Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bead Soup Blog Party is ON!!

Remember I told you a while back about the virtual Bead Soup party Lori Anderson was hosting? Shown above are the fantastic polymer clay beads I got from my soup partner Loretta Carstenson of Designs by Loretta. I just love the design, and the weighty feel of the focal heart is satisfying. I never thought that polymer clay could be so...meaty.

Here are the beads that Loretta sent me.

So, while I was partying it up, I mean conducting bead business in Tucson last week, my design ideas were simmering in the back of my mind. And they have finally come into fruition, and here is my finished piece with Loretta's soup ingredients.

And now, without further ado, here is the piece I made combining Loretta's fabulous polymer clay beads and some of my own elements. I call it "Ode to Joy".

"Ode to Joy", finished piece.

Loretta's fantastic polymer clay heart focal bead.

Here are links to all of the other great party participants' blogs - please visit them and see what they've made for the party!

1. Lori, Pretty Things and the link to the party is in my sidebar
2. Mallory, For the Love of Beads
3. Terri, Blooming Ideas...You Are Here
4. Cindy, Sweet Bead Studio
5. Lorelei, Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
6. Kerry, Kabs Creative Concepts
7. Erin, Treasures Found
8. Jeannette, Jeannette Blix Wire and Metal Jewelry
9. Adrienne, Adrienne Designs
10. Nan, Spirit Rattles
11. Laurel, Rue's Daftique
12. Nancy, Beading From the Heart
13. Mary, MK's Creative Musings
14. Cassie, The Glass Beadle
15. Dot, Winchell Clayworks
16. Sharon, Sharon's Jewelry Garden
17. Lisa, Lo and Behold
18. Norma, Bead Dreams and Moonlit Fantaseas
19. Judith, Judith B.
20. Debbie, Prairie Emporium
21. Maria, Garden Path Beads
22. Susan, Kaplan Creations Jewelry and Glass Design
23. Melissa, Melissa Meman: Art, Love, Life
24. Marianna, Pretty Shiny Things
25. Lisa, Joolz by Lisa
26. Cristi, 2 If By Sea
27. Sandra, Marbella Jewelry Design
28. Maria, Greene Earth Originals
29. Barbara, Jewelry of Distinction
30. Leslie, Bei Mondi
31. Loretta, Designs by Loretta
32. Linda, Bella Bead Jewelry
33. Kathie, The Bead Cult
34. Patty, Plays With Fire
35. Nicki, Nicki's Reef
36. Anne Marie, Heart's Desire
37. Mary, Mary Harding Jewelry
38. Jayne, Mama's Got to Doodle
39. Emanda, Artemesia's Studio
40. Whitney, Whitney Lassini
41. Marcie, La Bella Joya
42. Suzann, Beadphoria
43. Jen, Jen Judd Rocks
44. Julie, Credit River Art Glass
45. Janiece, J Birds Garden
46. Kate, Organic Odysseys
47. Laurie, The Mermaid Tale
48. Michelle, My Crazy Crafty Adventure
49. Sue, Sue Beads
50. Janeen, Janeen 365
51. Nancy, The Rabbit Muse
52. Kristie, Artisan Clay
53. Regina, Regina's Writings
54. Tari, Pearl and Pebble
55. Lyn, Lyn Foley
56. Beth, Sunshine Daydreamz
57. Cathryn, Chile Cats
58. Emma, Fred Bean's Nook
59. Connie, Cetta Cheese Chatter
60. Juli, Jul's Beads
61. Julie, RockerJewlz
62. Libby, LibbyLeu and Glass Too
63. Melanie, Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
64. Katie, My Life and My Beads
65. Zuleykha, Zuleykha's Polymer Clay
66. Rekella, Me But a Little More in Depth
67. Ricki, What's New at Ricki Voges Design
68. Lisa, Lucid Moon Studio
69. Jo, Daisychain Jewellery
70. Lynette, Rock Hill Designs
71. Lynne, Island Girl's Insights
72. Chas, One Woman's Haven
73. Chas, One Woman's Haven
74. Ruthie, Rose Works Jewelry
75. Elizabeth, Turquoise Sky
76. Maire, Maire Dodd
77. Janet, Singing Woods
78. Eileen, Dorset Hill Beads
79. Julie, Miss Kitten's Jewels
80. Joann, Jo's Jewels
81. Patti, PJ Clark Designs
82. Mel, Kookie Designs
83. Erin, Every Heart Crafts
84. Dale, Flights of Fancy
85. Dee, Runako Designs

It's a Big Day!

New focal for Tucson.

