Sunday, August 28, 2016

New - Snap Jewelry Supplies!

Have you heard about the snap jewelry trend? It started in the Netherlands and has spread to the U.S. This interchangeable jewelry system allows you to create your own unique look every time you wear the jewelry. Remember the Pandora and Troll bracelet craze? Well, it's kind of like that. The base jewelry items are readily available on the internet (look for items that say "compatible with Noosa or Ginger Snaps jewelry", and include everything from earrings, simple pendants, to leather bracelets and more, each with varying numbers of snap settings into which you can click your favorite artisan snap charms. Of course, the ones I'm most fond of are made from hot glass. It's quite addictive, and I find that customers new to this idea want to spend lots of time in my booth choosing from my selection of snap charms to make their own one of a kind jewelry pieces.

I have started teaching the ins and outs of making jewelry in this way, and I am offering supplies to make them in my new Big Cartel shop.  There you can find the 15mm cabochon mandrels that I have specially made for my own use and in my classes, snap bezels (into which you epoxy the glass cabochons), and findings to create your own styles of snap jewelry. I'll be adding more findings soon, so please visit often.
 Interchangeable snap jewelry necklace collaboration with Stephanie Sersich, from the recent Hands of the Maker II Exhibit, on display at the Rhino Gallery in New Orleans. The magnetic clasp is behind the flower focal.

Summer snap jewelry bracelets.
Black and white silver 5-snap bracelet.
The cabochons are quite fun (and fast, at 15mm across) to make, and you'll soon find yourself hopelessly addicted to making these tiny works of art. It's also fun to hear the distinctive "click" sound as you pop the "charm of the day" into your own unique piece of jewelry. And the possibilities for making pieces that are truly unique to your style are expanding, as the findings are amenable to your own unique spin on materials, such as leather, fiber, or metal, as you can see in the collaborative piece above.
Magnetic clasp leather snap necklace.
Putting it on and taking it off is simple!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Class and Show uppdate

Summer appears to be steamrolling right along as she normally does, and it's almost September. Time for massive vegetable harvests, preserving the bounty, last minute summer vacations, and fall show preparations.  I have added some new offerings to my show and class schedules this year, trying to mix it up a little bit.  I'd love to have you come and play in my beautiful studio!

First here's the class rundown:

Mad Science:  Electroforming to enhance your lampwork  *New Date*  September 10-11, 2016   9-5pm  $500
In this 2 day class you will learn how to use electricity and scrap copper to enhance your lampwork beads.  I will cover how to properly seal and electroform natural materials such as acorns, twigs, and leaves, as well as synthetic materials such as polymer clay and glass.  I will also share techniques for making pendant-style beads off the end of the mandrel with beautiful electroformed bead caps.  Students will bring several of their own beads to class to be electroformed, as well as any glass colors that they want to work with, didymiums, tools.  To purchase and save your seat in this class click HERE.  If you prefer to pay by check or cash, just send me an email to save your spot.

Mini Workshop: Striped Cane and Twisties    Tuesday, Oct 4, 2016     6:30 - 9p     $85

We will explore multiple ways to make and apply professional looking striped or twisted cane every time. Application on round, pressed, and disc beads will be covered, as well as reactive twisties that give your beads a tie dyed look.  Students should bring flameworking tools (to include a graphite marver) and didymiums.  To purchase and save your seat in this class click HERE.  If you prefer to pay by check or cash, just send me an email to save your spot.

One Day Workshop: Headpins 2.0  Saturday, October 8, 2016  9a - 5p  $200

Tired of your failed attempts at keeping a blob of hot glass on the end of a tiny little wire? Or maybe you have the hang but gravity and chance have the most say in how they look.  This in-depth one day class will have you making beautiful, intricate headpin elements perfect for earrings or focal pendants.  We will start with simple floral designs and end with some like those in the picture to the left.  Students should bring their didymiums, tweezers, a sharp poking / raking tool, parallel mashers (small), rod cutters, and a razor tool. To purchase and save your seat in this class click HERE. If you prefer to pay by check or cash, just send me an email to save your spot.

Mini Workshop: Hand Shaping        Tuesday, Nov 8, 2016     6:30 - 9p     $85

Does the thought of a neatly hand-shaped bicone scare you? It shouldn't. This class will teach you some tricks to get a centered bead into a perfect shape, whether it's round,  a cylinder, a bicone, or a tear drop.  Students should bring flameworking tools (to include a graphite marver) and didymiums.  To purchase and save your seat in this class click HERE.  If you prefer to pay by check or cash, just send me an email to save your spot.

