Archive for September, 2010


Hooray! I’ve been working on the descriptions and photos all day.

Click HERE to visit my shop or the thumbnails below for each item. FYI, these are not listed in the glass/bead/lampwork category, they’re listed in the jewelry/pendant/metalwork category on Etsy. I couldn’t figure out a way to list them in both categories, otherwise, I would have.

industrial candy BLING - click me

frondescent sprocket - click me

effervescent wheelie - click me

I’ve been working on these off and on for days, and completed most of the work yesterday. I’ve put off selling these finished pendants until I had a way to sign them, and now I do. Each one is signed and dated inside the bail. I’m extremely pleased with them, and I learned a lot from all three. I’ve picked up some speed with filing and shaping. I’ve found that I prefer the snips over the saw for cutting long straight lines for strip – yes, the metal curls, but I can easily hammer it straight again.

Dad told me that chalk will help keep files from clogging and make them much easier to clean. I was skeptical until I tried it. I spend much less time cleaning my files now. I happened to have a cube of blue tournament chalk on hand, so I guess everything will be kind of blue until I muster the energy for a trip to Target. The file cleaning card side of the cleaning card/bench brush combo I bought only works on my large bastard mill, which I use only occasionally. The bench brush on the other side is far more effective for cleaning the smaller cuts when they need it.

I’m having a really hard time with the spacing on this post, so I’d best publish it and go have a sandwich. Hope you guys dig these! Thanks for looking…

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my hands are so sore…

…but I’m so happy I could pee!

newest silver + glass pendants, september 2010

It’s an awful picture – the silver is not nearly that shiny, and the colors are weird. Like glass, sterling photographs better in natural light. As tempting as it is, I could keep them all for myself. But what fun would that be? Look for all 3 on Etsy tomorrow (or today, actually, it’s  Thursday either way), with better photos, measurements and all that rot. We’ll talk again then when I post the new listings here – or there – or wherever you’re looking…


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Here’s what happened with the Paypal Buy Now buttons.

One of them sold the same item to two different people. I told you I spent hours on those buttons, right? One of those things I was doing was meticulously entering a quantity of 1 for each item, checking it again, and then again. In the Buy Now button’s defense, it could have been the superstars stampede that confused it. 5 payments for 4 different items came in at 8pm, so maybe Paypal’s system couldn’t decipher which payment came in first for that one item.

Nobody opted for postal insurance, but I’m not sure it was because they didn’t want it (which is totally fine) or if it was because Buy Now Button wouldn’t let anyone have it. Someone did tell me that she opted for the insurance, but when it came time to pay, the total was for shipping only. That wouldn’t have been a problem, except Paypal wouldn’t let her add anything additional to her total.

sand, sea, grass - my favorite from last thursday's sale

So, bottom line, I figure the Buy Now buttons are just as much of a hassle as the email me method of selling beads, and with the buttons, I have less control over the situation. I don’t like two people sending payment for the same item because it means someone will be disappointed and possibly never shop with me again… then again, sending the “sorry” email could be just as detrimental. I like being able to create the invoices myself for the following reasons:

1. When the payment notifications come in, I know exactly what item the payment is for. Normally, I can see Z-Beads Superstars: Goofy Green Golfballs right there in the subject line, because I created that subject line in the invoice I sent you. Thursday night, all I got was “Item #0001 – Notification of Payment Received by ***” I had to scroll down through a bunch of blah-biddy-blah to see what the item was. It took me twice as long to write out my receipts. (Instead of including an entire piece of paper soaked in printer ink, I prefer to do my part in saving the world by using small duplicate receipts from receipt books bought from the office supply, and to write them out in ballpoint.)

