Friday, February 28, 2014

"Clean Up, Fix Up Your Workspace" Blog Hop

Several weeks ago, I stumbled across a notice on my Facebook news feed by Sharyl's Jewelry, asking if any fellow bead hoarders lovers would like to join her in cleaning up and organizing their work spaces, then share the results on a blog hop? This was a providential sighting for me, as I had been going quietly crazy trying to work around the chaotic mess of my studio. So I jumped right on in and signed up—knowing that being held accountable for blogging about it would be just the kick in the pants I needed!

I actually have two separate studios—one in the garage for making my glass beads and firing metal clay, and another one upstairs for making jewelry and all my other creative endeavors. My glass studio is only about 1/20th the size of my other one and is limited to basically the area of my work table and not much else, so it seems that I am constantly fighting to keep it in a decent production mode—no easy task when I am often on the torch for four to six hours a day and then spend a few more hours upstairs cleaning beads, packing up orders, photographing, and marketing too.

But with Sharyl's incentive urging me on, I forced myself to make the time to get things whipped back into shape. This is what my work space looked like BEFORE…

I bet you're wondering how I even managed to get anything done in all this, huh? Several long hours later, this is what it looked like AFTER…

And no, I didn't just throw everything out of sight for the photo! LOL All my loose glass rods and tools were all put back in their places and the table top was scrubbed clean. *whew!* It's amazing how much my spirit of creativity came flooding back when I had a clean, organized slate to start with again! 

I already had this studio pretty organized in terms of having places for everything to go—a must when I have such a small space that needs to function at the highest production level. In the upper left corner of my desk, I re-purposed a spinning pen holder from my graphic design days so that it now holds glass rods, mica powders, and various tools. Inexpensive metal pots from the craft store filled with vermiculite hold my mandrels, while others collect the short bits of glass that I can't bear to throw away. A skinny ice cube tray holds a variety of glass stringers in the right corner and most of my brass presses are stored neatly underneath the table on a shelf. 

In addition to the tools shown on the far right side that are hanging on magnetic hooks and a rack, I also set up a new place around the corner to organize more tools from my growing collection (although this is still not ALL the ones that I own! shhhhhhh!!). Some strong magnets from Harbor Freight, a couple of long hanging strips, and a metal filing cabinet, and BAM! All my favorites within easy reach of my hand while concentrating on spinning molten glass in the flameheavenly!

I had really hoped to get both studios reorganized for the blog reveal, but I guess I'll have to be happy that I at least managed to get my glass studio spiffed up in time. And now that I'm on a roll, I am planning to tackle my jewelry studio over the weekend! I did start working on it last year, but it's been a slow project often put on hold while other priorities have cut in…you can see some of the things I did from my previous post by clicking HERE.

Thank you, Sharyl, for giving me such a fun reason to clean up and I can't wait to see how everyone else in the blog hop did too! If you'd like to be inspired by the other participants as well, please click on this link HERE to visit Sharyl's blog (scroll to the end to see the full list)…then maybe tackle your own space and free up those creative juices again?! *Ü*

Sunday, February 23, 2014

New Design Series: Verdigris

Well, as my luck would have it, another design series has quickly flown out of my torch as a branch off of my recent "Vetro Antico" series that I introduced in my last post! (Dontcha love it when your Muse is on a creative high?!?)

This new "Verdigris" series is also inspired by ancient artifacts, but more from the natural stone and architectural side. I use a Copper Green glass that has been given an aged surface treatment in the flame—hence the title of this series, as verdigris is the name of the patina that naturally occurs on copper over time.

