Monday, December 17, 2012

In the spaces between raindrops

"Pandora's Gift" focal bead, from days gone by.

The year is rapidly drawing to a close and in the gently falling rain I am making my final preparations.  Today the post office to mail scads of treasures and my last custom order of the year, and later this week the cleaning and more cooking.  Soon our home will be filled with the warmth of family and special times, starting with the Solstice on Friday, and I am quietly giddy.  It means so much to me to have the miles between us reduced to zero, and to make delicious things for them to eat, and to share laughter together.  Now, more than ever I try to remind myself how utterly grateful I am for the love and beauty that surrounds me, and for this wonderful, precious gift of life.

The trees in our coastal rainforest are wearing their winter coats again, and walking with any kind of efficiency is impeded by distracting ferns and fungus.  It's such a contrast to the dry summer months.  We live where the tall redwoods tickle the clouds' bellies and empty them of their moisture before passing over the valley below in the rain shadow. This year mushrooms are popping up everywhere.  The rain and dark conditions are perfect for them, and the varieties are many.

Late this fall I've been busy in the studio as well, but have been struggling to refresh my photography skills (in addition to chasing the sparse light) so I can get some of these pieces online.  My color palette is leaning toward neutrals, as they suggest the season to me and because I find them so easy to wear.  I create jewelry that I would wear myself, and usually test run my pieces to make sure that they work as intended. 

Necklace in shades of grey and ivory, with handmade fine silver bead caps and links, and recycled chandelier crystals.
Long necklace in antiqued brass, ivory and clear, with beads-in-beads and smoky faceted glass chunks.  This can be worn as a single or double strand. 
I'll try to post again soon, but I know myself too well to make promises. I hope that you find time for peace and reflection in this time of business, and I hope you get to spend some quality time with those you love.  Hold them close.

“Sometimes our fate resembles a fruit tree in winter. 
Who would think that those branches would turn green again and blossom, but we hope it, we know it.”  
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Thursday, November 1, 2012

My Favorite Things

These are a few of my favorite things:

Spending time with my wonderful friends.
Thinking about making art.
Thinking about my feelings.
Making art.
Sharing art with people who get it.
Taking pictures of my art.

I guess I'm about to enter my own personal nirvana hurricane, 'cause all of my favorite things are coming together in a hurry.  Tomorrow I push off for Sacramento to the 15th annual Sacramento Arts Festival.  The truck is packed, and I spent some time tonight with my camera trying to capture what I love about some new pieces that might not be coming home with me (that's the hardest part).  But I just learned that Heidi might be spending the whole weekend with me at the show, which just rocks.  Nobody can festive-up a booth like Miss Heidi, and that's the truth.

Heidi and me in Tucson in 2011.

"Lucky" antiqued brass neckpiece.   This one is another Viking Knit piece, in antiqued brass, and features an antique slot machine token and hand forged brass clasp.

Wine Flower brooch (SOLD).  I've been making wine flower earrings from recycled wine bottle glass for some time now, and finally got to use these handmade fine silver flowers to offset the beautiful green glass. 

"Tibet" pendant with hand forged fine silver bail, and handmade sterling silver bead cap.  The slick of the glass was ever so gently removed with etching solution, to leave a gentle luster.
"She is a Work in Progress" brooch.
So that's where I'm at.  Got a few more things to attend to tomorrow, and then blast off time.  In the midst of my own personal productivity hurricane I've been thinking a lot about all of those affected by the tremendous storm out East, some who I know and worry about.  If you're wondering how you can help those in need in the aftermath of Sandy, I just read that you can text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. As in the case with other donations via mobile, the donation will show up on your wireless bill, or be deducted from your balance if you have a prepaid phone. Very easy to do.  It's a horrible tragedy.

I'll post more if I can before and during the show.  If you're in the Northern California area you really should come.  Truly.  Warren Cook does a right proud job getting some majorly good art into that convention center, and needs to be commended.  Plus, you can rock out to some mighty fine live music while you shop.

Friday, October 26, 2012

On feathers and wings and leaves

There has been a subtle theme running through my creative work lately, and I am more and more convinced that it comes from a sacred place.  I firmly believe that the creative process deeply taps into our spirituality, and that somehow I am just a channel and not the source of this work.  It is in the universe, in the experiences that bind us together, and remind us that we are all human together.  There is something bigger than ourselves.

