Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tin Heart Earrings

Have you been wondering what I did with all of those punched out pieces I did on the hydraulic press?  Sometimes it feels like I’m just one giant jewelry component maker.  I do amass a large number of parts, be it beads, metal, or ceramic.   There are lots of stashes around here for components I’ll tell you.  I’m like a raven – if it’s shiny or interesting it’s stashed around here somewhere.

This tin “thing” is speaking to me though and I’ve returned to making earrings.   I can only wear so many pair so I’ll probably revamp my old Etsy site for finished jewelry.   In keeping with the ArtWerks theme I’ve called it MetalWerks.  You can find it HERE.  It’s empty, but won’t be soon!


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Great Information

It great to pass on solid information - and some of the most solid comes from Joe and Anat Silvera.  I wish I lived closer to their academy because I know I'd be a regular attendee.  I received a notice via email that they've a new video on setting up your small oxygen/ propane torch.  Wonderful - - - and they have many more.  While you're there sign up for their newsletter.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Are there no good parts left?

It's not that this is unexpected.  I have arthritis - I carry too much weight.  I have crappy knees.  Here we go again....the right knee is scheduled to be replaced on February 11th.   It's shaping up to be a crazy month.   Let's see - stuff/ knee/ anniversary/ Valentine's Day/ Bi-Lateral hip shots.  I know there is more but typing it here I can't remember it all. 

Okay universe - do it to it and let's get it done.  I've healing to do before Bead and Button.  Silver lining: There will be plenty of blog time in February.  I've not made any monumental decisions here but my philosophy has grown as I've aged.  At this point when this "stuff" comes in batches I tell myself, "There has GOT to be some humor in there some where Sharon - look for it."  And, indeed if I look it's always there lerking somewhere.  And if there isn't - I'll make my own.

Let's take today.  

I decided in my grand wisdom (I got old - not necessarily smart) that we would use the "optimization" clinic at Henry Ford Hospital to get the prelim work done for the surgery.  Okay - you don't know the lay of land here...let me explain.  Detroit is where HFH is - I am 3.5 hours away (one way).  And so, when do I make this appointment - 9am.  Dumb shit.  You see, the plan was to visit my son, DIL, and granddaughter over night and then go to the appointment and come home.  But, yesterday I just couldn't seem to get up the steam to get going.  Dumb shit.  Today I (we - poor DH) got up at 4am, got ready, and left for the loooong ride.  We left the darling animals at home thus sealing our fate.  It was a down and back trip.  Okay, if we wouldn't have made it this would be a whole different post.  Did I pick the day or what - we got to see six accidents along the's Michigan....we don't slow down much for snow.  All the way this reel of "another one bites the dust" kept rolling though my head.  What a dumb song.

At the hospital they warn you ahead of time you are likely to get a hospitalist for this clinic.  Well, I didn't get a hospitalist - I got a clone.  I love the clones (the wanna be baby doctors).  They are so eager and so serious.  The poor sweet young man asks me the pain level on my knee.  I just can not control myself with these kids.  I say, "which one?" and act clueless since it hasn't been long since the left knee was replaced.  He gets confused and has to consult the paperwork.  Then he says,  Well - the right one.  Someone stop me - I left DH in the waiting room and he usually rolls his eyes at me which is his clue that enough is enough.  I tell him the left one is feeling pretty good and is about the same pain level as the "right" one.  Back to the paperwork he goes - "How is the pain level on the one we are going to put a new joint in?"  Okay, he's on to me (no not really). Actually it wasn't hurting - I've been on my butt for four hours at the crack of dawn which I usually do not see so it wasn't getting a work out.  We discuss the knee - the risks - my temporary lack of agony.  He is truly very sweet and very eager.  We share a few more jokes and this time we laugh together.  Now, he gets it!  Later he calls the "boss" in - a nice female (much older) doctor to check his work.  I give her a little of the business and he winks at me from behind her.  He'll make a good doctor.

