Archive for October, 2010

New Mailing List Adventure

It’s been a long time coming, people.  I’ve searched the internet high and low and considered many suggestions from my lovely bead friends for a free, easy to use mailing list program, but I kept putting it off. All I knew for sure was that I needed to be doing something differently – with over 500 subscribers, keeping the mailing list in an MS Word document and sending 9 emails to smaller batches of the recipients through my email program was not only time consuming, but probably not exactly kosher with the internet powers that be. Here’s the story.

We finally (seriously) looked into phplist a couple of weeks ago. We thought it might work, so we installed it… and it would have been less confusing if it were written in Chinese characters. Phplist is incredibly jarring for the average computer user, because essentially, the language the program was written in is extremely visible to the user, and the user is expected to manipulate the program in that language. If you want to use phplist, you really need to be able to understand the language, or you’ll be clueless. Mr. Sarah made the joke that all of its guts were hanging out. Imagine picking through three city blocks of .exe intestine to find a morsel of English. Phplist made me want to shake my computer the same way surgeons do to get all the organs settled back in before they sew ’em up. I know that’s a strange and gross analogy, but it fits. And it absolutely wasn’t going to work for me.

So, we figured we might as well try Dada Mail because it came recommended through our web host, and after looking at it, it’s similar to phplist, but friendlier to the average computer user. I’ve been diddling with it for over a week, trying to get the hang of things. I finally decided yesterday that I knew enough about how it worked to send the invitation to (re)subscribe. Enter the confusion. First of all, I thought I had added the special message about what all this meant, why everyone was being invited, blah, blah, blah – I even signed it. I sent a test message to myself to see how it looked. It looked just as I expected it to. So, great, I can send the message to EVERYONE. Hooray. Look at me, gettin’ stuff done, doin’ stuff right. Well, folks, evidently a test message is just a test – it means nothing if you’re going to do anything for real. After getting the  invite, most people were able to figure out what was going on. So I thought all was well until one of them replied and asked me to update their email address. That’s when I noticed that everyone received the vague, generic (basic template) invite, with no personal message or explanation – so no wonder a few people were left scritching their melons. Even Mom was confused, and she’s pretty sharp.

The reason I had to invite/re-subscribe everyone is because of spam laws. Apparently, you can’t just add a bunch of people to a mailing list program and go to town, buy a dog, come back, and then go to town again when you realized you forgot the dog food. (that’s one of my favorite recent Mr. Sarah-isms.) There are rules because the spammers and vandals have ruined the internet experience for us decent people. So you have to CONFIRM your desire to be on a mailing list, even after subscribing that very same day, or knowing you’ve subscribed previously in a different format or program. It’s how it is. On my end, it’s better to let the mailing list software handle most of this business because it does everything right, lawfully adds/removes/confirms subscribers for me, and sends the mass mailings in smaller batches. Therefore, keeping the Internet Police happy.

I’ve been putting this off for years because I knew it would be a THING. I don’t believe this could have been any more annoying. But now that I’ve got the ball rolling in the right direction, I’m relieved. I also figured that this would weed out abandoned email addresses and people who might not have wanted to hurt my feelings by unsubscribing, or people who just weren’t getting my messages for some reason. I’ve also gotten a few messages from people who didn’t get yesterday’s invite, after I sent an explanation the old fashioned way this morning. So, who knows. I guess we’re giving it a try, and if it’s just awful, I’ll figure out something else. If you think you’ve been missed, drop me an email and we’ll get it sorted out.

I also redesigned the front page of my website, where you can find everything of interest in one place, including a link to my Etsy shop. That makes me pretty glad, and wasn’t nearly the hassle this mailing list business has been. Ah, the costs of doing business.

Thanks for reading!

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I melted some stuff.

After sleeping until 7:30pm yesterday (and I really didn’t mean to – Friday morning I was so loopy that I set the time for my alarm to go off, but didn’t actually turn the alarm ON) and after finally finding something to chew on for dinner, and packing up some beads and dropping them in the wall chute at the PO, and then making brownies, it was about 2:30am. I sort of have a rule… unless I only have a few beads that I absolutely have to make, I won’t turn Mr. Blue on after midnight. Once I get on the beads, there’s no stopping me until I’m done, particularly if I get excited about something I made. If I’m trying to right my sleep schedule yet again, it’s better to just stay out of the bead room and bore myself to sleep at a more reasonable hour. Unless I win a million and can afford to hire someone to literally pull me out of the bed at the same time every day, I have to set some sort of rules and boundaries for myself – but it doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll adhere to them every time.

