Four months later …..

Well, its almost four months to the day since we moved our home to Calodyne and moved our business into the building in front of the house. We are now just past the restaurant At Linda’s Place in Calodyne and just after the nursery school.

If you haven’t tried the food at Linda’s then you are missing a treat. She is an excellent cook and will take good care of you whether you eat in the restaurant or order take-away or ask her to do the catering for a dinner or event. She is a kind, generous person and has become a good friend.

So wonderful to go 10 steps from the front door of the house into the studio and be saved the 30 minute drive on tiny winding roads from Roches Noires to Calodyne twice a day. The advantages of living and working on one property definitely outweigh the disadvantages. At the moment we are busy with new designs and increasing stock levels and its great to be able to start early and work late without thinking of the drive home with the oncoming headlights on bright!!! Why don’t drivers here appreciate the danger of blinding oncoming traffic? Is it a lack of appreciation or is it just selfishness? Anyway, we count our blessings every day.

I find frankly that whether one lives on the same premises or far away from the studio one’s thoughts and conversations are unavoidably on “what’s the priority for tomorrow?” or “I have just had an idea for a new design”. We are a husband and wife team and do everything ourselves. Once the business grows, we may employ someone to help us.

We have had to establish a garden from scratch and it is progressing well. With all the rain we had in July and August the grass has taken and the newly created and planted beds are showing new growth. The Barberton daisies are happy in their new home, having been planted originally in a bed without sufficient sunlight, and we should have our second flower open tomorrow. Amazing to see how plant growth is stimulated in spring.

We are also living a healthier happier life and getting rid of some excess kilos. Being able to prepare healthy salads for lunch and using the time previously spent driving to take long walks after work.

Luckily we have an excellent costing and inventory program – of course, that is IF one does not get over excited (as I often tend to do) and move new designs from my creation table directly into the showroom. With the end of the year stocktake done in June, I am really trying hard to be disciplined and keep the figures up to date!

We are both grateful to be able to follow our passion and do what we love most. An added bonus is to meet so many lovely people from all over the world. And its very encouraging when they enjoy the bead making demonstrations and remark on the relaxed, happy atmosphere in the studio.

We now both have large, airy and well organized working areas and the showroom is really attractive with plenty of space to show everything to advantage. It took us a whole month to get the electrical wiring completely redone; to dismantle our showroom cabinets in the old shop and move and modify them to fit the new shop. And thank goodness I had my good friend Patricia to help with the unpacking of the stock onto the shelves. What would I have done without her!!! Physical and moral support and lots of good laughs amid the groans about our aching backs.

The new showroom is on a sharp bend and therefore affords a fantastic view of our display windows.  Its impossible not to see us and we have many locals and tourists alike who come in to see what we do. The whole shopfront affords ample parking for cars and tourist vans alike. We hope more of them will stop so that people can experience the wonderful world of creating with glass!

We are currently introducing RHODIUM finishes to our range. Working with our local manufacturing jeweler we are now adding a rhodium coating to our silver plated range. Rhodium holds the distinction of being the world’s most expensive precious metal. It is about as nonreactive as gold. Some of the most expensive consumer items in the world are made from Rhodium.

Discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston, who isolated it from platinum. He was also the discoverer of palladium.

Rhodium costs about six times as much as gold by weight. 80 per cent of the world’s rhodium comes from South Africa and world production of the metal is only about 20 tons per year. Rhodium plated jewelry should be cleaned with a mixture of mild liquid shampoo and a little water. Never use chemical cleaners on rhodium plated items, or ultrasonic cleaners that utilize chemicals. Do not use polishing cloths intended for use on gold or silver jewelry.

It is the answer for those who are allergic to silver!

Well, this coming week is going to be really busy! Lots of beads to make! Lots of making up of jewelry designs to do!

Have a great week everyone. Whatever you do, enjoy it!

I tried to post a photo of our new shop. You can see it on our STUDIO44MAURITIUS Facebook page or on our website http://www.studio44mauritius.com.

