Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Groovin' on Vintage

A few weeks ago, I was thrilled to be asked to be a Guest Designer on the Making Memories blog. My "assignment" was to create some designs using their new Vintage Groove jewelry supplies line and let me tell ya—they sent me a lot of really neat things to work with! And here's what I came up with…

First, I created these long dangle earrings using darling little pierced MOP ivory charms from the Vintage Groove line, combined with beautiful Bali sterling silver ear wires and deep green freshwater pearls. I think these are now one of my favorite earrings I've ever made!


Unfortunately, two designs that I absolutely loved didn't make "the cut" because they didn't use enough Vintage Groove product. So I went back to the drawing board and came up with this final design, which was happily accepted and will be posted on the Making Memories blog today. Yeah! It uses nothing but Vintage Groove products, except for the tiny little pearl I dangled at the bottom to balance out the pink rose charm at the top.

As you can see, I was REALLY inspired by the product I was working with—which is always a wonderful thing for a designer. I'm very honored to have been asked by such a great company like Making Memories to participate in their blog as a Guest Designer and I hope their readers feel as inspired as I was! *Ü*

Saturday, April 24, 2010

My Marvelous New Table Top

A few days ago, my friend Ann brought me the new metal cover I designed with her handy husband Mike, who just happens to own a heating and cooling business that uses big sheets of galvanized steel. I didn't get a chance to put it on until today and now that it's all set up, I'm so happy I feel like bursting into song! *Ü* The top fits perfectly over my old engineering table, which has a laminate top that's not so great for putting hot tools on it or when molten bits of glass fly off a rod as it's being heated. The smell of burning plastic isn't very pleasant! (But it's better than smelling burning clothes and not knowing where it's coming from?!)

This is what my table looked like in late 2008 when I was first starting out. It was pretty much the same just before I added the metal top—only I've collected many more tools and it had tons of little black scorch marks all over the plastic surface. That green gizmo sitting on the right top corner is an electric curling rod set-up that I was hoping would make a great glass warmer. Turns out putting a hot glass rod back into that plastic bucket wasn't such a great idea after all?! LOL

This is what my work area looks like now after adding the metal cover. Isn't it awesome?!? (And did you notice the "new and improved" metal and ceramic rod warmer?) The sight of such a clean, shiny surface inspired me to re-organize my work space—now it's all ready for a mega torching session!

Okay, I confess, I'm a certified Glassaholic and I'm sure I need to enter a 12-step program.  These are most (but not all! LOL) of my glass colors—aren't they yummy?!

Here are some of my favorite tools by CGBeads. Watch out—they're highly addictive! They're sitting next to some shards I just made a few days ago, my trusty iPod, and a silver tray full of test bead designs I want to work on as the creative spirit moves me…

And this is what my view looks like every time I sit down at the torch to make some beads. The funnel at the top is part of my ventilation system to make sure all the harmful fumes are safely wisked away outside. Those things that look like bicycle handlebars are part of my Creation Station accessory—it's great for helping me rest my arms and steadying my hands as I'm working on my bead designs.

I just finished a marathon 5 hours at the torch and can't wait to see what comes out of the kiln tomorrow. Of course, my table won't be looking this nice and neat for very long, but I'm going to enjoy it while I can. Thanks SO much, Ann and Mike! *Ü*

P.S.~ That orange thing hanging over the back of my chair in the first photo is a leather apron that I bought recently from Harbor Freight (remember my comment about the flying glass?!). Ashley says it makes me look like I work at Home Depot. Hah! I only wish—then maybe I'd get a nice discount on stuff for all the remodeling projects we still have to finish up! ;-D

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Confessions of a Potty Mouth Lampworker

I hesitate to post about this, but maybe my sad tale will help prevent another "newbie" lampworker from making my same mistake? LOL

When I first started learning how to make glass beads a few years ago, I liked to lurk on several on-line forums to read about all kinds of things relating to this subject (actually, I still like to lurk! ;-D). A certain weird word that I'd never heard before kept popping up—something along the lines of "f + ugly"—and was always used to describe really, really ugly beads that had gone horribly wrong. I immediately thought to myself that this word was specific to the lampworking industry and must mean something like "world's funniest, wonkiest and ugliest," so I began to refer to some of my own bead disasters in this manner.

A few weeks ago, I got to meet a new friend, Rachel, who was just starting out and she brought me some of her new beads to look at. My daughter Ashley was with me, and she quietly observed as Rachel and I proceeded to pick out and comment on her beads. We did a lot of laughing and I tried to encourage Rachel by telling her of what some of my first attempts looked like—we were having a good 'ol time. But when we said good-bye and Ashley and I were walking back to the car, she turned to me and asked me in a shocked tone,

"Mom, I can't believe you were saying that word so much with that lady! You guys must have said it like 20 times!! You DO know what that word means, right?!"

I was surprised and said, "Yeah, it's a funny word lampworkers use that means "really, really ugly bead!"

She paused, raised one eyebrow nearly to the top of her forehead and informed me that actually, that particular word was one that everyone in the whole world (but me!) knows is a combination of a really, really bad word + ugly!!

