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Archive for October, 2009

Just like any other brand of glass, no matter if it’s new to the market or just new to me, I approach it gingerly. I start out with a few colors and test it myself. First, I look at my favorite glass sellers’ sites to see what’s new. But before I buy, I check Kandice Seeber’s Coloraddiction blog, then maybe Dragon Jools, to see what they came up with for spacers, larger beads, encased beads, etc. Since some colors change as they’re worked, and then change some more in the kiln, the paddles shown on the glass sellers’ sites can only give me a vague idea about what I’ll get in a finished bead. Once I’ve narrowed down what I want, I order small amounts. I make a few beads and keep a close eye on them for incompatibility cracks. I give them at least a few days for that, although cracks usually show up for me within the first 24 hours. Sure, it is a disappointment when it happens, but we can’t expect the glass manufacturers to conduct all of the testing for us, particularly with other brands of glass. We have to find this out for ourselves in our own surroundings, with our own methods and applications – and we simply can’t avoid a little bit of hard knock schooling every now and then.

So, I’d like to talk about Creation Is Messy, (CIM or Messy for short). They were already off to a good start by producing colors that were absent in the Effetre or Vetrofond lines. That’s nice and all, but… are these wonderful new colors going to crack up my stuff? Just like all new things, I was resistant and opted to watch and wait. However, I have bought small bundles of Messy here and there over the last few years, trying not to get too excited about it. I ended up not using it that much because the viscosity was so different from what I’m used to. I do a lot of marvering (or smooshing) and use several colors and layers on one bead, and viscosity plays a big part in crispness and definition. But the good news is, I haven’t had any cracking issues with Messy when used with Effetre or Vetrofond, which is a definite plus. So fairly recently, I’ve accumulated a bit more and have been very pleased with the colors. I still use it in small amounts, but have made more of an effort  to work it into my designs. For me, it’s perfect for bumpy surface dots or transparent inclusions, where its stiffness and slow melt are very desirable:

ultramarinelong

Rococo Ultramarine - featuring CIM Leaky Pen

modernsagesetlong

Modern Sage - featuring CIM Olive and Slytherin

Just a couple of weeks ago, Genea Crivello-Knable gifted me with a sizeable sampling of Messy color. I’ve only had a little bit of time to mess with it between orders, but so far, I’m liking Messy more and more. And one very noteworthy discovery: Genea was right about the Elphaba! It’s an opaque green that doesn’t swallow surface decoration OR get hideously streaky. That’s a pretty big deal, people.

Some folks have a problem with the fact that Messy is made in China, but I have to say, this glass has a good vibe. I know that sounds hokey. They have consistently produced new, unique (and most importantly, compatible) colors, and add another number to the end of the stock number to denote variations within a batch, even slight ones. They have a great website with artist feedback and a small gallery for each color – some of these galleries show comparisons between their color and similar colors from other brands, which helps one decide if they *really* need that color or not.  If you’ve been hesitant to give it a try (like I was), I’d say go ahead and try a little. The quality of this glass is very good, too, and it is priced accordingly. I’ve come across a shocky rod or two, but I have yet to find a stone or an excessively seedy (bubbly) rod. My current favorites are Crocus, Olive, and Leaky Pen. Leaky Pen is an odd bird, really – a dark prussian blue that can take on a deep greenish teal cast when thinned (but still more blue than effetre dark teal), and when the rod reflects and refracts light, there’s no telling if you’ll get the bluer or greener version.

NOTE: I’m not receiving money, glass or sexual favors from CIM for writing this. I’m just sharing my opinion and experience. What I like and what you like may be very different. Any connection between my reality and yours is purely coincidental. And all that disclaimer rot.

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This Week On Etsy…

Good stuff! CLICK HERE to view my shop, or click each image below for individual listings.

dottylimonfrondetsygal

Dotty Limon Bedotted Glitter Frond - click me!

pinkytoggleetsygal

Raspberry Glitter Toggle - click me!

neonladyetsygal

Neon Lady - click me!

rainysaturdaytrioetsygal

Rainy Saturday - click me!

emberfrondetsygal

Ember Glitter Frond - click me!

I’ve figured out a way to make my Etsy photos look just the way I like – they’re still 430×430 pixels, but I can use rectangular shots if I want. (if you check out my listings, you’ll see what I mean.) Etsy will take the liberty of stretching your photos if they aren’t at least 430 pixels square. Which I think is completely unnecessary for photos besides the one you use for your gallery shot, but whatever. I have to assume they have very good reasons for doing what they do and leave it at that. Thing is, I am very picky about white space, and there is such a thing as too much or too little. A big square photo for a small, wide slender item (such as one of my Toggles or a strand of beads) just looks wrong to me. And once you upload your photos, they reduce the file size, which also reduces the quality of the image, so I made sure I remembered to save and upload everything at maximum file size this time.  All things considered, I’m very pleased with the appearance of my listings this week.