It's finally here. Today I get to meet my internet buddy Cyndie for the first time. She's flying out here so that we can make the drive to Tucson for the Best Bead Show together. I'm so excited I can hardly stand it! Our work in progress we call a home has been scrubbed within an inch of its life and there are beads everywhere. At least there's not a toilet on the front porch any more - it was installed the other day. I'm sure that would have raised an eyebrow. We've been emailing and "convoing" (Etsy's email) each other on a near daily basis for at least a year and a half, and once the end of February arrives we will have created two exhibition jewelry pieces together, but we've not yet met in person. Will we recognize each other, or will we have to resort to that awkward, "text me with what you're wearing" business?

Anyway, after a quick downpour yesterday followed by the most incredible full moon ever, the weather looks to be cooperating with our plans (not that it would make much difference to this determined team). I'm sure it won't be warm enough for Cyndie, who's coming from Florida, but if the sun's out it will be an improvement. We'll have some getting acquainted when she arrives, dinner at one of my favorite local wine bars, and then final prep and dry runs tomorrow before we shove off on Monday.

I'll definitely be posting updates and show and party photos on Facebook (friend me to the right here). It's gonna be an exhausting blast!

For now, I'll leave you with one of my latest new sets:

Monday, January 25, 2010

More Fun With Chalcedony

I never would have thought that my crunch of mass production in preparation for Tucson would have yielded a creative surprise, but it has. Long a fan of the raku glass, I've lately been fascinated with Gaffer's new colors Chalcedony and Blue Chalcedony (G-109, G-1095). Inspired by artists like Deb Batten of Firebird Flamework and Mike Hengler who have been doing some heavy duty experimentation with this glass, I feel determined to learn for myself what makes this glass tick. Specifically, what makes it do it's fantastical color popping thing for me, the way I work.Certainly, it's lots of intense heating and cooling, but more specifically, I think it likes to move. Seriously, the most intense and breathtaking color I've gotten seems to be from letting the glass flow. Deb touched on this in her tutorial last year, but what I'm seeing is that it likes to flow around the mandrel. A lot. The color in these comes almost entirely from intense heating and movement, not from rapidly cooling with tools, but obviously that's the next thing I'll try.

These babies will be coming with me to Tucson, and I might even pry them out of my hot little hand to sell. Maybe.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Look What the Rain Brought!

Tortuga babies and flowers!

And lots of fungus.

Rain is good.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Waves at Agate Beach, courtesy of Weather Underground photographer Tsurai.

So far this incredible series of rapid-fire storms has lived up to the ominous forecaster predictions. According to my amateur measurements we've had somewhere between 10-12" of rain since Sunday. We've also had hail (some as large as 1"), high winds, tornadoes, mudslides, downed trees, water spouts, power outages, thunder and lightning. It's made it hard to carry on with daily routines (particularly for those without generators), but everyone is doing their best. I think most people around here come to accept this as a regular way of life and they make the best of it. They hunker down with candles and a good book, a pot of soup, a cozy wood fire, and an easy going attitude, and forget trying to get out and about. Only those with deadlines and schedules dependent on modern technology seem to be phased by it.

Our progress on the bathroom facelift has been hindered by these events, since our generator proved to be too wimpy to run a tile saw. But we're back on track today with a break in the severest weather forecasted until the weekend, though it's still raining.

Progress on my preparations for the Best Bead show were also temporarily disrupted, albeit by equipment malfunctions. I'm pretty sure my propane regulator is shot, but thanks to the kindness of a fellow Lampwork Etc member I've got a loaner while he checks mine out.

The meteorologists are having a field day with this weather situation, saying that the atmospheric conditions we have right now are unprecedented and incredible. The "storm door", as they like to refer to the pressure gradient setup that either protects the California coast or pummels it, is fully open with very little end in sight to this pattern for the foreseeable future. Apparently the low pressures recorded along the coast are among the lowest ever recorded. I can't imagine what it's like for them now, with their computer models, comparing data with each other and trying to make sense of it all, but I'm sure it's exciting. This ominous forecast from a USGS scientist is sobering indeed, unless of course if you're a snowboarder, and then you're making plans to quit your day job (if you even had one) and get to the slopes. My only question concerns the credibility of a geologist (who specializes in coastal and marine geology) making weather predictions.

80', 14" diameter fir tree split and snapped in half.
The tree was forked and thus weakened, which likely contributed to this.

Adjacent fir with split trunk near the ground.

