Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pssst! New listings in my Etsy shop.

It's a bizarre chain of events, but thanks to an unfortunate disease befalling the Monterey pines (and the beetles who swoop in to finish the job), we've had to remove several trees on our property that had been keeping the late season sun out.  I am elated that now I have wonderful natural light to use for winter bead and jewelry photographs, and in celebration, I'm listing new work to my Etsy shop.  Yay!  It's about time, don't you think.  I've got plenty of new work, and will be listing it from now through the end of the year.  If you're on my mailing list it's a chance for you to use your special coupon code.  If you're not on my list, well, there's a way to get on it if you want to hear from me (over on the right).
Violet pendulum pendant with handmade silver findings.
 I hope your fall is going well!  We are in desperate need of some rain around here.

Neutral sage and silver bracelet with handmade fine silver clasp.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Show Time! See you at the Sacramento Arts Festival this weekend.

It's show time again!  Are you going to be in the Sacramento area this weekend?  I would love to see you at the Sacramento Arts Festival - give them my name at the front door for free admission, and come on over to Booth   and say hi.  The show is Friday and Saturday, 10-5, and Sunday 10-6.  I love it when friendly people visit. And the friendly ones on my mailing list have some special perks waiting for them in the email I sent out today.

It's been some months since I showed my work, and suddenly I find myself rushing to complete many creative ideas that I've allowed to simmer slowly over the summer.  My usual challenge is to try to complete multiple projects at once, and try to hang on to my focus as an increasing number of diversions tempt me to deviate from my show readiness plan.  Oh look!  Those shark vertebrae I collected in Baja are calling me...  And that new package of bronze clay I ordered almost a year ago and haven't opened yet...

New brooch #2 (this needs a name, don't you think?)

This fall I've been drawn toward natural forms that I see around me - flowers, leaves, nuts.  I'd like to say that fall is my favorite season (because I was born in October), but frankly I can find something to love about all of the seasons.  As many flame workers probably have done, I've been musing about glass acorns with metal caps for years, hoping to electroform some one day.  At one point I made silicone molds from some small caps I picked up, and tried making caps out of polymer clay.  They were less than spectacular, and I've yet to electroform them.  But after finding a mother lode of big, beautiful caps while walking with a friend, I decided to try electroforming the real thing, and I'm really loving the results.  There is no artist like nature, and the detail in these tiny fruit are amazing.  Now that I feel like I've gotten the cap technique down I'm playing with various ways of creating the bottoms in glass.

Leaves are still one of my favorite things to make, and this fall I've been making some more abstract representations drawn or cut into a flattened bicone shape, and I like the results.  This necklace incorporates warm bronze, carnelian, African yellow opal, and glass into a tribute to fall.

Leaf necklace.
Finally, another idea I've been playing with is floral brooches (ever since I took a fabulous class with Sara Sally LaGrand a while back).  I've been engineering the flowers and the mechanics behind the scenes and have come up with some that have a bit of a steampunk flavor to them.  The flowers are stylized, but super fun to make, and I love the chance to use some of my brass findings.  These brooches are super light weight, and fun to wear, and like the rest of my innovations, it did not come about without much trial and error.

 Don't you think these would be fun to wear?

Anyway, I hope to see some of you at the show.  I'm looking forward to seeing my wonderful Sacramento area friends and customers, and talking with people about my work.  The standing for 3 days part?  Not so much.  But I'll be fine. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Quick and easy wind screen for outdoor lampwork demo

Happy Summer!  The days are whizzing by and it seems there's never a dull moment.  I am lucky to have a friend with a winery who has invited me to show my work at a vintner's event next weekend, and I volunteered to go a step farther and demonstrate how I make glass beads from wine bottles.  I'll have some cutting equipment there, as well as my torch and kiln, and will be melting glass all day. 

I haven't done any demos in these kinds of events before, and wanted to have a screen for the wind as well as for safety, to keep people away from the business end of my torch as I work.  I didn't want to spend a lot of money on a custom plexiglass screen, and hate items that have only one use.  In these situations I usually go to either the home improvement store or the crafts store for inspiration,  and the latter really came through for me.  I found three inexpensive 18 x 24" black plastic picture frames, and removed the stiff backerboard that the hanging hardware was on.  The thin plastic sheet on the front of the frames was already anchored to the frame with a little adhesive.  I turned the frames on their sides with the short ends touching, and used an 18" piece of black gaffer's tape (black duct tape would work too) to make a flexible hinge to allow the screen to fold into a "U" shape on the table.  I'll prop each side with something so it doesn't fall or blow over, but I think it will work - along with some signage it will create a safe zone around the hot area of my torch.

After the event is over I will re-purpose these for my enlarged bead photos, either in my studio or for my booth at shows.