These beads also have a more organic feeling to them, with natural striations in the glass, curdled reactions in ivory glass from silver, and fine silver metallic accents. And I'm loving the long teardrop shapes, created with my new Beadroller tool I got for my birthday last month. These sold out quickly, but I promise there will definitely be more where these came from! *Ü*

I would love to hear what you think of my two new design series and how you would use any of my beads in your jewelry? And please feel free to "like" and share my Facebook page (, if you'd like to get sneak peeks at my newest work!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

New Design Series: Vetro Antico

As a lifelong admirer of Old World antiquities and travel to Italy (three times so far!), it only makes sense that I would be totally in love with ancient Roman glass artifacts for as long as I can remember. So when I say I am beyond excited to offer this new design series inspired by these loves—that is an understatement! LOL

I'm calling it "Vetro Antico" which roughly translates to "ancient glass" in Italian and it's a series that I've been wanting to create from when I first started lampworking about seven years ago. But as with a lot of my *great* ideas, I often let them sit and percolate in my subconscious and design sketch book while I work on more pressing things, until my Muse jumps up and demands that she is in the mood to tackle it. Well, a few weeks ago she practically screamed in my ear to get started and this is what I've been creating in my studio so far…

A big part of my design influence is ancient Italian glass jewelry, which often had a lot of gold included in the designs. This focal has 23K Italian gold layered on the inside and also "gilded" on top of my variation of the Lotus flower, which was a popular motif in Roman architecture and design. I have also given it a subtle "aged" effect that creates a pitted and matte texture in random areas. It is even prettier in person, where you can really see how it glows in the hand!

Antico Focal No. 1
Antico Gilded Spacers
Antico Gilded Earring Drops

These next sets are more rustic in nature, but still coordinate perfectly with the gilded designs since they are all made with the same glass color, but treated with a stronger aging effect…

*sigh* There's just something about this soft blue-green color and the unexpected surface patina that is so soothing and elegant…it brings to mind a curiosity about ancient peoples who may have worn something similar, or serene beaches for these modern times. I feel that these beads all have so many different possibilities and I can't wait to make some statement jewelry pieces with them!

These all sold almost immediately after I shared them on my Facebook page, but I am busy making more on request and for upcoming local bead shows. And there are still many more shapes and designs knocking around in my head, waiting impatiently to come out—so be sure to come back and visit soon if you're in love with this series as much as I am?! *Ü*

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Share the Love Giveaway Winner!

Time to announce the winner of my Share the Love Giveaway contest! There were over 40 entries, along with even more wonderful comments during this week-long contest and I hope everyone who participated had a lot of fun! I put all the names into an appropriately shaped Heart bowl, squeeze my eyes shut tight, and pulled out one name…

(Drum roll, please…) And here is the lucky winner…

Congratulations, Louise! I just need to know which of these two prizes you would prefer and will mail it out for a sweet Valentine's Day accessory to wear!

I really appreciate everyone who liked and shared my Facebook page, and/or pinned the contest to Pinterest to play along. I just wish I had enough to send something to each and every one of you. But stay tuned, because you never know when I'll do another fun Givewaway (maybe when I hit 2,000 "likes" on Facebook?? hint, hint!) *Ü*

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Share the Love Giveaway

Inspired by the upcoming Valentine's Day holiday, I wanted to do a little Giveaway to show my appreciation for all the love my family, friends and wonderful customers have given me throughout the year!

So I've decided to offer one lucky winner a choice of two different prizes created with my lampwork beads—a Chocolate Heart pendant on an 18" sterling-plated faceted ball chain, or a Chocolate Rose charm bead that has been cored with sterling silver and will fit on a Pandora or any other popular brand of big-hole bracelet. 

To enter, you can choose to do any of the following (each qualifies as a separate entry):

1) Click on the photo and "Like" my Facebook page (from the "Like" button in the upper right corner, not the actual photo link). Please make sure to like it from your personal page and not a business one.

2) Share this event on Facebook, with a link to either this blog post or the announcement on my own page.

3) Pin this post to Pinterest.

DEADLINE to Enter: Monday, February 10, 2014

Then leave a comment here to let me know what things you've done and I will throw all the names into a hat and draw the winner on Tuesday, February 11th. That way, I'm hoping you will be able to get your prize in time to wear it on Valentine's Day?

Just liking, sharing or Pinning doesn't give you an automatic contest entry—you need to leave a comment here or on my Facebook post to say what you did so I can include you in the drawing. And please make sure to leave a link to your blog or some other way for me to easily contact you when you leave your comment.

