Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Disc cutter for silver and copper

Here's a new 'toy' ;-) Actually it was a birthday gift, but we were moving then so I didn't mess around with it. And then it was the holiday season, so I spent more time unpacking and setting up the house, and shopping and baking. But now with a few weeks off. woo hoo!
I am able to play. This beauty is a Pepe disc cutter. Slide in some metal, place the punch in the correct slot and hit it a few times with a hammer. A beautifully cut disc will be the result.

I use so many silver discs in my jewelry that this is going to help a bunch. Hopefully the amount of discs I use will offset the cost of the tool. Some will also be on Etsy.

My friend Sharon Driscoll has a rolling mill, and we played with that one evening, rolling a bunch of copper through the mill with different textures. The discs at the top of this page are made from some of that copper. Wow what a bunch of ideas are rolling thru my head for the discs. Earrings with a bead hanging below them, pendants, stacked in pendants, in bracelets, on and on, the fun never stops.

So if you're looking to cut some discs, this cutter works a gazillion times better than the economy ones you get at your local tool store. You have to watch for them because often the jewelry tool companies don't have these in stock. Otto Frei is a good place to look. But watch out! They have all kinds of nifty things.......................

Friday, December 26, 2008

Etsy front page

I'm all excited because my beads were on the front page of Etsy today. :-)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Pause for a while and remember what it's all about.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The very best sugar cookies to decorate....ever!

ok that's my opinion. But I have tried a lot of recipes and this is the one that never fails. A friend in Houghton Lake.. Carol Chidester.. gave me the recipe and it's been our family favorite for absolutely ages. When someone eats one of these cookies, they ask for the recipe.
Be sure to decorate them for Christmas. And don't forget to make heart cut-outs for Valentines day. (they're an awesome gift)
If you're in a hurry, only cut out Christmas trees, make the frosting green, and shake sprinkles on them. (and the little red cinnamon candy on top) The frosting keeps the cookies soft, but store them in a big airtight container with waxed paper between the layers.
I'll post a picture of some finished ones later.

Can't-Fail Cut-out Cookies

2 c sugar
1 c real butter

1/4 c milk
3 eggs

5 c flour
1 t soda
1 t salt
2 t vanilla

Refrigerate dough 3 hours or longer roll out and cut with cookie cutters.
cook 350 degrees 8-12 minutes on a lightly greased cookie sheet
do not let them get brown

4-6 dozen


1 lb powdered sugar
1T vanilla
1/4 c (1/2 stick real butter)
milk enough to make frosting spreadable


Thursday, December 18, 2008


I make lampworked buttons. Buttons are awesome... a fastener. For what? What can they 'open' and 'shut'?

My Mom had a button box that I wish I had now. I mean, she still has the button box, but when I was a kid it had a lot more treasures than it did now. It had old buttons. Buttons from clothing in the 1920's Steel cut buttons that I would give my eye teeth for now. And Bakelite and Lucite buckle type pieces, and buttons. Colors and shapes.
When I was about 10 years old I tried to embroider with an old piece of cut up sheet and black thread and did back stitching on it and sewed a big steelcut button on it. I am drooling thinking of this button. Pretty neat memory though because I remember sitting there working on that piece of fabric and then all of the sudden over my shoulder dropped an embroidery hoop and threads and a stamped piece to embroider, and there was my Dad with a smile on his face. How awesomely supportive of a little kid for her Dad to go out and get the 'cool stuff' for embroidery.
We didn't have much money and I know it was a trip for him to go to the dime store to pick up the stuff and pay for it and it is a very special memory. That embroidery hoop got a LOT of use.

Anyway..Now, when I make some special knitted or felted piece (which I do in my 'spare' time) I hunt for a nifty button to finish it. Or I cut off a button on a sweater if it just has one, and I add a button or a button that is sewn to a pin back.

Was this fascination with buttons just part of that visual thing? Hard to explain but I have always loved to look at things. To LOOK and see the colors and the details. Early memories are of seeing things like these buttons or pictures in books. Do artists have some type of 'thing' as young children too? Some innate need or propensity to absorb visual things?

What do you remember 'seeing' in your childhood?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

my kids

:-) A picture from Thanksgiving. My kids are so grown up. Matt.. (Lauren's guy) Lauren, Joe, and Mike. We sure had a great dinner at Mike's place. I love my kids.

Friday, December 12, 2008

YAY! I made an Etsy Front Page! woo hoo!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Another great Christmas gift. This "keyboard for blondes" has sounds and shortcut keys.
If you click on the $ sign it makes a cash register sound, and there is an "oops!" key and an "I want it!" key along with all kinds of other fun. Notice the top row of buttons spells out 'USELESS' hahah. Click on the keyboard to go to the site and play with it. I am wishing it came in a color other than pink. sorry pink... I love you really.... but pink is just so not me. How about a hot neon green? Or a glow in the dark purple. YAH!

Monday, December 8, 2008

attack spider

This is totally something my husband should get for Christmas. :-) Click on the spider to see how it works! So do you think it would keep birds away from a koi pond?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Why I drive a Toyota

Pictured above is a quality product by a person (me) who cares and has good customer service and guarantees their work. It should all be that way. right?! and you can click on it to see it in my Etsy shop.

