Friday, July 2, 2010

Failure is in the eye of the beholder...

There was some recent discussion on Facebook about fugly beads and what to do with them. So, today I decided to talk a little about what I do with my fuglies and why I decide to keep them. I even keep ones that broke (except the little spacers) or got stuck on mandrels.

To answer the question, yes, I do make fugly beads. =) Not intentionally, of course. They're usually when I get in a hurry and don't take the time to get them all the way centered. Or when I'm trying a new technique and just don't quite have the hand/eye coordination to pull it off without practice. Sometimes it's a color combination that just doesn't work (but it looked good on paper....haha. More about color chemistry to come, maybe in a tutorial, as soon as I whip it into shape!)

I have plenty of potted plants in my house. And at the moment, 2 aquariums. I suppose I could toss those fuglies in any one of those containers (tonight, you sleep with the fishes...). I don't, though, because each one of those fuglies provides an opportunity for me to learn something.

Take, for instance, the ring shown in the picture. It's a clear glass, fumed with gold, and the color is amazing. Gorgeous pink with gold luster. It was perfection. I created a little glass bezel and set a lab created ruby in the center. I had never had a ring band so even. This ring was to DIE for! And then, as it came out of the kiln, I noted very large incompatibility cracks around the ruby. It crumbled to oblivion when I took it off the mandrel. I was so bummed! (Still am!) But I kept the pieces to remind me not only how good clear glass looks fumed with gold, but as a challenge, because one day I will beat those little rubies into submission and I will be able to use them in glass without them breaking! As I noted on Facebook, I have about a 20% success rate with them right now, and that's just not good enough when you're spending that kind of time on a larger piece. The lesson: figure out WHY it cracked, and then work on making sure I can successfully pull off that particular piece.

I keep a notebook (okay, okay, notebooks now) of bead ideas. If I see something that I like by way of pattern or color combination, I will jot it down. I always carry a notebook with me (or my cel phone so I can get a picture). More often than not, I will jump right in to making the bead I have envisioned from the notebook, rather than making small practice beads. I think it's the instant gratification thing? I have no idea. It really wouldn't be that hard to make a tiny bead with the colors just to see if they'll play well with one another, and stuff them in a kiln blanket so that I can see them later in the day. Perhaps as I get longer with my torch sessions (and maybe I will now, thanks to Dean who so graciously put in a window a/c unit in my studio yesterday!) I will adopt this practice, but until then, I go full bore and make that bead. And sometimes it's doesn't quite work the way I had envisioned. Lesson: keeping things that weren't quite what you envisioned can allow you to think about what didn't work and think more about what you can tweak to make it better.

My practice pieces always go into a group of "these are ones that I did in a class or as the first time I did something" group, but I always show them to people so they can get a sense of what I can do. Hey, if I did it once, I can do it again. But better. My fugliest bead EVER (in my opinion) is one I tried the Chaos technique on. You beady people know what I'm talking about--embedding the copper mesh. Well. Of course, my glass didn't squoosh like it was supposed to. And the Triton, though it reduced beautifully, isn't applied with the greatest care. The dots are lopsided and uneven. It's just a fugly bead. Not to mention the base color that looks a little like smokey pink which I have to say, doesn't do anything for me. But 9 out of 10 (Richard LaLonde suggested that be the name of the bead) people who look at my beads pick that one up and exclaim it to be the most beautiful thing they've ever seen! It makes me want to harf every time! Lesson: As long as it's a structurally sound bead, include it! What you think is a reject may be adopted quicker than you think. Failure is in the eye of the beholder.


  1. I can't wait til you get around to making the beads that look like blood cells.. The pictures were neat! And I think it is a good idea to keep the broken or 'ugly' ones around to help inspire you later on! Hey, I know that a few of the 'uglies' have become beautiful when someone else looks at them so you never know!

  2. Oh yeah, remember that bracelet that Julie made with the crystals and the tan/green spacers that I had made? Those I thought were fugly until I saw them in the bracelet. So, it really depends on what you do with them, and how you look at them.

  3. OK, I feel like an idiot... where have I been? I don't know what the chaos technique is!

  4. OOH, HOLLY! I feel so bad that I didn't even see your comment until now! The chaos technique....I think it's Sherry Bellamy. Uses copper mesh. She sells a tutorial on LE on how to do it.