Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What a Great Day! *Ü*

Whew! It's been a crazy day so far! LOL First of all, I was blessed to have someone bid on my eBay listing of "Bella Blossoms" at the very last second. I didn't do as well as I had hoped, but then again, it was my first time and I know I was lucky to get some attention when there are literally thousands of other similar items competing with mine. I'm not sure how often I'll try the eBay route, since I'm not sure my heart can stand the stress of waiting for days to see if things go well or not. LOL Plus, I know I need to work on figuring out how to get those neat giant photo spreads like most of the other bead artists have for their listings. So if anyone out there knows the best/easiest/cheapest way to do this, I would love to get some pointers! ;-D

Secondly, I discovered that there's a movement on Etsy called "Hearts for Haiti" where members can donate their items and 100% of the proceeds (minus shipping and Etsy fees) goes directly to the Doctors Without Borders' Haiti Fund. I thought that was such a wonderful idea, and it looks like they've already raised at least $17,765.16 so far! Yeah! I was going to list this heart in my shop today, but when I heard about this cause, I decided to donate it to them instead. It's just a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things, but it's pretty amazing what can happen when so many people chip in together!

And finally, I was surprised to hear from a friend on Facebook that the Teal Treasury I posted about yesterday made it to the front page of Etsy today! And probably due to that unexpected exposure, the number of people who "heart" my shop jumped from about 14 to 42. Now, how neat is that?!?! All in all—a pretty doggone good day, wouldn't you agree? *Ü*

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Exploring eBay and Other Treasures

ACK! I've decided to also take the plunge and sell a huge set of my Bella Blossoms on eBay for the very first time. I've bought many items over the years from there, but never tried selling before and it's a pretty doggone scary thing! I've heard so many different things from my friends who are regular sellers—ranging from news that buyers are disappearing and sales are practically nil, to those who have gotten fantastic bids. I'm just hoping I don't get wiped out on mine, since I started the opening bid at way below what this set it worth:

So if you're looking for a unique and classy set of flower beads, or know someone who might be, please pass the word on for me, k? Just click on the photo above and it should take you to my eBay listing. This is only a 3-day auction, and it ends Tuesday afternoon (eek!).

Another thing that happened to me yesterday was that someone put me in their Etsy Treasury! I've never been in one before and it is such an honor that someone would pick one of my designs out of thousands to feature as one of their favorites. You can check out Lindsey's "Teal Me" Treasury here and see my Teal Bella Blossoms set included with some other pretty cool stuff. All that teal looks so yummy!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Dreaming of CHA

Tomorrow will be the first day of the Craft and Hobby Association's ginormous annual trade show and I'm bummed to say that I'll be missing out on all the fun (waaaahh!). I've gone every year for 10 years now, and was planning on going again this year, but life sort of got in the way and I decided it just wasn't the best time for me. I swear—I've been juggling so much stuff lately, I'm starting to feel maybe I should just go and join Cirque du Soleil?! LOL

Back when I was still planning on attending this show, I signed up to be part of a special Designer Global Gallery, where CHA designer members committed to creating something special that represents a specific country. I chose Italy because it's one of my favorite places in the world and also because it's historic love-affair with the glass arts. With that inspiration in mind, I decided to create a set of glass lentil-shaped beads, with swirls of iridescent silver glass and foil over a black base. Then I combined them with tons of sterling silver, faceted hematite beads, and one of my handmade fine silver butterfly pendants to create this necklace:

I named it "Farfalla Dreams" since that "farfalla" means butterfly in Italian. When I showed it to Ashley, she told me she thought it was the prettiest necklace I've ever made, which made me feel great since this teenager is very hard to impress! *Ü* This is definitely one of my favorite pieces and I barely had time to enjoy it before I had to mail it off to CHA this week for the display. I hope the people there who see it will love it as much as I do!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bella Blossoms are Here!

Ta-Dah!! They're finally here! It took a little longer than expected because I've been dealing with some important family matters over the past few weeks, but I hope the wait was worth it! Also, I've decided to officially name these fun and whimsical flower beads my "Bella Blossom" series, since I doubt Mr. Chihuly would appreciate me to naming them after him? *Ü*

So if you're one of the people who have been anxiously awaiting these, please click on my Etsy shop link and you'll find plenty to choose from, including 9 different colors I can also custom make to order for you. And stayed tuned folks—I have several new and fun variations that I'm also working on and hope to start listing in the next week or so!

This is a mini set featuring three of the same colors I used in my "Ode to Chihuly" necklace.

