Sunday, June 28, 2009

What are You Doing for Indepence Day?

Do you have any plans for July 4th? You know, Independence Day? We don't have plans, but I bet we'll end up doing what we usually do, which is drive to the top of the tallest parking garage in our area and catch fireworks shows from several surrounding cities.

We live the high life, let me tell ya.

I took the plunge and created a necklace with the beautiful (if I do say so myself) red, white, and blue focal bead I made last week. I whipped this necklace up last night, and I have to admit that I love it.
If you purchase this necklace or bracelet by end of the day on Tuesday, June 30th... I'll upgrade your shipping to Priority at no charge! Woot! Check out the details, and let me know what you think.

So, I start my new job tomorrow. I overslept today, which is highly annoying, considering all the things I need to get done. But-- laundry is done, and I already know what I'm going to wear. That's the important thing, right?

Ha! I'm such a girl.

I don't mind, though.

Friday, June 26, 2009

New Hair and the Rest of the Beads

Well, it's been a long time since I had my hair cut and highlighted. I'd been wearing my hair in a ponytail for weeks, because my roots were showing so badly... I was in desperate need of a cut... I was totally uninspired by my hair, and HELLO it's HOT AS HELL in Texas.

So, what do you think?

I'm pretty pleased, actually. I haven't had bangs since fourth grade, but I'm liking this look. I think I'll stick with it for a while.

Now for a few beads...
Generally speaking, I'm not as pleased with these beads as I wanted to be... and for at least a couple of them, I can't at all remember what colors I used to make them.

What's more... a few of them cracked. :( User error, no doubt.

Take a look at the one to the left, for example. Such a pretty bead... I used a technique learned in one of Sarah Hornik's classes last year in Italy... and this is the first time that a bead using that technique turned out pretty good. Until, that is... I tried to get it off the mandrel. Dang mandrel bent... and then a whole chunk of the bead came off. GRR!!! I have to think there's some way that a clever jewelry designer could wrap the buttom of the bead with wire, or something, so it can still be used.

I don't know if I'm that clever, though. Maybe I'll give it to Susy and see if she can do something with it. I'm so bummed about that bead.

Ahh well. And here's another one... it's so beautiful, except for the chip, that is. It chipped when I took it off the mandrel. Yes, I did use my handy dandy rivet tool, and I think I've discovered a problem with using that. It puts all the pressure on whatever part of the bead it can touch, see... so if one side or part of a bead is protruding down the mandrel farther than the main part of the bead, that's the part it pushes up against. So, I think that for the more oddly shaped beads... I need to find a better way to get them off the mandrel.

And yes, I am going to try a different bead release. That bead release isn't the best at the "release" part... unless it's my own inexerience shining through-- which it very well could be. Hrm.

I busted a whole bead into shards, too. Not pleased about that... it was supposed to be part of a two bead set I was going to use to make earrings.


This blue bead with the brown dots? Cracked. :( I'm so mad! It's such a pretty bead, otherwise!!

Now, check this one out. It's my Independence Day bead... and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out! I was using glass I'd never used before... some free samples I'd gotten from Effetre when we were in Italy (*le sigh* that sounds so highbrow, doesn't it? Ha!)... and it looks pretty good I think!! I'm going to make a necklace out of this, which probably won't be ready for sale until *next* July 4th, the way things have been going as of late. Oh well.

Oh, look! Another bead that cracked. *sigh* This one is really pretty, too. I am going to keep it and probably make myself something with this one. Bummer that it cracked... but the cracks are minor and really hard to see unless you're in a certain light.

I did manage to make one pair that will make somewhat uneven earrings. The other semi-teardrop shaped bead below is the one that shattered. Those were a closer, better earring match, too.

You know... if nothing else, this is a huge learning experience for me. All the magic of Italy is gone, and it's just me with a torch trying to figure everything out. I think I should spend a bit of time on the forums, trying to sort out some of the newest colors, reactions, and all that sort of thing.