Yes... this is another opinionated political type post just in case you just like to read about jewelry you are forewarned.

I feel so bad for the auto workers, and about the economy, especially in Michigan since it's where I lived. Reading about the loss of jobs, the plea for a bailout.
Duh on how dumb the auto execs were flying their private jets to beg for the bailout though. Which is just a reflection on how some companies enjoyed all those big bucks at the top and probably should have been paying more attention to a few other things. Like the little guy.. the consumer.

My story is that we always drove a Chevy. Since 1973, we had reliable cars from them. and then, we bought a van that cost more than our first house. Probably around 1999 or 2000. We traveled a bunch and wanted a van that could pull the trailer and keep 3 kids happy in the back. We had it converted with a nifty package with the tv and lights etc.
We bought it in February. The year later in the spring, the first time I turned on the AC, it didn't work and it was out of warranty. Now who tries their AC in February in Michigan? So anyway that cost a mint to have fixed. I called the dealership, called customer service too and they wouldn't do anything. Ok
then the electronic system would go out off and on and the van would just not start. We would get stranded here or there and then after a while maybe it would start. No one could fix it. Although we tried.
Then the transmission went out within a month out of 'it's' warranty. We took good care of that van and were making good sized payments. So it was like 3 years old and had all those issues. Chevy would do absolutely nothing to help. We would call customer service and tell them the whole story, wrote letters to everyone. Nothing. They could care less. We were out of warranty. So not only did we have these big payments but in three years the d#$n van had about $3000 in repairs. ugh!
The last time we got stranded because of the electronics we decided to sell the van. It was maybe 4 years old and not very high in mileage. We traded it in and the car dealership sold it 'as is' on their lot.
Pretty sad. So everytime I see how GM is having issues, I think of that van and how we will never ever ever buy another car that has no customer service, no backing up of their product.

And I have written this and much more in a letter to the president of the auto company and got no response. He can probably afford life with 3 kids and a van that needs a transmission.

To keep from going on and on and boring you with the rest of my story, suffice it to say that the AC went out on my Toyota and I had excellent help from the dealership and Toyota customer service. EXCELLENT! and really I won't feel bad about the economy and my Toyota since Toyota is the only car that has every part in it made in the US. Did you know that? I figure most likely the 'big bucks' for the guys with the private jets is going to Japan though.

I would love to help support our economy but won't be dumb enough to buy a product that I pay big payments on and have an inferior product with no customer support. Sorry Flint, Michigan, sorry Detroit. I saw what happened to these cities over the past 30 years. I'm sorry for them but it's time to pull up our bootstraps and work on making the economy built on quality products and not depend on the executives in the private jets to make our life easier. They don't care.

Let's go buy stuff from the little guy. The fruit market, the farmer, the craftsmen, the bicycle shop and get our economy moving by helping each other. Go buy something from a small business. Make it your goal to do that once a week. Check out Etsy and do some Christmas shopping. That's where I am hunting for some unique gifts.

Do it!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

lampworking classes

I was thinking. When someone takes a lampworking class from me, this is one of their favorite beads to make.
I remember my first class and it was entirely frustrating. I kept pulling the bead release off and I kept ruining the beads. Going through that learning process has helped me make sure my own students make a good bead. I want my students to leave class with some beads and the knowledge to set up on their own at home. They can practice making a good round bead and use different colors and then come back for more if they like.
anyway. This is such a fun bead because of the reaction of the turquoise and silver glass. I don't know why it works something about sulphur (????) but where they touch is an incredible teenie line of dark ivory/brown. They look great no matter how bad a dot or line is on the bead.
The ones here I etched a bit and the wavy ivory line is purposely organic. They are so good looking with a bunch of silver for a bracelet.

I wonder what other lampworkers have as a favorite 'beginning' bead.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

a fabulous holiday

We're back from a fabulous trip.. albeit a long one! Tuesday night we left for Chicago from here in NC. We stopped in Kentucky for the night, then drove to Chicago and got there Wednesday. We enjoyed a Chicago style pizza with our son and daughter and then drove to Ann Arbor Michigan for a real gourmet Thanksgiving dinner hosted by our other son. So we enjoyed seeing all three kids, and our daughter's guy, and had fabulous food. Mike, our son, even made green bean casserole using all fresh ingredients, and brined the turkey. I should cook so good.

I'm putting together jewelry today for the Sugarloaf show in Atlanta, Georgia next weekend. Stop by and say hello. Tell me you saw my blog for a 15% discount! :-) Like hmmmm.... how many people really 'do' read this? hahahah

After next weekend, I plan on listing some finished jewelry on Etsy, such as the above pendant.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

ahhh finally back around and 'normal' haha

What is normal? Who knows what that is lately? hah!
We're still in boxes and I think they are reproducing! Not really. It's all good. We need a pantry type closet built and then things will all be where they need to be (in a way).
A friend just moved and she wrote and said 'we are unpacked but certainly not organized' and yup that's the truth!
And there are lists.. buy hooks for doors, get some cedar chips, look at rugs, etc etc Fun stuff though! Fun to move into a home that we love and start to settle in.