 

 

Advertisements

Another great week!

Well its been an exciting week. We have met so many wonderful people from central Europe, United Kingdom and France. Thats one thing I love about our studio. Visitors just love to see how I make the glass beads, one by one, in the flame and I get so much pleasure out of sharing this passion of mine for working with glass.

I have also felt very creative this week and quite a few new designs are now on display. First thing in the morning and the late afternoons are the time I love to sit down and play around with threading materials and my boxes of beads and give birth to something totally different.

IMG_9389.jpgThis week we have launched our new range of recycled glass bracelets. With all the bottles out there and the threat to the environment, we felt that we should do our part to try to convert them to something useful and pretty. So we have duplicated our normal “pebble” shape beads and instead of making them in Italian glass, we have used recycled glass. Its difficult to work with and I had to find the trick to getting a quality bead, but with patience and perseverance – Aries loves a challenge and this sun sign just refuses to give up!!! I am pleased with the result and thrilled that we can do something to help the planet.

The number of empty bottles on this small island is astronomical. All those tourists quenching their thirst after a hot day on the beach!IMG_9459.jpgI have also been playing around with double flowers. The two bottom ones are examples of that technique. I have just never seemed to have the time to try to make those beautiful encased multi-petal flowers. One of these days I will go to the next step and do some beads with flowers with four layers of petals, one on top of the other.

IMG_9563.jpg

Jean Claude has made some beautiful pendants using different colors. He plays around with the pieces of glass and fuses them in the kiln. We have threaded these onto matching ribbon and they make a pretty display in the showroom. Each one is unique and made with lots of love.

The weather in Mauritius is glorious at the moment. Beautiful sunshine, warm days with a fresh breeze and cool evenings. I spent most of the day in the garden today, planting the new beds we have created. Its been a lot of work creating a garden from nothing. I am eager to see the Barberton daisies which we transplanted today into a bed with more sun, burst into flower. I think we have found the ideal place for them.

With two newly made beds just begging for plants I cannot wait for that trip to the nursery to see what is available. We have two excellent nurseries fairly close by but of course we are unable to leave the shop during the day, so I am going to have to wait until next weekend to have the pleasure of chosing plants. In the meantime I have been reading up about suitable plants for morning sun and afternoon shade.

We have great plans for the back garden for vegetables, granadilla vines, herbs and fruit trees. There are already two mango trees, four banana plants and a 20 year old litchi tree. I can hardly wait for December to see if the crop will be good this year. We love litchis but tend not to buy them as they have increased from Rs1 to Rs4 each. And then they are often picked too soon because of the birds and bats. There is nothing like picking fruit from the tree and eating it fresh.

My mother grew up on a small holding in Parys in South Africa and as a young girl she used to come home from school, take a knife from the kitchen and go into the orchard and pick and eat as much fruit as she wanted. I think this is why she had such a beautiful skin and was so healthy until 6 months before she died from old age at 96 years old. I miss her every day – her laughter, her smiles and her happy disposition.

I find gardening very relaxing and also good exercise. Its a different way of creating something beautiful which everyone can enjoy. With bead making one has to wait until the the next day when bead has gone through the annealing program in the kiln to know if its a success or not. Likewise with gardening there is also a wait for plants to flower and bear fruit. It teaches us patience and perseverance.

Tomorrow it going to be exciting as I have been asked to do a special project which I will post a photograph of next week. Its for a very special lady and is something which I have never worked on before. I made the beads on Saturday morning but they had to cool in the vermiculite. I hope to have a nice surprise when I take them out to anneal in the kiln and they are going to be such fun to make up. I will leave you in suspense until next week.

Have a great week and keep smiling!

.

 

 

 

 

 

A new home and a new studio!

