Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

First, let me thank everyone for a wonderful 2010. My friends and customers have been an amazing source of inspiration, support, and a really warm woobie when I needed one. No one could ask for anything more. I’m a lucky gal. Just this week my buddy Mallory Hoffman mentioned me in her blog along with lampwork artists I adore. It is an honor.

While reading Mallory’s blog, Patty Lakinsmith's blog, and others I have noticed a – dare I say it – TREND – for the end of this wonderful year. Many artists have picked a word to aspire to for the coming year. Mallory chose the word “detail” (it’s a quality I have in obsessive abundance). Patty was far more loosely defined. She said if there were a word she could relate to it might be the word “release”. Those are very two great words and very diametrically opposed IMHO (in my humble opinion). I would frequently like to release my temptation to detail beads to death – but, the “devil is in the details” and often they can make a humble bead look pretty grand.

I’m not sure I have a resolution or a specific word to aspire to. At least I hadn’t thought it over much until I was perusing my favorite blogs. When I thought it over I could only come up with habits that ought to be ousted for 2011.

Uh, I know better than to frame my thoughts this way. You shouldn't dwell on what you don’t want to be doing. The best way to gain or replace a non-productive habit with a better one is to concentrate on framing it positively. For example there is the old stand-by: Replace I need to lose weight – with – I will get healthier this year. It is so boringly simple but the plain truth is everyone needs to surround themselves with positive thoughts to reach their goals, positive thoughts and positive/ supportive people.

I bet you are wondering what my positive phrase will be.

Mostly I think if I narrowed it down to one word – maybe it would be “focus”.

This year I should focus on finishing the project at hand. When I work on something it will often reach fruition in my head long before it reaches completion in my hand. That very inspirational “Ah Ha” is enough to stop me cold and I put the piece on a shelf for another day. I can only guess it’s like a scientist who finds his theoretical mathematical solution and has no need to see it’s application put into practical use. He knows the solution and THAT is enough. What an absolutely rotten habit to have – couple it with procrastination and sometimes I can be like Sleeping Beauty waiting for her prince to swoop in with a magical kiss. Yup, that’s me – laying there in total stagnating bliss with a smile on my face. Here prince, here prince. (Note: All my animals are female – prophetic, huh?).

So, for 2011 – Happy New Year!! – Sharon will be focusing on the finish line.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


That poop thing is an acronym for: propane/oxygen/oxygen/propane. It's how we turn on and off a metal smiths torch. Today is the rest up day from the holiday. It's also the day I wanted to do a whole bunch of torching but one quick trip down to the studio rendered that useless. I'm out of propane....that makes it poop in more ways than one. Tomorrow I'm on a mission to fill up the darn thing. Nope, I don't switch them out. I have a 40 pound pristine propane tank so I take it to be filled. Sorry this won't be a long post. I'm trying out an I-Pad and it's got a learning curve to it. I think I'll stick with a regular keyboard.

Best Wishes and I hope your Holiday was a wonderful one!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

May I borrow a cup of sugar?

The Pioneer Sugar Plant in Sebewaing, Michigan

One of the sugar beet conveyors to pile the beets (there were about 10 of these).

Maybe there were more than 10 - look at this number.

Sugar beet city block!

The plant being obscured by the mountain of beets in one of the "blocks"

I'm doing lots and lots of baking for the holiday...who doesn't. Doesn't matter what the holiday is - which religion - or mostly which one you're celebrating. They all go great with tons of goodies that a laden with SUGAR. Okay, so I don't bake as much when the the kids were little but every once and awhile the bug just bites and off I now.

There's nothing like passing a HUGE reminder to purchase enough sugar for your baking either. I think I've mentioned before that on the way to our family physician we get to drive through a large farming section on the "thumb" of Michigan. In in this section they primarily grow corn, potatoes, and sugar beets.

Sugar beets aren't much to look at. It's not like sugar cane which has a great visual factor going for it. Beets are a root plant that look quite a bit like, uh, cow pads. They're huge, dense, and heavy. That part probably isn't like the cow pads - just the size.

