Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Barbara Becker Simon class

Barbara demonstrating making a glass bead on a metal core

Examples of Barbara's lemon wedge bead.

Sunday's class.

Donna Bash working on her lemon wedge bead.

I spent the weekend in Pittsburgh at the Pittsburgh Glass Center. What a cool place. I've taken a couple of glass classes at the Glass Blowing Center in Hilliard, Pa, but I am not good at it. (But I really haven't practiced it either. I just remember the instructor saying how I was determined to burn myself..... which I came close to doing several times; but didn't.)

Anyway, Barbara Becker Simon was there all week giving a class on bead making and she agreed to stay a couple extra days to do a demo and workshop for both the glass and the metal clay people. Her first book came out in the spring and on Sunday she taught us how to make her lemon wedge bead, which was in the book. (Darn I forgot to take my copy to have her sign. I always do that!)

Saturday, we had a pot-luck luncheon at the Center and a demo by Barbara on combining glass and metal clay. She talked about all kinds of glass like ceramic tile, fused glass, beach glass, stained glass, etc. and using broken glass beads. The demo was so informative and I took so many notes. Although I probably didn't have to as Barbara often said ..... "it's in the book." (Did I take my book? Nooooo. So I had to check out other people's books. One of these days I'll get it right and take my books with me.)

Not only did we get lots of good information on combining glass with metal clay, but just watching someone else work is enlightening. Something as simple as wetting your cutting tools so they don't stick to your clay. Barbara had a container with a wet sponge in it that she used to add water to her brushes, her fingers and her cutting tools, just by dabbing it. I always added oil or Badger Balm to my cutting tools so they wouldn't stick. To do that I would put a dab on my fingers and wipe it on the edge, being very careful when I was oiling the tissue blade. (I messed up once and sliced my finger doing that method. Now I keep a box of band-aids in the studio. I'm a quick learner.) So, the wet-the-cutter method was one of those Aha, why didn't I think of that moments. (Thankfully, I wasn't the only one who hadn't thought of it.)

On Sunday we learned how to make her lemon-wedge bead. It was a little tricky. First of all we worked with 2 card thick clay, which made us nervous but it really is pretty sturdy. We had to bezel the edges of our pieces to make a clean fit. That was a little scary too. The flat side was bezeled with a file, but the curved piece was bezeled with an exacto knife. We were working to get a knife edge. To finish the pieces, Barbara showed us how to make the edges appear to flow into each other through carving and brushing with a damp stiff brush.

Everyone was successful. I bought one of Barbara's glass beads and plan on combining it with my Barbara Becker Simon bead. (Will post a picture when I have the design worked out.)

I'll also post some pictures of pieces combined with glass when I get them made. The demo has me all excited to get working again.

For now, I'm sharing pictures of the class on Saturday and Sunday. (I love taking classes. I could be a perpetual student. My husband thinks I'm crazy!)


Zoe Nelson said...

Looks like it was a very productive class! I wish I could have been there.

Alice Walkowski said...

Yes Zoe it was great. I loved every minute of it and learned so much. If you get a chance to take a class from Barbara.... go for it!