Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bubble Wrap I love to pop bubble wrap and I am sure that you do too! Check out this new game the kids at work showed me today.

Just click here:

Have fun and let me know how you like it!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Orange U glad it's over the hump day?

Well, that's a kind of silly title but I was browsing around the Internet for entertainment tonight and found this interesting bit of info on color. Since I've been talking about it lately I decided to look up my personal favorite and see what he had to say about it.

I guess Orange is the uncommon color for the common people. Okay, I don't scream the purple of royalty but I didn't know it was the common man's color. You can checkout this PDF for other orange factoids. Or, go and check out other color factoids on Jude Stewart's site.

Let's have a revolt some day too!


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jingle Jangle

They're Here! And I don't mean the aliens through the TV tube. Those people are HULU, right?
These are my pieces from Jennifer Heynen's class. I can't wait until I bisque fire the new ones and get a few pieces made to go with my glass. Ceramic is great fun....

Saturday, June 20, 2009

How Lucky Am I - Pinch ME!

My friend Mallory sent me a link last night with a question, “Is this you?” Well, by George, IT IS! I remember Jennifer Heynen (Jangles) taking the photo but figured (as all women do) that I wasn’t the most photogenic in the class so it wouldn’t be showing up anywhere.

How wonderful it this. I get my next 15 seconds in the limelight courtesy of Bead and Button and Jennifer Heynen's blog. I’ve been holding back talking about Jennifer because I was just waiting for my projects to arrive and I wanted to show them to you along with this post but now they’ll get their own mention, they’ll be arriving soon.

I haven’t worked with clay much since college. It is not my thing and everyone knows the story of me and clay at Northwestern Michigan College. When I was taking my art classes there, the usual prerequisites to a degree in commercial art, the teachers insisted I sign up for classes outside of my area of expertise. They thought I would get more out of the experience if I tried something I truly had no interest in. Uh huh. I was happy making lithographs, ecstatic painting, silk-screening was the bomb….but clay. UCK! That meant getting my hands dirty and I didn’t like getting my hands dirty – really.

You want to know how much I didn’t like getting my hands dirty????? I’m a hand washer – maybe my mother was afraid of germs. I had five pneumonias. So it was drilled into me, “Keep those hands clean Sharon”. Top if off with when ever I got things under my fingernails I cringed until I got them clean. Weird, weird, weird kid. Now these professors wanted my hands dirty……hmmmmm. Wasn’t it enough that the printing was clean and impeccable and my ink work unblemished with spots? I was great at keeping ink off of my hands and my work.

Into the clay department I went. And everyday out of the clay department I’d come and vomit. Yup, that’s it. A gut wrenching goodbye to my coffee and breakfast. Everyone thought that would go away. Every time the clay dried on my hands off I would go…..and back I come…back and forth…..12 weeks of it. Finally the other students felt so bad for me that pots began showing up on my bench with my initials carved in the bottom. A whole semesters worth of work contributed by the other students so I could pass. It was a good thing because after all of the running I think I had about five pieces and they looked a whole lot like my first kindergarten work. I passed the class and made a ton of friends that semester.

I also eventually recovered from the ‘dirty hand syndrome’. Good thing because I like to garden and I like the clay. I’m planning to use the clay as a mixed media component to my beading and metalwork. I’ve started on a few things – they’re small and as they evolve I will post them. And, when the class pieces arrive from Jennifer I will post them too. I’m excited to see how they turned out.

If you don’t know Jennifer Heynen – look her up – she’s Jangles. She wrote the great book you see the jacket cover of. It gets an unabashed two thumbs up from this critic. Everything she teaches in class is in there and more. It’s well written and concise. Then there is Jennifer herself. She is high energy, high smiles, and high on her medium. It’s great when you can get those virtues all in one teacher. She is not JUST a technician, she’s an artist. She’s a talented and cleaver designer so you’ll enjoy the advice you’re given while you are working on your pieces. I’d HIGHLY recommend taking one of Jennifer’s classes. I also think if you have a guild or group you could pass along that she is one of the teachers you’d like to have brought in…you won’t regret a minute of it.

Buy the book - Available at Amazon and Jangles.

Friday, June 19, 2009

More class fun!