On the way to the doctors we pass through Sebewaing, Michigan. It's an interesting little town with a major employer - Pioneer Sugar. I'm sure it's not their only plant but I find it fascinating to see. Mostly because I have never seen so many sugar beets all in one spot. Now think about this while you are baking this year. Around this plant there are these rows of sugar beets that are brought in by double long, open top, semi-loads. Now, imagine that load being about like 10 feet wide and 30 feet tall when it's dumped. When you look at these photos of the beet piles - they are about a block long and about 30+ feet tall. And, there are about 50 rows like that. It is like a city of sugar beets. I wish I knew how much sugar that makes but it has to be a lot.

Today when I make some sugar cookies I'll be thinking about little Sebewaing and their sugar plant. Now maybe you will too! Get baking...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

In the Mail...

YES!! Go US Postal Service...everything is wrapped up and on it's way by bus, plane, car, and train. I finished the last bead overnight and sewed it to the purse front this morning...ah, sweet completion. The Eagle looks a little like my postmaster Rob today when we brought in three more packages.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Snowy Dilemma

This is one of those little quandaries you end up in once in awhile. I've been "doing art" since - well, the first major kind of art show I was in was when I was twelve. The bug bit and I never turned back. When it comes down to it I've done a LOT of art, in a LOT of mediums. This, I guess, is a good thing. I also designed wooden toys for my husband's business for 28 years+. I knew where to find the kind of supplies that most of the major chains can find and by the dozen, case, or thousands. So, while I was ordering for him I'd pick up some "notions" that were interesting to me to use with either the metalsmithing or bead making.

Here's the quandary - nothing is new. At least not much. So when someone resurrects something you've done before and have considered doing again - do you go ahead and do it again?

You're lost, right? Well, I really don't like feeling I'm going to step on any ones toes. I'm not a well known person - just a well practiced artist. Okay, let's just go there because it's just stupid to think you can sort this out without more information.

Ten years ago, maybe more- I purchased empty water/snow globes. I made them for friends and some family and filled them with little glass sculptures I made. They were incredibly cute and fun to do.

Now, one of my friends brought to my attention that a very wonderful person, and I might add a person I adore as a human being, is making snow globes. Hey, I think it's very very cool. She, of course, has had no idea that I've made them before - or that I have a stock of empty ones to fill. How could she. I have not done them in years. I worked a 40 hour work week for a long time and didn't have time - or inclination to get them out again. And, anyone who is up on the "Sharon life" knows the past two years have been especially busy and a struggle for this family. Hence, I concentrated on what was accomplish able in short spurts of time - the beads. Nothing fancy or involved - no big jewelry pieces - elaborate projects - nothing that I couldn't put down and pick up later like a bead crochet or Viking knit.

I most certainly haven't tossed the idea to the curb just delayed the next cycle.

So I think I should say something to this person who has discovered the joys of snow globes. I don't think so. We are both of quirky beadmakers with similar styles that have crossed before. Do I think I should go ahead and make some more globes? That is the quandary. I don't want to be accused of copying some one's style - or tramping on their current mojo. It doesn't feel good to be accused of doing that. I'm NOT doing that - but I haven't kicked the globes to the curb either.

Now what? My quandary is out there for suggestions. The timer has rung and the bread is ready. I'm going down to torch now.

Oh, and I'm not out of holiday cartoons yet either!

Friday, December 17, 2010

It's Still Snowing

OH YEAH! The white stuff is still coming down in droves. Makes me want to sing..."Ohhhhh, the weather outside is frightful but the torch is so delightful - so if you've no place to go - let it snow - let it snow - let it snow. " TAH DAH! And trust me it is sounding a whole lot better in your voice than in mine.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ho Ho Ho - He He He

Too Late for Coal Now Santa!!! I wanted to make some coal beads this year but never got to it so look out next year...sculptural coal chunks...hmmm. Naughty or Nice?

