With the approach of autumn, I get the urge to melt glass. My lampworking “studio” is my garage and, unfortunately, we didn’t have the foresight to buy a house with an air conditioned garage. Something about sitting in a hot room behind a 1200 degree torch and a 950 degree oven on a 103 degree day doesn’t appeal to me. This makes torching more of a winter sport for me.
My one work around has been to get up at the crack of dawn and fire everything up. I can usually get in about 3 hours on a Saturday morning and maybe another 2 on a Sunday. The rest of the days of the week are reserved for my day job.
Because my torch time is so limited, I find myself wanting to maximize my time. How do I do this? I buy a lot of tutorials. Lampworking tutorials are many. There is always a new glass that needs vetting, or an old glass that does something cool when mixed with something, or even new tools that allow you to do something easier than before. There are even tutorials about the most basic of lampworking skills that people have decided to present in a different way.
I have some favorite tutorial authors that make me open my wallet, even if the material is basic, a technique that I already have a grasp on, or maybe WAAAAY above my level of proficiency, simply because I like their work or want to know the mechanics of a certain technique. Or maybe I just like their color palate and hope they share some secrets. I figure they’ve done the legwork, probably wasting valuable time and glass. It’s kind of my way of supporting my fellow lampworkers and also, saving me time and money. Win-win.
The first tutorial I ever purchased was a Laurie Donnette (www.everafterartistry.com) pansy tutorial. Pansies are my favorite flower and her sculpted pansies appealed to me so much that I just had to try them, despite the fact that I was still challenged by “round” beads. What I love most about Laurie’s tutorials is that the really makes things simple. Even I, as a noob, was able to produce a pansy like bead. I’m not saying that they looked anything like Laurie’s, but you could tell what I was trying to achieve. Since then, I’ve purchased just about every tutorial she’s written.
I’ve purchased Candice Seeber (www.lampwork.net) tutorials on basic things like raised flowers and stripes because I wanted to know how to get some of the effects she achieves with layering colors. Her tutorials are filled with pictures and tips that will help noobs to veterans. I’ve never been disappointed.
I just purchased a Jacqueline Parkes (www.gemsinbloom.com) “recipe” book that is more about color combinations and general technique than actual “how to make this bead from start to finish” type of thing. It’s kind of opened my eyes to a few glass colors that I never would have purchased for myself. She’s also started me on a kind of addiction to frit (basically smashed up glass for those of you who don’t know about lampwork bead making). I assumed that she probably spent hours making canes for her flowers, layering glass just so. Um, no. Just take a blob of white, roll it in frit. OMG. That right there was worth the price of admission for me. Life. Changing.
Unfortunately, for every super-awesome-OMG-brilliant tutorial out there, there are some that aren’t so great and I’ve wished I had my money back. One in particular stands out. I won’t name names, but I will say that it was for a flower bud. So, first of all, the tutorial showed some lovely soft pink rosebuds. I thought, “Yes. Look at the depth of the colors. There’s some layering going on there. And, ooh. Vines. Yes, I want to make some vines like that.” Yeah. It turns out that the author just demonstrated a white flower. And the vines… Well, you’ll need to shell out another $20 to learn how to do that. To make it worse, the instructions were very garbled because they wrote in their thought process to a certain extent, and there were phrases like “Are you ready to see how the magic happens.” Needless to say, I never went back for the vine cane tutorial.
Anyway, tutorials are something that I’ll probably keep buying as long as people keep making them. The drive to learn new things is what keeps me going. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I just got a new book on beaded jewelry… Time to go learn something new.