Sunday, December 28, 2014

Looking Back and Looking Forward...

The first of the U-Haul trucks is on the road.  We were lucky enough (graced enough) to have children visit for the holiday who were willing and able to pack up a 20 foot truck of our lives to head toward North Carolina.  The Christmas holiday celebrations are behind us and shortly in the new year a new life will begin.  No, the entire life didn't fit into one 20' truck.  There is at least another 20' truck in our future - maybe more - but the very first load is out of here and on it's way.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with the old life - except maybe for the winters here.  We are grateful for the full life we've had here in Michigan.  We've raised three beautiful children and they are moving healthily ahead with their own lives.  It's just time to move on with ours. 

My right hand is feeling better - I was truly worried that the right thumb was going to give way.  The left thumb lost the CMC joint and I had to have  major surgery on it.  If the right had gone I'd of been in panic.  I did, however find a great brace to wear so I don't over do the joint again.  It's from Mueller and I got it on Amazon.  Love it.

I'm looking forward to the day I can unpack all of my equipment and start anew on glass and metal.  To that end I've been thinking about my focus lately.  Maybe I ought to consider narrowing the scope of what I do.  I have sincerely been considering staying within the confines of more metal fabrication and finished pieces when I can finally get myself set up again.  We will see what we will see but my ideas have been along that lane for a very long maybe it's time to do that.

I truly admire people who can pick a medium and stay there.  They're happy within those confines.  Maybe I need to concentrate and be more grateful to be setting up some of my own.

I hope your holiday was a happy and grateful one and you got to spend it with your loved ones - be it immediate or extended family and friends.  In this century, ah - maybe any century - I can't help but chuckle and think of the refrain from the song, "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with."  In fact, better if you just love everyone!

Happy Holiday's to You and Yours!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Missing My Art but found a good read!

It's hard to pack and miss out on playing with your art.  I needed a thumb brace for my right hand due to the packing (that was the order from Amazon) and while I was at that I also ordered a book I've been wanting for a long time. 

I picked up Margie Deeb's latest book (or newest to me) entitled The Beader's Guide to Jewelry Design.  I feel as far as jewelry goes I'm a "just okay" designer but certainly not a spectacular one.

So tonight I started reading it once I was too tired for packing or cleaning.  I knew I'd like it.  I'm only about 20 pages into it and it's wonderful.  It should answer a multitude of design problems when I'm stuck.  It certainly is making me rethink a few things that I've packed away and that are in mid-stage as far as designing goes.

So, if you feel like your designs have been a little bleak pick yourself up a copy.  I'm pretty sure you will like it as much as I do.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


I've been packing and getting so much ready to move.  You know how it is with art supplies and all.  But, what I wanted you to know is this so I'm posting immediately.  I ordered online from a company called Nile Corporation.  They have cheap jewelry supplies.  Last year at this time I ordered some supplies from this company.  They were the only company I had ordered from so there was NO doubt as to where the problem stemmed from.

You'd of thought I'd of learned my lesson last year, I'm a slow learner.  Within a few short days my credit card was full of thousands of dollars of charges that were not mine.  Of course, cancelled charge plate and yahdah yahdah. 

Fast forward to a year later (from the first credit card debacle) - lesson not learned - I was desperate with this move and needed more jewelry cases.  So, I figured I would order them.  I don't have time to search any out and it has to be an online order.  Did I pay for it in spades.  YES!  I only ordered from two places - Amazon and Nile on the same day.  Guess what, I got home from NC and while I was gone for the week - thousands of dollar of charges on that plate. 

Back to square one - plate cancelled.  AND, I will never ever order anything from Nile Corporation again - ever!  And, unless you want to go through this you probably shouldn't either.  Can I emphatically say it was from this company?  No.  You will have to draw your own conclusions from what has happened.  But, it sure looks suspicious.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Still Sorting and Packing

Thirty years - I have over thirty years in this house.  Uh, that is like 5 tons of I should have purged a long time ago.  And yet I still find myself looking through boxes and telling myself, "That's too close to being finished, I might use that some day, oh no - I couldn't possibly part with this".  What am I thinking - If I haven't done it by now I never will.  It's not that I'm not throwing things away.  That is happening and we've had to borrow the neighbors trash can several times over the past few weeks but it doesn't seem like nearly enough.  Maybe what I need is a dumpster.  If you pay for that thing then you feel a need to fill it up, right? 

I'm lamenting the fact I unplugged the kiln yesterday.  It's done.  No lampworking or clay for the next 3 months while we transition out of this house and into a new one.  It's sad.  I see everyone's holiday beads and such and I get a ping in chest.  The urge to go and not going to happen.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Juggling Act

Sorry to have been out of touch.  My Samsung lap top took a tumble and I broke off a chuck of plastic that held in the battery charger.  Actually the Samsung was always a slippery sucker and I've often complained about it.  As far as lap tops go it was a pretty efficient one but that slippery trait and the placement of the touch pad was awkward at best.  I was used to a Dell laptop and loved the little thing.  I needed more power and was in a hurry and opted for the Samsung because I could get it immediately.  Bad move.  I'm back to a Dell now and except for the Windows 8 I'm a happy camper. 

There is something about getting a new operating system that always throws me for a loop and this one is no exception.  Swipe screens - and keyboards and a dozen ways to do the same thing.  Yikes.  And really, Outlook? When I wanted outlook on my last computer I had to pay for the darn thing - I refused to do that and simply got a new email (with Google) and I'm happy with it.  Now you want me to have a google account or I have to find a way around it.  Oh Pul-ezzze....stop it Gates!  If you want me to be happy with my Microsoft stuff then please just let me put on the things that I want on my computer and make it so us who remember the very first computers can do that with ease.  I don't want to have to take a computer course just to put "my usual" on my desktop.

Yeah, I know, its probably really simple...and if that were so why the heck can't the "geeks" just do it at the Best Buy. 

Anyhow, I'm back in business while the Samsung is being repaired and maybe I'll add sticky bumps to bottom of it so I don't lose it again on the floor.

