"Made in Clerkenwell " business contacts

“Made in Clerkenwell ” business contacts

I recently attended the ‘Made in Clerkenwell‘ event in London and had the pleasure of meeting many artists sharing their latest collections in their own studio spaces. I loved the ‘feel’ of the buildings and the creative environment, which reminded me of days past at art college. Whilst I love working alone in my studio, I sometimes wonder what it would be like to share the space…

For me, one such wonderful couple is living that dream, their shared dream, and I could have stayed chatting with them for hours! Silvia Crawford, an artist originally from Eastern Europe, and Philip Crawford run SilPhi, a studio specialising in glass art and jewelry with a strong homage to Venice where they trained. They said they often return throughout the year to keep their love of glass afresh and inspired, and you can see this beautiful influence in everything from their glass art to the special tools they buy there.

Philip took up the torch a few years after meeting Silvia, who was already established, and he has never looked back!  Ahhh…. a true love Venetian story indeed!

As with all lampworkers (torchworkers) I meet, their spirit for knowledge sharing is always brimming the bowl of plenty! I loved their hollow bead work in the cabinets and I asked if it would be OK to contact them later for some advice. They were happy to help so I’m looking forward to catching up with them again.

So in this same spirit, I continue to publish bits and pieces on this subject 🙂

Cold-working beads

Having had so much fun making the first set of bikini beads, I decided to add more beads to the selection and take some photos of the cold-working process once the beads have annealed in the kiln.

And I am always giddy to open up the kiln door!

beads annealing in the kiln (for controlled cooling)

beads annealing in the kiln (for controlled cooling)

I soak the mandrels and attached beads in warm water. This loosens the ‘bead release’ pretty quickly so when you gently twist the bead off the mandrel it is effortless.

I pop the beads in a dish for further soaking. As you can see in the photo here, the ‘bead release’ is still visible inside the hole core and needs to be removed.

soaking to loosen the bead release (visible inside the bead hole)

soaking to loosen the bead release (visible inside the bead hole)

This removal could be done manually with diamond files, but I use a Dremel tool and diamond files these days to speed up the process!

I always keep the bead wet by soaking it in water as I file, and, I clean the diamond file with water as often as I can. This prevents ‘bead release’ dust from being inhaled 🙂

I always wear latex gloves during this procedure as this water is not too pleasant for the skin.

diamond filing to remove the last residue of 'bead release'

diamond filing to remove the last residue of ‘bead release’


a bead released of 'bead release'!

a bead released of ‘bead release’!


2nd set of bikini beads

2nd set of bikini beads


another guest to the studio, ma mere

another guest to the studio, ma mere

A little word for mandrels

They don’t often get much airtime, but without these wonderful sticks of steel it might be very messy to make glass beads!  Here’s my range so far, purchased from two of my favourite non-UK suppliers: BerlinBeads in Germany and Glassworks in Belgium.

so much mandrel choice!

so much mandrel choice!

So as a rough guide, and taking into account the diameter increase created by the ‘bead release’, the following mandrel sizes will fit a number of 3mm width cords when it comes to threading:

  • 8.0 mm (5/16″) mandrel = maximum 4 x 3 mm cords
  • 6.0 mm (1/4″) mandrel = maximum 2 x 3 mm cords
  • 4.7625 mm / 5.0 mm (3/16″) mandrel  = maximum 2 x 3 mm cords (and Pandora bracelets with 5mm eyelets if that interests you!)
  • 4.0 mm (1/6″) mandrel = maximum 1 x 3 mm cord (and Pandora bracelets without the eyelet, which I mention in another article on this site)
  • 3.2 mm (1/8″) mandrel = maximum 1 x 3 mm cord

This is useful to consider if the glass beads are going to be threaded with 3mm leather, faux leather or hemp cord, as shown in this bracelet for example.

For smaller size cords, cables and wires, you can use the:

  • 1.6 mm (1/16″) mandrel
  • 2.0 mm (1/12″) mandrel

In the photo above you can see the puffy mandrel at the bottom, that I bought from BerlinBeads – this is used to make hollow beads but I’ve yet to try it!

I’d also like to invest in some ring mandrels to create some glass art rings for fingers. Gosh, still lots to discover!

Kevlar sleeves

I don’t often have the opportunity for a guest snapshot, but here goes! Safety glasses are a must, and I love my Kevlar fingerless sleeves!

Moi, concentrating in the flame of bliss!

Moi, concentrating in the flame of bliss!

Test beads for my next study

Inspired to think about beaches and bikinis as summer approaches, I remind myself that I could offer something for guys to wear as they wax down the surfboard or pose by the beach bar holding in their tums! Some oceanic hues come to be mind and I’ve started to play…

inspired colours for a guy's oceanic taste (maybe!)

inspired colours for a guy’s oceanic taste (maybe!)


colour test beads

colour test beads

Let’s see what unfolds 🙂

Originally published: Tuesday, May 24th, 2016 at 02:41 in Atelier, Inspiration


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

No tags for this item


You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


Security question * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

See also:

%d bloggers like this: