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Experimenting with a Knitted Cuff

A friend of mine posted a link to a tutorial for a cuff that involved knitting yarn onto a chain on facebook. I immediately fell head over heels and pinned it:

That wasn't good enough. I needed to TRY it. I have a ton of large link sterling silver chain left over from a design phase I went through and decided to try using that chain. However, it was immediately apparent this chain is not the best choice since the links alternate directions. You can see how the cuff is a bit...wavy for lack of a better term. And yes, I did block it.

Experimental Knitted Cuff or Bracelet

And even though I knew it was going to be a problem, I proceeded because I wanted it done that night. It didn't turn out too bad in spite of the obvious issue:

perimental Knitted Cuff or Bracelet

However, there are defintely some thing I would change. The first is using curb chain or perhaps doing a simple chainmaille bracelet with large jumprings being held together with very small jumprings. The second thing I would change is the number of wraps per link because the cuff ended up with these pointy corners that flip up and just look icky (technical term).

Experimental Knitted Cuff or Bracelet

I do like the openness of the links on my bracelet better than the other versions of this cuff. It's also very nice to wear and I used a small bit of sock yarn I had left over from another project. I could still make at least a dozen more bracelets with that leftover yarn. Anyway, I plan on playing with this some more and perhaps adding some beads in there somewhere. What do you think?

New Beads

I managed to list a few new beads on etsy last night. Here's a new Nightmare Insomnia bead:

Nightmare Insomnia Series lampwork glass focal bead

And this one, which is much prettier in person:

Hidden Shells lampwork glass focal bead

One more...I will never tire of making this style bead:

Alien Skies lampwork glass bead

Thanks for looking! See you all tomorrow with an exciting announcement.

Healing Heart

Without going into tons of details here (because it is complicated), my friend Shirley Jump has a brother who needs a heart treatment that is not approved in the United States and is quite expensive. It involves having his blood drawn in Florida, transported and stem cells extracted and multiplied in Israel, then transported to the Dominican Republic and reinserted into the heart. You can visit and like his facebook page for more detailed info. Anyway, Shirley is a book author and put out a call to her author friends on facebook for book donations to auction off at a benefit for her brother. I haven't written any books, but I offered to make a piece of jewelry for the auction. What I initially wanted to do was cut a heart shape out of copper, cut it in half then "sew" it back together with silver. I happened to flip through my copy of Mixed Metal Mania right before I was going to start and saw the copper heart St. Jean demos in the book. I loved that it was fold formed and the fold textured. It reminded me of a scar.

Healing Heart

So I did a heart similar to the one in the book, punched holes in it and added the silver wire for "stitches"

Healing Heart

I then looked up the ribbon color for heart disease, which is red. I created lampwork beads using a red base, some silvered ivory and sparkly aventurine to break up the red base, then encased in crystal clear. Using a brass paddle and controlled spot heating, I made the beads an irregular nugget shape rather than leaving them round.

Healing Heart

Then I created the chain using a couple spiral links and a ton of jump rings and used Liver of Sulfur to patina. After the patina I used steel wool to remove some of the patina and then tumbled for several hours. And while I should have technically pickled the heart to remove the black, I actually like the black and leaving the heart imperfect. Shirley picked it up a couple days ago and said she loved it. I'm hoping it gets big bucks for Fred at the auction.

Free Tutorial Friday: Hand Coiled Finding for creating adjustable Necklaces

Ever wonder how to use that gorgeous silk hand dyed silk ribbon without having to tie it? Then today is your lucky day. Materials and Tools list: -Hand Dyed Silk Ribbon -20 or 21 gauge wire (I used sterling, but you can use whatever you want) -something round approximately 4mm diameter. I used a steel mandrel. -pendant -beads, wire, or charms for embellishment and weight Instructions: Begin by hand coiling wire on your mandrel. You can work directly off the coil of wire to save materials.  This particular mandrel seems to be the perfect size to allow the ribbon to move easily when tugged, but not to slip on its own.  

Coil until you have about 1/2" long coil. Cut tail about 3/4" long.

Begin to spiral the end of wire toward the coil.

Continue until the spiral sits on top of the coil.

Repeat on the other side.

If you will not be attaching your pendant or beads with jump rings, you need to add those to the ribbon now before you add the coil.

Feed one end of the ribbon through the coil.