And, if anyone know how to get gmail on their Window's 8 easily - without a code and without having to sign up for Outlook let me know.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Addition to the Reference List

Quotes from:  Wubber's University  (and you need to put Wubber's high on your speed order list - great pliers, tools, and this too:

"Today's Tip from Lexi:

Ever find yourself in a “tight spot”, where you can’t get a file or silicon wheel into a small area for polishing? This little tip helps a lot.

Use a Q-Tip or toothpick instead. Charge your toothpick with the rouge ...or tripoli polishing compound, then insert it in your flex shaft or Dremel. Use it just as you would a polishing wheel or cylinder.

If it breaks off, just grab another one, they’re cheap! This will get you into a lot of tiny places, and it’s great for rings. This also works great for cleaning the inside of a bail. ABSOLUTELY DO NOT POLISH CHAINS THIS WAY! The chain can catch and whip around your finger or the flex shaft/Dremel.

And, of course, ALWAYS have on safety glasses when using any power tools. Remove any residue from the compound with a mixture of water, Dawn Detergent and a bit of household ammonia."

And, check this one out - I've never encountered this idea before - brilliant, simply brilliant.  It's from a July 30th post at Wubber's University.
"Today's tip from Lexi:

If you are soldering bezels which are closely placed together, place a piece of mechanical pencil lead on the back plate between the bezels. This will keep them from moving on the bed of flux and soldering together. It works well with tiny little balls for decoration, too."

The Lexi in all of this is Lexi Erickson.  I've several of her videos and she writes for Interweave and Jewelry Artist Magazine, among others.  Great articles, great artist, great tips. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

I'm a Convert

I love a good conversion chart.  I have several of my favorites laminated because it's just plain easier to grab a chart and see what drill bit goes with what gauge wire.  Here is the king of places to get conversion charts for your workbench:


Monday, November 3, 2014

Business as Usual?

Have you checked this out lately:

There are tons of inspirational articles to get your work right on track!  I could really use it - look at the pile I've created in the kitchen.  Gosh I hate packing.

onward and upward!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Julie Sanford Studio

I'd be really a miss if I didn't mention and show you Julie Sanford's great studio in Grand Haven.  She teaches there and has many visiting instructors - such as Gerry Lewy, Michael David Sturlin, and Richard Salley.  If you're ever in a mood for a great Michigan destination I'd recommend Julie's studio without question.  Not only was Gerry great, the town was great, and Julie is a gem.  She couldn't have been a better hostess.

This gives you a small idea of what Julie's studio looks like:

Just a few pictures and I didn't even get the gallery and store section in - the studio is just beautiful
Fantastic, huh?  An ideal setting for working.  Plenty of room to watch the demo - individual benches to work at/ with lights (such a plus to have a light of your own to adjust).  It's just plain ideal.   It's so well thought of that there were students there from Wisconsin, and Indiana - besides Michigan.  And, since Grand Haven is such a wonderful town to visit I'd recommend this as a fun destination trip for anyone.  If it were summer the husbands could laze around the beach, book a fishing trip, or play golf.  LOL - they get to relax their way while you have a great "art retreat".  Whoo Hoo! 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tracy Bell and a Surprise

I don't know whether you follow Tracy's blog but it's a great one and I've added it to the column on the right under "Blogs of Note".  Tracey is inventive and original.  I got to meet her once through a mutual friend (Chris Fisher) at Bead and Button while we were waiting for the teacher's night to open.  I'm sure she doesn't remember me but I remember her.  She has a brash yet refined way or working with wire and mixing in surprising things.  Check it out - Copper, Glass, and Recycled Trash

This past week I was lurking around on Tracy's blog and hopped over to her Etsy to see what was new and saw this great tutorial on a bracelet she made with the "Now That's a Jig".  I lust after one of these but it will be a awhile before one can magically appear under my Christmas tree.  I thought it was fascinating and could see many variations on that theme so I purchased the tutorial.  It's a great tutorial.  Unfortunately with all of this packing and Daisy training going on I'm not going to be able to get to trying for it quite a while. 

But boy did I have a surprise.  When I purchased the tut I got an immediate email from Tracy saying I was her thousandth customer and she had a surprise for me.  Whoa whoa - do I ever love a surprise.  I wrote her and told her how much I love her blog and how much I liked what she was doing and especially the new foray into what we mostly call "fordite".  It's the common name of paint slag that taken off the spray booth's at the paint plant for the cars.  This stuff is fun - looks like layers of stone or polymer when it's cut and polished up.  Isn't it great?

Well, Tracy must have skipped her scheduled item to ship and she send me some of the fordite.  Oh my oh my oh my.  It's incredible and I love it.  I haven't told her yet as I wanted to get this post done and get some pictures.  She must think I'm a slub for not saying thank you yet....I just wanted to make sure she gets the proper thank you and notice for her royally impressive deed of kindness.

This is what she sent - and I'm beyond doing happy feet.  I drew out some possibilities and I'm packing the stones with the drawings so when I get my bench set up in the new to us house it will be first up on my list.  With the colors that are in it I can visualize everything from a grayish sky blue pop of color to a red brilliant cut gem (which I think is going to be one of the stones I add to it in a tube setting.  Although I have to admit maybe taking the back off of stone skull that's black might be my choice for the second stone.  Wouldn't it be wild - all gray, black and red but in a classy silver setting.  So many ideas.

Thank You Tracy.  May the force be with you talented lady!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Grand Haven Adventure

Well you know some of my friends and I took the Gerry Lewy class at Julie Sanford's Studio in Grand Haven.  Julie is a gem of person and a talented artist.  Her studio is a gallery, a store, and a working studio with classes.  It was the first time I had been to her studio and hopefully it won't be the last.  

Rather than talk about the class - I'll add more information about that tomorrow - let me tell you about Grand Haven and tomorrow I want to show you why you'd enjoy a class at JSD Studio. 

