Thursday, June 30, 2011

If It Weren't for Bad Luck...

It's a good thing I can laugh at myself...otherwise, I think I'd cry all the time! This week's adventure is a lesson in why Holly MUST wear her glasses when working with beads!

It all started when I sold this little seahorse:
I was so excited... he was going to Germany! His owner makes lovely sea themed necklaces!

Only, this guy had been to a few bead shows and I had him wire wrapped on a copper stand with more copper loops coming out of his head. I grabbed my wire cutters in my darkened shop to cut off the copper on his head, because I couldn't get to the loop below his belly. And, wouldn't you know it? I cut off his "hair do" / upper fin thingy!

There was nothing to do but sit down and torch one up! And since I HATE just saying, "I broke it. Here's another." I could NEVER say that to a customer mainly because I know how that would make ME feel! I made TWO.

Here they all are together... the one I broke is in the middle:

Luckily, she liked the one on the left! Yay! The one I broke spent a bit of time with a diamond grinder and is in my Beads of Courage pile cause the kids will give him some love. And the one on the right??? He needs a good home. And I promise my wire cutters won't go anywhere near him!

Also, today is the LAST DAY of the 50% off sale on Artfire. Thank you, as always for l@@king!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fresh Glass 6.29.11 - Wordless Wednesday

Those two back beads are also hearts... color tests for a custom order memorial bead. I love how the ivory on the  big heart got all silvered from my fritted vine cane! 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Custom Orders and Fussy Glass

A regular customer of mine who I also consider a dear friend asked me to make her a special bead based on a video game called Okami. I've played about 15 minutes of video games in my entire life so I was at a distinct visual disability.  But my friend sent me photos and even a video screen capture of the flower she wanted moving about.

That garlic bulb looking flower is the desired bead. The Okami game is stylized visually after Japanese watercolor. However, I felt the black outlines might be too much for glass - especially a sculptural piece where all the pieces parts would be made well ahead of the final  bead.

The flower has a bright orange center and the petals are actually a cloudy pink with white veining. The only cloudy glass I know of is CIM's Cirrus. And that's the where the trouble began.

I am not the biggest fan of this glass because I saw a rather fussy annealing schedule on many of the glasses a few years back. I don't feel the colors are that different and frankly I just don't have the money (or earn it back on my beads) to be buying Chinese made glass at "boutique" prices. Still I do love a few colors but... the inconsistency from batch to batch (making ordering online impossible) has made those colors lose my favor as well.

I'm not knocking what others do. I know many that love this glass and do wonderful things with it. For me, I'm only successful with CIM when I use it alone or with very little of any other glass. I have quite a bit of cirrus from a project of hollow birthday cakes I made and filled with czs. The cloudiness of the cirrus can read both white and transparent. I truly do love its look.

But when I layered it with a Vetrofond pink and dabbled on some veins in Effetre white, the entire bead cracked. I did some reading and found that fussy annealing schedule. It recommends cirrus anneal between 970 - 1040! I feared the rest of the bead would slump at those temps.

After discussing it with my friend, I slowly ramped up my kiln to 995 over the course of several hours. I fired up the torch and gently placed that hot bead back in the flames. I got everything glowing red. I healed the cracks and added definition back to some of the melted Italian glass. When I was certain there were no more cracks, I moved it back in the flame and back into the kiln.
And the next day, holding my breath, I opened to the door to... a more evenly cracked bead!

In the end, I simply couldn't sell a bead that cracked but... my customer insisted that it looked so realistic (in keeping with the theme of the game) and since she wanted it HUGE, she was just going to display it, I shipped it off. Still, I had to make her something to wear... (Yes, I am aware of my anal retentive nature!) That's what the small one is - minus the cirrus. I do love how cloudy the cirrus makes the core and I so wish there were something more compatible that would give me this effect.
Yes, I probable could've purchased /  used a CIM pink trans but who knows if I wouldn't have the same issue? In the end, It is a really cool looking bead and... I'm donating that cirrus to my bead group. I'm done!

I'm ending the sale on Artfire on the 30th so only a few more days for 50% off!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Filled with the Nervousness

I'm a bit nervous for my weekend. I'm teaching a class I've never taught before. Beginning crochet. It's fine....I've crocheted for decades having taught myself around age 11. But teaching it is another story.

My arm got twisted to do this... I seem to be the "go-to" teacher when someone quits at the school because I can do just about anything. But still, HOW do you teach someone to crochet AND have them finish a project in just three hours??? I'm more than a little worried!

