asked for her to be ready for 9am, she was, by 2pm still no transport and I got a distressed call from Mum who had simply had enough. So I called PALS at the hospital and to my amazement they called me back and explained that someone would be there at 3.30pm and even more amazing they were!!! Mum is now home and in bed, she is very tired and very keen not to go back in The Lister ever again.

My all time favourite flowers are orange roses, all my family and friends know that so I was thrilled to receive this beautiful bunch of flowers from Laura as a thank you for helping around the move time.

Laura plans to take all the other helpers out for dinner once she is paid again!!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday Night - Glass experimentation night!!!!

Mondays seem to come around very quickly, already we have done three weeks on our course. Tonight the instructor arrived late as she had unfortunately had an accident in her car. She was distraught (as you might expect) but she wouldn't go home and leave us to it. Poor thing, cars a write off but she and her other half are OK thank goodness. 

So we eagerly looked on the shelves to see what had happened to last weeks efforts. I was quite pleased with mine its has turned out quite nice!!!

This is the big square that I made last week, its turned itself into a platter although the edges need finishing to make them smoother. We have yet to be let loose on the sanding/smoothing machine!! Its quite interesting close up and surprisingly heavy. The bowl I want to perfect is getting closer and closer!!

I really like the sparkly green nuggets and the pink back ground. 

I also made a little dish which also needs finishing but that was an interesting experiment I used off cuts of glass plus some mica powder for a bit of sparkle. 

Tonight as I said, got off to a bad start so we ended up not getting as much done as we had hoped. I was determined to arrived prepared with a plan in my head. I went one step further and printed out a pattern to copy. I had also managed to get some circles cut out at another glazier who turned out to be cheaper than the first one and was extremely easy on the eye as well. I was most impressed with his circle cutting techniques!!!
So tonight I painted a design on a circle of glass and hope to turn that int a bowl at some point once it has fused together. 

I painted with enamel and then scratched a design on the paint. I have no idea how that will turn out, not sure if it will fade or get brighter, we'll have to wait and see.

I also took in a box of ends of rods left over from my bead making. They are not compatible with float glass so I decided to pile them up and see what happens. I have tried to make a panel shape, but it it turns out a bit wonky we will head for the machines and smooth all the edges!!!

It'll be good to see what happens. The only thing that offends me is that glaring yellow rod half way op, how did I miss that??? I hope it melts down and hides itself!!!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Busy Old week....

I am glad that this week is drawing to an end its has been a very busy one. I have had a full week at work with lots of different meetings and cases to deal with and all the time we have been helping Laura decorate and get ready for her house move.

All week Tom has been at the new flat with Laura painting and cleaning, gloss and emulsion its been a massive job and its still not fully finished . It is now fit to live in. We ordered some nets off of eBay and on the day of the move I got them up and looking nice. We also got some nice curtains from the Dunelm Mills sale so now she has a nice cosy looking bedroom and a bright sunny living room. The kitchen is still a bit of a mess, but the cooker is hooked up as is the washing machine. We have put all the crockery and china away and designated a food cupboard. The floor needs sorting but we are getting there. 

In the old flat Laura was on monthly direct debit for the gas and electricity, this flat is on key meters, today the central heating packed up and was showing an error, so we called the engineer when he arrived he found that the gas had run out on the card!!! Whoops!!

We are nearly at the end of this journey, tomorrow morning we will go around and clear up the old flat and take up the carpet (which we have given away on freecycle) we will give it a clean and then hand the keys back on Monday. All Laura has to do now is continue to empty the boxes left in her bedroom and she will be done. I am looking forward to next weekend when I can do my own thing again!!!!

I forgot to mention Mum is still in hospital, she has been moved from the orthopedic ward to the isolation ward, seems they had a bed crisis and she ended up there. We saw her tonight and she seems to be in reasonable spirits, she has been up and is looking forward to getting home once off of the IV antibiotics. I hope that will be soon.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The end results

Last week I attended my very first kiln formed glass session. I made 5 coasters by way of experiment and I went back last night to see the results. Well it was a mixed bunch but on balance I am happy with them for a first go!!

The one on the left above originally started out as an experiment, copper oxide for bubbles plus I made some small copper coils. I squashed them down and spread them through out the tile. Unfortunately once it started to heat the coils all decided to get together in the middle and form an unsightly clump. So that was a fail!! I need to stick them down with a dab of glue in the future. 

The one above right had the same oxide powder with tiny snips of copper wire, which has gone red. Over all its as I expected except its much duller and not very interesting. 

The one above left is the one I like best in all its wonkiness ! The frit has melted towards one side and it looks a bit lop sided but its mine and I like it!!!! The one on the right has oxide, orange enamel and more copper wire, It looks better in the flesh so to speak. The last coaster was a heart, but although it made it out of the process, it wasn't so lucky making it home :(

Prize of the night went to Debs tile titled 'Bubonic Plague - a culture' This is a great tile with black frit in the middle, it looks just like a disease culture, a real talking point with your cup of coffee!!!