Grand Haven is one of those sleepy towns in the winter.  Everything calms down after Labor Day - the tourists go home, kids start school, and everything winds down.  It's called home to the US Coast Guard.  You should see these guys train out there some times.  I've been on vacation and seen training sessions on Lake Michigan - fascinating stuff how they handle the surf out there. 

This is a brief glimpse of town.  Typical small town but very active - several galleries and tons of great places to eat.
I loved the décor of Morning Star Café.  It's only open for breakfast and lunch.  The place is packed and the food would a foodie proud.

Don't you love the bench outside of the café?

This is what Grand Haven is famous for - it's great lighthouse and pier.  You can walk out there and the sunsets are incredible.
Sandy beaches and the dunes aren't far away. 

Since we were there for four days we visited town regularly.   The Maruska (Michigan Rag Company) store was wonderful - ah the T-shirts.  All hand designed and silk-screened.  The Morning Star Café could stand up to the pickiest of foodies - the food was wonderful and fresh and I didn't see a plate go by that wasn't great.  We ate at JW's which was on the corner just past the studio and never had a bad meal there either.  So many nice places to go.  And Fortino's Gourmet Market - wow - it's a good thing we ate before we went in there.
Grand Haven is worth the trip - add the class with Gerry Lewy and Sanford Studios and it's a heck of a treat.  One of those destination trips.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Great Time In Grand Haven

What a fun city.  I am here with friends at JSD Studio's taking a class with Gerry Lewy.  He's a master gem setter from Toronto Canada.  Here are a couple of pictures.

Julie Sanford's Studio

Look at all of the great benches in the studio area.  Everyone has their own place to work.

These are some of the settings we are working on.  Great castings, nice and thick.

Gerry Lewy with my friend Wendy and Myra from Indianapolis, Indiana

We are having a great time and learning so much.  Two more days to go!  I will write more soon.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Home Sweet Home - And More News

Since we're talking about Home Sweet Home's and how I will always be a Detroit girl let's spill the beans on some of the news. It looks like it is now written in stone and we will soon be ready to begin a new adventure.

One set of our children lives in North Carolina. You know that because you just got to see the "Driving Miss Daisy" post. While we were down there we did out second house hunting expedition. My preference was for a place either in Asheville, Arden, or Black Mountain. Dream on....we looked at 20 houses. The only one we saw that would work for us and more importantly was in our price range was under contract. It was also built in the '50's. That part didn't bother me but it had a steep drop off in the back - I really liked it and the dogs would have been happy campers. My son suggested we stop looking in that area and consider living closer to them. We'd get more for our money then. It's not as if we haven't lived close to one another before. He lived in the town close by - a mere 15 minute drive so this is old hat to us. I will hate, just hate - leaving two sets of kids here in Michigan but it's time for Mom and Dad to grow up and move onward.

Asheville will be a quick 30 minute drive from the house. Hallelujah, I can get to a mall and major shopping in less than an hour and a half. And art - whoot whoot - there's a museum - there are galleries - there's a college - and lots and lots of things to do. And, the climate is warmer. DH has needed to be warmer for a long time and Michigan winters up north are just a killer. Unless you can ski, ride a 4-wheeler, a snow mobile, and so on it can be a real drag. He can't do those particular things anymore. So now we will find new things.

It won't be a quick move. It will probably take most of the winter. And then we have to get this house in Michigan back in shape to get it on the market. Looks like this will a process rather than an event. And so it begins, the packing. The purging and trips to Goodwill. Right now I'm in two classes - My favorites - silver fabricating and casting. I'll get some pictures this week to show you what we're working on. Making art hasn't stopped with this new wrinkle. Frankly, it's probably what will keep me sane through all of it. I even have a very special class coming up. Studio JSD in Grand Haven has Gerry Lewy (the cyber-setter) coming in for a workshop. I've signed up with three friends for that class. I'm a barely passable gem setter. A royal rookie and I'll still be a rookie after this class but I might have more of an idea of what I'm doing. I'd like to include a few into some of the designs I working on but I can't do that if I don't know how to set the buggers. There's a line out the studio door for this one, ten in the class and a long waiting list.

This is one of Gerry's lessons on U-Tube.  He has quite a few.

Anyone have any moving tips for me?  Advice is most welcome here.  Have a wonderful Fall Day......

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Denise Walker Billups

This is my friend Denise.  She's the current President of the Southeastern Michigan Beadmakers Guild - SMBG - or better known around the beading world as Glass Act.   She's an exceptional artist and person.  I've listed her blog on my blog list to the right but incase you'd like a direct link it's Fire Dance Lampwork Beads and Jewelry.

Look at that great sculpture she did at the front of her booth - The fish.  It's incredible, right?  Extremely original - I've never seen anyone do a large fish before.  She's taken a technique and has just run with it. 

Denise Walker Billups

Let me tell you about my bud - and her buds, and maybe the entire membership.  I could but it would take a long long time.  First off, if you know me well - REALLY well - you'd know that two of my favorite T-shirts read, "Born in Detroit" and "I've Got a Friend in Detroit".  I'm the child of (and I say this in the most lovingly of ways) a factory rat.  A big factory rat since he was the afternoon shift plant manager at Budd Wheel (long absorbed by another company).  He came up through the ranks, including the union, and too many broken noses to count.  So I am a died in the wool, born in the womb (and the city) girl of Detroit. 

You're going to ask me what the &0%4&2!!! that has to do with my friend Denise.  Well, it's actually got a lot to do with all of those members of the SMBG.  About 30+ years ago my life took me from the Detroit area to "Up North".  It's a great place to raise kids but gheeze's not exactly a haven for someone who would prefer to investigate an abandoned building or an alley than bushwhack a path through the woods.   I got "cabin fever" a lot (a whole lot) - LOL.  That is a mild label for wanting to pull your hair out by the roots because all the things that normally keep you sane besides your husband and family are all 3.5 hard expressway hours away.  I took that cabin fever hard.  I started traveling back and forth to the Detroit area whenever I could - to see my Mom and take in as much creativity as I could on each trip. 

