Sunday, December 28, 2008

Good Clean Fun

Last year (or maybe it was two – yikkes!), a wonderful beadmaker – Bethany Adams - Gwacie Beads – gave me a little present at the Winter Wonders Bead Show. She’s a gem of a person and fantastic artist. Without her I would not have the banner I so wanted for my Etsy site (as she was the wonder woman who fixed my flaws!). What Bethany gave me was a treat for my shower and something that has been fun to do with the kids I work with and to give as gifts over the holidays.

Everyone likes to have a little “somethin’ somethin’’ for the shower or bath. The winter’s here in Michigan are cold and skin drying. Instead of using a scrubbie to exfoliate, I now use a felt covered soap bar. I thought you might enjoy the directions for this fun project.

It’s really very easy and even young children enjoy making them with help (you have to be careful with the hot water). For a young child I cut the bar in half and round the edges with a butter knife so the felt goes on smoothly. It also makes it a lot easier for youngsters to hold the bar while attaching the felt. Bonus, it’s also easier for them to use in the tub….smaller size and doesn’t slip away!

For this project you'll need:
1. A bar of lathery soap (I’ve used just plain old Ivory with great success!)
2. Some raw wool - often called "roving" (available on or Google Roving)
3. Hot water
4. A washboard, or ribbed mat of some sort (optional) - I used a sushi-rolling mat.
5. I've heard other people use the ribbed top of a Tupperware-type container. It's not required, but it does seem to help speed the process.
6. The bottom of an old pair of pantyhose or knee-highs (likewise, optional) - These too aren't required, but they do seem to help keep the wool more evenly distributed around the soap. I use this constantly and it is the easiest way to keep the wool in position as you scrub the wool down to size.

Making a Felted Bar of Soap

Pull some wool from your package and fluff it up – lay the pull pieces together so you have a rectangle that it is about as thick as a normal washcloth (not the “Martha” thick kind – you know the kind, those cheapie Walmart 2 dozens in a package). It will take some experimentation to find the right amount of wool to use to make the thickness of felt that you like.

You’ll need a least two lengths and often more. Each layer doesn’t have to be super thick or cover the bar completely. As long as the layers alternate and eventually cover the entire bar. Wrap the wool around the soap, both lengthwise and widthwise so that the bar is completely covered. I wrap mine as tight as I can because once you wet it down it’s going to become temporarily loose.

Yes, it's going to feel baggy and loose and you'll wonder how this is EVER going to work! You can layer colors together, or just add a stripe of a contrasting color. Experiment! I have used all kinds of colors and they all look great.

Wet the Bar

When the bar is completely wrapped, begin to slowly dribble hot water onto the bar. Get it completely wet, but not drenched.

At this point, the soap and wool will look like a wet cat. Gently begin to massage the soap and wool together. Be careful not to be too rough at this stage or you'll expose the soap underneath. I am very careful at this point and I kind of pat the felt down to the bar and squeeze out any excess water.

Note: If you are going to use the stocking (I use knee high panty hose) this is where I carefully put the soap into the toe of the panty hose. I take the excess stocking and pull it all up tight to bar and tie it in a removable slip knot so I can use the knew high over and over.

Wool Shrinking - Soap Lathering

As you massage the bar, dribble more hot water onto it. (I often have a bowl of very hot water and I dip the bar - stocking and all - with a slotted spoon into the hot water). Using very hot water seems to speed things along. The soap will start to lather up through the wool, and the wool will begin to shrink and form to the bar of soap.

Keep gently massaging the bar, dribbling (or dipping and squeezing) more water onto it every once in a while. I also gentling roll the bar in my hands as if I were washing them with the soap.

Rub a Dub Dub

Once the wool has started to shrink and conform to the soap, you can really start rubbing. This is where to use your washboard, sushi mat, felting mat or other ribbed surface. Rub the soap on the mat - making sure that you get all sides, including the edges. This will really get the wool fibers to knit together. Wool fibers actually have little barbs on them and you are literally linking and catching them together.

Note: The ribbed surface is not required - it just speeds things up - you can get the wool to felt just by hand, it will just take a while.

Check the Felting Process

After you've rubbed for a while, check the progress of the felting by dribbling some more hot water on it to wash off the lather. You'll notice that the wool has really tightened up and formed a case around the soap.

Blot - Let it Dry - Use It!

Once the wool has completely formed around the bar of soap and isn't shrinking any more, you're done. Gently rinse (this where being in that stocking really helps) and blot the bar of soap on a washcloth and set it up to dry. I remove it from the stocking at this point and usually leave mine to dry on a piece of plastic by the heat register. I also find that the soap will last longer if I let it dry out very thoroughly before I use it.

Note: Don't be disappointed by the lathering of the felted bar the first time you use it in the shower. After the felting process is done and you've let the bar dry, it takes a little while for the lather to come back through the felt. But once it does, it's wonderful.

Make a ton of soapy fun this winter and keep clean and warm : - )

Disclaimer: And, so sorry folks – that’s not my hand. My mat looks like that though. Strickly ‘Martha Stewart’ from Kmart, hahaha. This is a repurposed and rewritten piece from a ton of sources and experience. Way to much like college and I ought to have a bibliography at the end. But, it’s soap...and it’s good clean fun!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Beads

I thought maybe I might show you a few of the beads I've made this season. These had been set aside over the past four months to make some jewelry. Sorry about the blurry photo - I think I forgot all the rules about depth of field. Holiday beads are fun to make and I can't wait to start on the Valentine themed ones. Maybe soon.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

ToP TeN FuN things to do in an Emergency room

1. Poke fun at the “clone/s”. They’re the wannabe’s. You know…I wannabe a doctor so please tell me your story so I can go and try and repeat what you said to the wannabe resident doctor who wants to be the attending doctor who wants to be the genuine article and the last person in the hospital food chain. They’re all genuine and work hard but I still enjoy the deer in the headlights look when you explain what is going on with your body.
2. See which size of the Kimberly-Clark Sterling Nitrile Powder-Free Exam Gloves (isn’t that a mouthful) fits. My size: Medium
3. Take a nap – Oh yeah, sure – About the time you’ve given up on expecting that they’ll come to your curtained cell and you close your eyes someone comes in to ask you an important question. It's difficult to answer with spittle in the corner of your mouth.
4. Stay quiet and listen to the “life trauma” going on around you.
5. Count the empty specimen jars in the bin on the wall. Ponder the number your bladder could fill, if full : - ).
6. Pick the dog hair, deposited by the three stooges at home, off your fleece shirt. Why the hell didn’t I notice I looked like a hairball this morning?
7. Start a hash list ( llll ) and keep track of the number of times Housekeeping is called to go and clean something up! I keep wondering what it is.
8. Sing to yourself. Be brave, and sing out loud because you might get some really good medication. My favorite tonight has been “Doctor, doctor give me the news – I got a bad case of lovin’ you”.
9. Read a magazine or book – You were smart enough to pack one, right?

Interesting (or NOT) thought about nurses. Traditionally nurses were always female, as were stewardesses. But when they hired males why did they get a new title? First the boys were called “steward” and then they all became flight attendants. Why the new designation? I mean why did someone think it so generic a noun (nurse) that when males joined the ranks it wasn’t worth changing! I’m thinking it was some committee of doctors who figured they deserved all the titles (Internist, Surgeon, and Dermatologist). Why wouldn’t everyone in their universe be referred to by some non-descriptive gelding driven adjective or noun?