What a coo to have a class with Dora Schubert who flew in from Germany to be at Bead and Button. She is an absolute doll with a quick wit and steady hand. She made me laugh when she said “There is no sweet spot”. Then she laughed too, “… everyone is always looking for the sweet spot on a torch (oh how true this is) when you are working with stringer”. Dora said just heat the bead, go in horizontally, and keep it at the edge of the flame. Voila’, and on it went. It was just that easy. It always sounds easy in print, doesn’t it? I’ll admit my stringer work got better and then I came home, phffffttt, enough said. I’m still laughing, practicing, and thinking of that twinkle in her eye. I also was lucky enough to get one of Dora’s practice beads – she only had two. What a week! Stringer lines, silvered glass, color theory, Dora and Sara Sally. Life is good. That’s Dora on the torch. I wish she was going to attend the ISGB conference this year but she will be busy with a show in England.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Patterns are Everywhere

You don't even have to look ahead to catch the patterns that are the Hyatt. There are a ton of them underfoot. Normally this is a whole lot of pattern for one hotel but the Hyatt is a large place and has been undergoing a renovation so the are several.

Any of these would make a great bead embroidered piece, a flameworked bead, or fused piece. They'd be a great starting point for a collaged metal pendant and so on. Why do they work well? Go back to the principals in the previous blog and figure it out. Do you see the rhythm and pattern? Contrasts? What color scheme is the most pleasing for you? Could you adapt the colors to your personal palette yet keep the concept of the original inspiration?

I am betting you could do all of the above.

The next time you're in a building anywhere I'm thinking you're going to look at the patterns on the floor with a new twist. You can do the same thing at home in a magazine - try Artful Blogger or some of the scrapbook mags. How about photo books of the universe, aerial shots, etc. When I do this I find I have more ideas than I know what to do with. I must look amusing to others sometimes when I'm turning a magazine upside down or photographing a carpet pattern but who cares. You're an artist. Just smile and keep being inspired.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

B&B and Examining Color Theory

Bead and Button is an experience on many levels. It’s eye opening. First, we cue in on the notable eye candy. The venerable competitions; Bead Dreams, The Collaboration, and the spectacular Asian bead displays. We wander about Milwaukee, the MAC (convention center), and adjacent hotels, the designs are everywhere. It’s on clothing walking by, in buildings, on buildings….color, texture, shadow, hue, tone.

Most of us are armed with cameras. We look for whatever is striking our visual fancy. Often we are journaling photographically for blogs or recording ideas to re-stimulate the mind at a later date. There just isn’t as much time for sketching as there used to be.

While watching people and enjoying the obvious artistic stimulation the camera frame in my mind’s eye kept running. Compositions were everywhere I looked. I wondered if the crowd was seeing what I was seeing. Were they interpreting it the same way? – that thought is doubtful since we all experience what we see differently. If we didn’t then the competitions would have been a groan. They were anything but boring.

I pondered quickly why each composition was intriguing. Several of the classes I took loosely contained components of color theory. A full color theory curriculum would take a semester. Been there/ done that. What I revisited was wonderful and once again had impact on how I was “seeing”. Why was one jewelry piece, building window, or bead more pleasing (to me) than another….and how could I capture this feeling for my own work.

“It is the designers business to create a visual experience which is pleasing to the eye. The elements of visual harmony are simple to explain, yet much more difficult to practice. Harmony engages the viewer and creates an inner sense of order, a balance. Combinations fail to harmonize if they are so bland as to bore the viewer. At the other extreme, chaotic, overdone combinations will be rejected as something which the mind can not organize or understand. Simply put, the designer must strive to achieve the balance between under-stimulation and over-stimulation. This is harmony, a dynamic equilibrium.” (Basic Color Theory for Designers by Sharon Housley).

That’s wordy but correct. It’s my job to capture people’s interest with my work. If I want everyone to purchase my art, rather than it being just an exercise in self-pleasure, I have to apply the principles of art and design to every focal bead and piece I display for sale.

Ahhhh… that’s what I was searching out in Milwaukee’s eye candy, The Principles of Art and Design (this exert abbreviated from Write Design Online – Design Rules of Thumb). These were the reasons a particular piece appealed to me – or not.