I'd immerse myself in that city inspiration while I was there.  I really missed the culture of Detroit.  Yes, there IS culture in Detroit.  Tons of it.   I'd take weekend classes down there whenever I could.   I wish I could remember the first time my glass work took me into the view of those wonderful people at Glass Act.  I simply don't know.  What I can say is that Denise, Joy Cichewicz, and Kathleen Robinson Young took me under their protective wings and welcomed me as if I still lived close by.  They introduced to so many people - Candy, Karen, Anita, Cindi, Whitney, Sylvis, Susan, and a list of names that borders on remarkable.  They were ALL nice, all friendly, tight knit but not so tight as to be a clique or as to exclude anyone.  Us "anyone's" were welcome and quickly knitted right into the group.   No matter how little or how much I get to see my friends from SMBG they are steadfast, kind, welcoming, and talented as hell - just the way they were when I saw them last.  It's like a day past is the same as a month, or six months.  We pick up where we left off.    Now personally I've belonged to several and still belong to several artististic groups.  If they could only bottle what this group has there would be successful organizations everywhere.....if only.

I wanted to let you known how I had the pleasure of getting to know one of my favorite lampworkers and friends.

Denise and several of our peers have also formed a group called the Fire Foxes.  They had the booth behind Susan Lambert and I at the Great Lakes Bead Show.  What a great time.  Susan Meyer Hatch stopped by, Anita Pepper, Karen Richards, Annie and her mother - fabulous bead makers one and all.  You can catch the Fire Foxes at some of the Beadfests too. 

Thanks Denise - for helping this "fish outta city water" always feel like she's home again....

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tumbled and not Ironed

Yesterday I mentioned the technique that Susan had talked to me about.  I don't have a lot a cute frit around here.  Nothing really light, happy, and airy.  But I did have some interesting frit from Glass Generations and Val Cox Frits and so I charged ahead.  This is the result of my experiment.  I do think I could take some nice "shorts" (leftover tiny pieces of lampworking glass) and make some nice mixes for myself.

Eh, nothing to write home about.  They're okay.  They're nice sized but not remarkable.  I tumbled these in 800 grit in a very large tumbler for about six hours.  Uh, I expected more frost and didn't get it.  Tomorrow I might toss them into the chemical etch.  I do think a quick buff on a polish charged jewelry wheel will improve the look of that silver trailing too.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Artistic License

Well here we go - it's that time of the year when we haven't even gotten to winter and we are already talking about the Spring 2015 colors.  The link above will take you to an interesting Pinterest board.  Plenty of color Inspiration on there for sure.
Then there was this interesting tidbit I from JCK Magazine - it was posted on October 6, 2014.  I just skipped to number ten because it's one of those things that just needles the crap out of me.  Remember my favorite book, "Steal Like an Artist."  I just love that thing.  And here is an real live example of it:
Fashion Trend Report: 10 Spring 2015 Clothing Trends Jewelers Must Know and Why
"10. Artistic Inspirations

The phrase artistic license was well used during the spring shows. Isabel Marant was inspired by the graphic works of painters Joan Miró and Antoni Tàpies to make tribal prints, Andrew Gn dreamed of Monet in painted water lilies that were digitally modified, and Derek Lam 10 Crosby found enlightenment in collage artists Fred Free and Sigrid Sandström in bonded crepe jackets “evoking Free’s and Sandström’s use of masking tape or gesso,” according to Go-to jewelry should feature playful color combinations—think of rainbow-in-a-blender-like outfits from Chanel—metal-intense looks for balance or  pieces with pops of color taken from prints. "

Yup, you don't have to tell me.   We all get our inspiration from somewhere, albeit from masters, friends, instructors, color charts.   Makes me just chuckle to no end.  Can you imagine Manet or Renoir in a snit with Monet because they were doing similar things?  How about all those cubists?  Are you rolling your eyes yet?  Eventually everyone ends up adding their own twist on it - although some things are just universal and that is simply the way it is.  But it never fails to amaze me how much people can get their knickers in a twist over something "familiar" in someone else's work.  That's why number ten on the JCK list was so fascinating. 

I made some glass beads today.  My friend Susan Lambert taught me the style.  Will they look similar? - you betcha....and probably like about a dozen other people including the Chinese knock off kind too.  Susan wants me to show her what I come up with using this problem.  I'll take a photo tomorrow to show her so we can talk about it.  Wouldn't it be nice if everyone could play so well? 

Wow, that is so not going to happen.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Polymer Fun

For all of you who love polymer clay and are looking for some new techniques - Check this out: 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Driving with Miss Daisy - An Update

Lots of people have been waiting for a Daisy Mae update.  We recently took a trip to North Carolina to visit family, and do a few other things I either can't or am waiting to talk about.  Don't you love intrigue?  Since Daisy's issues might be a little much for a kennel to appreciate - and that is IF there actually were a kennel available here we decided to take "the girls" with us.  Uh, Trudy and Daisy.  Trudy loves the car - she's an experienced traveler.  She loves, loves, loves her super huge padded bed and we throw it in the back of the SUV and she sleeps.  Daisy, oh crap, that's a dog of a different flavor. 
Trudy and Daisy behind my makeshift barrier in the car.  Ready for the trip!
We prepared well for this trip.  Since we were staying with the kids on the farm we went to the vet - we got super dooper tic and flea stuff (NC has more tics than Michigan) and in Daisy's case because she is still in "puppy mode" we decided that she was going to need more, just plain more.  Remember when I cancelled dog obedience when she splayed her legs and we found out about the major hip dysplasia?  Well, we still haven't had that course and she is a spaz when she's out of the yard.  I thought we'd be fine the other day and I let her out of the yard - yup, you guessed it - me, hubby, and several neighbors were out coaxing her back down the block and home again.  Thank goodness for a rural area and no traffic.  That was the incident that tilted me in the direction of an implanted electronic identity marker.  What if she got away and I couldn't catch her?