They put a Greenfield Filter in my hubby’s leg. You Michigander’s are going to recognize this pun….Does this mean we get a free pass to the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village? Or is he going to go off like a bomb or bell – Bata boom, Bata, bing – when we visit? Do we get a prize? We were at Henry Ford Hospital after all.

10. You can collect a list of famous hospital lines:

  • This might hurt a little, feel cold, hot, pinch, sting.
  • Just a little poke.
  • Alright _____, I’ll be back to see how you’re doing…

”Hi my name is_____________, and I’m here to_____________.”

Really people, you’re nice and all and just doing your job but why don’t you just say, “HI, I’m your Phlebotomist” It’s not like I need to know the first name of everyone in the hospital Besides, I always think - What’s good for the goose is good for gander. So why isn’t the doctor coming in and introducing himself by his/her first name? Why stand on all of that formality after you ordered all the poking and prodding. And, IF you “gotta’ be all that” just give me your employee number, do your job, and move on. But then again, maybe if everyone used first names and came over for dinner once in awhile you’d think twice about how you actually treated them when they were in your “care”. What a concept, huh?

Actually my very favorite line as of last night is this: “Where does it hurt?” I heard countless people (attending physicians, senior physicians, nurses, aids, house physicians, (ad infinitum), ask the same people in other curtained cells this question over and over and over.

Answer: I have a chart the size of Texas and you’re the fifteenth person to ask me the same damn questions. Isn’t that chart important? You have to send the stinking thing with me to every department I go to. Nurses live in fear they’ll forget it. So, why don’t you pick it up and read for yourself where I hurt. Then, you and I can have a MEANINGFUL conversation. Pick it up and read it – I’ll still be here when you’re done.

Ah, four hours later…………………and Doogie Howser from Neurology comes in. WTF! I mean it too! This squirt of a kid is going to someday operate on someone’s nervous system and I’m sitting here making him nervous with my questions. Once he handed me back a piece of paper I wrote my questions on and said that the house doctor (Is that Doctor House? – Woo Hoo, now we’ll get some answers) would answer all of those. Uh OH! Let me repeat myself, WTF. Okay Doogie, then here is something you can do for me. “Go fetch me the genuine article because I need someone old enough to have the keys to the cookie jar if you’re not allowed to answer the questions yet.” Do you think I got the deer in the headlights look then? Can you just see him slinking away? Tough – suck it up. If you can’t play by my rules then get out of my sandbox with your scalpel. I only do cute on Tuesdays – Saturday’s are tough.

Let’s see, I think I’m losing my sense of humor, nope, still in tact. It’s a tad on the sardonic side but alive and ticking. I've been wondering if I am channeling George Carlin. Maybe I can create a line of hospital beads. Hmmmmmm, lets make some preliminary sketches. Perhaps I’ll show you those sometime.

At about hour six things really got interesting. I started to wander, and it makes the clones even more nervous. I looked at the people in the other cells and nodded my head. We were all about the same age, give or take a decade. I kept imagining an uprising of the middle- aged captives.

I think I'll introduce you to my cell mates. There had beenf two across from us who used the same bed. Both of them were vomiters. One by illness and the other via an overdose of drugs – they gave him charcoal in a tube. I don’t think he had to worry about the drugs. His mother looked like I’d look in that situation. Kitty corner was interesting. The clones kept going into this one guy’s room and doing the repetitive question thing. Once, when the king of the clones was in the cell he asked the poor man when it was he drank last. The man looked up at them and seemed puzzled. He answered that he drank that morning. The clone had to rephrase the question. Point for homeless drunk guy! On the other side was a moaner, then a whiner, and there was a screamer down the hall. I think the clones had their hands full – we were definitely winning. I began to tire of the game and decided I wanted to take my sandbox shovels and go home.

I actually amuse pretty easily. I’m an only child and can play endlessly with absolutely zip. I love airports and big lobbies. They’re interesting and full of people buzzing about. We, us and our collectivve cellmates, were stagnating and starting to smell (I know the drunk did because he couldn’t make it to the bathroom and used a bed pan - Oh Lord help me). “Yo, brother from another mother, been here an hour without a visit”. Hello out there? (I heard an echo – where’d they go?). Oh for Pete’s sake. And then I saw it. They called in reinforcements and they were briefing them too. The clone shift changed and in came the new recruits. They came to the curtained cells and it started all over. “Hi, my name is Doctor First Year Student. I bet you’re ready to get discharged.” Now that was the freakin’ understatement of the year!

My friends know that at this point I would consider this cheerful new face the first victim in a competition of wits I was not about to lose. Send in all the fresh replacements you want. Think fried green tomatoes – “Face it girls. I’m older and I have more insurance!” I thrust the questions into Dr. First Year’s face. “Be glad to, but first you’re going to have to have to answer some questions.” It was high noon at the OK Corral. He began to read them. I was confused (for a millisecond!). He began to read them aloud and answer them. Cool Beans First Year. Then he made the fatal volley, “I’ll go get your discharge papers.” Nope!! Whoa, hold on there Tonto. Your Lone Ranger here needs an answer to question number one. “Stop right there!”I shrieked. “Yes, Madam, is there something else I can do?” Stupid, stupid boy! “Ah huh, you missed a question,” I raised a brow and looked over my glasses. Slowly he turned around, cleared his throat, and read it aloud. Deer in the headlights – prey for the middle aged – boy toy doctor. “Yes, that’s it – go ahead – answer that one.”

“I can’t”, he said. I knew that (I thought quietly). You see, at that point I just wanted to make him say it out loud. Admit that he, his colleagues, and minions could not figure out why my DH’s ankle and leg were swollen. It’s like a game of chess. You strategize, play the game, and go in for the kill – CHECKMATE!

It wasn’t a wasted day. I already knew the answer to the question. Exhausting, but not wasted. What I do know for sure is that whatever caused his tootsies to swell was NOT life threatening. We had the test results to prove it. All things considered, on our 12 week roller coaster ride, this was not the worst day. No new blood clot, no infection. “See your family doctor and don’t forget your follow up with your Neurosurgeon.” I let him have that one.

Eight Hours – Fifteen Minutes.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Long Time No Post

Just to past on a goodie, a super beadmaker and all around neat person has been featured on another great artists blog and I think maybe you ought to go and have a lookie loo at them both. It's Bella Bead's blog that you'll be going to, and Mallory Hoffman is the featured artist.

Here's the link: Bella Bead Jewelry by Linda

Monday, December 1, 2008

Santa is Coming!

I've been showing everyone what my customers are doing with the fun beads I make and today's entry is no exception. In fact, it's more like exceptional, but then I think all of my designers are! I love what Jodi did with the Santa Hat. How absolutely wonderful is this necklace? Not just because she used my hat but because it's such a cleaver use for it. I'd of never thought of that.

All of this artistic prowress is from Jodi Masington. She is Loopie Beads from Houston, Texas. She was hit by that recent hurricane in Texas and I just can't imagine how hard that must be to go through. I guess I shouldn't complain about the snow and slush here in Michigan. We are definitely living in Winter Wonderland. Ho Ho Ho!

By the way...have you been naughty or nice?????

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Talented Friends

Hey, how do you like the Ravens? I think they look wonderful on these earrings made by one of my customers. She certainly does a bead justice!

I am so honored to have some of the best customers in the world. Let me introduce you to one of them…Glamorosi. I have asked her in the past to send me links and photos of things she has created with my beads and she honored me once with a link. I did write something for the blog and then lost it when I was posting. A computer misfortune – remember me? – techno geek? This time I’ve managed to keep it all straight so I could show you her great blog and Etsy site.