So this week, the electrician came and hooked up some dedicated outlets for my kiln and concentrator, I hooked up the new torch and am loving it. It will be hard to not torch over the holiday!
I put a couple things up on Etsy and that feels good since it's been a while. This is a wonky kind of crazy button, but it's my kind of button. I would for sure make a pin out of it, sewing a pin back to it with some bright thread and pinning it on a jacket or bag.

Anyway hello to all my blogger friends. I'll be around more now!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Home, the spot of earth supremely blest,
A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.
~Robert Montgomery

hooray we'll be done moving tomorrow. It's almost done! It will take a little time tomorrow but by tomorrow night, we'll be in boxes here in the new house. Please remind me not to do this again for a while! Moving is a lot of work and it will take quite some time to get organized here.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Where I went yesterday

Isn't this beautiful? My husband and I traveled to Laurel Grey Vineyards and two others. Raffladini, and Shelton yesterday. We really really should have stayed home and moved more 'stuff' but a group of friends went and the group hired a tour bus, so we went. It wasn't expensive to travel if there were enough in the tour. We went to Shelton Vineyards first and had lunch and wine tasting. This is new to me since we didn't ever tour vineyards in Michigan. You pay a certain amount, and taste 5 or more wines and keep the souvenir wine glass. We bought a couple bottles of wine and relaxed for a day, realizing that soon the looking at houses, buying a house, and moving will be done. In fact we need to be done this week. I so miss having my torch set up and my Etsy shop isn't being replenished as it should be. :-( But soon.........

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

content in a cottage


do check out this blog. She has the coolest pictures! A friend sent me the link and it's a blog I like to visit now!

Monday, October 27, 2008

New Torch

Isn't this awesome? It's still in the box because I'm moving. So the studio is getting set up again for I think about the zillionth time since August 2006. First I moved from N Michigan to N.Carolina and rented studio space. The lady who had that space would move my equipment when I wasn't there. It was moved about 5 times and it drove me nuts. So we rented a house and I moved it from the studio to the garage in the rental. Then we went to Michigan for the summer, so I took all my lampworking equipment with me, then back to NC, then to Michigan the next summer, then back to NC.. and now... drum roll please.............................................................
We bought a house and are moving in. Woo hoo!
I'm thinking maybe this new torch can get hooked up tonight. It is supposed to work great with an oxygen concentrator which is what I use. I'll tell you how it compares to my bobcat torch which is a sweet torch.
I bought the cricket because maybe there will be more 'ummmph' and you can get a pinpoint flame with it, which can come in handy when working in a small area and you don't want to melt too much of your design.

:-) Tonight's plan is move my glass, and gee I probably should move the contents of the refridgerator, and ummm more clothes. ok priorities. Maybe the torch won't get set up tonight!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Barbie Formal Dress-Up Magnet

CLICK on the Barbie picture to see it full sized. It's a Barbie dress up magnetic set. I so want these!!! Magnet stuff is so fun!
The walls in my old art room were metal dividers and I used those little kid magnetic letters to make messages. I put up around the room artsy kinds of quotes and in one spot I wrote 'clean up your mess'
Well... over the summer my custodian friend found the bucket of letters and changed that 'clean up your mess' to 'wipe your ass' hahah good thing I caught it before school started.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Well this is the week, and so is next week. We're moving from the rental to a house we're buying! woo hoo!
A lady I work with said I should have this bumper sticker.

Southern Grace

I like it here. Love the weather. Love the people I meet. Love the beach. Love the mountains. And the people who live here love it here. It's a good place.

Miss my friends in Michigan and wish you would all move here!

And while I was looking for this sticker I found this Barbie Ballet Dress-Up Magnet

It's a Barbie dress up magnet set! Now is that awesome for refrigerator art or what?
Click on it and you can see the site. It's not too expensive and think of the hours of fun you would have!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Early Voting

You can vote early in North Carolina! So this is one thing I did today. :-)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Now this is amazing! Pandora Radio is an internet radio station that picks music for you. You tell them an artist you like, and they play music by artists that are similar.
I loved the movie 'Once' which has Glen Hansard and Marketta Irglova with wonderful music that will hook you and pull you in, and a great story. If you haven't seen it you must go rent it. I'd love to know what you think of the ending. In the meantime you can listen to them on Pandora if you like.
And for you viewing pleasure... here's a nifty little bead for a Pandora bracelet, that I made. (the bead.. not the bracelet!)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

That's such a neat song sung by the old cowboy star Gene Autry. In this case, it means, I've shook off the virus that plagued me, got a bit less busy and posted a few beads on Etsy.
More to come!

Friday, October 10, 2008


how about this for rude? Didn't your Momma teach you manners Mr McCain?

Just in case you don't want to get in line to vote, click on this link for absentee vote information.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I love this!

