Archive for January, 2013


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

Vintage Obsession: Jadeite:


Vanity Glimmer Strips:


Peach Zen Hana:


Pond Scum Glimmer Strips:


I had to take my photos with Mr. Sarah’s camera… I’ll need to dig out the users manual so I can figure out how to change the settings. The photos aren’t large or crisp enough to suit me. I prefer my Olympus relic, but the rechargeable batteries have died and I don’t have any AA’s in the house.

I was on the hunt for rechargeables a few weeks ago at Target. I have 15-minute rechargeables and was under the impression that the batteries have to be 15-minute rechargeables to work in the 15-minute charger. I don’t think that’s the case, after some research… but the guy at Target’s electronics counter had never heard of rechargeables that charged in 15 minutes. I mean, you’d think that a teenaged boy (or 20 something dude – it’s hard to tell, they all look the same to me these days) would have heard about and be glomming 15-minute rechargeable batteries. Turns out you can get those units at Walmart, for sure. Anyway. While I was at Target I think I found my new camera – the Canon Rebel T3. It will be a while before I can get one, as I need a new car and to pay my taxes and a deal with a pile of other things much more weighty before I can even think too seriously about that… I was quite impressed with the photo quality, even under the awful fluorescent lights.

So enough about all that… but while I have you here, I want to point you to Kate McKinnon’s new book,  Contemporary Geometric Beadwork.  Looks like she’s still taking pre-orders and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. My very first experience with beads was weaving seed beads on a loom, and I suspect if lampwork hadn’t come into my picture, seed beads would be my soulmate. Well, not that they aren’t one of them – you should see my collection of both Czech and Japanese. Oh Molly.

Anyway, gotta eat. I hope you guys enjoy the new beads! I may list some jewelry at some point over the next few days… I still have a few touches to put on first.

Thanks for looking!


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Warning: EYEGASM!

Here’s a sneak peek at what’s coming up:

z-beads January 31, 2012

z-beads January 31, 2012


We’ll be on Etsy later this evening. Don’t go too far!

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…too few hours in a day? I’ve been trying to make the most of them these past couple of weeks. I spend too much time thinking about all the things I need or want to be doing and getting too overwhelmed to do more than one or two of them. All that thinking will drive you batty. Doing will keep you sane.


I guess I like tins and jars.

I’ve been making all sorts of jewelry. I got lost in metals for about a week and a half, and I’ve been making necklaces and bracelets. I cleared off the little table I set up for my sewing machine. My preferred workspace for making beaded jewelry is still my bed.

sunny mustard bejeweled spike

sunny mustard bejeweled spike

I made the Bejeweled Spike (methinks anything bullet related may become politically incorrect very soon, and for once I kinda agree) and then I made the toggle clasp once I decided I was going to go ahead and make a finished piece with it. It was my first attempt at a toggle clasp. I have had the idea to add a jewel to the top of the bullets/spikes for a while but had to work up the nerve first. It turned out great, I think – the citrine jewel has a nice glow about it.

z-beads, january 2013

z-beads, january 2013

This red and purple necklace was what kicked me into jewelry making gear. At first I was going to make a very simple and delicate two strand necklace that transitioned to one strand, and without any lampwork. But within the same day or two I had some beads to bling and found these in my bling reject bowl. I couldn’t recall why I rejected them, and I was pleasantly surprised once I saw what was inside. Since there were only two, I decided they would be good for the decorative framework, so to speak. I often begin a piece of jewelry with one idea and find that the logistics don’t jive or I don’t have something in the right size… by the time it’s finished I have something quite different and I like it even better. Although I was determined to keep this very simple, I got carried away, as usual. Not too carried away, as it’s delicate without being invisible and bold without being too large or heavy. It’s my new favorite.

I keep wanting to name this one Chinese New Year. It must be the red.

I keep wanting to name this one Chinese New Year. It must be the red.

