Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Glass Testing: CiM 716 Chateau Ltd. Run and CiM 530 Zoe Ltd. Run

Continuing on with the testing for the giant batch of new colors I got from Creation is Messy, today's colors are the gorgeous aqua called Zoe, and the soft neutral called Chateau.

First up is Chateau, and lovely transparent brownish beige. It reminds me a bit of cream soda, and is a nice alternative for Effetre's Light Brown transparent.

 According to CiM's website, this color was created to be similar to Sepia, but without the reddish undertone.  It fits the bill nicely - it's a true pale brown without any reddish or greenish undertones, and works nicely as an encasing layer for any browns or creams.

One thing I need to mention is that this glass can scum easily if you heat it too fast.  Work it under a cooler flame, and when using it as stringer, don't let it get too melty or it will bubble up.  It's not too stiff, so there's not much of an issue getting it to melt.

One other thing - when using this color with Effetre Sage (the new handmade version, not the machine made version) I had some severe compatibility cracks when making encased florals.  I am not sure what the culprit was - but using it under a thick encasement of clear (DH Zephyr) produced cracks like I have never seen. I didn't get cracks with other combinations of similar colors, so I have narrowed down the culprit to either Sage or Chateau. The cracking didn't happen in any other beads made with these colors - just the encased florals.  So just bear that in mind.

Other than that, I really love this color - it's a nice neutral that adds a soft beigy brown cast to anything it's layered with. 

Chateau layered with Effetre Mudslide makes a nice toffee color.
Chateau layered with Effetre Sage is a soft latte brown - use sparingly to avoid cracks.        

On to one of my very favorite selections in the new color batch - Zoe.  When CiM sent the new batch of colors, there were quite a few in the aqua/teal/blue range.  That thrilled me because I really love those colors.  Zoe is one of the best. For some reason, this color just shines and sparkles more than any aqua I've seen in any brand of glass.

Okay, enough gushing - on to the important stuff.

The first thing you need to know is that transparent aqua shades are a bitch to photograph.  Seriously.  The camera just does not capture the real color very well.  It doesn't even look right on the CiM website, which frustrates me to no end, because I want to relay to you, the color addict, just how gorgeous this aqua blue really is. 

CiM made this color to be a light version of Pulsar ( which is basically CiM's version of Effetre Dark Aqua) It succeeds - it's lighter and slightly less saturated than Pulsar, which I really like.  This makes it the perfect shade for springy aqua beads.

As usual, CiM's aqua glasses are better behaved than Effetre's - they don't scum or bubble or spread or bleed, etc.  Zoe is no exception. There may be some scummy spots when you first melt the rod, but those will disappear quickly as you melt the glass.  Zoe can take a lot of heat without burning out or bubbling, which makes it an ideal layering color.  Zoe isn't too stiff, which is also nice.

I think Zoe makes a wonderful layering color with either Effetre Light Sky Blue (for a brighter shade) or CiM Duck Egg (for a softer shade). 

As I mentioned before, there are several other aqua shades in the new CiM color batch. Most of these are very close in hue, with just tiny differences in the amount of green/blue and in saturation. I'm sure there are lots of opinions on which is best, but Zoe is my personal favorite. Since color love is subjective, your mileage may vary.  So far, I am of the opinion that any one of these aqua shades will be a great addition to your palette. :)
Zoe layered with Duck Egg (the purples are Heffalump, Dark Lavender and Pale Ink Blue)

Zoe layered with Duck Egg (the purples are Heffalump, Dark Lavender and Pale Ink Blue)

Zoe with Duck Egg as a raised floral is nice and bright.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Glass Testing: Aquaphobia Frit - Fritty Bits by Melanie Graham

I've just tested the third Fritty Bits color I have - called Aquaphobia. As you'll remember, Fritty Bits is 104 COE frit by Melanie Graham.  It's meant to be compatible with the 104 coe line of glass in general.

Aquaphobia is a small-ish grain frit that is primarily made up of shades of aqua, with a smattering of other blues as well.  It has grains of opaque, translucent and transparent glass.

The color is pretty straightforward, which I really like.  The hues are clean and lovely. Aquaphobia does react to ivory, according to the sample on Etsy, which I think is really pretty.  

