Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Still Consumed in Computerland - SALE!!

Well, the new computer arrived and I'm mired in the task of updating software and getting all the stuff I salvaged off my temp drive and into the new beastie.

And... I'm out of funds! So, I'm having a Mama Needs New Software Sale on Artfire! Coupon Code "Computer" will get you 25% off this weekend!

I'm really whipped by all of this and dealing with some household issues as well. And don't even get me started on what it's like to blog with NO pictures, so I'm going to take a long weekend and will see you Monday.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Those Stylish Divas Part Two

This is part two of my "eye for style" post using the entries from the last Fire Divas bead challenge. Our theme was May Flowers.

I had seen this set by Amy Lampwork by Amy so I knew they were hers. Amy's sets often strike me as clean and eye catching. And this set seems true to her style with the addition of the floral motif.

I was surprised by this entry from Jamie of Glasstastic Treasures. You don't see a lot of florals in her work and I'm more accustomed to her fun focals. This is a lovely set that I could just see in a bracelet or necklace.

Robin of SomethingNew4U created this watercolor style floral and again, I couldn't guess. I'm not even 100% sure of how Robin made this...whether it was murrini or melted surface application.'s gorgeous! I just love when the Divas keep me guessing!

I was certein this was made by Lauren of Maybeads. That whimsical face as the center of a flower! Once again, I'm always blown away by the detail in Lauren's beads - FOUR layers for eyes??? Oh my!

Judith of Icarus Beads makes stunning beads. She is a new member and I've had fun getting to know her work. She uses lots of silver glass and not only gets the most wonderful sheen on her beads, she seems to photograph them exceptionally well. I guessed this as her bead even though I knew this would one of her first floral attempts! Amazing!

This entry was mine. I've mentioned before that I don't know what my own style is. I was kvetching about this to the other Diva admins when I was informed I do have a style...just not one that is easy to put into words. I was also told that this entry surprised our challenge admin, Theresa! Yay! I love to surprise people!

This was a time consuming piece to make with each bead taking 20 minutes to half an hour of torch time. Each of the large flowers is layered with three shades of the same color between clear to make them BIG. I'm drawn to large scale beads so in that sense, maybe it's not so surprising.

I knew this fantastic bead was made by Theresa of Tease Beads. I had picked it to be featured in an article I wrote about Theresa. Still the floral motfi is not that common in Theresa's work but when she does use flowers, I always find them stunning! The cubic zirconia is a lovely touch that only adds to the elegance of this bead.

Thanks, as always for check out the Diva's work! Our next challenge - summer - begins soon!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Those Stylish Divas

Since my last post about picking up on your beadmaker's style got so much attention, I thought I would post another with this month's Spring Flowers entries. It's really interesting that not many of the Fire Divas use flowers in our beads. I think all of us grew as beadmakers with this challenge. We had lots of entries this time - so many, I'm going to make this TWO posts.

First place went to Deirdre from Ankle Biter Beads. And had I not read about this bead, I would have not pegged it as Deirdre's. She's known for her whimsical little aliens, puffer fish and fly's in the soup bowl! This piece is much larger than the work I've seen from her before. And while her previous work is often highly detailed, it seems she really stretched a bit with this piece. I love to watch favorite artists grow and I felt this piece would win and it did! Congrats Deiedre

Second place went to Lori Bergman of Ashlyn Design. I love the watercolor effects in this bead. They remind me of one of my all time favorite glass artists, Dolly Ahles. And even though Lori has florals in some of her beads, I found this piece a real unique. Another example of an artist stretching.

Artist Lara Lutrick always has sleek and elegant beads but you don't find many florals in her shop. Had she not labeled this picture, I'm not sure I would have picked it out as hers.

I knew this next bead because my friend Janel of Janel Dudley Beads had blogged about this new design of her during the last Art Bead Scene Blog Carnival. And even though this is a new direction for her, you can see the seeds of where she came from. Janel favors silvered ivory and high silver in her beads. Look at the base of the bead...silvered ivory. Look at the flower petals...see the mottled color??? That's probably a high silver reaction. Isn't it amazing that, even though it's a new direction, Janel is still true to her roots???