I adore the hook clasp…

Bracelets for mom… I’ve lost count of how many chunky bracelets she has.


fancy dirt chunky bracelet – z-beads january 2013

frondescent chunky bracelet, z-beads january 2013

frondescent chunky bracelet, z-beads january 2013

This is the bracelet I made from the Icarus set on Etsy… here, it’s shown unfinished. My mom’s friend Sandye called me last week from California and asked if I could make a bracelet for her with them. I already had my bead stash strewn out all over my office, otherwise, she would have been waiting much longer…


I also made this Spike for my stylist – I often make star themed things for her since her name is Estrella. This one was good practice for the faceted setting for the wide facets on the bead, although I still need to work on my technique. I think the bezel was too high, but it had to be to accomodate the tube rivet. I’ll know better next time when making the bead. In these cases, I’ve found that hammering down the tall bezel works better than using the bezel rocker or pusher. (I use the plastic side of a small plastic/brass combo hammer.)


z-beads january 2013

Yes I’ve been busy! I’ve hardly made a dent in my bead stash – I was hoping to transform into a more manageable size by making some jewelry. Looks like I’ll have to make a lot of jewelry to accomplish this. On top of all of this jewelry business I’ve managed to make beads for you guys, and some good ones at that! You’ll have to wait for the photos, and I’ll be listing them on Etsy. Hopefully before midnight tomorrow.

Thanks for checking in, I’ll see you tomorrow!

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Hooray, it’s Etsy time!

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

Blue Pyramid:


Metallic Raindrops No. 3:


Vintage Obsession: Venice:


Swamp Cooler !BLING! Z-Diamond:



So that’s that! We’re gonna make Pad Thai for dinner and then I’m going to try and figure out what I’m going to do with the last smidgen of oxygen I have left in the world. There’s too much left to use up before a delivery tomorrow, so I may just wait until Wednesday. I might go ahead and work on jewelry over the weekend since my little Smith uses so little of everything… I guess we’ll see. Meanwhile, thanks for having a look-see and if I don’t talk to you again before then, have a great weekend!


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…I almost hate to say it. The good things:

1. I was commanded to enter the convoluted bowel of the Oklahoma County Courthouse for jury duty on Monday. I was hastily belched back out the following morning. I had resigned myself to spending my entire week there, but they didn’t like me. I’ve never been so relieved to be rejected. Getting up so early and having to be somewhere other than my house, all day long… well, it made me appreciate life as I know it even more than I already do. Let’s just hope the reward for my service is not the flu.

2. I’m truly enjoying my new Alpha burner. I’m pleased to announce that my reducing glass (Clio, Notos, etc.) works just as wonderfully as I had grown accustomed to. But I still can’t say for sure that I’ll keep using it once my beloved Minor returns from repair.

3. My hunny has been telling me about a nice wooden toolbox in Grandpa’s garage for a couple of months now. He said “We think Moxie (grandpa) built it”.

grandpa's toolbox

grandpa’s toolbox

Last Friday I walked into my house from the bead show and it was sitting in my living room. I was thrilled beyond beyond, I had just spent the previous evening sorting and reorganizing the bead cave and this was a fortuitous surprise. I was amazed at its condition, I was expecting it to be in terrible shape having sat in the unheated/unairconditioned garage for at least a decade. It was really dusty and had hundreds of potential spiders stuck to the bottom of it. It needs a little bit of love, some wood filler and the inside isn’t finished, just stained.