We've weathered this series of storms with fairly little damage except for a large fir tree snapped in half and a myriad of tree limbs down, not to mention the debris everywhere. One more large tree downhill from the broken one seems to be splitting near the ground, which I'm assuming is from some torquing it may have had during the storm. On the bright side - I take a Darwin's view of this stuff and thank Mother Nature for very efficiently removing the weaker limbs so that we don't have to. I just wish she would bring her crew in to clean up the mess she made!

Over and out - the torch is calling.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Here it Comes

The rain has started falling but we're ready. Over the next five days we're supposed to get phenomenal amounts of rain - I've heard 10 inches and even 20 inches mentioned. But with food in the fridge, gas in the generator, clean gutters and walks I'm down with it. The only other thing that could enhance this feeling of cozy satisfaction is to have a pot of soup on the stove, but the freezer is full of batches made a few weeks ago so life is good.

Today I need to get my application in for the springtime Saratoga Rotary Art Show, and do some metal and glass work. Yesterday's beads are clean and my Dremel is getting a needed rest.

In this stretch of preparation for the Best Bead Show in Tucson, I'm finding a comfortable rhythm. Whereas previously my mandrels would get cleaned and dipped infrequently and unpredictably (when I run out), and the same with charging my cordless Dremel. Glass and other supplies would be ordered when I was on the last rod, and I had no real flow going. Now since I'm melting glass nearly every day, I've got a routine going that makes it much easier to be efficient, and it feels good. My torching bench is a disaster as always, but that will be fixed after Tucson in preparation for some new tutorials.

I hear that Michael Barley is teetering on the brink of offering his baleen tutorial (one of the frequent keywords leading to my blog, BTW) in his new Etsy shop. Keep an eye on it. That's pretty exciting news and I know it will be very popular. I was lucky to take a class from Michael a couple of years ago and it was the best class I've ever taken. He's a wonderful teacher and a brilliant artist. If you ever find yourself within a day's drive from one of his teaching gigs, GO. It will change your life as an artist.

OK, I gotta get goin'.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Best Bead Show Sneak Peek

So I promised in last night's post that I'd get a few photos up of my Tucson show inventory so far. We had a great overcast day today so I got some decent shots. These are just the beads - I'll be taking jewelry too.

Some simple sets, in comfortable colors. Shades of lavender shall always be my favorite!
And yes, Mona and The Gaffer Girls, there is a healthy, happy sprinkling of Chalcedony in my latest work.

Bird's Eye View of lampwork bead sets for the Best Bead Show, a work in progress.

Some focals, some earring pairs, and sets. I'm starting to get into this "set" thing.
They're not so bad!

Just some of my focals. I think I have more somewhere...

Wild Ones and twistie beads.
Can you believe that the giraffe tissue paper I was hoping for is backordered???

Finally, some twists on my Tortuga series. Can you spot the extinct ASK color?
I was thrilled to snag some from Deb Crowley's stash recently on Lampwork Etc.

So that's the peek. In addition to the focals I love making, I'll have some affordable, simple sets that are easy to design with, some fun stuff to coordinate with the Wild Ones sets (e.g. focals, earring pairs), and some other surprises. I'm not very good at keeping secrets, so I'll probably show more before too long.

Oh! I almost forgot!

Another fun thing swimming around in my head these days is Lori Anderson's Bead Soup party. She has paired everyone up (and it's a real party with 84 of us attending!), and I have the pleasure of swapping bead sets with Loretta Carstensen of Designs by Loretta. She's a polymer clay artist with a great blog, and I can't wait to see what she sends.

Polymer clay scares me because I think if I were to try it I would slip into a bottomless rabbit hole of creative delights, and might not get back to melting glass. So, for now it's on my "someday I'm definitely trying this!" list. The parallels to the glass world are intriguing (e.g. millefiori cane), and I know I would love it.

Meanwhile, I'm sifting through my ever-increasing stash of beads looking for the perfect focal to send Loretta, and plan to make a special PMC clasp for her in the next day or two. Then it's back to my findings for some accent beads, and I'll send it off to her. We're supposed to send off our Bead Soup mixes to our partners by January 18th, and will post our creations by February 10th. It's going to be interesting with my Tucson Show in the mix, but I'll get 'er done.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

On heads that are swimming

I think you should be very glad that I didn't do what I was tempted to do, and that is, unload my overburdened brain here of all of the details flopping around in there for the last few weeks. I thought perhaps I could achieve some relief by dumping it all here, but unfortunately then it would be your burden.