So, I bought a new harness - she had outgrown her other one and we're off to the vet for the super tic stuff, nails clipped, electronic identification, and to talk about our hip progress.   And, LOL, I had taken a video of her in the car.  Don't get me wrong - she loves the car.....but...  There is Trudy all curled up and happy and then there is Daisy trying to get into the front seat - jumping on Trudy, licking windows, nibbling my husbands ear (and getting air swatted - "Get back there &*%5#!!!.").  I video taped it for the vet.   At  the vets we get out of the car.  Trudy jumps down after she gets her leash on - and out flies the adorable spaz - I thought I had a grip on her - oh hell no - she had chewed through her harness and was FREE.  Out run the vet techs, we're hysterically calling her, and she is oblivious to the traffic (we are now on busy road and not in our neighborhood).  Trudy sensing the panic sits dutifully while we wrangle Daisy.  I am forever thankful that our Daisy is sublimely happy, good natured, and can seem to sense when I'm about to have a heartastroke and gives in to whatever it is that I need from her.  Into the vets we go and the techs give us a room immediately.  No waiting room for who they lovingly call "Crazy Daisy".  She well known there and well loved.

Trudy goes in the back for her spa treatment - cookies and nails.  And then they take Daisy - who strains at her leash - we also had on a collar besides the harness...she's excited to go with her friends while Mom and Dad talk to the vet.  In a few quick moments the vet is called to the back - I sense Ms. Daisy is being a slight handful and they'd like some "guy" arms to assist.  Ah, sweet youth.  Back comes our wonderful vet with our baby girl - who is pulling him all the way and we are cleared to go to NC.  He laughs at the video and decides that Daisy needs the equivalent of Xanax or Valium for her ride. Nothing that will knock her out.  She will be able to get out and pee and drink and so on but she will be sleepy and we are so down with it.  If we found someone to take care of her while we were gone they might not understand how bad that leg actually is (her current musculature hides it pretty darn well) and they might think encouraging her to chase the ball is a good idea (NOT!) - so it's this or stay home.   Staying home was not an option - we've put this trip off for a year to get to this point.  Drugs it is - but we decide not to give her the recommended dosage.  We know we can handle some of Daisy's enthusiasm for being in the car.  We just can't do two seven hour days of it.

Despite the drugs she decided she had to be touching her humans.  Okay, I removed the barrier and she went to sleep.
Off we go to NC on Daisy and Trudy's excellent adventure.  And boy was it.  The kids have three horses, seven cats, and a dog.  They also have 23 blissful acres so we decided we'd try and teach Daisy to come.  Uh, we've improved - but we are definitely not there yet. 

The horses and "the girls" - introductions and carrots all the way around.

The fur babies had thee best time.  Daisy thinks cats are a great invention.  She became part of the clowder (a term I just learned from my friend Mallory) and carefully chased after a laser light with them every evening.  She took her turn and no cats were damaged in the games of laser tag.  I've never seen a dog that will chase a laser light - have you?  Daisy and seven cats cheerfully scooting across the front room trying to trap that light.
The horses were great fun - Daisy pounced at them until they'd get too close and she's duck back under the fence.  Trudy, well she took up grass chewing along side the oldest of the horses - Sienna (my DIL's therapy horse).  There is even a beautiful creek running through the property and in the heat Daisy decided that trotting up and down the stream and picking up rocks off the bottom was just divine.  She was soaked from stem to stern.  Trudy, she likes water but doesn't really appreciate a good soak without bubbles.  She waded in and found the only hole in the creek...she spent a few quick seconds in a dog paddle and then the "stink eye" commenced, as if we'd pushed her into the hole. 
And tug-o-war was a favorite pass time for the three dogs - as they'd trade identical toys they'd just de-stuffed.

Kianja playing tug with Trudy and Daisy

It was a great time for all concerned. 
As to the vets impression of her hip.  No, there has been no miracle but there has been incredible improvement.  She is not toe-stepping and she gives the leg and foot full unadulterated normal pressure.  We only have been using her scrips on an "as needed" basis and not frequently.  Since she had the exuberant outburst at the vets and pulled him no matter where she went with him he had a cautionary tale to tell us.  Our plan, take her into Michigan State University and have the hip replaced this fall.  His plan - "not so soon".  I was floored - completed taken off guard.  Jean Wells helped me think this through because my  head was truly wrapped around finishing this quest to make sure Daisy had her hip in place by this winter.  After all she's full size and wasn't that what we were waiting for?  Apparently not all of it.  I guess I should have known this - after having my own knees replaced.  It's not all that easy and requires down time.  In Daisy's case it is going to take 6 weeks on a leash - even with a backyard that is fenced.  Out on the leash even for bathroom duty.  She can not stress the limb in any way, shape, or form while the muscles are adapting to the new instrumentation.  Okay, or so we thought.  NO, says the vet.  Oh shoot me please runs through my head, as we have this bank account with her money in it from all of these generous people who want to help this puppy become and stay "normal".   I relay this to the vet - uh, we've saved and many many people have given of their hard earned money to make this a reality.  He rolls his eyes and says, and I can't quote it exactly because my ears were ringing from a sudden rise in my blood pressure and a panic attack at having my well laid plan disintegrate before my eyes, "She's not ready", he says. 
And here comes his reasoning.  My reasoning being, "Why not, she's full grown now.  Isn't that what you told me?" "Yes, it is - but, look at her," he says. Uh, duh, what?  And here we go - - - "You can take her to MSU and ask the surgeon if she's now ready for surgery and he is going to say - absolutely - We've got a bad hip here - let's do it."  "Sharon, It's their job to 'cut and cure'.  It's what they do.  It's what all surgeons, human and animal do - but it's not the whole picture."  "Okay," say I, "then what is the whole picture to you - because this dog needs a hip or she's going to grind those bones to dust and get arthritis and be crippled and you said so."  See, I'm livid, panicked, and so many things are running amuck in my brain I'm pretty sure he senses I'm about to melt down...on him.  "That hasn't changed - but you've done what we asked - you carefully worked those back leg muscles into great shape.  She's off her meds, she's not in any chronic pain, she's not toe-stepping, limping or favoring that leg what-so-ever."  I'm like red in the face.  "Thanks, but, what does that have to do with the fact she's GOT to have this hip replaced."  "Well, she's not ready - I just took her in the back and we wrangled her for the implant and walked her and watched her."  "OK, so?..."  "She's a baby, and a spazzy baby - she pulls at a leash like a sled dog or a tractor in a tractor pull."  "OK, yeah?"  "Well, she can't do that - not in a harness or a collar - she's got to be emotionally old enough to just walk on leash because if she doesn't she will pull the hip right out of the joint on the first tug - and she can really tug....she LIKES to tug."  I'm like, really?  Come on now, really?
Oh excuse me but all I can think is WTF.  I'm telling you my head was wrapped around a plan - Take the trip to North Carolina - come back to an appointment at MSU and a surgery date.  My apple cart tipped over, they're rolling everywhere and I can't gather the buggers up fast enough to prevent them from being squished by the horses. 
So there we are.  Daisy's jumping around the room.  Trudy is calmly sitting between Brian's legs.  And I am struck dumb.  We get in the car and I keep mumbling, "Well, now what?"  Jean and I were in contact and she really helped to talk me through it a bit.  My apples were being squished at an alarming rate but Jean gave it some perspective for me.  Thank goodness.  The money is in the account - the hip will get done - maybe not until spring - maybe not in Michigan (probably, but maybe not).  It's like the army or state civil service - hurry up and wait. 
And how is Daisy?  Well, you just heard about her excellent trip.  Did she tug and pull at her leash at every single stop on the way to NC and back.  YUP!  We've got a lot of work to do.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Fun Game for the Colorist in every Artist

