Sunday, March 5, 2017

Glass Testing: CiM 823 Koala, CiM Aegean Limited Runs

Next in line today we have two colors - a brand new one called Koala, and one that came out last year (I think), called Aegean. Both are limited runs. Koala doesn't have a page yet - I will link to it as soon as CiM updates their Color Preview page.

So when I got the new batch of glass last month, I thought for sure there were too many gray shades. However, when I actually melted each rod, most of the opaque gray rods struck to different shades of brown, green and golden. Koala was the one opaque that actually stayed gray to my eye!

I had no issues with shocking or pitting with this glass, and it wasn't too stiff or too soft. I also had no issues with this glass bleeding under encasement or spreading out when melted in.

Koala is a lovely true medium neutral grey - not too blue and not too brown. It's lighter and cooler than Adamantium. In rod form, it actually does have a bluish cast, but that goes away when melted, for the most part.  As a plain spacer, it retains much of its shade, but when encased in clear Koala lightens up quite a bit, as you can see here with the spacers I made.

When left alone as a base, Koala only streaks and separates a tiny bit - really nice for a layering color. After you layer it, the streaks pretty much go away completely. I liked the way it looked with the pale transparent color Bashful - it adds just a touch of warmth to Koala. It's a perfect neutral to add some interest to bright and/or dark color combinations.

In the same set of beads, I used Aegean, a gorgeous medium teal.  Since this is a color I hadn't yet blogged about I decided to test it, even though it came out a year or more ago. I was glad I did!

I love colors that sit between blue and green - and this one straddles those colors perfectly. It's not green or blue.  Aegean reminds me a bit of Effetre Light Teal - if perhaps a touch darker and a tiny bit bluer. It's so much more well-behaved, though!  Not much in the way of scumming or bubbling, and it isn't too stiff, which makes it nice for layering.

Speaking of layering, I did so with Aegean and Quetzal, the new turquoise I blogged about earlier. I think those two make a brilliant pair. Aegean and Quetzal make really lovely encased stringer and gorgeous flower petals, both raised and melted in. Together they make a vibrant medium teal that has a lot of depth and clarity.

The beads below are made with Quetzal, Aegean, Koala, Bashful, Lapis, Trapeze, and Effetre Ink Blue Violet, along with Zephyr clear and DH Triton for the metallic.

Glass Testing: CiM 425 Mint Chip and CiM 452 Peat Moss Limited Runs

Today I am blogging about my tests on a brand new CiM color and also on a CiM color that came out about a year ago (I think).  I liked how these two colors layered with eachother, so I decided to do them together.  Both are limited runs, as usual, so if you like them, get them soon!

First up is the older color (although still new enough to be in stock) Mint Chip. Boy does CiM like to make green! That's okay with me, because Effetre opaque greens are harder to work with, so I love a variety of nice, stable greens to choose from.

Mint Chip is a lovely shade of pale spring green that is less greyish than Dirty Martini, less bluish than It Ain't Easy Being, less yellowish than Primavera, and slightly less vivid than Cardamom. Here's a pic I took awhile back comparing some of the pale CiM green opaques.

This lovely shade of green is a joy to work with. No problems at all, and I have made several sets with it. It's not too soft, melts smoothly and doesn't shock (yey!!) I didn't notice any streaking, and it had no problems with bleeding and spreading when encased or layered. It's does lighten up a lot when encased in clear, which is why I primarily use this color to layer with medium and dark transparent greens. Using it with anything super light will wash the color out, so keep that in mind if you're going to make, say, flower petals that are melted in.
Mint Chip base is scrolled with encased stringer

Mint Chip does stay all the way opaque, so in that way it reminds me of Dirty Martini - nice and dense, even though it is very light. Also keep in mind that when this color is hot, it goes grey. It goes back to minty green when it cools off, so don't worry!

In my latest test, I used Mint Chip with the brand new medium transparent called Peat Moss. Peat Moss was in the newest test batch from CiM, so it doesn't yet have a page on their website. I will link to it when CiM updates their Color Preview page, which will hopefully be soon.

In the meantime, here's what I found when testing Peat Moss. It's really hard to classify this color - which is something I love, actually. I adore colors that sit between the norms - they excite me. Peat Moss is like a khaki mixed with olive - a pretty medium shade of green that has orange-y undertones. Layering it with Mint Chip brings out the green a bit more, making it more olive in tone.

I loved the clarity of this color. One thing to keep in mind though is that if you heat too fast, it might bubble a bit. Heat gently, and if haze or scum appears on your gather you can burn it off by gently heating more. That being said, I was able to make the sample and the spacers without much trouble. Once pulled into stringer, layering was simple.