These are some new colors in jewel tones of deep red, teal, yellow and coral that I have available for custom orders.

This gorgeous teal set is the first of what I hope to be a great series of variations on my original flower beads! *Ü*

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Getting Older…

Yesterday was my birthday, but Ashley couldn't wait, so at 6:30 AM the morning before, she jumped on my bed and presented me with this handmade card…

It took me about 5 minutes to get my eyes to focus, but when I did, it made me smile! *Ü* I love all the creative little doodles and penguins are her favorite animals, so I could feel the love pouring out from it—and chocolate is always a good thing, right?! ;-D

I'm not going to say how old I am anymore, since it's starting to get a little depressing, but as long as I try to keep thinking "30" in my head, maybe that will help? LOL

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Flower Beads Coming Soon!

I've had several people contact me recently, asking if I'll ever be offering my "Ode to Chihuly" flower beads (the ones I used for my necklace design in the Bead Star magazine) in my Etsy shop. The answer is a resounding "yes!" and I just made a batch of them today and they're cooking in my kiln right now. I'm planning on making more over the next few days until I have several sets I can list in my shop. Hopefully, they will include some neat variations that I'm working on too! ;-D So for anyone else who is interested, please keep checking back and I'll post here when they're ready, k? Thanks SO much for all your wonderful comments and if you would like a custom order in certain colors, etc., please don't ever hesitate to email me at any time! *Ü*

In the meantime, I thought I'd share a scrapbook layout that I had published several years ago in Scrapbooks Etc. magazine, featuring a photo of the glorious Chihuly glass flower ceiling in the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas. If you ever get a chance to see this in person, I highly recommend it!

Monday, January 4, 2010

CiM Tuxedo and Gunmetal

Remember when I said I was doing testing on all the newest Creation is Messy (CiM) glass colors in November? Well, I finally have some decent pics of what I've been making with them and thought it was about high time I started sharing them. *Ü*

Tuxedo is a standard black color, which is a dense transparent like the other black glass versions from Vetrofond and Effetre. But it differs from them in that while Vetrofond has a bluish cast and Effetre has a purple cast when they bleed around the edges, Tuxedo has a grayish-brown cast. During my initial testing phase, I discovered that Tuxedo also has a tendency to bleed much more easily than it's big brother Hades, which is my favorite black that is a more dense and blacker formula and has wonderful reactions with silver colors. Here is a photo of one of my first test beads where you can see this effect:

This is Tuxedo dots randomly placed on a base of Stone Ground. You can see how much the Tuxedo bled and reacted over the base color, which made me think of an animal print pattern.

I was surprised by the brownish bleeding effect and it made me immediately think of fur. I thought it might make some great Tiger skin beads, so I combined it with Peace white to make twisties, then layered them between transparent Amber to get these:

Kinda cool, huh? And you can see how the one on the far left looks more like a zebra pattern because I didn't cover it as much with the Amber. I think this would make for great looking leopard and giraffe beads as well, and I'm planning to make a set one of these days to see what kind of fun jewelry designs I can come up with.

Because Stone Ground is a reactive base color, I then tried layering Tuxedo over a regular opaque gray and found that it still had a tendency to bleed if heated for a longer period of time. The two beads on the left are with Tuxedo, while the one on the right uses Hades. You can see how much crisper the edges are with the Hades design vs. the one using Tuxedo:

 So I challenged myself to see how well I could control the bleeding and here's a set I created that I was quite happy with:

All the round and crystal shaped beads were made with various combinations of Tuxedo, Pearl Gray, and transparent Gray. I love how the pale gray gives this set a softer, more sophisticated feeling, rather than the graphic crispness of a black and pure white combination. My mother-in-law loved these beads when I showed them to her, so I used most of them to create a bracelet for her Christmas gift. Next, I'm planning on making more of these to make a bracelet for myself and then some for an Etsy listing! ;-D

The disc shaped beads are all made from CiM's new Gunmetal color, which is a black that can turn a lovely satin metallic bronze-silver color that looks like gunmetal when heated a certain way—hence the name. This color doesn't get it's luster from a reducing flame like most lustering colors, but rather by striking it in a neutral or oxidizing flame. Unfortunately, it doesn't keep it's luster if you encase it, but I'm intrigued that it also seems to have some possibilities as a reactive base under silver colors. I found I got the best solid metallic finish by working it in a neutral flame until I was happy with the final design and shape, then let it cool and struck it in a slightly oxidizing flame until I achieved the desired luster I wanted. It happens fairly quickly once you have it in the right type of flame and it's fun to watch the rich sheen rise up like magic.

