Archive for February, 2012

The Bradford pears are already blooming white, daffodils are coming up, the birds are twittering their April songs and it isn’t even March yet. I’m hoping for a nice, wet early spring for lush roses and later on, crape myrtles blooming in every color. As it is, my lawn is greener than it’s ever been during the winter months. But it’s still winter, evidently, because on Saturday when the evening got chilly, I ate three packages of ramen noodles, a large amount of the leftover pad thai in the fridge, the equivalent of an entire box of cook n serve butterscotch and vanilla puddings in a matter of about 7 hours… I have no idea what came over me. Mr. Sarah really knows how to make cook n serve pudding. Too bad. I was always so terrible at it, and it was better that way.

Kate McKinnon posted a beaded flower that reminded me of my own collection of beaded flowers – the one Kate posted was made with an entirely different technique, however. I distinctly remember falling hopelessly in love with making beaded flowers in 1997, and made them off and on for several years after that. The arrangement shown here is one of my favorites. I searched high and low for books on the process, and I even came up with my own design. The only drawback to these is that they really should be kept under glass if you’re like me and don’t dust your knick-knacks often enough. Once they’re dirty, it’s difficult to get them clean. You can’t wash them, or they’ll likely rust – a dry toothbrush only goes so far with caked on housedirt. Perhaps now, there’s something better out there than cheap craft wire that we can submerge in dishsoapy water without worry.

Right now, I’m working on some things for Etsy this Thursday. (If you’ve been with me since 2002, you’ll remember The Hand from my early eBay auctions. It’s actually a toothbrush holder, my sister gave it to me years ago when I was lusting after her ceramic hand. The thumb and pinky have broken off and been glued back on several times, but during this house rearrangement, the hand went flying and the middle three, who have faithfully remained intact all this time, went ahead and split. I give up. But I had to laugh at this one.)

hang loose, yall. new stuff on etsy this week!


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More adventures…

a few more silver things... z-beads february 2012

Now that Spawn is (mostly) moved in, my EVERYTHING has been completely rearranged. We’ve sorted, gotten rid of stuff, our lives and psyches disrupted… and my e-mail neglected. Life goes on with you or without you, right? Meanwhile, have a look at some of the stuff I’ve made over the last few weeks.

red drop ring, faceted glass - z-beads, february 2012

This one is reserved for my hair stylist. The bezel was probably a bit too high, but I made it work. And the stone wasn’t perfectly round, either – just the teensiest bit oblong. Look at those sterling facets around the glass facets! I was hating this ring until I realized that I had the right tool for the job, and I used my burnishers for the first time ever. The finish on this one is a bit more shiny than usual.

red drop, alternate view

Now, for the other bell:

bell no. 3 - z-beads, february 2012

I want to tell you about the bell. The clapper, specifically. Silly me, I excitedly went on the hunt for STEEL BB’s for bell clappers. I thought they would be the best thing to use for the larger bells I had in mind. Big fat duh, right? All the books I’ve read, and getting comments from peers who dabble in metal arts as I do, express shock and awe at the thought of accidental copper plating of sterling silver caused by the presence of steel in the pickle. But it sands right off, so it can certainly be remedied and is not cause for a heart attack. Here’s a trick. You can still use steel BBs as your clappers if you really really must, as long as the BB is enveloped in water from the quench before you put it in the pickle. I mean, the interior of the hollow form must be full of water. It helps to have the openings facing upwards, with the clapper sitting at the bottom of the form. Of course, this isn’t foolproof, you may get some copper plating, but if you watch it carefully and your pickle is fresh, it isn’t so bad. And oddly enough, I found that with the two bells I made this round, if it’s going to copper plate, it’s probably going to be the first time you put it in. The second or third times in the pickle don’t seem to cause any problems. (That’s just my experience, and your mileage may vary.) Old brass beads are a pretty good alternative for clappers, and that’s what I used for the first bell I made. I don’t know how well this works since I haven’t tried it myself, but you might be able to melt some scrap copper or brass into balls and use those. I may try that next time.

