This blog is intended to document my journey into the world of handmade artisan lampwork beads.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Guess What Another Day with Snow

Today Danny and Topper worked really hard to clear parts of the driveway and roadway so he can go to work tomorrow. School has been called off. Topper is such a dear. He recently protected our property from the skunk. He still smells a bit like skunk. He is the dog I have always wanted. He actually even gets along with the outside cat crew.

I was moderately productive, burnt some beads, did some laundry etc. Maybe I will play all day tomorrow. Our Miata is not really the car to be driving in 8 inches of snow.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Blueberrry Marble

Well another snow day, I will be working until the end of June and still may not get my days in. Oh well. We are supposed to get between 6 and 10 inches of snow.

Today is a very good friend's 60th Birthday. Happy Birthday Barb.

On the torch today, I used more of the Blueberry Marble glass. I also tried Raku again and used it in the form of shards instead of breaking it into frit. I also tried the shards that I purchase and have had minimal luck with. Both seemed to go a little smoother. I dug out a coffee cup warmer and put the shards on that and heated them. My only problem was picking up the hot shard. Tweezers didn't work to good on that part. I did all of these on an Opal Yellow base and pressed them with the lentil press. Trying to amass beads for two exchanges. One is an earring exchange and the other is bead made in a press exchange. These are the first ever exchanges that I have participated in. We will see how it goes. Looking forward to spending my whole day tomorrow in my studio. I have got some stringing to do and some burning to do.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Big Storm Looming

I am sure that people who live in moderate climates live longer. The stress which is attached to a big snow is unbelievable, we have spent all week long waiting and hopefully preparing to be snowed in. We are hearing anywhere from 1 to 10 inches of snow. We are hearing that it could be here as early a 8:00am or start at 1:00pm. It really sucks, our only four wheel drive is not up to the challenge this time.

On the bead front I have listed two more groups tonight. They are pictured above. I was really torn about listing the etched trio. It is one of my early successes, and I really liked the combination. If it sells, I think I will do more of that look. I also listed the petroleum green and ivory combination. It is also one of my favorites.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

New Etsy Posts

I am so excited, I listed two items today and actually someone had already looked at one of them. So cool. I don't think any strangers even looked at the buttons. It was worth the .40 just to have someone look. This process is time consuming and I probably am not good at writing up the sales pitch and description. Sales person role is not an easy one for me. Maybe Danny will step up.

I torched some today. Mostly spacers. Yesterday's take was pretty good. Did some hearts that came out OK.

Really tired of the rain. Our driveway and yard look like lakes. Danny could not get up the driveway due to two trees that had fallen over the drive. We had to hike through the mud and push and shove them out of the way. What a mess!!

The above beads are the ones I listed. I think I will try to at least list a couple a week since it searches the items by date listed. That way maybe they will look at other items already on the site. Boy will I be excited if something actually sells.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Lonely day at the torch

Even though I cherish when I get to make beads, today was not a happy one. I could of made beads all day but just didn't feel much like it for most of the day. My daughter, Maggie went back to school today. This is her last semester as an undergrad, so I should be happy, but I do so enjoy her company. Then to beat it all, my husband went to Indiana to spend the weekend with a friend who was having a garage party. So I have to be honest, I just was in a funk.

I did finally see fit to torch for awhile. It did make me feel a little better. I concentrated on trying to make a few hearts. Hearts are hard for me. I do not have a press, so they all come out different. I guess that is not really all bad, but I do wish I had more consistency is size and shape. With Valentines day looming, I best get better at it. I do love a heart at any time of the year though. I have only met one person ever that does not like a heart, so I have to remember not to send Karen one.

I also played around with some other shapes and colors. We shall see in the morning.

The above heart is one that I made last week. Picture sure could be better though. Darrin a long time friend of our family, is a master with the camera and has graciously agreed to help me since Mag took her good camera, that I was just sort of getting the hang of.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Back to the Torch after a few Days Break

Maggie had a date tonight. So I was on my own. I exercised a bit, then headed downstairs to my bead room. I turned on the kiln and while it was warming up, I worked a bit on a necklace that I am restringing for a friend. Her husband's mother passed away recently and she had several necklaces that in their day were very pretty. She wants them updated a bit, but the integrity of the piece to be maintained. Got half way through and realized that I did not have the right wire guardian color that I needed. Oh well!

Kiln ready to go. Light the torch and off I go. I just played with some purple hues, some blue adventurine on white, some blue frit on lavender. I even used a dark grey transparent on a sandstone base. The other day I recieved some very thin brass sheet I had bought off of a lady on Lampwork Etc. I cut a snowflake shape with a paper punch and encased it in clear and pressed it in the large lentil press that I have. Looked really very bubbly, which I sort of expected. I really did not have a plan tonight and I think it showed. Normally I go into a session with some idea of what I want to accomplish, tonight I really had no clue.

