Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Anticipation

As a member of Art Bead Scene's Blog Carnival, I wrote this piece for April's theme, "Anticipation". I hope you like it.

"Anticipation, anticipation
Is makin' me late
Is keepin' me waitin'"

-Carly Simon, "Anticipation" (1971)

How can I define anticipation? For me, anticipation is the lip licking, salivating feeling I get each and every time that I wake up in the morning and remember that I have beads in the kiln from the night before.

Aside: If you aren't familiar with lampwork bead making, they're made with a torch and must be placed into a hot (970 degrees) kiln to slowly cool overnight. This is called "annealing", and it ensures that the beads will be strong and will last forever without breaking. When you make beads at night, morning is the time when you can first look at them to see how they turned out. There's no instant gratification with this kind of art, which perpetually makes me wonder how I became so addicted to it.

Anyway, as soon as my consciousness connects with the moment, I'm drawn like a rare earth magnet to my kiln in my detached garage studio. This pull is so strong that I will bypass the coffee, bypass my computer, and throw all caution to the elements enroute. Rain, wind, cold - it's no match for the anticipation I feel as the results from the last session are revealed.

Unless you know something about flame working, it may be hard to relate to this feeling. It's a lot like ceramics, I guess, where you never know how the colors in your glazes will turn out until the kiln has cooled. Colors look different in the flame, and some effects take some time to develop during annealing.


I've been making beads regularly for 7 years now, and it never ceases to amaze me how it's like Christmas every time I go to open the kiln. I've had other obsessions - gardening, quilting, needlework, but nothing has captured my fascination quite like this. It's just incredible to get that first look at your tiny creation, and know that it's going to stay on the earth for a long, long time.

And when I'm not waiting with giddy anticipation for beads to cool, well, I'm waiting with giddy anticipation for the next chance I get to sit down and make some more.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Etsy Front Page - Thank You JulieGarland!


I had a very nice surprise last night. JulieGarland, one of my Team Treasury International team mates made a fantastic treasury including my Chocolate Peacock bracelet that was featured on the front page of Etsy. Don't you just love the wonderful blue and brown theme? And what's even cooler is that my friend Cyndie Smith is in it too! Those are her cool stacked rings above my bracelet and to the left. Those rings have had quite a few appearances on the Front Page, and deservedly so - they rock!

The cool thing about this kind of feature is that it draws a lot of traffic to one's Etsy shop, which we all know is supposed to translate into sales. Well, it's not like the shop empties out or anything, but exposure is a good thing, and in the marketing world, it eventually leads to sales. To illustrate, here's what happened to my Etsy shop views a few weeks ago when a treasury that I was in made it to the front page - BAM! They quadrupled.

Google Analytics data for my Etsy shop views after a treasury I was in made it to the front page.

As a result of last night's appearance I received a number of sweet Etsy convos, Facebook messages (thanks for this screen grab, Heather!), and Etsy shop hearts. Sweet indeed. Thank you all for your very kind words. And it's your lucky day, as the bracelet is still there (winkedy wink)!

I hope your day is awesome. We're presently in a sunny, breezy lull between storms, with more rain, wind, and 20 foot seas predicted for tomorrow. Thursday is opening day for abalone season, but I hope all of the eager divers heed the marine warnings and wait until things calm down. Even when it's not storming it can often be a FOOLish thing to dive this time of year around here. Be careful out there.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ow! Get your elbow out of my ribs!


Just goofin' with some Meanies and practicing my photography with artificial lights after my workshop last weekend. Oh yeah, and this awesome Meanie charm bracelet (The Meanest) has just landed in my Etsy shop. A weighty, handmade fine silver chain and 9 irreverant, toothy dudes, at least two of which bear a shocking resemblance to Dick Cheney.

Now get out there and enjoy a wonderful spring day! And by the way, if you happen to hear any rumors about the new healthcare bill that sound too horrible and outrageous to be true, do yourself a favor and verify it at http://www.factcheck.org before sending it to all of your friends. Your blood pressure will be glad that you did. Anger and vitriol can turn you into a meanie. And not the good kind.

Photo taken using the gradient "spotlight" approach on Loriola's great blog tutorial.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Whirlwind

Photo I took with my Pentax Optio W20 camera in Kyle Cassidy's jewelry photography class.

I've touched back down to earth after a very busy week. First there was the tax preparation. One of my least favorite and most avoided tasks is book keeping, and every year I swear I'm going to get better at it. I am improving over the years, slowly, but for some reason I find it terribly distasteful. Who wants to play with numbers when you can play with fire? Anyway, I finished, and we are ready for taxes.

As a reward for finishing, I took a fabulous photography class in San Diego with Kyle Cassidy, and learned a lot about how to get decent bead and jewelry pictures with my point and shoot camera. A big shout out to Kate McKinnon for arranging this class and making it super fun. There were all kinds of interesting people in the class, even one woman who didn't make jewelry but instead was a forensic photographer who specialized in rock pictures. She brought some fabulous rocks from her geologist husband's collection, and I think we loved those images even more than the jewelry shots.

Here is an old shot I took of the necklace, before the workshop,
under artificial lights (though they were Ott lights). Nice fur, eh?

Kyle likes to take pictures with natural lighting, so we spent a lot of time near the windowsills in Jay Whaley's studio. Didn't the photos below turn out great? For one of them I used a gradient background from a PDF file printed on banner vinyl by my local printer, in a window that had not sunlight, but indirect light. I always thought that I needed sun to shoot my glass beads and jewelry, but the shadows and glare can be harsh. Kyle taught us how to adjust the exposure settings on our cameras for the lower indirect light levels, as well as how to use depth of field to add interest. I am excited about what this new knowledge will do for my Etsy shop photos, as well as those that I'll use for juried shows. I'm still planning to call David Orr for special shots, but at least my every day images are going to be a whole lot better now.