bell no.3, reverse side - z-beads february 2012

Onto the leafy bullet…

leafy bullet, z-beads february 2012

Here, I added accents to the bezel. The thinner the gauge for the accents, the better, as it’s easier to mold the bezel around it and set the stone.


leafy bullet alternate view


Here’s another special order. I made these for the lady that bought the night crawler ring – she said it was lonely and needed some friends.

night crawler bullet and charms - z-beads february 2012


night crawler alternate view

I’m getting pretty good at this, don’t you think? It’s funny, I always feel a pang of guilt when I’m not working on glass. Like I’m having a torrid affair. The fact that I actually had orders for sterling stuff makes my time away from the glass a bit easier to justify. I’m happy to be back to the beads this week, but am already pining for my annealing pan and charcoal block. Although, I’m pretty amazed at how UNexciting my bench looks when I’m working with metals. When I’m making beads, there’s a rainbow of rods, chunks of Zucca Light everywhere, a ceramic tray full of Effetre white stumps, long glass strands clinking against one another as I dig for a stringer pulled from that one particular batch of Rubino…

Anyway, thanks for reading! I hope to have some stuff on Etsy some time this weekend, maybe… if not, next week, for sure.

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Adventures in metalsmithing

This is a sample of what I’ve been doing for the last two weeks:

sterling charms and a bell - z-beads february 2012

There’s more, but it will be a bit before you see it. I’m still in the throes of hammering, sawing and soldering, and as you may have guessed, to the detriment of keeping on top of my blog, email, etsy sales, …

If I could, I’d spend all of my time doing this. I have so many ideas, most of which include glass, and there isn’t enough time to do it all. I’m getting fairly good at soldering – that is, being able to identify how much to use. I’m still not sure whether I’d prefer to err on the side of too little or too much. I’m shooting for just right.

I did manage to get over my hatred of making jump rings. I can’t remember where I read this, but the best way to make a single jump ring is to coil your wire around something round and saw where it overlaps. Maybe one of my guests here mentioned it. I, of course, had to try it my way first, before I tried the tried and true way. That’s how I roll. I finally tried the saw way, and the ends met beautifully. For those who might be curious, I’m still quite pleased with the salt/vinegar pickle, and I can’t imagine using anything but the old fashioned borax flux. I did find that I prefer the superfine borax, because the larger granules get a bit out of control when heated.

In other news, The Spawn (Mr. Sarah’s daughter) is coming to live with us. I married a man with a kid, so we always knew this was a possibility. She’s a teenager, yes, but pretty good as teenagers go. I’d rather have a teenager than a small child, that’s for sure. I can’t say I’m thrilled, for many reasons, but mainly because we will have to rearrange the house, and I fear that my perfectly timed menstrual cycle will be nothing but a fond memory. Ha. Honestly, a lot of my hesitation comes from my own personal quirks, but I think we can make it work and I choose to look at this as an opportunity to learn something and improve myself… and maybe cultivate a more solid relationship with her. I guess in some ways, I’m kind of excited about it. She’s a good girl and we get along. Then again, I have no delusions and am prepared for how hard it may be at some points.

This situation is a large part of what’s been distracting me lately. I’ve been tempted a number of times to just take off because I don’t want to deal with any of it.  I never wanted to be a full time parent, or a parent at all, for that matter. Even though she’s not my kid, it wouldn’t be fair to bail on everyone for my own very selfish, admittedly petty reasons. It’s not a lesson Spawn should learn from the women in her life. I take the role of step-parent seriously, as difficult a role as it is. I know there’s only so much one can do as a parent, but I’d be horribly ashamed of myself if I knew I wasn’t doing everything I could to help point her in the right direction. And with such a short time to go until she’s 18, she needs some encouragement into adulthood, and I think I’m pretty well equipped to lend a hand.  It’s just the adult and responsible thing to do… and I find myself being way more responsible than I ever thought I’d be.