Monday, December 13, 2010


Hey There - new beads on Etsy with the Holiday Theme. One of my favorites to make has always been this elf. He's not exactly elfin sized but larger than I usually make (but not as large as the photo). Large seems to be the theme lately with the sculptural pieces and so it goes. I hope you like him...and the cartoon.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

SciFi Day

I'm still sewing and torched some today...okay, it was hardly worth turning on the kiln. I made about a half a dozen beads. I'm also feeling a little "snowed in". Baby it's cold outside! It's a SciFi Channel day while I work. Let's see - so far today I've seen Ice Creatures, Ice Quakes, Snow Spiders, Switching Polar Ice Caps, and I'm not sure what is next but I swear I've seen the same generator spark out about 3 times. Now don't you think for a minute I've been vegetating here on the couch. I have not! But.., when you are lacking a lot of voices and like the noise level I find I can check in and out of these silly movies (like soap operas) and not miss a beat. And maybe - JUST MAYBE - they fill some quirky corner of my mind that finds them campy beyond belief. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow....

Friday, December 10, 2010


I hung up my ski's a long time ago...unfortunately I haven't hung up my snow shovel. Winter is here and the white stuff is a fallin'. Are you ready for the holiday's? We don't have many shopping days left and I'm sorry I've been absent from posting. I am sewing my little heart out - surprises I can not mention here, in case the kiddies are monitoring Mom. I also made this gigantic mistake and sent two wonderful customers the wrong beads - got their orders switched because my mind was on a trip to Detroit. BAH HUMBUG on me. Making it right though so I have made some new ones. I've been busy busy at the torch. I don't want anyone to have bad experience this time of year. Things are just too hectic as it is. Ho Ho Ho....

Okay, now that just cracked me up. I guess I am in the spirit and have a twinkle in my eye. When I worked - and I miss it - the delinquents I counseled had a whole 'nother meaning around that phrase. Kids, whataya gonna do?

Friday, December 3, 2010

What's with the price of metal?

This post is going to "date" me. I know it, but I can't help it. Today - well actually, yesterday I was floored by the cost of silver for an ounce. It was over $28.00. That is totally insane. It used to be the "go to metal" when someone couldn't afford to work in gold. Today I am adding a ticker to the side bar of this blog so we can all watch what is going on here. Hopefully it will update as it's supposed to.

When you see jewelry made in copper and brass there is a very good reason for it...customers don't always understand why a silver jewelry piece is so expensive. Well, I get it - because I used to buy silver when it was $4.-$6.- an ounce and when we were teens those heavy ID bracelets and charm bracelets were silver and relatively inexpensive. Now we've all got sticker shock.

Today the price jumped by +$2.14 an ounce. When will the madness stop? Heck if I know, but it's not going to make creating silver jewelry very easy. What if you make a mistake on a piece? I can save the scrap and cast with it but even then you can only use 40% scrap in a piece. I feel like that info commericial diet lady who used to scream, "Stop the Insanity." Thank goodness for alternative metals but how long are those going to remain at a lower price? I'm betting not for long. Maybe we all ought to start stocking piling some of those soon.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Holiday Count Down

I’ve been making holiday beads and working on the sewing machine. If I had a clone I could both at once – but, I don’t (darn). Yes, you knew if I left the sewing machine out on the table I was not going to leave it alone. So far I have one purse that is done and in need of a handmade button. Since it’s a tapestry fabric of teddy bears I’m thinking a paw print might be nice but I just haven’t decided yet. The pattern was an on-line PDF freebie from Lazy Girl Designs It is called Noriko (click on Noriko and it will come up!). It includes some very good directions – and I must say they are a whole lot clearer than some of the ones I just purchased from McCall’s. Lazy Girl has some great purse patterns to purchase too and when I get past Christmas I'll go back and pick some of those out to sew. Below is the purse photo from the pattern:

In the directions she states she wanted to create a purse that was easy and that all four sides were the same to cut out. It’s a real cutie and I love the original version she shows with the tassels hanging from the bottom with beads. It seats very nicely when you sit it down and for power shopping it looks like it will work well to hold the necessities instead of the kitchen sink I normally drape over my shoulder. Do we hear future rotator cuff problems?

This is my Teddy Bear Purse - without the great photography of the original and without a button for the front - YET! I made the straps longer so it can go over my shoulder and used an elastic hair tie for front instead of a ribbon. Call me practical.

