I'm BJ Sandiford, and I have been a flame-worker and metalsmith for over ten years. Using my skill set, I create the glass components for a clean, simple collection of contemporary jewellery. I just love colour, especially the light that passes through transparent colour.
I grew up in Ottawa and lived in the Arctic for twelve years before moving to Prince Edward Island in 1998. Originally I studied clothing design and I've sewn everything from tents to ball gowns, skiwear to sealskin backpacks. I studied metalwork at Arctic College in Iqaluit, Nunavut and after moving to PEI, added flame-work to my jewellery-making skills.
I hand make as much of each piece as I can because I enjoy the process. It's slow and careful and intentional. It's love-made!
My greatest reward is when someone says "It makes me smile every time I wear it."
About the Jewellery
For the glass components I heat the end of a clear glass rod in the flame of a propane and oxygen torch until the glass hot enough to be soft enough to wind around a steel mandrel. The mandrel has been coated in clay, which acts as a release so the glass component can be removed later. This is how the hole in the bead is created.
When the glass is hot enough to be sticky, I remove it from the flame and roll it in shards of coloured glass, known as frit. I return the bead to the flame to melt the frit and fuse it to the surface.
The beads are annealed in the kiln for approximately 7 hours. Annealing means to reduce the temperature of the glass at a slow enough rate to remove the tension from the glass. Annealing the glass makes the beads hard as marbles and therefore, unbreakable. The beads are then removed from the mandrels and any clay left in the hole is cleaned away using a diamond studded drill bit.
If I want the bead to have a matte surface, this is when I soak it in acid.
The metal components are all made with Argentium Sterling silver, which is sterling silver with a bit of germanium added to it, which makes it more tarnish-resistant. It's more expensive, but I love it!
I use a variety of hand tools to cut, file, sand, form, forge, solder and polish the metal components.
All of the glass and metal components of Happy Glass are made in my studio except for the tiny silver balls, tags and fine chain.