Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fresh Glass 10.30.13

I've been a busy bee... aren't I always??? Lots of news to share with you in the next few days!

Just the highlights:
  • The Fire Divas are now hosting glass bead / Lampwork Jewelry and gifts in trunk shows on our Fan Page and the wonderful and talented Amy Sims has agreed to go first!!! More on that tomorrow! 
  • I will be the third Diva to host a show... Mine is in early December... stay tuned!
  • While working on a freelance medical bookkeeping project,  I got a nice size custom order and making that led to more great ideas. I love when that happens!
  • Started on the next 40 bead challenge...torching aimless instead of with a plan.... more on that soon!
  • Created 16 glass bead charms from the upcoming Art Charm Challenge. I didn't make matchy ones to trade...trying to keep excess stuff OUT of the house these days. But I made all of them to donate to the Beads of Courage Auction. Photos and more on that before the auction goes live! 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Cross Pollination of Skills: Cake and Beads

As a life long crafter and even a producer of craft television shows, I've tried almost every craft on the planet. Even entertained several quite seriously. One of those was cake decorating. Another was rubber stamping. It seemed like kismet that I would end up working for, then owning the only food safe rubber stamp company!

But more interesting to me is how the skills I pick up in one area...seem to migrate into another. Silk screening and printing skills helped me easily grasp the manufacturing of wood mounted rubber stamps. Crochet lead me to bead crochet which lead to kumihimo. Rubber stamping lead to carving my own images which developed an interest in wood turning and now, laser carving...on glass! See??? One thing leads to another.

But one of my best tricks as a bead maker is... cake decorating!  It's no secret that I love making pastries in glass. But I'm talking about decorating a basic bead... you can get some FABULOUS pointers from cake decorators that can easily be adapted in glass.

For instance: This spider web video. When she's dragging the icing, you realize that you would do the dragging as you lay the line down in glass.

Here's another web where she makes the spider... except for saving the legs for last - in glass they go on first - there are some great shaping techniques!

Here's another fun one on leopard prints...which is an ever-popular bead design!

Because both mediums are two dimensional, the shape work and layering is basically the same! Find a few cake decorators you like on YouTube and follow them! Their work is often season, like ours and you will certainly pick up some great ideas that translate to glass!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dot Diaries - The Afterglow

It's odd ... my brain cannot process all that I learned by doing this exercise. I simply cannot recommend it enough. We all have time when our muse is lost; we're upset over lack of sales; we feel like we're making the same thing and we're tired and uninspired. I promise you, make 40 beads! It WILL help!
Color Tests for the 3 color 40 Bead Project

The other day, I had to make some boobies for an order and it was the first time I torched "for real" - for money - in a while. I zoomed through those beads and no longer seemed to stuggle with size issues. If there was an issue, I fixed it...easily! Even the aureoles didn't give me fits, which they often did in the past. !

I've had an idea for a pandora glass bead I wanted to try out...test some frit and top colors. I often struggle with size issues...lopsidedness, etc. And, I didn't! I cased well... how novel! And then comes the thing I always say to myself, "Time to mess up a perfectly good bead!" !

I've often said I make really awesome background beads. And I think they end up looking like caca because I (me) decorated it. If I could just hand that background off to some "good" beadmaker, all would be fine! !

But this time, it went oddly, weirdly smooth. I'm not happy with the bead because I simply forgot how my beloved pine green goes all transparent when stretched...grrrr. But as I lay down the leaf and started pulling points for holly leaves, I was calm and relaxed. I found the rhythm of pulling a point with a stringer, melting off, melting the pulled glass back down on the stringer soothing. Then came the dreaded dots... again. All was fine. !

I think this has come out of repetition of making so many of a similar bead! I think I'm going to keep that bead for my own bracelet as a little reminder of how far I've come.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dot Diaries: 40 Bead Challenge Complete!

I finally finished the first Dot Series! I was shocked when a friend on Facebook bragged of doing hers in ONE session... OMG... hand me the bullets! I'm not made to do that! Plus, the instructions said to limit your beads to a few every day to allow the ideas to percolate. I know I wouldn't have gotten much out of it if I attempted one session!

