Friday, December 28, 2012

Holy Eyeballs look what Louisa made!

I love selling beads to creative people.  You just never know what their vision is for your piece…and if you respect the creative process you learn to let go of your personal vision when you send “artsy parts” like beads out into the world.  I love to make skeletons and odd talisman type of parts.  I like making eyes, bones, sugar skulls, and the like.
My earliest recollection of glass eyes has to do with a friend.  Growing up I knew the Shy boys.  Yup, that’s their last name.  First I met Dan and then his younger brother Bobby.  Bobby’s eyes always seemed a bit off, I was hypersensitive even then to any difference in facial balance but I was a teenager – what did I know or understand about life’s differences.  Eventually as our friendship grew the boys explained that Bob’s one eye was glass.  It moved pretty much in unison with his good eye.  I always wondered if he could pop it out of the socket to clean it – boy was I dumb.  Okay, I’ll stop – I know, it’s gross.  Anyway, true story here – Dan had been swinging a baseball bat when the boys were little and hit Bobby in the face.  Anyhow, I’m not much grossed out by skulls – or anatomy – so it was fascinating to me.
Now, as an adult I make glass eyes – although not as complicated as Bob’s was – for sure.
A while back a designer on Etsy ordered some of my eyes.  Today she sent me a message that she had used an eye in a piece of jewelry.  All I can say is holy crap.  I LOVE it.  In fact, I love it on several levels. First off, it’s a very unique piece of jewelry with inspiration drawn on and credited to several sources.  It has a great story.  Secondly, and I’m showing you the back of this piece because she’s not only cleaver – she’s talented.  Soldering is an art – soldering small items isn’t all that easy.  Yet, she has done it cleanly and with a great deal of care to her setting, cleaning, and polishing.  WAY TO GO!  I wanted to point this out because there are a whole lot of people out there who tout their totally poor skills as “rustic”.  BAH, I say.  You can do great work making rustic pieces but using that to justify an inability to practice good metal work is just an excuse.  If you buy a piece of art jewelry it should reflect great craftsmanship – and this craftsmanship is excellent.

So just who did this great work?  Well, let me introduce you to Louisa. 
The proper title for this piece I’m raving about is Braingles and can be found on her Etsy site: Deadly Cute Design (DCD is interactive so click on it and you can see Louisa’s current body of work).
Louisa is from Austin, Texas. She currently attends college where she works most often in sterling silver.  She does try to incorporate some gold in her pieces to have some contrast, but likes setting different stones mostly, because they have deep and contrastive color to them.
This is what Louisa has written on her Etsy Biography:
“I love books, movies, traveling, and music. I enjoy going to festivals. I also like painting and making things out of wax. I love going places and drawing or getting ideas on sight. Most of my inspirations are from day to day life, my best work comes from things I’ve seen, such as a live show or even an art museum that have artwork that drive me to do something creative.
Although I live in the heart of Texas, so far my pieces have many influences such as other famous artists, such as Picasso, Dali, and even Rembrandt. They are my favorites. I don't want to forget astronomy, sexuality, the body, emotions, religion and even...of course, everyone's favorite, nature. Although the transformations in most of my jewelry, which I've made so far have to do with things I've seen on T.V, in a movie, or a dream I had the night previously. The process of my ideas are simple I think of a design or image. I draw it out in my sketchbook. Think on how to go about making the piece, either carve the shape I want in wax, if necessary saw it out in silver sheet. Then more filing and more sanding it smoother, so I can shape the piece out. Soldering, setting the stone, cleaning, polishing.”

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Painting With Fire Studio Giveaway

Painting with Fire Studio Logo
Torch-Fired Enamel Basics
I have this book and it IS my go to book on torch firing.

Before I get into the details of a great giveaway, I want to announce that we've added to our website another size option for our enamels! We now have one ounce enamel packets available at our website. This is something we've been wanting to do for some time and decided we finally had the manpower to do it!
Now for some fun stuff! Today's my day for a giveaway through Jewelry Artists Network. You have to join the facebook group in order to participate ... a group that you'll enjoy! I promise! It's a great resource! The winner will have a choice of one of my new DVD's just released by North Light. They're brand new! All I ask is that you become a follower of my blog and leave a comment at the blog post for the giveaway. This comment will give me your name, which will be entered into a random drawing. On New Year's Day, a winner will be selected and I'll announce it at my blog!