2.  With my invoices, nobody will overpay for shipping or insurance. (But I guess sending refunds if that happens isn’t really any big whoop.) And you’ll get postal insurance if you want it. Really, I’m not trying to push postal insurance on you guys. I just know that some people like to have it for higher priced items, and for anyone not to have it when they did want it for reasons beyond anyone but Paypal’s control… it kinda sorta gets my hair in an uproar. Sure, I could send another invoice for insurance, but if I’m going to be forced to do that, why wouldn’t I just send ONE correct invoice for the entire transaction? After all those hours I spent on creating those dastardly buttons?  I could almost deal with the same item selling twice, but add the insurance thing onto that, and that puts two marks on the Buy Now Button’s con column. The pro column isn’t blank, though. I guess I’ll have to think on it a bit. And less on how things should be and more on how things are and how I can learn to deal with and work around them.

Sorry I obsess over these things and feel the need to tell you all about it. It isn’t because I’m a control freak – it’s because I want your buying experience with me to be fun and simple. Life in general isn’t fun and simple, so when you choose to spend your fun time at my sales, it’s up to me to keep it fun. If you have any comments about the buttons or anything else, feel free to comment here or drop me an email. And to everyone who came to the sale, thanks so much!

And speaking of that, I redesigned the Superstars page. Check it out!

Thanks for reading… more this coming week!

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I’m taking these few spare moments to tell you…

Superstars are tonight, in case you hadn’t gotten the memo. I’ve been largely ignoring my inbox all week unless the messages pertained to Superstars business. If I owe you an email, you’ll hear from me at some point after the dust settles. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s coming tonight:

Egg Hunt !BLING! - see us at the sale tonight!

AND: we’ll be trying out the Paypal Pay Now buttons. You won’t have to email me! You can just Buy Now with a button. If you’re interested in how this will work, please see the Superstars page for more info. We’ll see how it goes. I’ve obsessed over getting those #$%&*# buttons right for hours, and I still expect something to go wrong, because that’s how it is. I know the buttons will affect the spacing on the SS page, and you may have to scroll side to side. I don’t have enough time to go twenty rounds with Dreamweaver about that issue today, so we’ll just have to muddle through that for now. I figure the buttons will either make things easier, or so complicated that I’ll want to jump out the window and sell everything on Etsy. Luckily, my house is only one floor and Etsy only charges 20 cents per listing.

Wish us all luck, see you tonight!

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I know it’s an odd day for Etsy… and maybe more odd that it’s ALL BOROSILICATE!

Click HERE for my shop, or the thumbnails below for each listing.

navy teal trio - click me

baby chick - click me

dots & lines trio - click me

Thanks for looking!

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first sterling pendant

It took forever and it was so much fun!

I spent a long while getting the big red glass disk bead just right in the flame…

I sawed, filed, flared, dapped, tapped, snipped, punched, sanded, patinaed and brushed off and on for two days straight…

Crazy. Mr. Sarah was all, “man, you say you’re going to learn how to do something, and you just go and DO it.” Well, yeah. As long as it has to do with making little things with tools, requires minimal human contact, and I want to learn it badly enough, I’m all over it.

About this piece – it was very much a make-do kind of project. All the connections were formed with tube, although I would have preferred to use some heavy gauge wire for the connection of the loop to the bead, and for the loop itself. But I dealt and sawed the loop from sheet – which was surprisingly difficult. I had a very hard time sawing a straight line. Oh well. Next time I may just use the snips. I sawed and filed the flower thingees from sterling disks, and I rather like the random tool marks left on the flowers… this piece already looks aged with love. I like the odd little saw gap between the petals, too. It measures over 1 1/2 inches from top to bottom, and over 1 inch wide. So, what do you guys think? Is this a design worth exploring a little further? It’s a good start, at least.


Thanks for celebrating with me! Now, I think I’ll go pass out after a full day of obsessing over one small strip of sterling.

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Back to the day schedule…

…for now. I avoided anything that could cause excitement yesterday – sparkly stuff, shiny things, both in real life and on the computer. I passed out at 8pm and slept fairly soundly until 5am.