Well, a lot has happened since my last post. In May 2016 we move our studios from Roches Noires on the north east coast, to further north up the coast to St. Francois, Calodyne. We have now moved once again and this time we are lucky to have everything on one property. My studio, Jean Claude’s studio, our showroom, our Craft Academy and our home. It was a lucky break to be offered this amazing location on a sharp turn in the road on the way to Grand Gaube (if one is going south). The building is long with lovely display windows and visible for at least 500 metres if one is coming from Grand Gaube. So this amazing position is already bearing fruit and we have now been open for four weeks.

My task this week is to find a way to organize all my photos taken with my Samsung phone and my iPad to have them readily available for my blog writing on my Mac. If anyone has any suggestions they will be welcome. Perhaps iCloud is the way to go or perhaps I should just make a folder in the Dropbox? I believe that Google is also offering some nice options.

My blog has been an on and off thing for the past few years. Now that we are settled happily in one place, I will focus on finding interesting things about lamp working – new techniques, beautiful beads made by others as well and hope to bring pleasure to those who follow me. It is certainly going to make life easier having my own space with all my digital gadgets plugged in ready to go at any time.

Have a great week ahead.

 

 

 

“MURANO GLASS”, MORETTI, EFFETRE – what is it?

A number of things have happened lately to make me realize that consumers are confused when we say that we use glass rods which are manufactured in Murano and Venice, Italy. Most people are aware that the island of Murano has had a reputation for many centuries of producing the finest glass and Murano glass products are sought after throughout the world.

In 1291, the mayor of Venice, Italy ordered that all glass factories move to the island of Murano to prevent harmful factory fires from affecting Venice. Since then, Murano glass has developed a reputation for beauty and color. Murano glass is first identified by its location, then its factories, and finally its designers. You can identify these sources with a certificate of authenticity, a master glass maker signature or a Murano glass catalog.

The following are master glass makers from Murano: Ercole Barovier, Archimede Seguso, Aureliano Toso, Galliano Ferro, Vincenzo Nason, Alfredo Barbini, and Carlo Moretti. There are many more master glass makers that worked at Murano glass factories over the years.

This is a short extract from designboom.com where there is a long article on the Moretti family:

“carlo moretti was born in murano in 1934, and he lived in venice, with his wife bruna matteotti in an apartment overlooking the rooftops and canals adjacent to the rialto bridge, till his sudden death, on may 30th, 2008. after having graduated in classical studies he enrolled in law school but, lured by the irresistible call of his own family’s patrimony – murano crystal glass – in 1958 he founded, together with his brother giovanni, the carlo moretti firm, where he was mainly responsible for the design and production of the firm’s artifacts. during the 80s he animated the creation of a number of consortiums on the island of murano and, in particular, the establishment of the island’s museum of contemporary glass. carlo moretti has been acknowledged with numerous prizes and international rewards, and has been invited to hold conferences on his work in cultural and art institutions worldwide.”

Lampworkers around the world are not allowed to label or stamp their products as “MURANO GLASS”. We advise clients that at STUDIO 44 MAURITIUS 95% of our beads are made from glass rods manufactured in the factory of Moretti-Effetre. However, the fact that clients see our beads being made by me here in our Mauritius studio, which forms part of our shop, also makes it clear that it is manufactured locally is not “MURANO GLASS” made in Murano, Italy, but is made from glass rods produced the factories in Murano and Venice.

I suppose its a bit like the fact that one may not use the terms “Pandora”, “Roquefort” or “champagne” for marketing purposes either as these are also Trademarks for particular products.

Unfortunately many fake products are being sold on the island of Murano itself, none of which have ever seen the inside of a Murano glass factory! These are being illegally stamped as “MURANO GLASS” and are destroying the livelihood of genuine Italian born lampworkers and glass blowers. It is sad that the Italian Government does not do more to stamp out this practice.

When I first started lamp working, I was using Moretti glass rods. You will notice the name of Carlo Moretti amongst the master glass makers mentioned above. However, Moretti is now marketing under the name Effetre.  I use Effetre for around 95% of my beads. However, due to a lack of certain colors – especially the colors of the lagoon here in Mauritius where I live, I am forced to look to other manufacturers to fill this gap. Effetre also do not specialize in the SILVER COLOURS and frits which give such a beautiful metallic and range of oil slick type of color to my beads.