What is it about this video that is sooo much fun? I'm thinking it's the not perfect ladies with tattoos. :-)
Old Crow Medicine Show

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Grandma's Pumpkin Bread

It's October and it's time for baking and comfort foods. Roasts in the oven, squash, apple things like apple crisp, apple pie; the fall/autumn harvest foods.
Yesterday I made a big pot of chili and even though it's still a beautiful 70 degrees outside, it seems to be a good soup for fall. Did you ever put a bunch of shredded cheddar in your bowl of chili and eat it with nacho chips. So sinfully full of calories.
I also was looking through the cupboards for canned tomatoes for the chili (wishing I had some of those wonderful quart jars of home canned tomatoes) and found a can of organic pumpkin from Trader Joe's. It seemed a good time for a couple loaves of pumpkin bread. This is a family favorite from my Grandmother who was born in 1904 I think, or maybe 1902. It's a moist spicy bread that we always make for Thanksgiving and a favorite of my late brother Daryl. I always think of him fondly when I bake it, and of Grandma too. Good autumn comfort food.

Pumpkin Bread

4 c sifted flour
1 t soda
2 t cinnamon
4 t baking powder (did you know you can't 'taste' rumford baking powder in foods? so that's all I buy)
2 t salt
1 t nutmeg
mix all these dry ingredients together and set aside

cream together
1/2 c butter
2 c sugar
1 c milk
4 eggs
1 16 oz can of pumpkin (if you use organic pumpkin, you might put in 1/2 c less of flour because organic pumpkin in a can is not as soupy as regular canned pumpkin)

add the dry ingredients and 1 c chopped pecans (unless you don't like nuts in your bread)

blend but don't over beat because you shouldn't over beat soft breads

pour in two greased loaf pans
bake 350 degrees 45-55 minutes
I cover it with a loose foil about 10 minutes before it's done so the crust isn't too chewy
Check it with a toothpick to see if it's done. You put the toothpick in and pull it out. If it comes out with batter on it, the bread isn't done yet.

Let me know if you try this recipe and if you like it.
Grandma would smile. :-)

Friday, October 3, 2008


Kimberly at the Wild Hare Blog spot tagged me today. Fun! The rules when you are tagged you must share six facts about yourself that most people don't know, and then tag six other people who need to do the same thing.

So ok 6 things which aren't all that interesting because what I like to do the most is quiet kinds of things. And that might surprise some people who know me since out in public I can be rather extroverted. (ok a lot extroverted but really I'm an introvert )

Sometimes (usually most times) we'll go to a Superbowl party and I don't know what football teams are playing in it. I have to ask my husband on the way to the party. Football just doesn't do it for me and when we went to the games when my kids were in high school, I'd take a book on tape on an mp3 player and listen to it. There were people listening to the game on the radio with their headphones, so I fit right in. When everyone stood up and cheered, I would too. The games got a lot more interesting after I discovered audible books.

I have two recipe boxes and one is full of cookie recipes. Homemade cookies are the best! My favorites are soft ginger cookies. No bake cookies are good too, and sugar cookies, oatmeal cookies, chocolate chip, peanut butter..... ok all of them are good. The secret is to use real butter.
:-) I bake them and then take little ziplock bags of cookies to my friends at work. But mostly I eat them. The best time is for breakfast with a cup of coffee.

I grew up in a large family in Michigan. 7 kids. No one lives in Michigan anymore. We live in Oregon, Missouri, North Carolina, Wyoming, and South Dakota. My kids live in Illinois, Arizona and Missouri. My parents live in Michigan in the summers and then in Florida. My brothers and sisters and I rarely get together as a group since we all live so far from each other, but we do see each other when we get the opportunity. People ask after knowing me for a while, 'just how many brothers and sisters do you have?'

I like to ride bikes. It's like flying when you glide down the hills, and riding smooth roads is just heavenly. I can take my bike apart and clean it and put it together again, thanks to the experience of working in a bike shop in college. There is a little fold up basket for the handlebars. One summer, I decided I wouldn't drive anywhere unless necessary and used my bike for most everything. But then I discovered that you shouldn't ride your bike and try to carry a watermelon. They are slippery and break when they hit the pavement. Quite colorful though! A gallon of milk can fit in a backpack but not much else, so you have to plan the trips carefully and save the big stuff for a car trip.

I had a rare uterine cancer almost 7 years ago and 'own' and moderate a list-serve for that specific cancer. Women find us when they look for information, and some physicians send their patients to the group. It's rare enough that there isn't much information out there and there are about 70 cases a year in the US and Europe. Go figure. I am a rare flower. ;-) and blessed to be healthy even if there are some left over side effects. Being sick with something serious makes one's view of life different than it was before the illness. That's why I follow my dreams.