So, I go into the kitchen to make coffee and what do I find? ANTS. A long trail of them on the backsplash behind the sink. I flew into a murderous rage with the Mr. Clean and baby powder. I found out a couple of years ago that vinegar does not work, otherwise, I would have used that. I refuse to spray bug repellants inside, and actually, I’ve found that baby powder works quite well for keeping them out. Somehow we managed to keep the little buggers at bay all summer, besides a big surge of them in the spring, but over the last several days, they keep finding their way into my home. I think it’s the rain we’ve been having lately. Seriously, if I found a genie who gave me three wishes, I would wish for world peace, 10 million dollars to share with my family, and for all the ants on the planet to be GONE. I can deal with spiders, roly polies and the occasional waterbug, but ants are way too persistent for my liking. According to Wikipedia, ants may form 15–25% of the terrestrial animal biomass. That’s a lot of ANTS that we could be RID of… if I could only find a genie. Anyway, I was none too thrilled with the assignment of Ant Patrol at 5:15 this muggy AM, but as everyone well knows, ants are very good at ruining a perfectly good start to one’s day.

I’ve been thinking a LOT about silver lately… so much that I’m forgetting to eat. I’ll be making beads or fawning over my hammers and start feeling a little dizzy… OH! It’s because I forgot to eat, and when I do, it isn’t as much as usual, so my waistline is a little happier. I’ve been forgetting laundry too, apparently, because I dragged about 3 large loads out of my closet today.

In other news: I’m going to be having a SUPERSTARS sale next week. Hooray!! If you’re on my mailing list, you’ll get an update some day this week. Maybe even today. Meanwhile, check out what I’ve been up to. You’ll either find these on Etsy or at Superstars next Thursday. They still need a little more something – I suspect the liver of sulphur I have coming will do the trick:

And it’s still pretty hot for mid September, but we’ve had hotter mid Septembers… It’s been just muggy enough to keep me miserable. Hopefully I won’t totally sweat my guts out today since I’ll be making beads during the day, rather than in the (relatively) cool of the night. 

Hey, thanks for checking in with me… breakfast is the next order of business, then on to work with me.

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Click HERE for my shop, or the thumbnails below for each item.

robin's egg bling barrel - click me

simple sunset toggle trio - click me

green bottle bling - click me

sublime southwest shimmer spikes - click me

I’m keeping this short, gotta get back to vegging out in front of the TV… thanks for checking in!

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Victories big and small

Remember that little dome I showed you on Sunday night? Sure enough, I went back at it and made it more domey. I couldn’t stand the thought of making beads when I could be feeling the metal, now that I have a good place to feel it in. So, here are the things I’ve learned:

1. I love my orange and black Shroeder hand drill, and drilling wasn’t nearly as difficult as I had expected. Good drill bits make drilling and subsequent clean-up much more efficient. Unfortunately, I can’t tell the difference between good and not-so-good drill bits just by looking, but I do know that the drill bits I bought from the jewelry supply were much better than the cheapy ones I bought at a local tool store. As much as I enjoyed my little schroeder hand drill, I couldn’t imagine using a flex shaft. Yet.

2. Polishing was not nearly as difficult as I had expected. I also did that by hand with felt polishing sticks, and really enjoyed taking my time and not worrying about my tiny little piece flying across the room, never to be found again.

3. I NEED liver of sulphur. Like, now.

4. Sawing was the most intimidating task I felt I had before me, and quite frankly, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I made it out to be. As long as your sawing technique and position is correct, it’s no big deal. I sawed two lengths of tubing and was amazed at how easily it went as long as I did it right. Of course, I say that after sawing two times, for a total of less than 5 minutes. Perhaps my tune will change once I move on to sheet and more complicated tasks. I’m just over the moon because my blade didn’t break.