I told Dad about it the other day and he knew exactly the one I was talking about. He remembered every detail, which is funny because it’s probably been 25 years since he last laid eyes on it. Those leather straps hold saws in place, there are long channels for the teeth to fit into. I told him about the chips in the wood where someone obviously tried to pry the drawer open, and he said “Yeah, some jackinapes tried to get into it.” (It locks from the inside.) Dad even asked about the nice handles on it, down towards the bottom. He said yes, grandpa definitely built that, and he even had the brass border custom made. Another piece of family history… the best kind of family history is the kind that’s built by someone’s two hands and is made to last. Dad said grandpa would have wanted me to have it.

nice detail

nice detail

And look how much room it has freed up on my pegboard. Well, you can’t see what it looked like before, but this is MUCH more user friendly. Every time I reached for something a hammer would fall off, more often than not breaking my thumbnail when I reached to break its fall. You might be curious about those coffee cups suspended from the hooks… I’m stretching out some beeswaxed nyltex for a couple of bracelets. Better to stretch it out now than let it get stretched out on the person wearing the bracelet.


much better

Anyway, this is all leading up to the news that I’ll have a few things for you on Etsy later today. Things are still a bit hot, so I don’t have photos for you yet. Thanks for checking in, I won’t be too long…

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Well, that was quick! What is it about dreary, rainy days that puts me in such a productive mood? Could it be that I don’t get shocked every time I touch metal or another living thing? Is it the clouds blocking the obnoxious sunbeams? Is it the drip, drip, drip on the dry, droughty lawn? Who cares? I’m getting stuff done.

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

Curious Canteloupe:


(check out that stringer control on the barrel and the bicone! Another wonder produced by my new Bethlehem Alpha… you guys, that CHILLY PINPOINT FLAME!!)

Rhodochrosite Simpletons:




Zen Garden:


So, that’s that, and I’m gonna go make some salmon patties with the hunny and try and figure out how to make more room in the bead cave. I almost fall over from too much crap in there all the time. I’ve been lucky so far, but my luck is running out, I just know it.

Hope you like the beads, thanks for checking in.


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Etsy’s coming right up. Here’s a look:

z-beads etsy listings, january 10 2013

z-beads etsy listings, january 10 2013

What a mish-mash of flashy dotty frolick! Back in just a bit…



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I sunk my claws into this hunky Bethlehem Alpha and wasted no time emasculating it with 1960 turquoise blue and little glittery stars all over its base. Ain’t that a woman for you?

Bethlehem Alpha: z-beads style

Bethlehem Alpha: z-beads style

No luck on the cerulean, it was either this color or a dark primary blue. I love this blue! Lowe’s leaves much to be desired in the spray paint section. How about some Krylon, for Krylon out loud? Yuk, yuk. Mr. Sarah cut a plywood base for me which I attempted to color with anolin dye. Never again. Anolin dye will turn a fun, quick little project into a situation in a matter of seconds. So I made do with some watered down stuff and the base turned sort of a pinkish color. And thank Clorox for SoftScrub, lordamercy, I have white formica on my kitchen counters. I added a couple of hot purple leather washers under the nuts so they won’t mar the base. (Yes, I could be a bigger dork, actually. I still have a finishing touch to put on.) I’m using my Hot Head marver because my Minor’s marver doesn’t fit. The marver that was supposed to come with the Alpha didn’t make it into the package, and it should be here very soon.

Hooking it up: The fittings that came attached to the end of the short hoses were a bit loose and must have had microscopic bits of debris all up in them because I practically had a cow getting them completely clean and tightened up without a leak. Maybe they’re onto something with the cut hose ends and hose clamps…

Turning it on: Bethlehem has a flame like no other I’ve worked with. The center candle (and there are only 6 ports) is considerably longer and more, I don’t know, candle-y? than the others. The surrounding candles sort of flare out around the center one. Nothing in the literature or instructions mentioned the correct length or appearance for the candles, so I’m assuming this is what it should look like. The center candle usually has a yellowish tip while the others are blue. I’m not sure what this means.