It turns out that Gunmetal is a rather tricky color to work with and some people on the Lampworker's Etc. online forum reported that the metallic finish could wash or wear off easily. After some extensive testing by myself and others, we've determined that it's all a matter of how well and long you heat this color that brings out the most consistent and durable finish. My discs were pressed in a brass press, so they were repeatedly heated and cooled rapidly during this process and so far I haven't had any problems with the finish rubbing off with these. But some test beads I made with raised decoration that wasn't heated as much did have some very slight fading of the finish if rubbed strongly with an abrasive material like a rough towel. I love this color, and although it can be tricky to work with in certain situations, the results are definitely worth it!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year Resolutions

Now that the New Year of 2010 is upon us, I guess it's time to review my last year's resolutions and see how well I did! *Ü*

1. Lose at least 10 lbs.
     hhhmmm...was this a typo? I think I meant to write 10 oz. since that's about what I've managed to lose so far! This one definitely needs to stay on this year's list! *sigh*

2. Challenge myself artistically and work on at least one new project a week.
     I kept this one with flying colors—yeah! It's been so rewarding to work on many of the ideas I've had floating in my head.

3. Finish de-cluttering my studio and get it decorated.
     um....well....I guess I've been so busy this year working on Resolution #2, I didn't get around to this one? :-( But I created a display of my glass projects on an antique dresser and managed to organize most of my jewelry making supplies in a great new tackle box I found over the weekend. Does that count?

4. Finish remodeling our kitchen and master bedroom/bath.
    Kitchen almost done—hand glazing tons of cabinet doors and refinishing the breakfast table is so time consuming! And we're still on the hunt for the "perfect" tiles to use in our bathroom before we get a contractor started on the job. I haven't been able to have a hot bath since we moved here because the old tub is questionable and I'm dying to take one!!

5. Learn to speak Italian better.
     I flunked this one big time! But Kraig says he hopes we can go back to Italy in 2 years for our 25th anniversary, so I'm excited to start listening to our language tapes again.

6. Travel to a new place with the girls and get their passports stamped for the first time.
     We took a wonderful drive down the coast on our way to visit with my family at Gold Beach, OR this year. It was such a great trip and we got to explore several places we'd never seen before. Still working on getting the passports for the girls...

7. Volunteer for a new ministry.
     Ashley and I are looking into being volunteers for our local Food Bank. We didn't get around to it last year, but are definitely going to try it this year!

8. Make time to sing and play the piano more often.
     I managed to eke out time for this throughout the year too, but not as much as I would have liked to. There was a time I sang for hours every day and I'm really missing it! 

9. Open my own Etsy store full of jewelry, paper crafts and other goodies I love to make.
     It was a struggle and lots of hard work to get it set up, but I finally opened my own Etsy shop! Yeah!! Things are a little slow right now, but I'm hoping they pick up this year, along with the economy. But I'm working hard at listing many more goodies and hope to list at least 3 to 5 new things each week. 

10. Post on this blog at least once a week.
     I've come pretty darn close to keeping this one too, haven't I? *Ü* It's been fun posting here and also on Facebook, where I've been able to reconnect with old friends and make new ones through cyberspace.

All in all, not too shabby, eh? This year, I'm renewing some of these on my 2009 list, but I also wanted to focus more on character building for myself, so in addition to the ones I want to repeat from last year, I would like to work on these:

2010 Resolutions

1. Have more of a servant's heart for my family and others.  
     I need lots of patience with two teenagers in the house!

2. Take risks in the face of my fears.
      I want to take time to do things like go up to a homeless person and treat them to a hot meal, even if they look a little scary to me. I need to trust that God will take care of me in any situation and not let my fears or inhibitions from my head override my first impulses of the heart.

3. Take over cooking duty for Kraig for at least two nights each week.
     He's the Head Chef in our family because I'd just as soon feed everyone Pop Tarts for dinner each night, but I'd like to give him a break even though he never complains and doesn't mind doing the cooking.

4. Look into submitting my designs in a local gallery or unique gift shop.
5. Go on a family camping trip. 
      Kraig and I have been wanting to take the girls camping since they were little because that's how we were both raised, but it's never worked out that we've been able to do it. Even if the girls come kicking and screaming, we're going to take at least one trip this year, if it kills me! ;-D

I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed that this year I'm even more successful at keeping these resolutions than I was last year! How about you? I'd love to challenge you to make at least one resolution this year that has you reaching out of your comfort zone too—you may stumble onto a life-changing blessing for your efforts! *Ü*
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