All the way home it sleets and there are more tow trucks and police cars.  I thank the universe for a decent trip and a good sense of humor.   On the way into the garage I hum the tune and trip down and a gazillion yet to go (another one bites the dust!).  It's sounding better now.  Maybe it will be a theme song when I have to whack my way through things.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Glass Goodie Shopping

I make murrini but sometimes you just decide to add a little extra to your mix.  The best place I've seen to add those murrini is from Lori and Kim.  Just click the names for instant access to their site. They make great murrini and in different COE's so you can get whatever you need for your work.  These are the two of the mixes I bought and they arrived in incredibly cute packaging.  Love it!

The other thing I did was to order some Val Cox frits (re: smashed up blends of glass).  I've seen some beautiful work done with the purple rose frit so we'll see how this goes.  It's terrible for devitrification but I'm sure I can figure out something.  The others are old standbys....the "sugar" coating glass, and Gold Iris which makes a great stringer that flames to a nice metallic luster, cranberry (a nice pink) and Beas Bonnet which looks interesting.  I'll post the beads as I make them and identify what is on them - be it murrini or frit - or more like both.

And then - about two weeks ago I order these beautiful babies. This from Double Helix Glass. They make some great silvered glass and the very best encasing glass - bubble free stuff. Expensive, yes - worth it - no doubt about it.

Yes, it was a bit of a shopping spree but I had a great time and it will all be used. Probably a lot sooner than later. How are your after the holiday splurges going?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Take a Winter Break and participate in Bead Soup

It's getting to be that time of year again.  Lori Anderson is gearing up for this years Bead Soup Blog Hop.  I'd say it's time to get your designing shoes on and join in the fun.  Here are the links so you can take a "lookie lou" for yourself and see what you've been missing.  Just click on the name below and it will take you where you need to go:

And...if you are on Facebook you might want to join Lori's Bead Soup Cafe  HERE !
These are great times for beaders so take advantage of one of the great opportunities open to all of us.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

All signed up for Bead and Button

I'm excited about going to B&B this year - but then aren't I always?  This years class choices don't include any glass classes - bummer - but I think I've chosen some interesting ones.  I've got two with Richard Salley, one with Linda Larsen, and one with Hannah Rosner. 

Short post - just returned from Detroit.  Went to Munro's and picked up Kyanite and had the knee surgery checked.  Knee number one doing well and knee number two getting ready to go on the schedule...ACK!

This is what we will be learning from Richard Salley.



Monday, January 14, 2013

Flowered Hearts

Terrible phone photo but I'm continuing on with the "heart" collection.  I could use a little more variety in the color for the hearts.  This set is really pastel and I must of conjured up that old adage of Cindy Jenkin's (the inventor of the hot head) who used to say it's not done until it's over done.  I'll try and lighten up on the next set.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Hearts Keep Coming...

These hearts are all gussied up and ready to photograph
I'm on a roll here and expect to do one more batch of hearts today - maybe with eyes on them or flowers.  I'm not sure yet.  I'll let the mood take me wherever it goes.  Maybe I'll go into my stash too and add some clay pieces to these.  I think I have some clay hearts stashed away from my fall earthenware session.
Yesterdays heart batch fresh from the kiln this morning

The largest one will be sandblasted - too bad all of the great underlying silvered glass doesn't show in this picture.  Ack, look at that old yellow Formica on my counter - I guess it's update or move! Oh, if it were only that easy to do that.

Back to the torch...I'm definitely not done with this theme yet.  It's my time of year!


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Hearts, fresh from the kiln

Not even off the mandrels yet!  This is part of yesterday's session and today's haul from the kiln.  I've never met a heart I didn't like and I'm feeling very Spring oriented.  To me Valentine's Day hearkens the coming of Spring and new flowers.  Besides, it's unseasonably warm around here - the snow is melting and the sun is out.  YES!