This week inspiration abandoned me. I went in thinking I would produce something stunning, anything really, but it didn't translate into a design, so I spent a lot of time messing around and trying to make up my mind what to do. Next week I am going to go prepared and ready to get on with something so I don't waste my time. In the end I settled on another coaster and a whopping great big platter. Can't wait to see how that turns out!!! Below are the 'befores'

The one above is 12 inches square and I am hoping it will slump into the curved platter below and make an attractive bowl - lets see how that turns out.

This one will hopefully turn into a shallow dish its balanced on the top of a shallow mould. Lets see what next week brings!

Mum is still in hospital she has been up and about and is mentally much better. We are not sure what is happening and when she is likely to be home. The physios have been getting her sorted so we hope things will be on the home run very soon.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy

This weekend it has been action stations, trying to get Laura's new flat into some sort of condition to move into. We got together a band of people to help us and we went in and started on the place. Every room needed painting. The painting was yellow from previous smokers. It took an age to scrub everything off. The windows, the walls, the ceilings, everything was covered in it. The decorating left a lot to be desired, the living room was fuchsia pink with green ceilings, The kitchen was bright yellow with grungy off white ceiling. The bathroom was OK, all white. The bedroom was also a mess of bright pinks and smokey paintwork.

Anyway with the help of Emma, Dan and Bobbie, along with Beth, Tom, Laura and I we have made a really good start on the place. The living room now how one feature wall in chocolate chip and three walls in cream. The gloss work has been done. The bedroom is now deep aubergine and pale lilac, the bathroom is aubergine and beige and the kitchen has been started, a nice clean white. 

All the decorating has been hampered by a lack of water and heat, the gas and water have been capped off, so we had to manage with bottles of water and buckets. Its been really hard work but it looks so much better now. Laura now has a few things to finish, but more pressing is the need for her to pack up the old flat. We are waiting for a delivery of boxes from the removal people. There is still a lot to do. I'll be glad when she is in and its behind us all!!

Mum is still in hospital, not really sure what is going on. She is much more lucid, with not so many periods of strange sayings!!! She has been out of bed but only to sit in her chair. She is starting to read her book again and can now send text messages. So they are positive signs. I really don't know what the plan of action is though!! Hope she is home soon.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

More Glass.

I have always wanted to say that I have been to Uni, last night I got my wish and I started on an evening course called 'Kiln formed Glass' ! I was soooooo excited to be trying out another form of glass work.
Debbie and I arrived early in completely the wrong place and eventually found where we needed to go. Our tutor was waiting for us in the Art and Design Faculty (get me all technical and trendy!!)
We had bought along a small amount of supplies and a huge amount of enthusiasm !!

Once we had been shown the ropes we were set off on our own to have a go. We both decided that a set of coasters was the first thing to attempt. So we carefully put our newly learned cutting techniques to the test to cut out 1 square foot of float glass into 9 nearly equal smaller squares!

We then washed them, and set about decorating the bottom layer with an assortment of things. 

This first one shows off my imperfect cutting a treat. I sprinkled the green stuff on which is an oxide which causes bubbles, followed by some small snips of recycled copper wire, finished with a light dusting of something orange!! The theory after this is that we leave the coasters there and collect them next lesson.

So these are not exactly a matching set, as I have tried a differ thing on each one. We were advised to photograph them in case someone tries to lay claim to our masterpieces once they are out of the kiln. 
Fingers crossed they make it through the process! Can't wait to see what happens to them. 

I have quite a lot of rod ends left from bead making so I am hoping to be able to make them into something useful. My grand idea is to make a large glass bowl, I can see it in my head, funny how that never comes true!!

Mum is not doing too well at the moment, she is in a lot of pain again and is not able to get about, it seems that she may have adjusted her drugs herself as she was feeling better, she is now regretting that and is getting herself back on track with them. I hope she feels better soon.

Laura has accepted the tenancy on a new flat, the council have cleaned it up and although it needs repainting it is looking much much better than it did before. I can now see that potential that Laura had spotted previously so she has 10 days to get in there and try and get as much decorating as possible done before actually moving. Its quite exciting!!!

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Time to Myself!!!

As part of Beth and Tom's Christmas present I bought them tickets to the FA Cup third round tie between Peterborough and Sunderland which is being played at Peterborough. Its not too far away, around an hours drive, so they went off this morning planning to grab a bite to eat before heading into the ground for a 3.30pm kick off. Beth has been very excited and has texted me on and off all day.

So they went into the ground, found their seats only to realise that they were slap bang in the middle of the Peterborough fans!!!! When I booked them on line they didn't question if we were home or away supporters. In the past when I have booked by phone they have always questioned home or away and I would have thought if it was specifically home fans they would have said. Anyway they were escorted out of the stand and found seats in the Sunderland stand!!!! Beth is not very happy with me!!!!!