So, that’s what’s been going on… I guess I’d better get to work. I’m taking the weekend to finish up my jewelry projects, and will be returning to the glass next week. You’ll hear from me again soon! Thanks for reading.

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Soap: My Homage To The Long-Running One-Hour Serial! See the entire collection here on the Superstars page:

For decades, women of all sorts (and some men, even) have been suspending their disbelief and immersing themselves in “their stories”. I sheepishly admitted to my (now) husband that I was one of them when we first started dating. He didn’t seem to think I was any less human for it, which was nice. We were both surprised to find that I watch the same soaps his grandmother did. This was remarkable only because most people stick with one network for their soap fix, and his grandmother and I both watched NBC and ABC soaps.

I’ve been watching soaps (Days Of Our Lives and One Life To Live) since I was 11, and once high school was over and I had the opportunity to watch each day, I became more fascinated – not so much with the characters themselves, but with how they were written. A character’s status of good or evil can change with the day, and as far as I could tell, that status usually depends on who is writing them at the moment. They rarely kill anyone, but even when they do, that character’s return is only a matter of time, or other gigs. One time Mr. Sarah walked in to see what I was guffawing at, and once he saw that someone was in a coma, he said, “His contract must be under negotiation.”

Soaps have always been a bright spot, something I record during the day and look forward to as I get to work in the evening. On days I’m not feeling particularly inspired, my soaps might be the only thing that get me into the studio. I’ve never been one to think of the characters as my friends, or imagine myself as one of them… it’s just that the stories keep me laughing without distracting me too much from my work. I can hardly wait to see what happens next, even though it’s always predictable. But sometimes not… so I just have to keep watching! I am so familiar with the characters and their voices that sometimes I don’t even need to look up. And if I do miss something, there’s no need to panic – it will be rehashed again soon. And probably a time or two after that.

"the good daughter" from the z-beads SOAP collection - february 2, 2012

Another thing I appreciate about soaps is that they aren’t particularly violent, besides the occasional bitch slap. If anyone does suffer greater violence, it’s generally more or less implied rather than played out blow-by-blow. TV drama without graphic violence is something of a rarity these days. (Remember the Brady Bunch days? They weren’t even allowed to show the toilet in the bathroom the kids shared, because it was too disgusting for television.) And when they’re trying to make a statement about a hot-button issue (homosexuality, teen pregnancy, whatever) it’s dragged out long enough for us to see how it’s dealt with, and then lived with. But, unfortunately, anything goes, so you shouldn’t make any life-changing decisions based on what a soap character does in a similar situation… but it sure makes for some lively entertainment!

So, I guess you could say that with this new series I just rolled out, I’ve revealed my undeniable familiarity with the daytime serial. I’ve kept this fact about myself closely guarded over the years because people do usually laugh at you and think you’re a big dork when you tell them. As I’ve aged, I’ve grown less worried about what people think of me, and now that I’m perfectly willing to admit that I watch soaps, they’re dropping like flies. As you can surmise by the descriptions for each bead set, I don’t take them too seriously – the schemes are too harebrained and the stories are too impossible and the characters are just too pretty to be taken TOO seriously. And I think I needed a little extra something to help me focus now that I must live without my Beloved (One Life To Live), and who knows, this may not be the only themed series!

And thanks so much for coming to the Superstars sale! It went great, and as of this moment, there are a couple of things still available. Please have a look, if for no other reason than to read the descriptions. They’re a riot, if I do say so myself…

In other news, I actually had a booger today. Isn’t that fantastic!? Okay, sorry, I know nobody really likes their own boogers, let alone hearing about other people’s boogers, but the fact that my nose is no longer running like a faucet is big news. It’s far too easy to take boogers for granted until you have way too many or none at all. Also, metalwork is coming up soon, I actually have quite a few orders to do and a pretty clean slate for February, so there’s no telling what I’ll come up with during this time. And I got a new tool or 5 to help me speed up the process.

Thanks for reading…

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