So, I decided to make a couple of stripey murrine canes that I’ve been out of for months. Making murrine cane is something I dread, and I’ve been putting them off (and haven’t made any Hana/Seascape beads because of it.) The reason I dread them is because once I make one, I have a million more ideas for more murrine cane, and I must make more and more. I try not to let myself get all caught up in stuff like that because I usually have prior engagements like made to orders and other ideas that have been waiting too long already. And murrine canes are iffy anyway – some of them turn out fabulous and others are total duds, and I never really know which will be which. Each one takes at least 15 minutes – that’s an estimation since I’ve never timed myself on them, so it’s probably more like 30 minutes – so that’s a good bit of time and resources spent on such an iffy prospect. I figured I’d spend an hour or two on the canes and go pass out, but I ended up making 8 canes in all, 7 of them being new colorways, and staying up way too late again. I guess you’ll see those in some new beads soon enough, but here are the canes:

These are just the ends, and the very ends aren’t nearly as good as the middles. I’ll test them out tomorrow.

Okay. STILL UP WAY TOO LATE. I’m going to brush my teeth and set my alarm and do it all again tomorrow (today). I owe some replies and emails, which I’ll be all over once I’ve had some sleep. Bye!

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Last night.

It rained steadily, quietly and pleasantly while I made this new little ditty.

newest pendant, october 22 2010

And then it rained all day today. This weather is so perfect. The only thing I don’t like about it is what it does to my naturally curly hair. Scary.

I don’t know where or when, exactly, but it will be available for purchase very soon. (I’m still planning a Superstars sale for the end of this month or early next month, so it might end up there.) This is one of my very favorites so far. This type of bail keeps ending up taller than I intended, because it didn’t register that some stretching will occur when I hammer out the ends. So, I’ve been cutting the wire just a smidge longer than what I think I’ll need and I’m ending up with a little more than just a smidge longer. Um, duh. But it has fully registered now.

This is what I love about learning something completely new. Confusion is not something I embrace too well, in fact, it’s one of the few things that makes me wacky. I don’t want to be wacky. So I stubbornly curse, interrogate and bang on things until I figure them out, and I enjoy that process. You can tell me three times emphatically that the metal will stretch when hammered, but the only way that information will stick on me is by doing it and seeing it for myself. Creating these new pathways in my brain seems to improve my mood. (Even though last week was Stupid Week and this week was Bitchy Self Loathing Week, and now that that’s over with, I feel like my quasi-intelligent, even tempered self again. If you catch my drift.) I’ve been listening to more music lately, too. This week it’s been The Dead Milkmen, Psychic TV and They Might Be Giants – stuff I loved when I was much younger but haven’t listened to in at least 10 years. Maybe that’s why I have been randomly remembering pointless stuff that I had tucked away. I guess accumulating so much new information all at once, using muscles I haven’t had much use for until now, and listening to old stuff has my grey matter all twitterpated.

Thanks again for your support and enjoying these new experiences with me!

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

little boogers - click me

THE booger - click me

Bleh, sorry the photos are a bit grainy. I took them early this morning instead of just hoping I could get up in time to take them this afternoon. I think that grainy thing happens when there isn’t quite enough light.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the listings this evening! We’re expecting some rambunctious storms later tonight, so I made a big glass disk bead to make into a pendant while the storms do their thing. That’s the nice thing about activities that don’t involve a computer controlled element – it’s as if the rhythm of the relay click begs the lightning to strike the power out at the worst moments possible.

I gotta go eat!

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A beautiful tool…

…is my planishing hammer. I chose it because it seemed like a good one for some of the ideas I had in mind at the time. When it arrived, I was surprised by just how perfectly polished the faces were. I’d never seen such a spotless polish on a hammer. I almost didn’t want to use it.