I think it’s the tassel that drew me to the purse in the first place. I used to love doing peyote stitching around a silk store bought tassel. I’d add all kinds of loops and fringes from the stitching. They look great on ceiling fans or anything like that you have to pull a chain to turn on.

I think there are a lot of possibilities with this pattern and it would be great to take a few to an art fair. It would encourage the sale of handmade buttons.

And another great thing about this pattern…you are going to love the generosity of the artist. She has also given everyone permission to make the purses, teach with it, copy the pattern for that purpose, etc. What a sweetheart. I loved making the purse and I plan on making more – I have holiday gifts to get done. ACK, self-imposed deadlines…will I never learn!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ease on Down the Road

I'm oh so gently easing back into the routine after a few days off. I can't speak for more than me but when the holiday's so wonderfully interrupt what goes on daily in your household I just want to continue having a vacation.

It's not that I don't want to make art. While on this "vacation" I taught my daughter how to use her Grandmother's old White sewing machine. I consider sewing an art form. It requires quite a bit of technical expertise to run a sewing machine and create a well sewn piece. And that doesn't even address the color, pattern range, and types of textiles available to the artist.

In fact, much to my spouses dismay when some semi-ignorant cave man type used to question us at art fairs about his wooden toys I was ecstatic about pointing out the fact that band saws are simplistic machines as compared to those made by Singer, Janome, and Bernina. Poor man used just wilt as I explained the finer points of picking out thread and needle as compared to the limited number of tooth styles available in 80" continuous blades for his Sears Craftsman!

I don't want you to think I am a terrible booth sitter or artist. I never frightened them away. Besides, they were always accompanied by some darling wife like - MA WAH - who always stood behind him with this enormous smile across her face. When the discourse was finished she would then pass me several toys she was interesting in having for her children. AND, she'd instruct "cave-boy" to pay the lady. Did I make any converts for forward thinking from the males - doubtful. But, it's the women who buy the toys for their children and they were consistent repeat customers.

My DH would laugh it off - as would our artistic art fair neighbors. Anyone who has engaged in a cooperative "art team" knows that artistic women are not generally bound by medium or frightened by tools. My personal belief: If you can handle the damn adjustments, feet, thread, tension, and the round robin of other nefarious crap on a sewing machine you can probably handle the space shuttle on mars mission!

Okay, so it doesn't sound like I'm gently easing back into anything....I'm jumping in like a belly flop. No use sticking your toe in the cold water. You might as well just jump in and get it over with. I left my sewing machine up - just in case my mind wants to wander back to it. My darling daughter; Kate, took her Grandma's back home with her. She also took a new set of skills, two lined Christmas stockings, and a great pair of flannel PJ's. You Go Girl, onward and upward.

Oh, there a new things in the Etsy store and if you want a great Christmas Red that does not burn (and you torch workers know what I mean) try the wonderful red from Lauscha Glass.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Addition to the "Resource List"

Here is another resource to add to the forum list: Metal Artists Forum. There is some pretty heavy duty metalsmithing going on here. It isn't exactly all jewelry but it sure is interesting.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thankgiving

I'm thankful for so much this year. I'd list it for you but you all know who you are. Family, Friends, Internet buddies. You're all on my list for wishes and prayers. Love you all. Don't eat too much or we'll all be doing Zumba instead of shopping tomorrow. Love, Sharon

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hahahaha - The Sunday Funnies - pass it on!

I am passing this on to you because it definitely works, and we could all use a little more calmness in our lives.

By following simple advice heard on the Dr. Phil show, you too can find inner peace. Dr Phil proclaimed, "The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started and have never finished."

"So, I looked around my house to see all the things I started and hadn't finished, and before leaving the house this morning, I finished off a bottle of White Zinfandel, a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream, a package of Oreos, the remainder of my old Prozac prescription, the rest of the cheesecake, some Doritos, a box of chocolates, and a half bottle of scotch.

You have no idea how freaking good I feel right now."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Catching Up...

