Monday, April 25, 2011

Creative Slumps

We’ve all been there. Sometimes the ideas just flow and you have so many variations you rush to jot them down. One idea leads to the next and there are not enough hours in the day to begin, let alone complete the things you want to start.

On the reverse side of this are the days you can’t even get yourself up to make spacer beads or earring wires. What’s up with that? If I knew I’d help you out but I don’t even understand it myself. It passes – thank the universe.

Today I ran across one of the blogs from the “Ranked Blogs” list called Art Biz Blog.
On it, Alyson B. Stanfield has a pretty interesting perspective on how to beat the slump. She has 10 very practical ways to emerge from your slump faster. I’ve printed them out for myself. They are going to come in very handy for those days when I am sitting with coffee in my hand, a grimace on face, and I can feel the ball bearings of my brain rolling around off-track in my skull. I’m going to keep that list handy – pick out a solution and “work it baby”.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Casting Stones In Place

While on my little hiatus I was casting. Not that long ago a colleague tried casting some gems (diamonds) in place. It’s risky business but the design was perfect for it. When you are casting in place with gemstones you have to think red, white, and blue. You can cast diamonds, sapphires, and rubies. Her castings turned out great but the diamonds either turned white or clouded. They were toast! What a mess. She had to pull them out of the piece (they were the customers). She reset new diamonds (top quality ones) by a different method in their place. That blew us all out of the water since we assumed the diamonds were going to cast okay. Rio Grande Jewelry Supply had told her she could cast the stones in place. It was a lesson learned the hard way. It was kind of a Paul Harvey thing...what we were missing from Rio Grande was "the rest of the story".

A couple of weeks later on one of my “surfing” journeys I Googled casting stones in place. The results were interesting as you always get the PMC information coming up and I know you can do man made stones – some garnets – etc. with PMC. I am PMC certified. Then, what I found on either Ganoskin or Shurline (?) was that if you cast the big three in place you need to alter your burnout procedure in the kiln because if you don’t you will “cloud out or white out your diamonds”. Other gems, if inclusions are there can crack – including the diamonds. Okey dokey – question answered as to why the diamonds were damaged. You also have to air cool the flask after casting. Normally you quench the flask after about 5 minutes, depending on the size of the flask/ work. Damn – blew it both ways on those diamonds.

I like answers. If you could put CZ’s and other things into PMC and fire the crap out of them was it possible to do the same in a regular casting method? I don’t know why not. So, experiment number one was born. Pristine white CZ on one set of earrings and a natural garnet set in wax modeled on another (they were $15.00 garnets – not cheap but not expensive and had inclusions). It was a regular burn out of the kiln (to rid us of the wax and make room for the silver) – and a regular method of casting silver.

The Garnets – not so good. If someone is kissing my ear (LOL) and eyeing my earrings at the same time they will notice hairline cracks and other nonsense which would make them non-saleable. They are now MINE – greedy little bugger that I am. You can see them up close if you offer to kiss my ear at the Gathering. Hence, I’m not too worried about anyone getting up close and personal enough to notice the cracks.

The CZ set – B-I-N-G-O.

They cast well – they are shiny – there are no cracks – and you could use the regular method of casting to include them in your piece. Hallelujah!

I’m now on a quest, of sorts, to make a collection of OOAK (one of a kind) earring pieces to use with beads. I will make others that are plain silver but I want some pieces that had a little bling. Would it be great if it were the big three gemstone bling? Of Course, but since the burnout kiln we are using is universal (several of us use it) it will be CZ’s.

The photos are of some of the”bling” earrings in progress. They were just removed from the cooling flasks. Since they haven’t been put into the pickle yet they are gray. Soon they will be silver, freed from their sprues, bright and polished. When they are I will post them.

Maybe when I have my casting equipment set up I will try the big three. For now – bling works.