Can't wait until the morning surprises.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mixed Reviews

The above are some of yesterday"s beads. The frit that I thought was going to turn blue, turned a yuky yellow on some and a blah neutral on dark ivory. Not very exciting. The black and kahki beads turned out pretty good, but they are sort of a no brainer. I also had a frit bead that I encased and pressed in the lentil press, to crack right down the mandrel. This doesn't happen to me very often, now that I have the kiln but obviously the frit did not get along with the clear that I put on top. It probably would not have been a very pretty bead anyway.

Tonight I tried to take lots of pictures of beads that I have had a while. Maggie goes back to college soon and there goes the camera. Maybe I can list some items on Etsy before she goes.

I also made a few beads with a dark cranberry frit. I tried it on pink transparent which should work out ok. I also put some frit on a light pink base and also encased a couple. I dragged a couple to try and get a decent hot pink hue. We will see. I still can not seem to get a pink that pleases me.

Maybe I can get some extra torching in on the holiday tomorrow. I have some restringing to do for a friend also.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Finally a Weekend above Freezing

I think today is the first day of the new year that was not freezing. Danny actually worked outside for a few hours today. Of course I did not get to, housework took precedence. I really would have liked to play in my bead room all day. But reality does creep in. I did get to burn some beads for a hour or so. I worked on some dot beads, black and kahki color. I tried to make a snowman head but failed miserably. I have had some DH frit for awhile now and could not get it to do anything. I read this morning to try reactive base colors, so I tried dark ivory, sandstone, opal yellow, light blue, and a medium turquoise. I really don't think any were wonderful but the frit turned blue on the ivory and sandstone. The rest looked a yuky yellow. I even tried putting it on a dark ivory base and encasing it and then using my lentil press. Really not sure of that one. Who knows what they will look like once they come out of the kiln, that's the magic. The above bead was made a few days ago but is similar to some I did tonight and last night. I attempted a heart bead with a ruffle last night, need to try to do a heart each time. They are very time consuming and I am not very comfortable with doing them. I will post a picture when I get a chance.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What did we do before the Internet?

Today, thinking it might be my last snow day this week, I wanted to concentrate on trying to get some half way decent pictures. I read two reference books this morning, printed out two tutortials took 35 more pictures and tried to edit them to the best of my ability. Still not the pictures that I desired. This definitely is not the camera. I used my daughter's Cannon EOS Rebel XTI for the pictures. I then took a break and was reading some web pages from a bead artist by the name of Julie Nordine. She has a blog that had a post that shared some of her tips on bead photography. She shared where she got these tips and I read those sites also. Maggie and I both learned from this. We made the changes to the settings on the camera and I took more pictures made some more changes and took more pictures. I had to do very little in the software program to make the pictures absolutely sparkle. Now they accurately depict the beads, flaws and all. That really makes you pause. But that is really what is best if you are selling something on the internet. I want the buyer to actually see the item for what it is, HANDMADE.

These beads are not cranked out of a machine in china. They are hand crafted one by one in with a single torch on a mandrel and then put into a kiln, cleaned by me and inspected by me. The tips that Julie shared were not major changes but just enough to make the big difference. I am consistently amazed at the sharing of knowledge that occurs within this community of artists, they share freely, they teach each other, they exchange product when needed and treasure each others friendship. I have been involved in other artistic endeavors but never have I seen or experienced a group of people like this. It is wonderful.

The pictures above all have been posted prior to today on etsy, facebook or in this blog. I my opinion they are so much better than the first attempts. I got so excited that I didn't even miss not making beads tonight. It will make me a better artist just knowing that I can present a accurate depiction of my work for sale.

Monday, January 11, 2010

No Torching Today

My daughter took her test today and PASSED, like we thought she wouldn't. We also said good by to some very close FAMILY friends today. Family the key word here. They are moving to Denver and we wish them the best of times in their adventure.

I probably can identify the most closely with their decision, my husband and I made a similar decision about 28 years ago to move from my native southern California home to my husband's native Kentucky. We also picked the dead of winter to do this. Not the brightest idea we have ever had. Other than leaving my Mom and Dad (who had deserted me first and went to OR) I have no regrets leaving LA. I love my adopted home and it was a wonderful place to raise my kids.

Good Luck Staci, Evan and Zander, I hope CO is as good to you as KY has been to us.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A little bit of everything day

Sunday, snow, excercise, laundry, and of course beads makes a great day. Maggie, Danny and I all did a Wii combined routine today. I am already sore. School has been canceled for tomorrow so I will take Maggie to her test in Somerset.

I had marginal success with Mag's camera today. She had better luck. We got one to look fairly good and listed it on Etsy. It is another button using Reichenbach 104 Multicolor glass. I love the color which is not really done justice in the photo. It probably is my best button so far. I have had it awhile trying to get a decent picture.

The first picture is of a set that I did yesterday, using the Blueberry Marble glass and the lentil press. I can not make up my mind whether I want to list these and if I do what price to I place on them?

