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Flame April 2015

Find us at







Your new committee

Contact us: Chairman (Colette) Secretary (Debbie) Treasurer (Heather) Membership (Russ) Events (Scarlet) Webmaster (Ursula)

Torchlight on …

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Flame Off report

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Members’ beads from last month’s challenge:

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Colour testing …. Grasshopper green … by

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Encasing and using frit

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No pressure, no prizes, just fun Make a bead, set of beads, focal, mixed media, on or off mandrel piece using the theme of

or ‘frit Post your photos on and/or and/or our Facebook page by All members' photos will be included in the May issue of the GBUK

Gaynor Armitage Back in May 2009 I found myself admiring some lovely glass lampwork beads made by Dee Elgie, on a craft forum. I had been making jewellery for several years and thought how amazing it would be to make my own beads! I sent Dee a message asking how easy it was to get set up and what I would need. She was very generous in sharing her knowledge and sent me a long message back with details of what I would need and where to get it. Well, I immediately went online and ordered myself a starter torch (a single fuel hothead), a cannister of MAPP gas, safety glasses, mandrels, glass, bead release, a book, and a blanket to cool the beads.

I was so excited at the prospect of melting glass, and set everything up as soon as it arrived. My first attempt resulted in some very wonky misshapen beads, several of which cracked in the cooling blanket! Dee provided lots of advice and was an invaluable source of information.

I soon realised that I needed some help, and signed up to an introductory class with Sarah Lamb at Artshed Arts in Ware. That was it, at the end of the day I was addicted to glass!!!!

I soon found that using MAPP gas was both expensive and inconvenient. (It freezes up very easily and cuts off). So my next step was to upgrade to a bulk fuel setup with large canisters of propane. I also purchased vermiculite and a slow cooker to cool my beads in a more controllable way. After practicing for several months, I signed up for a second class with Sarah Lamb, this time to learn how to make hollow beads.

I was also introduced to a glassy forum, Frit-Happens, by Helen Wyatt. Helen provided me with lots of tips to improve my bead making, and was a great source of information. In April 2010 I attended my very first Flame Off, a huge glassy convention, with demonstrations, chances to try new torches, and lots of glassy goodies to buy! Shortly after Flame Off, I upgraded to a dual fuel torch, a Nortel Minor, an oxycon, and a kiln. I now had a proper set up which helped me to make faster progress. Since then I have taken further classes with Sally Carver (Redhotsal), Kaz Baildon, Claudia Trimbur Pagel, and Stephanie Gough. I have also spent a small fortune on glass, frit, murrini, bead presses, bead rollers, and various other tools.

I've a very long way to go, and need to practice hard to improve, but it is an amazing journey and I am so grateful to Dee and Helen for all of their help and encouragement in getting me started. I spend most weekends at the torch and dream about glass. I’m truly addicted!!!

Website: Blog: Gaynor’s beads: Facebook:

Once again over 400 people made their way to Uttoxeter Racecourse for the lampwork event of the year, Flame Off. Once again a superb event took place, this year over two days instead of three. There were four demoing artists - Glenn Godden with his floral and galaxy implosion marbles, Kathryn Greer and her delicate floral beads, Irina Sergeeva with the most amazing butterfly beads and Joy Munshower and her true to life sea creatures. Each artist demonstrated their fantastic ability each day as well as having their art available for sale in the vendor’s area. Alongside them was a plethora of other wares available to tempt visitors - beads, tools, glass, everything from a pot of murrini to a kiln. There were three torch benches: one with the big boro torches, one of minors, and one of hotheads, interspersed with bobcats, lynxes and alphas, ready and waiting for the experienced and the absolute beginner to have a go under the watchful eyes of the torch stewards. Outside there was a portable furnace for people to have a go at glassblowing. The charity auction raised the substantial amount of £1020.52 and will be split between the worthwhile charities of the RNLI and the Northampton & Warwickshire Air Ambulances. All lots were donated for this special auction - if you haven’t heard Martin Tuffnell in full flow then you really don’t want to miss it next year! It went by too quickly, it always does, but it was a fun-filled couple of days. The GBUK stand buzzed the whole time, members renewed their membership and new people joined us; Journal Issue 7 was given out and we had a ‘guess the glass’ competition too. Colette Ladley

Thank you to everyone who voted in the new committee. The results were as follows: Chairman

Colette Ladley


Debbie Dew


Heather Kelly

Membership Secretary:

Russell Dew


Ursula Mann

Journal Editor:

Scarlet Leonard

Events Coordinator:

Scarlet Leonard

We have some exciting projects lined up for you all this year, and we hope you will give them your full support, so that GBUK will grow and become the organisation of choice for UK and international lampworkers alike.

