Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Getting down to business...

Whew!  Summer is over and I'm back to my blog.  After my last post I continued learning how to make beads with my new torch and oxygen concentrator, and now I'm feeling fairly comfortable with both.  The Nortel Minor is just a dream to work with and I'm not afraid of it anymore.  I find myself just turning it on and running with it.  It's a great feeling to have decent tools.

That's a CG Beadroller living next to my torch!
I'm experimenting with different bead designs.  I've added raised flowers to my repertoire and my raised scrollwork designs are actually getting better every time I make them.  Also, I've made a few cube beads, which look pretty cool with melted-in scrollwork.  Someone even said the design looked kind of Hawaiian, so that'll be something I have to work on to perfect so I can add it to my stock.  Here is a set I made last week:

The search for the perfect glass organization method continues, and now that search has extended to beads.  I'm making so many beads that I'm having trouble keeping up with it.  But this problem is a great opportunity to get more of my sh*t in gear so I have a better and easier time when I finally start selling my beads.  To help me keep track of what colors are in each bead, I got price tags on strings to attach to them, and then I ordered a cardboard box for storing collectible cards in order to have a place to keep all the beads.  When that comes in I'll put it all together and take some pictures. Here's what I have so far, but I only have one of those plastic trays and the cardboard box was cheaper than the trays for the number of beads I could keep in it.

As far as the glass rods are concerned, I've been doing pretty well with a milk crate full of 1.5 inch PVC pipe cut to 10 inch lengths.  I did just order another 8 and a half pounds of glass, so it will be interesting trying to fit that in, but that's what the debit card is for - more PVC & more milk crates.  I'm looking forward to getting this new glass but after last time, spending HOURS tagging all the glass I currently had with labels, I'm thinking this next batch of glass will only be spot tagged.  That was way too much work!

See all the little tags?  Crazy tags!  LOTS OF CRAZY LITTLE TAGS!!! :)
Development on the homemade mailbox kiln has ground to a halt.  We have all the hardware we need, kiln brick, we even cut the kiln door open, but putting it all together has been really difficult.  I don't know why, but I just don't have patience for this project, probably because it feels like it will be impossible to get it done right.  The hardest part has been drilling through the box from the top to install the element support wire.  We broke two drill bits.  Yeah, they're crappy drill bits from Harbor Freight, but after spending all day slaving over the kiln then having this happen, I just threw up my hands in disgust.  Every step just felt harder than it should have been.  Luckily, we didn't spend a lot of money, just $12 for the mailbox and a few bucks for the hardware.  I don't like to give up on projects, but I truly believe this mailbox kiln has me beat.

So, what do we do when we can't make something?  We either do without -- which has become impossible because my bead-breakage rate has increased now that I'm making more complicated beads -- or we pull out the debit card and buy something:  Devardi's Professional Mini Bead Annealer.  Looks like a god-send, I'm really looking forward to it.  It's a curling iron warmer that has some extra electronics added to it to help you control the temperature and bring the temp of your beads down slowly enough to anneal them.  Priced at $76 (plus $15 shipping), it seems too good to be true, but I bought one and I'm going to make it work for me.

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