I should mention that I use tanked oxygen so take this into account. This burner was designed for better functionality when powered by oxygen concentrators – I think in that case, you keep the oxygen knob all the way open and adjust the flame only with the gas knob. I did notice that when making adjustments to the flame, the gas knob seemed to be the one that made more noticeable alterations to the flame. On my Minor, I seem to use the oxygen knob more for this.

flames from left to right: regular, really big, really small, really small with sharpie for comparison

flames from left to right: regular, really big, really small, really small with sharpie for comparison

This burner runs pretty hot, however, the flame is extremely adjustable. Remarkably so, considering it only has two knobs. It can go from wide, long and bushy to about an inch long and the width of a lollipop stick without much adjustment at all. There are varying degrees of heat and atmosphere within those ranges, and you have a good amount of control over all of it. It isn’t like I’ve sampled a bunch of torches in my glassworking lifetime, but I can say that this one is very different from my Minor and my Lynx in just about every way. The ports are much bigger than I’m used to, and the flame is somewhat loud – not like a Hot Head, but louder than my Minor. While the Minor sort of hisses and hums, this one kind of whooshes. The Lynx, by the way, barely makes a sound at all. One time I left it on for 15 minutes without realizing it.

Color: Even with that weird looking flame that I wasn’t sure about, my opaque reds were just as lovely, or not lovely depending on the batch – pretty much the same as they are with my Minor. It didn’t wash out the pinks or reduce the turquoise so the atmosphere must be neutral to oxidizing. I suspect the same kind of reduction flame I get with my Minor for my Clio and other Double Helix colors will take some practice, but I can already get pretty close. And it isn’t like I achieve consistant results to begin with.

simpletons: nice and glassy and nary a wrinkle in the opaque bases

simpletons: nice and glassy and nary a wrinkle in the opaque bases

Heat: I made these nice Simpletons here. These have an opaque base and many wraps of transparent color. The first wrap of transparent melted quickly around the base without distorting it – this is something I struggle with all the time. This is likely more about my working habits than it is about the torch I use. Whatever your preference is for applying little bumpy dots – tiny flame or just on the outside of a regular flame or right in the middle of a bushy flame – the Alpha will bend to your whim.

They sent along a cleaning kit. I had no idea that the dowel was the size of a rolling pin! I exaggerate, but yes, it’s big enough that you can really get your whack on and knock that evil schmootz loose. Like I said, the ports are huge and very easy to clean.

bethlehem cleaning kit

bethlehem cleaning kit

In other words, If you’ve been eyeballing the Alpha, buy with confidence. That said, as much as I am enjoying this new torch, I have a feeling that when the Minor comes home I’ll feel like I have too.

And just because, here’s a recent photo of Calico Mo.

who's pretty?

who’s pretty?

See you guys tomorrow with new Etsy stuff!

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my new bethlehem alpha

my new bethlehem alpha

I finally got a Bethlehem Alpha. I wanted a Bethlehem Bead Burner for years based on their excellent reviews for fuel consumption and borocolor development – and because it looked like a cosmic ray gun – but their availability diminished while I was distracted by other things.  Folks must be reluctant to part with their Bethlehems, since I don’t see used ones for sale very often. If I ever stumbled upon a Starfire for sale, I’d probably move a mountain or two to get my hands on it because it’s TWO shades of blue and could take out a few Klingons if they dared to darken my workbench.


(older Beth models: l-r, Beth Bead Burner, Beth Starfire, Beth Piranha - photo lifed from Lampwork Etc, collection of Malcolm at ARTCOinc.com)

LUST! older Beth models: l-r, Beth Bead Burner, Beth Starfire, Beth Piranha – photo lifted from Lampwork Etc, courtesy/collection of Malcolm at ARTCOinc.com

One thing about Bethlehem that always appealed to me was the round blue base. The Bravo and the Alpha started out with a round black base and they recently discontinued the round bases and have switched to the square type found on most other brands. Oddball I am, I contacted every Bethlehem dealer about an Alpha with a round base and found one that had ONE left. I have a cute and clever (but safe) idea for securing it to my bench, and I’ll keep you posted… meanwhile, I’ll be painting the base blue. Wish me luck in finding that perfect shade of cerulean.


bethlehem alpha

bethlehem alpha

My first impressions of the Alpha right out of the box: First of all, its heft astounded me. The Bravo must be brawny as all get-out. I’m equally impressed with its adjustability of position. There are two points of adjustment and the grab-able knobs turn easily. You can remove the burner from the base entirely – I’d imagine most folks wouldn’t have a reason to do this often, it’s just one of those things that tells me the designers were thinking. And instead of paper warning / branding stickers, those are metal plaques adhered to the base. And the base is actually quite a bit larger than I had expected.

