Glass fusing with ferns: the results

We had mixed results from the glass fusing with ferns.

Good news is that two of the techniques worked really well, the other 7 didn’t.

Without going into too much detail, unsuprisingly ferns by themselves turn to ash at glass melting temperatures.  This can be used to create interesting fossil type effects as on 3 above, but at the risk of also creating large bubbles if you don’t use slow temperature ramps. If the fern is delicate then, as on sample 2 above, it is likely to completely disappear.

The key appears to be use glass powder stuck to the fern, as on 1 and 8 above, with a 2 stage process to reduce bubbles, as on 8.

8 is therefore my method of choice to produce a fern in glass. Using this methodology, next comes the large piece I need for the oak carved tray I am making. I just have to hope that the method scales up.







Glass fusing with plant material

Even since we saw some glass fusing with plant material I have wanted to have a go.

Time, the garden, and the bees have conspired to thwart our attempts to find the couple of hours needed to try it out, but, with the nasty weather over the last few days, we decided that today was the day.

A little online research brought up about 4 different techniques to cope with the basic problem that, at 800 degrees, the temperature required to melt the glass, all plant material will have turned to carbon.



This picture shows the 9 different test pieces, all slightly different, to determine the process that works best for us for different leaf types.

Come back in a couple of days to see the results.

In the meantime keep your fingers crossed.


Long hive update; not forgetting food

It has been a while since I last posted. The garden is in full swing and harvesting the soft fruit (blackberries, blueberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, gooseberries) has been my priority. it has truly been a bounty this year ad we haven’t even started on the apples and plums.

Squashes and courgettes are also getting underway and the garlic needs digging up, so you get my point, food comes first.

Having said that, the bees have also been busy. We have completed the first extraction of the year and the bees in the long hive are doing well.

Here is one of the long hive frames, as seen during a recent beekeeping experience day. They are pulling out the comb to fit the V shaped hive and have built up 6 frames already. I’ll try to post some more detailed pictures soon, but that’s it for now.


Blacksmith experience day

I recently held a blacksmith experience day for my youngest ever pupil.

It was a part of his school work experience programme.

He made a sculpture incorporating a number of core blacksmithing techniques, and a special addition of his own, a worm.

It was a first for me, a forged worm. I think we were both pleased with how it all came out.

His Design Technology teacher was reportedly also impressed with his work for the day.

Alongside the forge work, he also took the opportunity to ask lots of questions about becoming a blacksmith and took away lots of information about courses and qualifications.

He was a pleasure to teach.








Long Hive swarm collection

Following on from my earlier post about the making of our long hive, it now has inhabitants. 

I collected a swarm the other day. It was a fairly simple collection, hanging at head height in a tree. I knocked them into my skep and then waited whilst the stragglers and scout bees made their way back to the colony.


There will always be a few left behind, but, providing you are prepared to be patient and you have the queen in the skep, the others will follow.


Here you can see them  in the skep and then after being knocked into the hive.


They quickly took to their new home and within a few hours had begun to draw out the small bits of wax foundation into comb.



With any luck they will have time this year to pull the comb out sufficiently to give them space to put honey for their winter store. This will set them up for a strong 2018, when we might get some cut comb honey from them.