Balance – Having an artistic balance, symmetry, approximate symmetry, asymmetry, and radial symmetry.
Contrast – The use of variations in patterns, edges, intensity, temperature, size and shape to show visual relationships.
Emphasis – How are you using that frame, color dominance, value, visual movement, difference, and shape to provide the viewer with context and content?
Rhythm and Pattern – How do you create Rhythm and patterns within your artwork – is it cohesive.

I love this stuff – can you tell? One of the bead magazines had a wonderful multi month spread by Diane Fitzgerald on designing. If you haven’t caught it yet go back and read through it. It’s great.

So what did I learn from this little self exploration while going to Bead and Button? Let’s quote the Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.” Keep those design elements in check and there’ll be no stopping you.

I Googled color theory and the usual millions of resources appeared. Two of the sites I liked were: Colors on the Web and The Aviva Directory (this had a plethora of additional resources). From the Aviva Directory I found the lessons on Write Design Online. Write Design had great visuals to explain the Principles of Design.

Every written thing should have an opening statement, body, and conclusion. I think our conclusion has been reached. The challenge is to be the next Picasso – prolific design masters with lots of lovers…….well, maybe not that part! Tomorrow I will post some of the other designs that caught my eye while in Milwaukee.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Finally, Some B&B Photos

Took me long enough to recover from this trip but the kiln controller I purchased from Arrow Springs is attached to the kiln and appears to be working great. Now I get to try out some new glass and the techniques I learned from Sara LaGrand and Dora Schubert. But first a view of the Flame Off from Bead and Button.

The Flame-Off is great to watch. You get to see and talk to all the bead makers and sculptures who are participating. They are each busy creating a piece for the silent auction. Hip Hip Hurrah to the Bead and Button folks for having this at the show. And a big hug to the great glass artists who make a donation in time and work. All of the money raised from Flame-Off (tickets to see it and auction pieces created during it) are given to Breast Cancer research. How wonderful is that! Last year (this years figures have not been released yet) it raised over $20,000.

Mallory, Lillian, and I took up residence at the Boro demo table to watch the mostly "dudes" make their large scale pieces. I'm acquainted with a few of guys (name wise) - although they certainly don't know me from apple butter. What really caught my interest though was a fella I've never noticed before. It's not that he hasn't probably always been there but I guess he wasn't a familiar name - until now. His name is Rashan Jones. He has a banter that can keep pace with Lewis Wilson which I consider no small feat. Lewis is chatty, gregarious, outspoken, flamboyant, and sometimes (I would think) very distracting when you are working. Rashan can hang! Now don't get me was not nasty...just good natured poking by some real boro masters. They were all doing it. It's just that Rashan and Lewis were the funniest.

That's Rashan pulling points below and blowing the vase above. Ed and Martha Biggar are there working their magic and you can even see Kevin O'Grady (fella with the hat) who joined the group late. Milon Townsend was there (who knows what I did with that shot) and the photo at the top left has Lewis Wilson -ponytailed : - ) - and Doug Remschneider. Woweeee, was Doug's piece ever intricate.

I hope you enjoy the photos. We sure enjoyed watching it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Great Teacher - Great Blog

Just before I started writing this blog I had attended a class at The Gathering Place in Naperville, Illinois. It is a class junkie's dream to be at Portia and Lee Mandel's Gathering Place. They are gracious, kind, and knowledgeable about Art and the Chicago area. Not withstanding all of that, they are also the best hosts I know.

"Anyhow", as my friend Lillian would say, I took a series of wire working classes there. Next to having a class with the great Lynne Merchant having one with one of her several protegees is just as wonderful. So far I've been able to learn from two of them - Louise Duhamel and the wondrous Sharilyn Miller. Both taught me great techniques I can use with my handmade beads and Sharilyn wrote a great book - Bead on a Wire. Check the photo above - I love this book. It's always close at hand as a reference. I also have several of her DVDs and they are done well and easy to follow. Then, coming just in time for my birthday, YES, will be another wire book from her called Contemporary Copper Jewelry.