First, the leaves came.  In tremendous volume (anyone who comes to see me at the Sacramento Arts Festival in a week will see this for themselves).  They tie me with nature, and remind me why I so love my home in the mountains.

Fall-inspired leaves, destined for earrings, brooches, and neckpieces.
Work in progress.
 Once the leaves came they morphed into feathers...
Glass leaf and feather earrings.
And the feathers morphed into wings, and reminded me of how a heart can soar, particularly when it is buoyed by hope...

Work in progress.
I am getting excited about the show, spending time with a dear friend who has volunteered to help me there, and excited about seeing my wonderful customers there again. If you're in the area I hope you might come and visit.
"Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the
tune without the words, and never stops at all." 

- Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

At long last, fall

 My fall flowers and the beads that they inspired.  
These are going on some neck pieces and brooches.
Well, I have to say that it's kind of embarrassing to post after such a long absence.  I used to feel guilty after a week or two of no posts, but wow, this is...a lot.  But I'm fine, and life is good, it's just that I've been living more of it in the present, in living color, in person, as it were, as opposed to online.  It's amazing how much of life can slip right past you when you're clicking here or there, virtually living. 

New earrings.  Everything is flowers and leaves around here right now, it seems.  But I'm not complaining!
Anyway, lots of things are getting mended, and otherwise tended to around here (except most of my sorry garden, I'm afraid).  I was quite proud of my container gardening efforts, which are elevated out of deer and gopher range, and seemed to be easier to tend and coax into a flourish than their cousins in the ground.  But now all that's askew, as our deck is all torn up.  What started out as a little surface sprucing turned into a rather major effort to replace unseen rotten supporting members, and now Mr. Fixer is just about back to where we were a few weeks ago when we started this little cosmetic project.

So what's been happening?  We had a lovely evening with this man at a lovely mountain venue.

Yeah, probably the sweetest seats I'll ever have.  And Jason Mraz at the HP Pavilion gave a fantastic performance a few weeks ago, but I'm just done with arena venues after that.  I just don't like the big, echoing feel, and all of that space in between you and the musicians.  Give me a dive Mexican restaurant or a grassy seat in a meadow and I'm there, but no more arenas.

Then there was a great trip to Washington state this summer, and it was great to see friends along the way, and my in-laws in the Seattle area, in addition to some local sights, and of course, The Gathering, which was fabulous as usual.  Every year I seem to "know" more and more attendees, and it's so much fun to catch up with them, and of course, to fondle each others glassy creations, a.k.a. The Gathering Handshake.

The Chihuly Gardens and Glass is totally worth seeing, even if you've already seen his latest touring show.  This was my favorite vignette in the garden outdoors.  The plants have been expertly matched with some of his work, and it's so right down there in the City Center, at the foot of the space needle.

Our dog has now had his second knee operation, and in another few months will be happily active again.  The girls are doing fine, and either we have had the Mother of all hen fights today or molting has begun. 

But I digress.  So what's new?  Weeeellll, I've got a wonderful (she gushes) new studio and have been trying to find my rhythm there.  I still need to just pick a date for my studio warming party, and get my teaching act together, but everything is up and working and I'm loving it.

Here are a couple of shots of the inside. 

This is where I melt glass.  I love looking up at the window where I have my trade beads from The Gathering.  I have more to put there now.

And this is where I assemble pieces.  I have an incredible view of the woods, should I need more inspiration.

Another dream of mine was realized in September when we took the boat across the bay to "watch" a Giants' game from McCovey Cove, outside of AT&T park.  The people watching was phenomenal, and the Gigantes won.  A very good day indeed.
AT&T Ball Park from McCovey Cove
?????  He actually drove this thing all the way across SF Bay.  I guess it's one of these, maybe some kind of overpowered surfboard, or maybe it brews beer, I don't know. 


Stemware.  On a kayak.  Watching baseball.  I love San Francisco!
Anyway, how's that for a whirlwind catchup?  I'll try to be better in the weeks ahead.  I've been busier in my studio than I have in a good long while, and have lots of really cool pieces to share with you.  Stay tuned.  Oh yeah, Diane Woodall was very kind to include some of my work in the October issue of the Soda Lime Times - check it out.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Get those !@#$ beads out of the kitchen sink!! A dry sink photo tutorial.