There is a small amount of an unknown striking glass (or perhaps just a color that's reactive) - similar to the dark spots that were in Jabberwock - a color I tested awhile back

These spots didn't appear on the white sample bead I did - only on the opaque blue/green (CiM Duck Egg), which leads me to believe this was a reaction. It adds a nice variety to the color on an opaque base.

On this set I started with the base of Duck Egg, applies a thick layer of frit, melted in, then did some clear scrollwork on top (with DH Aether). The effect is very pretty, I think. The frit does tend to bubble a little bit, but this is normal with most aqua transparent glass, and does burn off.

I really like this color, and would recommend it for people who love blue!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Glass Testing: CiM 529 Frost Ltd. Run, 535 Duck Egg Ltd. Run and 906 Sakura Ltd. Run

Over the holidays, I got a new box of color to test from CiM, and I finally had some time to break open the box and start melting! Let me tell you, there are lots of new colors, and a lot of them seem to have great promise. 
CiM seemed to fixate on aquas and blues this time around, and bright yellows as well. I am not so crazy about the yellow shades, but the blues are all really gorgeous. There are also quite a few translucent opals and moonstones. I will likely stick with the transparents and dense opaques, though, because I love layering glass. 

First up, we have a really pretty subtle opaque color called Duck Egg, which is a nice shade of pale blue/green. CiM stated on their website that this color was meant to be a bluer version of their Dirty Martini, and it fits that description pretty well.
This glass has a nice consistency - it melts smoothly and is not too stiff or too soupy.  It really behaves a lot like Dirty Martini does. 
As you can see in the spacers, Duck Egg can striate a little bit, but that will disappear when layering the glass. If you melt in dots and leave them uncovered, you may get lines of separation, which can be pretty as part of the design.

Beyond that, Duck Egg is a dense color, which means it stays opaque when layered, and holds the shade well. No bleeding or pitting from what I can tell, also. 

Duck Egg is used here as the layering color behind Frost (shown below)
Next up we have Frost, the lightest of the transparent aqua/teal shades in the latest batch of new color. from CiM. 

There are two things I like best about CiM's many, many shades of aqua/teal/blue.  First is that they tend not to scum or bubble or pit like Effetre/Vetrofond blues and teals. The second is that most of their shades are a step or two brighter or darker than any of the other brands' shades - which broadens the palette!

Frost is no different.  This shade of pale blue is a little more saturated and slightly bluer than Effetre's Pale Aqua, and behaves much, much better.  It's a gorgeous icy aqua color that stays clear of bubbles, and layers like a dream.

Frost has a wonderful consistency. It's stiff enough to hold its shape, but not too stiff.  It makes gorgeous encased stringer (used above, with Duck Egg), and equally lovely spacers. It even works well as an encasing color over a pale opaque.
 I'm buying more of this as soon as it's available (February, according to their website).

Lastly, we have a wonderfully odd color called Sakura. When I first saw this color, I thought it was just a medium pink transparent - but when I looked closer and when I melted the rod, I got a glorious shade that sits somewhere between peach and pink.  It's much more saturated than either the Vetrofond or the Effetre version of light transparent pink.  I would call it a kind of pale cantaloupe color.

Whatever you call it, it's freaking gorgeous. Sakura is Japanese for Cherry Blossom, I believe, so that fits the bill pretty well.

This glass is a little on the stiff side, but not too bad.  Just be careful when you layer it with any opaque pink - opaque pinks that are Effetre tend to be on the soupy side. I will still able to make flower petals with it, and they turned out really lovely. This shade also makes gorgeous encased stringer, because it's more saturated than any other transparent pink I know of, so the color doesn't wash out.

Like the Frost, this glass doesn't seem to bubble or scum at all, and stays perfectly flawless when melted.  

Sakura is going to be a spectacular spring color, I think, and I am going to buy a ton of this when it comes out, provided it's not too ridiculously expensive.

All of the new CiM colors I got this time (around 27) are limited run colors, which means you need to get them as soon as you can!

The bead sets shown in this post are made with the following colors:  CiM Frost, CiM Duck Egg, CiM Sakura, Effetre Petal Pink, Double Helix Aether and Vetrofond Black.