I knew a couple of months ago she was doing a blog but forgot to pass it along - busy busy busy. She is as generous as always and you have just got to go and look at the tutorials she has put there. BRAVO! Sharilyn, they're great. Easy click to her tutorial blog titled: Wire Jewelry Lessons. She has two blogs and between those, her teaching (traveling), books, and writing for the magazines I don't know how she keeps up. It's an inspiration.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Ack! Recovery time...renewel, mentally processing everything I've seen and done at B&B and working on new drawings of beads and shrines I want to try with the techniques I learned. Tomorrow the photos. Maybe even a photo of some sketches. But right now I think more sleep.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Don't you love how everything has initials now days. Let's see for the government it's CIA, FBI, IRS. There are so many of them. How about for just mailing things..USPS, UPS, FedEx. For us lampworkers it's no different. We have LE (Lampwork, Etc. - one of the forums for lampworkers), GAS (Glass Art Society), and the ISGB (International Society of Glass Bead Makers). I'm a member of the last three. While we are here at Bead and Button the membership committee puts on a great late evening get together what includes snacks and conversation and often prizes for a lucky few. We were the the top of the hotel tonight at the Polaris restaurant. It wasn't the best place for a meet and greet since it's tables are isolated around a large revolving room. There was plenty of fresh fruit and lovely lemon squares, plus tons of chocolate. Yummy stuff folks. I actually won a prize too. Toworrow I'll post a few photos of the meeting, the Flameoff, and of packing up the art show.

Awwwwww, it's almost over with for another year but I'm for certain it will be back.

There will be photos and other good things tomorrow....

Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday's Stash

Shop 'til U Drop! That's what you do here at Bead and Button. You go up and down all of these isles looking for the best deal to be had or the most unique piece you can find. It's not like a sprint - it's a marathon. And, if this is exhausting I can not imagine what it must be like to be in Tuscon for the mammoth shows. Found in today's purchases were some glass, a new marver for that Lynx torch, and tons of miscellaneous beads and goodies. There are some good deals to be had this year on beads. Less customers and a bad economy equals slashed prices and some bead strands are going for as little as a dollar. No, it's not every vendor - or the prime beads (like Swarovski/Delica/ ToHo). But, if you are willing to do some walking and comparisons there are bargains on temporarily strung beads, even pearls.

One of the best finds didn't come from the show. It came from my friend Mallory Hoffman. She brought this spray for the bathroom called (appropriately) No.2 by Poo-Pourri. It's motto: Spray the Loo Before No 2 and No One Will Ever Have A Clue. What more can I add for us civilized ladies but "Whoo Hoo".

I've rested my tooties and taken some Ibuprofin so I'm going back to bargain hunting and visiting with the glass artists. I started around noon and only made it half way through the show by 4PM. Gheeze Louise. Great AND exhausting fun.

Wonderous Times at Bead and Button

The boat didn't sink and here I am! So far, so awesome. I have had three great classes so let me give you the run down.

First up was Joe Silvera - wax working with the wonderfully talented expert Joe and his TA ( his great spouse) and it lived up to it billing. The only problem I could see is that more people didn't see it's potential and sign up! Joe will even take the wax pieces and cat them for you in bronze as part of the class. We worked hard and I learned a ton about hard waxes and how to work them.

Next class was with the adorable Jennifer Hayden of Jangles. This is the class I missed last year when I booked it for Sunday and then found out that the blasted Lake Express had altered their schedule and I had to leave early Sunday afternoon or be stranded until Monday. It was worth wait. Jennifer is charming/ open/ helpful/ and an expert with her clay. I made plenty of clay pieces that she will be taking home to fire and send. I can not wait to see how they turned out. I got to make an amphora and plenty of beads. Too much fun! I'd delightfully recommend Jen's class to anyone who'd like to try a little something new.

Last and not least was Sara Sally LaGrand. She taught us about Precision Silver glass colors and she is just the most patient person. There were plenty of students who were at plenty of different levels. She and her cutie pie TA (Justin, her son) ran about delivering beads to the kiln and helping everyone. Sara also generously showed us her signature pod making abilities. How wonderful was that! The photo above is of her piece that is in the Bead Dreams competition here and it is fabulous. How HOT and trendy!

There is still more to come.....catch you with the next check in from Bead Heaven!