I like to knit. It doesn't really matter if I finish the project so there are probably 5 or 6 knitting projects in my basket. It's mindless, and soothes the soul. I started knitting when I was in 4th grade and have had a project going ever since, it seems. Right now I'm trying to find the perfect sock pattern. I have three different socks made from three different patterns and not one of them is a perfect fit. It seems that if it takes that long to knit a sock, it should fit just right. One project in the basket is a wrap-type shawl. I only knit it when waiting for appointments. I want to see how long it will take to finish and when it's done, it will show how much time would have been wasted sitting waiting for someone to see me, or waiting for a test. When I get a CAT scan, there is a good hour wait after drinking glucky stuff, so I always knit then. It's probably about half done and was started two years ago. And the only kind of mittens that anyone should wear are hand knit mittens, in my opinion. !! So those get finished once they're started. But then again, I have the perfect mitten pattern.

and even though there are 6 already... here is number 7
We are buying a house! :-) After moving to NC two years ago, we finally sold the Michigan house and have found one here. We close in two weeks! Woo hoo!
that's why I haven't been around much lately on the etsy forums. Packing to move again! Hopefully it's the last move for a while, and this time I can set up a great garage studio since it will be 'my' garage studio.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hot Time in the Mountains

It has taken a few days to recover :-) from all the fun I had this past weekend. I was lucky enough to be able to attend a hot glass bead retreat in Asheville, North Carolina. There were 30 lampwork artists there sharing skills, doing demos, and just generally having a great time. We worked in an old fire station in Asheville that is a glass shop called A Touch of Glass. The torches were working from 9 am to 9 pm and there was opportunity to learn many new things.

Here are a couple pictures. In order top to bottom
Top: Jeri Warhaftig of Jeri's beads demos her hollow mandrel that is used to make hollow beads. I learned how to make the coolest beads from this demo! And I bought a copy of her latest book. It has a bunch of beads to make with full instructions. Such a great deal for the price. 20 projects for $25 which is a much better deal than buying one tutorial on Etsy and printing it out yourself, wouldn't you think?
Here is the link to her book http://www.jeribeads.com/pre-order%20page.htm
well worth it!

next: Lissa Judeman working on her teenie tiny flame placing teenie tiny details on her fun and colorful beads.
Thanks Lissa! I learned a lot from her too!

And next:
an example of a ruffled hollow bead made by Jeri in her demo.

And next:
Two ladies that
I really enjoyed spending time with, Cindy Lemmo, and Connie O'Connell. Connie makes some fun and colorful whimsical beads and Cindy does some beeeeutious long thin beads with florals. She now has some new styles that are very nice too. I'm lucky to have beads from Cindy. I just keep taking them out and looking at them. Such eye candy!

It was great! Asheville is great! And now this weekend I'll be doing some practicing of some new techniques. Watch my Etsy shop for some new listings! Maybe I'll get one of my new hollow beads 'ala Jeri' in my shop. :-)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

finger cookies

A friend sent this link to me
aren't they so awesomely cute? Thanks Dianne for the link!

I have been gone for a few days to Asheville, NC for Hot Times in the Mountains, which is a gathering of about 30 hot glass artists. We share techniques, trade beads, have demos, and incredible door prizes.
It was way fun and I will post some pictures tomorrow.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Teaching a silver metal clay class tomorrow. I use art clay silver to teach with because then I don't have to haul my kiln to the bead shop. We make charms and earrings. It's a lot of fun. It's at Expressive Impressions in Charlotte, which is a shop filled with beads and findings. It's a good place to pick up copper findings and silver too.
During the week, on Tuesday nights, I teach a jewelry making class at Gaston School of the Arts. There are three ladies in it this session. We've made rings and pins and are working on bracelets, all of the projects being done in silver and copper wire. I wish there had been classes like this when I first started working with wire way back in, I don't know, maybe 1995. I couldn't decide what kind of wire to buy, what gauge was best for what, what hardness. I made many mistakes.
Now I know
20 g half hard for earwires
18 g dead soft for wrapping
that's a good start!
And the tools? That was trial and error also. I had no idea you should use tools that don't leave marks in your silver and for goodness sake, how do you get those marks out? I had to learn that too. Luckily my friend Sharon has given me so many bits of information and now there are books. And classes!

These beads today would be such a great addition to a wire worked bracelet! And because the next sale I make is my 100th sale, I will offer this set to any of my faithful blog readers for 1/2 price. Just mention my blog if you do happen to go to my etsy shop and buy it. Sold to Rosebud! Thank you Rosebud you sweetie, you!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Etched Beads

Just a picture. :-) Can you believe how awesome clear glass looks when it is etched? This is why bead making just never gets boring. There is always something to do. I've been making a few regular sets for jewelry because I like sets. :-) It's nice to have them when a bracelet design is rolling around in my mind, or a necklace. Having some spacers and sets of beads ready and waiting is great and I'm so lucky I can make them when they're needed!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

a little extra for a lampworked disc

I love to make discs. So it's been something that a lot of time has been spent doing. Like playing piano, the practice makes it easier and the final product better. Little tricks, color combinations, and learning what glass melts how fast and what glass holds it shape have been things that I've picked up along the way.
My fascination with discs has lasted maybe two years, maybe three. Here is one way I use the discs to hang them as a pendant on an omega type necklace.
It's so nice when something starts to flow and become easier. When people say the way to learn something is PPP, (practice, practice, practice) they are just so right.