(I know I'm going to get asked - Effetre Petal Pink is a pale opaque pink that's not around anymore - you can replace it with pretty much any of the Effetre opaque pinks you like - they are all so close it really doesn't matter.)

Points to those who get the play on words with the name of these beads (Anna May)!  It's a Big Bang Theory show joke. :)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Glass Testing: CiM 526 Ice Floe Ltd. Run

This pretty new glass color from Creation is Messy was kind of hard to capture in a pic, because it is very very pale.  Ice Floe is a limited run, which is sad, because it's a wonderful transparent color. There's nothing else like it that I know of in the 104 COE line - it's bluer than Effetre Pale Aqua, and a lot paler and more grey than any of the transparent blues out there.

The rods are a very pale transparent grey-blue, so the color name is really appropriate, here.  It does look like ice. I really liked this color - it's lovely alone, and layers well with opaque blues.

The consistency of Ice Floe is really nice - not too stiff at all.  It also didn't seem to scum or burn easily, which is a plus.  No bleeding or sinking to speak of, so the glass layers well in dots and as encasing.

In the beads below, I layered Ice Floe with CiM Zachary, for a cool, icy light blue that reminded me of frosty mornings.I love this light transparent - we don't have enough pale colors, I think!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Glass Testing: Fritty Bits by Melanie Graham - Blue Jeans

So last time I talked about frit testing, I was less than enamoured with the color I tried. The color I am blogging about today couldn't be more different! 

My muse was actually quite pleased with this frit called Blue Jeans. Made up of lots of pale neutral shades like cream and light blue, plus some medium teal, this frit can be soft or vivid, depending on what you do with it. The grains of glass in this frit are a little smaller, so it was easier for me to work with on my small round beads.

I tried a few things before I really fell in love with it.  Melanie's notes told me that this frit would look good on white, New Violet or Periwinkle, so I tried white first.  It was pretty, but not too exciting. The neutrals faded on the white, so the predominant visible colors were pale blue and teal. Not bad, but not enough to really draw me in.

Next I tried a light purple - in this case, Effetre Light Lavender Blue - which is similar to the New Violet that Melanie suggested. The effect was much prettier to me, because I love teal with purple, and this combo really brought out the teal. However, all the neutrals really faded away on this bead, and I am not sure why.  Maybe I didn't roll enough frit on.
Base is plain Effetre White

So I thought to myself - if light purple looks this nice, maybe a darker purple shade would look even better.  And I was right!

My final step was to roll the frit onto CiM Lapis, which is a deeper cool purple with similar reactive properties to New Violet and most of the other opaque dark purples out there. These kinds of dense opaque purples tend to striate and help other colors spread out - and the effect is usually really pretty.

I really loved the way Blue Jeans looked on CiM Lapis, so I made a bunch of round beads with  just a thick layer of this frit, and clear scrollwork on top to magnify the colors. You can still see the sweet light blue and just a tiny hint of the creamy shade, but the predominant color that comes out is the teal.  It's a wonderful complement to the purple.
Base is CiM Lapis, scrolls are Double Helix Aether clear.

Top - Effetre Light Lavender Blue base.
Next, I decided to make a couple more cubes just to see the effect, and I liked it.  I used the Lapis as encased stringer to frame the cubes and accent the purple.

The only thing I might change with this frit is to add even more of the teal - it's really pretty.

I find myself wanting to buy more of this - and that's a huge surprise to me.  I never thought I would like frit so much.  :)

I have two more colors to test, but I am not sure which one I will try first. We'll see!  :)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Glass Testing: CiM 617 Trapeze Ltd. Run

Seems like CiM loves lavender! Creation is Messy has come out with at least half a dozen of these color-shifting lavender shades - each one just slightly different from the next.  All are lovely - and Trapeze is no exception. It's slightly darker (just a tiny bit) than Jellyfish, which is the lavender that was out before this one.  Other than that, I see very little difference between Trapeze and the other lavenders out there.