Thank you so much and Good Luck! ♥ ♥ ♥

Please note that this Giveaway is in no way sponsored by or affiliated with Facebook and I am the sole person responsible for this contest and the distribution of prizes.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


I am so beyond excited to watch the Super Bowl next weekend, mainly because our beloved Seahawks will be there! In preparation for the epic battle that we're all anticipating, I made a few beads to show my support for our team…

The hearts were made with the same technique as the red Valentine's Day ones I shared in my previous post, and the two big-hole charm beads will go on a bracelet with a few other beads in Seattle colors. I still need to core them with sterling, but I couldn't wait to take a photo and share. The one on the right has hearts going all around the band, while the one on the left also has hearts, but in a different colorway—I even figured out how to sneak in a reference to "the 12th Man" in there!

I had so much fun making these, that I think I will start to offer them for sale through my Facebook page and Etsy shop in any other team colors that faithful fans might want (but the Broncos fans will have to pay double! LOL).

Just hope I don't lose my voice cheering the Hawks on like I did last time! *Ü*

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Romance Is In The Air!

Valentine's Day is right around the corner, and since I'm a total Romantic at Heart, I've been in a frenzy of making new beads and goodies that fit right in with this special holiday theme…

Let's start things off with the heart pendants in the above photo, which I hand-formed into slim puffy hearts with a wire bail embedded into it while the glass is molten so that it creates an instant pendant. I love how I can make the bead with a much finer tip than if it had a hole running through it and you don't even have to be a jewelry designer to use them, as they can be easily slipped onto a key ring, looped onto a thin cord, or a variety of other things. This was a new technique for me and it has quickly become one of my favorites!

My little faux Chocolate Truffles in a Tin are always a big hit this time of year, so I made sure to offer several different design mixes to please every Romantic's palette. They come in a set of four beads, packaged in the cutest little tin with a see-through lid—and make perfect gifts just as they are, or you can make your own jewelry design and then put it back in the tin for a unique presentation.

I also created a few necklaces with my Chocolate Heart beads and a pretty silver-plated snake chain—simple and sweet!

Mini heart-shaped head pins are also a brand new design and these are the very first ones I made—aren't they adorable?! They are much trickier to make than they look, as it takes some finesse and breath holding to shape the molten glass without melting the wire in the process. I can see a lot of potential here and will work on refining my technique so I can offer them in several other colors and a stainless steel wire version soon!

And last, but not least…I've been focusing on big-hole charm beads featuring a wide variety of Chocolates and Heart/Love designs. (Can you see where I used one of my new little Heart head pins?) This batch is going to a special customer, but I am working hard to make more for last minute shoppers (and you know who you are! LOL).

I am pretty pleased with myself—not only for challenging myself to think out of the box and learn some new techniques, but also for actually getting on the ball and offering these well before Valentine's Day, so my customers have plenty of time to work on a gift for the special people in their lives. And the great thing is—Chocolates and Hearts are always perfect to give not only on this one day or anniversaries, but throughout the entire year!

P.S.—A lot of these beads were shared on my Facebook page as soon as they came out of the kiln, so that my "fans" could have first dibs to buy them before I listed them in my Etsy shop. If you would like to take advantage of these sneak peeks too, I would love it if you "liked" my page HERE and shared it with all your fellow jewelry loving friends! *Ü*

Friday, January 17, 2014

40 Bead Challenge: Days 5 and 6

Its a good thing Heather Trimlett's 40 Bead Challenge is one of those "do at your own pace" things, because I had to stop it in its tracks once the Fall season hit, as I just had too much on my plate at the time. You can see how my first four bead making sessions turned out in my last post HERE. I've had my lovely strand of beads sitting on my desk all this time since, teasing my brain and begging me to get started on finishing them up—and I'm so excited that I'm finally able to get back on track with the program again!

While I would have loved to be able to complete the last 20 beads all at one time, the rules of the Challenge are to make no more than 5-6 beads in one day, so that you have time to really focus on the technique at hand, which is using nothing but heat, gravity and dots of glass to create the design. So I reluctantly reined myself in and here are the results of Days 5 and 6, continuing with my strategy of sticking with one design theme per session…

DAY 5: Overlapping Dots

Up to this point, I haven't really attempted using overlapping dots to create patterns and it turned out to be a trickier process with some of the designs than I thought it would be. These beads definitely took more time and thought that most of my others, especially the pair of scale-like designs on the far left. The one on the left was actually my first attempt to achieve the look I eventually got in the second version to its right—but I love how this "happy accident" turned out!