What can I say, though? I haven't been the best at being online lately. I pop in to update my blog, and then I disappear again. I update my Facebook and often my Twitter status from my phone, but I haven't been good about replying. I'm sucking worse than ever at replying to emails, too. My internet habits over the past month or so have drastically changed... I guess I just don't enjoy spending time on the internet like I used to. *checks pulse* Yes, yes, I am still here.

And, since I've really missed keeping a public blog (which I used to do years ago, on my old website), I've been using this site as my public blog... talking about more than just jewelry-- or in this case, more than just beads.

I have all kinds of ideas for topics, but by the time I actually sit down to the computer to write the post... either that topic has flushed from my mind, or I've got something else pressing, or something else entirely is what ends up getting posted.

Kind of like life, I suppose..

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Beads from Last Thursday

I finally got the beads from last Thursday off the mandrel! Say hello to my new best friend, the rivet tool!! I saw this trick on a lampwork forum... use the rivet tool to stick the mandrel in and ease the bead off. Better yet, I bought these tiny rubber o-rings so the metal wouldn't come into direct contact with the bead. Still, one of them did chip a little... but I'm so thankful to have this tool! I'd literally worked my hands sore from trying to pry the beads off the mandrels with pliers, a towel, tapping, pulling, twisting, etc... No more! This simple tool makes it perfectly easy.

Now for the beads! The pink one didn't turn out as good as I'd hoped... but it isn't awful. I figured I can add some wire work to it and make it ok. It was a mistake, of course, to have so much more glass on one side of the mandrel when I flattened it, but I didn't realize the glass was lopsided until I, of course, flattened it. But, you can't deny it has pretty colors, and I do think it will make a neat focal to wear as a choker.

Now, this green one is pretty dreamy, I think. I love it! I'm very pleased with it... even though it does have some visible mistakes (and yes, I know, I'm going to be more critical of everything I make than anyone reading this ever could be). Still, though... I love it.

Now for the best!! I love these two. You'll see 4 pictures... one of each side of the bead. What do you think? Personally... I love these. I did chip one of them a bit when taking it off the mandrel, but regardless... I still love them. I kind of want to marry these beads.

I picked up the rest of my beads today, and unfortunately 2 of them cracked. Waaaahhh!!! That sucks! Of course, what would have been one of the prettiest ones cracked. Boo. I think I let it get too cold at the top though, when I was working it in the flame. Ahh well.

I'll snap pictures of them tomorrow and hopefully show them to you soon.

I'm not sure when I'll get to play with glass again, but I can't express just how much I've enjoyed getting to play with glass over the past couple of weeks. Words? They fail me...

Have I mentioned lately?? I start my new job on Monday. Color me excited!

Also, I'd like to do a giveaway in my blog. And I've been thinking about starting blog features, too, where I feature different artists and crafters. I guess that means I'm jumping on the bandwagon, but I don't mind that. It's all about fun, and spreading the word, right?


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Two Questions

I can't wait to see the beads I made today... especially the last one. Hope I'm not jinxing anything by saying this, but I especially think the last one is going to be super delicious. Can't wait!!

I drove home feeling the most blissful essence of calm. I got to play with molten blobs of glass for four whole hours today.

I'm not sure when I'll get to do it again, but the important thing is... I got to do it today.

I really just have two questions for you tonight.

1. Have you found joy in your life?

2. Has your life brought joy to others?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Recent Necklaces

First of all, congratulations to the giveaway winner, Natalie! I'll be sending your necklace and earrings to you this week! I really hope you like the set.

Would you like to see some recent pieces? I thought so... I put the chainmail technique to work and made a couple of chokers.

I like the simplicity of these. What do you think?

I especially love this one, though. I love this dichroic bead as the centerpiece. It photographs nicely too, don't you think?
Now, this one uses some of the sea glass and opalite I got in Oklahoma. I used silver pearls and some special sterling silver beads, and of course I brought this all together with sterling silver wire.
I love the sea glass. I made a sea glass necklace for myself, too. It really pops against black!