She’s fun, she’s talented, and I think you’ll enjoy the links. Glam up!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Add a Gadget

You learn something new everyday......or what not to do. Today I clicked on a little something that explained where I can get some visual goodies to add to the blog. I thought everyone might enjoy looking at it (or acquiring some) so here is the link to the U-Tube explanation: Gadgets

Monday, November 24, 2008

Heavenly Child One

I'm about to receive a gift. All you beadmakers out there can just...


It's mine. It's a dream come true. An arbor press that had been retooled by the child genius to line my beads with tubes of silver. Oh, this is better than _ _ X. And you tool junkies know it, BAWAHAHAHAHA (wicked wicked laughter).

Well I admit, I haven't always referred to him that way. Let's see....when he was in grade school we had to visit the several teachers, several times. He bored easily. If we had been rich they'd of called him precocious, we weren't. In high school I thought we'd be visiting him in jail, or me in nearest sanitarium. College was PARRR-TEEEEE! He had these skills and smarts but at the time was steadfastly refusing to apply them to anything but "getting by".

Then along came Mary, (like the song - but her name is actually Emma) and his under stimulated brain came into focus. First, (following a college switch) he became a police officer, after obtaining that degree. A far cry from my panicked assessment of his high school potential. He was good at it! And, he took flying lessons, earned a pilots license, and purchased an airplane. He flew often and took his father and sister up one day together. I bet you hear my heart pounding as I watched from the ground, smiled, and nearly puked at the thought of things beyond my control which could hurt the three of them in one foul swoop. I was forever grateful when it landed and knew his brother wouldn't end up an only child.

Life was good, he married Emma. Slowly he bloomed and I got a beautiful, precious, and precocious granddaughter (he has been to her grade school) and he returned to college. Look out world. He graduated with very high honors and a lofty goal - law school. Focused ? More like "in the zone!" Published in the Law Review, clerked for a Federal Judge, and worked at a very good Detroit Law firm specializing in employment law. Left that firm this year to begin his own. Slowly, but surely, it grows too. To occupy that mind over the past several years he turned to restoring motorcycles - he's good at that too! Restored a 1979 Harley and it looks great and runs great. Another sits and is waiting in the wings. He was always mechanical and loves the hunt for the parts to add to his restorations.

Now with a Mom like me, who could by all definition be also called precocious, I like having one son for lawyer and another for a social worker. One can bail me out (figuratively/ not literally, yet) and the other counsel me for my lack of remorse about my behavior. And to boot I have this great daughter, a beautiful geek who can fix my computer when she has a mind to (that precocious gene runs amok in this family). Everyone got it but the social worker - a genetic gift to give me relief from the occasional intensity of the other two. I know I'm a lucky ducky. I didn't always hit a home run as a parent but it wasn't for a lack of good intention, if not skill.

And now I have a bead your heart out Jim Moore. Precocious is a good thing!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Friends and Artists

Hi everyone! Just a shortie note from me here. DH had some extensive back surgery so I have been out of touch but I wanted to drop this wonderful pearl in your lap. I'm introducing you to a great bead artist and designer named Janel Gradowski. She has written some great pieces (how to) for several of our favorite bead mags. I think you'll like her - and her blog. So step right in and introduce yourselves. Here you go ----- It's Janels Jumbles.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Viking Knit Endings

Every now and then someone contacts me concerning how I end my Viking Knit pieces. I try to remember to send them this photo but sometimes I forget. So for anyone wondering how to do that I'm posting it here.

I have done it several different ways. One way is that I make my own end caps out of silver tubing that fits. I measure the end of the knit with a set of calipers (we all know how I love those) and then order tubing with an inside diameter that will fit the bracelet. I then cut off lengths for the ends/ solder them to plate and hand finish them.

Sometimes you just have to do things the hard way!

More often than not though I order end caps. The caps shown in the photo are from Heather Ferman. She has these in many different types of metal and they are a fantastic fit for the ends of the knit.

You take and run a wire through some of the loops and secure it tightly. It doesn't have to be perfect or really pretty (you're going to cover it). I generally use 22 gauge half hard wire for this. Once it's secured I pull the cap over it and make my ending loop. To this I add jump rings and a clasp and it's all done. Happy Knitting.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Funny!

This came today from my friend Lillian Rogers. I thought I'd pass it on. This way so all of you could have a laugh too. Our friend "L" has what we refer to as 'Lillianisms.' These are handy things we remember that bring us untold joy when we are traveling with husbands in the car. Like "Never feed the driver, or the car will never stop." She tells us of a tale where her and her beloved "W-A" (can you tell she's a Texan?) were on a trip and she had packed some food in a cooler in the backseat. She needed to use the bathroom and W-A kept putting off stopping. Finally he asked for a snack - she feigned being unable to reach the cooler and they finally left the road. And so she developed a be sure you say it with a great Texan accent and it will bring a smile to your face every time you're in the car. Oh, and don't pack many snacks either! So here is the 'funny' she sent............

The last line is priceless.......

Three men were hiking through a forest when they came upon a large raging, violent river.

Needing to get to the other side, the first man prayed: 'God, please give me the strength to cross the river.

'Poof! ... God gave him big arms and strong legs and he was able to swim across in about 2 hours, having almost drowned twice.

After witnessing that, the second man prayed: 'God, please give me strength and the tools to cross the river

'Poof! ... God gave him a rowboat and strong arms and strong legs and he was able to row across in about an hour after almost capsizing once.

Seeing what happened to the first two men, the third man prayed: 'God, please give me the strength, the tools and the intelligence to cross the river

'Poof! ... He was turned in to a woman. She checked the map,Hiked one hundred yards up stream and walked across the bridge.


'If at first you don't succeed, do it the way your wife told you!'

Saturday, October 25, 2008

How Long Have I Been Here?

I was breezing around the Internet and found a new widget. I love technology when it cooperates. It often doesn't when you're a techno-weenie. This one was pretty fun so I included it in the blog. Now you can tell what time it is while you're reading this blog. If you want a clock for blog/web or desktop here's the quick link:


Times a ticking.....tic toc.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I Was Checking Myself Out in the Mirror....

And....I still think I look great from the back! Plus, I have a few new listings on Etsy for everyone to check out!

And the Wings "SCCCOOOORRRRRRRRREEEEE". I actually look more like the guy in the Red Wings Jersey. But who's looking from the front when I have such a great rear view? Can you guess my favorite sport?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fifteen Minutes of Fame (Again)

I'm guessing this might make it a total of a half an hour this year. Whoo, I am stoked. I hope I can add this to my blog because I'm not sure how you capture a window so maybe I haven't and I'd like to show you what happened. So here goes:

Life Buzz -- Necklace
Featured in the Nov/Dec issue of Bead Trends Magazine!!

There is nothing as intoxicating as life. No chemical could ever reproduce the elixir of "moments".. Like when you laugh so hard that your face turns red and you don't think you will ever be able to stop. Or when you step off a plane and into a terminal and catch the first glimpse of a smile from someone you have been anxiously waiting to see. Or when you pass a house whose garden is so breath taking and colorful, you u-turn 3 times to get a closer look. Or when you put on an outfit that is so stunning you feel as if you could take over the world. Even if your "moments" come from different origins than mine, you know what I'm talking about..