Art Blogging

Which of the art blogs are the best? It’s subjective depending on the kind of art you are “into”. I enjoy lots of inspiration and find the Blog Rank site a great way of finding blogs that other people think are great too.

Here you will find ranked 75 of what are considered the “best” art blogs. They have them listed by RSS feed, Google, and several other different ways. They’re fun to peruse and can really get you thinking. Who doesn't have a brain-dead day once in awhile.

Not into art – but enjoy literature. It’s ranked too. As are books, photography, museums, and so on. Go ahead. It’s snowing and cold here. A great day to hunker down a spend an hour surfing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Galt - No wait - Now it's the Hyatt

It's a little like a ping pong game. Galt/Hyatt - Galt/Hyatt.

The Hyatt was out of the question because they didn't have room at the inn for us. And the point goes to The Galt, they had a room. I like the Galt - it's a bit of a walk through halls to the convention center but it's not sleeping the car (like THAT would happen, huh Susan?). It's a great hotel. We're adventurous - maybe not alone, but together we can get into trouble. Does anyone remember the flying monkies at one convention??? It was this "trusts" brainchild. We don't tend to be as adventurous for Lillian's sake...uh, most of the time : - ).

I thanked Libby Leuchtman - she suggested The Galt on Lampwork, Etc. when I posted about the issue of getting a room. Libby is a great Lampwork Artist and a down right good person.

Susan Lambert stepped in with an assist (she's an excellent person to punt, a friend, and fellow roomie -along with our lovely Lillian) and made the Galt reservations. I, admittedly, was pretty fed up with the Hyatt. No matter how I tried to explain that the booking had just opened for the Hyatt and that we could not switch hotels midstream - that Lillian is disabled - or that I had just seen a different room for $15.00 more on their own site (but it wouldn't let me book it at the same time as the other half I just purchased/ so I'd pay more for two nights but not $50.-$100. more) I could not move them from their position. This is where I enlisted Susan to assist - it's like passing to the faster wide receiver. She is the receiver of my oddly thrown balls (LOL)- I am more methodical like the quarterback. I needed to be benched because I bobbled the ball....

Yesterday the ping pong ball came back around again. I went to Midland to invest some castings to pour tonight and by the time I had gotten home Kendra Bruno (ISGB Executive Director) had intervened with the Hyatt and also posted on LE because she couldn't reach me by phone (probably have my old work number, maybe?). She set aside a room for all of us and we could call the Hyatt to confirm.

First a drought - then a flood.

Back to the stategity of hotel reservations, ping pong, and football. Susan goes long on one phone from NC to The Galt - and me in Michigan on the phone to the Hyatt. Done deal - Back to the Hyatt - The Galt is cancelled. It will be better and easy for Lillian - it will be better for the ISGB. I love the ISGB - I don't want them eating penalties for not filling their rooms. Can you believe that some people book extra rooms and then cancel after they find a roommate and then book the convention?Maybe it's me but the quarterback here finds that concept bass-ackwards. I'm thinking the wide receiver though would still be standing there down field saying, "Forget about it Sharon - just throw the damn ball - I can catch anything!"

I'm hoping everyone stops by our booth at the bead sale at the convention to see the "crazy hotel ladies" since now everyone knows us - HAHAHAHA! I think we need a sign in that booth that says, "Sort of book your reservations with Sharon - it will be a fun ride."

Thank you Kendra, Susan, Libby, and Lillian and the ISGB. You all rock.

Tomorrow - on to artistic posting...enough about the hotels already, huh?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Galt It Is

For those who haven't been to Louisville before the last time we had the Gathering there the block of rooms were booked at the "The Galt". It is an older hotel than the Hyatt but very nice. The experience there was great. Between that and now the ISGB has developed a relationship with the Hyatt and so it has become our primary choice for these conventions.

Frankly, I liked the Galt.