I love myself some techniques and couldn't help it when Barb's email arrived from Painting with Fire Studio.  If you haven't tried torch fired enamels you need to.  This is the perfect time to try them - yes, you'll be hooked.  It's get fun and they're beautiful.  You can see some recently enameled beads at Andrew Thornton's site and if you google enameled beads you won't believe the amount of sites you can get.  I learned this technique from JJ at a class at Brighton Beads but it was Barb who took it global and main stream.  Enamels are ancient but were not widely used by everyone because the process, for all intents and purposes, was kind of mystic and complicated.  Barb seemed to grasp that "need for speed" and turned it into a process for everyone and anyone.  Thanks Ms. Lewis for seeing a need and filling it with some great techniques and art projects. 

Now please note I took these images from Barb's doubt they are the property of Painting with Fire Studio and North Light Books but I wanted to share the giveaway with everyone and point out the great work Barb is doing in this field.  I've made as much as I can interactive so you can get to the sites that you will want to use....quickly now....go sign up.

click above for the direct link to the Studio

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Bead and Button Bead Dreams Lampwork Competition

Bead&Button Bead Dreams Competition

Calling all lampworkers to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity! Bead Dreams Competition, sponsored by Bead&Button magazine, is a juried competition of exceptional bead artistry from around the world. Accepted pieces will not only be displayed at the Bead&Button Show but are eligible for award ribbons in 9 categories and cash prizes! Moreover, there is a Lampwork category for glass artists!

The deadline for BeadDreams 2013 is March 26th, 2013.

Includes beads, buttons, components, jewelry, or jewelry-related objects that are 85 percent or more glass made by the applicant. Entries that use someone else's glass beads or components will be placed in the Finished Jewelry category.

Sponsor: Soft Flex Company
1st Prize: $300
2nd Prize: $200
3rd Prize: $100

In addition, category winners receive prizes from Bead&Button Show sponsors AND first place winner from each category has a chance to take Best in Show or Runner-up Best in Show, both of which are sponsored by Fire Mountain Gems and Beads ($1,000 gift certificate and $500 gift certificate respectively). Furthermore, all finalists will be in the running for the People's Choice award ($500 gift certificate from Fire Mountain Gems and Beads). In 2009, a lampworker won this award!

For more information and entry form, please visit Bead&Button Show website.
Note: I snatched this snippet from the ISGB website for everyone.  The competition is a great one and includes all kind of beaded pieces - lampwork and otherwise.  Check the Bead and Button site for all of the "Dream" competition categories.  There is truly something for everyone.  I have featured many pieces on this blog from my visits to the Bead and Button Show each year.  You can go back into previous postings to check them out. They're truly fabulous.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Wishing You Magic...

It's almost time.  You know, Santa is in his sleigh and twirling around the universe as I type.  I'd like to thank all of you wonderful people in this "Internet" club for stopping by and taking your time to leave comments and visit.  I hope sometime to meet you in real time - at a Bead Show or Bead and Button.

Here we celebrated the holiday early and all of my children were under one roof, at one time, like when they were my babies.  We laughed, we joked, we baked - ate - played games and slept.  I am, for this moment in a state of awe at their timber (and how they don't actually physically fit in their rooms anymore).  You know how it is as a parent...right?  You have these moments (magical moments) that are etched in the film strips that run in your mind.  You can replay those moments at will when you want - or need - them.  Oh crap, I'm tearing up. 

May these next few days contain some peace and mostly I'm wishing you some magic too!

With Love,

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Creative Hands

I'm working on holiday cookies and taking a break.  I've got busy hands and thought everyone else probably does too so I'm passing these photos on to everyone with "creative hands".  These are by artist Guido Daniele from a series of paintings called "Handimals" that feature human hands painted to resemble animals, and with a few contortions of the hand, wrist and fingers, it's hard to believe that there's anything human about this work.  These are amazing.

Talk about creative hands, huh?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Notes on Feeling Helpless

