Preparing for class

Lately most of my time has been going on new website stuff with Lady Sela and that’s been great.   A&S wise, I have a big but secret project ongoing that’s been keeping me busy, but I also have a lamp work glass class to give at the Althing in Eplaheimr in October.  I realised it is fast approaching, so I have diverted some attention into getting ready to give that.  After learning some things in Sligo I practiced a little with my much less impressive home kit.  I’ve given a bit of a demo to some folk at Drimnagh castle that seemed to go down well, despite my little torch continuing to be .. temperamental.  I’ve not been able to spring for a higher grade torch yet, but I did pick up a second torch head (Hot Head, works with MAP gas) so hopefully that will help in a class situation.   I’m not claiming to be any sort of expert, obviously, but sharing something I find interesting is really great,  I’m grateful people let me waffle at them a bit and share the shiny.  Keeps me motivated too.

torch.jpgOne of the things I realised after Drimnagh is that I’m going to have to do something to make my kit a bit less obviously modern. I mean the gas canister couldn’t get more offensively modern if it tried.. So that got me thinking about working out some kind of clay dragon’s head to hide it in.  That was the *plan*, I just got a bit sidetracked.  First there was video of some people working double bellows on a bead furnace at Vikingecenter Fyrkat In doing a bit of research to find out more about that I discovered some really interesting sites where people were discussing possible furnace designs from archeological discoveries at, for example, Ribe in Denmark.  Finally I decided I needed to mess about clay, getting a load of inspiration from experiments done by  Darrell Markewitz and Neil Peterson and documented at

I’ll be honest I started just mucking about to provide a sort of show and tell clay “thing” as a point of interest to prompt me to pass along some of the cool research material I picked up. Now I’m kind of interested to see in how many interesting ways will this actually fail, but hoping that happens in ways to give me something to seriously try out  the next time.  This is not the finished article but it gives an idea. The clay of the spout part is rough and thin – I’m not sure I’m keeping it – while the thickness of the pot and base itself is much greater.  IMG_1661

This is the rough version, I don’t expect the handles to work even a little bit to be honest, but again, I may as well discover what I can and can’t do through trial and error, right? This is a lift off lid version, I haven’t placed any holes in for introducing air from bellows yet or anything, it’s just something that was oddly peaceful to work on for the evening that I’ll leave to air dry for a bit and then decide if I want to go ahead and experiment with it and charcoal (outside in a safe place, obviously!)  And, of course, I still have to make the cover for my torch.  I have borrowed a bellows, (and now I have a desire to try and make a set of those too, but one thing at a time) – I can see why two would be a better option, but experiments have to start somewhere!

Some of the designs I was looking at had little annealing “pockets” added on to the outside to slowly cool beads in – I think that’s a clever idea, but I didn’t add any to this one.  I’ll stick to the japanese cooling bubbles I have for another little while (pictured scattered on the table, courtesy of my smallest cat) and do some more research, and into more period options generally.

I’ve also learned *tons* about beads discovered and made in early medieval Ireland, which is where I’m going to start focusing my attention with an end goal of recreating some of them, but that’s another blog post.

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