I found this whole reservation thing annoying - Yes, I am frustrating easily. I admit it. But, like I said previously - I just did not expect a smaller block to be set aside for hotel use for this years convention. Maybe they thought others would find off site hotels as there are a lot of them in Louisville. Maybe it was the complaints about the previous Hyatt (I know I spoke up - I know a good dozen people who shut up/ and put up). Whatever the reasons - so be it.

Will it be a great convention - ABSOLUTELY! Is the ISGB a responsive and fantastic organization to be involved with - DITTO. Am I putting down their tireless efforts on behalf of their members - No way. I just found this hotel thing a snafu I found particularly please forgive my rant over it.

We are staying at "The Galt" - they have rooms and are attached to the convention center. The Marriot is full.

Now, on to making beads and more pleasant things. I'm still working on figuring out how to use a vulcanizer.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Flop Goes the Gathering

I feel like I've had a flat tire. For the past several years - quite a number actually - I've attending the Gathering (conference for glass beadmakers). So, this year I registered up and got my friend Lillian all set. She is on an around the world cruise. Booking for the hotel started on April 11th. It's never been a problem before - although Lillian usually calls Cathy Finnegan directly because she is overseas when all of this happens, it makes her comfortable to do that so I've let it be. This year, well - I figured I could get it accomplished. Registration for my sea bound friend and a hotel when it came up. Or within a day or two after I heard from Lil. If there was going to be a difference in the number of the book group rate rooms available I wish they'd of let us know when they sent out the notices. I waited five days to book and they are gone. The next price up for the SAME room is at a business rate and is $75.00 per night MORE. This year - after I reach Lillian who is due into port tomorrow - and Susan who is at dinner with friends tonight I think I will cancel my Gathering registration. I just do not need the hassle. The Hyatt we stayed at last year was FILTHY - there I said it. Hyatt made little apologizes for it. They screwed up the rate - I had to call. And the room was bad enough I took photos and sent them to Hyatt Corporate after the maid refused to leave the dirty bedspread off the bead. And, that doesn't even begin to cover the condition of the shower curtain (and a half a dozen other things - makes you wonder what they didn't clean in the tub or sinks, huh? Kendra called and expressed her sincere apologizes on behalf of the ISGB - it really wasn't her problem...but I think after this I'm pretty turned off by Hyatt. I go to conferences to join in the fun - support the ISGB, and have a hassle free experience. It has not been that way for the past two years. Seattle is kind of out of question - too far away. But, the GAS conference will be in Toledo in 2012 so I think I'll be heading there. So sorry, this is a vent. It's annoying. You expect - I EXPECT there to be enough rooms to make it over a week of registration. If there aren't I guess I would expect that those of us members who registered on time might get an email. I don't think I should have to check the ISGB forum for tips and details. I have a life here and it's busy. Maybe it's just to busy for the Gathering this year!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Trip to Nirvana

Okay - it really does not take much to amuse me. Every one's Nirvana is different and I'm such a tool junkie that stores with tools and even a Harbor Freight can make me giddy at times. Oh Yeah, and I most certainly know I am not alone. I'm in good company.

The night I got back from North Carolina there was an email that came from the Michigan Silversmith's Guild. A former teacher from Traverse City who I greatly admired was selling her casting equipment. I had not seen Diane Hubert for a good fifteen years or so. She was a joy to have as a teacher - she was kind, nice, and great at disseminating information. You know those people - a teacher's teacher. I was lucky to have had her for an instructor.

I wasn't planning on purchasing casting equipment just yet but when I saw that - well, it was like serendipity. One more day out of town and it would have been history. Actually, if I hadn't contacted her that night it would have been gone. But DH said - "go for it", you know her and how well she treated her equipment. Yes, she is a good artist, good person, and took care of everything. Seven other people contacted her after me....

It's not set up - I just picked it up this evening - I'm walking on cloud nine.

Onward and upward. This is going to be fun to set up. Oh, and Diane showed me this great fan to purchase to pull fumes out of the way when you are fabricating. What a great set up she has.