This next glass bead is one I didn't guess in the competition. It's made by fellow Diva admin, Lea of LA Jewelry Designs. This is such a perfect bead, my first guess would have it to be a Lutrick bead but I already knew which one was hers! But let's look closer... see those swirls on the base of the bead??? That's something Lea favors but she took it to a whole new level for the contest. The layers of color on the flowers and the cubic zirconia centers really make this a statement bead for sure!

I would have picked these earrings to be created by Laurie of Glassbead. Laurie actually has a tutorial on making floral beads and she also has a tut on cut disk beads which yields a most unique way of applying color. Laurie's beads are always high on the eye candy color factor.

Check back here tomorrow for MORE post contest analysis.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Free Photo Editing Program

I promised something more creative today and thought photos would be a good topic. I've been kvetching all week about my lack of a computer and my struggles dealing with Paint (piece of crap!). I started looking into free photo editing programs that might fit on my laptop and give me a few more options in editing. And since photos are a huge part of doing business online, I hope you find this interesting.

I found Picasa and checked it out. It's owned by Google and I could easily log in with my Google passwords. I was shocked to see I already had photo albums on the Picasa site! Huh??? Yes, I have albums there. Curious I explored a bit and found that the albums were tied to my blogs! What a trip down memory lane looking at photos from blog posts from years ago! I could also see where I struggled with Blogger from time to time...I would lose a photo cutting and pasting and have to reload it. Had I known about Picasa, I could have simply found the url of the photo and reinserted that into my blog.

So... if you have a blog, you already have a Picasa album. Go log in and look around!
This photo edited in Paint 8-(

Same photo edited in Picasa 8-)

I downloaded the software and while it's a bit clunky to someone accustomed to Adobe suite editing, it is way more useful than paint. I don't like that I have no control over dpi. It automatically reduces pictures to 96... which is too big for fast loading on web viewing and as a former professional photographer, I don't like putting large photos on the web.

I also love putting my own watermark on the picture. Picasa allows a typed watermark and places it in the lower right. Better than nothing but not as elegant as I prefer.

It has other options that are easy to use like red-eye removal, sepia tone, text, soft focus, etc. It's a good little program that doesn't take up too much memory on an older computer and it's easy to upload them to the appropriate album.

Hopefully, I'll have more beady things to say next week!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Creative Calculations

The only thing I worked on yesterday is the computer situation. It took ALL day and into the evening. Really, I'm so OVER computer issues!

I find it amazing that, while there only a handful of manufacturers out there, they don't seem to make the same computer for different stores. So, you can't compare apples to apples. It's more like I'll give up two apples to get a banana.

It amazes me the only PCMall allows you to shop by features like gigahertz, memory and brand.

And while I finally bought a new "beast" at CompUSA...their checkout process has to be one of the most annoying I've ever encountered. I always uncheck any option to contact me, especially by my cell phone which is a pay as you go model. I'll be damned if I'm going to pay for someone to advertise to me! It's like those big sports shirts with huge logos that cost three times more... If you GIVE me a shirt, I'll be happy to advertise your business but don't expect me to pay for the priviledge!

So I uncheck the stupid box, plug in all my info and... it tells me my shipping has changed and I must "show shipping" in Step 3. I do and ... that dang box is checked again! SNEAKY!!! It can remember my name, address and credit card number but can't remember I don't want to be contacted???

I uncheck and hit the order button and AGAIN, the shipping doesn't calcualte...over and over. I finally gave up and called them. OY! So another week without a computer...

Check in tomorrow and I will have something a little more creative to talk about!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Working On It

I've been knocked for a loop this week. If you read Creekhiker, you already big computer is dead. I was lucky enough to salvage all data before the official death certificate was issued but trying to figure out what I can afford and still work the way I like to work... I'm not just a bead maker. I consult, write and publish for clients. I use big programs. Anyway, finding the right machine is a mystery I need to solve and fast.

I hate my little laptop- mostly used for bookkeeping and retrieving orders online. I made some custom beads for a prior client and spent most of yesterday afternoon trying to edit them on Paint - the only photo editing program on this laptop. WHAT a sucky little program that is! You can't lighten. Try to drag the photo size down and it cuts off the image! ARG!!! How tedious! I could've done that in a fraction of the time with photoshop.

