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Bead cleaning and other random stuff

Yes, I've been neglecting this blog. I really don't have much to talk about and I'm rarely in one place long enough to do any "damage" in terms of torching, designing, organizing (the thing I want to do most right now). Monday I finally cleaned some beads I made specifically for earrings.

Cleaning lampwork beads for earrings #AJEearring Jen Cameron Glass Addictions

Today is the first day I don't have any appointments or places to be or chores that HAVE to be taken care of during the day while my kid is at school. So today will be an earring making day. And hopefully a tutorial writing day. Here are a couple random photos from the last few days...all taken with my iphone. Hubs has many nicknames. One of them is "orchid whisperer". We have several orchid plants around the house that he coaxes into bloom every year. I personally want to throw them out during the "stick" phase (where they basically look like sticks in a pot of dirt) but he won't let me. They reward him for his life saving. Here's the first one to bloom so far (they all have buds and should bloom any day now).

The orchid whisperer is at it again by Jen Cameron

Enjoying a lazy Sunday morning in front of the fireplace drinking coffee.

Enjoying this chilly gray morning with coffee in hand in front of the fireplace by Jen Cameron

The rental car I got while my car was in the shop had a special built-in Snickers bar holder

Discovered the Ford Escape I rented this week while my car was in the shop comes with a special Snickers bar holder!

Our sugar glider

Cookie the sugar glider by Jen Cameron

Challenge Earrings 1/52

Today over at Art Jewelry Elements I share details about the who the what and the why of the first pair of earrings I made for the 52 week AJE Earring Challenge.

 

December Component of the month Reveal: The Labyrinth

Today is the big day for the Art Jewelry Elements component of the month reveal. I am very late posting my piece because I overslept. Way overslept. Because I spent hours making this thing (with breaks for meals and when some friends came over....) and got to bed around 3am. We each started with one of these components by Jenny Davies-Reazor:

These components contain labyrinths and Jenny created these as she thought ahead to the new year. She wrote up some interesting info about labyrinths here. I know today is a big party day and you are probably busy. So I'll stop talking and start showing. I spent hours making these coils yesterday. They are made of 18g bronze and they were very hard on my fingers.

Making bronze Egyptian coils Jen Cameron Glass Addictions

If I had been thinking ahead, I would have torch fired then FIRST to get that nice patina (rather than AFTER) so they were softer to work with. Sigh. My fingers would have been much happier. Oh well. I'll remember next time! And this is the almost finished piece. It needs a clasp. But I was too tired and my fingers too sore to deal with making a clasp at 3am

The Labyrinth bronze and lampwork Jen Cameron Glass Addictions

A close-up

The Labyrinth bronze ceramic, lampwork Jen Cameron Glass Addictions

I made the Egyptian coils because no matter what design ideas I had, the coils wouldn't leave me alone. They kept whispering they were meant for this necklace. And so I googled Egyptian labyrinth just out of curiosity and discovered that the first labyrinth written about in history was "found" by Herodotus in Egypt near the "City of Crocodiles".

The Labyrinth bronze ceramic, lampwork Jen Cameron Glass Addictions

Visit the other component of the month contributors for December:

This months guests of honor: Emma Todd Lee Koopman Jess Green And participating AJE team members: Jen Cameron  <------you are here Kristi Bowman Diana Ptaszynski  Kristen Stevens Lesley Watt Francesca Watson Melissa Meman Jo Tinley Linda Landig Sue Kennedy Jenny Davies-Reazor, your hostess 

Have a safe and wonderful New Year!

Jen

Macro vs zoom lens

A few days ago I mentioned one of my two Christmas presents was a macro lens.

Merry Christmas to me (from hubs and the kids) macro lens Jen Cameron Glass Addictions

Yes, I am pretty excited about the possibilities. So I tried it out. I took photos of the same bead. First, the old zoom lens (28-135mm). It was zoomed in all the way with the lens as close as possible to the bead. This photo has not been altered in any way except to resize it.

bead with old zoom lens no editing Jen Cameron Glass Addictions

Clearly I need to have the interior of the camera cleaned (I had no idea it was so filthy!) This was taken with the macro lens, same lighting conditions, as close to the bead as I could get.

bead with macro lens no editing Glass Addictions Jen Cameron

Wow! I am totally excited about this. I was cropping my photos so much that it was destroying the integrity and crispness of the shot. There is a learning curve with this new lens because the settings I'm used to using in certain lighting conditions are not working the same way. Now I just need to have my camera cleaned and I will be happy to photograph the backlog of work.