Plus a new class has meant new lesson plans. I put a ton of effort into my lesson and descriptions so that hopefully students can duplicate their efforts at home without me. But then, if they just wanted to read and follow instructions, they wouldn't be taking a class now would they?

That photo above is one of my class projects in the works. Of COURSE, I had to bling it out with some handmade glass buttons when I got done!

But I'll have to tell you more about it later. Today, I have to make more buttons to take to class and... I have some color tests to run for a new memorial bead.  Busy busy!

If you need something more substantial to read, you simply MUST check out my friend Jenny Cameron's article on Handmade Jewelry, Ridiculously Cheap! It's a must read for artisans everywhere and something I've long complained about here!  Jen just says it PERFECTLY!

Have a good weekend!!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fairy Tales

The Fire Divas most recent challenge was Fairy Tales. This was my entry. I call it "Cindy's Coach."

I wanted to give the illusion of a pumpkin converted to roll to the ball with Cindy inside. The window is to give the illusion that someone is inside. I cased the pumpkin in rare tangerine sparkle glass and it's AMAZING how it shimmers. I will probable list this on Artfire... after the sale.

The Artfire 50% off sale goes on....

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Showoff - PINK!

I have a custom order I'm working on and i'm frantically making buttons for my crochet students so I will make today's post a bit easy and just show off some new goodies that I pray I get to list on the glass beads website today.

I love this pink dichroic laden focal:

And this is a sweet squeezed beads set of black and white base with pink flowers. 

Thanks as always for l@@king and...

The Artfire 50% off sale goes on....

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Avioding the Vendor Burn

I got a phone call the other day from vendor of mine. My order from CHA's January show was ready to ship! Five months late!  The whole experience has me so ticked off, I thought I would share a little of what I've learned.

The show Experience:
I went to CHA on the fly last January. I wasn't planning to go but, one of the film jobs I landed was shooting there and a fellow Fire Diva wanted me to take a social media class with her so, I found myself at the show anyway. I did a quick inventory of my shop and went to my two favorite jewelry vendors with a list of tools and accessories I would need for my upcoming classes. I also went with a new mission: Find new goodies to build NEW  classes around.
Koi pond - part of my half price sale on Artfire

As I was leaving the first vendor, order already having been placed, a demo artist I knew from my Carol Duvall days grabbed me in their booth and showed me their kumihimo braiding line. I had been looking for a way to teach bead crochet but couldn't quite work out some of the logistics of teaching in a college setting as opposed to a bead store. Kumihimo would allow them to finish in two classes and the stitch work is not difficult. So I walked back over and added to my order.

This vendor does NOT give customers copies of an order. Which is lesson #1: I know you may be tired and that your feet hurt, but take their order form and transpose EVERYTHING to your own notebook. Item numbers, colors, quantities and descriptions. I did not do this!

The next vendor where I order most of the cheaper tools that the college prefers I sell had a new copper findings line. As the cost of sterling is through the freaking roof, I looked for and found all the accessories to rework my current wire classes into copper or silver coated copper to keep costs down. I ordered tons of findings! This vendor did give me a copy of my order but it was all item numbers! NO descriptions. Gee, that's helpful...NOT! Furthermore, as many of the items were new, several had the same number. I'm the one who caught this as my sales rep was writing up my order! Those are the only items that had any kind of description beside the number.
Bail Making Pliers... My new favorite must have!

After the Show:
Vendor #1 sent me a partial order the next week. But I only received  some of the kumihimo products: a few disks, mismatched cording (instead of the color coordinated sets I wanted), no beads, no bobbins, no class books. I had to put the new class on hold and wait for the products I was so excited about to be available.

Vendor #2 phoned to say that "some" of my findings were in but it would be "a few weeks" before the rest were in stock and they gave me the option to refuse the order or take a partial order. As I needed the tools, I took the partial order. It arrived with a few necklace blanks and all tools. I hardly call that "some." Yet another project has to be postponed.

Lesson #2: Ask the vendor for an ETA. If they don't meet that date... shop elsewhere!

Wire Wrapped Cupcake - also 1/2 price on Artfire

Five months later...

I'm now trying to figure out what is missing from the first vendor's order as I do finally have kumihimo classes starting.

And Vendor #2 sent me a list of what is finally in stock and I'm going through their online catalog to match item numbers to photos and to see if I still have a need for it as some of my jewelry classes have been cut back.  If I had a list of what I really wanted from the CHA show to compare, things would be a bit easier.