Today at the torch I finished a rod of the Multicolor 104 in the lentil press. Then I did some dot beads, avacado and navy blue and the opposite. Then I did some dot beads with a pastel center encased with different color same hue or white dots. My encasing skills are getting much better.

Can't wait to open that kiln in the morning.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Photo Frustration Day

The beads I made yesterday came out so so. They are ok but not to die for. I tried to use our Fuji Fine Pix 2800Z along with a photo software program called Gimp. I failed miserably. Even though the camera has a macro lens setting, it does not seem to be good enough for beads. I read on Lampwork Etc that some use a point and shoot camera but I sure am not getting it. I may need to utilize a very good friend and his expertise to get some things listed on Etsy. That is a quandry. Can't buy a better camera without selling some items, but can't sell online without decent bead pictures.

It still snowed lightly all day today. Our camera can take a picture of that.

Today's beads were a casual mix of short rods that were right in front of the torch. Boy did my thumb get hot trying to be Scottish. I used my Lentil press for a bead using Light Ivory and some silvered Ivory leftovers. Then I used some Dark Ivory with some Mermaid and Canyon de Chelly stripes in the lentil press again. I had bought some Effetre Blueberry Marble back in the summer and really had not made any beads to speak of with the rod. So I made several of the large size and the small size lentil in my press. They are very streaky and should look good with jeans, maybe even etched. We will see in the morning when the Kiln God releases them to the world. Some bead artists do not like to clean their beads. I find that it gives me a mandatory look at the bead, inspecting the design and quality of the shape and hole. I actually enjoy the process.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Organizing Day

Another snow day today. Snowed lightly all day. Yesterday I made a excel spread sheet of all the glass colors that I have on hand. My wonderful husband had fixed my storage so that I could label all the colors. I just could not make up my mind how to organize them. Do you put all one color together? Do you put all pastels together and then all transparents then all specials etc? Well I decided on the latter and kind of went with neutrals separate and sort of by order number. It is not a perfect system but it is a system. I did start to label each one, then I got to thinking about what happens when I buy new colors. Oh well, I do not think I will buy any soon. I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

I fired up the kiln tonight after all of the stress of my husband trying to get home. The 4 wheel drive vehicle is always in the wrong place when you need it. He had to hike up the snowy hill home. He left his car at the bottom. The neighbors had started hiking up before him and also left their car at the bottom. The guy at the bottom should start charging rent. It is about a mile total and in 18 degree weather in the dark, it is no fun.

I made a few beads with the lentil press (black base, lavender, mermaid and canyon de chelly swirled). Then I practiced a bit with the spacer beadroller. Boy is the learning curve steep on the tiny ones. I then made a few beads in the bigger barrel beadroller with some plum silver glass. Hoping Maggie might like them. Then I burnt my knuckle on my right thumb on hot glass and made one more bead (lavender encased with clear and plum silver dots reduced on top) and quit for the night. The spot on my thumb just turned a ugly shade of white. Yuck!!

Hopefully tomorrow will be less stressful and more productive.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snow Day #2

Today was a day to stay by the fire and work on my internet pages. My daughter and I both sat on the couch in front of fire and TV with afghans on our laps and our laptops on top of them. We both should have been doing other things but it felt good somehow to just watch the snow come down. Hopefully tomorrow will be a productive bead day. Maggie did do some studying for a certification test she has to take on Monday and I did accomplish some items that I needed to take care of on my Etsy shop page. The picture is of a button that I listed as my first item for sale on the internet about a month ago. It has not sold yet but I am new to all of the intracacies of selling on the internet. I made some adjustments to the page and my profile. Pricing is another whole ball game. Etsy suggested that I belong to a service that is called Stumble. Etsy stated in their info pages that it would increase the traffic to my site, I am not sure how that happens but the service is very interesting. You give them a list of interests and they load web pages that fit. Very interesting pages occurred. You then give them a thumbs up or down. Who knows maybe I will learn something new anyway.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A little bit of History

I took a Lampworking glass with Bonnie Blincoe in the fall of 2006. She is the most wonderful person and teacher. It was absolutely the most incredible experience. I have over the years taken lots of classes and have taught myself lots of different things, embroidery, crochet, knitting, sewing, cross stitch, quilting, weaving, gardening, vermiculture etc. So my husband has every right to be skeptical about my "love at first try" claim.

I tried to schedule refresher classes periodically until I could set up a studio in my home. That was made possible by my wonderful husband in the spring of 2009. I have tried to practice every day since then. Sometimes regular life can get in the way. I tried to write in a journal everyday to document my progress but that didn't really suit me. I hope this method will be more productive. It will force me to get better at pictures of my beads and document my success and failures so that I learn from both. Getting a new laptop computer also didn't hurt the decision to start this blog.

I work in a rural school. So I have some free time, summers, snow days, etc. My children are grown (one in college and one has graduated from college). It is the perfect time in my life for this art to enter and enrich. My husband and family are very supportive and that with all of the above makes this journey possible.