"Cherub Angels" by Edwin Tuts

The very idea that anyone can hurt a child is beyond fathomable to me – yet I spent a career listening to unspeakable horrors inflicted on children and often the horrors they committed on others.  Everyone has a story.  If you get to know the “story” you can begin to understand the person – sometimes it’s not easy.  I learned to do it with a poker face most of the time.  What I gained from a job I loved was a broader vision of the world, an enormous sense of patience I didn’t always have when my own children were young, and a defiantly fierce will to protect my family and anyone who I perceive as having a weak moment and in need of protection.
I am a firm believer in RAOK (Random Acts of Kindness).  We used to endorse it to the fullest where I worked.  There was many a time we used random acts of kindness for the therapeutic value it provided to person who accomplished the good deed.  It is just plain empowering, a way of taking some control back when you feel powerless.  Don’t we all feel a little powerless after the carnage at Sandy Hook? Participating in a random act of kindness is a way of feeling you are contributing to someone else’s life and that helps to make you feel better about yourself.
Tonight I was surfing the Internet and ran across an article about Ann Curry of NBC.  She has made a bold suggestion and one so dear to my heart.  What if to honor the Sandy Hook angels everyone partook of enacting on their own crusade of random acts of kindness.  What would happen if everyone did only one?  What if your ONE was THEE one who kept someone from falling over the edge?  I know how this feels.  Ann is right and it is selfish because it feels good to do it…but that isn’t a problem.  It’s an asset to both parties involved in the transaction.

I’m down with it Ann.  I can do it – I think I can do 26 of them. You can read about Ann Curry’s post HERE (just click).  It's best if you hear it from her.  She explains it much better than I do.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Book Love

Photo from Lark Book Giveaway post
Lark Books is having another one of those great big huge book giveaways they're from their 500 Series.  I own most of the titles on their giveaway list.   I love them - I go to them often for inspiration and am blown away with the eye candy they contain.  You can sign up for their giveaway.  Just click HERE and it will take you to their page.  If you don't belong to the Lark blog for jewelry sign up while you're there and you'll get their notifications of giveaways, free patterns, and all kinds of great craft info.  No, I don't work for Lark - never written a book for the publisher (although it would be fun).  I've just been lucky enough to win one of these wonderful giveways before and know you'd enjoy that opportunity too.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tin Ear

Even though the holiday is near I’m continuing to develop what I’d like to be a small line of recycled earrings and jewelry.  I’ve been working with tin for a while now on the side and love the idea of adding it to the mix.  It just seems to have the right lineage to accompany some great mixed-media work.
I won’t profess to be thee expert but I have experience working with it.  In college, aside from printing on lithography stones I traveled down to Detroit from up north and sought out a company who would sell me litho plates to work with.  I became very acquainted with the process involved in working these plates for artistic purposes to print on paper.   A great deal of my work was done this way as they were portable – could be cut to size – and could be manipulated into odd shapes – thus giving the plates a shape to press along with the images they bore.  Printmaking was “my thing”.
Maybe this only makes sense to me but let me explain.  What we commonly call tin – i.e. tin cans, cookie tins, etc. is actually litho printed steel.   It’s a cousin to the steel plates I used to work on.  Albeit, fancy printing on the steel rather than transferred to the paper but fascinating to me because it’s a litho process.  The steel is printed, cut, shaped (this part has got to be interesting – can you imagine a machine to roll the lip of the steel?), and brazed or crimped together.  Okay, I’m giggly.  And I’m brushing my interest here with broad strokes but the history of the how “tin” cans came to be is interesting.  
A page out of my current drawing tablet - some pieces are actually taped in there as a reminder.
Can preprinted litho steel be manipulated by a jewelry artist?  Absolutely!  You just have to look at the proliferation of bead caps for that.  Almost anything you can do with a non-ferrous metal you can do with litho steel.  The only thing you have got to remember is that this metal is sharp when cut.  VERY SHARP.   It cannot be annealed to make it more malleable.   The lucky part is that it is plentiful, colorful, and despite the trite holiday decorations on lots of the cans they become indistinguishable up once you cut them into small pieces.  Just be sure you sand those edges – they file and sand nicely so they aren’t sharp when the earring is completed.
That twisted wire was a bear to manipulate - it's like 12 gauge...I should have annealed it rather than try to muscle it. Then I had to get stubborn and actually soldered it - like somehow it would open easily after all of that.

Above is the newest earring – flat as a pancake (LOL) with the exception of being dimpled.  I riveted a stirrup connection to the top and went from there.  If you’d like to see a simple shaped earring check back in my blog. I’ve shown one before.  The drawings in the photo are my ideas for more with rivets.  I haven’t even begun to draw the designs I have for folding this them. 


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Fur Baby Holiday Treats

Today I'm working on fur baby treats for the holiday.  I've decided that if I'm absent of lots of babies around (my adored Granddaughter is in high school) I will treat all of the fur babies to a stocking stuffed with some goodies for the holiday.  At least I can make those treats ahead of time - I don't think they'll mind.

