Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I'm leaving South America for awhile and tavelling back to Tanzania (in my mind only!)  My first love was always glass and I've been getting back into it.  And, more successfully, I think!

While in Tanzania, I had the priviledge to visit Shanga, which employs handicapped people, mostly deaf to create glass beads and jewelry. http://www.shanga.org/

 Needless to say, I was on cloud 9 when I found out that was going to be our first stop on day one of our trip! Being deaf--I had cochlear implant surgery 5 years ago--which was nothing short of a miracle--and making glass beads myself the visit to Shanga was a big highlight for me.  They make their glass beads out of wine bottles and their process is somewhat different from what I am used to.  They melt the glass in a kiln, dip in a mandrel--no bead release--, pull out a blob of glass, shape it into a bead, then remove it immediately from the mandrel and cool it in a fiber blanket.  I don't think I got a good picture, but I'll look.  I thought that I was going to get to try to make a bead while there, but, do to the language barrier, I missed my chance!

Here, he's dipping the mandrel into the hot glass to gather the bead.

Removing the hot bead from the mandrel to place in the fiber blanket to cool.

                                         My new Shanga friends with our guide, Ahadi.  They're holding up
                                         glass beads that I made for them.
So--my next glass adventure is going to involve (trying to) make some glass beads out of winebottles.  I have some ideas of what I'd like to do, but I'm going to wait to post til I have some decent bottle glass beads!

My thanks go to Cecelia Cohen for her tips in the book The Glass Artist's Studio Handbook.

And my future thanks to Bronwen Heilman for the bottle bead class that I'm taking from her at the Bead & Button Show in June.

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