This is a familiar question on lampwork forums, and not only from beginners; what DO you do with all those shorts? That colourful pile of ends that builds up as you work and quickly covers your bench once you've fallen in love with melting glass?
Some people bag them up and sell them, some shove them into jars or trays or boxes and forget about them. There are special rod holders you can buy which let you use them up almost to the end without burning your fingers, or like us you can simply join them to other rods of glass as you go, and keep on working.
Adopting this last option not only saves you money and ensures you're not wasting any precious colour but also gives you good practice in heat control, teaches you about the different viscosity of each colour, and how to make a good hot seal, and how to keep things on axis as you work. All great skills we can never have enough of.
If you manage to keep your shorts under control, joining rods as you go every time, give yourself a gold star. Despite our best intentions they still somehow manage to build up, even though we start nearly every session at the torch joining a few, there always seem to be more at the end of the day than there were at the beginning.
And then there are the little odds and ends of stringers, twisties and wigwags. These are usually smaller in diameter, 2 - 3mm, colours that have been mixed or twisted or built up and then pulled down and used for decorations. In order not to run out midway through a creation most of us try to make more than we think we'll need and invariably end up with a pile that looks something like this:
Sometime last year Que helped clean and organise a friend's studio and came home with a large collection of these random little bits saving them from getting binned. After wondering what on earth to do with them all she decided to practice her marble making skills.
And because she is a miniaturist at heart, and because some of these pieces were seriously short, it wasn't long before the marbles became smaller and smaller and almost impossible to find in the tray of perlite.
If you're working small it's fine to let the pieces cool down slowly in this stuff and batch anneal in the kiln later when you have enough to fill it. With these little babies, making enough to fill the kiln could take some time, so it's a good option.
Here's a hot shot showing just how small she's working, these are seriously short shorts!
And another, showing how even the wonkiest twistie can turn into a pretty good looking marble.
Did I mention how small these were? That's 27 marbles not even filling the palm of her hand.
Turns out it won't take long to fill that kiln after all; on that first day Que made over 100 of these teeny tiny little beauties. Did I mention how obsessed she gets when she's on a roll?
Who knew a pile of wonky ends could work up into such a juicy bowl of gorgeous colour? This is satisfying on so many levels - using up what was destined for the bin, practicing so many skills, having a ton of fun, and ending up with such a yummy result!
What do you do with YOUR shorts?
A long time ago in a land far away… well, okay, not that long ago and it was only the NSW North Coast… a small girl child was born into a family of creative people, her grandmother a potter, her grandfather a painter and her mother the sort of person who liked to do a little bit of everything.
For many years they played happily together on all sorts of projects; drawing, painting, rug hooking, crochet, dyeing, sewing, embroidery, knitting, paper mache, papermaking, bookmaking, calligraphy, writing, felting, even macrame.
(anyone care to guess which of these little cuties is which?)