So, I'm sort of unhinged and floundering until I get it fixed.

On the bead front, I made my beads for the ABS and I like them - always a bonus! And I'm considering an "optional" design project for the ABS Blog carnival... No pics, obviously!

Monday, May 17, 2010

May Flowers - Fire Divas Challenge

This month's Fire Divas bead challenge theme is "May Flowers" - the perfect accompaniment to last months "April Showers" theme! We had lots of entries in the challenge this month. I did my level best to try something different. Can you guess which one is mine??? You can vote for your favorite on the right side of the Fire Divas blog.

Entry 1

Entry 2

Entry 3

Entry 4

Entry 5

Entry 6

Entry 7

Entry 8

Entry 9

Entry 10

Entry 11

Entry 12

Entry 13

Thanks for voting!!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Sorry I'm so late but I decided to have a last minute sale in honor of a special young man graduating from USC this weekend. I've known and loved him from conception! So...

20% of my glass beads using the coupon code Jordan (Facebook Fan page members get MORE!) Valid in the following shops: Holly's Folly & Artfire. Good for glass beads and lampwork jewelry & kits til Sunday!

If you are a fan page member, it's 30% off with coupon code JordanFP.

And in other news... The Fire Divas latest bead challenge is UP! Go vote!!! Pictures Monday!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

FREE Beads...or Not

Since I hung my little shingle out on the web three years ago, I've had a "FREE beads" page on my site. I did this to create links back to my site from other lampworking "list sites" which, in turn, made my new website look legitimate to the web spiders. Getting fans to vote for me, lifted me in the rankings and got me lots of hits and views from curious lampwork lovers.

At first, I struggled to make something new every week. It was so difficult to guess what would get people out to vote. A glass bead I didn't like would garner me lots of traffic. One that I thought was a sure hit brought little or no traffic.

It became such a chore to guess that I finally decided I would let the winners choose. I started giving away $50 Gift Certificates once a month. It seemed like a win - win. $50 was generous enough to allow for a full set + shipping and maybe even a sale page bead. Or a focal...

And over the years, it's worked for me and my customers. It was nothing for me to get over 400 votes in one month. I had one very dedicated voter that voted every single day in 2008. I was so overwhelmed with gratitude, I gifted her a $100 gift certificate over the holidays that year (She had also won several times during the year as well.) She cashed it in and never returned. Odd... was it something I said?

But other dedicated voters stepped up to fill her shoes and so it went. Until about six months ago. All of my voters just evaporated into thin air! Seriously...last month I had ZERO voters! And for the first time since it's inception, my $50 gift certificate went unclaimed! And this month? I've had ONE vote! ONE!

I'm not really sure why this has happened? Are there just too many promotions out there on the web??? Do people hate my beads? Are people just too busy?

I have no answers...It's a mystery to me. But if you are so inclined, vote and email, will you? You might just win something pretty!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Just Some Eye Candy...

Still recovering from house guests and I need to spend some time in the shop today working on a custom order... so, I thought I would share some eye candy.

I love this little Cell phone / zipper pull / purse charm. The beads are so sweet and they just make me happy. My BFF has a similar one on her purse and I always smile when I see them. But for some strange reason, this piece has the LEAST views of anything in my Artfire shop! I don't get it... It's as cute as anything else in the shop.

This is a focal that doesn't get many views. It's funny but customers "say" they love yellow but yellow beads don't sell all that easily. But I love this guy for several reasons. The yellow is rich - it's one of my favorite colors in glass (and I'm a "yellow hater'). I find the depth of this color so versatile and have used it as the base of some interesting beads.

The other thing I love is the little, tiny scallops I managed to put on the "sand". Seashells are some of most favorite things and those are so cute!

The other bead that gets so little love is this giant fall leaf. I love large glass beads. This piece was made for a contest and I mixed my own frit from transparent blends. This baby took over an hour in the torch to shape and is just stunning in person. But...sigh... he's still looking for a home.

Hope you enjoyed our little eye candy tour.... See you here tomorrow.

