Monday, January 31, 2011

Feel Good

Meanwhile, as Team Estrogen makes their way to Tucson, I thought you might enjoy this heartwarming video.

It's nice to see a teen with something other than a cell phone in his hands. ;-)

Friday, January 28, 2011

T-Minus 2 days and Counting...

to liftoff on Operation Tucson. Team Estrogen is departing on Monday in the wee hours, loaded to the gills with lampwork beads, jewelry, boro vessels and sculpture (my friend Polly is going with me). I'm also thrilled that my lithe friend Heidi is coming too, not just in the event we get locked out of the truck, but because she's just so darned much fun to hang out with.

My bead trays are filling up fast, as is my earring display, and my stock of amulet slides like this one.

I've also been playing a bit with copper etching and patina...maybe I'll incorporate some of this into my charms for the Lampwork Etc. Charm Exchange.

Playing with copper

I'm so excited about this trip. We're going to stay with Terry and Barnes who used to live near us in California, but have since moved back to Tucson. I hear the javelinas visit their fenced in back yard and I can't wait to see one for myself. We'll have a little time to goof off, and the weather looks like it will be fabulous.

OK, all for now - some beads are calling my name, and I have a special birthday dinner to prepare. Have a brilliant day!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What style are you?

On one of my new favorite blogs Brandi recently posted her score from the Stylish Home quiz. I'm not terribly into "stylish homes" (other than occasionally drooling over photos in magazines), but interestingly it said I most resemble a "California Country" style. Cool. Apparently three of my favorite celebrities have this style - Sandra Bullock, Harrison Ford, and Jeff Bridges.

"Cozy… not oversized - a hand crafted gem. A natural "food geek" gets their equipment fix. A bedroom with distinct character - warm and charming. Art that definitely does not match the sofa. Thematic table accessories set the mood. A lithe and agreeable cab - no meal required. Natural and neutral… save the color for your art. Wild and crazy days in your wonderful home.."

You can take the quiz here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

It felt great to get out for a long walk again yesterday after so long indoors. It's feeling like spring around here, but the trees are wearing their winter coats.

Silken treasures

Winter coats


Trekking poles
My new trekking poles make the steep hike back home a lot easier.

Have a wonderful day!

Best Bead Show...See You Next Week!

January 2011 Beads

I finally seem to have survived the unspecified bug that had me down or at least operating at half speed for a couple of weeks. You know you're sick when melting glass is more of a chore than a pleasure.

My bead trays are rapidly filling up, and in case you missed it, I've leaked some of my new work to my Etsy shop. Perfect for the desert, this new reptilian theme has captivated me. It started as I was ruminating (yes, I'm one of those people) on the concept of normal and abnormal human tissue cells viewed under the microscope, and it has taken me on this intriguing, related tangent. Scales seem to have a lot in common with cells, it appears.

I've threatened to call this new series, "My friend Shirley likes snakes, but me, not so much". Talented bead and felt maker Shirley Cook and her husband keep a number of reptiles in their home, and while I can make beads that may resemble those creatures, I have no desire to get up close and personal with the real thing.

Annnnny way, if you're anywhere near Tucson (and I do mean within a couple of hundred miles) you should head on over to the Best Bead Show and take a gander at all the beady goodness, or consider taking a class. I'm bringing lots of focals, sets, and most of my jewelry. To see who's exhibiting this year click here. I'll be in the same spot as last year, Tent 2, next to Kevin O'Grady.

Monday, January 17, 2011

How I spent my Saturday

I had a chance to study with a masterful, experienced silversmith of 30 years over the weekend, and once again entered my discomfort zone. Husband and wife Jerry and Fran Harr do a lot of the same local shows that I do, and we've struck up a friendship over the years. Their jewelry is exquisite - fine craftsmanship and materials combine to make unforgettable and unique pieces. I was thrilled when Jerry said he'd be willing to teach me what he knows about silversmithing, and jumped at the chance to grab an introductory one day session with he and Fran in their Northern California studio.

Jerry solders prongs on "his" half of the pendant.

Humbled, excited, afraid, and energized, are a few of the emotions I'm feeling after our day together. I went from feeling very accomplished about a new bead design I've just created to feeling like a fish out of water, gasping for air. But I know that there's some wonderful things I can create if I spend the time to perfect my new skills.

Jerry demonstrates how to make a hinge.

