Monday, May 30, 2011

Remembering our Heroes

Taking a moment on this Memorial Day to remember and give thanks for all the brave men and women who have died in service to our country…

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Find: New Workshop and Washers

With a crazy title like this, you're probably wondering what in the world this post will be about, eh? Well, I figured since I haven't posted a Friday Find in a while, I'd treat you with a double-dose of some great items I've discovered recently! *Ü*

First, I wanted to tell you about a wonderful new book called "Wire Art Jewelry Workshop" by fabulous artist and author, Sharilyn Miller. Let me tell you—this book is chock full of awesome projects, techniques, tips, and beautifully photographed inspiration—PLUS, an instructional DVD! I had originally checked it out from my local library, but immediately fell in love with it, beginning with when I saw her Tools and Materials list. As soon as my eyes spied the words "Harbor Freight," I just knew this was going to be my kind of fun!

Two projects into reading the book, I had already decided I wanted to buy it for myself. Then, later that day, I was telling my husband about how much I was enjoying reading it while we were browsing the book table at Costco, when lo and behold—there it was!! (I could swear I heard a heavenly chorus of angels singing "aaaaaaahhaaaaaaaahh!!"). I pounced on it like a crazy woman who had just found a long lost treasure, and was still grinning ear to ear, even as we waited in the long check out line (which anyone who shops at Costco can tell you, certainly isn't the norm! LOL).

Which brings me to my second "find" of the week: As soon as I was able, I rushed over to Habor Freight and picked up the same box of assorted copper washers that Sharilyn recommends in her book. I had no idea they were there and had been getting my washers a few at a time at another local hardware store. This is so much easier, and at a better price too!

I had a chance to play with them a bit and here's some of the fun things you can do with washers for your jewelry and other creative projects:

L to R: plain, hammered, textured with acrylic paint patina, textured and blackened

Isn't it cool how a utilitarian item like a plain metal washer can be turned into something lovely like this? I can't wait to play with these more, try out some of Sharilyn's projects from the book, and see what other creative sparks start to fly!

What kind of plain objects like this do you like to work with and transform?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

May Bead Trends Giveaway

*** This Giveaway is now closed. Please see my post announcing the winner! ***

OOPS! I can't believe I almost totally forgot to do this before the month ended?! The good news is that I was honored to be included in the May 2011 issue of Bead Trends magazine. The theme for this issue is "Botanical Inspirations" and you know how much that is so right up my alley! Here is the necklace they featured, including  lampwork beads that I created using rose murrini that I made myself—I love how they turned out looking just like real peonies:

Even more good news is that they sent me an extra copy and I thought it would be a great time to offer it as a Spring Giveaway! (Do I detect a rousing cyber chorus of "Hooray!!!"?) If you'd like a chance to get this wonderful new issue in your hot little hands, all you have to do it leave a comment after this post, and let me know what your favorite flower is. That's it—no other hoops to jump through to qualify! Of course, if you feel like adding my blog to your Follower list, or "liking" my Facebook fan page, that would be wonderful as well! ;-D

*** You have until this Monday, May 30th to enter. I will draw the winning name by Random Number Generator on Tuesday, May 31st and announce the winner. ***

Even better news than this?! You can also get a second chance to win this prize! The Fire Divas have a special eBay auction HERE this week on a collection of their beads and 100% of the proceeds will go to the Beads of Courage organization (please see my previous post for more info). If you would like to bid on this auction, or send a monetary or bead donation directly to them, you can leave another comment letting me know you did so. (I feel another "Yay!" coming on, people!)

I hope you all have a special Memorial Day weekend too! *Ü*

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fire Divas Beads Of Courage Auction

*** Edited to add: This auction is now over, and we raised over $107 for Beads of Courage! Whoohooo!
Thanks to all who participated in the bidding and those who helped spread the word! ***
The Fire Divas believe strongly in giving back whenever they can, and here is a collection of gorgeous handmade lampwork beads that the talented artists of The Fire Divas team have contributed to in honor of the Beads Of Courage program. All of the proceeds from this eBay auction HERE will go directly to Beads Of Courage and make it possible for the brave boys and girls battling cancer throughout the United States to enjoy the amazing outreach and cancer support that this wonderful program provides. Not only will you be helping to put a smile on their faces, but you will receive 19 handmade Collector beads that you will cherish for a lifetime!!!

The beads shown were donated by 13 different Fire Diva artisans, who also created a similar set that will be sent directly to Beads of Courage for the children to choose from and enjoy. This is your unique opportunity to pitch in and lend a helping hand to this amazing organization too! 

