Sunday, September 30, 2012

What's been in the works...

Wow, been a little while since  I last posted, sorry about that.  But here we are nearly into October and I have a few things to share with you.  First is a lovely fall sunset we had the other night, the sky was the loveliest shade of purple for a few fleeting moments, the picture doesn't really do it justice.

Then it changed to pinks with  purples...

I played with more lampworking this week.  I'm learning as I go, the design part is coming easily enough it's the technique of getting consistently round beads that has been a bit tougher.  Now that I have found the sweet spot and correct mix for this torch things are going a little easier.  However it seems that the glass in my starting kit has different "stiffness" according to color.  Maybe that's normal, but not having any lampworking pals in my vicinity I have no one to test this theory for me.

As I have continued working on technique a few other things have become very clear.
  1. I had read in a review that the bead release in the kit isn't the greatest when it comes to releasing.  I have to agree, unless I am doing something horribly wrong, but this stuff doesn't release for me most of the time without being rather strongly persuaded (that is to say I have to put the mandrel through a hole in a piece of wood and whack it with a hammer to loosen it). 
  2.  10 mandrels is not nearly enough, once you get going you are disappointed when you get to bead 10 and are done for the time being while the group of beads rests.
  3.  The starter kit contained several not so favorite colors and most of the colors don't go that well together, at least in my opinion.  I should however just keep using them to try to perfect my technique of a nice round bead.
  4.  I need to order a whole bunch more glass since I am quickly running short.
  5.  This an addictive artform, as most things that involve fire are for me. 
  6.  I really want to sit with an experienced lampworker for an hour or two so they can give me some guidance and constructive criticism.  Did find a class for beginners up in Buffalo, so I will be emailing her soon.

All that said here is what I have pics of, like I said before feel free to laugh along with me, my feelings won't be hurt :)

The bead on the far right has release that crackled and spattered off the mandrel onto the molten glass.

These are a little better, even got the black one round and mostly balanced!

When all the mandrels were full I played with the new torch making some realllly cool enameled copper tube beads.  Going to try and get a tutorial together soon on how to make the swirl effect ones.  I really liked them and thought others might want to make them too.  Try to ignore the St. Bernard hair on that black speckle bead, it was in every darn photo.

Here is one with some copper inclusions, the little copper discs are leftover from when I punched holes in some discs.  Hey, make use of every scrap right?

These beads turned into a bracelet inspired by a design I saw by Mary Hettmansperger.  Hers uses different types of tube beads.  I strung them on leather cord for durability, I would have preferred something more supple like waxed linen but was worried about wear.  Maybe next time some suede cording?

Front side, see how it doesn't quite lie flat, that's the stiffness of the leather.

Back side and clasp.

Mailed out my Mismatched Art Bead Earring Swap earrings to my lovely partner on Friday.  She is all the way out in CA so this was a cool coast to coast swap.  Can't wait until reveal day so we can all see what everyone made!  This was my first swap and I had one heck of a time trying to make mismatched earrings.

My bead stash that I won from Lisa Lodge at Pine Ridge Treasures arrived and they are sorted into projects.  Unfortunately, I was so busy playing with fire I haven't assembled the pieces yet.  I will soon and will post them here.   Thanks Lisa for that uplifting little package :).

Went to an impromptu show yesterday.  Tractor Supply in Hornell asked for some vendors to come by and set up for the day.  Eight of us were happy to oblige.  I sold a couple of my 10g copper wire cuff bracelets.  A lovely women picked up one for her and one for a friend.  Those purchases at least covered the gas to go and a little leftover.  While I was there I made some new crafting friends, got leads on some upcoming shows, and was asked if I would like to put some things in a newly opening artisans consignment/retail shop!  You bet I will be putting some things there, thanks for asking me George.

Whew, I think that catches things all up.  Will have some other things to show and share soon.  Until then, what's in the works at your place?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hooray for MAPP!

Look what arrived at my front door today...
I think it's amusing that it says it includes "real glass rods" as if there are imititation glass rods out there.

Here's what was inside the kit...

The most exciting piece for me here is the new torch head!  It means I get to use MAPP gas which burns a whole lot hotter and a whole lot cleaner than the propane I have been using. 

And here are the things I did with this new arrival today...
First up, test on iron beads with enamel.  The bead on the left is with my new torch, the one on the right was made with my old torch, same color enamel.  Big difference don't you think, this alone was worth the purchase.

Next I had to try some tube beads with enamel, you may remember I had some really muddy looking ones in another post.  These are so much better, orange is orange and not grey, and foxglove purple is just that, though this pic makes it look a little grey.