There are new beads listed on Etsy and more will be there tomorrow. For now, I think I'm still recovering from all of the Faerie dust. Which brings me to The Fairy Apothecary. I bought some great skin dust. It goes on very lightly, comes in different colors and skin tones and just leave a nice light blush of shimmer. I purchased a kind of Salmon orange color - love it. I sparkle but I'm pooped. You can also catch their blog, Etsy, or write to them directly on their gmail.The photos are of me resting incognito and the owner of the fairy Apothecary. Oh, and she had some great lip moisturizers too - I love my peppermint!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Last Comments on the Faerie Con Adventure

I have more photos and will leave you with just few parting shots…my suggestion for next year is that they hang photography stations so that all of us who are toting cameras around will have better backdrops to photograph against. And, I’ll tell you – I rarely saw anyone without their camera.

This outfit is for the very daring. It was one of the many in the Steampunk booth - It says "Treasure Chest" on the front. No other comments needed!

Need some wings ? - Pick your color, your type, and you are definitely in business.

Another Steampunk booth - They had just the greatest leather and goggles. Susan kept wondering if she could get a didyium lens for some of them.

Perfect ballgown for the Bad Faerie Ball - How much you ask? I couldn't bare to look.

These faerie balls were from the Faerie World Magazine booth. Yes, they have that magazine too. Go out to your local purveyor of magazine and find one to read. Great fun in there too.

It’s back to reality in all ways today. The last of the photos (almost!) and time to get the house cleaned for Holiday Company. That will snap anyone back in the game! Ugh.

I changed the tree topper and put a skull cap on the skeleton instead of a bridal veil – it isn’t quite making the grade either. And, after seeing all of the costumes at Faerie Con I need to shape up my skills a little and get something zippier. Maybe he needs a set of wings! I will save that for next year as I don’t even have time to contemplate doing something like that right now.

At the Con I learned a new term, “Wing Whacked”. That’s what you get when you walk down an aisle with lots of faerie’s coming your direction who are wearing their wings….Yup, “wing whacked”! You learn to do a little ducking and they do a faerie shuffle if they notice you. Use your imagination on that one. Where is that unabridged dictionary when you need it – I think I have new meanings to submit.

TAH TAH - For Now!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Too Pooped.....More Pics

Mae and her Friend wearing her costumes. I wish I'd of gotten one of Mae when she had the headdress on - it was a paper mache cow skull with lots of white and when beautifully with her design.

This was taken at the "Bad Faerie Ball". I wormed my way up near the front to take the photo. Faun was playing - kind of Celtic Rock from my view point but much much more. The ballroom was packed and it was so rocking that the booth shook. We were to the left behind a brick wall and the toggles were clanging against the acrylic necks.

This beautiful girl was working in one of the vendor booths. Isn't her costume spectacular?

Future Harry Potter! He was so cute and I asked his mother's permission to take this photo. He got into character and gave me the "wizard's scowl" - how adorable - but he wanted to be scary.

Green Man Brigade! Just before they started on their tour of the convention.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Home from Faerie Con but still feeling like Tinkerbell

Green Men from the Green Man parade! They drum, weave their way dancing through the convention, bestow blessings to everyone, and hand out acorns.

Isn't he adorable? He just had his face painted for the "Bad Faerie Ball"

This is one of my favorite outfits at the ball. This young lady was also dressed for the "Bad Faerie" ball. Her costume was just so neat - she's the only "Nightmare Before Christmas" faerie I saw. Too cute!

Well, I arrived home late this evening from Faerie Con. What can I say - it was a blast! I could of - and should of - taken hundreds of more photos of this fun event. But, sometimes you just have to stop and enjoy the party of it all. I wish a hundred of my lampworking friends could have been with me because I know they would have thoroughly enjoyed themselves. I have the photos I've posted tonight and some for tomorrow, then I will close the curtains on this years festivities and start dreaming about next year. Maybe next year I will have more than just Fhairy Strands, a fun tattoo, pixie dust apothecary, and desire for my own costume to show for it. Who knows ???- If you're going to visit maybe you ought to dress the part! I would still like to be the tooth fairy! Back to beadville, reality, and the torch in the morning.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fairy Wing Designer

All weekend long there were some exceptional costumes. Of those costumes there were a set of ladies wearing wings and matched pieces that were so extraordinary they were stopped by everyone attending Faerie Con for photos. The costume designer was May Burnett. She designed the blue water wings you saw on the previous post. Today as I snapped another photo of the latest designs they were wearing I was able to talk to one of the Faeries and get more information. May has a web site, is on Etsy, and has a Facebook page. She is the Monarch Butterfly in these photos.