Clockwise from top—Tribal heads: Barb (riversedgeglass); Yellow round: Sonja (SilverRiverGlassWorks); Magic Mice: Lori (ashlyndesign); Multicolor round: Judith (icarusbeads); Blue organic: Rosemarie (spawnofflame);  Shuttle: Lara (Lutrick); Blue nugget: Patrice (Shepherdcreations); Yellow car: Karen (giapet); Blue/brown organic: Susan (susanlambert); Critters: Sharon (rightturnartwerks); Blue cubes: Kathleen (uglyducklingbeads); Cupcake: Holly (HollysFollyGlass); Green inchworms: Abigail (abbielyn)

The beads you will be getting include:
* Lovely free-form organics 

* A pair of Disney inspired "Magical Mouse" ears
* A sporty roadster car 
* A Space Shuttle with monkey (a similar bead from the same artist went up on the last Shuttle!) 

* Fun and festive graphic designs 
* A sweet chocolate cupcake (calorie free, of course)
* Happy "critter" face beads 
* And the cutest pair of tiny green inchworms!

In addition to this special auction event, the Fire Divas would like to offer another opportunity to their customers and fans: for everyone who places a bid (whether you win or not), or donates directly during the auction week to Beads of Courage via their website, please leave a comment HERE on their original blog post and let them know. You will be entered to win some great prizes, chosen by a random drawing. How cool is that?! (more photos coming soon!)

Please help spread the word about their first Annual Beads of Courage Auction and don't forget that the bidding will end on Wednesday, June 1st at 6 pm PST. Thank you so much for your support! *Ü*

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

ISGB Glass Retreat 2011

This past weekend, I was thrilled to attend the annual local ISGB (International Society of Glass Beadmakers) retreat at Frantz Art Glass in Shelton, WA. I love to go every year to recharge the old creative batteries by watching great new demos, working on small project techniques, and socializing and making new friends with 30 to 40 fellow beadmakers from around my area.

To start off the first morning, Felicia Wartnik demonstrated how to work with enamels to create several different cool effects on the surface of our beads. Now I finally know what to do with that big sample kit I bought two years ago and never touched! LOL

Next, Jennifer Millsap taught us the traditional pearl knotting technique and we all got to create bracelets using our own beads. I didn't finish mine since I didn't have quite enough tiny spacer beads to get the length I needed, but it was still fun to learn and I'm sure I'll be using this method more often, especially since I love to use pearls so much in my work!

Then several of us hit the Frantz Art Glass store and did some serious damage to the credit cards (well, at least I know *I* did!) I brought home over 16 pounds of glass and now have the daunting task of putting labels on each rod before I can add them to my already huge glass stash in my studio. Definitely not something I look forward to when all I want to do it run out to make beads after being inspired all weekend!

After a delicious lunch, my dear friend Judith Billig showed us three ways to use shards, which are paper thin wafers of glass created by blowing large bubbles of molten glass and breaking them into pieces when they've cooled. We can only hope to make beads as lovely as hers though, even if she did make it look easy!

At the end of the day, we learned how to do the Viking Knit technique from Stacy Frost and Ellen Harbison, which is a cool way to knit thin wire into a thicker, three-dimensional rope. At first, I didn't really care for the process, as it was somewhat tedious and confusing—but once I got the hang of it, I decided it was worth the effort to achieve the stunning results. I can't wait to try this using sterling silver wire and adding some of my beads to it!

After eating dinner together, we all left to go to our hotels for the night (and practice our Viking Knit homework). I roomed with Judith and Ann Chambers in a quiet little hotel right next to the water…

Judith, Ann and Me (aka "Stuffed Chipmunk Cheeks")

This is such a flattering photo of me, I think I'll have it enlarged… NOT!! Why I always end up smiling so big that my face looks twice as large, I'll never know! *sigh* I also didn't realize until I went through my photos that we look like we color coordinated ourselves to go together with the solid jewel tones and shades of black too? LOL

The next day, after singing a rousing chorus of "Good Morning" from the movie musical "Singing in the Rain" to help wake Judith up (which she didn't seem to appreciate nearly as much as my girls do on trips?), we met up with friends for breakfast, then headed back out to Frantz. First, we watched a demo from Jed of Double Helix to learn about the common ways people mess up their beads or don't get the results they want when using silver laden glass. I definitely had a couple of "ah-hah!" moments from this one!

Then Kathy Johnson showed us how to make her darling little Westie dog and pony beads using sculptural techniques. I've been dreaming of making horse beads for over two years and now I'm really looking forward to trying my hand at one:

After lunch, there was a bit more last minute shopping, much ooohing and aaahing over each other's beads, learning how to finish up our Viking Knit chain, and a fun bead exchange. Then it was time to sadly say our goodbyes and head back our homes. Lucky for me, my friend Lara Lutrick gave me a ride to and from this event, so all I needed to worry about were the masses of Scottish Brush growing along the highway that were causing my eyes to water and itch like crazy. :-o

Allergies aside, it was another wonderful retreat experience where I got to learn a ton of fun new things, practice some new skills, reconnect with old friends, and make several new ones—all thanks to the awesome efforts of Laura Bowker and her crew of Merry Beaders… I can't wait to go back and do it all over again next year!