The fuel knobs are in a different position than they are on my Minor burner, but I think the Minor is the weirdo here. And they’re nice and big. Larger knobs are easier to turn with a nudge from the side or heel of my hand. I’d say this appears to be a well made piece of equipment with very thoughtful construction and attention to aesthetic detail. Just look at it, it’s gorgeous.


threaded fittings!

threaded fittings!

I’d also like to point out the inlet contruction/features. It came equipped with these thingees – I’m sure these have a name, but I don’t know what it is. They’re a short length of hose attached to the barbs that come out of the back of the burner, and with female threaded fittings on the ends, then a male/male threaded conversion to attach to your long hose. Praise be, I love threaded fittings, and wouldn’t it be nice if those shorties contained in-line filters!? Nothing in the literature says so, but a girl can wish. So in this case, you must either have a hose with BB fittings – this means a brass fitting at both ends – or you can attach a fitting that converts a threaded fitting to a barb fitting.  I should warn you, most glass suppliers sell hoses with BB fittings ONLY in 25FT lengths, and that’s too long for me*.  Most burners are fitted with barbs rather than threads, and you attach the cut-off end of your hose directly to these barbs with hose clamps. But I found a 12FT BB hose at Art Glass House, on sale even, so I’m all set.

*Kimberly Affleck emailed me with a great piece of advice – if you only have a need for a 12FT hose for your barbed fittings, buy a 25FT hose with BB fittings and cut it in half. There you go! Two 12FT BC hose sets, and for cheaper than 2 bought separately already cut. This is quite handy if you have two torches that need hoses. Thanks Kimberly!


minor burner ports - poor old gal

minor burner ports – poor old gal

The Alpha is going to be my backup while my Minor is at the spa in Canada. Poor Minor has been ridden hard for 10 years – the center port has gone fishin’ and the knobs likely need new o-rings or epoxy or whatever Nortel does. I did have the presence of mind to carve the Pad Thai goo and powdered donette crumbs out of the grooves in the knobs so that the poor dear wouldn’t show up looking too shabby… I would have just bought another Minor if I hadn’t always wanted a Bethlehem, and it will be great to have a manly looking honker around if my hunny ever decides he wants to try his hand at glass.

My Lynx is an oxygen hog comparatively, or I’d just use that one for my backup. I budget for blowing through a C tank of oxygen in a week or less when I’m working with boro, but I can’t justify it for Fizz Tabs and hollows or whatever while I’m waiting for My Beloved to return. Furthermore, I have never been able to get a suitable reducing flame on my Lynx – probably the same reason I’ve never had a speck of carbon on it, either – and I need the dragon fire for my opals and metallics. I suspect I haven’t yet realized the full potential of my Lynx.


bethlehem alpha left, nortel minor right

bethlehem alpha left, nortel minor right

I hope the Alpha meets the same demands I’ve made of my Minor with as much grace. I’ll hook it up once I get the base sitch put together and let you know what I think once I’ve put it through its paces. I haven’t been able to find more than a couple of reviews of the Alpha online – nothing bad so far, and I hope to add yet another positive one. I’ll admit that the lack of info has me a bit apprehensive, but many folks appear to be springing for the Bravo and loving it. (The Bravo has the Alpha as the centerfire.) I was showing Mr. Sarah this new Alpha, and he admired it for a while before he asked how much it cost. I told him $167 and his jaw dropped. I was afraid he was going to be annoyed, but he said “I had guessed at least $300.” Whew, that was close. But… I could have spent $300 on a new torch and he wouldn’t have been annoyed? Geez. (that’s a joke, he wouldn’t have cared either way.)

