Sunday, December 26, 2010

Introducing: My Woven Bead Tutorial

It's been several months in the making (and one of the reasons for my pre-holiday stress level), but I finally finished writing my second lampworking tutorial! YAY!

After our family vacation in Maui this summer, I was inspired to create some beads that reflected the natural beauty and culture of this amazing island paradise. One of the things that I immediately thought of making was a pattern that looked like the lovely woven palm frond mats I often saw in the shops. Since I’d never seen a bead done with that kind of a pattern before, I pondered on the flight back home how I might go about “weaving” glass strands together to get the same effect.

A few days after we returned home, I set about making a set of beads from the plan I had figured out in my head on the flight—and was totally thrilled when it worked out even better than I had hoped—on the first try?!! Here's a photo of the set I created…

After showing these beads proudly off to some of my lampwork friends and getting so many questions on how I had accomplished it, I realized that this technique was something other people hadn’t seen before either. Thus, this tutorial was born!

For those of you who love to make beads like me, I'm offering this fun tutorial for sale in my ArtFire shop HERE and my Etsy shop HERE. (If possible, I would prefer that you order it from my ArtFire shop, as they don't charge a commission fee.) This has been a real labor of love and I hope that everyone who buys it will enjoy learning and making "woven" beads as much as I do! *Ü*

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

Christmas Eve, before the "feeding frenzy"…

This this morning, the opening of gifts commenced! We had to let Indy open his gift first, because he absolutely loves getting presents on Christmas and is smart enough to expect one each year. Poor Romeo isn't quite so smart and hid in the Family Room. (We think he had a traumatizing experience in his past life involving kids and flying gift wrap paper??)

Ashley and Katie loved all their gifts, but this was their reaction when Kraig presented them with gifts from "Santa" at the very end—snazzy new MacBook Air laptop computers…(you might want to plug your ears)…

We probably won't see or hear them again for a week?! ;-D

And if you're wondering what that honkin' box beside the tree was, here's Kraig sitting in his special present (wearing some of his other gifts)—a full back massage chair with all sorts of cool features. It works so well, he decided to go take a nap!

I was blessed with many wonderful gifts as well—including a full "Handyman Tool Kit" in pink, a cordless Dremel for cleaning my beads, and a gorgeous Artisan-made necklace that I admired in Maui during our summer vacation (sneaky hubby had it all this time!!). But I'm wondering how it worked out that I'm the one that got all the power tools this year?!?? LOL

Now I'm going to finish enjoying my delicious coffee cake Kraig baked for us, read a bit of my new book, and get ready for a nice visit from my in-laws for Christmas dinner. I hope that you are having a wonderful morning as well and that the rest of your Christmas Day is very special. Don't forget to wish Jesus a "Happy Birthday" too! *Ü*

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Greatest Gift

I won't lie to you—for over a month I've been a "just a little" stressed out, trying to get ready for and enjoy my favorite season of the year: Christmas. I had so many wonderful goals, that this year, I was going to do all sorts of fun stuff—like starting an advent calendar journal, getting the house decorated a la Martha Stewart by Thanksgiving, hosting a neighborhood cookie swap, creating a whole glass Nativity set, and joining a choir to sing The Messiah. But with so many other things and two teenagers demanding my time, I've felt like one of those circus performers that has 10 plates spinning on high thin poles, constantly running from plate to plate, keeping everything spinning frantically to prevent them from falling down.

I don't know quite what it is—things seemed to much simpler and easier when my children were younger?! So while my home is at least decorated (although perhaps not quite to Martha's lofty standards!) and I got all my gifts mailed out in time, I didn't make any of my other goals and have yet to convince my daughters that it's still "cool" to carry on the family tradition of decorating gingerbread houses for Christmas. *sigh*

But you know what? That's not what Christmas is all about, is it?! 2,010 years ago, a desperate couple took a hard journey to Jerusalem, and a baby boy named Jesus was born in a simple manger. There were no fancy decorations or big family gatherings to celebrate the birth of our Savior, and I'm sure Martha would have been horrified by the state of that stable! But to think that He would humble himself to become a man to give us the greatest gift of all—Salvation!? Now that's cause for celebration and the true "Reason for the Season!"