You can see in the beads pictured below that Peat Moss appears much darker by itself than it does when layered with the Mint Chip. If you want a more vivid shade, I would recommend using a darker opaque to layer it with. This might be fun to use with Ogre or Dragon, since those two have the weird brown streaks that pop up.

Peat Moss is one of those shades that I think people are either going to love or hate - depending on how adventurous they are with color. I love how it looks by itself, personally. It's fun!

Beads below are made with Peat Moss, Mint Chip, Adobe and Sakura, with DH Zephyr Clear. More tests to come!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Some Words on Lampwork Glass Quality and Prices

I am currently working on the new CiM test batch, and should have a blog post or two done this week. In the meantime, I want to talk a bit about something that has bugged me for years. This year will be my 15th year of lampwork beadmaking. Not to be cliche or anything, but time sure has flown by!

Over the course of the last 10 years or so, I have noticed a steady decline in the quality of some of the 104 coe glass I have worked with, particularly with Effetre. I'm not putting Effetre down - I still love their glass. They easily have the most variety in color and, for the most part, the best prices. That's changing, though.

One thing I have been experiencing over the last decade or so is the increase in the air bubbles that run lengthwise through an Effetre glass rod - especially in the handmade opaque colors like Dark Pink, Opal Yellow, Copper Green, Sage and Avocado. Air holes like this cause shocking (and the eventual shattering), but they also make the glass impossible to use for making encased stringer. This might not be such a major deal if the prices for these glass colors wasn't so high.  When I pay a higher price for handmade glass, I don't expect it to be practically unusable. Especially since the quality of the handmade rods used to be really nice, around a decade ago. Granted, Effetre does have machine made glass that is somewhat less expensive, but the machine made versions of those colors just are not the same shades. Machine made Sage is a lot less rich and brown than the handmade version.

Speaking of Sage, the last time I bought the handmade version of it, all of the beads I made with it cracked - something I have never dealt with before with that color.

This brings me to the issue of different batches of the same color name. Effetre is not the only glass company that has issues with this - all of them do. And they aren't all that consistent with labeling when it comes to a difference in a color batch. For instance, I use CiM Adamantium and CiM Lapis regularly. They both used to be darker in color. CiM is usually really good about changing the name of a color if it comes out different, but once in awhile they don't. Effetre almost never lets us know when the batch is off on some colors like Rubino Oro or Silver Pink. But they have so many different shades of Coral and Dark Pink that it borders on ridiculous. And we have not seen the original shades of either color in years and years.

Shocking was never a problem for me a decade ago - now I am careful with every opaque rod I put in the flame, no matter what brand it is, because easily 50% of them shock a little, and I have way more problems with a total shattering rod than I ever used to have. Shattering rods are a complete waste of my time and money - and when it's an expensive color, I want to scream when it happens. 10 years ago, I barely knew what shocking was. Now it seems like everyone talks about it as a common occurrence.

The one company that seems to almost never have quality issues is Double Helix. Since they have decided to make their version of Rubino (called Rhea) a regular color, I am switching to it, no matter how much more expensive (and it really is expensive), because it is just so much better. Hopefully they will eventually make a version close to the Vetrofond version that I miss so very much. I'd pay really good money for that. DH glass is such good quality that I pay easily 4-5 times more for their clear glass - I will never go back to the scummy, bubbly, crappy monstrosity that is Effetre clear, no matter how much people try to convince me that it is an okay clear. It's not. Not for what I like anyway - which is optical clarity and neutrality.

Speaking of scumming and bubbling - I've noticed that has increased as well over the years in lighter transparent colors - especially blues and pinks. CiM's colors that bubble will respond to more heat and the bubbles will evaporate away most of the time - especially with their aquas and even their newer clear (which is the only one I would ever consider using in place of DH Zephyr if I ever can't get any). Effetre's transparents however will not respond that way - the more you heat them, the more they bubble. I have to be ultra -gentle with their pinks for sure.

For these reasons, I have more and more been replacing my Effetre colors with CiM colors when I find an equivalent. CiM's glass almost never has air bubbles running the length of the glass, and their rods tend to have more consistency in color than Effetre - with a few exceptions. CiM can be somewhat more expensive, unless it's on sale (which at Frantz it often is), but the quality is worth it. I do use Effetre still - some colors are just not found anywhere else (Dark Pink, Ink Blue Violet, Grass Green). It just irks me when a color I love (Opal Yellow!!!) has declined so much in quality but still costs a lot.

I guess, such are the trials and tribulations of being a perfectionist when it comes to glass. I don't think the Italian glassmakers really pay much attention to beadmakers, and never have (from what I've been told). They have much bigger markets to pay attention to. So the quality of the glass they send to Frantz is not high on their priority list. We get what they give us, period.

