I am SO excited about some of my new jewelry designs and hope you are too. Here is a necklace and matching earrings that I have messed with off and on the last month or two. Now it is on its way to the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis as part of a 6 week display that coincides with the Indiana Art Fair. If you happen to be attending the Fair, I have been informed that I am booth 3-67, so please stop by and say hi.
The set is called Enchanted because...well...because I hate naming my jewelry and beads. So when I asked the kids if they could come up with a title for the set, DD (age 7) says "how about 'Enchanted'" It took my about 2 seconds to decide it was perfect. After all, I am completely enchanted with how the Zimmerman powders used on a pale yellow base transform into exciting variations of the original colors. It is truly magical to watch the transformation and I could make these all day everyday and never get bored. I have Andrea Guarino to thank for teaching the technique when I took her class last February. And for a little extra sparkle, I included AB clear Swarovski cubes. AB stands for Aurora Borealis and is the irridescent coating on the crystals. AB ROCKS!

Pretty Little Things and Why I've been Scarce

One day, as I perused my favorite blogs, I came across a post by Cindy Gimbrone that she mentions she wants to live inside a book called Pretty Little Things by Sally Jean Alexander. I've never felt the desire to live inside a book, so I immediately checked it out of the library. And I fell completely in love with this book.
The projects are clever, fun, and can be personalized to your tastes, needs, desires, and more. I can hardly wait to use the inspiration and incorporate my lampwork beads.
Even though I do love the projects, that is not even my favorite part of the book. The best is that Ms. Alexander gives us a studio tour of some of her favorite things, how she organizes her "stuff" and I just love the personalities of the characters that live in her studio. One thing I found funny was that she does her soldering on a silver tray for the photos in the book. When I solder, it's on homasote board with duct tape along the edges. Trust me, it's nowhere near as pretty as a silver tray.
As if that wasn't enough, she also explains how she spends her days creating. The entire book is charming and fun and playful. She does a quick overview of making a collage that even a non collage artist could have a blast creating. In fact, I went out and bought a bunch of paints and other stuff to play with. I also stopped at a thrift store and bought some books to rip apart. When I told the kids what was going to be done to the books, they were horrified. Ever since they were toddlers, they got in trouble if they mistreated their books. So to actually PURPOSELY rip them was about all they could take. I got lectured. HA!

My library has a 5 time renewal limit. I had every intention of renewing the book all 5 times. But then some mean person put it on reserve so I had to return the book after only 3 weeks instead of the 15. I broke down and bought my own copy even though I swore that I would pare down the number of craft books I buy.

So, instead of blogging, I've been studying this book and playing on facebook. What FUN! I had no idea what this facebook thing was all about!

Shopping at the Bead Shop and a picture of my New Stash

I had so much fun shopping at the bead shop yesterday I had to share. Look at this gorgeous stash of beads. Unfortunately the photo does not do them justice. I rarely go into a bead shop with a "plan". I prefer to be inspired by what I find. This time was no different. 
However, as I wandered about the shop, I remembered the Art Bead Scene contest theme for the month of January and kept those colors in mind while browsing. I admit that I generally gravitate towards blues, greens and purples anyway. I also gravitate towards the very organic jaspers and other stones. However, if it looks like it could be similar to a lampwork bead, I don't buy it no matter how much I love it. The simple reason is I want to use as much of my glass in a piece as I can and not worry about anyone mistaking a stone for a bead or vice versa.  
It is fairly common knowledge you can buy beads and stones more inexpensively online. However, there are a couple reasons I prefer bead shops. The first is that you get to hand select the stones you buy rather than depending on someone else to send you nice looking stones. The other is that it is important to support the local shops so that they will be there when you run out of a needed component and can't wait for it to arrive in the mail. 
Anyway, I am excited to get started on my submission for the Art Bead Scene monthly challenge. I want to add in some of my lampwork beads, so I better get on the ball. I've never entered before, so it should be a learning experience. Are you working on your submission yet?

