Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Taster sessions (lampworking and ice-cream-eating)

My sister Rachel and I had LOTS of fun on Sunday at Craven & White, at one of their glass charm and jewellery experiences (via a special offer, so cheaper than the advertised price on the website). It's essentially a taster session rather than a formal taught class.

Caroline started by explaining to us the basics of lampworking (basically: melting different-coloured glasses in a very hot flame), and about the properties of different sorts of glass. We admired the various beads in her current range. The glass is even more gorgeous in real life than on the website - the colours capture the light in a way that's nearly impossible to convey in a photograph. The ivory-coloured glass reacts with the light-blue coloured glass to give a grey outline that looks almost like a pencil-line. She took us through some of the easier bead designs, and then we spent some time choosing our own colours and designing our own beads. This was a harder decision than I'd thought it would be, as there were so many canes of gorgeous glass colours to choose from.

We had the option of having a go ourselves, so of course both Rachel and I jumped at the chance. We each got to make our own bead design. After the session is finished, Caroline makes a second bead of your design, kiln-anneals them both and sends you each two beads in the post, strung on a PVC tube bracelet - so I'll get both my own one and a professionally-made version of my sister's design.

With that in mind, we'd both chosen the same colour-scheme: ivory and a beautiful "teal" colour - you can see the canes I used on the worktop in the picture below (closest to the thing-that-makes-the-flame, which if I remember correctly is somewhat mystifyingly called a Brian). We each chose opaque grey for the decorative spots. I rather ambitiously chose to make a "wavy" pattern, which demanded a lot of concentration but was lots of fun too. If you've worked with wet-on-wet watercolour or silk-painting, you'll be familiar with the idea of "happy accidents". My bead was, pretty much, one entire happy accident. I don't know how people manage to actually make what they are setting out to make. It is not as easy as it looks. Here is a picture of me, concentrating hard!

Me making my "wavy pattern" bead
Rachel turned out to be something of a natural and was soon dotting away like she'd been doing it for years. Here's a photo of her in action:

Rachel adding a dot of colour to her bead
All in all we had a lovely time and I would definitely recommend it as part of a fun day out in Shakespeare Country. Especially if you also happen to spend part of the afternoon in the Henley Ice Cream shop!

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