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New Beads

I finally got around to photographing a couple from a week or so ago. I've been playing with a lot more clear and the lightly tinted colors recently after reading the Val Cox Frit Secrets book. I love how these came out with so much depth. There is just one teeny tiny problem that I forgot because I usually prefer saturated transparents or opaque glass...you have to work a LOT harder to make the bead holes look nice in transparent beads!
Both of these will be at the Indiana Art Fair Feb. 21-22 at the Indiana State Museum.

VanGogh's Irises

Sometimes I make goals that sound good in my head, but don't formalize these goals or take steps to actually achieve said goals. It could be laziness, goofing off on the computer too much, fear of failure or some other equally goal inhibiting behavior. Today I am taking a step to eradicate this behavior. One of my goals for the year was to participate every single month in the Art Bead Scene monthly challenge. I view it as a way to not only see what I can come up with using the theme, but also as a way to challenge myself to try new techniques or materials.

This month's theme was based on the painting Irises by Vincent Van Gogh. This is what I came up with. There are 14 of my lampwork beads all using the Spring Violet frit blend by Glass Diversions. That is where my comfort level ended. I decided on a lariat, having never tried making one before. I also incorporated amethyst, peridot and fluorite. Amazingly, I've never used any gemstones in any of my jewelry! I am usually a silver (or copper) with lampwork beads purist with an occassional swarovski thrown into the mix.

I also tried out the Vintaj findings that have been sitting in my studio in the box they came in since about October. They are just stunning! I need to order some of everthing now that I've played with it. I only had two issues with the Vintaj stuff. First is that all the links in all the chain are open, which I admit makes me uncomfortable. Also, the wire is almost too soft to wire wrap. However, I worked around it and can hardly wait to use it again.

It took so long for me to finally sit down and create this thing, that I may have submitted too late. But that's OK because at least I did it and am excited to see what the next challenge theme will be.

Something For Me???

Confession time...I don't like to wear jewelry. Shhhh! DON'T TELL ANYONE!!!! However, I know the importance of using oneself as a billboard if you create jewelry and try to sell it. So when I dropped this beloved bead (titled Nightmare Insomnia and the Atom Smasher) on my CERAMIC TILE floor, it was no longer saleable, but still OK for me to wear.
--->Note to current and future customers...glass really does not like ceramic tile or concrete (I know, SHOCKING!). However, a properly annealed bead will bounce and not shatter, but will probably sustain small nicks.
I couldn't think of a design that would be good for me to wear without wanting to toss it across the room after a few minutes, but still looked fabulous enough to be good "advertising". Along came a new shop called Cahootz which is the dream team of Robin Koza (you will also know her as the owner of Glass Diversions ) and Carol Watson of In The Woods Designs. They feature the most luscious hand dyed silk ribbon, end caps for viking knit, sections of viking knit for those that don't want to make it themselves, and beautiful handmade fused silver links. I ended up with the most gorgeous Berry Vine ribbon so I could wear this bead as simple as possible to fit with my everyday casual style.
This necklace is super easy to make. After stringing the pendant onto the ribbon, make a coil of silver wire (about 20 g. or so) on a 1/8" mandrel and thread each end of ribbon through the coil in opposite directions. Then bend, curl, twist and hammer simple little sterling silver charms and tie them to each end. You can adjust to any size necklace for any type of neckline and have sassy little charms hanging down the back. You could also substitute coordinating lampwork beads like this one here

New Beads!

I am really excited about some of the new beads appearing in my kiln each morning. I don't have time to photograph all of them right now, but here's a sampling including 2 new Nightmare Insomnia Series beads. Because I am trying to build up inventory for the Indiana Art Fair on February 21-22, I won't be listing these on etsy unless I come home with them.
I did list this chainmaille bracelet on my 1000 markets shop I was really excited what a difference this particular Hill Tribe silver clasp made in the overall design.

Enchanted

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's...you 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:
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