I am based in the inner city suburb of Richmond in Victoria, Australia. My studio is tucked into a corner on the second floor of an old tyre factory that was built sometime in the 1950’s. That means my studio gets cold in winter (down to 5 degrees celsius) and too hot to work in during summer (up to 50 degrees celsius). I took the opportunity to remodel the studio in late 2016 to make better use of the space. I put UV and heat reflective film on the windows and set up a metalworking station. The UV tint has really helped to keep the studio at more moderate temperatures (although I put in a portable air conditioner this year as well). Updating the studio was a great opportunity to shift things around after four years in the same configuration, it felt like a whole new space.
For the past ten years I worked with a Nortel Minor Burner, which is connected to a 10lpm Commercial oxygen concentrator (overkill, for sure! but there is a story behind that) and tanked gas in 9kg BBQ bottles. I also used to batch anneal my beads in my custom made kiln by GE & GE kilns which also slumps and fuses. (I still have that groovy crockpot full of vermiculite). These days though, I’m using a Nortel Mega Minor and an older model Paragon Bluebird XL kiln, that I bought second hand. By lampworking standards my torch and kiln are not fancy, but I really enjoy working with Nortel torches and I tend to stick to what I know.
After a decade of batch annealing I upgraded to a Paragon because my beads are huge. I rarely make small beads anymore. I’m an advocate for working within a budget. I used to be on a really tight budget but I gave up a few of my other crafts in the last few years and put all my spare cash to this one fantastic obsession with glass. (I’d also prefer to spend money on glass than on clothing, so there is that too.) I’m not a huge seller of my beads online, which is why I’m not famous (haha, okay, I’m joking… I’m totally famous). I’ve always made beads for my own finished jewellery designs which I’ve then sold either on commission through galleries and stores or directly to customers. I absolutely hate taking photos because I’m an awful photographer, which is also another reason why I don’t have a lot of photos of my beads. I’m slowly getting better at digital photography.
I have a fairly good collection of tools, presses and glass from a number of different suppliers. I suppose after ten years I would have a little bit of a collection going. I’m always buying second-hand bits and pieces and like to experiment with making my own tools from found objects. If I’m using tools in my testing I will post links to the supplier and the tool. If I’m using tools that are not commercially available I’ll explain what the tool was originally used for and provide instructions to modify and procure the tool.
I love my studio space and I worked hard for it. It took a solid six months of gentle haranguing to convince the owners to rent me that room (they were worried I’d burn the place down). I put a lot of planning into the studio to get it “just right” for me, not wanting to repeat the mistakes I made with my first studio. I’ve been here for five years now (wow, time flies) and I never get to work in it as often as I want because I have a full time job as a Senior Secondary Teacher.
Over the years I’ve put more and more thought into how I want the studio space to appear, I love the idea of being grounded by nature. In a huge, dusty old factory there isn’t a lot of that going on. I get my inspiration from the natural environment around me, staring at a brick wall does nothing to ignite my imagination, so I have a minor addiction to Pinterest. Most of the photos you see linked on my Instagram page to do with plants are from the container garden I’m growing in the studio. Due to the extreme heat and cold I’ve chosen to plant cacti on the windowsill to bring the outdoors in.
I talk about how to set up a small hot glass studio in my blog, I use my experiences setting up two different glass studios to help people understand the choices I’ve made with setting up my studio, to help other people navigate their choices. If you have any questions about the studio, please feel free to contact me. The other thing I talk about in this blog (when I get the time) is glass. I’m very interested in why glass does what it does and why different batches of the same glass can change reactions and predictions. Finally, I have a lot of stuff to remember and the older I get the more I realise I cannot cram everything into my memory, so this blog is good for my sense of sanity.
Thanks for reading.