This necklace is 100% life buzz, a soul cocktail. I made one of these "orb" shapes on a whim for a previous pair of earrings and have not been able to stop. Something about the forming of the individual circles, paying close attention to make one of them slightly smaller in diameter than the other, and after soldering them, sliding them within each other to fit perfectly gave me the hugest buzz!! Each "orb" link is very sturdy because the circles were hammered and hammered around a steel mandrel and then soldered together and to each other, they will not misshape! In between the orbs are stacks of lampwork glass disc beads made by Sharon of rightturnartwerks of etsy.. She made these beads just for me, in all of my favorite colors.. Sharon I need MorE!! It closes with a hand crafted hook clasp and 3 linked circles so you can adjust the length. Necklace can be worn between 17" and 18.75". All components are sterling silver..

Added on Oct 22, 2008
Here is a link to her total Etsy Site! You're going to love what she does with jewlery. It's fresh and different.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tagged, I'm It!

Tag is a blogger's game, which is similar to the kids' game we played so many zillion years ago. Here's how the cyber-version of tag works;

1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by including links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs.

7 Things about me that you may or may not know.

1. I used to manage a McDonalds (uck!).
2. I used to be a pretty good shot with a gun - my Dad taught me. Good artist = Good hand
to eye coordination.
3. My feet are wide - like flippers! : - D.
4. I sing loud and badly in the car when I am alone.
5. I work with delinquents and gang kids - all substance abusers. Oh, and I like my job.
6. I'm quiet 90% of the time.
7. I love popcorn.

Here is the list of the people that I have tagged. Well, actually there is no list. Everyone I could think of tagging has been tagged before. I know, it's a bummer. But rather than just let the tag sit there being unanswered I decided to play by sharing my seven things and just saying a "Hello Everyone out there!" and I love you open-minded blogging taggers out there. So, please go ahead and share some more about yourselves. You're great/ you're wonderful/ and I love reading your blogs, seeing your beads, your artwork, your kids, your animals, and everything else you care and dare to share. (((Hugs))) Sharon

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hen-rietta's New Hat

HAHAHAHAHA! Sharon made a funny. This is, of course, Henrietta. She raises chickens and is thinking they’re just the greatest thing ever. Her favorite chick is the Rhode Island Red Hen. In fact, she loves that chicken so much she decided to wear it to church last Sunday. You can imagine the stares they endured…but Henrietta stood her ground and was as “happy as a hen” with her new millinery. She’s thinking maybe next week she might give Ricky the Rooster a chance to attend Sunday service. After all, he always insures she’s on time!

That's the write up I'm going to put with this new sugar skull on Etsy. The skulls are getting more and more complicated...and more and more fun.

Thank the powers that be that this bead wasn't in the kiln when I had my "blow out". Well, nothing actually blew up - it melted. I included a picture of my mess and I'm blaming it all on menopause. It's probably more like I'm doing too much and got distracted after I turned the kiln back up to high to hit that all important annealing temperature one additional time. Now why would I think I needed to do that? Duh, heck if I know...but I did.

Then I promptly turned around to go and fold some laundry and left the kiln running and running...........running................and.........running..............and running...............and heating...........for the next seven hours (overnight).

Luckily I go down every morning early, before work, to check how I did the evening before. And again, luckily, I am a safe person when I set things up. So, under that kiln and against that wall is heat protection made to withstand a wood stove. The kiln was over 2000 degrees and had maxed out when I caught it. Nice to know I could throw pottery and then glaze it in that tiny kiln but what a mess I made. The glass melted and dripped below the kiln shelf (on which I had put some fiber board for cushion for heavy beads) and on to the bottom fire brick. Probably a good thing I had coated that long ago with kiln wash. As it was I had to dig some clumps out of the brick and scrape glass off the shelf where the board hadn't protected it.

Tonight's beads came after my clean up and putting kiln wash on everything again. Nothing major in the way of great - no skulls. Just a retest on that kiln which took a lickin' and kept on ticking. Who'd of thunk! Go Jen-Ken.

Oh, and Ms. Mallory Hoffman tagged me....I'm thinking I'm it! I'm going to her blog to figure it out and be "it" for awhile. I could use a good it after the melt. Or maybe find a hen for my head...or Rhode Island Red for the next fun dye job since my pink is now faded to a memory.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

What's Your Secret?

As per my usual routine when I'm pooped I start cruising around the Internet for interesting stuff. On the first page of my search I found something interesting AND arty. I think I may have stumbled on it before and didn't remember it or maybe I read it about it somewhere. Either way, I thought I'd pass it on. What a cool concept this is. Send a postcard - give up your secret. Go there and look for yourself because they're really great and most of them are very cleaver: Post Card Secrets

Secrets...what would I tell if no one would find out? WOW! Whoa...ummmm, slept with a rock star (NOT!). I'm not sure I'm brave enough to tell secrets. I've never played Truth or Dare either. I did play spin the bottle at teen parties. Sounds kind of lame and tame.

Truth, I've been sitting here tapping the keys and trying to think of something I'd share. I'm sure there is some weird quirk somewhere. Actually, there are tons of those, truth. I don't care for phones, but love computers....oh, I know (light bulb moment). Something no one knows (not even BFF). I once threw a Royal typewriter at the refrigerator and put a dent in it. Long , long, long story.

What's your secret?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Darn, Shucks, Drats, 9834uifvkaspjnv u7rf&*^W#$HJ!!!!!!!!!!!

How absolutely annoying when this happens. I have this great skull to post and after I photograph it I see the "line". Oh you know... the line....the crack...the zip up the bead you love so much.

Despite the obvious flaw that will send it to a ditch or land fill somewhere for a future generation to find I thought I would post it here because I like the way he turned out. Gold tooth, patch, roaming eye ball.

So today I will make Johnny #2 and be thankful for great quality control!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Ring a Ding Ding!

I recently instructed another great group of women at Anne Sturdevant’s shop, the “Bead Weasel” in Midland, Michigan. It was a soldering class. It’s delightful it is to teach students who already have some knowledge of soldering and don’t mind being given a great detail of information to sift through. It was a refresher for all who were there. This is not a project oriented situation and because I had knowledgeable students I was able to bring extra information and projects. I loved showing them how to make my standard “safety pin “earrings and some solutions to various solder issues that have arisen for them.

One of the issues nearly everyone has is cutting the appropriate length of ring stock needed to make a particular size. Let’s see, there is the wrap a string/paper/tape around your finger method. And that can work pretty well if the ring is for you. But what if you want to make a standard size 7 set of stack rings, or a wide band for someone who wears that size? Each of those situations would require a slightly different length even though they are both for the same size. A wider band needs more length or it will not fit the finger properly. Yeah, I know, it feels complicated.

A long time ago I saved a chart and some information that would help me with just this issue so I am posting it here so everyone will be able to use this guide to help them when they want to make a ring. As is often the case when we are making rings it is also good to remember that you are likely (99.9%) going to have to put it on a ring mandrel and round it up with a mallet. In doing so it is going to make the ring a smidgen larger – a lot larger. It is an easy fix to make something a tad larger than smaller after all your soldering and hard work, so keep that in mind as you are creating your shank. I have had to recreate many a ring when I neglected to take this and the width of the band into account when I was cutting a shank.