Super Easy Super Yummy Recipe Revamp

You know those Hershey's kisses in multiple flavors you picked up for 50% off the day after Christmas? (or later...because those things seem to hang around forever) It's time to make them even better. Because I was SO unorganized this year, I missed out on buying Rolos. I still don't understand why those things disappear so quickly. Actually, I do. Because they are so good and you can make these with them. But it would be nice if people would leave a few for a girl who doesn't shop for them until say....December 23... So. Plan B. I spied caramel centered Hershey's kisses. Like a Rolo....and my eye wandered to the candy cane flavored Hershey's kisses. Hmmm....what to smoosh them with? I grabbed a bag of peanut butter M&M's and regular M&M's. Of course you will need a bag of pretzels. Preferably flat ones with a grid pattern. I've seen round and square. To make: -Pre-heat oven to 175 degrees -Grab a cookie sheet, cover it in parchment paper, and place pretzels in a single layer over the parchment paper. -Place an unwrapped chocolate of choice onto each pretzel -heating specifics given with each variation below

Pretzel, peppermint Hershey's kisses, m&m's Jen Cameron Glass Addictions

These were obviously made with the peppermint Hershey's kisses. The white chocolate in these melts differently than the brown, and continues to melt longer than the others. My first batch went to a puddle, but still tasted awesome. 5 minutes in a 175 degree oven was just right with these. Take them out of the oven then smoosh an M&M into them. I smooshed them with a regular M&M, but dark chocolate would be really really good too. Or maybe you have other ideas? Please share!

Pretzel, caramel hershey kisses, pb m&m's, Jen Cameron Glass Addictions

This is the caramel Hershey's kisses with a peanut butter M&M smooshed into it. These should be heated for no more than 4 minutes as the chocolate wall is thin and the caramel is a bit more runny. I made twice as many of these than any other variety. They are gone. These definitely passed the taste test. If you like nuts, you could use an almond or something like that instead. My daughter hates anything with nuts in it. I also made some of these with regular Hershey's kisses (milk chocolate because my kids have decided they don't like dark chocolate any more. Sigh). Heat for 6 minutes then smoosh. Some have peanut butter M&M's and others have regular. It's all good. I wanted to make a cheesecake for dessert Christmas day, but wanted something festive. So I made this recipe, with some alterations because I have never heard of or seen soft peppermint sticks before. We substituted the peppermint sticks with Ghiradelli peppermint bark.

Candy cane cheesecake Jen Cameron Glass Addictions

So what are the highlights of your holiday baking this year? Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to leave a comment if you have something to share. Jen

A Day of Peace and Rest

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="295"]Christmas morning 2012 at the lake house Jen Cameron Glass Addictions Christmas morning at the lake house[/caption] There are certain moments...peaceful, that you forget until you are in the moment once again. The day after Christmas is one of those. The last week has been a blur. A good sort of blur filled with family and fun, my kid coming home from school for 3 weeks, my baby sister home for a few days. Smiles and laughter, marathon cooking and eating. But this day, the day after, is peace.

Snow at the lake on Boxing Day Jen Cameron Glass Addictions

We slept in, watched snow falling outside on the lake. Ate leftovers, watched Lord of the Rings trilogy (we are FINALLY on the last of the 3 extended versions of the movie). And used our various electronic devices.

Lazy day at the lake Jen Cameron Glass Addictions

I blogged about Boxing Day and the sale the contributors are having on Art Jewelry Elements. I added a coupon code (HOLIDAY20) to my Etsy shop good through December 31st.

  I would love to show you new photos using the amazing Christmas gift my husband and kids got me, but I left my camera at the city house.

Merry Christmas to me (from hubs and the kids) Jen Cameron Glass Addictions

I only asked for two things. I didn't expect to get either of them. Hubs is of the opinion that if I get what I ask for, then I won't be surprised. So I usually don't ask for anything. And honestly, I definitely didn't expect to get a macro lens. However, I have been complaining all year that my bead photos are not crisp enough due to the type of lens I am using and lamenting the need for a macro lens. But I wasn't really quite willing to invest just yet. I casually mentioned I wanted only two things...a macro lens, and some method of listening to audiobooks with my iphone over the speakers of my "antique" (2004) Suburban. So the kids got me this to hopefully make this happen.

For my "antique" Suburban

The night is still young, I need to finish watching Lord of the Rings, start knitting the sleeves of a sweater for a gift, and probably hop in the hot tub for 30 minutes or so. Tomorrow I will share an update on one of my favorite yummy easy to make treats (I started experimenting because the stores were out of Rolos).

Spare Tools

A couple months ago I was trying to problem solve, in writing, how to set up a 2nd studio at our lake house that didn't cost a ridiculous amount of money or drive me to drink.

