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Archive for December, 2009

Being away from the torch for 5 days put me in the mood to get to work real serious-like. Just like I said I wanted to do days ago, I made barrels…

Barrels with and without foil

… and stars… These are large, thick, substantial disk shapes, great for closures (for jewerly or purses or whatever), zipper pulls, or dangling or connecting with various media:

Yep. Stars.

I’ve finally perfected my stars – well, at least the crucial parts. Now that I have the difficult areas licked, I’ll be experimenting more with different colors and ideas. I made my first star in 2004, and it wasn’t bad, but I didn’t make another one until 2007, and it was an abysmal failure. I used a particularly sensitive version of Effetre Ocher, and it was really streaky and not good at all. (I have no idea what has become of it, otherwise, I’d show you.) So, not too long ago, I was inspired to try another star for the first time in years, and it turned out very nice:

Maize

I also made two new murrine canes and made these yesterday:

Pink Hana Seascape

These colors are something of a departure for me. I don’t work much with pink, and work with Pea Green even less frequently. I am having too much fun just playing around. Even when “playing around” I usually make myself stick to some sort of plan. I made all of these on a whim – well, with just a moment’s planning.

Look for these and much more in my upcoming Etsy and Superstars sales.

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I’m sorry.

I know I’m a cynic. It’s difficult for me to grasp that some people feel threatened by sarcasm, or don’t even want to entertain the possibility of darker, more sinister motivations in polite conversation. I honestly hope that I haven’t given anyone the impression that I HATE everything, even the stuff I like. I think being able to vent candidly and make jokes about whatever bugs me keeps me young. But I try not to dwell on stuff that bugs me – I poke fun at it and let it go. I tend to go on more about things I don’t like, because the things I do like are so mundane that they aren’t worth prattling on about. Well, besides beads. Anyway, in hopes that I haven’t scared anyone off with my Recent Rants In Dark Minor, I will talk about beads and art and stuff.

Ivory Hana Seascape

So, these Seascape beads I’ve been making lately… the inspiration is partly those German (?) girls, Melanie Moertel and Manuela Wutschke. I LOVE their beads, and their murrine are what inspired me to try making my own. But mostly, the Seascape theme is inspired by my dad’s art. He stopped painting in the 80’s, fairly soon after he and mom split. Which was a shame, he was unbelievably good at it. He preferred oil, and didn’t seem to mind how long it took to dry. He piddled with op-art and geometric design, but some of his best work is the surreal and abstract. His use of color and meticulous shading, even in the tiniest details, is just so good. He’s worked big and small, sometimes with sculpted canvases, and a variety of found objects. He is also very good with wood, he still works with it today, and knowledge of wood and tools certainly lent itself to creative canvas making.

Here are two of my favorite pieces – the photos aren’t that good, but it gives you an idea:

Seascape

Seascape - detail

Self Portrait

Self Portrait - detail

It’s funny, I’m not good at painting, and he says he can just look at glass and it breaks. I WANT to paint, I have good ideas, I think. I also want to work with silver and keep a clean house. If you want to be good at anything, you have to invest a lot of time and focus. I just can’t seem to pry myself away from the glass…

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Today on Etsy…

Wow, I didn’t realize how long it had been since I listed something for sale.  The new Win 7 format or theme or whatever is going to have to go, though, because it’s really slowing me down. I think I’ve been subconsciously putting everything off because I knew how it would be. I just want windows classic back so I can SEE what’s in  my folders, and what folders or browsers are open at just a glance. I’m sure there’s some fancy newfangled setting that makes the whole fancy thing so much more elegantly UNfancy, but I’m too unfancy to dig for it.

So, as promised, here are the new Etsy listings!

Experiments In Blue - click me!

 

Cool & Sunny Seascape - click me!

 

Psychedelic Gumdrops - click me!

 

Rag-Tag Random No. 2 - click me!

 

Thanks for checking in… I’m gonna get on that torch for the first time in 5 days! It’s been too long.