I got the idea to try flattening some heavy gauge wire from Nicola Hurst’s Step-by-Step Jewelry Workshop. She explains forging quite well, and I realized how I could make that work for a bail. I had already forgotten what hammer I was supposed to use for forging at the time I decided to do it, so I gave my 4 and 8oz ball peen hammers a try since I hadn’t really touched them yet. (I’m not sure it even matters – most of the resources I’ve found have slightly differing explanations and uses for the various hammers. I think that within the general guidelines, it really comes down to what works for the individual. Just like I couldn’t use a GTT Lynx for making soft glass beads, but there are many folks out there who could, and do, quite successfully.) The ball peens did well enough for the basic shape and flatness I wanted – the 8oz was more effective than the 4oz for such heavy gauge wire – and I finished it off with the planishing hammer just to see what it did. Well, I was astonished by this hammer. The weight, the comfort, the sheer flattening power and such little effort. No wonder this hammer was on the pricey end – although I’ve seen them much pricier – and it was money well spent. The silver left a cloudy mark on the pristinely polished face, and the shadow easily rubbed off to reveal the perfection once again.

I also had an opportunity to use 999 fine silver seamless tubing. I’ve been using dead soft seamless sterling tubing and had grown accustomed to its firm-but-workable attributes. The dead soft fine is remarkably softer than the dead soft sterling. It made coring the bead hole much less nervewracking, but I can certainly see some disadvantages of its softness, depending on what it’s used for. For lining bead holes, it’s fantastic. The dapping punches didn’t require such hard blows to flare the ends, so I bent up the ends a bit before I realized it, but they were just as easily trued. It was absolutely dreamy when I arrived at the last step of tapping the flared ends down.

This is my latest project with the forging and fine silver, and you’ll find these guys Etsy tomorrow, if it is to be. Or if I can drag myself out of bed before sundown. (Place some bets among your friends, maybe you can win or lose $5 just for the fun of it.) Stripey lil boogers, they are! I’ve been test driving the pendant on my ball chain for a few days now and am really enjoying the way it hangs and spins.


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polishing powder, felt lap disk and felt buffing stick with jeweler's red rouge

That dastardly metallic grey sheen on opaque turquoise glass beads… Sometimes it happens, sometimes not – it’s always been unpredictable for me. Sometimes we want it, but most of the time, we’ll do anything to get rid of it. Us bead nerds have been an inventive and resourceful bunch – those of us who didn’t want that ugly grey sheen have tried everything from Coca Cola to CLR to denture cleaner. At last, many of us have found that The Works toilet bowl cleaner works best, but is safer to use in diluted form. The unfortunate side effects of anything containing harsh acids is not only the possibility of etching the glass, but obviously can be a safety hazard if not used or disposed of properly.

So, I thought I’d share a couple of things that I recently discovered, quite by accident. First, I found that jewelers red rouge polishing compound will remove some of the metallic grey from dark turquoise glass. I was polishing a bead with a silver core and bead cap with red rouge and a felt buffing stick, and the bead had dark turquoise dots. I thought, what the heck – it probably wouldn’t be the best idea to soak it in The Works like I normally would, anyway (because of the silver), so I tried it. And the rouge really did seem to help, and does not scratch the glass at all.

But what works even better is the polishing powder that came with my lapidary machine. I believe it’s Inland’s own recipe – to me, it looks to be a mixture of cerium oxide and red rouge since it’s a pale salmon orange color. It quickly removes the metallic grey with the felt disk and water on my lapidary machine. The polishing powder must be mixed with water to use, but you don’t need a lapidary machine for this to work. You could just as easily use your dremel with felt tips, or even do it by hand with a felt buffing stick or with strips of felt. You could also “trum”, which is essentially flossing deep crevices with a cotton or leather string coated in the slurry. By doing this, you can reach between bumps and inside your deep hole puckers. It might help to have a vise with soft jaws for the trumming or strips of felt, or have a friend hold the bead for you while you do it. Edited to add: In case there was any confusion at all, this does not scratch the glass, either, since it’s a polish. However, this may not be the best method to use for beads containing Evil Purple 254 if it has devitrified. The polishing powder is so fine that it can deposit in small crevices and might be hard to remove.

I’m really excited about this next accidental discovery. Off and on, I’ve struggled with a dull oilslick haze on my glass. It’s more likely to happen with disks and beads that spend more time in the flame, and in areas that don’t spend as much time directly in the flame, such as areas near the holes. Darker, stiffer transparents such as black and cobalt often get the worst of it, if it’s going to happen. When my tank is close to completely empty, it happens to just about everything, and causes my white glass to spread a little bit. (that’s when I know it’s definitely time for a refill, and when I can easily pick the tank up with one hand.) Sure, it’s no problem to get a refill long before the tank is empty, but I’m not likely to get a refill until I absolutely need one because I’m just that way.