If you're hearing this from your significant other, or simply want to unclutter your kitchen from bead cleaning flotsam, I've just created a photo tutorial on how to set up your own self-contained bead cleaning sink.  I guess it's called a "dry sink" because it's not plumbed, which is good for this purpose, since bead release can really do a number on your plumbing.  This project takes a commercially sold laundry tub and vanity combo and turns them into a functional sink that you can use anywhere.

The tutorial is here.  While I bought this (admittedly overpriced for the quality) vanity and sink as a combo, you could get really creative with your own design, using most any container with a drain hole as the "sink", and any piece of furniture for the vanity.  I like that the bucket and water supply jug are hidden behind the cabinet doors, but they wouldn't have to be.

Have fun!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Such a tool! Sara Sally LaGrand class too.

Today my mother in law leaves her home of over 40 years to move out of state and be near her daughters, in a place where she can get the help she needs.  It's a big move for a nearly 90 year old, and has forced her to sort through a lot of things and let them go.  I can't imagine how difficult this must be for her at this age, to leave many of her things, routines, and friends after all this time.  I will miss seeing her so often, but look forward to a visit to see her new home next month.  And I'm definitely glad she'll be less isolated, and her needs better looked after.

I feel lucky to have been given this from her stash.  Can you guess what it is?  Sure, it has a nice brass hammer head and a useful bottle opener, but check out what's inside.

Turns out it's a bar accessory from the 1950's.  What a cool addition to my new studio this is!  I don't think it's sturdy enough to do any real hammering, but it will be a nice thing to have around, and a warm memory of my in-laws, who lived the high life in Reno and Lake Tahoe, and were never caught short of the proper bar implement.

I think the only find that could have been more exciting may have been an absinthe balancier.  One day I shall have one of these too...

Meanwhile in my studio, I'm happily practicing techniques I learned in a fabulous class with Sara Sally LaGrand at Bay Area Glass Institute last weekend, and adapting them to a series of work I've been dancing around ever since I started my glass journey.  Sara is the ultimate artist, and I enjoyed every minute with her.  She convinced me that I need to attend the Glass Art Society conference some day, where the focus is the art and creativity goes sky high.  The fashion show sounded incredible.  Anyway, if you get a chance to learn from Sara, grab it!  

Here is the broach I made in class.  I used some of the twisties I made recently as the center part of the "crater" beads, and as stand alone "pods".  I'm always too overloaded in class to think about coordinating a nice color scheme, so this one was pretty random, but it still seemed to come out ok.  The ninja is there to guard it from marauders, of which there were a few. 

Yes, the lovely and talented Shirley Cook was taking the class too, but apparently did not want her fans to know this, so she went incognito.  Her piece turned out beautifully, as did everyone's. 

Monday, June 4, 2012


There's been a lot going on around here this spring!  Holiday brunches, family visits, hiking, salmon fishing and crabbing, outdoor tidying and gardening.  Not so much glass melting, but that's soon to change since I've gotten moved into my new work space.  Other than improving the storage situation in there and tidying up a bit, I'm ready for visitors.  I'll be sneaking some photos in here soon, when the sun comes out, and gearing up for some giveaways.

We're having an unusual rainy start to June here and it's just yuckky grey out there.  In one of my first creative acts in there recently I discovered that the sun streams into the skylights at just the right time of day to take some amazing photos right on my work table.  After precariously balancing my photo cube on the deck railing every time I needed a photo, or hustling around to find alternative spots of light in our partly shaded yard this is music to my ears.

My mother in law just turned 89 over the weekend, and at her request I made her this bracelet using some of my own beads, combined with some cut glass, stichtite, and sterling silver beads.  It's sassy, sparkly, fun and different, just like she is, and it was wonderful to be with her in person to see her face light up when she saw it.  I thought she would appreciate the elastic, since she could put it on herself.  With the recent death of her husband she's transitioning to the next stage of life in an out of state assisted living facility, and having to say goodbye to belongings, routines, and friends that she's had for decades.  It's got to be horribly hard to do this, and I admire her courage.

Sybil's new bracelet.

Mom spent a week here with us recently and as usual, we tackled some projects together.  The biggest one was to repair and spiff up the housing that shields our water pump system from the elements.  It was built from plywood, and aside from a missing lid, was in pretty good shape.  We painted the base, and used leftover Suntop style roofing for the lid - the remnants from my glass rod storage cabinet project last year.  There's OSB under the plastic so it may not last a season, but it's better than nothing and cost almost that as well.  I swear, I think we got as much paint on the dog as anywhere else - he just has to be in the middle of things.