Tomorrow I will be home and I'll post more Faerie Con photos...I still have to see what I have from the Bad Faerie Ball. Maybe I was too busy being bad to take any "good" photos!

More From Faerie Con

It's been another long day at the conference but with all of the eye candy the time seemed to fly past. We even had a wonderful treat as Brian Froud dropped by the booth tonight to talk to us. I can hardly believe it after he and his lovely wife Wendy spent such a long day at their own booth. We talked about art - and how the nature of the world has changed - about mystical happenings - and new projects. We even did some storytelling. I am in awe and it is the least I can say about this delightful artist. Susan Lambert drove up to see us from Virgina where she and DH were visiting a relative. We shopped and gabbed and Susan treated me to an airbrush tattoo. It will last for about two weeks - or until I decide to be bold and remove it. I think it will stay awhile. I'm passing along some photos from today. Tonight was the Masquerade Ball for the "Bad Faeries" and everyone was changed into darker costumes - and I'll try and get to those photos tomorrow.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


As I said - so sorry I have not been around! The Moon Wax is ready to be cast and will be cast late next week. I also completed a heart. And, I'm in Baltimore, Maryland. It's FaerieCon time and I've come with my friend (Sharon Berkan-Dent) to help her with her booth. She does incredible silver and gold jewelry sculptures in the mystic realm. As if that isn't fun enough - I'm at FaerieCon! The costuming is wonderful. I didn't have time to edit as many photos as I would have liked but here are a few photos of what I am seeing - - -

More later - - - - - - - - - -

Sorry, I've been busy.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Don't you just love inspirational photos and posters? I do - and I'm kind of unabashed about it all. If it peps up your day and makes you feel like a tiger who can take on the world - well, why not! This is one of my favorites:

I've listed a group of Holiday beads on Etsy so if you'd like to take a peek just click on the Etsy on the left side of the page and it will take you there.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Amazon Pre-Order

Look at what is coming to Amazon and a book store near you - Creating Glass Beads by Jeri Warhaftig. Okay, I'm more than a little prejudiced on this one because I was part of the focus group. But, in the Spring when this book is released you are going to understand why. In there a some new techniques that lots of people have been itching to try. We got try them - yes, yes, yes! You'll have to trust me on this because I can't let the secrets out but there are lots of new techniques you are going to want to try. You can pre-order your copy from Amazon and it will be delivered to you whe n it's hot off the presses - I promise, you're going to like this one.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Working on Wax Sculptures to Cast

This side of the studio is mostly for fabricating and the one below for casting.

Happy November! I thought I'd show you the studio set-up we work in to cast. This is the Jewelry Studio at The Midland Center for the Arts. We have such a great time while we're here you couldn't consider it work. Below is one of the new waxes I'm working on to cast. I took photos as I began the process so I could share. I started with a very hard wax (the green - it comes in blocks of varying thickness) and began to carve out the design. To this wax I added some red wax details to build up my design. This is injection wax but works very well for sculpting so I always keep some around to work with.

Doesn't look like much in the first photo, huh? They all mostly start out kind of yucky - just like whittling a piece of wood. A gouge here and there before you switch to smaller tools and more details.

We are almost done here. There are details, refinement, and cleaning to go but it's almost there. I'm hoping to do the casting next week so I better get to it. It does sound like the final words just before my usual procrastination - Yikes.

Oh, just a side note too! I joined a new group - a forum on torch-fired enamels by Barbara Lewis. If you scroll down the page there is a link of the left - interesting stuff that torch enameling. There are lots of names you lampworkers will recognize on their member's list. Come on now - you know you want to try it! Join up...they've lots of tips and interesting ideas.