Ring Sizing Chart

Getting ring sizes right:The easiest way to get a ring sized right is to cut the stock or wire to the right size to begin with! It's easy once you know the size you are targeting. The formula is :
(Inner Diameter Of Ring + width of shank) X PI. PI is a constant 3.142.
The width of 18 ga wire or flat stock is 1mm. The following chart shows the inner diameter of the various ring sizes:
5 -- 15.7mm
6 -- 16.5mm
7 -- 17.3mm
8 -- 18.2mm
9 -- 18.9mm
10 -- 19.8mm
11 -- 20.6mm
12 -- 21.3mm
13 -- 22.2mm
So -- if you wanted to make a size 8 ring with 18ga round wire you would cut (18.2mm + 1mm X 3.14 or 60.3mm of wire and make a circle and solder.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Powerful Woman's Motto

Live your life in such a way that when

your feet

hit the floor in the morning, Satan

shudders and

says....."Oh Shit .... she's awake!"

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

HEY! I got a bingo here!

This is to much fun for words. I'm not terribly political...I vote, but I will widely admit to having ADD with many things. Politics tend to be one of them. When I didn't watch the first debate some people I work with were just appalled. Sorry about that but I like to be entertained or torching. So here I am cruising around the web and I find what may be a solution to my inability to find the debates entertaining enough to pay attention.

I love this!!! It's political bingo for the debates and was created by Bob Staake. You can download these great Lingo cards for you and your friends from his site and play bingo during the debates, Presidential and Veep. When the candidate says the "buzz" word during the debate just cross it off. Get your Lingo cards and play along: Lingo Bingo. What the heck, if it gets me to watch (or you) and provides that much needed entertainment factor I'm yearning for then all the better.
And, don't forget to yell it out - "BINGO"

Monday, September 29, 2008

Why is there no torch here for Pete's Sake!

Yikes, waning posts to my blog! I better get on this ASAP. I thought you might like to see where I am when I am not behind that torch. I figure they need some torches and oxygen there so I can "show the clients" how to work with glass. Maybe get a little production going....oh yeah, big fantasy plan there folk!. No fire, no torch, nothing sharp (we use kindergarten scissors!). Mostly I think we use those because the staff might decide to go "postal" on themselves. Just kidding, but it can get draining. That's me in the window. Little Sharon Pumpkin Head.

We do have a beautiful view of a small lake that is surrounded by mostly swamp and backwater from the big lake. We are also having major problems with beavers who keep building these huge dams at a small inlet and it causes the lake levels to rise so so much we can't use the baseball field because our lower field floods. The kids enjoy going out in canoes with the Department of Natural Resources though a tearing the dam down. Bears, beavers, Eagles, spring swans, deer, coyote, fox, we get it all around there because we are covered by so much state land around us.

Also is a photo of my "nest". It's the power station of the building and usually filled with kids. We are not allowed to take photos of the kids - would be really unethical. It's a shame because they LOVE to have photos of themselves but rules are rules. I tease them about one of them getting famous and I'm already putting in my request for a Volvo full sized station wagon loaded with worker types will never get that kind of money! And if I don't get my Volvo I'm going straight to "Entertainment Tonight" and the tabloids. They laugh at me.

That's all for now folks/ or people (did you know they are also gang references?). Ah, the trivia I get to know and love...

Don't forget to check out the new Etsy listings. It seems I am still in full blown skull mode.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Calling All Resources...

As both a beadmaker and a metalsmith I find that having a broad range of resources for materials and tools very important. Often you have to play detective to locate an elusive object you need for a project. Here’s my list (not necessarily a complete one) of some of my favorite places to hunt out that missing tool, finding, or glass. I’ve made them active so you can just click and search for yourself. Happy hunting……

Metal, Tools, and Findings

David H. Fell & Co
Hauser and Miller
Hoover and Strong
Indian Jewelers Supply - Tools, metals, some beads and cabs
Micro Fasteners
Midland Tools - Specialty Jewelry Supplies
National Jewelry Supply
Nile Jewelry Supply
Otto Frei
Production Tool Supply
Pasternak Findings
Rio Grande
Ross Metals
SEP Jewelry Tools of Chicago, Inc.

Glass, Tools, Presses, etc.

ABR Imagery
Arrow Springs
Frantz Art Glass
Olympic Color
Glass Daddy – Lausha Glass
Wale Apperatus

Informational Resources:

Lampwork, etc. (A wonderful resource of people and vendors)
Warm Glass (ditto above)
ISGB (International Society of Glass Beadmakers)
GAS (Glass Art Society)

If you have any others you'd like to add to the list just let me know...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Good Evening

Good Evening! I was going to list my Etsy listings here but I thought I’d only welcome you to the evening. Put on your best Transylvanian twang and say it ten times….”Good Evening”. I remember saying that when I used to watch the old Bela Legosi films of Dracula. It’s such a fun line to say. If you want to see the latest listing though just go to the Etsy Mini and click. You’ll find them there.

What I wanted to tell you about is this site you may have stumbled on if you are a paperback fan. It’s called Paperback Swap. For just the cost of postage you can swap out your books for more to read and if you’re addicted to them when your waiting around you might want to look here. It’s a pretty slick site and cost saving concept…for trees too. What are you reading lately? I’ve been listening to The Traveler’s Wife on the I-Pod (thanks to Susan for recording them for this tech weenie) and reading the Penland Book of Jewelry (such light fair!).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I'm Having Babies

I’m betting that this is my "thang", like for others its flowers or animals. For me though I’m guessing that one of things I will continually create is the skulls. They sure are one of the things I'm posting the most of lately. It could just be because Halloween is such a big holiday. Or maybe its because of Día de los Muertos. GO figure… it’s just going to stick.

The photo to the right is of the latest skulls. They were recently sold on Etsy but I’m making more. These are so cute and tiny…like babies of the big sugar skulls. Only 1/2 - 5/8"...teensy guys.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Eat Your Heart Out Handsome

Look at what I had for my birthday......

Yummy, yummy, yummy, I got love in my tummy!

This is another fine mess you’ve gotten us in to! No, not really but I love that line. I use it when my DH makes a wrong turn driving...and I get the look.

Not much to blog about today, and if you believe that I’ve got some great islands you can purchase off the coast of “Prudenville, New Caledonia”. I’ll put up a reserved post for you on Etsy and you can just pay me through PayPal.

It beautiful outside, the sun is shining and there is the crispness in the air that I love. I actually wouldn’t mind if this was pretty much the only weather we had. Is someone out there looking for the perfect place for me to retire? Oh, and it can’t have sharks…it’s not a long story. I just don’t like them. Last night my DH took me out for dinner and the blue plate special was of all things Mako Shark, flown in fresh from Hawaii. Oh yeah, Hawaii to Northern Michigan - a direct flight, didn't you know! And, you could have this with BBQ or Dill sauce. I'm wondering are they grown in a tank? Or milk fed? Have they been eating divers? Somehow this all seems a little strange to me. Do they have shark boats like crab boats, nets, cages, poles? And, since they are carnivores, I’m a little concerned about who or what they have eaten. Just a thought here! Needless to say, I did not deem it appropriate in any way to eat or taste a piece of shark. And if I’m ever near the ocean I’m hoping that rumor gets around the shark cooler and they decide I’m friendly, not tasty.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Art and Fear

I just bought a book to read because of a recommendation made on Lori Greenburg’s blog. Lori writes on a multitude of topics including the business of being an artist. She is concise, helpful, and knows of what she speaks. She is a working beadmaker.

The book is called Art and Fear – Observations of the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, by David Bayles & Ted Orland.

