Thursday, January 28, 2010

Heather Trimlett, Artist, Teacher Extraordinaire and Head Spinner!

I mentioned last week that my head was spinning after taking Heather Trimlett's class. I'm amazed I even blogged anything coherent last week! And while I mean NO disrespect to the other fabulous teachers I've studied with - I so wish Heather had been my first teacher.

Yes, I took her class to figure out what I'm doing wrong on big hole beads and to hopefully see how she wraps those delicate filigrana around such big beads! And yes, I learned about that but...Oh so much MORE!

This past week has had me rethinking EVERYTHING I do at the torch:

  • The way I sit
  • The height of my chair
  • The position of my hands
  • The amount of glass in my initial gather
  • The heat in the mandrel
  • How I hold the mandrel
Beads I made during and after Heather Trimlett's class

But all of that is just the tip of the iceberg! I've also worked on or learned:

  • Patience (definitely missing from my "hot and fast" routine.)
  • Why there's more white in a twisty and how make more evenly colored ones
  • Dealing with great big gathers of color
  • Casing great big gathers
  • Getting filigranas to "line up"
  • Why my BHBs melted down wonky
  • Getting texture lines out of skinny beads
  • The key to great puckered ends
  • The coolest way ever to close up a hollow
  • Getting heat to the core of a big bead
  • Stringer control
  • The art of reading the glass and getting it to do what I want by understanding what it wants
  • Heating large masses evenly
  • More patience!
And I'm sure I'm forgetting something.... I can honestly say I have a a different relationship with glass after this class! I have better understanding of heat and using it to make the glass go where I want it.

I really cannot recommend Heather's classes enough! If you have a chance, she is a must see teacher!

Zipper pull by Heather Trimlett, my treat for studying hard!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Let's Start a Revolution!

One of my shopping cart providers for one of my many websites is undergoing some changes forcing me to rethink the way I process credit cards. In researching my options, I stumbled across Revolution Money Exchange and was very pleasantly surprised that many merchants on Etsy and Artfire already know about this cool not-so-new way to exchange money. A quick search on Etsy reveals over 5,000 items accepting payment with RME.

When I read about this company and how easy it is to pay others WITH NO FEES, I was on board. Then I got my MoneyExchange RevolutionCard. I thought this was simply an ATM type card to access monies in my account...but NOOOO. A quick search on the RME website revealed a HUGE list of merchants accepting the card!

Places like Hometown Buffet, Office Depot, CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, Autozone, GNC, 99 Cents Only, Claire's, Skechers, Bed Bath Beyond, Leslie's Pool Supply, Barne's and Noble, Macy's, Hickory Farms, and the UPS Store...just to name a FEW. Clearly if this is working for these major's good enough for my small little operation... and will maybe save me some moolah in the process!!

Think about the money you pay your credit card processor or the other online place we all use... Outrageous! They nickel and dime thirty cent us to death! Isn't it about time that we, as artists, KEEP the profits from OUR hard work???

I urge you all to start a revolution...or at least join one in progress! Join RME...use it when shopping online and encourage your customers to join too! Put the badges on your websites...Let people know there is a better option!

Getting Ready for Classes

I've been very busy in the past week getting ready for my impending wire wrap classes at Glendale College. I'm so excited because this is the first time EVER I've been able to convince the college to offer all FOUR of my wire wrap classes in the SAME quarter and the response has been phenomenal!

This coming Saturday, I will offer Wire Wrap I followed by Cab Wrapping. Then on February 20th, I will offer Advanced Wire Wrapping followed by a fun, fast project: Wire Wrapped Rings! Whew! That's a lot of wire wrapping!

We will complete projects in each class. There are still a "few" openings in this weekends class with a slightly more spots in the February classes. If you are in the Glendale / greater Los Angeles area and want to jump-start your wire wrapping, I hope you will join us!

And if wire is not your thing? Come join me as we make rubber stamped cookie bouquets on February 6! It's going to be a fun quarter!


Monday, January 25, 2010

Holly's Folly - One World, One Heart

It's that time of year! The One World, One Heart International Blog event is HERE! This is a fun way to explore new blogs, win prizes, meet other bloggers and have fun in the blogosphere! You can read more about it on our host site:

Now, here's what you are playing for:
This off mandrel glass heart was made by me, Holly Dare. It was made with pastel blue and purple and high silver glasses. It will arrive ready to wear on a silver or gold friction clasp chain (winner's choice). 1.3" tall x 9/10" wide x 4/10" thick.

Simply leave a comment to win. Make sure I have some way of getting in touch with you if you are the, email or website contact page.Winners announced February 15th.