All of these necklaces are available in my Etsy shop!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Glass & Other News

First things first! Don't forget to enter the giveaway! You have till Sunday to enter. You could win this beautiful set I made!

(Click the picture for details!)

So, the big news is that I got to play with glass on Monday AND yesterday, too! Want to see?
These beads aren't the greatest, but it's not bad considering I haven't sat at a torch in *over a year*. I'll pick up the beads I made on Thursday when I go back on Monday, to make more beads. ;-)
I've missed this so much, y'all. This one has my precious rubino oro (dark pink), with some goldstone, silvered ivory, and I can't remember what else.

This one is just fun, I think. And I needed a few tangerine sparkle spacers. Man, making spacers sucks! It's so boring. I do think I should go back and work on technique-- dot placement, stringers, etc... I'm so out of practice that doing that stuff is intimidating to me. I seem to only be able to do larger dots. The smaller ones tend to be distorted or misshapen, or something.

But, honestly-- just getting to sit there and play with molten blobs of glass, for hours on end... it was peaceful and fabulous. Even better when I didn't have to talk to anyone. I could just be. In my own little world.

This one has a beautiful pale blue with opal yellow, and it reacted nicely with the silver and black. The other side isn't nearly as nice, though, because I ruined the clear dots by putting (smaller) turquoise dots on top of the clear. It just doesn't look right. Ahh well.

I think this one is my favorite from the other day. I love the pinks, and the silver reacted nicely with the ivory and the smidge of intense black I added in. The dots on the side are a super pale amethyst/almost pink. This one is definitely staying with me, and definitely getting made into a necklace of some sort.

I may need to learn to like making spacers, because all these focals without anything to go with them is kind of annoying from a jewelry design perspective.

Basically, I decided to stop depriving myself of torch time, just because I haven't been able to afford getting a studio set up at home. Yes, I have to pay for the torch time... and yes, it's a 30 mile drive each direction... but it's worth it. The peace and calm I've felt over the past few days is evidence that I need to continue carving out the time to make beads.

I do have one other bit of news. I debated giving this its own post, but... nah...

I got a full time job! After months of looking for more contract work and searching for a full time position, an opportunity sort of fell into my lap. I'll be working as a leadership insights business analyist in the Business Innovations department of an international snack foods company. I'm excited about this on many levels-- because of the people I'll be working with, because of the company itself, and many more reasons than I care to list.

Things are finally starting to look up in our neck of the woods... so please keep your fingers crossed that my husband, Brett, finds work soon too.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

WIN a necklace and earrings set!

Ok, my sale is over, but you can WIN this necklace and earrings set!!!!!! I made this set specifically for this give-away, so there's nothing else like it!

(Click the picture for details!)

Please feel free to pass the word!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday News

I can't believe it's Monday already. Did you have a good weekend? I did! I have a few bits of news to share with you.

First... today is the last day of my sale! I'm not extending it past today, so if you were planning to take advantage, now is the time! Check it out... 15% off everything in my shop!

Second... Stephanie of Tefi Designs featured me in her blog over the weekend. We've known each other for many years but lost touch for quite some time. A few years ago, we ran into each other at a craft show and have kept in touch since then. She's a talented jewelry designer! Small world, isn't it?

Check out the feature she did in her blog. This is something I'd like to do in the future, too! I've been thinking about what kinds of questions I want to ask artists. If you can think of good questions, drop me a comment!

Ok, next... I got to learn a very basic chainmail pattern over the weekend at the DFW Wire Wrappers Meetup. Susy (Susy Jewelry) is an incredible organizer... the best... and she's also an incredibly talented jewelry designer with wire skills that, coupled with her imagination and artistry, push her to create truly amazing, one of a kind pieces. I bow to her wire skills... seriously. But Susy is also a great person-- so gracious, sweet, and caring.

Now that we have a meeting place-- at Patti Bullard's shop... Wired Up Beads (yes-- she is the creator of the now famous Wubbers jewelry tools!). She has an online shop. She's worked very hard to get a lampwork studio set up, and classes are currently available... and now she's opened WUB U, a classroom space where we learned to make the chainmail bracelet and earrings below.