DAY 6: Flowers Revisited

And since I can never get enough of flowers in real life or in my beads, I decided to dedicate another day to seeing what other floral designs I could come up with, using only dots of glass as my medium. The one on the far right is my favorite and was the most intricate to create, of course! I love how it turned out looking like something from a Damask fabric and I would love to explore this pattern in more depth with other color combinations!

And here is what my strand containing all the Days I've done so far looks like…

My goal was to keep all my beads as close in size as possible, but seems like they got a little bigger after the first two days? I might have to go back and re-make those if I decide to put them all into a necklace after I'm done with the Challenge (yeah, I'm a Perfectionist and Glutton-for-Punishment type of person! LOL) But for now, I'm pretty happy with how these all look and already have my design themes for the last two sessions planned out! *Ü*

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Birthday That Shall Not Be Named

Okay, there is a point in everyone's life when you hit a big age milestone and can't help but say to yourself "It's all downhill from here?!"…and this year, I hit it hard! LOL So I've decided that every year from now on, I'm going to insist that my friends and family refer to my birthday as "The One That Shall Not Be Named," in honor of all the years we had Harry Potter fanatics running around the house (myself included!). We shall celebrate and enjoy it just as much, but without needing to see or discuss the way those pesky numbers keep climbing up and making me feel way older than I do on the inside!

In addition to the table full of lovely and thoughtful gifts that surprised me in the morning, I also enjoyed getting sweet phone calls from both of my daughters who are away at college (I still can't believe they each remembered on their own?!?) and earlier in the week, I received some new Bead Roller tools that I couldn't resist ordering for myself. I'm hoping to play with these soon and perhaps make some jewelry for myself with the beads they make too?

My wonderful hubby, Kraig, also made me a special breakfast and gave me a choice between three different cake mixes and two icing flavors that he offered to make himself for my cake. And as if that wasn't enough—his gift was a surprise trip for just the two of us to Hawaii, all planned by himself!! Now can I pick 'em, or what?!?! He's going to whisk me away this Winter so we can try and see the whales like I've always wanted to do, and I am beyond excited!!

All in all, it was a quiet, but wonderful day and I enjoyed all the birthday wishes I received from my Facebook friends too. I feel extremely blessed and thank you all so much for helping to make this day extra special! *Ü*

Monday, January 6, 2014

Snow Globe Suprise

One of the things I wanted to do before my daughters headed back to college after Christmas break, was to surprise them with a special gift that could serve as a reminder of how much we love and miss them when they're away from home. And because they love my glass beads, but don't like to wear a lot of jewelry, I decided to try my hand at making some personalized Snow Globes using these cheerful little Snowmen I made using some of their favorite colors…

I think they turned out rather adorable, don't you? I've made Snowmen beads before, but this was the first time I'd made them as sculptural designs instead of having a hole run through them. They were made all at one time on my torch in one piece—even the little glass "branch" arms, which were the trickiest part of the whole process and something I could never be able to include on a bead for jewelry. I also made each one his own little Birdie companion, to make sure he wouldn't get lonely after I put him into the glass dome.

After I mixed in some recycled baby food jars, paint, glitter, and water, I ended up with this fun result:

A gentle shake makes the glitter swirl around in a silvery shower that is so pretty (but very difficult to capture while one hand is holding the camera and the other is shaking it! LOL) I also wrote "You are "snow" special!" on the top in silver Sharpie pen (based on a funny family inside joke)…

As this was the first time I'd ever attempted to make my own snow globe from scratch, I had a few hiccups along the way and it ended up taking longer than I expected to get the job done properly. But I think the effort was well worth it, if judging by the look on my girls' faces when I showed it to them! Now, whenever they get homesick, they can just give the globe a shake and know we're thinking of them too! *Ü*

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