The glass industry has grown and we lampworkers around the world are continually looking for new colors, new effects and new ideas to use in the creation of their beads. The technology of glass is no longer limited to Venice and there are manufacturers around the world producing top quality glass, Murrini, etc.

The DOUBLE HELIX factory produces the most beautiful colors of glass giving the oil slick colors. CIM produces the most beautiful colors which are exactly the colors I see in the lagoon of Roches Noires here on the north east coast of Mauritius. These are used in around 5% of the beads I make as the glass is very expensive.

There is also Zephyr, Reichenbach, Divardi and many other makes which I have not yet had the pleasure of trying. I tend to stick to one supplier as is more economical to purchase everything under one roof.

The top lamp workers in the world use a range of glass from different manufacturers producing top quality glass in countries around the world. Perhaps in the future I shall have time to try out some of the many other makes of glass, but most of these are more expensive and with the freight, duty and VAT payable on glass imports to Mauritius, we are happy to stick with what we know and love for the moment. Perhaps one day the Mauritian Government will assist us by removing the VAT we pay on the freight and the raw materials which would help us a lot. Here in Mauritius too, cheap glass beads are being imported from China and sold as “Murano” glass and there is nothing we can do about it!!!

I hope that this will help you to understand what is meant by “MURANO GLASS”.  We can  assure you that the glass we use is Effetre 90%, Vetrofond 2%, CIM 5% and DOUBLE HELIX 3%. All of this glass is top quality and our beads go through an ANNEALING cycle in a special kiln to ensure hardness and to give a quality that will last a lifetime. We have been honored to be awarded the trademark “made in moris” which in itself is a guarantee of quality, after sales service and approval of our production methods and ethics of STUDIO 44 MAURITIUS.

Thank you for reading this article. Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to address them to me, Barbara on contact@studio44mauritius.com.

2017 is almost upon us ….

It seems like a couple of months ago that we moved our studio from Roches Noires on the North East Coast of Mauritius further up the coast to St Francois, Calodyne. Since opening the shop/studio at the end of May we have been busy with one thing after another with little time to spend on anything not on the URGENT list.

I now appreciate how time consuming it is to handle the planning, production, stock control, packaging, selling, accounting, tracking items on consignment, paying bills, collecting money, etc. Wow! It just keeps us going non-stop. As a husband and wife team its probably easier for us as we share some of the roles. And we now have a wonderful stock control and costing program which we have almost perfected this year.

A few months after we opened the shop, Jean Claude moved his side of production from Roches Noires also to Calodyne to a location 500 meters down the road from the shop/my studio. His large kilns needed a large airy space of their own. With large cutting tables and other equipment he now has lots of room to spread out and enjoy creating.

We are looking forward to 2017 which is going to be a challenge in its own right. Jean Claude will be starting the STUDIO 44 MAURITIUS CRAFT ACADEMY where he will run hot glass, pewter, mosaic and other classes where people can come and create and have fun doing so. The classes will start in February.

We have a couple of things in the pipeline which we hope will come to fruition in the first quarter of 2017. More on that next year if things go according to plan.

We have decided to take a break and will close on 31st December and reopen on Monday, 9th January, 2017. We will relax at home – swims in the lagoon, reading on the beach, snorkeling and enjoying some good home cooking. Meals these days often come out of a box, heated in the microwave!

Wishing you a wonderful, happy and safe Festive Season. My New Years’ Resolution will surely be to try and blog more regularly! And to get organized with photos of our creations.Image 1

Our shop is the first one on the right hand side of the picture. We now have our blue STUDIO 44 MAURITIUS board installed on the wall on the right.

Until then, Happy Holidays!!!

 

 

 

Renewal …..