Monday, May 10, 2010


I feel like I'm waking up from a fog... I really AM. I had a world-wind weekend if ever there was such a thing! My good friend Becky Meverden and her hubby, a/k/a "The Rocketman" were both here for about 46 hours.

The weekend went so fast! They arrived around 11:30 on Friday and we dashed down the 405 for lunch at the Lazy Dog Cafe. (OMG! That grilled cheese is THE most AMAZING thing on the planet!) Back up the 110 and beyond to my little haven in the hills where my pupster saw "her boyfriend" (a/k/a "The Rocketman") for the first time in years. Mabel Lou dashed to HIS car door as we pulled in the driveway and barely left him alone for the entire time he was here! I'll post some pics of her declaring her submission to him on Creekhiker later in the week.

We all lazed around laughing at Mabel until I dashed to the creek for a quick hike and returned to pick Becky and RM up for dinner at my favorite old-fashioned Italian place, Casa Bianca. Becky & I shared the smooth-as-silk lasagna with garlic bread and a Caprese salad while RM tried something spicy. We were happy and tired campers.

Saturday was just as crazy. I cooked breakfast: bacon, pancakes, white cheddar with carmelized onion scrambled eggs. We all headed out for a hike where a regular Creekhiker reader and hiking buddy took one look at my companions and said, "You must be the Rocketman!" After Rocketman came to terms with sudden fame, we headed home to drop off the pupster and headed into Hollywood

We stopped at my favorite "witchy store" to pick up some Attars - pure flower essence which I wear as perfume... No allergic reactions, and the whole world doesn't smell your perfume stench when they travel in your wake! (Don't even get me started about women who put on perfume to get on a plane! OY!!!) We had a celebrity citing at Panpipes - Angelyne was in there. I snuck out and took a picture of her famous corvette with Becky's camera! LOL!

Then it was off to lunch at (WARNING: This website has music! HATE THAT!) Aroma. Becky and I shared a Mediterranean plate and a Batta (sweet potato) salad. Afterwards, we decided to explore Koreatown on foot for a few hours.

We dashed back up to my place for showers, fed the pup and hit the road again to the Hollywood Hills for a party with some old friends. It was breathtaking up there in the mountains with fantastic views. Becky didn't believe me when I told her it would be cold... and even though I thought I was prepared... I was freezing too! We were home and getting into bed by midnight.

Up again at 7 for breakfast by the pool and off the airport. I spent the afternoon doing laundry, napping and little shopping with the BFF. But today, I'm FRIED! And... I have a huge wholesale order to prep for so I've got to run some errands and be in the shop all day! Darn, I need a nap!

Hope you have a wonderful Monday. I'm going to be smiling all day - thinking about my fun weekend!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Finding Quality Lampwork Glass Beads on Ebay

As discussed yesterday, finding quality glass beads on ebay is no easy feat! It's a lot easier if you are looking for a particular lampworker, as I was. But, to find unknown talent is difficult but there are a few tricks.

1) Always search for SRA - self representing artist. This is a number assigned by an independent group of glass workers deliberately created to deal with the influx of mass produced beads on ebay. Most artists proudly display their SRA in their listings with their specific SRA number as part of the image. This is mine:
You can also check the SRA site for a massive list of legitimate artists.

2) Numbered beads - while prolific artists such as Lori Robbins & Kim Miles often number their beads, if you REALLY look at the numbers, they are date related - frequently the listing date or "birth" date. Lori's use a letter for the month. E = 5 = May. Kim's numbers are along the lines of 5.01, 5.02. But resellers of imported beads tend to have more generic numbers... no progression, no rhyme or reason. F022, SP1098 are examples.

3) NUMEROUS similar beads: Look around their listings. Do they have literally HUNDREDS of similar beads? If so, they are not artisan beads. The average bead maker takes five minutes to make a simple, small bead. And while someone making the same bead over and over and over can shave a minute or two off of that time, your average artist is NOT going to make hundreds of the same bead because it would make her crazy! I do know folks that can make around 100 of the same but beyond that... it starts to hurt mentally!