I'm also giving away another prize on my personal blog. And, my lampwork bead promotion group, The Fire Divas, is also hosting a giveaway with several chances to win on that blog and links to other Divas who are also hosting their own OWOH giveaway! Please check them all out!

Winners announced February 15th.

About the Holly's Folly Bead blog is devoted to the challenges, breakthroughs and joys of melting glass with a torch. Here you will find tips, tricks on beading, selling and torching as well as links to all kinds of interesting beady things! I hope you'll come back and visit again.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Super Thin Casing

I was chatting with fellow Fire Diva about encasing beads. The subject of artists who use thin layers of casing came up.

The technique is called "Strip Casing" and while I have not totally mastered this to the point of sharing a bead, I thought I would share the sketch I made for my friend.

Instead of wrapping clear glass (blue) around the bead (purple) or laying thick strips down the bead, heat a gather, keep the rod at a sharp angle to the bead and cover the whole length (toward the left in the diagram) of the bead in one strip. Heat another gather and repeat. Keep the flame on the rod and not the bead during this process (except for flashing to keep the bead warm).

And MOST important: the sharper the angle of the rod to the glass, the less glass you will use. So, if you keep that rod at a 90 degree angle, you will use lots of glass. If the rod is almost parallel to the bead... much less glass.

So, do any of you strip case??? Send me some links to photos and I'll add them to the blog.

Now, as you may know, I'm in the fire, now flood, area of the mountains above Los Angeles. They have evacuated hundreds of my neighbors within a mile. And while a river does run through my studio, I am basically fine. Just damp and a little cranky! If you are interested in flood updates, I've been posting over on Creekhiker. Beadwise, I'll see you here on Monday.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Almost Wordless Wednesday

This bead is a blend of high silver glasses over Anice White. Available on HollysFolly.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Overthinking 10,000 Times

Last week, I wrote about needing 10,000 hours of practice to master something. I've pondered that thought for endless hours in the past week and a half.

I know from experience that there is nothing that will advance lampworking skills like parking my bottom behind the torch. Practice makes perfect....or as my childhood band teacher used to say, "Perfect practice makes perfect!"

But what about all the other things I do to learn to perfect my skills?

  • Reading books, tutorials, blogs & forums full of advice
  • Watching demos in class or at other glass events
  • Prepping to torch...dipping, sorting glass, labeling glass
  • Cleaning beads
What about all those countless hours? Don't they count for something? Do they advance my skill level??

After considering all these things, I think yes and no... (typical Pisces!).

Reading and studying, creating notes for the torch session most certainly does increase my skills. Just this week, I was determined to master drilling holes with a tungsten pick. Despite my watching countless demos, it was asking a question on a forum and reading the myriad of replies that finally got me to understand the heat issue I was having. The very next session yielded many pick drilled buttons and hearts!

Watching demos - yes. Seeing demos at my bead group often inspires me to come home and stretch in a new direction. Or, sometimes I see a demo and realize how a technique can apply to something else I'm working on.... I saw one of my fellow Flame Surfers demo her technique for handles on a vessel and KNEW I could improve the loops on my hearts with the same method!

And watching master teachers... that is priceless. But maybe it's not the same as sitting there and doing the work...maybe that counts for 50%?

Prepping... of all the prep work I do, I would say labeling glass, pulling and sorting is the most helpful. It just helps to see and touch it. I know that Anice feels rougher than regular white or that the white rod is whiter when closely compared. But still, should that time "count?" Probably not.

And cleaning beads? While it is good to see what came out of a torch colors reacted, was my heat control good, does a new design work??? Ultimately, I've decided not to include that time.

So where does that leave me??? While I have no idea how many hours I've added up to this point.... some weeks I torched every day. The week I spent at Bead and Button, I torched every day, all day. But there were weeks when I worked at a real job and couldn't torch at all. So, even though this is a gross underestimate, I'm starting at 1500 hours up to my class last weekend.

I'm going to keep a running tally in the bottom of the blog. It's going to be an interesting journey keeping track of this!


Friday, January 15, 2010

Tool Fix

Sometimes you buy a tool and it's just not what you hoped it would be. Such WAS the case with this leaf masher that came last week from Arrow Springs. It was on sale and I got carried away...And when I arrived I suddenly remembered why I had been able to resist its charms before: I much prefer self opening tools when working with a hot blob of glass!

As you can see, this tool will not open on its own. As I knew I would never use the tool, I decided to see if I could rig it to open. I remembered the stash of "reject" jewelry tools I have. I sell tools to my students and sometimes, a tool isn't up to par for one reason or another and while it's my intention to send them back to manufacturer, I often have quite an accumulation of them on my shop desk.