I am happy that companies like CiM and Double Helix do pay attention to us and are concerned with giving us the highest quality glass they can. So, silver linings. :) Rant over - thanks for reading if you got this far!  Comments and discussion are encouraged. :)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Glass Testing: CiM 527 Anchor

A brand new batch of CiM glass colors arrived at my door the other day...and as excited as I am about those pretty things, I still have some blogging to do about colors I got before the holidays.

This is one of those colors - too pretty to pass over for the new ones! Anchor is a really dark but very saturated teal blue - slightly darker and a bit more blue than Leaky Pen, a color I tend to compare all teals with these days.

 Anchor is so dark in fact, that it look black in rod form and in plain spacers. It's even pretty dark when encased in clear. So to lighten it up a bit, I paired it with Effetre Periwinkle, a light cornflower blue that is my go-to for layering with super dark blue colors. This pair makes a really nice layering team - especially in melted-in designs, and as encased stringer.

The one drawback for this jewel tone is that it's slightly stiff, so when I made raised flower petals, the Anchor didn't spread as well over the softer Periwinkle. Since CiM opaque colors are usually stiffer than Effetre's, I would definitely choose a CiM blue next time I want to layer the Anchor.
Other than that, Anchor is a lovely color - the glass itself works nicely without much bubbling or scumming, and has no shocking issues that I can see. Thin layers work best, to keep it from being too dark. It really sings when melted in and encased under a thin layer of clear.

These beads were made with Vet. Black, CiM Hades, Moccasin, Chateau, Anchor and Effetre Periwinkle. The clear is DH Zephyr, and the metallic is DH Helios.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Glass Testing: CiM 822 Mockingbird Ltd. Run

Now that Thanksgiving is over, time to do some more glass testing! Today's blog is a short one - just one color - CiM's new neutral grey, called Mockingbird.

Mockingbird is a lovely grey that reminds me a lot of CiM Twilight, but slightly on the bluer side and just a hair lighter. There aren't a lot of cooler greys in the 104 palette, so this is a nice edition.

The rods look a little more blue than what the glass actually comes out as after being annealed. CiM also reports that Mockingbird is a color shifter, but the difference under fluorescent lights vs. daylight bulbs is very, very slight.

One nice thing about Mockingbird is that it's not as stiff as Twilight was, so layering it is pretty easy. And it's a nice, clean color without a lot of pitting or scumming - an added bonus. I also didn't have any shocking problems, or any bleeding or spreading of color. Working this glass was pretty effortless.

In the beads shown below, the bases are Mockingbird layered over Adamantium, then encased in clear. This cools the Adamantium a little, resulting in a nice charcoal grey color, which I just love.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Glass Color Testing: CiM 544 Aloha and 444 Pixie

Two more lovely Creation is Messy colors reviewed today!

This has so far been the most fun batch of new CiM color I've tested. All these lovely blues and greens have been relatively easy and are just so pretty. I know I've gushed over CiM colors a lot lately - believe me, if I get a color I am not fond of, you guys will know!

Both of these are of course limited runs, so get them asap if you love them.

 First off, we have Aloha - a really nice bright opaque aqua/turquoise. While Quetzal (see post from two days ago) was slightly on the green side of Effetre's turquoise, Aloha is slightly on the blue side and a bit brighter. It's also a shade darker than CiM Fremen, and a bit bluer than Smurfy. It's not really an exact match of any other color that I am aware of, so it's a wonderful addition to the palette.

Aloha plain and encased with clear
What I really love about Aloha is that it's not as reactive the Effetre turquoises. There's no silvery patina on the finished beads, and there's not a lot of striation - just a smooth, consistent bright aqua.

Aloha makes a nice layering companion with any of the transparent aquas CiM has - In the beads below, I layered it with Zoe.

Aloha melts easily and smooth - not stiff at all. I didn't have any shocking issues, and the glass doesn't bubble, scum, bleed or spread.
petals are Aloha with Zoe on top

Next up we have a fun shade of opaque blue-green called Pixie. It's hard to classify this color, because it's kind of green, but not real green. If that makes any sense. It's too dark to be called Celadon, (in fact, CiM's Celadon glass is lighter.) It's kind of sea-foam-y. It's gorgeous, and I love it.
Pixie plain and encased with clear

Pixie is a perfect layering match with CiM Aloe Juice, which sadly I can't find anywhere anymore. But you can also use Effetre Light Teal or CiM Appletini if you want a color to layer on top of Pixie.

Pixie worked up pretty much like Aloha - no problems so far. Pixie striated a little bit more, which showed through the layering, but not enough to be annoying.

Both colors did really well making encased stringer - they hold their shade nicely and don't wash out when melted in. Both were smooth to melt and had a really nice consistency while working.

I love that CiM is filling holes in the 104 color palette - I just hope these don't sell out too fast!