4) Number of Listings: Keep in mind we're talking ebay here. Shops like Etsy and Artfire show list dates and don't expire for months on end. But ebay expires in 10 days to a month if you have a store. Unless something unusual is going on...such as an artist raising funds for surgery or a trip to Bead & Button, you will RARELY see more than one page of listings. One of my least favorite resellers currently has 18 (!!) pages of listings! There is no freaking way one person can make that many beads!

5) Studio Names: Ever since that "Texas sounding place" came into ebay sounding like a real person, the resellers have made an attempt to sound legit... but upon closer inspection, they simply can't! They give themselves names that "sound" like a real person - Stephen Armbruster is one example but a quick google search leads to a real person who is into music, not glass. Search for that name and glass and you get ebay or a hinky, multi artist website.

A legit artist will give you all kinds of details: the torch she uses, the kiln, where she / he is located, awards and recognition and even photos of their glass stash and messy work tables. If you take the time to write these fakes on ebay, they can't tell you any of that and will often admit to importing.

6) Multi Artist Websites: You will rarely find more than one artist on a personal site. Noted exceptions are when a bead artist collaborates with an artist from another medium. I know one that gives two of her focals to a wire artist. He wraps them both and returns one to her. They sell the collaborations, one on her site, one on his. One of our Fire Divas actually sells as a team. Two Glassy Ladies is actually a team of three but a quick look around their site clearly divides their duties and skills. But again, this is RARE. It's simply too hard to divide the money!

7) Price: Glass from traditional lampwork sources where the workers are treated with dignity and paid well for their skill costs $8 a pound and goes up to $100 a lb. When you factor in cost of glass, time to make the bead and the supplies such as steel mandrels and bead release, kiln costs / electricity, cleaning time, photography and photo sizing, most glass beads deservedly start at around $4 per bead (with tiny spacers being the exception). When someone is selling for less than that, they are a reseller or they are having a sale. Look around. Are ALL their items cheap? If yes, reseller.

You can also bet the resellers will never use glass that costs very much, often preferring Chinese or Indian glass manufactured in deplorable slave-like conditions! Boutique glass companies such as Double Helix, Remschnieder, TAG, Caliente, etc will not be used by importers.

8) Look at the BEADS!: Yes, they might look pretty but I have actually seen bead release visible in the photos. But a legitimate artist puts skill and artistry into the work. Are the colors flat, i.e. ONE color? Or did they take the time to pull cane?? Are there lots of details going on in the bead?

Let's look at one of Lauren of Maybeads turtles:
This might seem to be a simple bead...but it's not! Look at the body. The core of this turtle is a stand-alone, beautifully made round bead. Then look at the details she added: toes! His smile! That little tail! And check out the layers of glass for the eyes!

True artisans always put a little bit of themselves into their beads and the imported ones are just lacking!

I hope I don't need to remind you that imported beads are not annealed which makes them prone to breakage. They are often not cleaned which makes your jewelry cording prone to breakage. Bottom line, you get what you pay for in more ways than one!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Pondering the bay

Oy! I've been working hard on the new site! My left arm is still numb leading into my ring and pinky fingers. And as I sit here adding and adding glass beads and lampwork jewelry and sterling silver findings to the new site - 87 products as of today - and then I look at my Artfire and I have over 80 products there and another half dozen on 1000 markets and I think, "WOW! That's ALOT of product!!!" And I look at my photography table and see MORE beads and on my desk, even more waiting for their photos to be uploaded. Wow!

I've never been much of a sales person and I don't make beads that I think other people will like. I make stuff I like...which is probably why I have so much of it! I know bead makers that make and list their beads and poof! They are gone! If only I were so lucky!

So, I started pondering ebay...Wouldn't some money be better than no money??

And as luck would have it, I found myself looking around ebay this week. As broke as I am, I can't resist helping out another artist. Harold Williams Cooney, the AMAZING beadmaker, is having a last minute push to raise funds to get to the Bead & Button Show. B&B has to be one the most incredible experiences I've ever had as a bead maker! (I took classes!)

I bid on a set of his string through lilies. This set:
When I bid on this incredible set, they were 3 days from ending and a measly 27 bucks. I bid $42, hoping to up the ante, help out a fellow artist and knew in my heart that I simply could not afford such artistry at this time in my financial life. I was certain they would sell for at least another hundred dollars over my bid. But, as things go on the bay... I won them for $41! And while I am ecstatic...I'm also very, very sad. If an artist of this stature ends up selling beads for pennies on the dollar, what chance do I stand at all?

