Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Glass bead making

On the weekend I attended a course at the Fremantle arts centre on glass bead making. I went to the course with my workmate Fiona and ex-workmate Sharon.

The arts centre is housed in what was originally the first purpose built lunatic asylum in Western Australia. It has also been a home for "hysterical women". During WW1 and WW2 it was used as a naval base, following as a technical college. It has a colourful history and it is a great setting for arty courses.

Onto glass beadmaking, apparently glass bead making dates back over 3000 yrs... I bet they didn't have the fancy gas burners we had though! We were making wound glass beads this entails getting the glass at a temperature high enough to make it workable and then winding around a steel wire or mandrel coated with graphite. The wound bead, while still hot, can be further shaped by manipulating with graphite, wood, stainless steel or marble tools and paddles. It can also be pressed into a mold in its molten state. While still hot, or after re-heating, the surface of the bead may be decorated with fine rods called stringers of colored glass.
We tried all these techniques... here I am at work and concentrating very hard...The course was all about learning how to do it so the outputs weren't really pretty or uniform, but it was a lot of fun. I only cut myself twice (as my favourite bead broke) and burnt myself once (as I tried to grab a bead hot off the press)... here is the outcome of my day...not too bad really, although in Jason's words I "could do with some practice" hehehe.
A nice way to spend a weekend day though and I would recommend girls having a go. It was lots of fun and it gave me a whole new appreciation of beads!!!

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