Friday, April 22, 2011

Decisons…Decisions…

I know I haven't been a very faithful blogger this week, but I have a good excuse—honest! I've been slaving away at the torch each day, making hundreds of new beads and getting ready to participate in my first really big art/craft show called Art & Elegance in Portland, OR next weekend. To say that I'm starting to stress out a little would be a major understatement!

For one thing, I'll be at one of the smaller "co-op" tables and will have only about 4 feet of surface to display everything on. I usually have an 8-foot table when I attend our local Farmer's Market, so I'm having to do some very creative rearranging to see how much I can squeeze in at one time. ;-)

But even more importantly, I'm anxious about what to bring to sell, since I've never attended this event and have no idea what to expect. Will customers want more loose beads or finished jewelry? What if they really like one necklace style, but I only bring 5 of them? Or what if I take a gamble and bring 20 of a certain design and they sit there all day, with a horde of crickets chirping all over them? LOL

So can I ask for a little advice? I know I want to bring a lot of my nature-themed beads because they've proven popular sellers in my shops and Treasuries (plus, it's very representative of my personal style). But I've heard that bright colored things seem to be selling the best lately, so I've whipped up a few fun things like this:

Blue Leopard Set

What do you think? How about a purple version?

I've been spoiled in that I've only done local shows so far, and can easily run home to grab more items if I need to. With Portland being several hours away and no torches allowed in my hotel room, I'm dealing with the added pressure of deciding what to bring that will make the most impact on my small space.

So I've put together a little informal poll located in the upper right corner of my sidebar with other ideas I have to bring. I would love to get your input on which of these designs you would like to see (and buy?) if you were attending the show? You can vote on as many ideas as you like and I really appreciate your help! *Ü*

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pantone Color Forecast: Lavender


mmmmm…one of my favorite colors—just right for Spring (or any other season!). This is the soft blue-violet shade found in the fragrant hyacinths currently blooming in my garden, amethyst gemstones, the famous lavender fields of France, and my didyium safety glasses. Its symbolic meaning is femininity, grace and elegance.

After reading the Pantone Spring 2011 forecast, I was inspired to create some new beads featuring this delicious color, and here's what I've come up with so far: a set of Watercolor Rose beads created with my own custom-mixed canes (the gift of lavender roses means that you find the recipient enchanting and expresses love at first sight)…

Lavender Watercolor Roses



…a yummy set of polka dotted beads encased with transparent Blue Lavender, accented with a chocolate brown that is the Russet color also featured in the Spring forecast that I blogged about earlier here:

Lavender and Chocolate

…and this lovely set of nuggets that has glints of lavender swirling around with various shades of violet, white, and olive green:

Violet Swirl Nuggets

Next on my "to do" list? Woven lavender beads! ;-D If you're looking to create your own beads in this beautiful color too, here are some other 104 COE glass suggestions to try:

Opaque Lavender (Effetre)
Dark Lavender Premium (Effetre)
Orion (Effetre)
Count von Count (Creation is Messy)
Lilac (Reichenbach)

Keep in mind that lavender transparents have a tendency to change to a bluer shade when under florescent lighting, which is something you may want to take into account when planning out certain color combinations or patterns. And don't be afraid to experiment with layering two or more colors together to create a special lavender color—you will be amazed at the gorgeous depth and sparkle you can achieve! *Ü*

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Find: Glass Rod Warmer

Here's a great "find" I discovered during my second year of lampworking that really helps with those shocky glass rod colors:

Belson Heater Stove

This is a tool is normally used in the beauty salon industry to heat marcel curling irons, but it is also perfect for preheating glass rods too! Preheating your rod can really help reduce the amount of those pesky (and scary!) spits of broken glass that can happen when a thicker rod and/or shocky color is first introduced into the torch flame. I absolutely love mine! This is the exact model that I ordered and you can click on the caption link to go directly to it. This smaller model worked the best for my own table set-up, but you may find that you prefer another brand or size that works better for yours?


I also recommend combining it with an aluminum base to help prevent molten glass from sticking to the bottom. I found an inexpensive one at Devardi glass (they also sell their own brand of rod warmer) and if you scroll down to where the "rod warmer plates" section is, you can see a choice of sizes. I think I had mine custom sized to fit my warmer, so be sure to measure carefully to see if that's something you may have to do as well. You could also try using a scrap of graphite tile or fiber blanket, although I would worry that the fiber blanket might transfer fibers to the hot rod?

Here's what my set-up looks like (without the inner plate), positioned to the right of my torch where I can reach the rods easily, but still keep them out of the way of my main working area. I've left about 2" of space all around to make sure nothing touches the hot metal casing, as the temperature inside can reach around 800-900 degrees:


There are a few other budget-friendly options you might like to try for prewarming your rods:
1) Stick the first few inches of the rod into your hot kiln, or
2) Heat the ends on a coffee mug warmer or larger hot-plate appliance

I went for the "heater stove" option because I like how it's enclosed to help keep things from landing on the exposed, hot rods, and the little pull out rod rest keeps the rest of the rod cool and easily accessible as I'm working. You can also pre-warm murrini pieces on top at the same time as you are warming full rods. Plus, I'm a "gadget girl" and love finding a cool new tool! LOL

Make sure you allow the rod to cool a bit after using it on a bead before sticking it back onto the warming surface, to prevent the glass from sticking to it. If you get impatient and end up with a stuck rod, you'll have to wait until the entire unit cools down and then give it a little shake to pop it away from the ceramic surface.

And don't forget—next time you're invited to a Roaring 20's party, you'll also have the perfect way to get those gorgeous marcel curls! *Ü*

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Jet Lagged and Footsore…

…but it was oh, so worth it! *Ü*

The Colosseum in Rome, Italy

In case you were wondering why I haven't blogged in a while, it's because I just got back from an ten-day vacation to Italy with my family late Monday night. We visited the beautiful cities of Rome, Assisi, Florence and Venice and must have walked at least 5+ miles every day!

The trip was wonderful and I promise to share tons of pics and more info—once I get over this nasty case of jet-lag. My head has been spinning for the past two days and I think I've learned my lesson after 20+ hours of constant travel time that next trip, I'll need to make sure to either schedule more direct, shorter flights and/or longer layovers in between to allow time to stretch and get my equilibrium back! LOL
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