I'd like to share one of my favorite Christmas songs from a wonderful group called Avalon. This song always pulls hard at my heartstrings during the holidays—reminding me of how important it is to carry the love of Christ(mas) throughout the year, not just in December…

When I reflect back and dwell on all the blessings that God has given me and my family, all my disappointment for unmet goals and dreams fade away and I'm left with a heart full of love and gratitude. I pray that you are feeling the same and I wish you much joy as we celebrate the biggest Birthday Bash of the year together! *Ü*

And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Luke 2:9-14

Wishing you Great Joy & Peace 
on Christmas
(and throughout the year!)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Snowball Giveaway Winner

I ended up deciding to draw names out of a hat to determine the winner and my set of frosty Snowball beads goes to…

Sydney of!!

Congrats! I hope you have fun creating something wonderful with them!

I also want to thank everyone who "liked" my Facebook Fan Page and/or "hearted" my Etsy shop to enter this Giveaway contest. You all left such nice comments and every day it was so much fun to log on and read them. I just wish I had enough beads to give to all of you! *sigh* But I hope that you will keep in touch because I promise there will be more fun giveaways and contests in the future! *Ü*

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Happy Haul-idays Winner Announced

And sadly…it wasn't me! *sigh* The lucky winner was CakeSpy, which I discovered is also a fantastic blog featuring lots of yummy goodies. Congrats, Jessie! And to help ease the disappointment for all my fellow non-winning entries, Chronicle Books is offering this sweet Consolation Prize:

35% off + free shipping through December 16, 2011
Use this promo code at checkout: HAULIDAYS

Thanks to everyone who left their comments on my blog post and I hope you'll have fun taking advantage of this great deal—I know I will! *Ü*

Also, don't forget that you have an even better chance to win something else here—a set of my frosty Snowball beads! I made them myself on my torch and they are so much prettier and sparkly in person—they would make a fantastic jewelry design for the Winter season! Check out this link to my original blog post to get all the details on how to enter my fun Giveaway this week HERE.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Two Reasons to Celebrate!

The first reason I'm celebrating today (and by far, the most important one) is that 24 years ago, I married my best friend, Kraig. I look back and wonder at how young (and skinny!?) we were back then and how much in love we were with each other…

And the best thing is that we're blessed to be closer than ever after all these years—through all the ups and downs life has thrown at us—we've faced them head-on, together. The old adage "Time flies when you're having fun!" definitely applies to us and I'm looking forward to seeing what the next 24 years hold in store for us!

And the second reason I'm celebrating is that last week, I reached my goal of making 100 sales from my Etsy shop! I made this goal a few months ago, when my sales were around 73, and at the time, I thought it was just a fun dream to hit 100 by the end of the year. But thank the Lord for wonderful customers who love sparkly glass and jewelry as much as I do!

So as a token of my appreciation, I'm going to give away a set of my fun Snowball beads to one lucky reader. All you have to do to enter is either one of these things:

     "Like" my Facebook Fan Page HERE, or
     "Heart" my Etsy shop as a Favorite HERE

Then mention which one you did in a comment here (just one entry per person, please). And if you're in an especially appreciative mode, you could always do both? ;-D If you've already done both options before, just let me know and you're still more than welcome to enter. (After all, you're one the reasons for the celebration!). Please make sure to also leave a way for me to contact you.

This giveaway will run from today through this Saturday, December 18th and I will draw a name using the Random Number Generator on Sunday. Good luck and thank you for celebrating with me! *Ü*

Edited to add: The lucky winner was Sydney! YAY!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Celebrate the Haul-idays!