The last two sessions focused on triangles. The beads are lined up from session 1 to the end, L-R:
 A lot of good lessons were reinforced:
  • Heat the bead well and then put a LOT of heat where you want the glass to GO!
  • Slower is better (but tortuous!)
  • Volume Control... Something I find hard to read between torch sessions. Just like wire work, I need to make a few to get my rhythm!  Most all of my remakes were volume control issues!
  • Limiting your color choices really does make you stretch for what you can do to make the bead interesting! 
  • Footprints and puckered holes are really not that difficult! 
  • I still have more ideas for this combo! Weird! 
I'm glad I did this...wish I had done it when I started! Odd that I'm feeling like a better bead maker at a time when I'm considering not making beads for sale any more. More on that landslide later! 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Beads of Courage Bead Challenge

I've been meaning to post some pics from the Beads of Courage Challenge a few weeks ago. We made almost 100 beads and many more brought beads to donate.

We actually got a list of dream beads from some kids that would be attending the event. I made a lego bead for a sibling. He wanted a green one. I enjoyed making it so much, I made several more. Great idea for a "boy" bead! 

Here's some shots of the So Cal Flame Surfers at work. A big thanks to Wendy Leys for making this happen!!! She's an awesome organizer!

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Dot Diaries - Days 7 - 8

I'm starting to hate this exercise... sigh! Day Seven's returns were most disappointing. This is the worst set yet!

The first set was to be a somewhat Morrocan Tile pattern... an elongated ellipse with smaller dots on top / bottom and both sides.  Something like this:

And... as you can see above, they look more like soft diamonds... ugh!

Carrying on with that theme... I wanted to make "flowers" with four petals and then with five. Each time, I started with a large center dot, melted it and added stringer dots. This was my first use of stringers in this project. And... it sucked! They don't look floral-ish at ALL!  More like "drunk clouds!"

But I will say, I get more ideas each time I do this... Keep pen and paper handy and you will have your next torch session penciled in! This session made me want to try butterflies.... OY!

Day 8 
Now, I'm doubting my color choice! Great Hol, you're  26 beads into a 40 bead project and NOW you doubt your color choices??? Sigh....  But I seriously wish I hadn't used a reactive ivory. It bubbles and doesn't always go on "clean."

But first, I allowed myself to make a bead that's not in this project... And I love it. I also made another mini focal from a dot bead that got weirdly big on me....

I started out making "rat heads" - I made the vertical ones first... they mostly look like mishapen hearts, But the horizontal ones hit the mark.

Butterflies were attempted next. I had the bright idea that two larger dots placed next to each other with two smaller dots on top might melt into a butterfly... They didn't. I was hoping this might give me a successful idea for a better looking flower... but no.

I'm at a cross roads where I'm questioning my skills and my own laziness. I realize how much I rely on a marver ...but it is FASTER to marver. I also realize just what an impatient bead maker I am... I hate waiting for glass to melt. And forcing myself to do it slowly is torture! Maybe if I hoped to actually sell the beads I make, it would be worth it. But at this point... it's not a career. It's a hobby.

Still, I've learned a lot and as of this writing... I'm only two beads shy of 40!

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Dot Diaries - Days 3 - 6

It took me a while to get back to my project as I've been busy in the stamp shop. This should really only be Days 3 and 4 but... I had some setbacks...

 Day 3 was way too brief and I only got to make four beads. The focus was layered dots. This is really an amazing exercise in that you get such a good lesson in volume control. All those stacked dots make it really easy to understand a square bead. And heating between the dots is as vital to rounding up the bead as heating the dots themselves. I've always heard, "Heat where you want the glass to GO!" and this day showed me that in volumes. Also, heating without marvering... elongates the dots. Mine are ovals...

 Day Four -Got off to a really bad start... My bead got all wonky as I tried to melt the glass for a smiley. I got frustrated and I know myself well enough to know not to play with fire when things start this way.  It's better to do something else. 

Still, I really like the look of the smiles from the top vantage point... These "boomerangs" are a design element I like and have since dreamed of!! What would happen adding opposing dots of the base glass near opposite end of the boomerang... I think it would make a nice S shape. Worth exploring ....

Day Five -  I got to make a few smileys before I had other obligations. After several more failed attempts at these.... I had to break the rules. I KNOW we are not supposed to use tools but I quickly found I could not melt my smile in correctly without marvering that top layer of base-colored glass! So... I used the glass rod as a "tool."  I've decided smileys are advanced bead making! I'm still not totally happy with the ones I'm showing here but they do make me smile and I think that's one of the points!