Friday, January 11, 2013

New Tide Pool Beads

Five Starfish Beads and a cabashon

It’s a starfish attack in the tide pool.  A customer from last year’s Bead and Button had a request of me – and not exactly recently.  It came just before Thanksgiving but life around the holidays is hectic so I couldn’t get to it until just now.  Marcia had bought one of my tide pool beads and wanted another one.  They’re not easy to gear up for.  Since I don’t make them year round I don’t tend to have everything I need for them around.  You need murrini to make the tiny shells, and pulled dichroic glass that’s encased (for the glimmer), some silver laden glass for sheen, about six shades of blue and green in transparent and opaque, some silver foil, clear to encase for depth, and on and on.  If the bead doesn’t kill you the prep for it might….hahaha.  Anyhoo, these are the results of my recent reunion with the sea and tide pools.   Marcia can choose from the selection and the rest will go on Etsy in about a week and to Bead and Button.  I hope to make some time to create a few more for Bead and Button and lots of other types - - - what was that about not having that college energy anymore?  I guess I do work quite a bit - it's just in small bursts all day long and I always have quite a few UFO's (unfinished objects) around to work on.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Call for Entries - Lark - Showcase 1000 Beads

Showcase 1000 Beads: new Call for Entries with deadline of Feb. 14, 2013!
January 10, 2013, 12:09 pm Posted by Ray Hemachandra


We thank you for sharing this call for entries promptly with all appropriate colleagues, professional groups and associations, message boards, schools, students, and beadmaking communities:

Lark Jewelry & Beading seeks excellent photographs of original, contemporary beads in all materials to publish in a new juried, international collection in our 500 Series of books: Showcase 1000 Beads. This book is scheduled to be published in January 2014.

The book will be juried by Kristina Logan.

We welcome and encourage submission of photographs of your handmade beads in all materials (glass, metal, polymer clay, metal clay, ceramics, paper, fiber, plastic, wood, stone, etc.) and design styles. All work must be made no earlier than 2010, and the more recent the work the better—we’d prefer to see your 2012 work over your 2011 work, and your 2011 work over your 2010 work.
We strongly prefer images of beads that have not been published previously, and please do NOT submit images of pieces that have been published in any Lark book. We can accept only high-quality digital images. Artists will receive full acknowledgment within the book and a complimentary copy. Artists retain copyright of their work. There is no entry fee.

All submissions must be submitted electronically through Juried Art Services. Note that there is no fee for using Juried Art Services. The entry page can be found at the following link: Juried Art Services or, the full URL,

Entries must be submitted by February 14, 2013. We strongly encourage early entries.
All visuals submitted must represent work that is original in design. Please choose work that reflects the book’s concept. A maximum of four entries per artist is allowed, so please submit your best work. An entry may consist of no more than two visuals: an overall shot and one detail (or alternate view); the detail shots are not required. The primary images you submit should each be different designs. For example, do NOT submit four variations of very similar beads; instead, submit one bead from each of four series.

Important: Lark will only publish photos of entries containing images and text that are free of copyright or for which the artist (or approved institution) holds copyright.

Note: Reprinted from the Lark notification via the Lark Blog.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tin Ear Parts

The best of the punched pieces (partially cleaned)
I like working with components and we all know in general I tend to make a bunch of them.  I have a hydraulic press I've had for a very long time and used to punch out a variety of shapes to work with.  It's been a long while since I've done this on a regular basis.  I thought some of the steel dies might work to punch out some of the litho steel.  After all, it's thin. 

In theory it was good.  And here is where you find out whether or not you've purchased an excellent product.  My original dies were designed by me and the designs were sent out to Sheltech to be cut from flat tool steel into pancake dies.  I slide my metal into the die and punch (with the press) out a piece I can then design with.  Generally, it's nice, crisp, and clean.  Just a snip here and file there and you're ready to go.

And, I dare say - although there are a plethora of great artists out there you'd be shocked at how many actually do this and then alter the piece for their jewelry.  Don't wince.  If they didn't start out with  those pieces we'd never be able to afford to buy some shiny object we saw in a local gallery. 

I did say this wasn't all good, right?  My original dies are from Sheltech.  I have no interest in cutting out my own dies.  I also purchased, in the past two years, some pancake dies from Potter USA.  They should be good to go....uh, but they are not.  I tried them on the litho steel (tin).  Actually, no one has a right to expect any pancake die to snap this stuff easily.  It IS steel and really isn't meant to cut in a pancake die, even with a 20 ton hydraulic press.  I was hoping for a big surprise here and didn't get it.