Then I had to try my hand at lampworking.  Shhhh, these beads are "resting" in their blanket so that they won't crack as they cool.  I will try to get some close ups tomorrow of these first wobbly attempts.  Feel free to laugh along with me some of these will not be pretty :).   I have always wanted to try lampwork beadmaking, we will see where it takes me in the coming days.

These came out so wonky I didn't even let them rest in the blankets with the others, LOL.  I will save them to remind me of what not to do in the future!

Made these today before the new torch arrived.  Propane is fine for firing from underneath.  These are some pieces i'm working on for a show this Saturday.

Made this guy for a bracelet for the boy today.  He requested it when he saw all the Jacks I was making.  One eye is a little off but he loves it.  Have to remember to post the rest of the pupmkin patch soon.

Hope you are having a happy and creatively productive week. I will try to keep you posted with pics the next few days, but as I mentioned earlier I am in some last minute production for a show on Saturday, so the posts will probably be long on pics and short on words like this one.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Happier days are coming!

I took a quick moment before dinner last night to finish this guy up .  His name is Happy Jack and as I looked at him today I decided he has inspired a series of lil Jack's.  He is just slightly larger than a penny but I think he has a lot of heart.  Halloween has always been my favorite holiday and fall my favorite season.

Today after I blogged out my sadness I took my aviation snips in hand and cut these pendants out of 24g copper sheet.  Then I hammered the heck out of 'em!  Of course they are finished in a variety of torch-fired enamels.  What's better than fire and hammers to work out your emotions?

Here are some close ups of the leaves:




Hmmm...maybe I need to make some more of these pendants for upcoming shows.

Happy fall to you all!

A life remembered and more importantly, celebrated

Warning: This is not as lighthearted as most of my posts.

On Friday, my father passed away.  Emotionally, my plate was already a little full, and this overflowed it.  Over the days that followed our family gathered to remember his life and more importantly, celebrate it.  Call us strange but we also celebrated his passing.  It might help to understand that our father's mental health has been in steady decline for over two decades.  Dementia struck this incredibly intelligent man much earlier than anyone would expect.  My Daddy, and yes at 43 I still call him Daddy, was an incredible person and it was painful for all of us to watch him slip away over all those years. My siblings and I were all in agreement that we had already grieved his loss for years, but death is final.  The days that followed made me realize that I had not already healed from losing him.  I can only describe it this way, it was a like a wound that had nearly healed, scabbed over and nearly scarred, but his passing and the days that followed ripped that wound open and made it painful all over again.   

My siblings and some of my father's siblings gathered together and shared our stories of him, many that somehow I had never heard before.  We shared our grief and pain of those last 20 plus years that we watched him slip away from us.  There were tears and there was laughter.  Thankfully the laughter was far more plentiful than the tears.  My siblings and I were the same way when we lost our mother several years ago.  I almost felt sorry for the other people in the ICU waiting room who had to listen to us laugh, knowing we were all there with loved ones in the most dire medical conditions.  But that's just how we deal with things, few tears and more laughter.  My parents were Christians and believed in the afterlife, surely there was something better waiting for them on the other side of their suffering.  We try not to dwell on their final painful days, which in my father's case were actually years and instead celebrate the part of their lives that were truly lived.  We try to remind ourselves that without a little sorrow one cannot know real joy, and that life is short so make the most of every moment you have.

During the funeral yesterday, my brother stood to talk about our father and his famous phrases we had all heard growing up, and the meaning of them.   He addressed all of our spouses too, and offered explanation of why my father's kids may be stubborn etc, but that we were also loyal etc and that all those qualities were learned from living our lives with our parents. It was the most beautiful memorial any of us had ever heard, and again there was laughter and a few tears.

In an earlier post I talked about the importance of making time to be with "your people".  After a lunch together yesterday following the funeral, my Uncle Paul stood and addressed the party, he said that same thing in different words.  Life is short, make time for the people who are important to you, hold hands not grudges.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Bead Giveaway at Inspiration & Collaboration

Oooh the beady goodness that is coming our way via a new collaborative effort between Genea and Artisan Accents!  Head on over to Inspiration & Collaboration for a sneak peek of what this dynamic duo will be offering to the bead community on Sept. 21.  While you are there be sure to read the rules and enter to win a set of these beads before they are even offered for sale!

Here is the gorgeous set they are giving away!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

I WON, and a fun swap about to happen...

