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!