Plain and whiteheart
I am sure if you put them all side by side (Trapeze, Jellyfish, Count Von Count, Larkspur, Tranquility and even Purple Haze) you could see a few tiny differences in shade and maybe even a little bit of variation when it comes to the color-shifting properties in regular light versus fluorescents or halogens. But separately, you'd have a hard time telling the difference between any of these and their Effetre counterpart - the original 081 Dark Lavender.

I'm not complaining, though - don't get me wrong.  I LOVE all the lavender.  It's sometimes hard to find, and usually expensive.  So the more variations on this color, the better, I think.

Now, as far as Trapeze is concerned, I found this glass to be pretty much the same as Jellyfish when it comes to working it. Maybe a little less scummy on the rod.  Work cooler to avoid the bubbling or burning, and it melts like butter.  Trapeze has a nice, even tone, and looks wonderful layered over any opaque purple.

As usual, lavender glass turns lighter greyish blue under fluorescent lighting, vivid lavender in the sun, and pinkish lavender under incandescent lights.  Trapeze does this, but not quite as much as the Effetre or the Jellyfish. 

Enjoy the purple! :)

Trapeze is layered over CiM Lapis in some of these beads.

Trapeze looks gorgeous over Effetre Light Lavender Blue opaque.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Glass Testing: Fritty Bits by Melanie Graham - Jabberwock

Who knew I would be testing frits?  Not me!  :) 

A couple of months ago I was approached by fellow glass artist Melanie Graham (Mind Melt Blog and Melanie Grahamn Studios).  She asked if I would be interested in testing her new frit line Fritty Bits (available on her website and on Etsy)

Melanie knew what most people who are familiar with my work know - I don't use a lot of frit in my beads.  I mean, next to none. Other than making stringer out of crushed aventurine, the last time I used frit was probably 8-10 years ago. Her question was - is it because I hate frit, or because there isn't a great deal of frit available in my preferred coe or color lines? 

The answer to that question is that there are a combination of reasons, some of which are artistic and some of which are more technical. I'll go into that later in this post.

I wasn't sure if I would be the best person for the job - mostly because of my inexperience with frit, and because I wasn't sure that my reviewing it would give her what she needs.  However, after discussing it, we agreed that having someone new-ish to frit test her product might be beneficial, and I think would help bring a more objective view of it to the blog.

Ultimately, Melanie and I agreed that I would test a few of her frits on a trial basis and see how that goes before testing more.

The first thing you should know about Fritty Bits is that it's all 104 COE and tested for compatability. That's a big deal for me, because one reason I stayed away from a lot of the other frit blends out there is because they incorporated other COEs, and I was always afraid of cracking. 

Now on to the tough stuff.  The majority of my opinions about frit in general are artistic in nature. That means that they are mostly based on my own personal preferences and my own creative voice.  It doesn't mean at all that I think others will have the same opinions - and it doesn't mean that I hope to dissuade anyone from trying any frit and judging for themselves what they like.  I hope that makes sense. :)

Now onto specifics!  Melanie sent me four frit blends to try, and I will be reviewing the first one in this post.

Jabberwock is the name of the frit blend that I picked to try first - mostly because it's autumn
and I thought the colors looked pretty seasonal.  And let's face it - the name is intriguing. Something named after a weird monster in a nonsensical poem just calls out to be tried. :)

This frit is a blend of greens and browns and mauves, made up of transparent and opaque glass, some of which is a tad reactive.

Because I am not a frit expert, I wasn't sure what to expect, other than what Melanie wrote in the notes she sent with the package - that Jabberwock was pretty on White or Opal Yellow bases, and could strike when worked.

So basically, I was just flying by the seat of my pants!  :)

The grain of this frit is pretty small, I think - which is good because I work small. I started with a small base bead of white and lightly rolled it in the frit and melted in.  Some of the pieces were too large (for me anyway) so they didn't stick to the bead.  I used tweezers to manually stick pieces where I liked.

Here's where we come to the biggest reason I don't use frit a lot - it's visually chaotic. I'm the kind of artist who loves order - symmetry and precision are a hallmark of my designs.  Color harmony and crispness are things I really like. I very rarely use organic, random design and color in my beads - which is just a personal preference.  I typically am not drawn to a chaotic, random color arrangement, and the more colors I see, the more chaotic it looks to me.The random nature of the shapes and sizes of the grains is also visually unappealing to me, usually.

