Red, white and Blue
goes to Japan

These are the beads I made as gifts for f2tE to give away in Japan. The last time I made beads in anything approaching this colorway was shortly after 9/11; like many bead artists, I made commemorative beads after that. Mine were amongst the very few—possibly the only—ones I saw that incorporated a black background, which struck me as appropriate for mourning. I was pretty disgusted with the way this country went for many years, and took little pleasure in patriotic things. However, now my kid is going to Japan. Given as we've hosted three Japanese kids, I knew f2tE's host parents would want ‘american things’ just as we wanted ‘japanese things’. (“Temples! Why are Americans so excited about temples? I hate them!”) f2tE was predictably horrified, by both the beads and the red, white and blue ribbon and fabric I purchased to wrap them in (Fourth of July is coming, how very convenient) but I reminded hir that they'll love them.

So, here we are. Like the prior batch, (which evidently I never posted to the site, or if I did, I can't find the post till the site's working better) these beads are in the abstract style, but with pale-blue/white background rather than black; and a murrina, rather than silver leaf accent. (When oh when is silver gonna go down again...?)

I made them in three sessions, though I was only really happy with lots one and three. The first lot had what I thought was red frit and turned out to be orange. I decided it looked ok anyway, but I switched to red thereafter.

The first part of the project was to pull the star cane. I used an Arrow Springs star masher to shape the points, all the while wishing I could make the cane smaller. It occurred to me that I could grind the tool down so it would make smaller points, which to my mind would make it more useful. I cased the star in red, then two shades of blue...the dot in the center came out of my laziness in not building up the ends of the cane properly with waste glass: the clear waste plunged into the center. I kind of liked the effect, actually.

I considered making a second star, with just plain blue, but decided not to: I wanted to get going. As it was I was grateful to my friend Ona, who helped me pull the cane. I used quarter inch (8mm) puntiles, and though the gob was smaller than a golf ball, still, I appreciated them, and my friend's help.

effetre pale blue transparent, thompson enamels in two grits, commercial (red, blue, blue goldstone) and artist (ivory) made frits, artist made murrina. Largest, approximately 21x25mm. June 2011.

F2tE liked the heavy red striping on one bead that cracked, so I emphasized that in the last batch I made. In addition to fine cobalt frit, medium transparent red frit, I used thompson enamels in two shades of red (usually one or the other, not both), navy blue, white in both fines and a coarser grit that I really liked, and ivory. Oh, and on a few beads, shards and/or blue goldstone frit.

Usually, white/ivory first, then the other colors, then striping, then frit (sometimes these two steps reversed) with the coarse white to tone down the red stripes, with the murrina going on last.

These beads were built on a pale cobalt, and made chiming. Altogether I made about a dozen that were acceptable, with perhaps as many rejects. Yes, I'm out of practice.