I have agonized over this, because it often pops up when I least expect, and oddly enough, it doesn’t show itself until the bead is exposed to moisture. I’ve remade entire sets because of it, even though most people probably wouldn’t even notice it. I’ve tried everything under my kitchen sink, which isn’t much, but you’d think between Comet, Clorox and the Works, something would have worked if it was going to. My solution has been to put off working with black until I had a full tank – that can be very limiting to someone who has ideas that appear out of nowhere, and whose favorite non-color is black. So, anyway, I was about to coldwork some beads a few weeks ago and discovered the dreaded haze. Not that it mattered because I was about to grind that part off  – but it occurred to me that if the polishing powder will take the black off turquoise, maybe it would take the haze off too. And sure enough, it did, and with very little effort. Because I didn’t want to put the polishing disk onto the machine before the grit disks, I just spritzed water and applied a spot of polishing powder slurry to one area of the felt lap and rubbed the bead side to side on it a few times. (when I get the haze again, I’ll be sure to post a before photo with haze, and an after photo without haze.)

You may also find this useful when you get a little heavy handed with the diamond reamer and scratch the outside of your bead. It’s better to do your best to avoid this altogether, but if it does happen, use wet 1200 grit sandpaper to sand out the scratch, then polish with your polishing powder slurry and a felt buff.

You can find this polishing powder at Inland Lapidary. A 4oz container like the one you see in the photo will last you a very, very long time. When using the polishing powder, don’t wear light colors – it can stain your clothes.
The felt buffing sticks were found at Contenti.com, but you can find them in many forms at various jewelry suppliers.
When using water to mix powder slurries that will be sitting around for long periods of time – such as bead release and the aforementioned polishing powder – use distilled water instead of tap water to inhibit mold and bacterial growth.

I hope someone finds this helpful. Thanks for reading!

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Click HERE to visit my shop or the thumbnails below.

autumn disco - click me

especial lady shimmer spikes - click me

misc no. 10 - click me

sunny mustard wheelie - click me

shimmer bugs sampler style - click me

And barely a hint of blue in the entire group!

I worked extra hard to get the wheelie pendant finished early this morning. I seem to be getting better at the silver, but all those times I said wire and I don’t get along, I really wasn’t joking. The solid wire rivet for the bail ended up being a much bigger hassle than the tubing ever was. But I got it licked, and I’m sure that with a bit more practice and patience, wire and I will get along swimmingly. Some day. Probably not tomorrow, though. I’m still pretty angry with it.

BTW, in case you got wind of the 5.1 earthquake here in OK yesterday, you might be pleased to know that I slept through the whole thing. (unless you don’t like me, and in that case, sorry to disappoint.) In fact, I didn’t even stir. Mom said she thought it was a garbage truck or a herd of squirrels scampering about in the attic. Mr. Sarah works close to the epicenter and reported being a little freaked out. Nothing appears to be too out of place besides the constant chatter on the TV, so I guess we’re all okay.

Thanks for checking in, hope you like the beads!

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Good News!

I’ll have a feast of beads for you guys on Etsy tomorrow… sets larger and smaller, some coordinating, some not, and if things go well, another glass and sterling pendant. Looks like I have my work cut out for me tonight…

While I was in supply buying mode last week, I decided to go ahead and get the the punch and die set from Harbor Freight. I unpacked it last night and found myself unsure of how to use the punches. The box says “refer to the user’s manual”, and there wasn’t one. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to use the flush edge or the beveled edge – I’m pretty sure it’s the flush edge – but Dad will know. I’m not in a hurry to use it. I also got a brass head hammer, since the one Contenti carries hasn’t been in stock for quite some time. This one is 2lbs rather than just 1lb, but I’ll manage.

So, that’s what’s happening… oh, and I’ve had this blog since around this time last year, and forgot to celebrate. Here it is: whoop-te-doo-woo-woo.

See you tomorrow!

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I spy one of the Most Important Things In Life: Haribo Raspberries.