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Yesterday (Sunday)…

I blinged for 10 hours. Well, I took an hour to make and eat dinner, so 9 hours. I only had one little fixable accident, and only one casualty. (Some beads are better left unblinged, but it’s impossible to tell which ones those will be until it’s glaringly obvious.) I was happy that CBS showed a Jesse Stone movie. You know, the made for TV ones that Tom Selleck is in. Not that I’m in love with Tom Selleck, I just like the Jesse Stone character – the typical tortured, rogue cop. Luckily, it was on during the 1200 disk and the polishing disk, so that I could actually hear what they were saying. When I’m working the 170 and 325 disks, all I can hear is scratching. Mr. Sarah told me he liked that sound – anything shrill and obnoxious seems to be music to his ears. Then again, when at their hungriest, the cats can reach a shrieking soprano the castrates would be envious of… but it doesn’t seem to make him want to run out into the kitchen to feed them. Which is why I’m glad we aren’t having children together. Imagine: me, too unmotherly and distracted by sparkly stuff to care, and him, not particularly bothered by a shrieking blob that’s oozing various liquids from every orifice. The cats could take better care of a baby, and they poop in a box and eat weird stuff off of the floor.

If by now you’ve deduced that I have a phobia of small children, you’d be correct. It’s perfectly manageable, as long as I don’t have any.

Speaking of shrill and obnoxious, I recorded 12 hours of unwavering cheese on Lifetime this weekend – the theme was “Dirty Little Secret Saturday”. That’s right up my alley. I’m not embarrassed to admit I watch (record) those abominations. They tug at the voyeur in all of us, they bring our worst fears to life and there’s always a victory for the female character in the end, empowering us as women. Yeah.  “BARF!” or “shut up!” are the most common exclamations you’ll hear from the bead room while I’m watching these travesties. I guess I watch these awful movies, soaps, cop shows, etc., not because I think of the characters as friends, or imagine myself as one of the characters, or anything maladjusted like that… it’s because they’re mostly predictable, and anchor me to my tangible surroundings and keep me from getting all the way lost in my own brain. Being forced to fast forward through commercials for chick flicks, prescription zombie pills and Olive Garden certainly helps with that. (You know, because studies show that women like the Olive Garden. It’s fancy, but not fancier than we deserve. The fairer gender can’t get enough breadsticks, and the bottled-up self-destructive parts of us totally dig the typically symmetrical young waiters on crystal meth.) (Gross.) I suppose a new story every day keeps one half of my brain occupied with inconsequential drivel while the other half thinks about molten glass. Since I refuse to invite drama into my real life, I can get my fix in a healthy (?) way, from a distance, without involving myself at all. On the flipside, I prefer silence when I write at the computer, and music when I clean house. I wonder what this all means, but I should probably just watch Criminal Intent instead.

So, tomorrow (today) I’ll be getting up and taking photos for ETSY, and watching some serious cheese while I melt some stuff. Yes, I need to get back to selling now that the Hellidays are pretty much over. A good amount of snow has melted and I got to the PO today (yesterday). I do hope the 1-4 more inches of snow coming our way this week will change its mind and go somewhere else. I’d like to get to the freaking post office again before I have another dream about my teeth crumbling. (I am a little obsessive about the shipping.) It seems like The State of California would have determined snow to be carcinogenic and/or hazardous at some point before now. It isn’t politically correct, either – it’s definitely not “green”. I mean, come on… it’s completely white, and makes no apologies about it. If the State of California won’t step up, shouldn’t SOMEONE be taking issue with this??? It can’t be me, though. I’ll probably be snowed in.

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Jewelry!

I’ve made it known several times that I hate taking pictures, and jewelry is especially difficult for me. I don’t know what that’s all about, but considering, these photos didn’t turn out too bad. So, as promised, I’m showing you some of the things I made on Thursday. All of these pieces include sterling components and glass/sterling centerpieces made by Alicia Abla. We did this trade/collab a year or two ago (sorry, I have no concept of time right now) and I was lucky enough to end up with these fabulous Alicia pieces. It’s taken me this long to decide what to do with all of them, since these are so special and I’m not used to designing with metal of any kind. I was always such a glass purist, then glass + lucite, and now, I’m slowly getting used to using and wearing more metal.

First, I want to show you one of my current favorites – the pieces that follow are modeled after this combination. The strung piece is made with blue labradorite and blue goldstone with an Alicia Abla flower and a link, and I made the Spike Trio and put them on a regular old keychain with an Alicia Abla headlight thingee. I hang it on doubled up surgical steel ball chain and always wear the two together:

I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with this centerpiece (I made the bead, it started out as a simple thick layered glass disk, which Alicia worked her lapidary magic on and set in sterling with a carnelian stone). She made both the link and the toggle clasp with a teensy tinsy ruby or garnet or a carnelian set in it. She told me what it was once, but I forget now. The beaded part of the necklace isn’t much on it’s own, but by design –  I want the centerpiece to stand out, and also, to be able to wear it with a couple of other things.