I am still having trouble shaking this cold thing, I just feel wiped out with it, everything is too much effort really. I just feel like I am on the verge of a headache all the time perhaps I just need more alcohol :)

So this afternoon I have time to myself, I am watching the footy just in case that have been given front row seats and pop up on the screen. I am going to try and be more organised, so I have bought myself some slim box files to store bank statements, receipts etc, that way there may be more than half a chance of finding them again should I need them. Lets see how long that grand plan lasts!!

I did make a few more beads yesterday, its amazing where the time goes once you get into it.
I have started to number them so I know how I actually made the bead that way there is a chance I will be able to do it again one day!!!

I am quite pleased with these two although they need more practice, I feel I am making steady progress!!
Tomorrow I start my Uni course, I can't wait!!!!

Friday, January 06, 2012

Rotten First week back.

It was bad enough to have to return to work after New Year, but I have come down with an awful, cold/sore throat/cough thing. The full works with headache and feeling shivery. So for the first time in a long time I have had to take a couple of days off sick. I would like to say I am feeling better but I'm not :( could be a long weekend in bed for me. 
My friend who we spent New Year with is also poorly, so she has been laid up in bed for a few days as well, shame we are not closer we could have kept each other entertained!! Get well soon Madeline.

On Monday I am starting a course at University, it only lasts 7 weeks but I fully expect to come out with a degree. I am going with my friend Debbie, we are doing 'kiln formed glass'. Unfortunately they sent us joining instructions rather late so we have had to look around for all the kit over the weekend. I have some of it but talk about last minute!! I am hoping that at the end of the course I will be able to make glass bowls and plates. I have ideas in my head but it never works out like that does it???

Earlier on in the week we were driving home when we were treated to this lovely sunset. I took this shot of a field near to the local Hospital (fitting when you consider the amount of time I seem to spend visiting the place)

It was very beautiful. The last few days have not been good weather wise, we lost the back gate and part of the fence, so Tom was out there sorting it out. He went to B and Q and got a great device, a concrete post repair kit. The concrete was in good order but the wood had rotted away (it had been there at least 25 years) so with this metal socket he just had to belt it into the ground which wasn't too difficult and then hammer the new post into the metal socket. So its all back up now with the help of some three inch nails and a bit of brute force!!! I hope that's the last of the wind for a while!.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Back to work ;(

Well there goes another Christmas holiday, all my plans of having a nice break with a bit of time to do some glassy stuff has passed me by in a whirl of hospital visits, shopping trips and housework. We had some good times, visits from and to friends and getting Dad out of hospital were the high points, spending Boxing day in A and E was a low point, I am hoping that one isn't turning into a Christmas tradition!!!!

Yesterday I finally got to play with my glass and make some beads so that made up part way for all the messing about. I needed a bead rest for my kiln, but they are all so expensive, so a trip to B and Q and a spend of £1.98 has given me enough wire to make two rests, I now need to try it out and see if its man enough for the job. So far it has potential and works with cold mandrels and beads. I have checked out the melting point of the metal and the kiln stays 100 degrees below that, so fingers crossed!!!

So as they say on Blue Peter - Here's some I made earlier!!
I seem to be able to get a better shape now so that's encouraging.
I know I am going to tempt fate here, but my propane canister has been used for around 9 months now and is still going strong, I have made hundreds and hundreds of beads, that part of the kit is extremely good value!!
Back into the fray.. have a good week.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

The morning after the night before.......

Last night we went to celebrate New Year with our long long time friends Madeline, John and Grace. Every New year for as long as I can remember we have been to them or them to us. Lately since the kids have been older we have had a theme and last nights was 'Chavs' . 
So bring on the baseball caps, chunky chains, tattoos, red lip stick. tracky bottoms, high heel shoes, the works!!! 

I went as an over made up, over blinged, pregnant chav wearing my PJ's for a trip to Tescos!!! Tom gelled his hair and had his Dollar pendant on proud display.

We were very pleased when Simon Cowell and Elvis Presley turned up!!

Followed by Peter Andre and Sheryl Cole.

Vicky Beckham and Sharon Osbourne came along.

Brucie turned up although he was struggling after a number of years in Strictly, he was knackered!!!

The best news of the evening was that there was a reconciliation!!!

Peter and Jordan got back together!!!!

Anyway we drunk a large amount of alcohol, feasted on Chinese and cheesecake. Experienced some of Madeline's traditional cooking. (she did us proud by burning one of the puddings, starting the year as she means to go on!!!) At midnight John carefully walked down the garden (avoiding copious piles of dog poo, that's what happens when you are looking after two poo machines) to set off our fireworks, a 30 shot spooky firework and a 25 shot Bull in a China Shop. The second one was extremely loud (like us) and the first one was not ghostly or spooky or even able to do 30 shots, but hey it was fun!!!

This morning we all got up late and I made sure I drank loads of water to try and avoid a hang over, which was successful. I now feel a bit washed out but I think that's because I am now knocking on to be doing all this hard core drinking!!!!

This afternoon we collected Dad from hospital, he is feeling much better and is just a little sore and uncomfortable from the operation, he is now at home and will have his clips out next week sometime. I just want to thank Kate for all of her assistance over the past few nights and I want to wish everyone a very Happy New Year!!!!