At this point, make sure the ribbon isn't twisted in a manner you don't like. The 2nd end of the ribbon needs to be fed into the coil from the OPPOSITE direction. This is a challenge. To aid me, I grab a piece of scrap wire sitting on my table and use it as a trocar (surgical reference. It's the only thing I could think of to compare.) to guide it through the coil in the opposite direction without pushing out the other end of ribbon you already fed through the coil.

If you managed feeding both ends correctly through the coil, you just completed the most difficult part!

Now it's time to embellish the ends. You could just do a knot on each end and call it good, but that's not as much fun. Also, if you want to wear your necklace short and have the ends dangle in the back, it helps to have them slightly weighted. For this demo I slid a bead on each end then knotted the end.

Here's the finished product (listed on Etsy if you want to see more photos): For Lime Blueberry Fizz, I used some scrap sterling silver wire to make some fun spiral zig zag charms and tied them into the knot. For this Nightmare Insomnia in the Garden Necklace (sold), I added small Hill Tribe flower charms to each end. Have fun playing with this technique and make sure you show me pics of your creations.

My Favorite Tools of the Trade

After cleaning up my torch space which was cluttered with a plethora of glass and tools and frit and murrini and metal leaf laying about, I went minimalist. If you look at the bottom right corner of the photo below, you can see a small peek of tools piled up. Yes, it's difficult to find the tool I want in this mess.

Jan 14 2012 messy studio

After cleaning and reorganizing the space, I laid out only the tools I use most frequently. The other tools in the pile above are hardly ever used.

Jan 14 2012 lampworking tools

Here's a tour of my 5 favorite lampworking tools (other than my hands, torch and kiln). Starting from the left side of the photo: 1. is a brass tool given to me by my friend Lisa Atchison several years ago. Her husband makes these and I cannot live without mine. I use it on at least 50% of the beads I make. The end you can see in the photo is perfect for shoving or spreading molten glass where you want it to go. The other end is a point and is what I use to poke holes in glass like the dots in my Nightmare Insomnia series beads below.

Nightmare Insomnia Series focal

2. brass stump shaper. I love this for shaping ends of beads I've squeezed into a flattish shape, for mashing the bead into a shape I want other than round, and especially for burnishing metal leaf to the surface of a bead 3. Osibin Lentil Shaper. I love these for getting nicely shaped curved ends, shaping bicone or egg shaped beads. 4. Osibin Curve Shaper. I love this for rolling beads on to try to get them centered and to shape out any lumpy bits I don't like. 5. Marble Mold. No, I don't make marbles. And I rarely use this for actual shaping of beads. I mostly like it for measuring the initial footprint of glass when I need to make more than one of a similar bead. It increases my chance of success of actually making the beads the same size. As a lampworker, it's very easy to get lured into thinking you need more tools and toys. I have bought lots of tools and then they collect dust because I prefer my simple tools and I prefer using the heat of the torch and gravity to do most of the work for me. The tools above just help me refine what I'm doing.

The Best Laid Plans

My plan the other day was to clean the entire studio. Well...my torch area was such a mess: Jan 14 2012 003 resized and: Jan 14 2012 001 resized and: Jan 14 2012 005 resized That I didn't get past cleaning just that area. People, there were LAYERS of stuff. I took it all apart, cleaned up all the short rods, frit, powders, etc that caked my torch area. Jan 14 2012 012 resized I also tried to organize the rods of glass laying all over my table into something a bit more user friendly (meaning I wouldn't spend 10 minutes trying to figure out where I laid the rod of clear). I did this by taking old jars and dividing the colors up by red. orange/yellow, green, blue, purple/pink, neutrals (white, clear, ivory, black) and then the glass that contains high concentration of silver and makes the really cool reactions. Jan 14 2012 013 resized Now that my table is so clean and organized, I am scared to use it. Not really. But after spending an entire Saturday on this one small section of my studio, I'm thinking I probably should be better about cleaning up after each torch session or at the very least once a week. Now I need to carve out some time to tackle the rest of the studio. Wish me luck. The rest is just as bad as the torch area.