I've added a new show to my fall lineup this year - the North State Quilting Jamboree in Red Bluff, CA.  I'll be there with my very talented quilter friend Heidi, with some fabulous new jewelry and some special new products for quilters. 

I hope your summer is winding up on a high note, and I'd love to see you at one of my upcoming classes or shows, whether you're a flameworker or "just" a glass fan. I could not do what I do without either of you! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Solstice Straw Bale Garden Update

Solstice morning in the garden.
Happy Solstice! I'm determined to eek every ounce of productive time out of this longest day of the year, so what better task to add to the list than a garden update?  It's been about a month since I planted our 12 bales, and things are looking pretty good.  I applied some worm compost (poop from red wiggler composting worms) at planting time, and have  been using E.B. Stone Organic Tomato and Vegetable fertilizer, plus every week or two I apply some aerated worm compost tea that incorporates fish emulsion and kelp. There's not much for nutrients inside the bales so the plants appreciate frequent feedings. I wish things were farther along, but our season up here in the coastal range is about 30 days behind everywhere else, and our spring finished rather cool this year. Patience is a virtue, I guess.

These rudbeckias might be the first to use the trellis. These are in a pot of the humus left over from last season's bales.
The potatoes seem to like their new home.

Nothing is growing on our trellis yet, except for an unidentified squash that is about to leap. The green bean plants I bought for the first round were supposed to be the pole variety but I think they were mislabeled bush beans. The second round I planted in the ground next to the bales disappeared, and I'm guessing it was either a mole/gopher, or the chicken manure compost (too hot) that did them in - they never emerged. Yesterday I planted another round of seeds, this time in the bales.

Strawberries. Still not planted in the STRAW bales.
Tomatoes and basil. The tomatoes are a couple of feet tall now, except the Siletz variety (beefsteak), which is only about a foot tall.

Beans and radishes.
So what am I growing this year?  Here's the list:

Flamme Heirloom
Gold Medal Heirloom
Green Zebra
Sweet 100
And one other whose tag is lost

Early Sunsation
Iko Iko Pepper Lavender Bell
Italian Long Pepper
Jalapeno Gigante

Winter Speckled Round
Green Tiger Zucchini
Butternut Squash
Sunburst Patty Pan

Bright Lights Swiss Chard
Nobel Spinach (bolted immediately)
Romaine Lettuce
Roma II Italian Flat Beans
French Pole Beans
Emerite Pole Bean
Garlic (different varieties, from a friend)
Potatoes (Yukon Gold and Red)
Persian Cucumber
Pickling Cucumber
American Flag Leeks
Kyoto Japanese Eggplant
Italian Basil
Heavenly Hybrid Sweet Corn (white)

The corn is new this year, and it's an experiment. I had one extra bale (the 13th), and despite all advice from the interwebs, I turned this bale on its side and planted corn in it. Maybe it's my midwestern roots showing, definitely my stubbornness, but I'm determined to give it a go. The baling technique used by my supplier is not standard - the cut ends of the straw are not opposite the twine, they are on the same side of the twine. For this reason, plus the extra surface area, I decided to turn this bale on its side. It's not a lot of corn, and it's planted far closer together than advised, but we will see what happens. I'm sure I'll have to put up some kind of staking system so it won't fall over.

Still, as when I first started this garden a couple of years ago, my favorite thing is to wander out there as the early morning sun hits the rows, and just drink it all in. I love the smell, the sight of the new growth, and the birds, and it fills my tank.

I'm loving these interesting flower buds on this unidentified member of the squash family (acorn?).
Green Tiger Zucchini. I chose this one because it was pretty. It's doing much better so far than my zukes have in prior years.
Finally, remember that huge pile of spent straw I hauled out of the garden this spring? I've been composting it next to the garden enclosure in anticipation of putting a bed for corn in next year, on some soil that has never been planted.  I stole some of it yesterday to put on top of another bed that has been redone - it will be a great soil conditioner combined with some alpaca manure I got from a friend. I can't wait to see what that bed does.

Spent straw used as a feeding mulch on an ornamental bed. In the fall I'll take the iris out and divide them, and then amend the poor soil where they were growing.
What's new in your garden?

Monday, May 16, 2016

2016 Northern California Straw Bale Garden Update

First day after nitrogen application, and things are heating up nicely.
Happy Spring! This is a big year for my Northern California straw bale garden (Year #3), as it's the first time that I've switched all of the bales out for new ones. The first year I started with 12 bales, and at the end of the season most of them looked good enough to use another year, so I kept them in place. After the winter, at the beginning of Year #2 it looked like three of them would not in fact make it through the summer, so I replaced them. Very shortly after the summer growing season started it became obvious that the bales were not structurally sound and my plants were headed for a rough and tumble time. My tomatoes leaned, my potatoes spilled over the edge of the hardware cloth installed to keep moles and gophers out, and it was not pretty.

