Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Memories

Memorial Day always brings me strong feelings of pride and sadness, as I reflect back on my Dad's life and how much the military played in his life. This is a favorite photo of me with him, taken almost exactly 9 years ago on Father's Day, and only about three months before he passed away from cancer.

My dad joined the Marine Corps when he was only 17 years old (yikes, that's only one year older than my Katie is now?!) and served proudly for the next 25 years, including tours in Korea, Guam and Vietnam. He retired when I was in the 6th grade, and before that we never lived in one place more than 2 years at a time. But we also got to experience living in beautiful and exotic places like Hawaii and Thailand. During the rare instances when he spoke of his military experiences, we were able to catch tiny glimpses into what that life was like and how hard it must have been to lose so many of his friends. And every Memorial Day weekend, I remember that he would solemnly raise a flag in memory of those he had lost and fought with.

Like so many of his generation, my dad was a handsome, proud and private man—who also surprised us with unexpected joking and singing—and had a sort of John Wayne quality to him. He was "bigger than life" to me and I always felt so protected and loved while I was growing up, knowing he was around. He faced every crisis with quiet courage, including his long fight with cancer. Even though he's gone, I still get that feeling whenever I think of him and I know that I am who I am today in large part because of the strong values he instilled in us. And I'm extremely thankful and honored for what he and others like him have done for our country over the years—risking their lives so that their families, friends, and even total strangers can feel protected too.

Semper Fi and may God bless all of you!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Please Vote!

Whoohoooo! I just found out that I'm a finalist in the Bead Star contest (click on this link to see the entries)!! So if you're not already voting for someone else, I'd really appreciate your vote! ;-D This is my submitted design (a better pic than the one I sent in) and I think it's #16 in the Glass catagory:

For some reason, the photo looks a little washed out here—the colors are actually more saturated in pretty shades of pea green, periwinkle, sky blue and amethyst. It's a cluster of individual "flowers" that I've been wanting to create ever since I first saw artist Dale Chihuly's giant glass flower sculptures bursting out of the Bellagio hotel's lobby ceiling in Las Vegas in 2006. It's kinda hard to tell from the photo below, but these flowers are HUGE—about 2 to 3 ft. across, at least! I was totally inspired by his work and knew I'd love to try and recreate that feeling in a smaller form, but at the time I wasn't into lampworking and had planned on doing something in a medium like clay or resin. But ever since I started making glass beads, I knew I wanted to do these flowers—I just had to wait until I had the skills to make the visions in my head come to life. ;-D I have some other variations I've been working on, and I'll try and share them soon in another post, k?

Voting ends Saturday, May 30th, so make sure to get your vote in soon! There are 179 other awesome designs to look at while you're there, and hopefully, you'll get a giant boost of inspiration of your own!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

I hope all you moms out there had a wonderful Mother's Day weekend with your families! We were supposed to go to Kraig's parent's home to celebrate with his mom, but he felt like he was coming down with something, so we decided not to risk spreading any sickie germs to her and stayed home. But we will try to go up there to visit and make up for it next weekend. I had a nice time here at home with my two girls—Kraig gave me a bouquet of flowers and Ashley went on one of her famous cleaning binges to make the house look extra nice for me. ;-D They both made me something with their own hands, which I especially loved! Nothing makes me feel more special than homemade gifts and these definitely did the job—Ashley's message under her drawing even made me cry a little, since she's not normally so sentimental. Katie made me a beautiful card and is still finishing up a drawing for me too, so I'm really looking forward to it!

Another thing I look forward to around each Mother's Day is to plant some flowers with them, so I'm making plans to pick up some pretty pink ones to finish off our border along the front entryway. In the meantime, I did manage to capture some great pics of some of the ones already in our yard. I love getting inspiration from flowers and am already planning several different bead designs to try soon!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tag, I'm It!

My friend Lara tagged me the other day, so I guess I gotta join in the fun! ;-D And I swiped this cute tag graphic from Kandice over at Coloraddiction (with her permission, of course!) I've never been tagged before, so this is a first for me too. The game is to answer the questions and then tag other blogs to do the same. Don't forget to let the other blogs know you tagged them, and to link to whomever tagged you! Here are the questions…

8 Things I'm Looking Forward To:
1. Losing at least 10 pounds
2. Visiting Kraig's mom on Mother's Day
3. Having my girls treat me especially nice on Mother's Day (;-D)
4. Having a contractor come in and finally finish our kitchen trimwork
5. Seeing the new Transformers movie
6. Learning how to work silver glass and make it *sing*!
7. Decorating and decluttering my studio
8. Taking two of Sally Jean Alexander's workshops in June

8 Things I did Yesterday:
1. Worked on making silver glass beads
2. Cleaned glass beads from the day before
3. Cleaned the kitchen
4. Did laundry
5. Picked up Ashley from track practice
6. Read some more from the book, "Color: A Natural History of the Palette," by Victoria Finlay
7. Caught up on all my favorite blogs
8. Visited Serenity Equine Rescue with Ashley (we want to volunteer—technically, we visited them on Sunday, but I wanted to give them a plug! ;-D)