New pump housing.  It's so satisfying to use remnants.

Later this week I'll share a little tutorial on how to turn a laundry tub and vanity into a dry sink.  My new workshop is not plumbed, and one of my goals was to stop cleaning beads in the house.  It turned out great!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Twisting the night away...

Happy, colorful discs.

I just bought a tutorial from Heather Trimlett that I thought you should know about - Twists!  Heather is the queen of bright, colorful, precisely executed beads, and there is a lot I can learn from her.  Yeah, I've been making twisties for years, using many different techniques I've read about or been taught in classes.  Mostly they're the micro-twists that get melted in flat to the bead and spread out with heat, like in my Big Fancy Bead tutorial.  But it was hit or miss for me to make a nice, crisp, evenly-spaced black and white twist...until I got Heather's tutorial. I wanted to take her workshop at The Gathering this year, but it quickly sold out the day that registration opened.  The tutorial was the next best thing and you know what?  It rocks.  My twisties are now better proportioned, evenly pulled, and applied better than ever.  I even made a nearly perfect encased striped bead using some of the twistie shorts.  I'd still sign up for her workshop if an opening popped up, but if you're like me and frustrated that you missed out on it, get the tutorial and see how far you can go.  I was impressed.

Here are some shots of my twisties before (left) and after (right) the tutorial. My near perfect encased bead is below the discs.   Heather's is a technique for making twisties that I'd heard of before, but for one reason or another didn't latch onto.  Now I'm thinking it's the fastest, most reliable recipe ever.  For now I've been having fun applying these to the edges of some disc beads, but have all sorts of cool ideas about other uses.

  Near perfect encased twistie bead. 


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spring Cleaning

 The old, used up and cast aside meets the restorative embrace of spring.

Well!  I don't know if I should just take a leaf blower to this place, or a tow truck, or a feather duster, but either way it's spring, and I'm finding myself taking stock, purging, rearranging, and spiffing up in all ways imaginable.  After a very long hiatus, I'm slowly getting back on the torch, just in time to disassemble my beautiful garage work area so it can be moved to my very own, brand new creative space.  Yes, I can now officially say (with pride and no hesitation in inviting friends and students over), I Have a Studio.  Last year's metamorphosis pales in comparison to this one.

If you've visited my Facebook page (see link over there to the right) you saw the link to some photos of my studio rising up from the ground, and you might be able to get a sense of what it might be when it's fully up and running.  I expect to reach that stage in the next 6 weeks, max, and plan to have a wonderful celebration, a studio warming of sorts, and will find a way to share the party with my online friends, perhaps with some new work and some giveaways. Yes, I think some giveaways would be a fun, perfect way to celebrate.

Prior to moving in I need to do a few not-so-small things.  First, I need to build about 5' more of workbench, and get my aluminum supplier to fabricate more table covering/backsplash, and while they're at it I need 3 custom hoods of sort for my ventilation.  Second, I need to score some shelving to store my show stuff (the IKEA Expedit line is perfect, if I can only find a 2 x 4 edition).  Third, I'd like to rig up a laundry tub to do my bead cleaning, but I don't want to deal with the plumbing, so I'm looking at a marine galley foot pump for the supply line, and a 5 gallon bucket for the waste water.  It's not like I ever wanted to send all that muck into the septic line anyway.  Fourth, I need to address the not-so-nice concrete floor staining job our builder did, and either just grind it all off, or figure out a way to tone it down.  If you look at the photos you'll know why, and if I'm lucky, maybe you'll have some ideas for me?

I'm hoping for lots of pears this year.

So, I guess this is just a little peep to say that I'm here, I'm busy preparing for a move, and all is well.  I hope you're feeling the tender caresses of a long awaited spring.  I certainly am.

This tree covered in the most amazing lichen just blows me away on clear blue days.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Finally at peace

It's been a while since I've written, with lots going on.  Last weekend we laid my husband's dear father to rest, in a manner befitting an honorable man.  He lived a full life and had many blessings, and did the best he knew how in this world. 

Wayne, may your next mission be your best. We'll miss you.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

For this New Year

I hope your 2012 is off to a great start.  I just wanted to share an excellent TED talk with you from Brene Brown, a self-proclaimed "Researcher / Storyteller".  I would like to watch this each and every day this year.  Brene is an incredible thinker and speaker, and her message is life changing.


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