They ask the basic questions that matter. What is your art really about? Where is it going? And, what stands in the way of getting it there? It makes for interesting reading and inspiration.

Once, a young man I worked with when I first started my career as a Behavioral Specialist asked me a very poignant question. I had been struggling with a piece I was working on and had brought it in to work with me to ponder while I did other things. I often keep pieces that need some problem solving out where I can see them. They’re like the “first draft” of a book. Let’s see…make it bigger/ smaller/ more colorful/ orient the hole differently/ maybe if it were off mandrel…. Well this kid was watching me while I watched this bead (“Hey, stop that young man! I’m the one who does the observations”- I was thinking). Later he approached me and asked me that question, “Why are you so afraid to succeed?’ Wham-O, direct hit, right between the eyes.

From that point on I tried to adjust my viewpoint and broaden my vision. Why was I? It was something I needed to explore and address. Success is something I think we all need to reflect on. Include all of the ifs, ands, whys, and self-doubts and then go with your genuine feelings. Art for enjoyment, art for success, art because you can’t possibly conceive of life without it? What is it that’s driving you and how can you cast off those demonic shrouds of doubt hanging over your work relationship.

Heavy, huh?

I’m not sure if it’s heavy but I do know that often my own fears get in the way of my success and I plan to continue to work on that issue. I think this book is going to help speak to that part of me that gets in success’s way. One hundred twenty-two pages and I’ll be closer to the answers….I’m a work in progress too!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Flurry of Feet Photos!

Have you ever noticed how many people take photos of their feet and put them on their blog? I've been surfing and I'll tell you it's a bunch of them. A friend at work asked me if I wanted to go and get my toe nails done too. I'm not sure if they need it, what do you think?

This is me relaxing behind the fence at work!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Grab A Blinkie Free Blinkies

I made a discovery a while back, “Blinkies”. And since I move at a slightly slower pace than most of my techie friends I hadn’t been aware of them before. So I’m excited at my discovery but if you were already in the know you can just skip this post in my blog. And, if you aren’t (?) well continue reading. I’ve seen them before but I didn’t know what they were called. It’s a really an appropriate name and they’re fun, like the emotion cons you can get. Cool, another new widget. Blinkies are little banners with pictures or messages. The special thing about blinkies is that they blink. Some are really annoying that way. But, if you want to get some attention for something that’s important to you…like a sale at your store or a special cause celeb, then it might be just the thing to do!

There is an entire culture of blinkie collectors and makers on line. When I Googled "Free Blinkies" I found a plethora of sites to check.There are holiday, political, comic, even hobby ones. You can even make your own blinkie on some of the sites.

If you want to catch some blinkies for your sites here are a few that we visited that you can browse for yourself:
Most of them will allow you to copy the HTML code for your blog or web site so you can just paste it in rather than using the right click and “save as” a picture to your computer.

Blink On!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Sharon's Skulls Meet Designer, Cherie Smith

Skulls, skulls, skulls, I just love the holiday of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), and all of the symbolism surrounding it. What a wonderful way to celebrate the life of a loved one that has passed and to honor the history of one’s family. I’m Irish and Russian; we have wakes and what I adoringly call dirge music. The music is royally depressing but I try to keep an open mind about it. Personally, I think we should all create an altar and adorn it with sugar skulls, yellow mums, photos, and all of the necessary accouterments. Then continue to celebrate at the cemetery once a year, no matter what your ancestry. If it’s good system, it’s a good system.

Since I love the imagery, aside from historical pageantry of it all, I regularly create glass sugar skulls. They are fun to make and each one seems to come out with a personality all its’ own. Maybe it’s meant to be that way. I reason if it weren’t then I’d be able to cookie cutter them out like when you use a mold and they’d all look reasonably the same.

Quite a few people have caught the craze for skulls. One of my customers, Cherie Smith of Glitterbug Originals, has special ordered many custom skulls and made some great earrings from them. If you follow the link (clique on her business name) it will take you there. And by the way, she makes some great earrings so you should browse around and consider doing some shopping. The photos today are an example of some of the small earring sized skulls I’ve been doing for Cherie and a photo of the first set she put together and posted. I think she did a great job pulling in the skull colors and making them festive . Now why didn’t I think of that! Ah, because I’m not her!

Happy Browsing!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Three, Two, One, Blast-Off

I guess this bead and pendant pretty well sums up my summer. Peace and happiness. Thursday morning I don the jeans, t-shirts, and shoes with backs (usually Keen's) and go back to work. I don't know what ever possessed me to buy an LED bulletin tag, but I have one and I think I'll wear it. It is held on with magnets ( I put it on my shirt like a name tag) and I can program up to 50 letters or spaces on it and tell it how fast to send my message across its' screen. I wear it to work ever so often and the kids think it's hoot. Once I programmed the old adage, "Today's not a good day, and tomorrow is looking iffy!" And then there is always my stand by, "If you have to ask you might already know the answer!" You should see it...well maybe I'll take a photo of it so you can.

The foot (which I now fondly call Franken Foot) is about as healed as it's going to get for the time being. I'm wondering if those new fangled foot munching fish would eat through the scar if I were to find some in the local nail salon and get my toe nails done. Oh Yeah, listen to me, I'm getting ready to go back. The sauciness and irreverence is returning to my persona.

Maybe I better make a bead with gang signs on it, but not for the first day. My poor bosses couldn't take it. They wouldn't know what it meant but they're definitely smart enough to figure out I shouldn't be wearing it.

Did I ever tell you all about my very favorite beady work wear? HHHMMMMMM, don't tell anyone! Once there was a boss who was particularly difficult to deal with. I believe we have, "Come a long way baby" but I like to have my cake and eat it too so I'm standing by that door and that flat tire until some unsuspecting man comes by and does what I think should be "his thing"- if his mother raised him correctly. I was always liberated, albeit at times a little devious, so the super fem attitude never really made me want to cheer and knock down some poor fella. I might need him for that tire thing! Well, she was adamantly feminist - outright tyrannically, in your face, blatantly ball-bashingly so. I work with "little males". I find that I can get a lot more done to help them if I am not acting like them and frankly I have enough to do in a day to keep track of ten of them when there is one of me. It means I have to be sharp, tactful, strong, helpless, and more manipulative than them at any given moment and sometimes all of that within any given five minute time frame. No time for "busting" anything! Now that you have the background (like you needed it!) I can give you the bead story.

She didn't seem to like men to much and I think the same held for strong women. I am a good employee though and like my job so being irreverent with her was not a good plan. I've learned many things in my twenty years...including, "never let 'em see you sweat". You can only help or win if you are in control of you. If aggression is out, and irreverence is ill advised what's left?
Quiet defiance - private joke - peaceful passive resistance - oh so many things. Me, being smart enough to know most of my options were not mentally healthy I went with the private joke.

Are you ready for the bead part?

So you're thinking - Gheeze Sharon I can't take another one of these long posts, get on with it.

Everyone knows I lampwork. I'm a creative and sensitive soul....really! So, I made a fish bead. Some punch line. huh? Hang in there, we're not done yet. This is no ordinary fish. It's a beautiful fish with Angelina Jolie lips and dichroic scales, and fins that flow like a Farrah Fawcett hair-do. There is only one endearing thing that might be considered out of the ordinary for such an extravagantly made creation. The poor thing has this protruding jaw and these wonderful pearly white teeth that stick out willy-nilly from those kissable lips. And every time that fem bot would annoy me with some useless insight I would gleefully smile and push that beautiful fish around with my fingers. It was stress reduction at its finest. And all the time I'd finger that fish while she aimlessly rambled on with her tirade and I'd go to my "happy spot" and think my happy mantra.....Bite Me!