Which leads to the most important lesson #3: When standing there at the show, ask the vendor, ARE THESE ITEMS IN STOCK NOW? Next year, I will be certain to say, "Don't even show me things that aren't available NOW! I don't want to see the line you plan to roll out in six months..."

Lessons learned... Move on!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

HUGE Sale!

I'm having a sale. Hooooge SALE!  I was only going to offer this to the fans but... they've had a little lead time... so I'm posting it here too!

I just want to clear out the shop and start over. I'm really overwhelmed by the amount of my inventory. There are probably 30 beads sitting on my desk as I type this. And 13 trays of beads within five steps of me! This has got to end!

I'm not sure what's going to happen to the beads if they don't find a good home soon. I may donate the kid appropriate beads to Beads of Courage and a may finally buck up and deal with ebay. Very little money is better than no money, right?

So, while I take a break and regroup, the glass beads & jewelry in my Artfire shop are 50% off. The sale is NOT on findings, stamps, gifts or that dang wedding dress. Coupon code FAN50.

Thank you, as always for l@@king! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Begging Off

I need a break...from life. I've been in a funk for the longest time now and I just feel I have nothing left creatively.

I'm sure my lack of funds, i.e. my lack of sales has something to do with it. There's nothing more inspiring than to know your work is appreciated and that people are willing to spend their hard earned cash to have it. Sometimes, I sit here, trying to promote this or that, plugging away, doing my thing and nothing. In desperation, I've lowered all my prices. Not enough to compete with SuzyQ Housewife  with a husband to support her and no fricking idea how to run a business... but by what I consider to be A LOT.  And still, there are no sales.

This all leads to torch malaise. When I'm not torching, that leads to blog malaise.

And between trying to figure out how to support myself, the crazy goings-on in my own backyard and the emotional loss I feel from that, my sister's 3rd bout with cancer and the endless pain my body has from the myriad of injuries I've suffered, I'm just coming up dry. Add in the new classes I'm teaching this summer (Thank goodness! A chance to make a few paltry dollars!) and all the prep I have to do for that (new handouts and samples) and I'm drier than dry.  When this blog feels like work, it has to go.

In the meantime, please go and vote in the Fire Divas Fairy Tale Challenge.

And, not that any one is interested but - there are some new beads up at HollysFolly.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Free Wire Wrapping This Weekend ONLY

I had planned a more beady post but...I've had quite the addition to my household (will post on Creekhiker later) and am just really busy!

So I will just announce this week's special and call it a weekend!

Free wire wrapping this weekend in my usual sterling silver and Swarovski crystal style.

Spend $20 (or $15 if you are a fan cause fans always get something extra!) on any single bead or pair and I will wire wrap it into a pendant or earrings. Not valid with free beads certs. Pairs can be made into earrings...pierced only. Offer good til Sunday night!

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Busy Day | More QR Info

I didn't plan a post for today and oops! I forgot my niece is in town for some wedding planning and my monthly social media group meets today! I've got to dash out to pick up a sample wedding cake, get to a fitting, club meeting, then shopping!

But I thought I would share some more info on QR codes. has a great article out today (their cards are cute but pricey... is my fave printer!)

The in their article allows you to put even more info into your QR code than Likify does. You can colorize it too! Perfect for matching logos or websites. And the Google chart tells you how to build your own if you are really tech savvy! is also another excellent resource for keeping all of your digital addresses in one place. I'm considering keeping my more professional out-in-the-world-with-a-real-job info over there...

So there... a quick helpful post!

I should also mention, I've added a TON o' focal glass beads to the website. (More on the way too!) And this week's special is up on the fan page!

This long skinny glass bead is 75mm!!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mega Jewels Has Moved!

I've mentioned before my favorite Swarovski dealer is Mega Jewels. If you need Swarkies in bulk, this is the ONLY place to buy! And now they have a lovely LARGE showroom!

Yes, they are the same retailer from many bead shows but in their shop, they are wholesale only. $200 minimum for shipping. Not required for walk in wholesale customers.

Their old shop in the heart of the jewelry district was so tiny... standing room only for about five people. Very little room for display. But now, they have yards and yards of counter space and storage right behind the counter!  L@@k! Every tray is full of crystals!

And... they a lovely storefront display with walk in access for them to display lots of pretty crystal products.

The only downside to the new location is... parking. The old location was right across from Pershing Square with lots of cheap parking. Parking is more costly here and street parking is available a few blocks away.'s worth it to be able to shop here!

Their website is perpetually under construction. It's best to get a quote but they beat all invoiced pricing! And they're some of the nicest people you'll ever meet! 