This is a lovely basic chainmail pattern using sterling silver rings. Simple, elegant, and really beautiful. This set will be available for sale in my shop this week.

Finally... I'm going to be giving away this necklace and earring set in a friend's blog very soon! I'm so thrilled with how this set turned out. YES, I am giving away this set!!! Really!! This set is valued at $65!

I'll post an announcement with a link here once the post is up! Keep your eyes peeled!

I also want to post about something special I get to do this afternoon, but I'll save that for another day.

Happy Monday, everyone. Have a great one!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pearls, Pearls, Pearls

Admittedly, I’m not much of a pearl person.

Oh, I think they’re beautiful and all. They’ve got that luster thing going for them… and pearls can definitely make a statement. It’s just… they’re so dang common.

Everyone has pearls. Everyone loves pearls. It even seems like everyone has a story associated with pearls.

If you hadn’t noticed by now, I typically gravitate towards one-of-a-kind pieces, like lampwork beads created by artists.

Note: I did not say artisans. That’s a whole other topic, and don’t get me started on that word.

I’ve just never been a huge fan of pearls, because they are definitively not one-of-a-kind. Anyone can make a pearl necklace that looks good. If you grab pearls, you’re already halfway there because, you… grabbed… pearls. Know what I mean?

I guess I’ve just never come across any pearls that truly wowed me…

Until now.

I love these! These pearls are special. They’re irregular, so each one is unique. Some of them have blemishes. Some of them have more of a gray tint. Some of them are oval, some are round, and some are completely oddly shaped.

And… you know what? That’s why I love them. Between that and their size… which is difficult to find in reasonably priced pearls… I believe these pearls are truly special.

I mean… just look at them!

To give you an idea of their size, it only takes these 9 pearls to make an 8 inch bracelet. The clasp takes up about an inch of space, and you have to allow for the small 4mm Swarovski crystals, but yeah—9 pearls. They average 12mm long, or half an inch… and some are as long as 16 or 17mm. I even have a few that are longer than that!

These babies are absolutely divine. I can’t wait to see what else I do with them!


First... let me say that I have extended my sale through at least June 15th.

The past few months have been incredibly stressful. I don't want to get too far into it, but we've been struggling financially. It's a likely story, and I know a lot of you are probably feeling the same crunch, but it really wears on you after a while. I keep thinking, "When will we get a break?"

And then, I feel ashamed for feeling that way. I have so many blessings in my life-- so many things to be grateful for. And, truth be told-- I am grateful. Incredibly! But I often wonder what's in store for us, when it feels like everyday life is an uphill battle. When it feels like we just can't get ahead, no matter what we do or how creative we get.

The real truth is that I have learned the value of asking for help. Help in finding work, help in keeping us going, help in the form of emotional support, prayers, or just positive thoughts. Help comes in all sizes and shapes, and when I dare to ask for it, it often shows itself in the most needed and often the most unexpected of ways.

I feel so beautifully blessed by all of the friends who have extended a hand to us over the past few months. Whether it's sending us job postings, or even just a thoughtful email-- the words have meant so much, and the sentiment has meant even more.

I used to pride myself on "never needing help". Years ago, I realized this was a silly notion. Everyone needs help. Of course I needed help! And yet, making myslef vulnerable enough to allow others to help me was something so foreign, I could never see myself doing it.

Fast forward to today, when it's still difficult for me to ask for help-- but the difference is, I care enough about myself, and I do trust in the process that is... life. I can put myself out there. I can allow myself to be vulnerable. I can admit when I need help.

Things are finally starting to glance up for us... and we're hoping the light at the end of the tunnel soon becomes brighter, bigger, and better over the next month. 

I've been quiet here, because I have everything and nothing to say. I have thought about sharing more of myself here, but then-- I know that blogs are a dime a dozen... who has time to read everything I put out there?

But... I figure-- I won't know until I try. So, here I am...