I don't mean to single out one artist... this is just my experience this week. Lampwork bead artists have migrated away from ebay en masse with the influx of beads from China. One of my personal favorites, known for selling HUGE sets - 70 - 80 beads and regularly receiving 10-17 PER bead is barely getting 5 now.

I will say that one mistake I see true artists making is listing in the Handmade Lampwork / US category. This is a real no-no. I found it so visually disturbing to see Mr. Cooney's gorgeous work laid out on the same page as crap from China! Entire strands of beads selling for 2.50!!! It's far better to sell in the SRA (self -representing artist) category where the riff raff doesn't come in!

Ebay DOES NOT CARE that imported beads are sold in this category! Truth be told, as long as you pay them and don't advertise any other website, ebay will let you sell anything in any category!

I really despise these "studios" selling beads as if they are handmade and artisan quality. Remember you get what you pay for in lampwork!

And right now, you can get some beautiful stuff for a song if you check out Mr. Cooney's auctions!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Last Minute Lucy - FOILED!

Well, it appears there was some kind of Flickr glitch... The kind folks at ABS are adding me to the pool! Yay! And I SWEAR, I will try to get my entries in sooner!!!
Well, maybe I've FINALLY learned my lesson about getting my entries into the Art Bead Scene's monthly contest on the last day. Even though I uploaded and sent them by 8 p.m. Pacific Time on the 30th, they were rejected! Most upsetting to work that hard on something and have them rejected.

I wasn't concerned when they didn't appear in the pool. I've uploaded late at night even and since it was a weekend... I waited. But then Monday, the post went up announcing the winner! I checked the pool, no pictures. I checked my photos and they were not showing as being part of the ABS pool. So... wah! That'll teach me. But, it also really annoys me! As I uploaded well before midnight and there is NO cutoff time publicized anywhere. Humph! Whatever...

On to the beads! Or the painting... I must admit, I HATED the inspiration painting and didn't get the beads made as early as I would have liked.... It's really hard when you are not inspired and, honestly, I really dislike abstract art. And this painting was so abstract.

But in the end, it was the colors that spoke to me. I used Alabastro glasses in beige and green and for the first time EVER, successfully worked copper into a bead! The center of the focal is oxidized copper.

About the Pendant: The black lines in the piece really spoke to me and so, instead of resorting to my usual sterling, I made the pendant with anodized steel.

The focal and two spacers were wire wrapped with generous loops to be able to slide onto any chain. The lines and squiggles at the bottom resemble the ones in the painting with the ends tucked to prevent them from poking into clothing or skin.

More spacers were added to the center wire for another pop of color.

Let's just see if I can catch the early train this month!

Oh and this necklace is available at Holly's Folly.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Taking the Time...

When you get beads in the mail, do you take the time to write the artist and tell her they arrived? OR, if you purchased on a store site like ebay, etsy, or Artfire, do you take the time to leave feedback?

Believe it or not, we artists are the worrying kind. We worry about everything! Will you like the beads? Are they as big as you thought? Are they too big? We see imperfections in our own work that most of our customers never see... and we fret...Is she really going to like them? Are the colors what you expected? Are they bright enough? And yes, we worry if they arrive and if they arrive safely.

I always love to hear back that my beads made their journey safely and intact. And most of my customers email me or leave feedback in one of the public shops which also lets me know they arrived and are safe in their new home.

But once in a while, you get a really sweet note from a customer. I was so lucky to get one this past week from a repeat customer. She had bought one of my favorite beads from my hollow seashell series. Here it is:

And to give you an idea of size:

Yes, it's huge. And believe it or not, I took a lot of guff when I started making these a former lampwork criticized me for their size, the amount of time I spent making them (over an hour in the torch!) and my choice for the inner glass which is the very thing that makes them so realistic to me. And they've taken a LONG time to find a home and I wondered if this person was right...

And then I got this email about that seashell:

Wow. Wow. WOW!!!!

Holly, this is the best work you've ever done, and that's really saying something.

Can you tell, I'm still beaming????