Ever since I went on a masterclass with Nick Mount at the International Festival of Glass in Stourbridge in 2008 I have had a "thing" about Ballotini cane.
Making Ballotini cane in the hot shop is great fun, the photos below show the (abriged) process from one of Nick's demos.
Having pulled some simple white-encased-in-clear cane you fuse 5 pieces of that cane together and pick it up on the end of a blowing iron, your assistant then pours hot motlen glass onto the top of your canes which pours down your canes, encasing them, then you add more molten glass to the sides of your canes building up the mass into a more cylindrical shape, the whole piece is now shaped into a cylinder and then another iron is attached and the glassblower starts to stretch the glass and starts twisting the pattern before handing an iron to the assistant so a long piece of cane can be pulled.
Now it doesnt look quite so impressive a making process on a torch but you can make equally gorgeous, if a tad smaller, canes. (Insert Blue Peter style "here is one I made earlier" - the picture shows the cane just as im starting to twist and pull it out, its diameter at this point is approximately 13mm)
I had a lightbub moment while preparing for Art in Action, needing to make some sculptural work to take with, and having been wanting for a while to make some sculptural dragonflies (It was August last year I first had a go, oops been a while) I decided Ballotini would be perfect for dragonfly tails so I have now another new obsession, dragonflies with Ballotini tails.
This one is one of 4 with a rainbow ballotini tail and I made them up into a bright Carnival theme mobile for Art in Action but unfortunatley it was too windy to display them.
I also have black and white varieties of dragonflies made so I guess when my "studio" is done im going to have lots of them hanging around the place !!
...and no I havent forgotten I said I'd tell you all about my studio goings on, and I will... later ;o)