Welcome to Blendoku

It's an application for your Android or Apple where you have to line up the color squares in a puzzle like pattern. 

This is more fun than I've had in a while with an App.  I got it for my Kindle - it was free.  I had color theory with David Barr in college and I thought the man was going to kill me.   He was working on a series of sculptures that had subtle coloring on them.  His thought process seemed to carry into the class and I have to say - I certainly learned how to mix color and how to tell subtle differences between shades of the same color.  This is one of his sculptures.  It's painted steel and approximately 15' X 15'.  The colors seem to change depending on the sun's direction, time of year, and so on - yet they are painted with some very subtle differences.  I guess the lessons stuck because I'm having a great time playing the app when I should be working on other things.

David Barr's Sunset Cube

Let me know what you think of the App

Friday, October 10, 2014

One "Happening" in the busy month

In Michigan there is a very strong group of beaders.  Actually, both beadmakers and beaders.  Bi-Annually the Great Lakes Beadworkers Guild holds their bead show.  It's always fun and jam packed with beads you can buy.  And aside from the show the guild has an all volunteer group that is just fantastic to work with.  Just the nicest, most welcoming group you'd ever want to meet. 

Susan Lambert and I have participated in this show off and on for years.  We participate as "Glass and Such".  Mostly we do this because we are!  I bring the ceramics and we have some jewelry and occasionally we have a bargain bin for whatever is left from projects.  We haven't done the show in years.  Susan moved to NC and I've never had the stock to fill a booth on my own.  This year, with Susan working for the airline, she said, "Let's go for it."  Bless her heart in the best of ways since this was a long flight, and lots of work on her part.  Me - I got up at 3am to make the drive and work on my end but not like Susan had to.

Did I make a little money - yes!  Did I have a lot of fun after a busy month - YES! and it was priceless in it's value.  Our booth was by great old friends called "Fire Foxes Glass".  They are members of the Southeastern Michigan Beadmakers Guild - SMBG - or better known in the Bead and Button community as GLASS ACT.   Denise Billups-Walker, Joy Cichewicz and Kathleen Robinson-Young took me under their protective wing, as the member who moved north, a long time ago - and I love them dearly for it.  I was a fish out of city water up here forever.  I've shown with Glass Act at B&B for many years.  Those friends are grand - and fun - and best kind of friends you could ever want.  You know the kind, you pick up right where you left off when you last saw them.  And let's not forget Candy Orow and there are so many others.  Google the group and I'm sure you can find everyone.

Here are some photos from that show.  As soon as I can I will pump up my Etsy store with stock - some I had left here and some that was from the show and didn't find a home.  Beautiful pieces but not what the customer was looking for.

Cindy Orow, Joy Cichewicz, and Susan Lambert

Susan talking to a customer

Candy and Denise Billups-Walker talking to a friend

The "Glass and Such" booth at GLBG
More to come at a later date about my friends and their work and mine.
Have a great day!


Thursday, October 9, 2014

ART PRIZE - What fun!

I KNOW, I know...I need to catch you up on where I've been and what is going on.  It's been a long and exciting month with lots of changes happening here on the home front.  I promise I will catch you up but not right now. 

There is a particular something that goes on in Michigan that is world known.  It's world known because of the amount of prize money that is involved in this competition, and large prize money usually brings in exceptional art.  It's big - enormous, actually.  It's kind of life changing big if you win.  But that's the crass side of me talking (the side that longs for free lottery money - LOL).  The art entered in Art Prize is just incredible on so many levels.  It's street art, it's high class painting, it's performance art, it's just such a myriad of possibilities that it's just beyond pigeon holing into a category.  And you most certainly can not beat a half a million in prizes.

Check out this art:  Entries for Art Prize

What I'm here to tell you about is this particular drawing.  I've seen a lot of Armin's drawing over the years.  In fact, I've seen a lot of drawings throughout my career.  Art shows, museums, books, and classes.  There is NO ONE who does this better than Armin.  Really!!! You simply can not believe what you are seeing.  It's like hyper reality at times.  It's all the things you see and then those things you fail to hone in on when you are looking - really looking. 

This year he entered an interesting piece.  It's called Gabriella.  Gabriella is the receptionist at the Midland Center for the Arts.   It's nice to run into the actual person in the drawing...and such an honor to have been drawn by Armin.  Armin is the Art Director and teaches drawing at the center.  Talk about a "die for" class - his classes fill to capacity every time he teaches.  And he teaches far and wide. 

This is Armin with the drawing...and the drawing itself.