As in nature, we have to continually renew, innovate and explore new possibilities. Change is the only thing we can be 100% sure of in this life and we must embrace changes as they occur with confidence and positivity, realising that it is a chance to grow our business and develop new skills on a personal level. This year has been such a year for Jean Claude and I. At times very stressful and frightening, but things are gradually falling into place and new opportunities are opening up for us.

Between May 2016 and May 2017 we will have split our studio into two locations. The beadmaking studio cum showroom where I work and the other location which is the hot glass studio cum craft academy where Jean Claude is based. We now occupy two different locations in St Francois, Calodyne.

In November we will start building a cosy little cottage for ourselves at Roches Noires – somewhere we can truly call our own and have a small vegetable patch and some pretty flower beds once again. Jean Claude is working on ideas for a water feature and I look forward to hanging some bird feeders for the cardinals and other local birds.  Living currently in an upstairs apartment, we both miss the feel of walking on soft green grass and enjoying a braai in the garden on a Sunday.

Now that the showroom is established we are focussing our attention on the Studio 44 Craft Academy  which is situated 5 minutes walk down the road from the showroom. Jean Claude has found the ideal place to house his glass kilns and have plenty of room for teaching some new crafts. He is back in full production of his beautiful glass bowls, plates, etcetera and will shortly be posting details of the craft courses he will be offering on our Studio 44 MAURITIUS Facebook page. The academy is on the street level at the rear of the same building as Linda’s Restaurant which is in the basement and at present you will see only their sign on top of the building if you look south at the intersection where Intermart Supermarket is situated. Our Craft Academy signs are not up yet -the contact number is Jean Claude’s mobile 59368660. You can also email him on contact@studio44mauritius.com.

Creativity exists in each one of us – we just need to give it a chance to express itself.  With his 20 years of experience in glass and other crafts and the idea to make the classes relaxed and enjoyable, we would like participants to come away with practical and useful items they have had fun creating and can proudly say “I made it myself!”

Well, I am writing this from my comfortable recliner on the balcony, having been housebound with flu for the last two days. Turning a negative into a positive, we have a long overdue blog to post! We must never cease to count our blessings every day. With the world in terrible turmoil, let’s say THANK YOU for the peaceful life we enjoy in MAURITIUS – our beautiful tropical island. Well, perhaps not so tropical at the moment but Spring is not far off!

 

At last ……. Whew!!!

Its been both exciting and exhausting fitting out and moving into our new shop …

At last, the last box is unpacked, the floor is swept and its time to get back to work again. Its been both exciting and exhausting fitting out and moving into our new shop at Calodyne in the north of Mauritius. Its a 25 minute drive from our old studio at Roches Noires, where we live, and I must say that its quite nice to separate home from work.

From just a shell when we first looked at the shop, its is now fitted out with lovely showcases, some of which were modified and moved from the old studio; lights and plugs have been installed; a new toilet; a kitchenette/bead washing and cleaning area and its very comfortable.

Unfortunately Jean Claude cannot fit his big fusing kilns or cutting table or all his glass painting equipment into our new shop, so he will be working from the old studio when necessary.

Its great to have our stock control and our costing in the same place as our stock at last which makes for much easier and quicker costing for new designs and easier stock control.

All in all, we are very happy and relaxed. The only item which needs to be completed is the connection for my oxygen to the two torches. We have now been waiting for one month for this to be done and today is supposed to be the magic day !!! Lets hope it comes true!!!

I will post two photographs of the new shop. The first will show where it is in relation to Intermart Supermarket and the second will show the front of the shop. Its very convenient for people living in this area as there is not much here in the way of a place to buy good quality gifts for occasions – birthday, wedding, anniversary. We are proud to have been awarded the much coveted trademark “made in moris” which guarantees both the quality of our products and the percentage of local content.

Hope to see you for a visit if you are in the area at any time. We would love to have your feedback on what we have done and perhaps even how we can improve the set-up.

Enjoy your week!