Sorry I’ve been neglecting my blog lately. The weather’s been nice, so very nice that I’ve had several opportunities to wear a sweater, with the windows open. I’ve been spending most of my free time cleaning and taking care of things that the excessive, prolonged heat kept me from wanting to take care of. Sweeping, dusting, washing some windows, and making more space in the bead cave for my new adventures. I’ve gotten my taxes caught up (I swore I wouldn’t procrastinate on that ever again, and I’ve managed to stick to it), and while I was at it, I got my receipts under control. They were everywhere. In the midst of all this tidying, I got rid of most of my cardboard boxes, so I haven’t had a good place to keep the bazillions of tiny pieces of paper after the other cardboard receipt box overflowed. Paper drives me crazy, unless it it’s bound by a spiral or a cover, or I left the safety of my home in search of it and brought it home myself. (Or if it’s a book you wrote and sent me in the mail – I’d never turn that away.) As you can imagine, I resent the heck out of having to keep every single piece of paper for every single transaction in my life. But it’s the rules. Following rules is confining at times, but it’s also a good way to be left alone to do what I love to do.

I placed my first silver order last Friday. At the highest price I’ve ever seen it. I’ve been putting it off for a few weeks, hoping the price would go down a bit, but it only went up. I decided to be smart and buy it before it got even more outrageous.  A 12″ length of 3/8″ OD 999 soft seamless tubing was something like $54. I now see that could have bought that particular size in hard seamless sterling for about $14 less, but Rio’s website was crawling along at a rate slower than owl droppings in the frost, so I said frig it and grabbed the soft 999 so I could lock in at that price and get it shipped that day. I currently have no (comfortable) way to anneal metals, anyhow. The jeweler’s torch is next on the list, and annealing and soldering isn’t too far down the road.

In other news, the cats have decided they want the wet food to break up the mealtime monotony. Since we hadn’t given it to them in a few months you’d think they would have forgotten that it existed… but they randomly refused to eat the other day until I went out and bought 5 cans of Iams Chicken Pate. No wonder they’re such spoiled brats. But I draw the line at cooking for them. It’s bad enough to get the can out of the fridge, warm the food up in the microwave and spoon it out into their stainless bowls. And with them screaming at me the entire time, as if it wasn’t obvious what I was doing. Maybe they think I need to be reminded during the food preparation event so that I don’t stop what I’m doing and fall to the floor and start licking my own behind, then immediately fall asleep, right there in the kitchen. That’s what they would do, because they’re cats. And the closer I get to serving them the food, the more shrill and insistent they become, like screaming infants, so I’m thinking it’s more likely that they’re just excited little animals. I tell them, “If I wanted a%&*#*$ baby, I would have had one and left you stripey jokers at the shelter.” Mr. Sarah says that if we acted like that when food was being served to us, we’d be kicked out and told to never come back. Then again, there’s a good bit of comfort in knowing that cats will never stare blankly at the screen of a cell phone 23 hours a day, and expect us to buy them another one when they manage to lose it at the mall in that one second their thumbs weren’t glued to it. Thank heavens for thumbless cats, otherwise, we’d be in a world of e-hurt right now.

I guess you could say that I’ve gotten a lot done, but not all of the things I’ve particularly wanted to or might have enjoyed getting done, like making beads. I was ready to get to work on some beads this evening, but some severe weather passed through so I decided not to turn on the kiln. It was the perfect kick in the glutes to get two necklaces made, and when that was done, I put a mountain of unused beads, from about 15 different projects, away in their proper places. Those tasks took nearly 5 hours to complete, and as relieved as I was to get the jewelry out of the way and the beads back where they belong, I’ve barely made a dent in all the things I have to do. I guess that’s what keeps life worth living. We all know what happens when we stop resisting the crap that’s perpetually flung at us from every direction.

Down to bead business: there should be a Superstars sale at the end of this month or the beginning of November. If you have a need for some beads Made To Order, now’s a good time to get with me – November and Beyond is wide open for orders. I’ll warn you, leaving me to my own devices for that long might turn out something weird and/or gooey. I’ve contemplated booger beads for years, but never found the time. If I have nothing but time, booger beads could be on the tasteful end of the spectrum of what I offer in the coming weeks. (Just kidding, but only a little bit.) And I’ll most certainly have something for you guys on Etsy this week.

Thanks for reading!

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Sorry I’ve been quiet… been working on some cool stuff!

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

seaweed - click me

glimmer strip spheres - click me

Only two this time, I know… but I have more ideas for upcoming listings. In fact, the order queue for October and beyond is fairly sparse, so there is a very good chance for a Superstars sale near the end of the month. I’ll keep you posted on when and where to look for the new beads.

Thanks so much for checking in with me… I hope you enjoy the new listings on Etsy!

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