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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ask StudioMarcy ~ Online Coaching " Penguins" with Fiona and Me

Welcome to today's online coaching. But first a quick note... tomorrow's post will include a video posting. I'm trying to learn this century's technology, so it's a bit of an experiment, as well as some fun. It will include a contest to win a free bead too.

Fiona couldn't have chosen a better type of bead to make, because unknown to her, penguins have really been on my mind recently. My daughter leaves soon to work in Antarctica, where penguins are one of the featured inhabitants. I've been thinking I need to make more and now I have this chance.

Here is Fiona's second lampwork glass sculptural bead. She is now making penguins. This little fellow will be shown in three different poses.

Here is a side view. Let's talk about his basic construction. I can not tell whether this penguin was made on a black base with a white section added for his tummy or whether he was made with a white base and the additional black glass added on. That's a good thing. So here are a few tips for making the base bead.

1. Shape can be long barrel shape or chubby tear drop shape. With the addition of wings, it makes the slimmer top section thicker, so either would work.
2. When adding white to a black base bead, make sure your black is not too warm. If the white is warm and the black is too warm, then sometimes your white starts blending into your black around the edge and you get a bit of purple outline. As you know, white glass is a lot softer than the stiffer deep transparent purple, (if using Effetre brand), which we know as black glass.

So now it's time to add the head. Fiona added a head that looks like our donut shaped bead. It's in proportion in size, but doesn't have quite as much room for a face. My suggestion is to make it a little larger, so your eyes, beak and any other features can stand out a little better. I really like his beak. I think the size and shape are perfect.

The eyes could use a little work. Perhaps melting in the whites first, letting them cool a touch and then adding the black pupil at the end, will keep it from standing out too much. In person usually an eye that is so 3-D looks fine, but photographing something like that is much harder. If you want your penguin to look more like a character, you can make the eyes larger, if you want it more realistic, keep them in proportion to what they should be. Always add your farthest away eye first. Then the closer one will be easier to for you to gauge and place. I put on the whites of the eyes as soon as I make the head. That way I can melt in the white, without disturbing any of the other features. While I'm melting in the whites, I add a little heat and then gently marver the dot flatten a bit- not pushing hard, because that will spread out the white. Heat again gently and repeat, until they are in the shape and location that you want them.

Fiona wrote to me about the Penguin - "my second ever birdy bead... he is about 25mm tall, has popping eyes (when do I put the white on to melt it flat) Im 'quite' happy with his beak and feet but his right wing (as you face him) is odd... I know what I did though.. put too much black on.. I didn't let it get hot enough be before I swiped it so it was too thick."

Well, Fiona knows exactly what to do differently next time, which you will shortly see. You want your gather nice and hot and you want both of them the same size. Here are a couple of tricks.

1. If you have a hard time adding your wings in the right spot, then before you add them, place a small dot of black where you want them to start. It will blend in when you add the wings, but will be a visual reminder where they should be. If you don't like how you placed it at first, then just melt the dot in and start over.
2. Your wing gather of black glass should be approximately the same size for both wings. you can measure your glass, or you can just "note" it pretty carefully. Be aware of what you're doing and it will work much better. In cases where perfection is really important, you can keep a set of calipers on your studio bench and measure the rod as to how much of the rod you're going to use.
3. Once you've laid on the first wing, don't forget that you can make some adjustments. You can heat just the wing and move around the raised glass with your brass Stump Shaper or other brass tool. (One of my sayings..."graphite will smooth it, brass will move it"). Then do the same with the other wing. If a wing is too narrow at the bottom, add some small dots of black and gently heat them in and move them where you need extra glass to make your wing fuller.
4. If the wing is too big, then don't forget that you can remove glass by heating it up a bit and taking a cold rod or stringer of the same color and gently pulling some off. Careful, go slowly on this, as if you take too much, you just have to add it on again.

Here is Fiona's second penguin. Wow! She named it,
"I Believe I Can Fly" with good reason. Look how she added character to the wings, (which are well balanced), the eyes are improved, and she even photographed it so that it looks like it's on ice. Hooray for Fiona and her fabulous penguins.

I suggested to her that it's now time to add more details to them, whether it's clothing like a striped scarf, or other items to make them stand out as "hers". Besided, penguins make not only great winter beads to sell, but also she can market them as Christmas tree ornaments. Holiday marketing will be an entirely different blog post.

So watch for more of Fiona's penguins. She told me she has a Devil Penguin in the works.
And visit my etsy shop, I will be posting my version of a penguin bead a little later today. Mine is wearing ear muffs, a bow tie and a cumberbund. You can't dress up too much if you're a penguin, because black and white go with everything.

See you tomorrow for the video blog and fun contest....