But for now, would anyone like to come over and help me put on my glass labels??? I have plenty of chocolate to keep the energy levels up! *Ü*

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Spring, Finally

Well, it's about time, too, right?! *Ü* I went outside to put some packages in my mailbox and lo, and behold, I noticed that my lilacs were open and scenting the air with their wonderful perfume, my azaleas were a riot of color, and my maple tree now has tender young leaves! This all happened practically overnight, as I don't remember seeing those leaves even just two days ago?! LOL It puts me in such a great mood, to see that Spring has finally sprung around here, no thanks to getting delayed by all this crazy weather we've been having over the past few months. Here are some of the new lovelies I can now see out in my front yard:

After days and weeks on end of dreary skies, rain and—yes, even sleet!—it's lovely being able to step outside into the warm sunshine and soak up the joy of Spring again. Because I tell ya, I was starting to get a little cabin crazy and depressed because Winter was clinging so hard to this year.

In a way, this is a perfect analogy for life, wouldn't you agree? We all have periods of time when life seems so gray and cold, without much beauty or hope—but then God opens a window to let the sun stream in with an unexpected blessing that lightens our spirits. We know He promises to make it happen—and although we don't know exactly when, we can trust that He definitely will (and funny how it always comes at the times when we need it the most?!)

What are you experiencing right now—Winter or Spring? If it's still wintertime in  your life right now, I promise—Spring is coming soon! *Ü*

Pantone Color Forecast: Silver Peony

The second pink color in the Spring 2011 forecast is called "Silver Peony," which is a pale, ethereal shade in what the fashion industry considers a "nude" color, that has just a blush of pink in it:

It reminds me of white flowers like peonies and roses that have a subtle hint of pink in their petals or pale pink opal stones that create such a pretty glow. This is a much harder color to find in the soft glass palette, but I did find these options you might like to try:

Whisper (Effetre)

Rosalin (Reichenbach)

Silver Pink Premium (Effetre)

Pink Angel (Effetre)

hmmm… these are putting some lovely color combo ideas in my head, even as I type! How about you? *Ü*

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pantone Color Forecast: Honeysuckle

The 2011 Pantone Color Forecast introduced us to two shades of pink for Spring: the first one is called "Honeysuckle," which is a gorgeous shade of reddish pink that just screams "yumminess!" and was also named 2011 Color of the Year. This is one of my favorite colors ever—a shade of luscious raspberry pink that is vibrant, elegant, and looks great on any skin tone. I'm so happy to know that we'll be seeing this wonderful color in the fashion trends all year long!

In terms of glass colors, there are several options to choose from, although they are a bit expensive since all pink glass has gold in it to achieve its rich color. For more budget-friendly designs, you could try using frit (which is crushed bits of glass) over the surface of your bead design instead of a solid color, such as in my bracelet shown in the above photo. These pretty lentil beads were created with a frit blend called "Cherry Blossom" by Glass Diversions, and combined with pink opals.

Another frit blend that comes close to Honeysuckle is "Pink Ribbon," but it is a little on the lighter side when used over a white base. You could try it over a regular pink such as Effetre's Bubblegum Pink or Creation is Messy's Gelly's Sty to increase the density of the pink effect.

Pink Ribbon frit blend

If you prefer to use a solid rod, here are some 104 COE glass colors that match the closest:

Veiled Rubino Oro (Effetre), a streaky version of regular Rubino

Opal Raspberry (Reichenbach)

Pearl Pink (Reichenbach), also similar to Mystic Pink

Cranberry Pink (Creation is Messy)

Rubino Oro, aka "Gold Pink" is also a great dark transparent glass to use, but can be very saturated (similar to CiM's Cranberry Pink) and the actual shade can range from hot pink to fushia purple-pinks, depending on the batch it came from. If you like to work with 96 COE glass, I found that Reichenbach's opaque "Bright Pink" is a nice match and very similar to Opal Raspberry, but just a tiny bit pinker in tone.