Thanks for reading and possibly sharing my excitement! More on the Alpha later…

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About 6 days late. Or is it 5? I dunno. This is how it’s been lately. As hard as I try to stay on top of things, the things just keep getting on top of me. I’m focusing on clearing out the detritus from my brain and from my home, addressing things that need repair – essentially ridding myself of distracting, unimportant crap. Clearing the decks for new beginnings, or worst case, creating more space for new unimportant crap. We went on a thrift store binge yesterday, but instead of crap, we got some great kitchenware, a lamp, some Star Trek Taco Bell tumblers, a bunch of books and a cute red sweater. I suppose all of this trying to make heads or tails regarding importance (and trying to squeeze in a little fun) has put me behind a bit.

bling pillows - z-beads, march 2012

bling pillows – z-beads, march 2012

And on that note of clearing out the detritus, I am dreading taxes this year. I let everything get away from me and I have a mountain of receipts to sort out and CSVs to edit and spreadsheets to create. Ugh. Sometimes I wonder if it might just be easier to get a real job, let them withhold everything they possibly can, pay a fraction of what I currently pay for my tax preparation and I can throw away all my receipts and get a refund like normal people.

Naah. It might be easy enough to dissolve my corporation, but when I think about leaving the house EVERY DAY, I realize it’s all worth it. My husband dragged me into the accountant’s office the moment it looked like we might be teetering above poverty level. I’ll admit I wasn’t exactly thrilled at the prospect of paying someone to help me pay my taxes. As ignorant as I am about numbers, I’m sharp enough in the common sense department to know it was a good idea. That was 2005, I think. Seems like a lifetime ago, and not very long ago at all.

But the good news is, I am allowed to shred one entire shoebox full of paper this year. This makes me glad, I absolutely hate paper. Which is kind of funny, being married to a Scorpio. I don’t recall which astrology expert said that Scorpio men love paper, but I’ve noticed that it’s true. And mine does for sure. Paper and books. He published magazines off and on for years, and he still has stacks of them stashed all over the house. As long as these stacks don’t get strewn about the floor or fall on me when I try to turn on the light, it’s copasetic.

The last time we were allowed to shred, my hunny had this great idea for disposing of sensitive papers: I shred everything I’m allowed to shred, mix it all up, and keep it in a box near the cat litter. Every time I clean out the cat box, I throw in some of the shreds with the nasties over the course of several months. Nobody’s gonna want to sort through that and piece the shreds together to steal my identity. Plus, it makes me feel like an invincible bad-ass every time I change the cat litter. Believe me, cat owners need that little boost of confidence every time we’re slaving over these unappreciative beasts. If I’m feeling particularly feisty, I throw some old chicken grease into the mix. If that won’t get their thieving bellies a-churnin’, I don’t know what will.

suzy kelly's pinterest page - click here to get there

suzy kelly’s “lampwork beads” pinterest page – click here to get there

I google myself occasionally. Oh, yes, har, har. Something I’ve been finding these days is page after pinterest page with my name attached. This always makes me smile. I’ve looked at a few of these curators’ pages and have been amazed at what good company I’m in. As much as I think I want a pinterest account, I don’t need another excuse to procrastinate on my work and chores. I’ll let the Pinterest experts take the time to put together these fabulous collections of beauty, and every now and again, I’ll check in and have a look at what new wonders they’ve unearthed. By the by, there are WAY more pinterest pages than the screen shots I’ve presented here. I couldn’t possibly list them all… so I’m saying hello to ALL the pinterest folk and letting them know I appreciate them.

julie bowen's "lampwork beads" pinterest page - click here to get there

julie bowen’s “lampwork beads” pinterest page – click here to get there

One of those pages, I already forget which one, makes me want to make some incredibly dotty beads. I’ve already started on that, but apparently my skills could use some brushing up.

Thanks for checking in, see you real soon! I’ll be throwing some stuff onto Etsy this week for sure.

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