Oh, and, just so you guys know… I complain about the upload time with Etsy because I’ve been hosting my own photos for years and that’s what I’m used to. I can upload dozens of photos directly to my FTP in less than 10 seconds with windows explorer, and that makes a whole lot more sense to me than uploading photos one at a time. I’m getting used to doing it this way, slowly but surely.

Thanks for checking in! Someday I’ll have time to figure out that Etsy widget and put it in my sidebar.

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Sometimes I don’t have much to say. Sometimes I have stuff to say, but I’m too busy. Sometimes, I just need some time off. Sometimes I lose track of how much time has passed. All of those could be true when you don’t see anything new from me for five days.

Do you ever have spells of time in your life when things go really well? A couple of weeks ago, I got a gas bill for $152. Several days later, I got another one – a corrected bill for $141. Nice. Today, I got my electric bill. Total Amount Due: NONE. What? They say they are refunding my deposit because of my excellent payment record, and they also noted a $45 credit. I’m absolutely giddy about that. Etsy is going better than I had hoped. I found some great stuff on Etsy, and got some really nice free gifts with my orders. So maybe now would be a good time to call USPS and see if I can track down the only package that’s gone missing in my 7+ years of mailing stuff in every direction. And then, there was the big find at Intergem…

Mom and I went to Intergem on Friday. It was the first Intergem show in OKC. We almost didn’t go, but we decided that we should because next year, there probably won’t be nearly as many exhibitors. We figured that the bead sellers there will find out that most people in OK don’t spend much on beads, and wouldn’t be back.

The atmosphere was different from Bead Ren, Bead Market and Gem and Mineral, for sure. Lots of security at Intergem – I guess where there are diamonds, there are security guards. I saw some sellers I was already familiar with, but a few of the others were too solicitous and all over us from the time we walked up to their tables until we finally politely excused ourselves. If the prices aren’t marked, it doesn’t bother me to ask, and I really don’t mind the seller telling me what they are when I pick up the strand. What bothers me is when they lie about where the stuff came from or what it’s made of, and worse yet, won’t leave me alone and try to sell me everything. One seller kept telling us that something was “natural crystal”. Oh, yes, hold me back – $8 a strand for naturally occurring screaming hot pink AB faceted crystal? If that stuff came out of the ground looking like that, I’m sure it would cost a lot more than $8 and it would probably be on the national news. He also gushed over some other strands, telling us they were Czech and Venetian, (they clearly weren’t, and had chinese symbols and Made In China on the strand tags). Or “those are from Africa” when the tag clearly says Made In India. I really don’t understand why they do this. Do they think they’re dazzling us with these obnoxious sales pitches? Or do they think all American consumers are just that ignorant? As if that wasn’t irritating enough, some kid came at us twice with a bottle of… something. Dood, if I don’t know what it is and I’m not given an opportunity to read the label before you pour it all over me, forget it. And if I said no thanks the first time…

Please don’t let my criticisms lead you to believe that I didn’t have a good time, or that this was a bad show. I’m simply not used to having sellers all over me like that. I need my personal space and time to think when I shop. I found some great stuff… one exhibitor had a $5 show clearance box. This box was full of perfectly good strands of (genuine) amethyst, citrine, garnet, iolite, smokey quartz, peridot, etc. I had to ask the guy if it was for real. “Oh, yes, ladies, here, let me give you this bag to put them in”. Fine with me. Needless to say, Mom and I really cleaned up. But I don’t spend much at any of these shows. I only bring so much cash with me and leave the debit card at home.

And what would a bead show blog post be without photos!?

Here’s the “natural crystal”:

naturalcrystal

Here’s the Chinese crystal:

chinesecrystal

And I didn’t buy the Chinese crystal because it was cheap. I just liked the colors and the cuts. Most of the local bead shops here don’t even sell it.

The $5 a strand strands (aka, the big find):

5dollarstrands

The priciest thing I got, big fat faceted agate in lovely mauves and pinks:

mauvyagate

Some sort of weird AB beads, the seller said they were pearl:

abpearl

One thing I’ve learned about bead shows over the years: just because it’s pretty, cheap and THERE, doesn’t mean I should buy it. I’ve bought a few cheap strands of dyed magnesite and (what turned out to be imitation) chrysocolla. The colors are brilliant but fade quickly, leaving you with a washed out, almost colorless bead. That’s no fun. This is why I often test drive my jewelry if I’m using a certain type of bead for the first time. My rule of thumb: if it’s a strand of big beads, looks like porous stone, is brilliantly colored, and it’s under $20 at a show, I should probably stay away from it.