My finished pile of Doggie Treats
I've really been getting into the "earth mother" thing lately.  I actually wonder if that is a shoot off from working with the clay.  The whole getting your hands dirty things has royally rubbed off for some reason.  Baking bread has become a bi-weekly thing and the loaves are turning out  phenomenally.  My favorite is laced with asiago and cheddar cheese but no preservatives.  It's nice and filling.

Anyway, I digress.  Today's goodies are dog biscuits.  My favorite (Trudy's too) and super easy recipe goes like this:

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2/3 cup flavored liquid (bouillon, broth, etc.)
6 Tbs. vegetable oil

1. Mix the ingredients.   
2. Roll and cut into shapes.  I like to roll it out and use a pizza cutter to make squares.  I also
    use a dog biscuit cutter.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 - 40 minutes.

There you go - that's all there is to it.
Trudy whole heartedly approves.

Miss Trudy - age 7

Saturday, December 8, 2012

It's Beginning to Feel like the Holiday

Macy’s ain’t got nuthin’ on me!  Can you see me doing a “Who’s your Mama now dance?” Take a look at this tree – whoot whoot.  There are over 400 hundred bulbs on this baby.  I used to decorate like this a lot for the holiday but haven’t done it in years.  This year with all of the kids being able to be here at the same time I thought what the heck – and I out did myself with something festive and new.  I even managed to do some outdoors decorating.  It’s not much but it looks inviting. 

This is the usual tree that I do the Nightmare before Christmas tree decorations on.  It’s a black tree but lends itself pretty well to any kind of decorating.  I’m so pepped about things looking peaceful and having a few new things around I think I’ll do this again next year….but with a twist.  I’m pulling out all of the old decorations – every single one of the kids have ever made me and I have quite a few.  I have a few tucked in here and there on the tree now.   But next year I think I’ll find some central kind of kid theme (hhhhhmmmmm – my wheels are turning - maybe lollipop looking treats covered in different kinds of cellophane?), my favorite Angel, and all the ornaments.  I think I’ve a theme – don’t you?
I did add one very traditional touch on this year’s tree.  See the photo of the bell?  My mother made that. She made bells for all of us in this family and for friends.  I will try and find the pattern if you’re interested.  You’d of had to of known her – she kept a list of every bell she ever made.  There were a lot of bells.  Her hands were arthritic but she kept at it.  Her thought was this, I may be gone someday but every Christmas when my friends and family put their trees up and unpack their ornaments they’ll think of me.  She’s right but I miss her more often than that.
If you’re not in the spirit yet – pinch yourself!  The more you do the better it gets.  I’m keeping dollars in my pocket for the Salvation Army Bell Ringers.  I even turned on the music station on the cable.  How many old Christmas tunes do you know?  Turn on the station and you are going to astound yourself. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Can we say Periwinkle Blue?

Pantone Spring 2013 Color Selections
Here we go - new colors to play with that match whats going to be going on with the new spring clothing collections.  Emerald Green supposed to be this years color.   We're also back to the lime green but a soft shade called Tender Shoots, kind of appropriate and pretty.  Dusk Blue really looks like Effetre' Periwinkle Blue glass to me.  And that Lemon Zest looks a lot like a recent color by CIM (Creation is Messy - glass company).  Monaco Blue could be a nice shade of just about any cobalt blue.  The other muted shades will take a little work or thought to find matching hues.  LOL - one thing is for sure - you can never go wrong with a piece of jewelry made of metal.  

Monday, December 3, 2012


This is a heck of a way to start the December posts but what the heck - ya gotta start somewhere.  A couple of years ago Mallory Hoffman roomed with me at a Bead and Button Conference.  She brought along with her some air freshener for the bathroom - she's a thoughtful gal that Mallory.  A princess among swine I'm telling you!  After the conference Mallory let me take the remains of this magical stuff home.  Eventually I ran out.  I looked and couldn't find it - shit! (and I mean that).
Poo- Pourri

Anyhoo, who'd of thunk it.  This product works....I don't care why.  I raised boys.  Not that girls can't stink too but boys seem to relish the aftermath of a meal they should not have poured tabasco sauce on. 

So here it is.  The first post of December is about covering up bathroom odors for the holiday when all of the relatives come to visit.  Consider it - really - it will be quite the conversation starter on the sink near the toilet.   But, you might want to find a subtle way to explain that you spritz before you use the toilet...

Whoo Hoo - Let the holidays begin.   Click on the caption underneath the bottles - It's Poo Pourri.  Mallory had brought the No.2.  I'm not sure what I ordered but I'm sure it will work great.