Ready, Set, GO!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

First Friday Favorite Tools

I’d like to call this “First Friday Favorite Tools” but I didn’t get it done in time for August's first Friday. But, I’m going to call it that anyway and every once in awhile on a Friday I’ll add something I’m using to my blog and try to explain how I use it.

For one thing if you don’t have a set of calipers, get one! They are the most useful tool that I own. I never used to use them. I used a ruler and a sharpie to mark things. What was I thinking with the eye ball method? You can measure your bead for a liner, easy peasy, add the needed millimeters and then mark the tubing with the calipers (a quick scratch will do it). From then on it’s just the usual directions for lining that bead. The calipers will measure in both inches and millimeters. So, you can measure a bead to post it; or a mandrel because we have a gazillion sizes, you can do that too. I also use my calipers for metalsmithing. Measure and mark! So run on down to your local Harbor Freight and get a set, they’re about $20.00. Once you start using them you will always want them around.

The second item I never want to be without again is small, but powerful. That steel looking thing there is a hand vice. It was made in France and is about as close as I’ll probably ever be to France in this lifetime. You can use it for squaring off your metal (or your tubes), by putting them into the vise, cutting and then running your file against that edge. Now this is not necessarily good for the file (move the tube up a smidgen) and don’t use a pricey one. Oh, please be gentle because that vice did not come from Harbor Freight. It’s from Rio Grande Jewelry Supply. You can also get an absolutely PERFECT 45 degree angle cut. I’m going to need that in the future…near future. I can not tell you the amount of times that I have had to refile something because the ends did not match well enough to solder. This has saved me time and aggravation. Time is money and well, frankly I never have enough of either but if you want this French version it is going to set you back $175.00. For that amount it ought to ask you what you want, find the materials, and bring you the finished piece. It doesn’t! But, there are some alternatives and an inexpensive model in the Rio catalog. If you part-time your metalsmithing it would be fine. I use my tools a lot and this is a very high quality steel.

Last, but not least, I threw in my trusty Sony camera. That baby can shoot at 12 mega pixels- Oh baby, Oh!). So, hey then, how’d she take the picture? I have another Sony, it’s a huge thing and sits on the tripod all of the time. Lugging that baby around to shoot photos for this blog and of family would be way inconvenient. I like this little camera. It fits anywhere and takes a great photo.

This is it for the First Friday tool session. Not sure what’s up for the first Friday of the month tool talk next time but I’m sure I’ll come up with something.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Skullishly Wonderful

I'm doing well, thank you! Here is the latest in Sharon's "Skully Wear". A new customer of mine asked for some new skulls in miniature so she could make some earrings. Way cool and a new challenge to try and get them about dime sized. Whew. Mission accomplished and she is very happy. Along with her new skulls I made a few others you can check out on Etsy. Since I like working on a bigger canvas I made a new skull called "Sugar" (how appropriate). The last one had a mole and was called "Cindy" (her namesake is...oh, you know!). Her portrait is included here and isn't she a cutie? She is trying so hard to smile for the camera!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Big Countdown

Ah, counting down...Like five , four, three, and so on. I used to love doing that. You say that around kids and they are either happy (as in, "Ready, Set, GO!) or squirming because "You're in big trouble mister!" I'm trying to make the most of my countdown. I'm at five. Five days until I go back to work. Yikes!! Where did this summer go and how did it go so fast. How much undivided torch time remains before I have to share that time? BAH HUMBUG.

Now don't get me wrong. I like what I do for a living. It's somewhat crazy working with delinquent boys but it does keep me on my toes and thinking quick. It's not easy to out maneuver an angry teen, but I like the challenge. You might be wondering what they're so angry about. Part of the time I can't answer that (teenage angst doesn't help) and the rest of the time it's just too complicated or appalling (and unethical) to repeat. Like I said, counting down used to be fun and sometimes it still is. And, sometimes I do it to keep from losing my temper...which I have to admit I am pretty good it (keeping it in check I mean.) Considering I've been sworn at in no less than a half a dozen different languages I've done pretty good.

Mostly, I use the good control to make beads and progress with those boys. You'd be surprised at how many of them are impressed with art. Bring a few beads to show them and they are as inquisitive as any kid. Do a gesture drawing while they're playing basketball and they're aghast. Explain the muscle structure behind the drawing and they're in awe. "Is that me?" "Can you draw my face?". And the really important connection, "Will you show me how to do that?"

Art does its' magic!

A relationship is born and during those artistic lessons we can slide in some side-door therapy. First you have to get their attention and art is the best vehicle I've ever seen for that. It doesn't judge you, everyone is welcome, and it embraces it's crazies and eccentrics (uh, Warhol, Van Gogh, Me!). The boys revel in acceptance of any kind and art is the great equalizer. Strong, handsome, weak, or just doesn't matter.

Keep your eye on the Etsy...I've been busy. Winding up and counting down. Five, four, Three...Ready, Set, GO!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Photo of our casting class (missing Susan and Eileen - shucks!)

I have rambled on about this topic before. How people in the “arts” share a bond. Maybe it’s just that we are extremely right brained. My friend, Susan says, “People just don’t get it!” I know they don’t, and we both agree its okay. I don’t ‘get’ golf but I understand people’s passion for it. I would like to drive the cart around the course, maybe once leisurely to enjoy the scenery and get the feel for the course. And then, at break neck golf cart speed (ha, like 5 mph?), to see how fast I could make it through the hair pin turns. Okay, so this doesn’t have much to do with commonality but I bet there are those of you out there who’d enjoy doing just that! Or, maybe….it does make sense because if we’d both like to do that, it is a commonality between us. Artists are adventurous problem solvers and sometimes problem creators. We have a lot of common traits.

Susan and I have a slew of common traits and I suspect this covers a lot of “girlfriends’, let alone the creative ones. I mean why else would you be friends, duh? It's because you have these common traits or interests. Another thing besides our creativity we have in common, thanks to Susan, is penny squishing. Quit laughing!!! As a kid I used to love putting them on the railroad tracks close to my home. – Squish! Flatter than a pancake. I’d walk down there several times each summer with my pocket of pennies.

When I met my husband I squished one of those silly aluminum round discs on a machine. I put our names on it. I think he wondered what he was getting in to. Little did he know?

Susan and I travel. We’ve been to Bead and Button, The Gathering, and Lapidary Journal’s Beadfest. We’ve co-facilitated classes at Lapidary Journal's Beadfest off and on for several years.
On one of our out of state adventures Susan showed me the penny impression machine in the rest area. She uses them as souvenirs of her travels. My eyes LIT UP “Squishing!!!” of yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah (see me dancing). The glee of it all. You can take the girl away from the tracks but the squishing remains in her heart. This might explain my adoration for the hydraulic press. Heavy squishing : - ).

We have squished our way through lots of years of friendship and this week I received a present. Who knew they existed? Elation. Are you checking out that photo of my collection? Susan sent me a penny from South Carolina along with the COLLECTION BOOK SHE FOUND. There are also sites on the Internet about penny squishing such as
Pressed Penny

Ah, things in common. Ain’t life grand????

If anyone else out there passes a penny squisher – squeeze one for me! I’ll trade you a bead for it. Really, I will!