Look for some new stuff on Etsy tomorrow! See you then…

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WOW!

Everything I put on Etsy on Tuesday was sold by Wednesday evening. I’m pretty floored by that. But I guess I’m always pretty floored when anyone buys anything of mine. I know you guys like my beads, but there’s always a part of me that wonders if this is the last bead anyone buys from me, because everyone will realize there’s better talent out there. I’m sure this sounds a little odd coming from an unambitious underachiever like myself… but I’ve never truly pushed myself or cared as much about anything the way I do about glass and jewelry, so I have a pretty big emotional investment in it. School? I’d rather sleep in and flunk. Work? I’d rather sleep in and get fired. (Cool, I can make more beads if I don’t have a job.) I think Mom would have liked for me to have a job during high school, but I’m one of those types that can only focus on one big thing at a time, and I think she knew that, too. I had a hard enough time with Geometry the second time around, and Mr. Watson, my junior year English teacher, had pretty high standards. He was hot, in an educated sort of way. If I remember correctly, he got in a little bit of trouble for having his class read some Walt Whitman stuff the previous year. He  told me that I belonged in a school for the gifted and talented after I gave him my oral book report on Possessing the Secret of Joy by Alice Walker. He also offhandedly mentioned (and with a dismissive gesture, to boot)  that my boyfriend was a flake. Turns out he was right about both things, but it took me a while to realize it. Funny how little things from half a lifetime ago really stick with you. I certainly couldn’t tell you anything about Ye Olde English Literature, then or now.

Anyway, back on subject! A couple of people who I thought “mysteriously disappeared” from ebay have bought from me this week on Etsy. I didn’t realize just how many people had picked up and left ebay, and that a few of them still bought from me there only because they liked my beads so much. And the FEES on Etsy!? My goodness. Like, 1/4 of what ebay charges. Hey, were you guys trying to send me a message about ebay? Were you guys rubbing your hands together feverishly and cackling “if we don’t bid on her stuff, maybe she’ll move to Etsy?” HA-ha. I know you guys don’t think that way. When things need to change, the universe has its way of telling us. We just have to be paying attention. I may be in my own world 99% of the time, but I still manage to notice stuff like that.

So, thanks to everyone who looked at my Etsy stuff, and of course, bought it! I hope to have a few more glittery sparkly things for next week.

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This week on Etsy…

I added 4 new things to my Etsy shop. The upload time is still excruciating. I have to enter the tags each time. They talk about photo size in pixels, not inches. I’m still not used to any of it.

But hey, 4 new items! Hooray! Click Here to go right to my shop, or click each photo below for their individual listings.

Shrieking Violets BIG Fizz Tab - click me!

Shrieking Violets BIG Fizz Tab - click me!

Fallen Leaf Umbrella Sprees - click me!

Fallen Leaf Umbrella Sprees - click me!

True Turquoise Super Toggle - click me!

True Turquoise Super Toggle - click me!

And last, but not least (by any stretch):
Sunny Tulips (boro) - click me!

Sunny Tulips (boro) - click me!

 Thanks for stopping by…

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Need new color ideas? Check this out:

Electric Garden - 2005

Electric Garden - 2005

Inverted in Photoshop:

Electric Garden - inverted

Electric Garden - inverted

Now we have:

Neon Harvest - 2005

Neon Harvest - 2005

Pretty nifty, if you happen to have the right colors on hand. I wish I could get bubbles and other inclusions to look lighter under dark glass (like in the inverted photo) but maybe someday… Perhaps one of the glass tool makers will invent a magic wand that defies the laws of physics.

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Really?

Anyone who sells what they create has experienced this before:  you’ve made something that you feel is only so-so, and everyone else not only LOVES it, but wants to buy it. This happens frequently enough to inspire further investigation.

Purplestiltskin is a prime example of this mysterious happenstance.

Purplestiltskin - click me for the story

Purplestiltskin - click me for the story

I got at least 6 requests for them at the sale last night, and several more comments on the story/description. I can see why one might find the story charming, but the beads? I asked one lady who requested them, just WHAT it was about these beads. She says the variety was good, and the colors are warm and calming. Someone else made a similar comment, that she loved the colors and that the cube was cool. Interesting. I find the colors to be quite the opposite – a bit nerve-wracking and agitating. In my opinion, green would have helped a lot. Plus,  I was a bit apprehensive about the balance of color and the shapes, so I made sure everyone knew they were *experimental*, which they truly were, and I could keep a little dignity while I was at it. I wouldn’t want anyone to be under the impression that I thought these were fantastic when everyone else found them to be an atrocious waste of perfectly good glass.

This leaves me to wonder if the story really helped to sell the beads, and if I’d left the story out (which is totally true, btw, I can’t make this stuff up) they would be left behind. I honestly thought I would be stuck with them forever, with or without a funny story tagging along.