Now, this one is pretty special to me. This yellow flower is the first thing I got from Alicia, and I’ve made several things with it, and I couldn’t get happy with any of them. It’s kind of an odd color of yellow, and I love it – it’s just been hard to find anything else in this shade of yellow. But I think this one is going to stick. Since I got to keep the Wild Lime Bling Barrel, I put it next to the flower and was very pleased. The rest was history. I might make another Spike Trio to go with in these wild yellow and green colors. Anyway, this piece is definitely asymmetrical, however, it does hang just right whether I center the flower or the barrel. I rarely get that lucky with weight balance, so I HAVE to leave this one alone.

This last one is made of very special things – a coin with a hole in the middle and embossed with pretty flowers (unsure of its origin, if anyone has any ideas, let me know!), another Alicia charm, I believe she calls these Bobo charms, and what I can only guess is some sort of dog tag type of charm. It simply says “sterling” on the back of it, but no other marks. I have another one in copper, they both appear to be vintage and I have no clue how they came to be in my stash. The serpentine chain belonged to my grandmother and the two segments and loops connected perfectly to the Alicia link. It makes a light and wonderful tinkling sound when I wear it.

All of these pieces look much better on, for sure. I didn’t feel like modeling today. Mr. Sarah is cooking the turkey so it doesn’t go to waste, and I desperately need to wash my hair. Winter hair sucks when you have enough coarse, curly hair for 3 people. I can’t decide if I want to !BLING! today or make beads. It’s cold, but the wind is coming from the west and will not interfere with my ventilation. I wonder if I should take advantage of that – I’m in the mood to make barrels and stars and things out of molten glass. We’ll see what I feel like when I walk into the bead room.

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BLIZZARD!

Record snowfall for OK (14 inches, with drifts much higher than that) +
40mph winds with 60mph gusts +
a 50 car pileup on the highway +
interstates and turnpikes completely shut down +
Governor Henry declares a State of Emergency +
people who were silly enough to go OUT in this mess to buy last minute x-mas gifts being forced to spend the night at the mall =
“white christmas”

this is how much accumulated within 45 minutes

They asked for this ridiculous cliche. They BEGGED for it! The dorks who call into the local news stations and whine at the meteorologists for a “white christmas” had better be pleased with themselves. They’re probably the ones who caused the pileups and are spending the night at the mall. They’re probably still passed out on the bedding displays at Macy’s and JCPenneys after raiding the Sbarro and Corn Dog On A Stick for a midnight snack without a care in the world. I know I would be, after 12 corn dogs and a bucket of lemonade. That stuff is awesome. Besides my semi-annual trip to Macy’s for my face cream and the Gap for t-shirts and jeans, the food court is the only reason I’d ever want to set foot in that dastardly place.

Us suth’ners aren’t used to this. I don’t mind a little snow, it’s better than ice and freezing rain that freezes so hard and thick that it breaks power lines and destroys thousands of trees. But again, a LITTLE snow. I had to go out my front door and clear away the snow drift that was quickly accumulating directly in front of our door. The only workable implement I had was a dustpan. It worked fine with the powdery dry snow, but that just goes to show you how little snow we get around here.

can you see the enormous snowflakes blowing onto my front porch?

All of this crap happened yesterday. Today, the sun was shining and there wasn’t much wind until the afternoon, when we dug out a regular shovel, a rake and a hoe and went after our driveway. Our neighbor saw us and brought us a real snow shovel. It was an overwhelming task, so overwhelming that we couldn’t do the entire driveway. We’re hoping that tomorrow when I have my hair appointment (if the salon is even open) that we can back out of the driveway and level the 15″ high clump of snow we didn’t have the werewithal to shovel up today.

All of this snow makes me really mad. I feel absolutely defeated by it. I can’t imagine living in a climate where this is what’s considered normal. The only consolation is that christmas is over. Also, I had time to make a few pieces of jewelry yesterday. I hope to get photos of that tomorrow. Today was spent shoveling snow and then passing out for three hours afterwards.

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GLASS!

