Sunday, November 28, 2010

Week 5 of the Nine Weeks of Amy...win a $20 gift certificate from ahouston!

Hi all, it's “Lampwork by Amy”, aka ahouston, here. My name is Amy Hall (confusing, I know, because my shop is ahouston – but I got married last year and changed my name, and Etsy doesn't let you change your shop name). I make handmade glass beads.

I get a lot of questions about what I do, so I am going to use my week of our Amy promo here to share with you all exactly what I do, and how it is done!

The process is called Lampwork. It involves a torch that is specialized for melting glass. My torch uses a mix of oxygen and propane – the propane comes in a barbeque tank that you can buy anywhere, and the oxygen is pumped in from an oxygen concentrator. The concentrator is the kind used for medical purposes. In fact, I have two of them now, and they both run at once. The more oxygen you have, the hotter your flame can be, and I am an impatient person. I don't like to wait too long for my glass to melt.

I buy glass rods from a variety of sellers both online, and locally. I tend to buy locally when I can, but there is some stuff that my local shop doesn't carry. Most of the glass comes from Italy (Effetre, Moretti, and Vetrofond); there are a few American companies I buy from as well (Creation is Messy and Double Helix). Most of my clear glass comes from Germany, because the best clear (at least, my favorite), is Lauscha, a German company.

My studio is in my garage, at my home in Victoria, BC (Canada). I have a little table in the corner, with the torch mounted on it, and a small bead kiln right next to me. The beads have to be properly cooled in the kiln (called annealing), so they don't cool down too fast. This makes them much more durable and less prone to cracks. The beads are made on metal rods called mandrels. I dip the mandrels in a clay product called Bead Release. This allows me to remove the bead once I am done.

Other safety equipment I have is specialized glasses that allow me to see more clearly into the flame, and protect my eyes, and a range hood fan that draws any fumes away from me, and outside. There aren't a lot of fumes in lampwork, at least not for me since I don't work much with enamels. I do sometimes work with metals such as silver leaf, or glasses that are fumed with silver, and this does produce a small amount of fumes.

My usual process is, get the torch and kiln going, fire up my iPod with either some tunes, or an audiobook or podcast, and then lay out my color palette for whatever it is I plan to make first. The actual how-to of making a bead involves dipping the mandrel in bead release, drying it, and then melting a glass rod around the mandrel. The mandrel becomes the bead's hole. I start with a basic bead, and then decorate it with other colors. I love polka dots and stripes.

I make a lot of bead “sets” - these are matching sets of usually somewhere between 6-12 beads (sometimes more), that are intended for jewelry designers to buy. Sometimes I use these to make my own jewelry, especially if they sit around and don't sell for a while. I also make focal beads, which tend to be really organic and unique. I make large goddess beads. I also make buttons. Just recently I have been making the Pandora bracelet style beads.

All of the different types of beads I create require different tools or bits of equipment. So as I have learned new techniques, I have slowly acquired a LOT of stuff. When people ask me how much it costs to get started with lampwork, it's hard to find a good answer, since I slowly built all that I have up over so much time. I have been making beads since the beginning of 2006, so almost 5 years now.

I sell my beads primarily in my Etsy shop, but I also do some local craft shows at Christmas time, and a farmer's market every weekend all summer long. I don't do this full time, in fact it often gets just barely squeezed in when the rest of my life gets super busy. I work almost full time, and I go to school part time. I am in the healthcare field, working for a nursing program (I am not a nurse, I do clerical work there). I am working on a science degree currently, which I am almost finished (should be done by Christmas!) I am also a pre-med student, and hope to become a doctor one day – although I don't plan to even apply to medical school until I have taken at least a year off from school. I am too burnt out from my undergraduate degree to jump in to another full program right away. I hope to keep working with glass, no matter how busy my life gets, because I find it very relaxing and a wonderful way to wind down. Also, since I am a creative person, I feel like I need something creative in my life to balance out all of the other stuff.

So that is pretty much it! I do have a website that talks about lampwork a lot, and I even have tutorials for some of my bead styles – so if you want to see more pictures of the process in action, or just learn more about it, you can go check me out at http://www.twoglassyladies.ca/

Thanks for stopping by this blog, and I hope you enter this challenge. Again, the winner will receive a $20 gift certificate to my shop!

Here's how to enter... First, go browse through my shop (http://ahouston.etsy.com) Then come back here and leave a comment on this page telling me what your favorite item is from my shop.

You can also earn up to seven additional entries by:

- following @amysinthearts on Twitter

- sharing this giveaway on Twitter by tagging @amysinthearts in your tweet

- following the Amys In The Arts blog

- following Amy's Lampworkbyamy blog at http://lampworkbyamy.livejournal.com/

- becoming a fan of Amys in the Arts Facebook page

- posting a link to this giveaway on your blog (please copy the link to your blog post)

- adding the Amys In The Arts button to your blog (please copy the link where you've added it)
To get credit for your additional entries, please be sure to let us know what you’ve done (don't forget to copy your blog links!).

44 comments:

Marei said...

i like the Autumn Cornucopia :) cute cute so much

Marei said...

Already an @amysinthearts follower

disstonbibi here ♥


daylight_0013 at yahoo dot com

Marei said...