What do YOU think?! I’m pretty good at accepting constructive criticism, and I’d be just as interested in hearing from someone who didn’t like them. (you know, as long as you don’t hate me to begin with and see this as a cordial invitation to go ahead and let me have it.)  Hey, I don’t like them much either, so you’d be in good company.

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better late than never

… is probably something you’ll read frequently when it comes to posting on my blog. Particularly on Superstars weeks, when I’m completely absorbed in making beads and not much of anything else.

So, as promised, here are a few of my very first beads:

a few of my very first beads, 1998 - 2000

a few of my very first beads, 1998 - 2000

Pretty bad, huh? I had several successes in between these little fumbles, but most of my beads between 1998 and 2001 looked a lot like these. It didn’t help that my bead release sucked and that I had no instruction whatsoever. (But like I’ve mentioned several times here and there, I actually have no regrets about being taught only by Making Glass Beads by Cindy Jenkins, and a pointer here and there from the nice gals at Gingham Lady Stained Glass, where I bought all my glass for the first few years.)

Okay, break time is over – gotta get the Superstars ready for this evening! See you there, I hope…

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… and it’s already sold. WOW! Thanks CC, for my very first Etsy sale. Maybe Etsy won’t be so bad.

F L A M E Quadruple Spike on Etsy

F L A M E Quadruple Spike on Etsy

Gotta get to work and make Superstars for Thursday… Mr. Blue is clicking for me. You haven’t met Mr. Blue, my constant companion in the bead cave, and makes annealing a breeze. Here he is:

Mr (Industrial) Blue - Paragon EZ Beader

Mr (Industrial) Blue - Paragon EZ Beader

Just look at him! He worked 13 hours and 36 minutes, and uttered nary a complaint. Why can’t all appliances be so compliant? Perhaps he knows he’s so much more than just an appliance… I always give him a pet and a wink on his first click of the day.

See you tomorrow, when hopefully, I’ll have photos of my very first beads for you to behold, and then recoil in horror.

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But only if I have to leave the house. We went to the grocery store at 11:30 am today. BIG MISTAKE. But we were out of coffee, so what choice did we have? I never go before midnight, because it’s much more quiet and there aren’t a bunch of vacant faces attached to bodies meandering aimlessly in slow motion and standing right in front of the ketchup. (do NOT get between me and my ketchup.) And these aimless wanderers always look at ME like I’m crazy for knowing what I want and getting the heck outta there. Oddly enough, you can often find the same ones speeding through the parking lot and into the streets as if their rear ends are on fire. Whatever. There’s no explaining Day People.

All things considered, I always say, I’m gonna stick with it this time! I do, for about a couple of weeks, and then… I was working the other night and suddenly, I realized that I had no clue what time it was, and I really had to think about it for a minute. It was dark, after 7pm, but since I’m still catching up with last week’s previously recorded travesties (Days Of Our Lives and One Life To Live) I was sort of floating around in last week some time. You’d think that being awake during the day would make it easier for me to keep up with my soaps, but I like to be able to rewind if I miss something, whether it’s important or not. But I will add a disclaimer – I’m not so much addicted to my soaps as they are an important part of my daily routine. I usually watch them when I make beads and rarely any other time. I don’t even think about them unless I’m watching or programming my VCR to record them. So, yeah, people – I might have been half watching Bo and Hope have yet ANOTHER irrational argument over Bo’s newfound ability to predict the future, while making a Fizz Tab.

True Turquoise Fizz Tabs

True Turquoise Fizz Tabs

Or grinning a little over John McBain, broody detective extraordinaire as he manages to sniff out EVERY villain in the vacinity of (and beyond) Llanview, PA, while making one of those Glitter Fronds that everyone else prefers to call “eyes”.

Pinky Glitter Frond

Pinky Glitter Frond

I remember reading an interview with Pati Walton years ago, and the interviewer commented on the fact that Pati liked to watch Court TV while working, and said something like “Imagine Pati making these lovely underwater scenes while the OJ Simpson trial drones on in the background.” It’s funny how some people might pedestalize the artists they admire while imagining their daily activities, fraught with frou-frou and spotless perfection… they probably don’t imagine them watching crap TV and glomming 12 powdered donettes and chasing them with cherry sours and ice water, or kicking themselves for being such a weird slob but still opting not to clean the filthy bathroom or tidy up the photo taking table that is cluttered with dirty old curtains, Priority Mail box paper adhesive covers, and pieces of paper (all with a lonesome U with an umlaut in the upper left corner) that had been spit out by the confused printer at every startup when the old motherboard was in charge.

So, that’s my life. I’d post pictures, but some things are just too disgusting for the internet.

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