I ordered some reducing colors from Double Helix two or three weeks ago. I haven’t used much of it – just a little goes a long way. But I can’t put it down, I want to devour it. That’s pretty funny, since my thoughts about silver 104 glass when it first came out and was getting so much attention was “ppbbtt. I have boro for that sort of effect, and it’s cheaper.” I was never a reaction lover when it came to soft glass, meaning, I didn’t care about what evil purple, turquoise and opal yellow did together. I don’t do organic, either, so I buy ivory once every four years, and whatever other neutral curdly colors I might have, I ended up with through special freebies from Frantz. I use my silver leaf and foil for colorful stuff, rather than wrapping it around boring old ivory to create smoky, curdly effects. Inevitably, I was pretty resistant to silver 104. I mean, who needs it, right?

unabridged color

Also, I’ve always been very shy about turning my oxygen down and using a licky yellow flame to bring the shiny metals out of stuff. I used a Hot Head for the first 5 years and was used to using a flame as-is, so that probably explains some of it. And with boro, you have to be careful about reducing some colors, like sparkles and any chrome greens, because it can actually change the COE by as many as 20 points, rendering it incompatible with the rest of the bead. (you can also achieve this by garaging chrome greens/sparkles for too long in your kiln.) So obviously, that isn’t something I do since I use sparkles in almost every boro bead I make. In fact, I don’t do anything special at all with boro. I just pretend it’s soda lime, and work it as such, no striking or reducing – just with a much hotter torch and a different annealing schedule. Oh, and I fully encase everything, and I don’t do that with soda lime at all.

When I first bought some of these fancy new colors much earlier this year, I stuck with strikers like DH Khaos, TAG Dalai, etc., because I figured I’d have better luck than with reducing colors. But all I got was beige blah, and very consistently. I put them away and didn’t think about them for several months. I was inspired to get them out again, and got the same results. So I did some reading on LE – I simply searched each color in the Tips, Techniques and Questions section, and found some posts by the glass makers themselves. In some cases, those posts proved to be more helpful and specific than the info on their own websites. I found that my approach to the silver strikers was all wrong – I was working the glass like regular, non-striking glass, and still attempting to strike it. Duh. So I took Double Helix’s advice (posted on LE) for striking colors: heat the crap out of it until it’s about to drip on the table, and closer to the candles than you normally would for maximum heat. (I definitely wasn’t doing that.) Then, take it out of the flame, still being careful not to let it drip or sag, and once it appears that it’s cool enough to crack, bring it back to the very tip of the flame and watch the colors bloom. I found that once I executed those crucial steps at the beginning of the bead, even with the subsequent cooling and reheating of shaping and adding more decoration, I’m still going to have better color.

my first serious tries at silver glass - a bit too blah for me

This time around, I bought all reducing colors. Double Helix notes whether it’s a striker or a reducer, which made it really easy to decide what I wanted. I did find (through both research and experimentation of my own) that IF you can get the transparent aqua reducers such as TAG Taxco Silver Turquoise and the new Effetre Silver #1, to actually reduce – it does take some effort, more than you might think – it won’t stay under the encasement. Encasing them seems to erase that sheen, and all you get is transparent aqua glass under encasement. I assume that DH Elektra behaves similarly since it’s a transparent aqua glass, but I don’t know that for sure since I haven’t tried it yet.

I found out (by accident) that using transparent colors other than clear can produce interesting results when applied to the metallic sheen of reducing colors. For example, I made a bead with Aion2 and since I didn’t have a rod of Effetre clear handy, I grabbed Vetrofond Crystal Green since it’s pretty much clear, anyway. What I got was sort of an olive and aqua striation, which was nice, but it didn’t keep much of its metallic sheen. That was one of my first beads, though, before I grew some nads about reducing, so I may try it again later when I have more experience. Another interesting color to use is Lavender 080. Some of you may already know that Effetre lavender turns silver leaf yellow, and the same can be said about silver glass. I also found that the lighter transparent reducers, like Aurae for example, will create interesting colors when you use different bases for them.

most recent experiments, some successful

 

Look for (even better) beads made with silver 104 glass in my upcoming sales! And speaking of that… I figure there isn’t much point in putting anything in my Etsy shop this week, due to the holiday stuff… There’s a small chance I won’t make it to the PO again this week, anyway.

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Back to work.

I had a whole post written up, but managed to misplace it. I wanted to talk about what a Boro Binge was like, and I certainly did. Maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing, because it was kind of long.

my favorites from the last boro binge in August

 

Some of you know that I only work with borosilicate glass twice a year. I start planning it one month in advance, which always proves to be too last minute. About two years ago, I swore to work with it more often and in shorter sprints, to avoid stressing about the logistics and pinching my pennies for that month of boro and fewer sales. Evidently, that never happened. What I’ve been doing is taking an entire month to make soda lime beads to sell during the following month of working with boro. That means two months of sparse income and no days off… but absolute freedom to make whatever I want, absolutely no orders. Sometimes I really enjoy that freedom, and other times, it’s awful. There are days when I feel completely uninspired and have no orders to keep me working. That’s when I truly appreciate made to orders and realize how they keep me financially afloat and emotionally grounded.