But, I was throughly disappointed when it didn't shear 26 gauge annealed copper without a glitch.  I mean gheeze - it should cut like butter.  New die - great press (Bonny Doon) and annealed metal.  My old dies don't do that and they've pressed out consistent clean cut pieces for a long time.  I'm no quitter so I tried unannealed 26 gauge - nope, same issue.  I'm not giving up but then I'm not investing in anymore pancake dies, for the time being, from  Potter either.  To be fair I'll try some other gauges of metal (annealed and otherwise) and we'll see how that goes and then I'll call Potter to see if I'm doing something wrong.  That is not beyond the realm of possibility either.

Gosh I hate it when things don't go the way they're planned.

Won't some of the new mini lampwork look good with these future earrings?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

More CG Beadrollers

Love them!  If I were to recommend a product for lampworking one of these paddles would be it.  It doesn't replace knowing how to make a nice focal bead but it certainly can expediate making a matched set and for adding a nice shape to pieces.  These paddles are, again, just wonderful.  Graphite does not "drag" on hot glass.  It allows the glass to flow over it rather effortlessly if you don't force it.  That allows it to roll magnificent patterns into the glass or if you have designs you've sunk into surface and you use a light touch it won't distort them.  And that doesn't even begin to address how cool it is to use for forming a base bead you can then go and decorate.  Graphite isn't just for writing anymore...LOL  And CG Beadrollers are the creme of the crop for graphite.

These are the new paddles and a few of the beads I made from them while I practice the new shapes. 

So, it's not a paid endorsement - and I paid for the paddles.  I just like to give a shout out to good products.

I made most of these on the mini roller

Monday, January 7, 2013

Tool Nirvana from a Friend

I’ve been graced with many great instructors in my life.  I can count on both hands and add toes to the number of  lampworking “greats” I’ve been lucky enough to have as teachers.
It’s given me a great platform of techniques to draw from.  On the other end, the metal working and fine art side of me, I’ve been equally lucky.  There is not a depth of art instruction close at hand.   Closest areas to get any good instruction – Traverse City or Midland (each is about 100 miles away).  You’ve got to really love to learn to take those types of trips.

First, I attended Northern Michigan College and loved it.   It was a piece I designed in Metals that sent me to glassmaking when I couldn't find a one holed bead I needed.  My metals instructor was Diane Hubert.  It was a 3 hour round trip but I didn’t care – it was a golden time there and between Diane and Jack (my printmaking instructor) I was on fire inside.   They were (are) as talented as they were kind.  Diane knows her stuff and further opened my mind to all the possibilities of metal work.  It’s from her I got my love of using a rolling mill to pattern metal – I covet having my own rolling mill.

I’ve never lost my love of drawing – or lithography (Jacks fault for sure) but since owning a press was going to be out of the question I eventually had to narrow my focus.  Pliers could be put out of the way of childish hands the way caustic ink and cleaners couldn’t, so it was an easy choice with little ones in the house.
Today I met with Diane in TC.  It gives me an incredibly warm feeling to see her and I wish we lived closer – we’d be great friends.  She has been selling off her personal equipment (the arts department in their insanity closed the fine arts metals program a long time ago at NMC).   Diane has slowly been retiring from her metal work – not from art – just metals.  It has always been the colleges loss and they have no idea what a large one it was – so sad.    Last year I purchased from her the casting equipment we had used at the college.  It was well loved and equally well maintained by Diane.  

On this  “trip to town” she allowed me to purchase eleven hammers and several draw plates.   Amongst the hammers there are raising hammers, chasing hammers, ball peins, and the like and all just beautiful…a steal at $10.00 a piece.  She even gave me the tote bag she carried them in with - if she only knew what a freak I've become with tote bags. 