5. Filing is smooth and easy with good quality files, and was much more efficient than I had expected. I used a cheapy bastard mill from the local tool shop for big clean-up, then my habilis files for better smoothing, then my smaller no 2 files for final finishing. For the domes, I used emery sticks on the rounded surfaces, and thought that added an interesting matte finish. But I needed to learn about polishing so I went ahead and tried it. I used tripoli, then red rouge. The shine is good – not too mirrory. Again, I need some LOS for contrast for the dome pieces, and I’ll finally be completely happy with them.

the domes - dotty and holey

Next, I got out this simple old sterling ring with a beautiful green stone – it looks like chrysoprase to me. I can’t even remember how it came into my possession, which is odd, because I remember how I acquired every piece of jewelry I own. Anyway, the band had been squished, it was filthy dirty, and just to see what happened, I put it on my ring mandrel and carefully hammered the band back into shape. It worked quite well, except for one spot I couldn’t get to with my hammer. Then I polished it, and found that it was a smidge too shiny for my taste, and now I’m considering jazzing it up somehow. We’ll see how that goes, I could end up ruining the setting, but I think the stone will be safe and could be used for another project if it ends up that way.

And this evening: still being in the “throwing stuff to see what sticks” phase, I went ahead and tried coring a bead by hand, expecting disastrous results. This is the Big Victory I mentioned in the title. I made this big hole flower bead in 2004 or 2005 for this very purpose. (I guess I’ve been pondering working with silver for at least that long.) I’ve almost given it away about a dozen times, but I always decided at the last minute that I couldn’t. I was going through my bead box and it struck me, and I thought, what the heck. If it breaks, it breaks. Even if it doesn’t break and I completely screw up the core, it will be a valuable lesson. So I vaguely followed the Riveted and Silver Core tutorial by Tink on Wet Canvas – since I had a good grasp of the method and had read that tutorial several times over the years, all I needed to refer to it for was how much length to leave for the flare. (2mm on each end, in case you’re wondering.)

the big victory

I (apprehensively) used random sizes of dapping punches on the steel block, turning it over every few taps, and once it began to flare, I used larger and larger punches. One area wasn’t flaring as well as the others, and I think I just needed bigger punches because it finally evened out a bit once I tried them. Then I took my tiny brass/nylon combo hammer and gently tapped the flare the rest of the way down – sometimes on my rubber block, sometimes on my steel block – not too far, but just far enough that it was mostly even and didn’t have much play in and out of the hole. I goofed the metal up a bit, but I went ahead and polished it anyway – I may very well go back and file it a smidge in those areas, but hey! I didn’t crack the bead, and that’s all that matters to me at the moment. I wonder if lining the hole with beeswax helped cushion the impact a bit.

In case you hadn’t gathered, I’m very excited, particularly about the cored bead. I always felt like my big holed beads needed the silver core, not just for aesthetic purposes, but for an extra layer of protection between the glass and the chain I imagined them sliding around on. That’s how I wear mine.

Thanks for being excited with me!!! Perhaps next week (after I get some “real” work done) I’ll have more new excitements for you. Now, I’m going to eat something, then a beer that I hope will make me very sleepy.

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Now that THAT’S over with…

Let me tell you something. If you think you might like to be annoyed for a couple of hours, get a build-it-yourself jeweler’s bench. The extra cost for assembly and shipping may be worth it if you’re not handy at all. I’m a little bit handy, dad is very handy, but we were both cursing the allen wrench before it was all over with. Yes, that’s right kids – most of the assembly was achieved with an allen wrench. Dad said something like “saving money on this sort of thing comes with a price”.

We had a few problems, but nothing major. One of the support bars for the skirting and legs had a split in it near the edge. That was solved with glue and clamps. After everything was put together, we found that one of the legs was just a few hairs shorter than the rest, so I’ve had to put a piece of paper under it. No biggie, since I already have a few things that require a piece of paper beneath one of the corners. Then I noticed that the ledge has a split in it. There’s no telling at what point that happened, but I don’t think it will be an issue. All things considered, this isn’t bad and I think I like it. It seems pretty sturdy for what it is, and dad reinforced a few things with screws. I still have a bit of organizing to do – dad and I are going to build a little masonite pegboard thingee for my hammers.

And look what I “made”: a little silver disk, dotted with a scribe and domed in my doming block. I’m having fun already…

It’s a bit late to turn the kiln on, so I guess I’ll go piddle around and see how much more domed I can make that dome.

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