After traveling home from a very long day in class, we headed to Sacramento to attend the memorial service for a dear family friend who recently passed away from lung cancer. He had been through a nightmare of other health issues over the last several years, but had regained his footing and even found a special friendship and happiness at his care facility that gave him renewed strength and vigor to face one final battle. For this last ray of sunshine we take comfort, but Jim, we will think of you often and will miss you always.

Yesterday we had an amazingly gorgeous spring day, and hiked the Maguire Peaks trail with some friends and our dogs on the way home from Sacramento. The wildflowers were in full force, as was the balmy spring air and vibrant green grass. I considered taking some macro shots of the California poppies, but the breeze was moving them too much. The dogs had a great time blowing off some winter steam, and Bodie even took a dip in a livestock watering trough, which I welcomed since he had been magnetically drawn to every fresh cow pie we passed (and there were many) on the hike.

The fountain is once again clean and filling our lives with
the wonderful sound of falling water, after a winter of neglect.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

How to take better jewelry and bead pictures

Well, you can read your camera manual (I have, for what little that's worth), practice-practice-practice, Google it, or you can take a class. I'm going to do the latter, with Kate McKinnon and Kyle Cassidy next weekend in San Diego. The thing I like about this class is that Kyle is going to teach us to work with the equipment we have, not the expensive stuff we should buy. So, me and my little Pentax Optio are zipping down there to soak it all up, and hopefully entertain you with better bead and jewelry shots in the future. I caught the Blog Radio interview Jay Whaley did with Kyle last week, and it was really interesting - I can't wait to meet him.

Last I heard, there are still openings in the class, so check it out.

Meanwhile, the rain has done some wonderful work in the garden this winter.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

30% Off all Green Items for St. Patty's Day!


I guess I forgot to tell you all about my St. Patty's Day sale. Through Sunday night I'm offering 30% off all items that come up in a search for "green" in my Etsy shop. You'd be surprised how many of my beads, earrings, bracelets and necklaces happen to have "green" in the description (over 20), so hop on over there and take a look.

This beefy focal bead, "A River Runs Through It" happens to have green in the description, and is on sale for 30% off.

The fine print is that first you need to send me an Etsy convo or email to let me know what you want, and *then* I'll create a special listing just for you at the sale price.

"Spring Greens" tie dye lampwork bead bracelet is also in the sale.

"Slither" earrings are in the sale.

Care for some "Seaweed Salad" at 30% off?

So, what are you waiting for? Easter? That will be too late. Erin Go Braugh!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful to live near the Pacific Ocean, where I never fail to find inspiration and rejeuvenation. Here are some treasures recently found.

I find the heaps of flotsam that the ocean has left behind on the beach to be some of the most visually interesting things in nature, and often full of life and death. Fortunately this one had little evidence of humans and their trash.

The dark piece above looks like some kind of large fish vertebrae, and check out that big molar on the bottom!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Convergence II: Adorning the Past, Present, and Pretend

"The Bone Goddess", Convergence II Exhibition entry from Cyndie Smith
and Patty Lakinsmith, copyright 2010.

Cyndie and I finished our entry for this year's ISGB and Bead & Button's Convergence exhibition just in time. Well, actually, we finished it early (!), a good 12 hours before the drop deadline. The meandering path of our inspiration is the topic for another day, but where we arrived is at The Bone Goddess, pictured above. We had almost as much fun designing and creating this piece as we did with the last one, most of which was accomplished over the intertubes, with Cyndie in Florida and me here in California.

Description. The piece is one that would have been worn by Baba Yaga, the eldest and wisest woman in the Triple Goddess folk mythology, the Crone. The Triple Goddesses are three iconic females who represent the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone - archetypical female figures at different phases in life. Instances of the Crone are known to shamanic, Wiccan, and pagan practices all over the world.


Past menopause, the Crone symbolizes death and rebirth, and she can empower and restore women during difficult times. She is a beacon of strength to any woman who is undergoing major changes, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual, or to those whose paths or stages in life have become redundant or destructive. She encourages women to be wild and free, and to summon the courage and wisdom that lies within themselves.

As usual, we went for something unconventional, and I think we succeeded. We haven't discussed it explicitly, but I'm pretty sure that both Cyndie and I see a little of ourselves in this piece, in this particular Goddess, and she is inspiring to us.

The piece has lovely movement, especially in the cool way that Cyndie did the "chain", and we're excited about the functional way that the glass "hinge bones" hold it together. We learned so much about physics and folklore and movies with cave women in them (one of our design excursions) and felting, I can't tell you what a wonderful challenge this was for us. Will it be gracing the cover of Bead and Button magazine one day? Um, I'm pretty sure not. But it's unique, it's art, and it's ours. And we had a total blast doing it. If you've never done it, I highly recommend these things for stretching your wings. It's too easy when you work alone to do things the way you always do, with the materials you're comfortable with, and this expands you. But I think I'm taking my wings in the hot tub now - they're tired!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Down to the Wire

See this?
_________________________________________________

That's a wire, and Cyndie and I are down to it.

Convergence II entries are due in 3 days. THREE DAYS! EEEEeeeeek!!!!!!! And we've still work to do and photographs to take. Oh my. It's going to be close.

In other news, I just can't stop making Beads of Courage beads these days when I'm at the torch. Big, juicy, fun, brightly colored happy beads to make a child with cancer forget his or her pain for just one minute. Just...one...more...bead.

If you have lampwork bead or jewelry items you'd like to donate to the BOC Bead Inspired fundraiser in Mesa, AZ on March 20, send a little love note to Adiel at dewdropglassstudio.com, and she will let you know what she needs.

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