If you're in the SF Bay area and want to come, you are warmly invited!  Here's a link for the details - it's going to be a party!  It's Saturday, July 20, at Redwood Ridge Estate at 21435 Summit Rd., in Los Gatos, CA.
This winery has alpaca and llama, and in addition to wine tasting there will be food and music, and art by Lois Stevens, Mary Simmons, and Candi Kauffman.  The setting is in a rustic barn amidst the vines in the Santa Cruz Mountains and the view is quite spectacular.  Hope to see you there!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Freehand lampwork flower headpin tutorial

Greetings from the land of too much work and not enough play.  It's been a breathtaking spring here in Northern California, and it seems we're into summer already with too little winter rain.  Will make for a long, anxious summer but perhaps the fog will keep any fire danger in check.

I'm pleased to report that I made another video tutorial, and this one is about making cuuuuute little flowers on headpins.  Maybe you don't want to shell out megabucks for one of those fancy bellflower presses, or maybe you just like doing things your own way, but either way this video will show you how I made these flowers (some of these in the picture used a different technique, but this tutorial shows how to make some like the light blue one in the center).

As with my glass leaf headpin tutorial, you'll need a pin vise and some steel wire (or copper if you prefer), and for this project you'll also need a razor tool.  Most of these are just pastel glass, but some are encased - they look great that way if you're comfortable encasing.  It doesn't take long at all since it's not a lot of glass.  And as always, decorate them up in your own wonderful style!

Here's the tutorial, or if you like, you can see it bigger on YouTube.

Have fun!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

New work for Tucson

New Reptilian style bicones.  Come see me at the Best Bead Show from Feb. 6-10 at Kino Veterans Center, 2805 E. Ajo Way.  I'm at Table G-409, in the main hall.  Click the link for the exhibitor list, directions, hours, etc.

It's almost bead show time!  I'm excited about bringing my latest work to the Best Bead Show this year.  The work I've seen lately from other artists doing this show is phenomenal, and I can't wait to see everyone in just a little over a week.  This year I'm not glued to the weather forecast since my booth / table is inside this year - yay!  The drive and setup will be so much easier without having to prepare an entire 10 x 10' space outside in the elements, not to mention deciding what kind of clothing to bring.

Reptilian style lentil.

New bicones in the Marbled series.  I was super thrilled to see the color I was getting.
I've been working mainly in a few of my themes this year - my Reptilian series (of course), with bejillions of tiny scales, and my marbled series, but something about the encroaching spring forces my hands to make flowers, and these came out as adorable little headpins on steel wire.  They'll be great for making earrings, rings, brooches, and all kinds of fun pieces.

Flower headpins.

New Meanie Rings using the Sirius interchangeable finding system.
And of course the Meanies will be coming to play in Tucson.  These are Meanie toppers (shown on rings) using the Sirius system (e.g. pendant backs, rings, etc.), so all you have to do is find the toppers you want from any artist whose work you like, and you can mix and match them with your findings.  There is a small nut embedded in the glass that allows the Meanies to fit onto any Sirius System finding.  I love them on these comfortable wide stainless steel rings.

If you're going to the bead shows in Tucson, do stop by and say "hi".

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Video Tutorial - Lampwork leaf headpins

Today I accomplished something I've had on my list for a number of months.  I made a video to share with you showing how I make my glass leaf headpins.  Here's some examples of earrings I've made with them:

The tools I use in the video are a pin vise, which is not mandatory, but helps - I use the Mandrel Pin Vise (, and some leaf mashing pliers (  Mine are the Realistic Small Curved pliers.  You'll also need a bit of glass, and some leftover twisties.

And here's the video tutorial on how I made them.  They're very easy and fast to make.  Sorry for the bit that's out of the frame - I'm still working on the best way to record and will do better next time.  Have fun with this!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy Epic New Year!

My son, taken by my son.  He's an artist at heart.  I can't wait to see the videos he made on the slopes, even though I know they will make my heart stop.  I've seen some clips, and they're just like this.
The gifts are unwrapped but not yet put away, the outrageous food mostly gone, and loved ones are safely back in their own nests.  And it's quiet.  The decorations are still up but they look different after "the day", don't they?  I want to hang onto the glow a bit longer though, even though it makes sense to take them down by New Year's.

We had a fabulous time at Lake Tahoe in the epic snow, and I met my nemesis:  powder.  I've been snowboarding longer than I care to mention (albeit slower ever since I shattered the end of my radius bone), but never in several feet of new powder.  How very humbling to not even be able to get yourself upright after falling.  But hearing my 21 year old son yelling "Yeah Mom!  Go Mom!!" from the chairlift above me when I managed to hang onto my ride for about 30 seconds before Tomahawking into the deep white abyss gave me a boost.  It was exhausting, and the back leg strength required to keep the front of the board above the snow was intense.  But contrary to usual, my fear did not increase much with speed, since falling was not painful in the least.

Some holiday memories I'll treasure for a long while include celebrating the solstice with a phenomenal meal, 10 tense hours on the road to Tahoe wondering if we'd ever get there once the freeway opened again, the view of the gigantic snow covered cedar tree in the backyard of our rental, waking up each magical morning there to another foot or two of new snow, preparing delicious comfort food for my family, cutthroat Rumikub games after dinner, a luxurious soak in the snow covered jacuzzi, and a delicious crab birthday dinner for my son.

I am embracing this New Year and all the wonder that it may bring.  I wish you Peace and Happiness in yours.


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