Next year’s themes are:

and The deadline for entries is 28th February 2016

Issue 7 has now been published and some members picked up their copy at Flame Off. Don’t worry if you didn’t, your copy will be posted to you, but please allow a week or two before enquiring about it.



Colour testing


Ilsa Fatt

Grasshopper green Effetre Grasshopper Green: weird and wonderful When I was a child my cousins in New York had a Chihuahua that had been raised by a cat. As a result it suffered from lifelong identity issues, running away from other dogs, and desperately trying to make friends with passing cats, who were not at all impressed by its efforts. Grasshopper Green is a bit like that dog. I fell in love with Grasshopper Green the first time I saw a bunch of rods. It is a fresh, minty green. It has the brightness of Lime Green without its acidity. It is very slightly translucent, which unfortunately means that it loses a lot of its punch when used for fine stringer work. As soon as you heat a rod it turns grey. More heat and it goes completely transparent and disappears completely. The colour returns on cooling, but is a sure sign that something odd is going on. Grasshopper Green has no reaction with ivory, but reacts with copper-based colours such as Petrol green and both transparent and opaque turquoise, leaving a dark reaction line. Left to right: Grasshopper Green spacer; Grasshopper dots on Ivory: no reaction at all. Grasshopper dots on Petrol Green. There is a thin, crisp reaction line around the dots. Transparent Turquoise dots on Grasshopper Green. Again, the crisp, thin reaction line. Transparent Grass Green dots on Grasshopper Green. No reaction, maybe because the transparent Grass Green is not a copper-based colour. Grasshopper Green dots on Rubino. No noticeable change in the Rubino, but the Grasshopper dots have gone rather blotchy.

In conclusion, Grasshopper is a green that thinks it's an Ivory, or maybe a coral, and needs to be treated in the same way. Its reaction with Rubino seems to be an exception to this rule, which is lucky, as mint green and dark pink is such a gorgeous combination.

Encasing Encasing is adding a layer of transparent glass, usually clear, over your bead. It has many functions - it can protect the glass, for example silver glass, underneath;it can magnify a design and it can add layers of separation to give depth. It is one of the more difficult skills to master and there are several ways to do it. Most people have their favourite and each method has its uses. Round the world - spiraling the glass round the bead, each spiral overlapping the one underneath . Making sure the glass is very molten and pushing down will minimise the chance of trapping air and creating bubbles. An alternative but similar method is to heat up a large gather and rotate the mandrel to spread the gather over the bead. Linear, also known as the toothpaste method, is to swipe the glass from one side of the bead to the other. Again the glass needs to be molten and overlapping the stripes so as not to trap air. Blob, or spot - heat up a gather and blob it on. This method works well if there are protuberances on the bead, such as murrini in a sea bead, or mesh where parts of the bead need protecting. Of course there are many methods of adding clear glass to a bead, but these three are probably the most widely used. Maybe you have an alternative way you’d like to tell us about?

Frit Ground glass that is still lumpy, if it is ground to a powder it effectively becomes enamel. Frit adds ‘blotches’ of colour(s) to a bead and you can get some really cool effects by using it. On the surface - roll a warm bead in the frit and melt it in - simples :) Add some silver leaf or foil then roll in the frit and melt in. Melt in the frit, heat your bead and let it droop, catch the droop and you have a gravity swirl. Encase to magnify the colours and design. CoE - the coefficient of expansion of glass - dictates how quickly the glass expands and contracts. If you mix the COE incompatibility can occur which can cause your bead to crack. When using frit of a different COE to the base glass, use no more than 5% of the bead mass as frit to minimise this. With experience you ill learn how much to use and which frits are better than others. Why use a different COE? 96 COE frits tend to be more saturated in colour and don’t ‘wash out’ when encased.


A lampwork fair


Saturday 19th September


Long Sutton Barns Long Sutton Lincolnshire PE12 9AF


Member’s tables, complementary crafts, torches, sand blasting, electroforming; open to the public in an established craft centre.

More details

Member’s tables will cost £10 for selling beads, £15 for those selling supplies. Entry for visitors is free. Tables will be allocated on a first come, first served basis but the venue is quite large.

There is a Travelodge across the road, a McDonald’s next door and other local amenities. We are currently costing transport to the venue from Peterborough, which is on the mainline East Coast railway, for those wanting to come by public transport. This is an exciting new venture and we hope you will support it. GBUK hasn’t held its own fair for several years. Would you like a table? Contact to book.

Coming soon ‌


A dedicated online marketplace for all your beads. Each member will have their own shop. One basket, one checkout for multiple members’ purchases. Cost included inclusive with your membership fee (must be a current member to qualify) Sell your beads, sculptures and gifts online

Why not submit a tutorial or article for



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