Making jewelry at the kitchen table of lake house

I am slooooowly working through that problem, but I might still drink anyway. Just because I love a glass or 2 (or 3) of a good red wine. But I digress.... [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500"]The "just in case hubs dies from heart surgery" party a few days before his surgery No, I didn't empty these bottles by myself. I definitely had help...[/caption] We spent all last week at the lake house. It was wonderful. However, I packed up a bag of tools and a couple things to work on. But guess what! I needed more. So I would drop my daughter off at school everyday (her school is about halfway between the lake house and our "city" house) and head back home to work in my studio. Plus grab more things to take to the lake. It was getting ridiculous. After a couple days of this, I thought to myself, "this is really @$%*!^# stupid. I have money in the business account, I'm at least going to buy the basic tools I need." So I placed an order that day. It's difficult to decide what is truly basic, and what is stuff you just want. So I considered what tools I use the absolute most. I considered if I REALLY need to have 2 sets of Lindstrom Rx pliers (no, but I really really love those things...) Most of all, I considered the budget. I needed to make sure the biz account was padded enough to pay all sales taxes for 2012, plus income taxes for 2012. I refuse to buy a 2nd set of tools using money from our personal account. I told my daughter, and warned my husband that there would be a box of shiny new tools coming and that Glass Addictions had bought itself a Christmas present...my sanity. Here's what I got:

Traveling tools to keep at the lake house

And the why: Bronze wire sizes 16g, 18g, 20g, 22g, and 24g: I am currently OBSESSED with bronze wire. It's so beautiful when it's been heat treated. It is more expensive than copper or brass (which I like both of those too), but I only have a little bronze wire left, while I have LOTS of copper and brass still. Silver is cost prohibitive to have laying around. And I can more easily transport OUNCES of silver than POUNDS of bronze... Steel Bench block: for hammering metal. Which I do. A lot. Until I get some kind of a bench or huge tree stump or something, I will probably be hammering on the concrete garage floor..... Hammers: Chasing, brass, and dead blow. I have several hammers in my studio, but these get used the most. Flush cutters: One for finer wire in tight spaces, another for the heavier gauge wire. I will also add a hardware store wire cutter to the collection for things I want to cut, but will damage these cutters. Pliers: a German long nose round plier (the same one I always use in my studio. I love this tool for its versatility and durability. I hate the teensy round nose Lindstrom RX pliers I own that collect dust). A long slim line chain nose plier, flat nose, and a multi-stepped bailing plier. The pliers on the upper right are not basic tools. In fact, I've never even tried them before and were kind of an impulse buy (if you can call impulse constantly monitoring the shopping cart, deleting things because the total is too high...) Anyway, they are dimpling pliers and I can hardly wait to try them out. Not shown in the photo above is the Lenk LPT 500 torch I bought to keep at the lake house.

Lenk LPT 500

Also, I have a few duplicates in my studio that I can probably part with...like an extra pair of Lindstrom Rx angled pliers. I have 2 on hand for chainmaille, but don't need to use two most of the time. I also took an extra enamel tray for working on from Jerry's Artorama. The trays are great for containing projects, or creating a surface appropriate for torching.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Looking for my Ornament Blog Hop post? Click the link or scroll down to the next post. This weekend was the big ornament exchange reveal blog hop (hosted and organized by Sally Russick). I gave a sneak peek of the ornament I made for Sandi Volpe, but didn't do any more than that because I didn't want to take away from her reveal. But I kind of wanted to tell you all about it. So here's the ornament on my tree before I packaged it up to send off to Sandi:

Ornament by Jennifer Cameron Glass Addictions

I had originally planned something else entirely, made the beads, but just wasn't feeling it. So I started thinking about using one of my Nightmare Insomnia beads. And thinking about the name. And the fact we just got back from "the most wonderful place on the Earth" just a couple weeks ago. That's when The Nightmare Before Christmas was born. Using on of my Nightmare beads, some black Swarovski crystals, and bronze wire, I wired up the ornament. I love the visual of the swirly hill that Jack stands on. But how to create something that felt like that, but didn't infringe on any copyrights and also looked good....

Ornament by Jen Cameron Glass Addictions

I probably made the process of enameling the copper disc more complicated...because sometimes it's necessary to do everything the hard way. Also, I didn't try to research a technique. I just used the information I already have stored plus problem solving to do what I wanted. What exactly did I do?

