Friday, August 29, 2008

Is Your Garden Still Blooming? Mine Is!

Fall Flowers, fresh from my torch and now in my Etsy Shop.

Even if the real ones in my garden are hanging by a thread, these freshly torched fantasy flowers in my Etsy shop make me feel good about fall's arrival. I was inspired to make something to go with Cyndie Smith's vine necklace, and went a little crazy.

Vine Necklace, now in Cyndiesmithdesigns Etsy Shop.

Cyndie lets her customers choose whatever focal bead they would like on the necklace, so if you'd like it with one of my flower beads, just visit her shop and let her know.

Pick 'em while they're hot!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Cooking for your Canine

This is just a quick post to share a great recipe I got from a friend for home made dog food. I have some exciting bead news coming very soon, but in the meantime, here's how you can make a tasty treat for your dog at home with simple ingredients.

If you're concerned about the additives in commercial dog food, or just like the idea of doing something nice for your furry best friend, this recipe will make enough to keep you and your buddy licking your lips for some time.

Home Made Dog Food Recipe

6 cups long grain brown rice, cooked in 9 cups water (for 45 minutes)

2 1/2 pounds ground turkey
2 heaping TBL's crushed garlic
1/4 cup soy sauce

10 eggs

1-16 oz pkg frozen chopped broccoli
1-16 oz pkg frozen mixed veggies

1 large can pumpkin
2 cans white beans

1/3 cup mixed vitamins *
1/3 cup bone meal *

In a large pan cook turkey, garlic and soy sauce until almost done. Add eggs, cooking til set. Add both frozen veggies and stir til defrosted. Turn off heat. Add vitamins and bone meal. Stir well. Add pumpkin, beans, and rice. This filled three of my kitchen's largest containers and mixing it was a workout, but you can freeze it in smaller containers and thaw when needed.

Mixed Vitamins ** (I found these ingredients at Whole Foods)
2 cups Nutritional Yeast
1 cup Lecithin Granuales
1/4 cup Kelp (Seaweed) Powder

My 80 lb. dog will get 2 cups of this twice a day. Your mileage may vary.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Public Service Announcement from...Your Planet

It's been a busy day of housecleaning, entertaining, gardening, and yes, some art (see my Etsy shop for some great new beads), but I'd like to hit "pause" for a minute to talk about packaging.

For some time I've been very interested in finding visually aesthetic, yet earth friendly ways of packaging and mailing my handmade lampwork beads and jewelry. Sure, the Rio Grande catalog has all kinds of gorgeous, fresh, admittedly tempting ways to present and package one's creations, but I'd like my art to be the one thing that's still on the earth long after I depart. Not the cute plastic tote with a juicy graphic design. Not the plastic version of the Chinese take-out container. Not the plastic earring card. Not the bubble wrap. Just my art. A simple glass bead, or a piece of wearable art that someone a century from now will find in an antique store and say, "oh, isn't that cute what they were wearing back then". Glass and metal are certainly durable goods, but I think they have a stature slightly higher than bubble wrap.

So what's a girl to do? Well, until now I've been packing my beads in white cotton-filled paper jewelry boxes, wrapped in recycled bubble wrap or paper packing material, and placed in brown mailing envelopes. There have been the odd shipments where I have to use a larger pre-made bubble mailer, and each time I wince. The overall system is pretty green, but not as green as I'd like it to be.

With a fire in my belly I went on an online quest for biodegradable bubble wrap, and was sad to conclude that it could only be had in the UK. That is, until I discovered Thebeadingtree on Etsy. Etsy is my favorite online marketplace, as it's all about handmade things, but there's a category for supplies as well, and this lovely woman had what I needed.

So, starting very soon, I will be mailing my shipments using biodegradable bubble wrap inside of the brown paper mailers. But first, I want to do a little experiment to see how this stuff actually "degrades". Being a scientist and a Master Composter I took a 12" x 12" sheet of this stuff and cut it into four pieces. One went into my worm bin, one went into the vegetable garden (buried and watered), one is out in the sunlight, and one is in water. I want to find out the optimal conditions under which this stuff will remove itself from my customers' lives, and from our communal living space, a.k.a. Planet Earth.

Biodegradable bubble wrap in the worm bin.
You can see the remnants of last night's pizza box, and, if you look closely, some junk mail, right there next to this morning's egg shells and yesterday's romaine trimmings. After this photo I put the worms back to bed by pulling the moist shredded paper over top of them. I wonder what they'll think of this new blue food?

in sunlight (this is to see if it's photodegradable).

in soil...

...in water.

I would like to be able to include a note with my shipments telling people how to properly get rid of it - many people don't realize that organic or degradable items that go to the landfill don't actually decompose. Did you know that once they are closed landfills are hermetically sealed, and that the crucial ingredients (oxygen and moisture) needed for natural decomposition to occur are absent? Even when they are still "active", waste is so tightly packed that even anaerobic decomposition (the slowest form) is slowed. Garbology studies have unearthed such atrocities as decades old hot dogs and lettuce. There are much better alternatives for recycling kitchen waste like coffee grounds or vegetable peelings, newspapers and junk mail, and yard waste such as grass or garden clippings, and you'd be surprised how easy it is.