Former potato row. Note collapsing bales behind the wheelbarrow, and new bales to the right of the wheelbarrow.

 Fast forward to this spring when I decided to replace all of the bales, and started trying to remove them. All of the bales that had been there since Year #1 were firmly rooted to the ground, and it was backbreaking to get them out. The bales that were only a year old were not quite as infested with roots, but the invasion was clearly starting. I used a hand tool to slice along parallel to the hardware cloth and cut the roots. Then came the back breaking process of hauling the soggy, heavy decomposed bales out of the enclosed garden area to a place where they could continue to compost. It took a good long while and several soaks in the jacuzzi to convince my body to keep at it.

Front: 15 decomposing bales. Rear: 12 brand new bales just starting the conditioning process.
What am I going to do differently this time? Well, for starters, I'm not going to reuse bales from one season to the next. I'm also putting some leftover pond liner (heavy gauge black plastic) down under the bales, on top of the hardware cloth, as a deterrent to the roots. 

I've also decided to grow potatoes, a crop that likes to reseed itself from year to year, in a raised planter box. This spring I built one out of cedar and redwood and I'm hopeful the potatoes will like it. The bonus was that I could use some of the partially decomposed straw as a growing medium, which the potatoes love, and was much lighter than potting soil.

New potato bin. I found a set of plans on eHow and abused modified them to make this. Let's just say that "lessons were learned" and I'll do better next time.
The other new thing in the straw bale garden this year is an arched tunnel where I will grow green beans, cucumbers, and squash.  The wires run between the fence posts were just not tall enough for those things, and I needed more height. My neighbor was using some of these panels, known as "stock panels" or "cattle panels" and she told me I could find them at our local feed store. Brilliant! They are made from very rigid 4 gauge wire, and make a very sturdy trellis no matter how you install them. She and her husband were kind enough to haul some home for us and after a brief, slightly bloody struggle they are installed over two rows of the bales. It was definitely a 2 person job, and would have been easier with more. Once these panels are bent they really want to bend back, and if you're not ready for it they will spring back with a vengeance and get you. Caution advised. But I'm so looking forward to seeing green beans twining up the sides, with fruit hanging down inside the tunnel. These panels are 14' long x 5' wide, although other configurations are available. My tall husband can walk under it with just a slight hunching over.

It's still early in our coastal mountain growing season here, but I'm impatient to see what this new crop of bales can do. The sunflowers and zinnias are in the ground for summertime cutting, and the marigolds will go in the bales. Some of the nasturtiums I planted the first year have naturalized on the ground, and I'm hoping they recover from the beating they took by the wheelbarrow during the removal process. I had also planted some dahlias and rudbeckias, in the bales and they are in temporary pots until the new bales are ready for planting in a couple of weeks. They definitely loved life in the bales.

I hope to keep you updated as things progress this year!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Flameworking class: Cabochons for Snap Jewelry

Join me on Saturday, April 16th for Snap To It! Cabochons for Snap Jewelry.  See below for class info.
 If you've followed me here or on Facebook you know about the interchangeable snap jewelry I've been having fun making for the last couple of years. It's a trendy, fun way to make collectible jewelry that will coordinate with clothing.  To a flameworker it's a chance to perfect one's cabochon making skills, which can be transferred to other more traditional bezel setting techniques as well as this latest popular interchangeable jewelry style.  I'll be teaching this in a new class offered in my home studio in Los Gatos, CA on Saturday, April 16th.

As far as I can tell, it started with a company in Amsterdam called Noosa, that offered stylish, Boho jewelry that featured snap-in components called "chunks", made from metal, stone, ceramic, wood, glass, resin, and more. You can unsnap them and put new ones in every day to match whatever you're wearing, and the jewelry styles offer something for everyone. The trend has caught on and now there are a lot of companies making similar jewelry styles that all fit the same snaps. Brands that are generally interchangeable are Noosa, Ginger Snaps, and more. Snaps (also called chunks, poppers, and snap charms) come in different diameters and as many styles as there is imagination.

In the class we will learn all about cabochon mandrels and how to use and maintain them, how to size your work to fit the mandrels, what designs work well in this format, and how to finish them when they come out of the kiln. You'll also learn how to source and/or make jewelry that accepts these snaps, and how to display them at shows.

Students should bring any glass colors that they want to work with, didymiums, and any tools important for your most common designs.  To purchase and save your seat in this class click HERE.  If this class fills I will add a second one on Sunday, April 17.  If you prefer to pay by check or cash, just send me an email to save your spot.


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