A Trip to a Local Bead Shop

I drug my daughter to Frisco, Colorado to check out the local bead shop called Luna's Beads and Glass. She wasn't particularly happy about it, but was a good sport. My first thought upon entering the shop was the huge selection of books. I think there was one copy of every beading or wire or jewelry book ever made. the selection of Czech glass was HUGE. I have never bought any before, but I found a particular bead style that made my heart go pitter patter and I bought not one, not two, but 6 strands in various colors of this style. I also managed to score some gorgeous strands of stones. 
BTW, I will be posting a photo and explaining a little bit about my thought process (what little there is!) tomorrow. So make sure you stop by to see the stash.
Even DD got a couple sparkly things. She loves cherry quartz and got a large faceted pendant cherry quartz and a strand of czech glass. 
Now, onto some vacation photos. The boys getting ready to go out skiing. I guess they were taking a break from the hard work of putting all that gear on.
View from the balcony: There were 4 guys on top of the hotel roof shoveling and using an ax on the ice. Apparently we got 25 inches of snow in the course of 24 hours. I thought it was a foot. I was only off by 13 inches. 
View from the balcony: The clouds hovered over the mountain and it was amazing. I admit to being easily distracted to beauty in nature while driving. I could barely stay on the highway on the way to Frisco because I kept staring at the mountains and thinking about how insignificant I felt compared to the awesome beauty of the Earth. Give me a break, I live in an area that a slight bump in the road is considered a hill. It has it's own brand of beauty, but not the "in your face" kind like this. 
I was taking photos of the boys and I think someone was feeling left out. 

Interesting Sneak Peek

Remember how I mentioned bringing lots of rings with me to get some "work" done while enjoying the gorgeous view? I've been making a bunch of these chainmaille daisies. Each takes me approximately 40 minutes to make and uses 37 rings. Some are all silver, some all copper, and the majority are a mix of silver and copper. 
However, both kids think I am making toys for them. Each of them has taken turns playing with the daisies, stacking them, arranging them to help me figure out designs for me to use, etc. Well, photo you see pictured above is just hilariously creative. I had to get change for doing laundry today. Unfortunately all I had was a $20 dollar bill. Needless to say, we have lots of left over quarters. DD decided to make "crabby patties" with the quarters and copper daisies. "crabby silver patties" with the copper silver mixed and then "silver patties". I think someone has watched too much SpongeBob...
We woke up to an extra foot of snow this morning. WOW! We can see the roof of Starbucks from our room. Here are some guys on the roof shoveling. I can honestly say I've never seen anyone shovel a roof before.
We have continued homeschooling while here. Part of the schoolwork has been journaling about the trip. DS is journaling about which runs they went on today and checking the map while doing it. He was so concentrated he didn't know I took his picture.
On their way out to the slopes. Look at the snow piled on the pillar thing. Notice the lack of snow on the sidewalk. They must be heated somehow. DD and I drove to the pool and the very short distance was quite treacherous.
Tonight's view from our balcony.  
I am HOPING to make the trip "into town" to visit a bead shop I spied that was closed when we first got here. If I have any luck, I will blog about it tomorrow. 

Why I Tolerated the Train AND the Cold

Did I mention I don't actually like cold weather? Winter can be beautiful, but it' know...COLD. Today was about 1 degree. You know...COLD. I don't ski, but was convinced (begged and pleaded with) to go to Colorado. I keep asking why we didn't go to the beach. Apparently the boys can't snow ski in Florida. Bummer. 
I didn't leave the room the entire day. The wind chill was something like -175 (ok, actually -10 but might as well be -175 as much I like the cold). I looked at our lovely view from the comfort of the room with the nice warm fireplace and couldn't see the mountains from all the blowing snow. But I got more chainmaille done!
When the boys took a quick walk to get a missing ingredient for our dinner while I did the cooking, they got back and insisted we all go on a walk after dinner because the Christmas lights were still on and gorgeous. Grudgingly I bundled up. I am glad I did because it was so worth it.
Really beautiful caramel apple display outside a chocolate shop:
The same chocolate shop:
Flaming stone pillar, disco balls and Christmas tree decorate the bottom of the ski lift:
Grooming the halfpipe for tomorrow:
The kids in front of a frozen pond that everyone BUT the kids were sliding around on. Their parents are too paranoid of frozen kidsicles to allow them on the pond:
Different view of the same pond:

New Year's Goals and Why I Dislike Traveling by Train

Oh no! I haven't blogged since LAST YEAR!!!! This New Year's humor is brought to you by me, who cracks myself up on a daily basis. 
So, now that it is the 5th day of the new year, have you broken all your resolutions? I mean, there are still too many holiday goodies left over to actually diet anyway, right? So, instead of dieting, how about making goals? Well, goals are great if you actually write them down, figure out how you are going to achieve them and POST them where you have to look at these goals By the way, I just saved you the $20 and several hours of time you would've spent on a 250 page book that says essentially what I just wrote in one sentence. You're welcome ;-)
My only goal for the year is to make a schedule that includes "work" time scheduled for at least 5 days a week. (work is in quotes because I don't consider having this much fun to actually be work. )
To achieve this goal, I skipped town so that I am nowhere close to my torch, kiln or glass. Great way to start the year, and accomplish this one single goal, right? Well, I hated that my goal could be put to the side so early on, so I brought several ounces of sterling silver and copper rings with me for lots of chainmaille fun...hopefully to be listed next week on 1000 Markets after a dip in liver of sulfer, a bath in the tumbler, and a photo shoot. 
And something really cool to start out my new year is having one of my Nightmare Insomnia beads featured on the lovely Rose Works Jewelry's Treasury blog. Please go check it out if you have a spare second.
Here are a few photos from my very first train trip in no particular order because our mac notebook won't let me change the order of the photos. Aack!
We left from Chicago and traveled 18 LOOOOOONG hours to Denver. We had a family sleeper car. It was fine during the day. But at night, trying to sleep while jostled to death, and with a motion sick kid, I began to feel very claustrophobic. I think I'd prefer not being closed up in a room the size of a closet with 3 other people. We actually slept maybe 4 frequently interrupted hours. It was a rough night. At 3:30 am I was disappointed it wasn't 5:30 am and time to get up. (the fact I just uttered the sentence that I wanted to get up at 5:30 am is somthing I never thought I would say-I am NOT a morning person!)  I wanted the misery to end. 
This photo was from the very start of the trip when it was still fun.
Here's the motion sick kid once we got into Denver and waited for DH to pick up the rental car. She hugged this bucket for about 10 hours on the train and then another 24 or more hours as she still felt sick for a long time. It's been nicknamed "Barf Bucket" and is her new best friend. 
Outside Denver's Union Station:View from our room:
View from our room:Still holding her new best friend and briefly smiling:
View from the car as we drove to the ski resort:View from the car as we drove to the ski resort:

Frit Organization Idea

Here's an updated, close-up and much improved photo of my frit storage from today. The sun was streaming into the window and it just lights up the pretty colors of glass. You can see my enamel storage solution around the corner from the frit. See below for another view.
I thought it might be fun to show how I store the majority of my frit after yesterday's review of the Frit Secrets book.I have this tiny little wall thing that sticks out because of the configuration of my studio. I think it has something to do with the stairs that go from my basement studio to the garage. Anyway, this little wall was pretty much worthless and I just hated that. Then I saw these lovely 36"x4" steel magnetic boards on Pottery Barn. I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket and that worthless little wall now stores my frit in a very fashionable and easily accessible manner. Sadly this isn't all of it.
All I did was glue some super strong neodymium magnets to the bottoms of the jars, allow to dry at least 24 hours, stick to the board. Voila! fun and functional frit storage. Perfect project for those that rank "organize my studio" at the top of their New Years Resolutions.
To store my enamels, I bought 3 of these spice racks from Walmart for about $10 each and emptied the spices into baggies, washed the jars, labled each jar and hung them on the wall. In the photo you can see the side view of the frit jars sticking to the steel panel.