Ever since I was a very young girl, I've adored reading books! At first I was really into fairy tales and mythology, then I moved on to animal themes and horse stories like "Black Beauty" and romances like "Gone With the Wind" when I entered my teenage years. Then I graduated to murder mysteries, science fiction, home decor, art techniques, and tear jerkers. I love to read just about anything (except maybe Stephen King, because he gives me nightmares!). And just like when I was a child, it's not uncommon to find me curled up in a blanket on my bed or the sofa, engrossed for the next few hours in a good book.

So when I heard about the special Celebrate the Haul-idays giveaway that Chronicle Books is doing, I was all over it! LOL Here's the deal: I pick out $500 worth of their books and put them on a wish list on my blog. And after December 10th, Chronicle Books will randomly choose a winning blog and one of its readers to win the shopping spree!

My wish list is chock full of artistic inspiration (because, really, can we ever get enough of that?!), home decor, jewelry design, European travel, and yummy baked treat cookbooks (definitely can't get enough of those! LOL):

Decorate by Holly Becker 
Treasured Notions by Kaari Meng
Over The Door by John Yang
The Handy Book of Artistic Printing by Doug Clouse
Adorn by Amanda Mansell
City Walks: Paris by Christina Henry de Tessan
Pretty Cupcake Kit, Projects by Shauna Faust
Sis Boom Notecard Book by Jennifer Paganelli
Very Merry Cookie Party by Barbara Grunes
Milk & Cookies by Tina Casaceli
Heavenly Vaults by David Stephenson
Cities of Europe by Laura Tarrish
Visions of Heaven by David Stephenson
Beach by Josie Iselin
The New Color Book
At Home with Friends by Michele Adams and Gia Russo
Craft Inc. by Meg Mateo Ilasco
Reprodepot Pattern Book: Flora by Djerba Goldfinger
The Illuminated Lettering Kit by George Thomson

The deadline of the 10th is almost here (I tend to wait to the last minute to get the best adrenaline rush?! LOL). So please leave a comment soon and keep all your fingers and toes crossed for both of us! *Ü*

Monday, December 6, 2010

Custom Personalized Monogram Pendants

I'm so excited to show you another new design that I've been working on: Custom Monogram Pendants! They are handmade by me out of bronze metal clay, using a filigree vine alphabet stamp that I think has a lovely vintage feeling about it. To add extra interest, I've combined it with a creamy white freshwater pearl and Swarovski crystal in your choice of colors to match your birthstone or favorite color.

I love how bronze has such a warm, rich character to it and looks great on any skin tone color. And it's much more affordable than Precious Metal Clay (PMC), although the time and care involved in the creation and finish work is the pretty much the same for any of the clay types. I hope to offer this design in a few other alphabet styles and in a fine silver and sterling necklace, but will probably wait a bit to see how this bronze version does in my Etsy and ArtFire shops first.

I know it's cutting it a little close to the Christmas shopping deadline, but I was thinking that these would make wonderful unique and sentimental gifts. (I know there are definitely two daughters who will be finding one in their stockings this year? sshhhhh!) And after the Christmas holidays are over, I'll still be making these since I think they'd also be great for wedding party, birthday, and friendship gifting as well.

I'd love to hear what you think of this design and what type of letting styles and metal finishes would you like to see next? *Ü*

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pantone Fall Trend Colors for Christmas

I'm still working through all the beautiful colors from the Pantone Fall 2010 Color Trends forecast, and I thought it was especially appropriate to highlight three of the colors that I thought are perfect for this time of year:

Only 20 more days until Christmas, but still plenty of time to make some beads, decorations, or other festive accessories for the holiday season, right?! ;-D Endive is a pale yellowish green with the tiniest hint of brown, while Woodbine is a medium dark sagey pine green with a hint of yellow. Both colors would look wonderful by themselves or paired together in floral or leafy designs. Lipstick Red is my favorite shade of red—rich and luscious and leaning more towards ruby, rather than a bright primary tone.