Day Six  - Oh No... I lost my sizing! Reviewing beads from previous days... I had gotten HUGE and way off scale. Hey, I like big beads and I cannot lie! 

But this is also a size exercise. Remakes were in order. I HAD to rework some of those smileys that I thought were fine! ARGH! So what do I so when I start??? I zone out and look down and ... have HUGE volume of glass on my mandrel! ARGH!  Determined not to have another wonky nuttin on my hands, I made this...DON'T LAUGH:

I actually like this mini focal... I've forgotten how awesome the Bullseye palette is!  Must play with this color MORE... I love the olive reaction from the Nougat... very cool!

Finally, I was able to make more smileys...  Here they are with the wonky boomerang from above:


Just a reminder... there's a huge album of glass beads I'm GIVING AWAY with purchases!!!

Thursday, October 10, 2013


I've been a rut and have decided I NEED to clear the decks and get rid of some of the stuff that's weighing me down and so... I've decided to GIVE some of it away!!

But there is one small caveat... You have to make purchase of glass beads or jewelry in the same value as the free item. Buy One Get... however many it takes to meet the dollar amount of your purchase. There is no limit on freebies. They just have to be less than or equal to the dollar value of your purchase!

The freebies are located on my Facebook don't have to be a fan (but I would love it if you were!) to look through the freebie album.  Browse through... if you see something you like... call "Mine" and go shop in my regular glass bead shop.  You are welcome to shop on Etsy too, but please allow me to end the listing... I'm giving stuff away. I don't want to pay Etsy for the privilege...

Thanks as always for taking a l@@k!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Scenes from Kumihimo Class

I taught a Kumihimo Class this weekend... As usual, I forgot to take pics until there's only a few people left in class!

I always have my students learn the basic stitch on a large 2mm rattail or with curling ribbon. I encourage them to use 8 different colors so they can see just how random the Kumihimo is:

But one of my students wanted to mix the two. The curling ribbon is what created the nice ridges in this piece:

Then we move onto beaded kumihimo. Here's a finished bracelet;

This bracelet was made by a student who called herself "The Bling Queen." We're still working on the wire wrapped clasp here. I love how sparkly the metallic beads are!

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Dot Diary - Days 1 & 2

I haven't been feeling my muse... and no glass bead sales make her run and hide . Needing to get myself out of this rut, I ran across a thread on Lampwork Etc regarding Heather Trimlett's 40 Bead Challenge. I have been aware of Heather's Challenge for some time and always wanted to try it.... kinda. But, it is dots... my least favorite kind of bead.... or so I thought!

When I saw such a large group doing it... I thought, Why not??? It might shake me out of my doldrums.

But after a week of thinking about it, choosing colors, dipping mandrels... there was nothing left to do but get started.

Day 1

Per Heather's instructions I limited myself to six beads a day. I chose to do two of each, reversing the colors each time.  Heather suggested working slow...something I'm sooo not good at. For this reason, I chose to work in Bullseye 90 knowing the stiffer glass would slow me down. And my favorite blue of all time is Bullseye - Steel Blue. For a contrast, I choose Nougat.

My first beads were simple donuts with 4 dots. I concentrated on even spacing and volume control to make the dots similar.

Next, I tried six... harder.  But I was starting to see possibilities...

My final set was what I named the roller coaster... Great! Now, I'm naming dots!  Two dots were placed dead center and one dot in between but on opposite edges. Then I filled in the area in between.

When I was done, I was actually excited. .... Hmmm... can dots be addicting???

Day 2

I found I couldn't wait to torch the next day... I woke up thinking about that roller coaster...  Could 2 look like DNA???

Beads 1 and 2 were DNA or double coasters... getting harder to evenly space and control the placement.

I didn't love the vacant space created when the dots were further apart. So the next two were DNA with eyeballs in the center. I liked those better.

And then I started on stacking dots. Two dots on top of each other.

I'm still so excited about this project even though work has kept me from the torch for a few days now. I have my next two sessions planned out. 24 out of 40 with a plan!  My next session with focus on stacking and the one after that will be a take on smiley faces.

I'm really happy I tried this. I can't wait to see all of the beads finished! If you are in a lull of creativity, I heartily recommend this exercise!