In the same day I was told I was too tentative, too shy with the tools, but on some things I was too aggressive. With swift moves he firmly formed metal around a mandrel, and with a few well placed blasts of the flame he fused pieces together with solder. He made everything look so easy, and when I took my turn in the chair to try it, I was humbled. I figured I'd have an advantage with my few metalsmithing skills, my knowledge of the flame and all, but it didn't get me very far. Sure, I could light the little propane/O2 super hot micro torch, and I did avoid burning things up, but soldering and using the Foredom tool seemed clumsy to me and I think I almost soldered my pick to my piece of silver.

But Jerry and Fran were both very generous with their knowledge and time and I learned a lot. There are a few key things I need to add to my modest metalsmithing bench, but they'll take me far. So, with much flourish, I present the finished project that we completed:

It's just a simple half round wire frame onto which we soldered some prongs, and inside floats one of my straight sided lentil beads. A generously sized simple bale lets this pendant slide on any chain, and the bead spins freely inside the cage. You can't even see the bead hole.

It was one long day, but we blasted through soldering, bezels, sawing, hinges, earring posts, polishing and buffing. Jerry and Fran were wonderful teachers, and I hope to schedule another class sometime after I can practice all of these things first. But first, I have to unwrap my new Rio Grande catalog...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snakes on a Plane, aka New Beads for Tucson

I'm not firing on all cylinders the last couple of days as some kind of flu bug has gotten me down (or perhaps it's just my disgust with politicians). But just before it nailed me I managed to explore my latest design ideas a little more fully, and here are the results. Here's a collage of six, and you can see the full size images here.

The first couple are etched, with really lovely results.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Another Tucson sneak peak

January 2011 New Beads

I've been madly pursuing (well, I'm not mad, but very excited!) a design tangent from my marbled series of beads using raku or chalcedony twisties and intense heating and marvering. I'm adding silver and reactive colors and getting some fantastic results. Don't these images look positively...reptilian? I'm not sure if they remind me more of animals or some kind of plant life, but I'm deep in this concept now, exploring many variations. I'll have pictures tomorrow.

New Beads!

“Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.”
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Raku Dreamscape, now on Etsy.

Well, they're new, but they're some designs I call old favorites, and they're headed to the Best Bead Show in Tucson with me later this month. I'll try to put a few of these in my Etsy shop in case you see something you like but won't be coming to Tucson this year.

Because they had so much fun there last year, the tortuga family is coming to Tucson again too.

Tortuga de Baja, now on Etsy.

There's more, but not photographed and the best yet will come out of the kiln in the morning. I had one of those "I made the best bead EVER" kind of nights, and I can't wait to see what it looks like in the light of day, when cool. I am totally stoked about this one.

Have a great day, and if you have time, check out the Love My Art Jewelry blog for a fun post I wrote on creating with your five senses. Well, at least I had fun writing it - let's see what you think.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Rearview Mirror


As the holidays fade to warm, squishy memories I want to share a recap with you, before moving on to the business at hand for January (aka BEADS!).

It was a wonderful time, and we did everything I'd hope we would.

We got to see the icicles before they melted.

A number of things were ridden and/or jumped over:


I finished early one afternoon and enjoyed some great rinkside entertainment:


We had a multi-night marathon and got caught up on Season 4 of Dexter. Not to spoil it for you, but we were shocked at the season finale!


Bodie behaved well among the decorations and teetering elders at grandma's house:

I usually have to do a sweep before he charges in there, to relocate low lying food and breakable items. His tail is lethal that way, and he's not been one to pass up food that is offered at nose level.

The young Shred Meister showed some of his best videos to grandma:


You can see them too here, here, and here. I'm so proud of him, but some of these maneuvers make my heart skip a beat.

And now, onward into 2011! We got a mess of beads to make and show!


I'll be back atcha in a day or so with new bead photos. Promise.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Flashback Friday

A friend of mine used to live on a property that had a communal kitchen of sorts, and this is the pizza oven. Isn't it fabulous? It was built by New Zealand sculptor Brent Sumner, who also built several other pieces on this particular property, and it's made from a compound called "darjit" (pronounced, "dah-jit"). It contains some cement, some clay, and some other ingredients and it's used in all kinds of great stuff indoors and out. The chimney for the pizza oven is in the tail!

Definitely you should visit his website and look at the photos from his sculpture workshops. It's amazing what you can build with some rebar, chicken wire or wire mesh, and this compound. I took a class long ago and hope to do it again sometime.

Wouldn't you love to have this gate at your home?


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