I make these disc holders from silver metal clay (pmc or art clay) and love using them with a thick silver wire to support the pendant. The silver wire is forged to hang on the omega.
The color combinations and sizes are endless for a unique piece of jewelry.

And this is all I have to write about tonight. It's been a busy weekend with calls from my kids (love it!) house hunting (maybe successful! woo hoo!) and company for dinner. Plus torch time filling a few orders (for discs!)

Talk to you all later!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A little purple in our lives

So you've probably noticed that I compare beads and life. I wonder why that is? hmmm

Maybe it's because the beads themself reflect where I am in life. Like the time things were so bad at work I made 'kiss my ass' beads. Those were fun. And sometimes hearts are the thing I just have to make. After going to the beach, it's shells.

Why is this set light purple/violet and gray? Is it calm? Maybe it's representing some calm in my life. Things settling down, boxes unpacked, looking for a house, getting the kids at school settled and following the class rules. Like, you know, don't throw art materials, ''this isn't the gym so quiet down!" "sweeping all your pencil shavings off your table onto the floor isn't cleaning up!", and on and on in that vein. God help me, I need patience! Other days it's just a breeze and then those wonderful things that do happen make the job so worth it.

Anyhow. If beads are a reflection of where I'm at, then these beads certainly show a calm and yet some fun. Fun patterns with a splash of color. Sounds like a good map for life as usual.

And as a postscript for my gentle readers.. EGA Etsy Glass Artists are having a three day 30% off sale. I'm in the group so in my shop click on the EGA category and you can take 30% off .
For other EGA artists go to this link http://etsyglass.com/Joomla1_5/

have fun!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Homemade Natural Cleaner

Another 'spacer' day. Relaxing and putzing around the studio and house.

Today my post is about something important to me. I work in a school and teach Art. The tables get so dirty, covered with glue, graphite, paint, clay, whatever. To clean those tables with cleaner from a store fills the room with a heavy chemical scent. It seems that if a person was transported into my room from say, 100 years ago, they would exclaim 'What is that horrible smell!' gag gag gag....But we are used to the cleaning solutions and solvents that we buy in the grocery. Look at the back of your spray bottle of 409 and see what is in that bottle! You are breathing in those fumes!
So I make my own very powerful natural cleaner. When the students come in my room after the previous class washes tables, they complain, 'it smells like vinegar!' and they get my lecture as written above. We discuss chemicals and environment and their own place in time as teenagers with growth spurts. I read the back of the bottle from a commercial cleaner. Then they write down my cleaning recipe and some of them make it at home with their parents. Just a little way of changing the world. :-)
Maybe you can do the same. This isn't fancy and it isn't pretty, but it's amazing. The best cleaning solution I have ever used on tables. You would be surprised at the dirt this lifts. I make it for other teachers in my school in hopes they aren't 'toxi-cizing' the kids when they clean.

Get a gallon jug
put in 1/2 c of dish soap (ok that isn't real natural...sorry!)
add 1 c white vinegar
add 2 T borax
fill with water

keep that in the cupboard or closet and use it to refill spray bottles.

Easy yes?

Yes it smells like vinegar but vinegar is a natural deodorizer and the odor gently disappears.

hoping you'll be a little more natural, step by step and we can stop using just one more toxic item.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Leaf me alone

Ok I just couldn't resist saying that.
But this really isn't about being alone. It's about fall. In Michigan the leaves change colors and it's so rich and beautiful. Cold! but pretty.
Here in North Carolina, there isn't that kind of change in the season for autumn. We gradually slide into cooler weather.
So today in Art class, I did a project with my NC students that I used to do in Michigan. You rub crayon on colored tissue paper to get impressions of leaves. Kind of like when we were kids doing rubbings of leaves and using all kinds of fall colors, creating these really nifty pieces of art. So the kids in NC haven't done that! A couple kids said "oh I've done that before!" and the majority hadn't. I couldn't assume anything. Like they didn't know you put the back side of the leaf up so the texture is better.
Once the rubbings are done on tissue paper, you cut them out and use white glue and water (mixed) to glue the transparent leaves on paper, layering them so the overlapped parts make a new color.
The kids loved it. And I smiled inside, thinking of the crisp autumn days, the maple tree in the front yard turning red first, the walks in the crunchy leaves and having the opening day of deer hunting season off.
Do I miss it? Yes..... and no. Life always has new adventures to enjoy. Actually this will be the first time I've been in a state that could get hit by the hurricane! I was going to be in a little Etsy art show in Charlotte this weekend, but am opting out thinking the rain and wind would be not all that good for a day of jewelry sales in an easy-up tent! We won't get the hurricane, according to the weather service, but we will get some wind and some 'gusts up to 20 mph' . Hey, I'm tough, but why get all my cards moist and wrinkly, and really wonder if anyone will be shopping. So I'll stay in my cozy garage and make beads and some jewelry pieces to take to a gallery. Sounds warm and inviting right now.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

skull beads by Sharon Driscoll

Aren't these cute?
Sharon Driscoll, my good friend, has been making them and selling them on Etsy. You might visit her shop to see some really neat creations! See the link on the side bar to her blog which will take you to her shop. It's fun to read what Sharon writes. pr click here for her shop.