I looked through my glass stash and after a little experimentation, decided on these colors that I thought matched the Pantone recommendations the best:

From left to right: 
    Vetrofond Pale Pesto stringer work over Creation is Messy (CiM) Olive base
    CiM Olive stringer work over Vetrofond Pale Pesto base
    CiM Olive stringer work over Effetre Uranium Yellow Opaque base

I'm pretty sure I used Pesto for the stringer work on the nugget bead on the left, but it sure looks different from when I used Pesto as the base color, doesn't it? hmmm… I'll have to double check that one to see if maybe I used CiM Dirty Martini instead?! For the two lentil beads, you can see how differently the Olive stringer looks on the two base colors—on the Pesto it stays nice and crisp, but on the Uranium Yellow it bleeds out quite a bit. This could be used for some great organic designs through!

A few weeks ago, I was inspired by the Fire Diva's Christmas theme Challenge and this is what I created for it—my own version of a Mistletoe Kissing Ball:

I used Olive as the base and loved how it turned out! So I made some more and decided to take it a step further, adding some complimentary accents to give this set a more festive pop of color:

The two larger red rounds with the polka dots were created with Effetre Medium Red and CiM Peace white. I like this red a lot, but as you can see, it tends to get dark streaks in it. An alternative glass that doesn't have this streaky quality is CiM's Sangre, which is a lovely red that I used it to create the two spacer beads on the ends. It is a transparent glass, but can get more opaque, depending on how long and hot you work it in the flame.

CiM's Bordello is another nice transparent red, but it is much more saturated than Sangre and needs to be layered over white if you want to bring out a lighter ruby color. If you have any other glass color that you'd like to recommend for this color palette, I'd love to hear about them! *Ü*

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Winter Roses are Still Blooming

I know I haven't posted any eye candy in a while, so I figured I'd share a photo of a set of beads that have been sitting on my desk for several months now. I made them when I was on a hot streak making Watercolor Rose beads and they turned out so well, I've been hoarding them to myself like Gollum from Lord of the Rings. (Some mornings, I even look a little like him, before I've had a chance to pull myself together! LOL).

I keep debating whether or not to list these for sale, and I hold back because I'm afraid I'll never be able to make a set like this again. Already, I sit and stare at them and wonder how I ever accomplished it in the first place?! LOL I guess that's the conundrum of being an artist… giving up something that might not ever be able to be reproduced again? Of course, I know that the inherent nature of glass means that every single bead will always be unique, but still… I love these particular ones so much… my precioussssssssss…

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Flash Mob: Hallelujuh Chorus

I recently heard about this Flash Mob video from a wonderful blogger I've been following, Deryn Mentock of Something Sublime, and I just had to share it here too! I love this one because it features one of my favorite choruses to sing, the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's wonderful Messiah oratorio.

Here's how Wikipedia describes this classical work:

Messiah presents an interpretation of the Christian view of the Messiah, or "the anointed one" as Jesus the Christ. Divided into three parts, the libretto covers the prophecies concerning the Christ, the birth, miracles, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, and finally the End Times with the Christ's final victory over death and sin.

Although the work was conceived for secular theatre and first performed during Lent, it has become common practice since Handel's death to perform Messiah during Advent, the preparatory period of the Christmas season, rather than in Lent or at Easter.

I was honored with the opportunity to sing this several times with my fellow Concert Choir members during my college years and have always been inspired by it. Even after all these years, I still remember my "big mama alto" part! ;-D There's just something extra special about this chorus that brings out the reverence and praise to God for me like no other music—especially when surrounded by beautifully harmonizing voices. I can only imagine how surprised and then thrilled these unsuspecting shoppers were when these talented people began to sing—the acoustics in this place must have been amazing!

On a lighter note, here's another video with a completely different approach. I doubt if real monks under vows of silence would portray the music quite like this, but I think it's cool to see the words pop up and feel the praise that way too!

I would love to participate in the entire concert again someday… maybe next year I'll look around and see where I might be able to join a local choir production? If you've never been to one before, I highly recommend it—I promise you will leave feeling refreshed and inspired for this Christmas season! *Ü*
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