Tweeted
http://twitter.com/#!/disstonbibi/status/8889547429519360

daylight_0013 at yahoo dot com

Marei said...

already an "Amys In The Arts blog"

daylight_0013 at yahoo dot com

Marei said...

Already a facebook follower of Amys In The Arts

Dolly Starr here ♥

daylight_0013 at yahoo dot com

Marei said...

blogged on my sidebar

http://iammarei.blogspot.com/

AmyE said...

My fave beads are the african violets on duck egg blue - gorgeous! I am a big fan of lampwork. I did a days class and loved it - would love to take it up but I need more room!
i have also tweeted and am following you. x

Butterfly said...

So many lovely things!
I think my favourite is this: http://www.etsy.com/listing/54172978/fiery-red-handmade-lampwork-glass - the Fiery Red Handmade Lampwork Glass Goddess Necklace. Beautiful.
I already follow you on livejournal (as nothingtoyou), and I've just added this blog to the ones I'm following. I've also 'Liked' your Facebook page (as W Attwell).

Lee said...

Your work is beautiful! I am a sewer and love the buttons!
Three Sweet Strawberry Lampwork Glass Handmade Buttons - are my favorite in your shop!

Lee said...

I am a follower of Amy in the Arts!

Amie said...

I LOVE the Agate Cat Beads Handmade Earrings!! I'm such a sucker for cats. :)
kittycatsandairplanes@gmail.com

Amie said...

I follow Amys in the Arts on twitter!
kittycatsandairplanes@gmail.com

Amie said...

Tweeted about it!
kittycatsandairplanes@gmail.com

Amie said...

Follow Amys in the Arts!
kittycatsandairplanes@gmail.com

Amie said...

Fan of Amys in the Arts on facebook!
kittycatsandairplanes@gmail.com

Amie said...

Have the button on my blog!
http://kittycatsandairplanes.blogspot.com/p/about-me.html

BEadECLECTIC said...

I love your thai orchid spacers!

bead.eclectic at gmail dot com

Rachel said...

I love the Purple and Silver Swirls Handmade Lampwork Glass Pandora Bead- it would look awesome on my bracelet! Thanks for the giveaway!

PoppyLand said...

I have so many favorites! Like: http://www.etsy.com/listing/60547865/coral-with-turquoise-and-white-sterling

:)

PoppyLand said...

I'm following the Amys In The Arts blog!

TopHat said...

I like the turquoise with coral and white pandora bead!

hrfarley at gmail dot com

cerena leigh said...

i really LOVE the "first love" sterlin pandora style beads. the colors are so beautiful.
the process of making them is amazing too.

Cerena-Leigh
Luckycldh(at)aol(dot)com

Mystica said...

The african violets on the duck egg blue are gorgeous. Absolutely creative work here. Thanks for sharing.

TZel said...

I like the Agate Cat Beads Handmade Earrings. Thank you!
bridgestranslation at yahoo dot com

TZel said...

I follow as bridgestranslation
bridgestranslation at yahoo dot com

Charmily said...

sooo elegant! :) http://www.etsy.com/listing/60909268/pink-swirls-sterling-silver-lined
sumshi.is.yummy@gmail.com

Aglolga said...

I like Agate Cat Beads Handmade Earrings, becouse they are so pretty!:D I would choose beads, but I have no talent with doing jewelry;).

Melody said...

I like Citrus Sugar Beads.

melodyj(at)gmail(dot)com

bloodkitty said...

you have too many wonderful things on etsy to choose *just one*...
of what is listed right now, {and you did these before in other forms} i'm loving the african violet beads, as well as the heffalump lavender ones and the leaky pen beads....

and i already follow you on lj... '-}

bloodkitty said...

also started following @amysinthearts on twitter - some really wonderful talent there!!!
'-}

carsonthefreeway said...

http://www.etsy.com/listing/59639459/clear-with-blue-and-pink-confetti?ref=v1_other_1

this is a pretty bead...

i've also liked your fb page, followed your twitter, tweeted about the giveaway

lin said...
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Ginger said...

I enjoyed reading this post,great photos too!
I think the Fiery Red Handmade Lampwork Glass Goddess Necklace is pretty. All of your goddess beads are lovely.
I also like the colors in the Gypsy Skirt beads and the Purple and Silver Swirls Handmade Lampwork Glass Pandora Bead.
Thanks :)

cyclona66 at aol dot com

clenahan said...

Love the .Pretty Pink Polka Dots Rounds!

pippirose said...

I love the Cobalt Blue WHite Polka Dot Pandora Bead.
:o)
pippirose59 at gmail dot com

pippirose said...

I follow your blog via GFC.
pippirose59 at gmail dot com

pippirose said...

I follow you on Twitter
@pippirose77
pippirose59 at gmail dot com

pippirose said...

I like you on FB
(Piroska).
pippirose59 at gmail dot com

pippirose said...

I follow the Lampwork blog.
pippirose59 at gmail dot com

Tania on the Hill said...

I really like this: http://www.etsy.com/listing/47744115/blueberries-and-cream-lentils-handmade

Tania on the Hill said...

Loyal follower of this streamy blog!

Tania on the Hill said...

Fan in FB!