And that's my blog post for today!
I'm tired and want to go soak in the bathtub and nest in bed with a couple magazines. You know? It's Wednesday night and it sounds like a real good idea.
I have bath salts and know how to use them.


Monday, September 1, 2008

lampwork disc beads

This is what I've been up to. These are for a lady who is going to use them in a creation of a chandelier. I can't wait to see what it turns out like.

other than that? First week of school with kids. House hunting. Unpacking the stuff the mover brought to the rental. Just generally busy.
But we need to stay in touch oh my fearless readers. :-)
will be back soon!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Black and White (lampwork too)

I was thinking today about when I taught elementary art. You know the kids in kindergarten are the cutest. I would think 'they're too young to be here!' , but as the year progressed, so did they. And they care about things. They care about each other and all those little things like puppets and colorful rugs and graham crackers. Those are a big deal to them.

One day I asked the kids what the rule was when you turn in your paper. I held up a paper and said 'what should you do when you turn in your paper? What is the rule?' and you know I wanted a kid to say 'put your name on your paper'.
A boy raised his hand and I said 'what is the rule?' and he said 'work time is quiet time'

Now is that cute or what?
and then I said .... '
no that isn't the rule I'm looking for but that sure is a good rule. Does anyone know the rule when you turn in your paper? '

another hand up.. and the little girl I called on said 'always be kind'

this is a true story really!
and I started to think if we all remembered this 'work time is quiet time' and 'always be kind' ... at least in the middle school, the world would be a better place.
Little kids tend to think in black and white. Strong beliefs and they follow those. (easily brainwashed too but that's another story )

We're back at work this week. Back to the middle school art room. I hope I remember to 'always be kind'

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Kind of like spacer beads holding a spot between focals and fancy things, life can compare.
Focals in life can be those great weekends, big happenings like weddings, and births, new jobs, moving. The spacers are the day to day living, colorful and connecting.
I've had a whole lot of 'focals' in my life lately, moving two years ago from N Michigan to N Carolina, getting a new job, having my kids move all over the country, packing, selling the house, hunting for a new house. This isn't done yet.
I'm ready for some spacers. Colorful normal days. Gentle living. A schedule. You know? Life looking like the above beads would be good for a while. :-)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

dots on beads and spots in life

:-) had to make the title rhyme. I don't know why.
Spots in life. I'm in a different spot than last week! Now we're in N Carolina, where we will start work next week. It's been a short summer, but I'll bet a lot of Mom's are saying "I can't wait until you go back to school!"
Teaching art can be the type of job where you say 'and they pay me too!' so the boxes of things from Michigan that will work in the art room (zillions of Popsicle sticks!) are waiting to be unpacked. Anyone got a good popsicle stick craft? My husband bought them for some project that he didn't do.
hmmmm picture frames? pencil holders? I don't know!
Last week at this time I was in the silver studio casting some pieces in Michigan and this week we're all moved. woo! big job. my head is spinning and this blog posting most likely sounds a little mixed up.

so to close until another day... a picture of some bumpy earring beads that I just put on Etsy.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

view from the back yard

We're back in N Carolina. I took this picture the day before we left. Look at how lush the woods are. There were turkeys in our yard often in Michigan, and since it was time for a few photo archives, I stood on the back deck, zoomed in on the turkeys and shot a picture.
We used to make a skating rink in the back yard and skate a lot. Good exercise for cold weather, and people here in the South, are amazed to think you could ice skate in your back yard! (let alone, ice-fish)
So the turkeys would skate too! They would sit up in trees, which amazed me anyway since they sure don't look like they can fly. They would swoop down to the skating rink and skid across the ice. Just playing. :-)
Unfortunately if they left a little 'gift' behind of turkey poop, my skate would hit the frozen glop and I would fly a bit myself! Shooting across the ice in a tumble that usually resulted in bruises.

Life lesson? Watch out for turkey poop. That has to mean something, doesn't it?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Glass Artist Susan Murphy =Circle Art

It's fun to look for other glass artists named Susan. The artist today is Susan Murphy from Circle Art on Etsy.
I am in love with her slumped and fused glass. Her business card holders are soooo tempting
The beautiful trays are awesome. To make any of this work, you need to fuse many times, creating the initial piece of glass and then the final firing is tricky when you slump over a mold.
Susan has this skill mastered beautifully.

Susan took her first fusing class in Baltimore, MD in 2006 and then moved to the Seattle area. She started attending an artist workshop for fused glass artists in Redmond, WA in 2007. She says, "I love the inspiration that I get from working with a group of very talented people. They have taken me from simply stacking pieces of glass on top of each other to discovering glass as a means of expressing myself."

Not only does Susan fuse, but she also makes lampwork beads. She teaches English with the International Language Program at Cascadia Community College in Bothell, WA. Whew! She's a busy lady.

Susan's studio is a mother-in-law suite with windows looking out on the Cascade Mountains and huge pine trees.