SAY, WHAT?!?!?

Now, please bear in mind that I have a sterling reputation with old friends and family of having a pristine vocabulary. I've probably only used a curse word 2 or 3 times my entire life—and the ones I used can be found in the Bible (not that it makes any better). Even if I wasn't a Christian, my natural tendency is to try and be as "ladylike" as possible, so using swear words has always been something I stayed away from. So you can only imagine my utter embarrassment and horror to discover that I've been innocently blabbering this very naughty word all over the place whenever I chatted with my lampworker friends?! EEK! When I got home, I immediately searched through all my posts on the forums and this blog, and thankfully, only found one instance of when I had typed it out. Needless to say, that post was edited with lightning speed! I only hope and pray I don't have anything else floating around in cyberspace like that?! :-o

So...that's my story and I'm stickin' to it! LOL I still find myself almost blurting that word out once in a while, simply because it's been so ingrained into my lampwork vocabulary these past several years. I'm gonna have to start carrying around a bar of soap if it looks like I can't lick this habit quickly! So to all my current and future glassy friends—I beg you—please, let's think up and use another word that is most definitely NOT a bad one, k? I have a reputation to uphold! *Ü*

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Guns 'n Roses

For all you hard rock fans, sorry if the title of this post misled you here! But there's a good reason for it, so you might just want to stick around for the punchline! ;-D

In between yanking out fistfulls of hair while I worked on my tax return (which I e-filed earlier this morning! Yeah!), keeping track of two teenagers, and trying to get motivated to finish up several home remodeling projects, I've been hostessing a "Fun with Florals" bead exchange on the Lampwork Etc. message board. It's the first time I've ever volunteered to do something like this and so far, it's been a lot of fun! We've been exploring several different techniques and styles over the past 6 weeks and one of my new favorites is a "watercolor" method that I learned from a new tutorial DVD by Dolly Ahles. I've been a huge fan of Dolly's work for several years now, so getting a chance to learn one of her fabulous techniques (and even share a friendly email or two) has been wonderful! *Ü*

I haven't had as much time to play around with her techniques as much as I would like to, but here's some photos of my second and fourth attempts (the first one is a little too scary to share! LOL)…

Hard to believe that's all made of glass, isn't it?! Now that tax time is finally over, I'm really looking forward to working with this style even more!

So, that was the "roses" part of my post. Here's a funny one that relates to the other topic in my title that I thought you might enjoy:

We were driving home one day and Ashley was bemoaning the fact that she's in the middle of physical fitness testing for her PE class at school. And while she does great on anything to do with leg strength and quickness, she hasn't been doing so well on the tests that deal with arm strength—which she thought was extremely embarrassing. Since she often likes to joke/brag about the "guns" on her arms (her muscles), I asked her,

"But I thought you had those big guns you could use?" 

To which she replied,
"I do! But I guess they're just for show—they don't really work!" 


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Family Day

As many of my friends and family already know, my oldest daughter Katie has been attending a military-style run academy out in Bremerton, WA, which is about 1-1/2 hours away from our home. It's a six-month program, with only a few times when she can come home on leave. This past weekend, I was so excited because it was "Family Day" and we were able to go up to visit her on campus! Two of her best friends, Kele and Shirin were also able to come, so Katie was pretty excited to see all of us as well. *Ü*

Surprisingly, our free-spirited and impulsive child seems to be thriving at this school and she's doing extremely well there, getting almost straight A's, learning a ton of new skills, and getting into the best physical shape of her life—all without a stitch of make-up, iPod or cell phone! We're all so proud of her and know she's gaining confidence and abilities that will take her far in life because of this experience.

At the end of the day, we took her to the Urgent Care Clinic because of a suspected skin infection problem. Then we ended up taking her home so she could see a specialist the next day and were relieved to hear that the problem was not as serious as we had feared, and should clear up with the help of some strong antibiotics. Now she's back at school and I'm back to missing her again! *sigh*

Friday, April 2, 2010

Scrumptious Silver Glass

Yes, I know I should be working on my tax return—and I really am (just with long torching breaks in between! *Ü*). Just thought I'd sneak in a quick post before Easter weekend to share some of my latest bead sets made with more lovely silver-laden glass…

This one is called "Lavender Fields" and was created from the same glass as my "Calliope" set, but I used a different clear to encase each bead. Isn't it amazing how different these sets are?! They shimmer with gorgeous blues, purples and pink mother-of-pearl (MOP) colors, with just the tiniest hint of pale soft green peeking through here and there. Perfect for Spring! 

This set is called "Oceanus" and uses a different silver glass color that is a little trickier to work with. But when you're lucky and all the stars and planets are aligned just right—you get the most beautiful aqua, blue and lime green MOP effects.

It's so hard to capture that MOP shine on camera—and these pics come close—but they're so much lovelier in person! I can feel the siren's call of my torch to go out and play with both of these glass colors again today, but I must be strong and keep slogging away at these darn taxes. *sigh* I better be gettin' some moolah back so I can buy more of this glass! LOL

Hope you all have a wonderful and blessed Easter weekend too! *Ü*
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