Necklace by Diane Hubert 1993

The draw plates make me gush…two are of French origin (old plates from Rio) and in mint condition.  The third has carbide inserts and after I saw the chain I remembered it had been chained to the rolling mill in class so it didn’t sprout feet and walk away.  Diane was careful to tell me how to remove the chain she so carefully riveted on it but I like the chain - I won't be able to look at it without thinking of her and those pleasurable memories and lessons.
Diane and I talked about me teaching.  I haven’t done that in awhile.  I used to drive down to Midland and teach at the Bead Weasel.  The Midland Art Center has two good metals teachers (my good friend Sharon Berkan-Dent teaches casting) and the fabrication teacher can not be beat either  – I adore him – Roger Schmidt.  He has a gemologist degree and 23 years of bench experience.  You can’t shake a stick at that or throw the man off with even the ticklish of questions.  Damn he’s good.   Aren’t I the lucky girl?  At least my effort to make the drive leaves me with two great friends and teachers.
Thanks Diane for entrusting the tools to me – they’ll be well loved and cared for.  Teaching is again on my agenda - but a ways off for now.  And you’re right…when it comes my time to retire from metalsmithing I too will find someone who will care for them and pass them along.
Aren't you all having some seriously bad true tool envy about now?  Who says boys get all the tools!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Bead and Button Show Reminder

Here we's sign up time again for the show.  Spread out over the thirteen days are so many classes that it's mind boggling.  The pages in my show book are folded and nasty as I get down to work in earnest trying to figure out some kind of schedule that will work for me.  I try to narrow it down to three or four classes that build on information I have.  I always figure that time is money and if a great teacher has already figured out how to do a certain technique you'd like to add to your bag of tricks then go - enjoy the class - pick the instructor's mind about your projects - bounce those grand ideas off of them and others.  It's a great community to be able to do that with - all genuinely nice artists.

This is what the book looks like and if you don't have one you can still order one - but registration is on-line and you can look over all of the classes and instructors HERE.  Registration begins January 8th so you need to hurry.

When I figure out my schedule I'll let you know.  There are about 10 classes I have to narrow down to three...........oh shoot me!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Good Winter

Am I typing that? - REALLY...."A Good Winter"?  What constitutes a good winter, hmmmm.

For me it usually means no snow, clean roads, warmer weather, lots of ideas, and time to bring them to fruition.  What a tall tale that wishful thinking is.  You can't have it all, right?  The optimist in me thinks - You've got to embrace your circumstances and like they say in the song - "If you can be with the one you love, love the one you're with."  Okay, that thought doesn't count where people are concerned (I'm way too old a hippie for that) but with your environment it might be applicable.  I live in the snow belt of the United States (you know that). Mid-Michigan mitten area gets snow, a fact. 

I should embrace the thought of it.  Get really cool jackets and boots.  This is how I'd look in really cool winter wear:

I could wear Prada and Gucci (if I could afford it) and this is how it would end up.  That is how it would look on me and that is the expression I would have on my face.  I'd have to laugh at myself too - whataya gonna do? It is...what it is...cute (LOL), just not me.   Oh yeah, don't get me wrong - I do bundle up and I look like like the pups in the first shot. On the other hand hot weather isn't going to cut it either.  I'm not in bikini shape so palm tree kind of weather is out too. 

So what is this about a "good winter" then Sharon?  I mean if bikini's are out and that is the best you can look as a snow bunny then WTF girlfriend?

Absolutely I say - A very good winter!  Ive a new Swanstrom disc cutter my hubby didn't kill me over and I bought 11 hammers from an old friend (I just need those octopus arms now).  Oldest son took my metal cutter to sharpen and brought me this incredible old one to use for the time being...I'll get a photo of it later to show you.  Yup - it's a bright and shiny 2013.  I wonder where I can find the hat on that wonderful hound in the last photo  ;- ) Wink Wink.

Friday, January 4, 2013

First Tin Experiment Finished

Now the work begins.  I like them.  I like that the dental tool can put waves in the tin.  I like how you can distress the tin or leave it somewhat unscathed.  On the minus side, although the steel (tin) is strong, they can be perceived as - dare I say it - "tinnish".   But, if mounted on another metal it gets a little weight without being heavy.  I actually like some of the earrings I've seen that are all tin and I will go there too but right now is for experiments.  Is some production in the future - uh, maybe,

I decided on lots of dangle and found some very old emerald green glass (old Eastern Indian bottle glass - I've had that strand for over 30 years) and made them the intermediate dangle between the earring hooks (silver) and the reclaimed and riveted tin dangles. 