Armin Mersmann (photos taken from the Art Prize site)
This is what Armin has to say about the work:
"Gabriella fascinated me as a bit of a conundrum a woman in the prime of her young age, poised, universally timeless and vulnerable. But it’s the complexity and rhythm of the hair that fascinated me, (I was not prepared for a possible 900 hours of drawing time) I do however think her story emanates from her eyes which reach deep in a more mysterious place. My work has been about nature taking back and this drawing is no exception it is the beginning of the process when all is right with the world yet the slow aging process has begun. Whether I’m drawing trees, or the human form I celebrate the circle of time and nature. I have been drawing the human face for forty years; in the last ten years I marvel at aging skin and the breadth of textures that give a hint of a life lived. My goal as a realist is to understand complexities and details; my interest is how the human eyes perceives not how a camera sees, I transform not just translate what I am observing When I complete the work, I develop an understanding of the subject that's both universal and deeply personal."
As a side note to all of this art and especially to this drawing.  This is the second one of Gabriella.  This past winter at the Winter Art Fair at the center Armin was there working on this drawing for the patrons who come to the fair.  It's a treat to see him work.  Some "patron" (and I use that very tongue in cheek) decided to have themselves a closer look while Armin was away from his drawing board.  What anyone can think is that they had a cup of coffee in their hand and as they bent over the table to get a closer look at work the coffee tipped with them and was spilled all over the drawing.  It was still dripping off of the board when he returned.  It ruined the work - I had not seen it - and did not get to the fair this year.  The first drawing had to be scrapped and it was my understanding it was pretty much along in the process.  So seeing that Armin has placed in the competition is especially poignant this year.   Not only does he deserve the recognition but after the original had to be scrapped and he had the courage to start all over....well, you know what I mean.  I hope he wins the top prize.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Big Beads

Big beads - Some times it's just fun to work big.  I've quite a few hollow mandrels from Jeri that I haven't used since my class with Jari.  LOL - yup, they're both spelled right.  Jeri Warhaftig makes the mandrels (and great beads) and Jari Sheese makes great beads with Jeri's mandrels. 

These beads are blown - they use reactive colors like turquoise, ivory, and others.  Way too much fun to play with.  Shards, twisties, and layers of reactive color. 

And just how big are those hollow beads? 
We're talking about 1.25 to 1.5 inches round.
Will I be doing more of these?  Of course.  They're nice and light and very strong and I've always liked blowing the beads in nice shaped rounds.  These are about to be tumble etched.  It gives them this nice satin finish.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Funny...just way too funny.

Swallow now if you're drinking something - if you love Art History - and how us women have always been portrayed this is going to tickle your funny bone pretty good.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Newest Ceramic Pieces

Here is the first load from the kiln.  Well, the first full load.  I've a tiny kiln I'm using so my loads aren't that big.  But, it's a good start.  Lots of jewelry components.  Hopefully they will be well received at the bead show and on Etsy. 

My first peak inside the kiln - looked promising!  And, ah - whoo hoo -

I did an under glaze of bright yellow on the inside of the bowl for my  lampwork hearts and I love it.  Happened just like I wanted.  I'm still a little stymied about the outside color but rather than detract from the hearts I went with a pearl glaze which will show the red clay through it when it's re-fired.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Leaves from the polymer stamps I made for the clay.

And here we go - not to shabby for the first glaze.  Holiday beads and earring components.
 I'm going to put Santa's or elves with the  "Believe" pieces.

One plate glazed and more to paint and get ready for the show.  Maybe I should try some of the "cold glazing" that others are doing and paint a few of them.  I just don't have may paints compared to glazes. It's going to take a whole lot more stock just to fill one jewelry tray with ceramic parts.  Whew!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Glazing takes forever

Here are the first earring components out of the kiln.  It was my experiments.  Two sets are going back in for redo's and the rest are tied together in sets and in a tray already.  These are sets for the bead show.  All the proceeds from that and lampwork are still going to Daisy's hip fund.  We are currently sitting at about $3200. and getting ready.  So far - so good.  I tried the Facebook lampwork group the other day but didn't sell the set I made.  No worry - it will sell at the bead show I'm sure.  To be honest I haven't done but that one listing on the Facebook page.  I'd rather spend the time making things and wait until another time to do more listing.  Efficient is the name of the game at the moment.  I'd rather build up inventory for a big push. 

Gosh glazing is slow.  I guess I could do what others are calling - cold glazing.  LOL - makes me laugh.  They've "painted" ceramic pieces as long as I can remember.  My Mom made the greatest Christmas trees with those little lights.  I love to put mine out every holiday.  So I guess I could "cold glaze" a few and do the antique thing and some paste glazes and stuff.  I might try a few soon and we will see how they go.  It's probably not any faster.  Is there any kind of art that is fast? 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Where to put my hearts...

I signed up with my friend Susan for a fall bead show.  That's what the calamity of work is about - all those bits and pieces.  I think I told you this.  Anyhoo, so I'm making these hearts on a hanging wire.  Love them - they are smallish and could even be used for earrings, uh, if there is a matched set in the batch.  Although my favorite use for them is at the end of a stack of beads.  The last drop, the dangle - the finish.  TAHDAH!  Take a bow.

So I have all these little hearts and I'm working on more but I wanted something to put them in at the show.  I guess I could just go to the dollar store and get a little something.  That might actually be the prudent thing to do.  Hah, prudent - nope, not working for me - yet - instead I did a pinch pot bowl.  I tried really hard not to make it too big.  This isn't a huge bead show and although hearts are my thing they aren't everyone's so I didn't want to have to make like a hundred of these hearts so the bowl looks full.  LOL, and then sell three.  Oh Gosh, I hope I can sell more than three.  So far there are 24 of then and that's not enough to fill the bowl.  What if I only sell one?

Need to stop that before I hyperventilate or freak out or something.