I chose this set of round nose pliers to take apart... Note the metal scum on the mandrels of the plier:

I took flat nose pliers and removed the metal shims:

And worked for some time to get them into the leaf mashers. Make no mistake, this was NOT an easy fix! It took some doing...bending and maneuvering the shims to meet. But in the end, they opened the mashers.
But I found the mashers still a bit stiff for my liking... off t0 the fusing cabinet for some 3 in 1 machine oil. A few strategic drops and my tool was opening like buttah!

Now my only remaining complaint is... this tool is HUGE - even for ME! That's saying a lot!!! And I have to make a few heat adjustments because the side of the leaf that goes in the back of the mashers becomes much thinner than the front side.

So, I think the front side needs to be a bit hotter to even it out.

Still, I made this piece for me... (a rarity) and I like it even with its flaws.

See you tomorrow here on Hollys Folly Bead Blog.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Holiday Sale!

I'm cleaning house on my holiday beads over on Artfire. Everything in my Holiday Category is marked 25% off. Everything from Halloween on is marked for clearance. It's a great time to stock up!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

10,000 Hours

In Malcolm Gladwell's book, Blink, he claims that success comes on back end of a lot of experience. Experience gained through a lot of hard work... usually at least 10,000 hours worth!

That's a lot! If you work 40 hours a week at your craft, it will take you 4.8 years to reach 10,000 hours!

But what if you do something just a few hours a day... say 10 hours a week? Then it will take you 19 years of practice!

On the one hand - the glass hand - this is scary... I don't feel like I will EVER be good enough, relaxed enough to do what I want to do.

But on the other hand - my production hand - I remember when I KNEW I was good at the logistical nightmare that film production can be. I was sitting in a trailer with my trusted assistant, Mike and my motorhome driver, Lea. We were in nowhere Long Beach, CA on a Sunday... the first day of shooting for a new beverage (Powerade). The shoot had been postponed for a freaking month because of rain.

To complicate matters, I had a British Director of Photography who insisted on using a dolly that was way more popular in Britain than here in the U.S. I had a long discussion with the vendor when I rented this piece of equipment. I explained I wasn't familiar with every part of this dolly and that it was VITAL for me to see a detailed list of all that I was renting and to be certain I had every possible part! I faxed this list over to our Key Grip to double check and we picked everything up that Friday.

And here we are on a sunny Sunday morning when the call comes over the radio that there is a part missing. As both Mike and Lea fly into action to start the phone calls to find someone on call who can open up the dolly shop on a Sunday, I stood up and said, "NOBODY MOVE! Don't call anyone! Don't do anything for 10 mintues!"

Mike and Lea thought I had lost my mind! Time is money in production. When camera is waiting...big bucks are burning!

As I sat there calmly reviewing my production notes, I could hear Mike and Lea whispering and "pre-dialing" on their cell phones. I could also feel them staring holes in the back of my very calm head! And still I sat there.

But what they didn't know is that in a split second of hearing about the dolly emergency and the two of them jumping into action, I had made a very cool and calculated decision. I had weighed several facts: 1) We were 40 miles from the dolly vendor. (minimum an hour and a half by car) 2) It was Sunday... finding a tech to come into the shop would take hours. 3) One Production Assistant was off in Hollywood and needed to get back ASAP, another was on an inconsequential run in Santa Monica (halfway between us and the vendor) and could be diverted saving us maybe 20 mintues. 4) Our Key Grip was one of the most inventive and ingenious guys I'd ever worked with... He could probably rig a part faster than any of the above could happen.

All of these thoughts crossed my brain in less than a second and allowed me to realized what no one on set or in my office knew yet... That in a matter of minutes, everyone would realize that, if they chose to sit around, nothing would get done on this highly delayed project for hours and no one wanted that.

Five minutes into the wait, they called over the radio, "You guys working on that part?"

"We sure are!" I lied. Mike and Lea were certain I need to be committed! He started to called and I shook my head NO. "Five more minutes."

Exactly four and a half minutes later, the call came... "Uh Holly??? Cancel that run to the valley. [Key Grip] has rigged up something that works. But if we could pick up the real part tomorrow when they're open, that'd be great."

"You got it!" I turned Mike.... The look of astonishment on his face was priceless!

"How did you know they were going to cancel?"

"Experience baby, Experience!"

I am very certain that by that point in my career, I had about 10,000 hours of production under my belt.

