I had an absolutely brilliant day at the annual Flame Off in Towcester. It was really enjoyable meeting up with friends, old and new, and there was such a lovely atmosphere. I shall be going along again tomorrow, but thought I'd give you a quick rundown of today's events.
Obviously the first thing I did when I arrived was head straight for Martin Tuffnell's stall to see what delicious glass I needed to buy. I bought some copper green and rubino oro, which are two very special colours that I use quite often, and then stocked up on some basic effetre colours, such as black and periwinkle.
Then I headed upstairs to watch the first of the demonstrations, which were relayed to massive screens as well as to various monitors around the room. This meant that we all had a great view wherever we happened to be sitting.
First up was Sean Taylor, who made a stunning marble containing a green and aventurine vortex. He didn't use boroscilicate glass, as is usual for marbles. Instead, he used Bullseye, which is stiffer than regular soft glass, but melts more easily than boro'.
Next up was Sarah Hornik, from Israel. This is Sarah mid-demo;
Sarah demo'd one of her gorgeous ribbon beads. She made everything look so easy, and has inspired me to perfect my linear encasing technique. Gravity, as a tool, is often overlooked, but Sarah's ribbon beads rely on it to twirl the glass and achieve the twisted ribbon effect inside. I've been wanting to see Sarah at work for a long time, so today was very special.
The next flamework artist was Julie Ann Denton, from the Isle of Man. Julie Ann makes the most exquisite flameworked dragons, and this is what she chose to demonstrate in her mammoth two hour demonstration today. I didn't get to see the entire demo, but I saw her creating the dragon's wings by blowing a boro tube, cutting the wing shapes and then pulling them into just the right shape. A massive amount of patience and skill is required to pull off a glass dragon, and Julie Ann is one talented flameworker.
I then did an hour stint manning the GBUK stand. It was a great opportunity to chat to fellow beadmakers and try to persuade some potential beadmakers to take the plunge and have a go on the torches that were set up for taster sessions.
The final demonstration of the day was Anouk Jasperse, from Holland. Anouk demo'd two beads. In the first she showed us how she uses silver glass to stunning effect, and then she showed us one of her "caterpillar" beads. To make these she cuts into the glass and then carefully encases over them, and this creates a gorgeous twisted effect.
I spent some time ogling the delicious lampwork beads in the Lampworker's Village, and bought some silver beads. Then I went back to Martin's stall and bought a bit more glass. It was inevitable really! I bought some Reichenbach Magic, some Pink Gold and a few other "essential" bits and bobs.
Finally I joined the rest of the Frit Happens members in the Big Bead Swap! I pulled out a lovely dotty and raked bead from "Pat from Canvey". It's gorgeous!
So tomorrow I shall return to Towcester to watch more demo's, meet more friends and buy more glass. When I began beadmaking it was still relatively new within the UK, but today's event really opens your eyes to how it's growing in popularity, and that can only be a good thing!