When testing, I tried to ignore that and just focus on the technical aspect of the frit - does it work as intended?  Yes, I think so.

One thing about this frit (and I think most frits will have this issue, because of the sharp edges in the glass) is that it can cause a little scumming or bubbling when encased.  It's not that noticable, especially when you manipulate it, but I am picky about such things.

Here are some pics of my test beads, and some more info about each bead.

L-R 1.Opal Yellow base, not encased, twisted. 2. White base, twisted. 3. Periwinkle base, encased. 4. White base, raked, encased. 5. White base, encased.
The first test I did was just the frit on an Effetre White base, encased.   The clear I used for encasing was DH Aether (which is reactive to silver glass). The first thing I noticed was that the colors are very subtle, except for the deep oxblood brown shade, which strikes darker and with a blue tinge when worked. I was not fond of this in just a plain bead without any manipulation.

I then did two more beads with white bases, and did twisting on one and raking on the other.  The raked bead was most appealing to me, as the colors blended a little and reacted with the DH Aether somewhat.

The most reaction came when I rolled the frit onto an Opal Yellow base and then twisted the spots. The frit spreads a little on Opal Yellow. The Periwinkle based bead also reacted a little but with darker lines around the frit spots.

To be honest, I would probably not use this frit in my designs, because I find the colors a bit muddy, and I don't really like the interplay of the deep opaque and the softer transparents. But again, that is a matter of personal preference. I am sure there are lots of beadmakers who could really make this color blend sing!  The sample beads on the Etsy page for Jabberwock are quite nice.

I will test the rest of the colors Melanie sent and do a review of each one separately.
Next up is Blue Jeans!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Glass Beadmaking: Absence of Color - Focusing on Design

This time of year, I usually start making beads in fall colors - purples, ambers, oranges, greens, browns, etc. For some reason this year, I remain sort of uninspired.  Maybe it's the weather (which has been uncharacteristically warm in the Northwest this year). Maybe it's the stress. Who knows. So, I decided to take the color out of the equation this week and just work with black and white. 
Glass used: Vetrofond Black, Effetre White and Double Helix Aether.
Working with black and white is fun because the stability of the glass I use allows me to go crazy with stacking, masking, raking and twisting, and still end up with crisp, clear designs on the beads.
My favorite bead uses encased white stringer with masked black and white dots.

For black, I primarily use Vetrofond Black. It's sad, though, because it's been discontinued and I can't find it anywhere anymore.  I am down to my last two rods (!!)  I am hoping that CiM Hades will work in its place, but we'll have to see.

For those who are unaware, all black glass is not alike.  The reason why is that black is not an opaque color - it's a very, very dark transparent color, technically speaking.  Effetre Black, which I think is the most commonly used black glass out there (in beadmaking anyway), is really just a super dark transparent plum/purple. It's not dark enough to prevent it from bleeding into other colors, though, and that's most evident when you use it with white.  Lines are not as crisp, and you can see a slight purpling of the edges of the white when both are layered together.

Most other black glasses I have used have similar issues. They either spread, feather or discolor any pale opaque color used with them.

Some black glasses are actually made that way on purpose (Effetre Intense Black for instance). Some beadmakers are very adept at using that property to their advantage when making beads with organic, freeform designs.

Vetrofond Black is great, because it is based in blue and not purple, and it seems to be darker and to have more stability.  So the lines are really crisp, and there is very little bleeding.

CiM has several black glasses, and I have read that Hades is the best when it comes to stability and darkness.  Yey!  In the meantime, I am going to keep my eye out for stashes of Vetrofond Black.

Beads with designs close to the holes
I got a lot of joy making black and white beads this week.  I think my designs have gotten more intricate over the years, and my beads have gotten slightly smaller.  I really love tiny intricate work!

 I've also been focusing on asymmetry - making the designs pull focus toward the hole and not toward the center of the bead. Just for fun and visual interest.

Next week, it's back to fall colors, I think.  I really do love autumn, so hopefully inspiration will find its way back to me. :)

These are all available on my website of you're interested.