I've never used a vulcanizer but Diane showed me how. Can you tell how stoked I am about this equipment? It going to drive me crazy to wait until I'll have to put an air vent up for the burnout kiln but safety first.

I'm feeling blessed. The photo is the pile of goodies in the back of the car. I couldn't wait to take a photo either....

Sunday, April 10, 2011

REDO on Artist Info

I know I've mentioned this site before but it definitely is worth a second look. Yesterday I was "floating" around the Internet links from different peoples sites and again ran across the site for Ask Harriette. This time what I found was a series of articles and free pdf's on a variety of topics running from photographing your work to professional guidelines. It's excellent. If in any way you are involved or considering being involved in art professionally you should check them out.

So here is my Redo of Harriette Berman's Link. Give her a click!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Fire Divas

Sometimes you find a group of like minded individuals you just want to join. Some of these ladies have been my blog partners for a long time. They run great blogs, make great beads and jewelry, so what's not to like? You can reach the blog here: Fire Divas. And from there you will be able to peruse the individual blogs. The Divas Facebook and Twitter too! I love blog hopping and checking things out. Everyone has their own ways of doing things and you never know where the next great tip, or great designer bead, will come from.

I'll enjoy being a "Diva" - it will probably be the only time I'll ever get to be one (wink, wink!).

Monday, April 4, 2011

Hiatus is over….but not forgotten

North Carolina View

Bridles at the Farm

I’m sure feeling like Waldo. Where the heck is Sharon? What in the world has she been up to? She’s never missed a whole month blogging before. Nope, I don’t think I have either. Is there an excuse for this absence? I’d feel like a teenager if I made one up - and those days are long gone.

Have I been busy? Kind of…..daughter got engaged and we are knee deep in wonderful wedding planning, took a much needed vacation to North Carolina to see children, working on taxes (UGH), did a number of special orders for customers, did some spring cleaning and have taken seven boxes to Goodwill. I think that catches up the empty slot of the blog. I've added a few photos of the trip.

Now, if I were just caught up with this house cleaning……

Sunday, April 3, 2011

My Beloved Detroit

I’ll address my absence from blogging tomorrow but for now I’d like to send a shout out to Detroit.

It's the city of my birth, a place where I grew up meeting my Grandmother for lunch at Carson's, explored Museums, enjoyed the
Scarab Club, drove "muscle" cars, fell in love with old buildings, and people. New York has it's charm but I think if you can "make it" in Detroit - well, you've got GRIT!

We've all watched the auto industry problems - it really hits home for me to see that. In our neighborhood we were the children of "factory rats", Air Force people, and whatever squeezed into living around them. It was a great WWII neighborhood with children at every house. Well, you don't want to know about that. You want to know about the shout out.

April is glass month in Michigan. Hallelujah! Can you believe it? Of all of the places to have a
Habitat Gallery - it's Michigan (Metro Detroit). All the galleries and the studios seem to celebrate in one way or another. It's even got a mention in American Style Magazine. I'm hoping I get back downstate to visit some of the galleries and some of my friends this month. We'll see - it's mighty busy around here.

Carol Shepard of SMGBG (Southeasterm Michigan Glass Beadmakers Guild - Glass Act) sent out a notice to all of us in the guild about a "happening" during this time. It was kind of a gallery walk - open house. The factories aren't all abandoned. Check out the
Russell Industrial Center Leave it to the artists to find the best in things and rebuilt. My motto - abandon it and they will collect it, repurpose it, and turn it into art. Go ARTISTS - and GO DETROIT!

The Russell was designed in 1915 by architect Albert Kahn and used to be home to the Murry Body Company. Today it is home to more than 150 artists and creative tenants.
Everyone here has a passion not just for art, but for creating art here in the Motor City.

So lift up your coffee cup and give Detroit a toast - they are nothing if not resilient and artistic.