I have written articles for the local paper on composting yard waste and on worm composting, and would be happy to share them with you. Once you learn how, it's easy to make this a part of your lifestyle, and very easy to feel good about what you're doing. Just contact me and an electronic copy will be on its way.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A First-Timer's Visit to the Gathering

I am fortunate to live near Oakland, CA, the site of this year's Gathering, the annual meeting of the Interational Society of Glass Beadmakers, and attended the Bead Bazaar Saturday and presentations on Sunday. Since this was my first time, I thought I'd share my experience with others who may not have been to this incredible glass mecca before.

I found some familar faces (nametags, actually, since I've never met these LEST members before!) at their bazaar tables Saturday showing their beads. But first I ran into Michael Barley, my favorite teacher of all, and had to show him what I've done with (to?) his baleen technique (think baleen on crack), and drool over his amazing collection of work. He's such a warm person, and took time to interact with each and every person who visited his table.

Then I met Jo (aka DogmawGlass), who had some really great organic shaped beads. Turns out she's the one I sent one of my PMC clasps to for an Art Bead Scene monthly challenge that we were going to do... life got in the way but we're aiming our sights on the next one.

Jo

Next I had no trouble recognizing Marcy Lamberson of StudioMarcy, whose amazing bobble head beads were out in force: Elvis, the American Gothic duo, Thug Pigs, and a whole cast of entertaining characters that made everyone smile. She said she'd be smiling, and boy does her smile light up the room!

Marcy

I was really inspired by seeing Sara Sally LaGrand's wearable work at the show - it really stood out from the rest. Her pieces were definitely not for the shy, but exhibited a masterful level of artistry in their conception and execution.

Hayley and Helen from enVision were there, and their booth was mobbed with customers. If you work with the new silver glass, you should check out their How To Guide on the silver colors. Here's a sample of their wares:

enVision

Last, but definitely not least, I was thrilled to finally meet Lara Lutrick (yes, THE RECENTLY PUBLISHED Lara Lutrick). I own one of her great beads (and am lusting after about 10 more), and was happy to get to see some of her collaborative work with her woodworking dad. Artistry definitely runs in the family at the Lutrick household.

Lara with her collaborative piece.

The technical vendor area was smaller than I thought, but my credit card bill will not verify that. My favorite press maker Amy of Zooziis was there, as was Frantz, Arrow Springs, Soft Flex, and many others. They appeared to be working very hard to handle the constant crowds on Saturday, and those that would surge in on Sunday after each speaker revealed which tools were the secrets to their success with a particular bead style.

Sunday was amazing. Speakers were supported by pre-recorded videos of their demonstrations, and two screens made it easy to see what was going on during the 1-hour long presentations. At 8:15am Trey Cornette humbly presented his incredible Sun Garden style beads, and gave lots of really useful tips on twisting, heat control, and murrini application. Marcy followed with a tip-filled and loudly aplauded demonstration on her sculptural Elvis bobble-head beads, right down to the chest hair and belt buckle embellishments. She's such a sweet person she even excused herself for referring to his rear quarters as "buns".

Due to some feverish shopping I missed the first part of Sabina Boehm's boro implosion marble demonstration, but what I saw was fabulous. I had to laugh at the end when her slide show was still running and she asked whether it was OK if she could leave anyway.

We received even more densely packed information during Kristen Frantzen Orr's talk on "Bead to Finished Piece", a really thoughtful presentation showing an entire creative sequence from bead creation through jewelry design. I sat in a darker area of the ballroom and hope that the notes I took are readable! She showed how she makes her signature striped canes and applies them on her floral beads, and Maggie Roschyk (her jewelry designer collaborateur) explained how they had met and had come together to create incredible pieces of wearable art.

Harold Cooney stole the show during his borosilicate candy dish demonstration. After arriving 2 1/2 days late for his filming, which subsequently led to a serious (but recoverable) flaw in his demonstration (Marcy told me that they get one shot at the filming, with no "do-overs"), he told us how the ISGB had helped him along the path of self discovery and fulfillment by allowing a lowly glass pipe maker into their folds. Intermingled with technical points about working a large set of boro latticino into a vessel form were reflections on his quest for money and self-fulfillment in his art. I noted several great quotes during his talk, such as, "Like, borosilicate was invented in the 1960s to kill communists", and "boro is about getting the job done", and "all you have to do to work boro is not have a job".

The last talk that I attended on Sunday was Stephanie Sersich and Dustin Tabor seaking on "Beyond Beads: Non-weables from Lampwork beads and parts". I have a personal interest in anything related to collaboration, and this young and energetic duo are breaking all of the molds. They spoke of their participation in a Bullseye-sponsored factory event to push the boundaries of lampworking and fusing, and they really did. It was really great.

I know I only experienced a fraction of what the annual Gathering has to offer, but had enough of a taste to whet my appetite for future years when I hope to be able to attend the entire event. Look out Miami, here I come!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Off to the ISGB Gathering!

"Zinfandelicious" lampwork bracelet with handmade fine silver clasp. Now in my Etsy shop.

I've been on vacation here and there for a bit, and before heading to Oakland for The Gathering I thought I'd share some of my visual memories of British Columbia. What a breathtaking place!






Finally, here's just a peek at a couple of new listings in my Etsy shop. I'll be back soon with more.
"Rainbow Serpent" focal bead (SOLD).

"Pandora's Gold" lampwork bead bracelet with my own fine silver clasp, now in my Etsy Shop.

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