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.