Beaded Laughter

Pics of hot guys with "quotes" about all things beady...what could be better? I'll tell you what is better. Nothing. Sylvie Lansdowne started writing her Beaded Laughter blog a few weeks ago after being highly amused by Handmade Ryan Gosling. I love to take a Beaded Laughter break each day. When you visit, make sure to read the tags from each post. Some of them are hysterical. Here are some of my favorites:    

Even hubs got a kick out of this one with Johnny Depp (he doesn't seem to be as amused by hot guys talking about beady stuff as I am):

   

It leaves EVERYTHING to the imagination. hahaha! Love that.

If you would like to have one of these personalized for you, click here to get more details.

A "snow" day for me and some new beads for you

Good morning! I cannot believe it's already Saturday. In some ways this week flew right past me...in others it felt like it drug on forEVER. However, this day is going to be AWESOME! My family is doing a day long ski trip. Out the door at 6:15 am, and not scheduled to be back until after 9pm. I have the entire day to myself to do whatever I want. Just the idea of it makes me downright giddy. Because I don't want to waste one second of this precious day, I got up at 5 am with the family and shoved them very lovingly out the door. Don't get me wrong, I adore my husband and children. I love spending time with them. And I will miss them while they are gone today. However, I am looking forward to the large chunk of uninterrupted time to myself. What are the plans? Well...they aren't particularly glamorous. But they are time consuming. I am one of those that once I start a project, I need to work on it until it is completed and have momentum on my side. Once I stop, all bets are off and the project will probably sit unfinished for weeks, months, years... Today (after I finish my morning coffee, eat some breakfast and workout) I would like to get my studio in order. All of it. Not just one little section. Not just enough to tolerate working in it. Whenever I try to clean my studio, I am interrupted by something the family needs or wants (dinner? Go eat a bag of chips!) I am also considering getting rid of stuff I never use and will probably never use in the future. I may offer some things here at deep discounts just to clear space and give someone else the opportunity to use and appreciate something I don't appreciate. I would also like to get started on my taxes for 2011. It shouldn't take very long. But I want it finished and in the format the accountant (my darling husband) wants it in early this year instead of last minute. And if there is time left over (which I doubt), I might make some new beads. Or maybe I'll read. Or knit. Or make jewelry. Or go see a movie. All I know is if I want to get any of this done, I need to wrap up this blog post. How about some eye candy first though? I actually listed a few new beads on etsy yesterday.    

Obligated to Dream

To bring up a child in the way he should go, travel that way yourself once in a while. -- Josh Billings One day about 2 years ago, I was in the midst of homeschooling my kids, being a mom, a wife, a chauffeur, the accountant, the secretary, the cook, the maid and the zookeeper. Oh, and I was also trying to run a business where I was the CEO, creative director, creator, marketer, and accountant. I was stressed, overwhelmed, and felt like I was doing all of these things half-assed. Sound familiar? Even if you don't homeschool (which I am sure 99.9% of you reading my blog don't), being a woman is hard work and we put so much pressure on ourselves to do everything, be everything, and to do it without chipping a nail or breaking a sweat.

Circus

Something had to give. I decided one of these things would be my business. When I nonchalantly mentioned to the kids I had decided to scale back, I was met with silence. This was not what I expected. At all. Then my son says "I would rather go back to school than to see you give up your dream." Um...what? I was floored. My daughter pipes in with a "me too!" Something you have to understand...they were not fans of their previous school and this was before we knew about the awesome place they go to school now existed. While I don't think they ever loved homeschooling, they did love the flexibility and the ability to change plans on a whim or travel during off seasons. There was further discussion which  basically boiled down to me telling them I wasn't "giving up a 'dream,'" but making a choice for my own sanity. And they held fast to their belief I was giving up something I desperately wanted just to homeschool them. I was completely flabbergasted by this exchange and really didn't know where it came from. However, I knew my choice was the right choice. Fast forward about one year. I was reading a homeschooling related book, when I came across something that smacked me upside the head. The gist of it was if we, as parents (and especially moms), are constantly telling our children they can do anything, be anything, and to follow their dreams, but then they see us sacrificing our dreams and goals and biggest desires, then they #1-won't believe us and #2 won't know how to do it and #3 won't see us happy and fulfilled. In order for our children (and grandchildren!) to learn to follow their dreams, they need to see us putting in the hard work, effort, blood, sweat, and tears to see how to make dreams a reality. They won't know that wishing upon a star doesn't actually make your dream a reality. Here's the thing...it doesn't have to be a big huge life altering dream. Maybe you've always wanted to learn how to do the tango. Or play the piano. Or see the Grand Canyon. These count as dreams. Give them importance, share some of them with your family and friends. Make a list. While some people call this list a bucket list, I find that term very depressing. I prefer to think of it as a list of goals or dreams. Try to think of at least 100 things to put on your list. These 100 things can be as small as "try a martini" (that was on my list) or as big as "take a year long cruise around the world". In fact, it's good to have a mix of easy to accomplish dreams and the sky is the limit dreams. Place at least one or two easy to accomplish goals at the top of the list. Post this list where you will see it every single day. It doesn't have to be in a place where everyone can see it...maybe in your closet or inside the cabinet door in your bathroom. Then focus on getting those one or two easy to accomplish goals checked off. Once you see and feel the sense of accomplishment, you can start tackling other goals and perhaps your family may help. I would encourage everyone in the family to do their own list (we did!). It's eye opening and a fun exercise to learn more about each other. The kids can then start on making their dreams a reality right away and have the skills built in for the future when they become adults and suddenly frozen by fear or the sense of obligation and the need to sacrifice their dreams for the sake of their children. Let's talk about it. Leave a comment below and answer the following questions: What are some ways you are following your dreams right now? If you aren't, why not?

