Jan 2014 CiM focal Challenge
purple and green fan club ftw!

I gather this year CiM, in addition to donating glass for 40 bead challenges, also will be providing a pair of rods to be using in a monthly focal challenge. January's colors were commando and, um, purple.[1] According to my studio notes, I started my 40 bead challenge the same day as I completed this one—and a good thing too, as the 40 bead would prove to be extremely frustrating, so having this success under my belt probably helped considerably.[2]

The rods, plus earlier experiments. To give an idea of scale, the largest bead was made with a 2" lentil press.

One of the most beautiful beads I ever saw was a stevi belle vessel, built on a copper tube, using a lot of german frits and powders. Years later I would take a class with Stevi Belle (who now evidently has moved on, at least in a commercial context to ‘energy healing’, much like my very first teacher, Peggy Prielozny) and we got to play with similar techniques used in this lovely bead I'd encountered before I knew how to work glass, and was to cheap to pay $75 for.

Fortunately for me, my dear friend Page recognized just how special this bead was, and bought it. And then, recently, gave it to me while ‘cleaning out stuff’.[3] I've alluded, many times, how working with Page, and being inspired by her aesthetics, has had a profound effect on my own artistic development[4] but in this case, the influence was more direct:

Stevi Belle vessel on the left. Early to mid 90s. 1.5 hollow pressed lentil, CiM evil queen, commando, raku frit, silver blue reducing powder, silver green frit other assorted TEs including, I'm pretty sure, orchid (i.e. opaque purple) This bead was made 05feb 2014.

My first effort, though it looks more like Stevi's, was not intended to do so: it was supposed to be a lentil, like the final bead. My hollow collapsed. I decided also to work out some of the other color issues as well on scrap beads, plain hollows ginned up on inexpensive clear. After I'd got those more-or-less worked out, I decided, since I had only a rod of each color, to make a base bead in clear, and if looked good, case it in the CiM and other frits and powders and press. My first attempt, the two in lentil, was...disappointing. I did case it again in clear, but I wasn't happy with the bead.

Reverse (i.e. the back.)

Third time was the charm, however: I was really happy with this lentil, which fit the press perfectly. I added a commando dot, which I then used a star-punch as a mini-press to decorate the obverse, and flashed this a bit to get some variation in the boss (or shaped dot). I also concluded I really needed to buy my own star punch, and give Cindi B hers back:)

Stevi Belle's is still, IMO, the stronger work: it has a richer and wider range of color, shifting from a mustard yellow at the base, with some lovely deep vivid pink in her boss. Mine, otoh, has some pretty tans in the raku frit; and also purple—but not that perfectly located (and, frankly, probably accidental) pink splotch in the boss. It's also a more complex shape, though admittedly not hollow. Unfortunately the marginally compatible glasses have developed very subtle cracks along the base of the bead; however, with the copper core, I'm presuming they won't severely affect the structural integrity of the bead. They're only visible under the 500w light I use to photograph beads anyway.

Mine does stand up on its own, however.

Now that I've successfully documented the bead, I plan to give it to page: we thought we'd string each other's gifts as a girlfriend project. That should be fun!

[1] Probably eggplant. Evil Queen, according to my studio notes. But one of their purple opaques, all of which in my experience behave in similar ways.

[2]Yay, studio notes. I do occasionally find them useful;)

[3]Along with a gorgeous Pam Dugger fish. I know, we should all be so lucky, right?

[4]Such as it is.