The other day my fired up gal pals over at the Painting with Fire ning, told me about another bead chat group on Facebook.  The Creative Bead Chat page is just a bustling hive of beading awesomeness, I encourage you to get on over there and join the fun.

The day after my jewelry pal Lynnea invited me over there, they had a day to honor their admins.  This is well deserved recognition I must say, as this is a huge group. In addition, they had a giveaway of 11 prizes, and I WON one of them!  This was a very welcome bright spot in what has otherwise been one of those crappy weeks that life sometimes throws your way.  I won a stash of beads from Lisa Lodge of Pine Ridge Treasures.  Be sure to visit her shop and you can also find her blog (which I have been following for awhile) here. Here is the pic, I can't wait to see it in person, and start making some lovely fall inspired pieces with it.  I see at least one necklace, 2 bracelets and several pairs of earrings in there!

In other news, Suburban Girl Studio is doing a real cool art bead swap in which you make mismatched earrings using art beads.  I'm going to join in on the fun to try and stretch my creativity.  While I am not a very matchy matchy person, I often have difficulty creating asymmetric jewelry and am hoping this will help.  If you want to play along too, just click on Suburban Girl above to see all the rules and how to enter.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Works in progress...and a finish

As promised here is what has been happening in my studio this week.  Some of the pics aren't the best quality but I think you will get the idea.  Weather was a lil less than cooperative, and one got finished after dark so it wasn't taken in that lovely natural light.  Someday, I hope to have a light box for better indoor photography.

This first piece is a set of links for a "story board" bracelet.  This was inspired by my friend Linda Rheault overon the Painting with Fire ning.  She has done some really lovely ones with liquid enamels.  Mine was done with a combo of sgraffito and wet packing to "paint".  My links are far less realistic looking than I would have liked, but I will keep practicing.  It is called "Northwoods" (wonder where I came up with that?).  The links are supposed to be 2 branches of white pine, cattails, pine trees and a robin's nest.

These are some tube beads I played with this week.   My 6/20 mesh enamel came in and it really builds your bead much fatter, much faster.  It is still a bit of a process though and takes several minutes per bead to build them up nice and plump like the one on the right.  The tubing is copper and slightly smaller than refrigeration tubing.  6/20 mesh enamel is sort of finally crushed glass.  I need to play a bit more to figure out and solve why my colors are going "muddy" with this technique.  The top one with the stripe shoud actually be a vibrant orange.  the stripe is a thin piece of glass that I belive are called "cat whiskers".

Headpinus Gigantucus, also know as Giant Headpin.  OK, not as giant as it could be, but this was an experiment I will be working more with this week too.  It is 18 g copper wire that was balled on the end with a torch.  Then a few coats of 80 mesh enamel to make it "sticky".  then added some of the 6/20 to see if one could build bigger headins like you would build bigger beads.  Now we will have to see just how big I can get them without cracking :).

These are of the finally finished "Painted Daisies" bracelet.  I had originally finished it with fiber to go around the wrist, looked at it for over a week that way and still wasn't pleased so today I redid it.  This finish is foxtail (or full persian) chainmaille.  I cut my own jumprings for the first time for this, they are made from 19g dark annealed steel.  I don't mind making my own rings but really need to get a saw to cut them apart so that they will close more smoothly.

That's what I have for you for today.  I have some ideas rolling around my brain for tutorials.  Once our "outside" weather is finished and the garden is put to bed for winter, I will try to get those up for anyone who may be interested.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Back to school and back to the studio

There have been many things going on in my life lately and few of them have involved creativity or studio time.  I won't bore or sadden you with the details.  I will say only this, if you or someone you know lives with or has a mental illness do your best to be kind and not judge.  What can look perfectly fine on the outside can be an absolute tornado on the inside and behind closed doors. 

This weekend however, we were again blessed to be able to spend a few days at my aunt and uncle's lakeside cottage to relax and recharge.  It was WONDERFUL!  Good people, weather, food and boating.  Hubby and I slept in a tent, though there was room in the cottage on a "real" bed. Our thought was that this is probably the last chance to sleep out before the long western NY winter ahead.

Today was my son's first day of middle school.  It's odd how just moving up a grade seems to have matured him somehow.  Mind you, we have K through 12 in one school so it's not as if he has had to change venue.  But somehow it seems to have made him older and more responsible (for the time being anyway).

Back to school for him meant back to the studio guilt free and uninterrupted for me.  It was so good to wield the hammer and fire up the torch again!  I have a few works in progress and weather permitting I will try to post some photos for you all tomorrow.

Hope you all had a joyous and satisfying summer and are looking forward to fall as much as I am.