This is my little bowl - it's still pretty rough.  And I've added little ball feet to the bottom.  I'm thinking a bright yellow interior and maybe some hearts on the outside but I might leave them the natural color of the bowl and paint around them.  But, it needs to be a simple design - it's smallish and I'd like people to notice the hearts and not the bowl.  Maybe that dollar store bowl wouldn't be all that bad - NOT!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Visits to the Ann Arbor and Bay Harbor Art Fairs

Gosh, I have to say I miss doing these fairs.  They're hard work, for sure, but also the excitement of being around other artists and seeing the eye candy is hard to beat.  This year our daughter met us there with our new little bundle of joy - AJ. He is a trooper - no crying - ate lunch, laughed, slept. 

Ann Arbor is the home of University of Michigan.  It's a fun place to go - as you can see from the father and daughter portrait.

I'm sorry I did not write the artist's name down.  These were fascinating and textural despite being glass.
I did see an interesting use of what looked like float glass - window glass.  These sculptures were made out of thousands of cut pieces.  Several were over six feet tall and they just glistened in the sun.  For all of us glassy types it was quite an interesting use of those pieces....another recycling alternative.

This Saturday we attended the Art Fair at Bay Harbor in Petoskey, Michigan.  Here are some scenes from there.  Petoskey is a beautiful town on the shores of Little Grand Traverse Bay.  It's beautiful, it's arty beyond reason.  Lots of galleries and fun things to explore.

Since my father was a Navy man and had his own boat I am drawn to the water.  We lived close to Lake St. Clair where he kept the boat.  So it's especially fun to me when we get up to Petoskey and I see all of the great old boats and new very "cool" ones.  Having the art show right there on the water is always an interesting way for me to blend my love of quirky towns, art, and water.  Whoo Hoo.  Here are a few scenes from the fair.  Again - no real photos of anyone's work - I should have asked a few but didn't.  And look at the little cars that people drive around the Bay Harbor community.  Too fun!  And the fancy boats in their private docks - what treasures they are.

I'm not feeling miserable as an artist but I do think there are good times when reminding yourself what to avoid is a good idea.  I'm bringing it up because we saw an old friend and colleague while at the art show.  At one time he was making art he loved - he didn't wait it out and moved to being a showman kind of artist.  He'd put up these huge canvases on a stage about two feet up and slap acrylic paint on them with a palette knife.  He's personable and showy and the paintings (which are generally landscapes in nature) are just - well - ugly.  They do not represent his talent or any care for something that has that intangible feeling of coming from someone's soul.  Listen to me - like I am the bearer of knowing good art from bad...LOL.  Anyway, they sell - to whom I am not sure.   Like I said - I am not the bastion of all things art where I get to point a finger and say you're an artist and you're not!   But, I felt quite a ping of sadness for him and maybe for myself too so I decided to pass on this Don't list. 
I hope you've had some great weekends - I know I have.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Still Working Mixed

I love glass.  I love clay.  I guess I'm just a mixed media kind of person.   To add to the "look" of the clay I've been adding more and more homemade polymer clay stamps.  Nothing crazy just some patterns I can use.  You see the results on a few of them in this plate of new goodies.  The round beads were made of twisted ropes of red and white earthenware clay.  I hope the difference in color pops once they are glazed.  Some of the old plates full have already made it to being bisque and the horned vessel it currently sitting in plastic wrap with a damp sponge waiting for me to be inspired enough to finish it off.  Maybe tonight I can work on the stopper or top and see if there are any more textures I'd like to put on it before it gets dried to go in the kiln.

Then there are glass sets I've been putting together for a show in October.  Little by little the pile grows - discs, mermaids, hearts and two Buddha bundles. 

Peace, Love and Happiness!
and make lots of art too.

Friday, July 11, 2014

OMG, I'm a GEEK!

I'd of never thunk it!  But then I looked at the facts.

1. I love the Syfy Channel

I never was a Trekkie but when they started get smarter, scarier (Alien), and CGI entered the picture I caved BIG.   Although Sharknado doesn't do it for me there seems to be a gazillion shows that do.  To be fair I probably come by this naturally.  My father could not get my mother to go to "scary movies" when I was a kid and I was tapped to be his "plus one".  I got popcorn, pop, and nightmares!  LOL - We weren't as smart about kids imaginations as we are now.  I even worked at a theatre as a teenager.

2. Super Hero's are the BOMB!

Really Sharon?  Really? - Yup, love them.  Tortured souls who seek to right the injustices of the world.  And better yet if they are the brooding and smoldering kind - complicated.  Okay, shoot me - I'm married, too old for that, but not dead!  Even the non-hero's like Captain Flint and Captain Vane in "Black Sails".  Have you seen that series yet?  A-hoy matey.

3. I'd be a Zombie in a Zombie walk if there were one close to me. 

I don't know where I'd get the paint or who does that for them but it looks like a hilarious way to spend an afternoon. I already have a lock on the walking weird part (arthritis and stuff is a big aid to walking like a zombie, who knew). Again, I'm not dead but it would be fun to play "undead again"  for a couple of hours.  Hello, Walking Dead?  Need a zombie?  I'd do it for paint job.

4. I read Science-Fiction.

Yup, do that too!  It's not the only thing I read but after seeing Black Sails I reread the original Treasure Island too.  Outer Space - Historical make believe - I've always loved an interesting story that takes me out of "normal" for a while.  Ah, I even loved Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instrument series.  I love a good vampire, werewolf, and whatever else have you that's a well woven story.   And, yes, George Martin and his Game of Thrones series is already under my belt too.  Dragons - - - - oh hell yes!

I doubt this purging of information begins to cover my geekiness completely.  And, I'd love to see Comic-Con.  Would I fit in?  Probably like a sore thumb but it wouldn't stop me from enjoying the hell out of it.  Oh, and I taped the whole season of Supernatural - I'm saving it for a binge watching session - I adore those boys.
Uh, so I'm flying that freak flag today - GEEK and proud of it!  What's your thing, aside from being an artist?  Are you feeling just a little geek too?

Go Forth and Prosper!
and have a great weekend.
Oh crap, maybe I did learn quite a bit of Star Trek stuff - I do a good Vulcan sign too!