Light on the ears with lots of movement - I'm old (LOL), not dead!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Eat/Sleep/Work - tin thoughts and new earrings

Remember in college when that is what you'd do?  Wow - I so remember working non-stop until I was exhausted.  I'd grab whatever food I could find and then I'd start again right after I slept.  Now when my son does that I get royally worried (maybe it's that he's not in college anymore).  ACK - the things kids do (even grown ones) to make a mother crazy.
Any how, I've been doing a bit of that lately myself.  A modified version that includes lots of planning.  The planning includes the earrings above.  The photo is askew (I'm not that good with the I-Phone) the one earring is actually only about a mm larger one way than the other but the photo tilt sure makes it look different than that. 
I decided to see if you could ruffle the tin.  I used a dental pliers they use to pull teeth. You can - just as long as you are looking to do a bit of grunge look for the tin.  It's what I was going for and am planning on putting a patina on them so it works for me.  I've used silver rivets and riveted the tin to a copper backing (26 gauge to keep them fairly light). 
You can see from the drawings I'm debating the merits of a few ways to finish them.  Beads on top?  What shape of bead?  What color? Maybe no bead at all and just a nicely wound ear wire  Well - after I get the sanding, grunging, wirings, and so much more done I'll post them.
Whataya think should be the finish for them?  Lay it on me...give examples too.

Clearly some of my favorite works come from Fanciful Devices and Anvil Artifacts.  I'd like my work to take on some of those qualities.  Some grungier work but have totally mixed media Sharon kind of components...maybe just a little less grunge - I'm just worried it might not speak to me when it's complete.  And I'd like to work a little more complicated.

Crap, dump that thought of it speaking to me....let's shoot for looking okay and going where I want them to go.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Revelation - Come on in the waters are friendly???

I'd like to think that I can create in a full circle (concept to fruition)'s the way I think. Unfortunately, it is not always the way I work. I am linear in thinking - and we've covered that before in this blog. Sometimes it can serve me very well.   Ah, when? You ask.  And, you'd have a good right to ask that. Since I consider myself an artist it would be nice to see more finished work. Isn't that what artists do?
Linear works well when I am consumed with making components that are meant to be sold or be a part of a much larger art piece. That is when my linear thinking can truly sing as a way of working. I can go quite fast. I can make creative variations on a theme and extrapolate those bits of flotsam out in non-ending computations of the original thought. It's fun - it's Zen. It has a beginning and no end, so there isn’t any atychiphobia involved. Maybe over the past five years I have actually been a little atychiphobic.
Atychiphobia is the abnormal, unwarranted, and persistent fear of failure. I think most artists have that fear and work very hard not to label it. I am more of a name it and hopefully tame it person. Crap, what if you make all of this "stuff", you put it out in the world and there it sits - unnoticed and not purchased (if that is your intention)? Shit, maybe that means you have no talent - people don't like your art, but it comes from your soul and takes hard work. Mind blowing. Do they have to? Do they really have to like your art? Sometimes that answer is yes.
I'll be the first to say there are times this stops me from taking risks. I'll also add that I KNOW it's dumb and an unreasonable fear....but that (at times) does not lower the panic I feel when working less linear. I find when I do that I work slower/ am much more critical/ I procrastinate/ and I way over think the outcome and details of a piece. It's not rocket science and doesn't need to be picked apart as if by a committee of hired judges, but I do it anyway.
Have I done that before? - Absolutely - There have been long periods where working in any fashion other than to the total completion of a piece would have been considered a waste of time. Cyclical thinking is the king at those times - where something has a beginning and an end.
My revelation for the New Year is that I need to consider both ways of thinking as having positive outcomes and that they can co-exist in my work habits. I can finish pieces and start fresh – and I can continue with linear work to include in those pieces without any rush to judgment about temporary bouts of atychiphobia. Will I still want to control everything and predict the outcome - probably -? But it is a New Year and it's time to jump back into the deep end of the pool.
LOL – I wonder if the water is cold or hot?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year 2013

May your new year be as wonderful and happy as I am expecting mine to be.  This is the year!!!