Not that I’m complaining, but sometimes I get so slammed with made to orders that I don’t have time to play around and make new stuff, let alone make any extra time for little spots of boro here and there. I’ve had as much as a 3 month wait for made to orders, and I don’t like anyone to have to wait that long for their orders. Unfortunately, the people who prefer Superstars or Etsy may get left out while I try to catch up on made to orders. When I get that backlogged on orders, I seriously consider nixing the made-to-order option altogether, but always make myself remember how much I’d miss it. So don’t worry, it isn’t going anywhere. I haven’t had a Superstars sale in too long, but there will be at least a couple of them in January and/or February while I’m working with boro. The only drawback to this is that I may not have enough stock to keep up with Etsy on a consistent basis during these next couple of months. We’ll have to see how it goes.

SO, the point to all of this yammering is this: I have meticulously planned out the next 6 months to include at least one Superstars sale a month, and plan my orders around that. (it will be interesting to see how well I stick with it). This really shouldn’t affect the wait time much because I will have better advanced planning and I can quote a reasonable turnaround. I think I’ll still be doing the boro thing twice a year, about every six months like I have been – but since I’ll be planning it months in advance, I won’t feel quite so overwhelmed. If it’s glaring at me every time I check my order queue, boro will be a little more fresh on my mind.

Thanks for reading! More interesting stuff this week, like, my photos of my newest 104 silver glass experiments!

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The Disaster might be over.

But I won’t say definitely. I’m not an optimist, and think all good things are probably too good to be true. I halfway expect something to start smoking, sizzling and smelling of iodine and ozone later today. One of our monitors did that right before it died, so I know that isn’t outside the realm of possibility.

At the moment, however, my computer is in fantastic working order and my life may continue.  After all, my life is in .txt format – to-do lists, bead orders, past bead orders, glass orders, wish lists, etc. We pinpointed two problems: 1, the video card. Mr Sarah has a fantastic knack for outsmarting a computer, and was somehow able to trick it into being okay with my digital + analog monitors. He’s had to do this sort of thing before, and usually after a few days of obsessing about it, he gets it figured out. 2, it turns out the processor was being overclocked with all this new RAM we could finally use with 64bit, so he had to get into the BIOS (guts) and tone the gigahertz down a bit. That nailed it.  Geez. I didn’t even know you could do that. (But don’t try this at home, ok kids?) I may have mentioned this earlier, somewhere – he actually built this computer. We bought this machine in (what I would consider “tested compatible”) parts from Tiger Direct, being sold together. He insists it isn’t a “kit” but it sure sounds like a “kit” to me. It didn’t exactly come with instructions or necessary tools to build it with, so yeah, I guess it isn’t technically a “kit”. Anyway, it was the first one he’s ever built, and since he did it so well and because it was so problem-free from the beginning, the opportunity to really get to know it simply never presented itself. I suspect he knows it better than he wants to at this point, but at least he’ll have a better idea what to do next time it goes wack.

 I’m still getting up in the morning, and early, too. It isn’t too bad as long as I don’t have to go out in the car and see all the people. In the cold months, working during the day is preferable since it’s warmer and more comfortable than working at night. In the summer, though, night time is the only time I can stand to work.  Another good thing I’ve discovered about this day schedule is that I don’t want to eat, like, 12 cupcakes or whatever. I am hopelessly addicted to sugar. I guess when I’m passed out by 10 or 11pm, I’m sleeping through that window of time when I crave sweets the most. If I can stick with this schedule for any length of time, I may lose an inch or two.

So now that everything is mostly back to normal, I really owe some people some email and must pack up some beads before getting to work today…

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That means no Etsy tonight. (The patience I set aside for this week has already been spent.) That’s probably a relief for those of you who know you might not be able to resist the temptation of my piddly baubles. You can be sure, however, that the day or day after I piece my computer back together, there will be something on Etsy. Even if it happens to be Saturday.

But the good news is, we’re still running Windows 7 64 bit and I haven’t blue-screened all day today, and it didn’t happen last night when we left the computer on. We’ve pinpointed it to a video card, either the on-board or add on. I can’t remember which. It’s all been a big, awful, confusing blur.  I’m successfully using MY computer to surf the web and send/receive email (with Eudora, not Outlook – more success!), but we still have lots of work to do.

I had a lot of other stuff to say, but I can’t find the .txt file. Figures.

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