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Let's see...I was a metalsmith long before I was a bead maker so I ought to be able to line those beads without the aid of an arbor press or wrist twist so I thought, What the heck, let's do it. Not that I don't want one of those tools. What tool freak wouldn't but it will have to wait. "Swirl Girl" is already past her spending limit so it's dapping tool time. This one was done on an 3/16" mandrel and lined with 7/32" silver tubing (I'm thinking)and the result is a 5mm hole in the bead.

Maybe what I need is a Pandora bracelet here and I'll know for sure. Ah, do I need the swirl girl to go shopping again??? I need some personal restraint here! Thank heavens sometimes that I don't live near anything but a Walmart.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Swirl Girl Is At It Again!

I ought to say that I’m winding down and getting ready to go back to work (day job) but it is much more like winding up. Kind of like tightening the spring on the tic toc of a grandfather’s clock. I feel like Alice, “I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date!” Or was that the Mad Hatter??

When I get in to this mode I become the “Swirl Girl” (thanks to a friend - Janel - naming me that when I get like this). Kind of a like a whirling dervish but I go in straight lines. Straight lines to bead stores, classes, book stores, computers, tool stores, and the list goes on. I travel to any place that has something that I need (okay you probably got me there – want!). Maybe what’s needed here in a conga line of all of us “artistics” floating into each and every store around the country. Just yell up the line, “Hey up there, pass me down a few sticks of that new color glass.” Close your eyes and just think about it…a long snaking sandbagging type line, everyone’s arms raised, passing this forward and that back. A wonderful fantasy…except that probably Mike Frantz (our glass supplier) is at the end of the line collecting the money for all of it. Shucks! But you ‘gotta make a living and I love the glass. Keep going to Italy Mike…can I hide in the luggage?

Swirl girl has also taken two more classes. Yup, TWO! One class with JJ Masuda, aka “metal master”, in working with Pewter and one with Cindy Moore “wire weaving queen”, on making unique dies for the hydraulics.

Pewter is dirty, melts and hammers easily and is cheap. I am liking the cheap part very very much. I love working in silver but the cost had been deafening and I’d like to offer some pewter pieces. It was a hoot to do and I will need some practice and to learn something about molding materials for duplicates but it’s a possibility. I already work in wax so concept isn’t an issue; techniques are, and they’re conquerable. There is a picture here of what I did in the class, NOT MUCH! But I learned to raise a bowl and how to melt, solder, and pour the metal. Like I said, looking for technique here right now and not necessarily prime results. Those will come.

I made dies for the hydraulic press with both JJ and Jack Berry but Cindy makes a different type of die. Her large welded steel die bends rods of metal which are then arranged on a new die plate and soldered on. Then these plates, whose rods can be arranged in an infinite number of patterns, are then used in the press to give you your patterned metal material to work with. There are lots of possibilities here too.

I’ve included some photos of what I’ve been doing since sometimes my descriptions can be as clear as mud when I am excited and swirling. Top if off with new listings on Etsy and new tools to work with and find studio room for and I’m “winding down” in a BIG way.

That’s about all for this installment of “swirl girl goes wild”. Except for including a photo of my recent haul!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Princess Nellie is ready for her close-up

And apparently her Tomboy sis is ready for her "Butt - Take One". I just had to show the world how cute these collars look on the fur babies. I mean doesn't that just cut it for adorable. Liz makes the most beautiful collars at the most reasonable prices. She is a naturalist and contributor to animal causes. How absolutely Pay it Forward. They give so much to us and she takes care of them too! BRAVO Liz, and Nellie thanks you for her dress up look. Up on the left are the beads I made for for them to be popping up on her Etsy site Pawsh Dogwear. I should also be posting some new beads today and keep watching out for Robots! They're landing soon...and they're friendly. Wasn't that a line from Bullwinkle?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Danger Will Robinson, Danger!!!

You’ve got to love a Robot. They’ve got such personality. I, Robot was a great movie and then there was the Terminator and of course, my personal favorite, Lost in Space (the TV show). Dastardly coward, Dr. Smith was so much fun to watch and I loved the number of ways he could cause chaos for that robot. Yet, the robot always won. I don’t think scientists are that hapless but it sure makes for interesting TV sometimes.

These days we have "Asimo" the bipedal robot that walks and greets visitors at the Honda headquarters. He can recognize 10 faces and Honda says they will be using the robots as their mail clerks by 2010. There goes my retirement job.

Since I think Robots are just great fun anyway I’m beginning a new series of Robot beads. They hold great promise for facial expressions and personalities…just look at the batch above. “Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!!”….Sharon’s creating the next robots. Keep your blog tuned to RTAW for future robot facts and Etsy for hot new Robot Beads.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My Fifteen Minutes

Wow! All I can say is Wow! Okay, so you know me better than that if you are reading this blog. I am so so lucky to have friends in the beading world. I bet you are too! Mallory Hoffman contacted me about a week ago and asked if I would like to be interviewed for her blog. Are you kidding, I mean really, me?

Let's see...hhhmmmmm, YES! Of course. Could I be more emphatic about that, YES YES YES!

After agreeing to that, shyness set in. Uh, I don't do newsworthy things. I just cleaned behind my refrigerator (first time in like five years - ssshhhh, don't tell everyone!). But then I've been off work and recuperating so it seemed like a good thing to do at the time. Maybe I should take a poll, "When is the last time you cleaned behind your fridge?", then we'd know who the really compulsive cleaners are and we could tease them.

See how I am, nothing spectacular. Never saved the world and I don't have a cape. Although my oldest kids would tell you when Under Dog was popular I used to furl out my Chenille Robe and pretend I was Under Mother. There's no need to fear Under Mother's here! And I do have this habit of stopping in the busy road for ducks or for scooting turtles off the road so they don't get hit by the cars. I'm going to get rear ended one of these days.

Pretty mundane life, except for the Art and the friends. This brings us full circle to Mallory and that interview. We meet this past year. She's fun and enthusiastic, brings a lot to the plate when you talk about friendships. One of those people that brings out the best in you. How lucky am I!! I did the interview. It was fun and now I'm exposed for all the world to see. Yikes, I better go on a diet, save the world, get a new cape, and make a perfect bead! Maybe not in that order....

To read my "fifteen minutes" please go to Mallory's blog. In fact, you better bookmark it because she is faithfully logging away and it's fun to read. She is also a beadmaker (it's a union, we're strong, and organized so look out) so check her Etsy out for more great beadie goodies. I put in the click quick links for you! If you don't you'll be hearing from Guido, he puts orphan beads into socks and he's been known to clunk a few of the non-lampworking unfaithful. Go now, go quickly, and leave a comment too!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

PUT your paws in the air, Fleabag!

Gotcha! Isn't that what the police say when they've got you "collared" for a crime? How about that for a segway into this post...quit laughing...

I was lucky enough to be added as a favorite to this great site for fancy pants doggie wear. They are all so cute and reasonably priced. And the site is by this really fun person who also rescues Greyhounds. We got to emailing and now I'm making some cute glass bones and paws for her work. You just never know where those beads will go next! I'm getting a great flowered collar for my darling golden retriever, Nellie. She retrieves nothing but doggie treats. Loves hairdriers and is allergic to cats and flea saliva. She also likes to stick her nose into flowers and sniff (diva!!). We have to keep prednesone, benadryl, and an Epi-pen around because she is soooooo allergic to bee stings. Now don't you think a princess like this ought to be wearing a floral collar. Me too!

Keep the torch hot! and check out some collars for your cuties at