8 Things I Wish I Could Do
1. Lose at least 20 pounds
2. Become a torch singer with a big band in a really nice club
3. Play piano more often
4. Own my own horse
5. Visit Italy again or Croatia within the next 2 years
6. Speak fluent Italian
7. Explore more local islands
8. Wave a magic wand and have my whole house decorated by Candice Olson

8 Things That or Shows I have Watched
1. Amazing Race
2. Castle
3. Heroes
4. American Idol
5. House
6. Bones
7. Masterpiece Theater
8. Anything on HGTV

Now, to tag 8 people and their blogs!
1. Sande Krieger, fellow scrapbooker and awesome photographer
2. Chris Hansen, a new lampworking friend
3. Kathy Lowe, another lampworking pal
4. Karen Burniston, wise-cracking inventor of amazing pop-up gizmos
5. Vintaj Natural Brass Co., beautiful filigree findings and jewelry
6. Tonya Davison, metal clay guru
7. Sally Jean Alexander, amazing collage and jewelry artist
8. Ruby's Shoes, she makes the cutest beads

Silver Glass Goodies

Hey, look at me—I'm on a roll! This is, what—my 3rd post in a week?!?! Part of the reason is due to the fact that I've been busy making beads for two different exchanges, as well as still working on completing my 50 Beads of Courage goal. *whew!* So, of course, I just had to share with everyone! ;-D

This last group of beads I made was for a silver glass swap on the LE board, where we had to make beads using a variety of special (and expensive!) glass colors that are laden with silver. The silver helps bring out a wonderful array of unique colors and shimmer, but I've been learning that some are much trickier to work than others. Kraig and I finally got around to getting my ventilation fan installed over this past weekend, so I really went to town experimenting and playing with all my silver glass! Up to now, I've been wearing a big respirator mask whenever I used silver glasses, so I was very happy to get to ditch it now that my fan is doing such a great job of sucking out the bad vapors.

Here's the beads I sent in, using different silver glass that are of the "reducing" variety. Reducing glass gets a gorgeous metallic luster to it when exposed to a specific type of flame on the torch. The camera didn't do justice to them, and they look so much prettier in person. There is another variety called "striking" glass, but the ones I tried working with either wouldn't cooperate to my liking, or they cracked before I finished them. (Remember I told you they can be tricky little buggers! LOL)

From left to right: Double Helix (DH) Aurae; DH Triton/Intense Black twistie and clear dots over Lt. Ivory; DH Psyche/Triton twistie over Lt. Ivory; Precision Miro (also known as Rembrandt) reduced and encased; DH Psyche/Triton twistie over Lt. Ivory, gravity swirled; DH Psyche dots that were poked and raked over Lt. Ivory and CIM Hades.

This one is probably my favorite of the bunch. I love how the DH Psyche turned such lovely shades of purples and blues and the graceful raked design is one I think I'm definitely going to make a lot more of. Wouldn't these look cool in a set?!

I ended up keeping this one, since I was already sending in a couple other beads using the same glass and technique. (Plus, I love it and had a couldn't help having an impulsive change of heart!) It has a great silvery shine in it, with hints of steel blue. I learned this technique from my friend, Lara Lutrick, who just tagged me today—so I guess I might even make it to four posts in a week?! LOL

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Thankful Gifts

Lest you forget I also love to do other creative things besides make glass beads, I decided it was time to share some fun thank you cards I've been working on. I'm putting together sets of six cards, with three each of two coordinating designs. I also have some pink sets done and am working on a few other colors, all with various papers, ribbons and custom accents. (They look even prettier in person too!) When I have enough to make a decent presentation, I'm going to offer them in my Etsy shop—hopefully within the next month. I'm also trying to find some thin gift boxes to put each set in, so if you have any ideas where to find things like this, I'd love to know about it!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Tube/Bicone Bead Exchange

Participating in bead exchanges can be a lot of fun, and I joined in a Tube & Bicone themed one on the Lampworkers Etc. (LE) online forum because I thought it would be nice to challenge myself to make this type of bead. I have a limited amount of experience with them and nothing beats a good deadline to get me motivated! ;-D I ended up having a great time making my beads for the swap and discovered that I really like this technique and will definitely be doing quite a bit more from now on! Here's what I sent in this week:

I used twisties on the first two on the left, shards on the next two, and swirled on Cosmic Storm and black on the last one. The tallest black tube bead was one of the first ones I made and it was an experiment to see how long I could make it without having a total panic attack. LOL It measures about 2.5" long and after that, I chickened out and decided it was much less stressful to got a little shorter since it can be tricky to keep longer beads evenly warm in the flame as you're working on decorating it. My friend Lara Lutrick came over and showed me how to make shards last week and that's another new technique I'm excited to play with more.

I'm really looking forward to seeing what kind of bead designs I get back for even more inspiration!
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