When my friend Lisa asked if I’d take a day-long bead-making workshop with her at the Terminal City Glass Co-op, I signed up without even reading the description of what we’d learn. I’ll sign up to try pretty much anything that requires protective gear, really.
I realized early on in the class that I’m going to have a complicated relationship with bead-making, because I’m not generally big on shiny things. Those beads in the photo above are samples our instructor had on hand. They’re amazing, hey?
Only thing is, I wouldn’t want them. You know? The complicated part, of course, is that making them is amazing. Which I discovered over the course of the day.
As anticipated, there was danger and intrigue, and protective eyewear.
(Yes, I was the one student in the class to burn herself. Go me!)
The setup was pretty awesome. Each student had a workstation around a huge metal table that sat under the biggest range hood I’ve ever seen.
Those colourful rods are glass. That’s what we melted to make beads. For real, it was incredible. And chemical!
Believe it or not, the burn did not happen while I was taking this photo with my left hand while I held glass to a blowtorch with my right.
That’s one of the first two beads I made. We all started working with black glass because, though you don’t see it here, it turns a very conspicuous red colour when it’s hot. Super easy to see what’s going on.
The metal rod that’s holding the bead is called a mandrel. Same idea as the thicker rods ring-makers use. The end is coated in dried clay slip, which, when washed away, leaves just enough wiggle room for the bead to come off the rod.
In addition to beads, we learned how to make thinner/finer rods of glass we can use to do detailed colourwork (like adding dots, etc.). We learned how to twist two colours together, too. I didn’t manage to do it right this time. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The beads needed to cure in a kiln for eight hours after the class ended, so I went back to the Co-op a couple of days later to pick up my beads.
First I had to soak the mandrels to loosen the slip enough that I could wash it away. Then I wiggled the beads loose, washed more slip away, and liberated those suckers from their metal prisons.
After that, I used a diamond-crusted tool to file more clay away from inside the bead holes.
Et voila! It’s almost impossible to think that this is the entirety of what I made during a seven-hour class. But I learned so much. Lisa and I will go back to the Co-op for sure (she already has, actually). This is not something I plan to ever do at home (OMG the safety precautions), and I’m so glad there’s a place where I can drop in on one of their two weekly Newbie Nights to see if I can’t make it to the point that I produce something even and lovely.
Have you ever made anything from glass? What do you do with what you make? Share links in the comments!
PS After the workshop, before I collapsed from exhaustion, I told the kid that I’d tried to make a heart-shaped bead, just for him, but that it came out looking more like a wonky apple. Still, when I showed him the beads, he claimed that one for himself. ❤️
I’ve had bookbinding on my mind for about a year. It ticks off all the things that always turn me onto a craft: it uses up things that might otherwise be discarded (paper scraps), it involves a certain amount of precision and skill, and it results in a wholly new, totally practical item.
So I fired up Periscope yesterday and made my first handmade book. (Well, I did a bunch of prep work, then fired up Periscope and started making a book, then I finished making the book later. Making a book takes a lot of time.)
Notes from a First-time Bookbinder
Though every bookbinding tutorial I found lists very specific materials required to make a book, I had no trouble making do with what I had at home (see details below in the Scope Notes). So keep that in mind if you’ve been holding off trying this out because you don’t have certain items.
Also, this is not a quick project. All told, I probably spent about three hours making this book yesterday. It’ll probably take less time to make my next book, but maybe consider this a weekend project rather than an in-one-sitting project if it’s your first time.
Lots of notes about this project! First, about the tools and materials (some of these are affiliate links):
For the front and back covers of my book, I used pieces of corrugated cardboard I cut down from a shipping box then covered with decorative paper. The paper is from the inside covers of an issue of Mollie Makes magazine (which often includes gorgeous full-page prints in its pages). You can also use bookboard, heavy cardboard or chipboard for book covers.
For paper, I used scraps, all cut roughly to the same size (half of an 8.5″ x 11″ paper, so 8.5″ x 5.5″ – folded in half, as they are to make a book, each page I made is roughly 4.25″ x 5.5″).
Every tutorial I found called for a bone folder. I’m pretty sure I have one somewhere, but in the interest of actually doing this project, I just used the side of a pencil shaft to make a good crease in my folded papers.
I used a tailor’s awl to punch holes in my papers and covers, because that’s what I had on hand. In the interest of keeping my fabric- and paper-cutting tools separate, I’ll probably pick up an awl like this one for bookbinding.
Most bookbinders use waxed linen thread to sew their books together. I didn’t have any, so I used dental floss. Minty fresh!
If I end up really getting into this and use very tough materials for my covers, I’ll probably have to end up drilling the holes in them. Or I might splurge on one of these, which looks like it can also be used on leather (which is something on my list for a future First Time Make.)
And finally, I think the only thing I mentioned in the scope that wasn’t specifically about bookbinding was the Daily Making Jumpstart, which you can sign up for right over here. I hope to see you in there!
Join me every week(ish) as I make stuff for the first time. Follow me on Periscope to be alerted when a broadcast begins, and on Instagram and Twitter for some advance notice!
If there’s something you want me to make for the first time, leave a comment and I’ll add it to my list!
I just couldn’t wait to weave, you guys. I just couldn’t wait. It was everything I could do not to weave last night after I assembled and warped my frame loom yesterday, but I at least wanted to space the Periscopes out by a day. So I waited. Until this morning.
This morning, I dug through scrap yarn in my studio, gathered a bunch of it up, fired up Periscope, and spent and hour weaving on my frame loom for the first time, in a live video stream. The video’s below, if you want to grab something to make and watch along (bonus points if you weave for the first time!).
Beth Graham (you should check out her amazing crochet class, btw) pointed out that the way I made the tassels may not actually secure them to the bottom of the weave (I need to investigate further). Regardless, in the future I will probably make a row or two of plain weave before I make the tassels. Even if I did wrap the tassels around the correct warp threads, putting them on after a few rows of plain weave should make the bottom of the weave more structurally sound.
Want to Get More Comfortable Trying New Things?
A couple of years ago I never would have felt comfortable trying new art and craft techniques in public, with people watching. Then I committed to make something – anything – every day, even for a tiny bit of time, and eventually I learned how to not have any idea how to do something, and do it anyway. If you want a hand forming a daily creative habit, the Daily Making Jumpstart will help!
Remember how I came up with a harebrained idea for a Periscope series of me making things for the very first time? Well, thanks to your help, I have a list of more than two dozen things to make (keep those ideas coming!).
Today, I did my first #firsttimemake scope, and to be easy on myself for this first one, I chose a project that’s been high on my list for a very long time: assembling and warping my frame loom. (I bought the loom a few months ago, and have been so excited to use it that I haven’t touched it. You know how that goes, right?)
I’m so excited to finally weave on it that I have a feeling I’ll do the second scope within a day or two. Or later today.
Watch the video below! And let me know if you have any questions about it. I’ll do my best to answer here on the blog, and/or in my next scope.