As for glass... I've never kept track. I've been torching off and on for nine years. But I think I am going to keep track from here on in. I know there is no tutorial I can read that will make up for putting my butt behind a torch and doing the work. It's work I love and it's work I want to getter better and better at.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Talk to Your Tool Maker

Did you know you can request custom tools from your tool makers??? I've dealt with both Catt of Cattwalk and Amy of Zooziis and both are fantastic at creating custom tools that I'm so happy with.

The first time I did this, I needed basically a fatter rounder egg shape but tiny. I've used this press for small bear bodies and cores for sculptural roses. I gave Amy the dimensions and viola, my press arrived.

This is my most recent custom tool:

Anyone who knows Cattwalk tools might say this vertical / horizontal diamond combo is nothing new...Oh but it IS! The vertical diamond came only with the trapezoid and horizontal diamond only came with the cameo. I'm working on some special beads for my sorority's anniversary - I was a founding member of our chapter. And our stone is the diamond and I knew I would need both shapes and I really didn't want them on two different presses. So I emailed Catt and now I can get to work! Speaking of which....

See you tomorrow on Holly's Folly Beads.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Head Spinning

I had an A M A Z I N G class with Heather Trimlett this past weekend at the mandrel and honestly, my head is SPINNING with so many beady ideas.... I can't think straight!

So instead of putting together a blog post I'm certain won't make sense, I thought I would share a few links.

The Fire Divas, a group of beadmakers that promote one another, have a new feature to allow you to get know your bead makers in depth called Diva of the Month. It's written by yours truly. This month's Diva of the Month is Janel Dudley. Hop on over and read her first two interviews HERE

I love Janel's work and I'm sure you will too!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Art Bead Scene - October - December 2009

Whew! What a journey this has been!

October - The Folk Art of Ruby C. Williams

I enjoy folk art and I especially enjoy folk art that incorporates words into the piece. And the necklace I envisioned was elaborate in a whole different direction... this is a case of what an artist envisions vs. what I feel capable of when sitting in front of that big ol' torch.

Since religious imagery is a large part of many pieces of folk art including that of Ms. Williams, I "thought" I would create a necklace made of five tabular beads, each with one word / symbol which when strung together would read:

I ♥ Jesus ♥ ME

But when I sat down to torch, I felt shakey and just wasn't up for that much stringer work. Still struck by the concept of = xoxoxo.... so that's the direction I went in. In the end, the beads were not as elaborate but the necklace really was!

The story of this necklace and process is HERE.

November - The Fairy Fellers' Master Stroke by Richard Dadd

I found this piece so dark and disturbing...nothing I wanted to duplicate. I almost didn't enter this month...with the fires and the disturbed person calling me and many of my friends and other fabulous artists frauds. It was a trying month.

Determined not to be whipped, I decided to pick one element and do some free form thinking. Fairies... magical...hopeful... flying...wings. WINGS! I will do a wing! I had been playing with some silver rich glass but hated that when it was reduced, the layers of glass underneath became irrelevant. Even the surface texture was not as prominent.

So I started experimenting with twisting the silver glass into a mix of transparent and non-reactive opaque glasses so that when the twistie was used and reduced, the whole piece wouldn't go all shiny! And it worked.

And so the Fairy Fellers necklace came to be.

December - Lee (Lenore) Krasner's Untitled (1948)

OK! I'll admit it! I was so stressed about leaving town for the holidays, I don't think my beads really "go" with the painting. But I tried... and succeeded the whole year! So give me a tiny break, please!!!

I rarely think of earrings for the Art Bead Scene entries.... and I don't know why. They are really nice bits of jewelry and they're quick to make. Maybe it's the thought of having to make two of something!

The original post on the earrings is here.

And the Art Bead Scene has kicked off this year's competition with a lovely Winter White Scene. Hope you'll stop in to check out what I'm up to this year!

See you Monday on HollysFollyBeads!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Art Bead Scene Entries Summer into Fall 2009

This was an interesting group of months. The paintings were not as well known to me...which can be inspiring in the sense of not having pre-conceived notions.

July - The Cave Paintings of Lascaux

I really struggled with this. While I can see the merit of cave paintings as a way to communicate, I can't say I think of them as "art" and it took me weeks to find any kind of inspiration.

I knew the bead had to be silvered ivory for its ancient feel but... what would be on that bead? I couldn't see myself drawing a bull? In the end I used a spiral, an ancient symbol appearing in artwork of all kinds. And a man. Structurally, I think this is the most interesting piece I made all year.

The write up about this piece is here.