I will be reviewing the second pink color in the forecast in my next post, so stay tuned, folks! *Ü*

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New Stuff

Yesterday, I went shopping with my friend and fellow lampwork artist, Judith Billig, to pick up some new glass at a place called Olympic Color Rods in Seattle. What started out as a simple *quick* trip with just a few items on our respective shopping lists, somehow managed to turn into a 2+ hour drool-fest—and we both ended up with quite a bit more in our baskets than we had planned on! LOL

After much ooohing and aaaahing, with occasional outbursts of delight from both of us as we explored the shelves containing hundreds of colors (which I'm sure gave a laugh or two for all the people working there!), this is what I ended up taking home with me…

Okay, everyone needs to repeat after me now… "YUMMILICIOUS!"

I just couldn't resist all the gorgeous colors that remind me of a beautiful English garden or the seaside—and even now am regretting the couple of bundles that I put back in a pathetic effort to "be good" with my budget. Who was I kidding?!  I can't wait to try these out, and am hoping to get my first chance over the next few days. In the meantime, I've listed a few new goodies in my Etsy shop…

Tiger European Charm Bead
Zebra Stripes European Charm Bead
Dragonwing Focal

Now what should I make with my new glass?… *Ü*

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mom Day!

Wishing all the Moms out there a very blessed and Happy Mother's Day!

I've been having a wonderful time with my two daughters today—breakfast in bed, sweet handmade cards, flowers, and a chocolate cake with cream cheese icing. Now that's a lot of extra special love crammed into just one day! (Can we have more than one of these every year??) *Ü*

Friday, May 6, 2011

Introducing: Simply Stackables

Now that I'm really getting into making European Charm Beads (aka "big-hole beads") I wanted to be able to offer them in a finished jewelry style that would give my customers a fresh and more versatile way to use them. What did I come up with? A long necklace featuring several of my lampwork glass beads that can be mixed and matched to suit any wardrobe!

I'm calling this new collection "Simply Stackables" and am having so much fun creating these. The best part is that you can easily slide off the beads and put new ones on, in any configuration you like. Plus, the same beads can also be used on any European Charm bracelet, such as Pandora and Troll brands. I can't say that I invented this design, as I've seen similar versions over the years, but I gave it my own twist and have a few more other neat ideas coming out soon. Here is what the basic design looks like:

It hangs on a lovely 32" textured chain that easily slips over your head instead of having to use a clasp. All of my Stackable necklaces will have one of my handmade bronze metal clay charms used as a sort of bead cap on the top to finish them off at the top, and most will also have one of my bronze charms at the bottom. Here are some of my other designs that I will be listing in my Etsy and ArtFire shops soon:

To make these as affordable as possible, I didn't core the big-hole beads (or BHBs) with sterling silver tubing and used other metals like brass with a beautiful antique patina. But if the customer would like to upgrade their necklace to have sterling silver chain, fine silver charms and BHBs with a core of silver, brass, or copper for a dressier look, I can do that too (I love the challenge of custom orders!).

What do you think? *Ü*

Monday, May 2, 2011

Catching Up…

Loads of good news to share with you, now that I've finally had a chance to catch my breath again! LOL

First of all, I want to say a huge "Thank You!!" to everyone who took the time to vote on my "What Should I Bring to the Show?" poll and left so many great comments on my last post. I was starting to feel just a wee bit stressed out and you guys really helped me feel more confident about what I should focus on. Now, can one of you also help me figure out how to squeeze in 35 hours of production time into a 24-hour day? ;-D

I thought I'd share a few photos of what I took to the Art & Elegance show. It's amazing what you can cram onto just 5' of table space! The corner we were in was a little dark and dreary, so I threw one of my Italian scarves on the table to add a bright punch of color. And check out my "baby" featured on the far right side—a new iPad! I had it on a repeat slide show of my bead and jewelry gallery the entire time and it really helped capture attention. My customers and I also loved using it with the Square app, which enables me to accept credit cards over wi-fi. (Did I mention how much I looooooove my new iPad?!?)

Interchangeable Bottle Stoppers
European Charm Beads, Watercolor Roses, and Magic Mice…

I also offered several versions of a new, interchangeable "Simply Stackables" necklace design that I've been working on for the past few weeks. I'll write more about these on my next post! ;-)

Bright Dots Simply Stackables

I had such a great time at the show and met so many lovely new friends—I can't wait to go back again next year! And while I was busy hawking my wares all day, my family had a fun time of their own: visiting the Portland Zoo, Powell's Books, and the legendary VooDoo Doughnuts. Here's what they bought for breakfast for the next morning… can you guess which one my girls surprised me with?

Yup! I got the creepy VooDoo doll with the strawberry guts inside! LOL

And finally, I am honored to be featured as the "Diva of the Month" for May on the Fire Divas' blog! You can read Part 1 of the four-part interview HERE. Maybe you'll learn a few new "fascinating facts" about me? Pretty soon, I'll need to catch up on posting all about my Hawaii and Italy trips too! *Ü*
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