Mega Jewels
124 E Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


If you have one of those fancy thingimagigy phones, you probably already know what QR codes are. If you are like me, read on...

QR or Quick Response codes are these strange looking symbols popping up everywhere. They are embedded with lots of info that can be read by QR readers or... the camera in your fancy schmancy phone.

So what's this got to do with the artistic pursuit of glass bead making??? Well, we need fans and customers to find us, right? So... How do you go about getting one of those QR codes???

Likify makes it easy. Sign up (free), give them your links and generate your custom QR code. Choose the largest file for the greatest resolution and you've got a print quality code for your flyers, postcards and business literature. Choose a smaller one for your website.

Five minutes and you're living in the modern age, ready for your customers to find you.... For a least a day or two!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Engineer's Tool Box

I stumbled over a website that I just LOVE the other night and just had to share it! It's called The Engineering Toolbox.

I love engineers! I love the way they think and how they see the world so differently; I love that they see possibilities everywhere. They are truly artists in their own right.  I think that if I had understood what an engineer does back in the dark ages when I went to college, I would have become one!

So what on earth would a jewelry designer find useful on a website geared toward engineers??? For me, it started with this necklace:

It's a beauty, right??? No, I didn't make it. It was made about 50 years ago back when my best friend's little brother was born. He was the fourth child so we all find it somewhat remarkable that Grandma was given this beautiful Swarovski necklace and bracelet set for giving birth to him. Even more remarkable: this baby boy would father the only girl in the family. And that girl is getting married. Since it's the only wedding my best friend, her sister or myself will ever get to plan...we are over the moon!

Naturally, grandma wanted to pass this necklace down to her only granddaughter. Only...the length is about an inch or so too short for the neckline of the chosen dress. Since back part is wired loops (not even wrapped) and I have a stash of AB crystal Swarkies... it's easy enough to fix. But what gauge wire????

I took out my calipers and determined the diameter of the wire to .5 MM. That's great but now what??? So I googled MM of wire gauges... and found THE MOST AMAZING CHART!!! It's something every wire jewelry artist will want at their disposal. I've printed and laminated one!

Have a wonderful weekend! 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Go Divas! Go Divas!

WHHHOOOOOO HOOOOOO!  The Fire Divas raised $107 bucks on their auction for Beads of Courage!!! Every penny of the auction money will be donated through Mission Fish on Ebay to the most worthy charity.

And the Divas donated a matching set directly to Beads of Courage. We decided to make Beads of Courage our monthly challenge in June and I just adore all the beads the Divas made. 

I simply adore the little race car made by Karen of Fire-n-sand and the space shuttle monkey from Lara Lutrick. It's hard for the charity to find "boy beads" sometimes... and these are great choices!!

I'm also loving Barb Reed's (River's Edge) new tribal face beads... these are just great. Yeah, that's my cupcake next to them.

And aren't Abbie's (Abbielyn) inch worms just the cutest things ever????

I'm sure this won't be the last Diva auction for Beads of Courage. I found it so rewarding to participate! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Vetrofond Ivory - Wherefore Art Thou???

Ask any glass work and they will give you a litany of reasons behind what makes their favorite colors their must haves. To the naked eye, black is black, right??? Not to a glass worker. I myself don't venture into the boutique glasses too much... I don't sell enough to justify the costs but I still know the difference between black, metallic black and intense black.

I must say, I never really gave much thought to ivory... Light or dark. In 104, I found it much more moody than my beloved Bullseye. I can rock silvered ivory in Bullseye glass - but give me 104 and I will make caca!

So I've always used Vetrofond and Effetre interchangeably... One's on sale? Great! I'll take it... I never really cared which I used and rarely labeled it. I only started labeling it after buying Kim Neely's tuts on silver glass.

But recently, in Kim Affleck's class, she discussed the color reactions of different glasses on Vetrofond vs. Effetre. I won't go into her secrets but I will tell you the same two color were used to decorate both these beads. And...those two colors came from the same rods even (so no variation in batches). The ONLY difference is the base of the green one is Effetre and the blue is Vetrofond. Two different ivories and two VERY different beads.
This photo doesn't do them justice... the one on the left is olive green!!!

Needless to say every glass dealer in this country seems to be on some kind of Vetrofond diet! You can't get the stuff! And... OF COURSE, I like the blue better!

Also there's still time to bid on the Fire Divas Beads of Courage Auction closing today. If you don't want to bid, make a donation to this wonderful charity and go comment on this Diva's blog post to be eligible for one of three great prizes!