Happy 2012...may it be better than 2011

Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die tomorrow.  -Author Unknown The beginning of my addiction to the pretty color and sparkle of glass was actually stained glass panel construction. It was about 11 years ago, before I found out I was pregnant with my youngest. The path from taking my first class to seeking out forums and others in the stained glass community was short. One particular member of the community was not only incredibly helpful to us "newbies", but as a person and artist, he was also innovative, a zest for life, and a wonderful sense of humor. He didn't take himself too seriously which is so easy to do. He often used the quote above and really believed and lived it. He died a couple years ago and I miss Tony's writing and artwork even though I no longer do stained glass. Why am I telling you this? I thought of this quote the other day and of Tony. Rather than making resolutions (because really? if there's something we need or want to change, we shouldn't wait until Jan. 1), I am going to post this quote so I can read it every day. When I say "read it", I am not talking about reading in a haphazard barely paying attention way. I am going to read it with intention and ask myself "am I living like this is my last day? What are my dreams for today and the future?" I try to do this anyway, but it's so easy to lose sight and get mired in the mucky details of life, work, family without taking the time to enjoy life and love fully. Because if today was my last day, I would not want my kids or husband to remember me as the constant nag who always cleans (Ok, I admit I am just trying to make excuses to not clean...), and constantly puts other unimportant things before them. I want them to remember me as laughing, loving, and with a zest for life and so many dreams that I would need several lifetimes to fulfill all of them. By posting the quote and reading it with intention, it will be my daily "kick in the pants" to remember to live a full life and stop the unintentional wasting of time.  

Fire Dancer

We just got home from vacation yesterday and I think my newest "dream" is to be a fire dancer, which seems like a completely natural progression from playing with fire to make beads. We try to go to Copper Mountain, Colorado for the New Year's festivities when the work and school schedule allow for it. Not only do they do two fireworks displays, but they have fire dancers that are so fun to watch. Hubs loves the fireworks (the link takes you to video of a display he did for a friend's wedding reception. It's only 4 minutes). The love of pretty fire seems to be a common theme in this family...

Fireworks and fire dancer

  You guys, I LOVE the holidays with the pretty decorations and lights and distractions. But I am so happy when they are over too. I like the decorations being put away, the simplicity of decor, the return to a routine. Often, it's a return to routine with renewed energy after a break from real life for a couple weeks. Maybe that's what brings people to make resolutions... the feeling of a burst of energy. If only we could harness that energy to last all year. Did you get any goodies for your jewelry and/or crafting this holiday season? I usually don't, but my 10 year old daughter got me a mirror for my studio for Christmas after listening to me complain so many times about having to leave the studio to see how a necklace design lays on an actual neck. I love it. In fact, I set it on the counter right next to where I do the majority of my jewelry making Christmas morning and immediately got to work designing some new pieces (which I'll show tomorrow). It makes it feel even lighter and more spacious in my studio, which I love. (Yes, I know my space is a disaster)

New Studio Mirror

Now it's your turn. What is a quote that inspires you? How does it inspire you? 
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