Book Review of Frit Secrets: A Flameworker's Guide to Using Reactive Frits

Frit Secrets: A Flameworker's Guide to Using Reactive Frits by Val Cox was a highly anticipated book in the lampworking world. I know I sat on the edge of my seat and read every update about Val's progress. Unfortunately for those of us that are impatient, the process was longer than initially expected. However, as the saying goes, good things come to those that wait.
In spite of my anticipation, when the book was finally listed on her website, I initially balked at the price. $40 for a softcover book about frit seemed rather pricey. So I waited and thought about it. Sometimes I need to put things in perspective. For example, maybe I don't like every issue of a magazine I have a subscription to, but if I get even one or two great inspirations or learn one new technique or whatever the purpose that magazine serves, isn't it worth the $20 or so I spent for the year? That is how I justified spending the $40 for the frit book. After all, I probably have hundreds of dollars in frit (oh wonderful husband, if you are reading this, that hundreds of dollars thing was a total exagerration!) and I am sure I could use more info that what I had at my disposal to get the most for my money.
Over the course of 2 days I read the book cover to cover. It is beautiful. The photographs are vibrant and lush. It really could practically be a coffee table book...for a lampworker. The book covers lots of information that I didn't expect. For example, Val shares not only the frit manufacturers, but also their various "quirks". Val also covers how to make a frit blend, tips for choosing colors to make a custom blend and so much more.
What I was most looking forward to was how to make certain beads. Now, I don't want to make a bunch of copies of "Val beads", but there are times I would like to know how a certain look was achieved so that I can do something and make it my own. There is the section on how to make a faux boro bead, but I believe that is the only bead type described from start to finish. There are tips on using frit to make a ribbon or twisted cane, using it in a "painterly" fashion on clear. Val also describes how she designs with frit and color.
Because of all the other information included, I was not disappointed in the lack of bead "tutorials". I think what I enjoyed most of all was Chapter 21 titled "My Notebook" in which it was a summary of how she approaches bead making. I would definetly recommend this as a gift for your favorite lampworker (perhaps yourself?). I am glad I spend the money on it as I learned many things I did not know and the tips for design alone were worth the $40 spent on the book.

If you would like more information about Val Cox's book about Frit Secrets, click here. Make sure to scroll down and see the pages she has on her website, including the table of contents.

A Photo Essay

I am no photographer, but I have not been in a particularly chatty mood lately-partly I have nothing to say and partly because things have been a bit crazy since the ice storm hit early morning of Dec. 19th. We lost electricity for about 5 hours, but about half the city lost electricity for several days. There were shelters set up at high schools and in the coliseum.
My mom, her husband, my 18 year old sister and their 2 dogs were among those that lost power and came to stay with us Friday evening and then "moved out" Christmas Eve. It was fun to have them and I am glad we were able to provide a place for them to stay warm. The kids didn't want them to ever go home and Oscar (our 1 year old mini labradoodle) loves his grandma (my mom) more than anybody else. I think he'd rather live with her. Anyway, with unexpected house guests and Christmas gifts to shop for, wrap, etc, it was a tad crazy. Then the temps got crazy low (I didn't know the thermometer on my car could go down to -1!) and the wind was blowing so hard and our house was PELTED with ice from the trees in our yard. Nobody could sleep. That was the only time I was really scared. It sounded like our roof was going to cave in or our windows would shatter. But nothing happened. It was just very loud.
Despite being scared and frozen, I still went out several times to get pictures. Here are is a very small sampling. What I kept thinking about is the ice reminded me of encasing in glasswork. It's like nature's encasing in clear to magnify and beautify and add further mystery to our amazing Earth.
If you are wondering why the icicles are hanging sideways in the above photo, see the photo below. Both photos are the same tree. Two of our four Hawthornes are sideways. They are starting to go upright again and I am keeping my fingers crossed they will make it.
The following two photos were taken on the next sunny day after the storm. Look at that intense blue sky. What you can't see is that our entire world looked like it was dripping in diamonds. It was just dazzling. In spite of so many not having power, the roads being treacherous, and the temps bone chilling, I couldn't help but think of it as a gift. In fact, as we were driving around that day, I had a difficult time staying on the road because I couldn't keep my eyes off the stunning beauty surrounding us. I really wanted to share this gift with everyone, but photos do not even begin to show the awe inspiring scenes. It really is amazing that something so beautiful is so destructive.Notice some of the branches missing some ice? That's because that ice was pelted against our house.
The next two shots were taken the same day (22nd) but from our deck as the sun was setting.This one looks like it should be a scene of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.
So, here is DD Christmas Eve night, right after opening her present (pj's-it's a tradition!). She looks like she is singing. She has been singing "All I want for Christmas is my FIVE front teeth" all month.I won't bore you with family photos of Christmas, but I had to include DS and the dogs. The dogs each got gigantic rawhide bones for Christmas. Notice how they insist on chewing the same one and the other gets left to the side? They are so weird. Oscar is on the left and Nim (the 9 month Golden Retriever) is on the right.Notice how the bone is as big as Oscar? He weighs a whopping 17 pounds and I think the bone weighs about 16 pounds. LOL!I hope you have enjoyed time and laughter with your family and loved ones this week. Merry (late) Christmas!
Syndicate content