Ornament by Jen Cameron Glass Addictions

First, I decided the easiest and quickest way to do what I wanted was to punch out a copper disc and enamel it. But how to get nice crisp lines between the background of the moon and the swirly hill? I got out my little used jewelers saw, drew the basic outline of the hill (after drawing the size of the disc on the copper), and used the saw to cut it out. I then punched a hole in the disc and enameled the disc with various shades of yellow (not sure what the dirty speckles are, but I like them!) Then did a layer of clear over the yellow. Then I torch enameled the hill using a white base then black with a small sprinkling of some grays (not 50 shades of gray though...). The next part was the stressful part because I was afraid it would all crack apart. I added some Klyr Fire to the top of the disc and both sides of the hill. Placed the hill where I wanted it on the disc, sprinkled clear fusing enamel over the entire thing, then torch fired it again. As soon as the enamel was clear, I popped it into my bead annealing kiln (which had been pre-heated). I was worried that with all that enamel, that the entire thing would cool too quickly and crack. Once it was annealed, I wired it onto the ornament. It was a really fun experience in problem solving and planning. Here's our Christmas homage to Jack Skellington, a stuffed Jack purchased during one of our many trips to Disney, always lovingly placed in a place of honor on the tree.

Jack Skellington on the Christmas tree

Christmas Ornament Blog Hop

The talented Sally Russick is hosting her 2nd annual Ornament Exchange today. I was paired with Sandi Volpe, who sent me the most gorgeous ornament! In fact, when I opened it, I was horrified because she sent me this gorgeous, elegant ornament, and I sent her....well...I guess you'll have to see what she posts about it. The anticipation was killing me! But I still took time to photograph the box she sent the ornament in

The anticipation of seeing the ornament from Sandi

  And after finally opening the lid...

The unveiling of the ornament from Sandi

  And immediately hanging it on the tree...

The ornament on the tree

I don't like it, I LOVE it! FYI~the ceramic charm in the center is an Elaine Ray ceramic snowflake. And while Sandi will show you what I sent her, here's a sneak peek (I will write more about what I did tomorrow or Monday):

Ornament by Jen Cameron Glass Addictions

  List of Participants:

Sally Russick 

Lesley Watt

 Jenny Davies-Reazor

  Therese Frank 

Andrew Thorton

 Jeanette Blix Ryan

Maryanne Gross

 Rebecca Anderson

Melissa Meman

 Veralynne Malone

Miranda Ackerley

 Jen Cameron  <-------You are here!

Sandi Volpe <-----My partner!

Susan Kennedy

Kristen Stevens

 Shirley Moore 

 Cooky Schock

D. Lynne Bowland 

Tiffany Smith

 Patti Vanderbloemen 

Pam Ferrari

 Kim Hora

 Alice Peterson

Bette Brody

 Julie Anne Leggett

Lola Surwillo

 Kathleen Lange Klik

Erin Prais Hintz

 Mowse Doyle

Kristi Jaro

 

Advent Calendar for the "Away from Home" Students

As I've mentioned before, my baby boy went off to boarding school for high school this year. One of the big traditions in our family is the advent calendar, which is a cabinet with small numbered doors. I add things in each compartment for each day. I start by adding the Playmobil nativity set pieces that we've had since the kids were very little. Here are the sheep before I closed the door for them to wait their turn to be revealed.

Then I add fun stuff....mostly candy.
I was feeling bad that my oldest wasn't going to participate in the daily ritual of seeing what was in the calendar for the day. And while his enthusiasm in this tradition had waned in the last couple years, I was pretty sure he would still miss it.
So I started brainstorming how I could create something just for him, to fit his current status being similar to a college student. Here's what I came up with:
Basically I made envelopes out of Christmas themed scrapbook paper I had on hand (from a project I planned 5 or 6 years ago and never completed...or started).
I filled them with stuff a student living away from home would like. What kinds of things? $5 Gift cards to places they like that are within walking distance, candy, hot chocolate packets, cash, playing cards, lip balm, or anything else you can cram into an envelope.
You can find tons of envelope templates online. However, I have a thing I bought about 10 years ago called Kreate-a-Lope, which is fast and easy to use.
Select the paper you want to use and the size envelope you want to make.
Line up the template.
Tear the paper against the template. I usually clean up the edges just a little bit with the scissors.
Place the center portion into the template while it is still lined up with the paper you just created with the template with the printed side down.
Without moving the center portion, remove the template.

Fold the two sides against the rectangle first, then fold the bottom up, pressing crisp lines along edges as you fold.

Fold the top edge down last. Then remove the rectangle from the envelope.

Here are all the envelopes stacked up before filling.

I needed a way to seal and number the envelopes, so I decided to use my snowflake paper punch and the scraps left from the envelopes.

Then I stuffed the envelopes, glued the snowflake to seal, and numbered them.

He was pretty excited to get them in the mail. I wish I had thought of it earlier so I had time to do this for my niece who is attending Purdue this year as a freshman.

Let me know below in the comments what you think of this project and any other ideas you have for stuffing the envelopes. I will start my list for next year. Feel free to pin this idea to Pinterest.

Tomorrow is the ornament blog hop and I am super excited to show you what I got from my partner!

-Jen

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