In a move that was either brilliant or the worst timing ever, I am acting as designer and general contractor for a bathroom remodel (technically it's a facelift), with no qualifications other than I'm the fastest Googler this side of the Rockies. It started just after Thanksgiving, and it might end before the end of the month. It's no biggie - no moving of walls or massive changes, but a lot of new surfaces. Sure, I've got the modest budget and the dimensions and the countless links to online vendors neatly arranged in a multi-sheet Excel workbook. And yes, I now know all the various ways a shower can be waterproofed, and two different ways to assemble a glass block wall, and pretty much all of the very interesting names that the toilet vendors give their thrones (and some of those would amuse you, names like "Champion", and "Cadet", "Cimarron", "Perfecta", "Monarch", and "Memoirs", which is my personal favorite). Which one was the "comfort height" again, and which one will actually flush a whole bucket of golf balls? And how am I going to match up that one tile with the other as it meets that other wall? I can't recall. My brain is full and it's starting to spin.

But it pains me to have to hold details in my head like these, and I just want to scream sometimes. But these are not the only details spilling out of my ears.

Meanies, coming in a big way to the Best Bead Show.

I'm getting ready to exhibit (for the first time) at the Best Bead Show in Tucson, the Mother of all bead shows, exactly three weeks from today. It's a five day show, 2 days longer than my longest ever. The nightly parade of themes past my weary eyelids now include toilets, tile samples, faucets, broken sinks (if you friend me on Facebook you'll find out about that), designs for a new Convergence exhibit piece, and beads. Lots and lots of beads. Not just Any Beads, the Right Beads. What should I take to Tucson? Sets? Focals? Jewelry? All of the Above? Tried and True designs, or "out there" experimental work? How much of each? Is 7 sets of my Wild Ones series enough? Are people tired of my Tortuga series yet? It's no wonder I'm not sleeping much.

Playa Tortuga series, coming to Tucson."Wild Ones" bead sets, coming soon to Tucson.

Sure, I complain, but soon I'll have relief. I won't have to walk the long green mile of carpet to the other end of the house for my middle of the night pee, and I'll have a bathroom that's clean, new, and somewhat modern, if not destined for a glossy magazine spread. And since I've been torching nearly every day for the last several weeks, I'll have loads of inventory for Tucson. Well, I hope it's loads. I've been reading a lot of Lori Greenberg's great blog posts on the Tucson show for hints of what to take and how to arrange it, and plan to make sure that everything is as fondleable as possible. Thank you, Lori - your blog is cool and your tips are wonderful. I think that whatever I have when Cyndie arrives is what I will take. Not a lick more, and no less.

So there, I've spared you most of the flotsam that's been knocking around in my head lately, but maybe I'll get off the hook for not being as attentive to my blog as I should. That will soon end, however, as I plan to post updates from the show, and will keep y'all informed of all the show fun via Facebook (see link to the right, down a ways to my Facebook page). It's going to be a fantastic adventure, starting with Cyndie Smith's arrival here (and our long awaited in person meeting!), and then the Road Trip to Tucson. I can't wait! I know a lot of the fun, fantastic people exhibiting at this show and running it, and they're going to make it wonderful to be there.

Tomorrow I'll post some pictures of my Inventory in Progress. I promise. We might even have some sun.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It's a Bead Soup Party!

I recently learned that Lori Anderson of Pretty Things is having a Bead Soup Party. It's going to be fun! Participants get paired with another party goer and they create and swap a "kit" made from a special focal bead, some coordinating beads, and a special clasp, and then we make a special piece of jewelry from the kit. I can't wait to see what everyone creates. More information is available at Lori's blog.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Countdown to Tucson

February 3-7
Kino Veterans Memorial
Community Center

2805 E Ajo Way, Tucson, AZ

The torch is a'blazin' around here!

Four weeks from today Cyndie Smith and I will start our drive to Tucson, to exhibit our work at the Best Bead Show from February 3-7. I've done 3 day shows before, but never a 5 day show so it's a bit daunting to me. We'll need lots of inventory for this show, and for me that means both beads and finished jewelry. So, for the past several weeks, I've been making lists and checking them twice (not just for Christmas gifts!), and hitting the torch hard. Right now I'm easing off the focals and making sets and earring pairs, and soon I'll switch gears to jewelry.

Coincidentally, the entries for the Convergence II exhibit are due shortly after the Tucson shows, so we're working on that at the same time. I'm not sayin' what we're doing, but this year's challenge is to make a piece of jewelry that a real or fictional historical figure would have worn. We're having fun sharing ideas back and forth, and seeking inspiration from every nook and cranny of the intertubes.

OK, gotta get back to it. I'll try not to disappear for too long between now and the end of the month.


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