I think we need to all go visit Susan and view those mountains and watch this very talented artist at work.
In the meantime, check out Susan's Etsy shop.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

middle aged artists

I picked up the summer issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry a few weeks ago. It's now quarterly and when reading it, I was surprised to see their choice of artists to showcase. Many new artists, some that are good, some that aren't all that great. The pictures that are published do showcase the work, but they waste a lot of space with giant pictures to go with their articles rather than adding more to the magazine. Since color ink is expensive, the magazine is also. I thought it was rather nifty that some Etsy artists are featured, but did wonder why they made the choices they did. I did read that they searched the internet quite a bit for their artist featured. Ok... How old was the person doing that searching? What is the age of the editorial staff? That said.....

Would I buy it again? Not sure.

I took particular issue with an article on lampworking which states about a lampwork artist (who I haven't heard of before and I am way into lampworking and have been for at least 10 years of buying it, working with it, and the last 6 years, melting my own glass into beads) plus do you need more credentials? I have plenty but why list them now before my rant. ;-)

quote "she stays on top of trends in lampwork beads by tracking the listings on ebay, where you can see a huge range of quality and style, from the omnipresent mold pressed beads to one-of-a-kind works of art, from the traditional colors and shapes created by the typical middle-aged bead artist to the more experimental pieces created by the younger artists just starting out."

Hello Belle Armoire... have you forgotten who buys your $15 magazine?
Who wrote this article?? some one obviously who thinks middle aged artists are 'typical' and the only artists who experiment are the 'younger artists'

Upon reading this article, I kept thinking 'who is this person' who is the lampworker.. is the author a friend of hers or does she have a good agent? Then I started to think about how lampworking wasn't being presented in a very good light. So many little comments about how this artist does lampworking 'right' and that isn't very common. Wrong o mundo!
First.. pretty much everyone who does lampwork anneals their beads. So when the article stated that the artist has to tell people who had broken beads from other artists, that they weren't annealed properly, but 'she' does that, I took issue with that. I figured it was written by someone who doesn't know a lot about lampworkers, so I moved on from that. But rest assured, lampwork artist anneal, lampwork from mass produced sources isn't generally annealed.
Next..Ebay isn't the only place to look at lampwork. There is great lampwork on Ebay and Etsy, but there are many lampworkers who don't sell there. If someone wants to see absolutely great lampwork, contact the International Society of Glass Beadmakers. (ISGB) The work is unbelievable. Lampwork beads that are beyond anyone's idea of what can be done with glass. The talent in the lampworking world is filled with artists who use presses, artists of all ages, experimental artists can be in their 80's for Heaven's sake! Think of Grandma Moses, Monet, Matisse! And uhhhh... I experiment in glass almost everytime I work on the torch. I guess I am an middle aged experiementer. I don't ever think my work is mundane and take great offense at being thrown into a group and discriminated against.

If you are in the Oakland, CA area see if you can get to the Bead Bazaar to see what real lampwork is. I am unable to attend the Gathering of ISGB this year but if you want to see jaw dropping work, get yourself over there! http://www.isgb.org/info/gathering.shtml

This comment written by the author of the article has caused a stir. No way do I blame the featured artist who I am not naming, but where are the proof readers? Where is the publisher? Who is the audience this magazine is targeted to? Grow up Belle. You want to feature lampworking? Do it right. Get yourself to the Gathering and make nice to us offended middle-aged mundane lampworkers. Show the beauty of what can be done with glass, and make a list ( a very long list) of cutting edge experimental glass beadmakers. I don't care what age they are, but do it right.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

reminding myself why I like winters in North Carolina

Looking for pictures for my son, and I ran across this from my visit to Michigan last winter. This is the house we are selling.
I miss my friends and silver studio and the art shows in Michigan, but this I don't miss.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

musings on moving

Wow It's summer, I have it off and it's hard to believe how busy we are. We're 'home' in Michigan and there are so many people to see, places to go, things to do. Like getting my hair cut at my 'regular' shop, and that isn't quick anymore since color has to be done too. Seeing old friends, going to the silver studio, celebrating birthdays, going to see relatives. We have to do this now because otherwise the week before we head back to NC, everyone calls and says 'Let's get together one more time!' Maybe this summer we'll leave a few open evenings for that. I'm marking my calendar now for some big 'get togethers' before we leave again.

Then packing this house. ugh... I hope to have a day when packing isn't an issue. We're getting so good at it, we should open a "I'll pack your house" business, except I think I'd rather gouge my eyes out than pack any more I personally have to.
My husband actually got out a box today and started packing! woo hoo! He's been avoiding it, I swear. There is still time.. a few more weeks until we want this house empty.

It's probably best we have taken two years to make our move permanent. Kind of the bandaid approach.. pull it off fast and feel the pain all at once, or do a little at a time for a longer but lesser pain. We are past the shock of leaving a small community where we've spent 30 years of our adult lives, and now it's fun to visit with all kinds of good memories. I love seeing my friends, miss a lot of what we had, but have to be realistic knowing in this economy in Michigan, we've done the best thing we can for ourselves.

onward and upward... need to make a few beads, pack a few boxes, and head out to do some silver work with Sharon this afternoon.