August - Katsushiki's The Great Wave Off of Kanagawa

August hit with a vengeance! The mountain in my backyard and the national forest just beyond it were burning. For nights, townspeople gather on the mountain that wasn't burning and watch the fires. We are still being affected by the ash and soot and I'm sure that's why I never blogged about these next two... that and I still consider them unfinished as there are things I want to change.

With the fires raging outside my studio, it was actually kind of pleasant to be working in a cool palette. I used my favorite blue: Bullseye Steel Blue.

And while I love the concept of the clasp here... In theory, you could have a variety of bracelet bottoms to go with the one focal if this were created in a more neutral palette... There needs to be a more secure way to hold the little silver bead in place.

Here is the description from the submission:
The art bead is my depiction of the great wave in glass.

The bracelet is made of 18 gauge sterling wire, Bali spacers, Swarovski crystals and seed beads. The sterling wire also serves as a clasp.

September - Kandinsky's Improvisation No. 23

Another Kandinsky...always an exciting color exploration. But I don't really find this to be soothing painting. I finally made a focal by taking a print out of this to the torch, squinting and pulling rods. I limited myself to those colors only.

I really like this necklace... my favorite of summer...however still unfinished as I feel the large bead caps near the clasp need to be moved further into the garnet section to allow for easier opening.

Kandinsky Improvisation 23

I was still reeling from the fires so here's the write up from the actual entry: The focal and spacer beads were made by me, Holly Dare. I love the swirls and dots and bold black lines in the painting and tried to play off of that in making the bead. The focal is irregularly shaped with lots of swirls and dots and twisted bumps. The spacers, while perfectly round, pick up the bold color scheme.

The necklace is made with copper findings, faceted garnet and bone-shaped Scenic Jasper.

One last series for review...check in tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Art Bead Scene Entries April - June 2009

Continuing my trip down memory lane with look at my Art Bead Scene Entries for April, May and June of 2009.

April - Botticelli's Birth of Venus

This painting is the favorite of a very close and well-traveled friend of mine. She has traveled just to see this painting. She has books devoted to this painting. Because of our friendship, it meant a lot to me to get this piece right.
I spent a lot of time making Venus toros (all on sale in my shop)... I was using an irid glass and it just didn't work for what I saw in my head and in the end, I panicked and went in a totally differed (i.e. quick) direction!

Oddly enough, I think this is one of the most commercial looking pieces I've ever made. You can read more about the piece here.

May - Monet's Water Lilies

Ah... another Monet! I do find his works so easy to interpret. Still, this was my first attempt at a waterlily in glass!

I really like the split personality of this necklace as well as the handmade, e-bead clasp. This is my favorite of the spring months by far.
Better pictures of the beads and the story are here.

June - Kandinsky's Color Study of Squares

It was pretty obvious what to do with the beads. I tried to pick colors with good contrast. In the end, I felt the beads were lacking the "square" element so I made hammered squares for the bracelet. This piece won the monthly drawing for the Art Bead Scene. Here is the original post about the bracelet.

Check back tomorrow to see the summer entries.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Look Back - Art Bead Scene Entries of 2009

Before we get to today's post, I wanted to mention that the entries from the Fire Diva's first ever jewelry challenge are up. Please go vote!

I wanted to spend this week looking back at all of my entries from the Art Bead Scene's 12 Contests. I LOVED the inspiration this year which was all paintings, mostly from Grand Masters. It's been a challenging and fun year of creating and I hope the inspiration this year is equally as fun!

January - Van Gogh's Irises

I adore Van Gogh and have been to several exhibits featuring his work and this painting is one of my all time favorites.

And here is the necklace I created. The beads for this piece are truly stunning. You can find more info on the beads in this post. They are truly stunning in person.

Iris Lariat by Holly's Folly 1

February - Klimt's The Kiss

Probably my favorite painting of all time! I love all the gold leafing in this painting in addition to how intimate yet sweet the imagery is.

And here is my interpretation. This is the first time I've ever worked in gold plate or made my own clasp. Here is the original post about this piece and the beads.

March - Matisse's The Goldfish

This painting overwhelmed me with color but oddly enough, I had a bunch of goldfish left over from a custom order!

This allowed me to spend more time on the creation of the jewelry than I usually have because I normally waste 1/2 the month on just the bead design! Since I love crocheting ropes and I knew I wanted to incorporate as much color as possible, I spend most of my time on the design of rope. This is hands down my favorite piece of the year - I probably should put it up in the store! Link to the back-story on this piece.

Holly's Folly Goldfish Necklace
Check back tomorrow on to see my entries from April, May and June.