Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Today's Blog Theme -- Jewelry from the past

I used to make jewelry, you know? Tons of it. Hours spent every day, shows or web updates every weekend. As I start to sift through boxes of beads, I'm excited that every now and then, I put several sets into one bag, thinking, "Yep, that'll look terrific eventually." Having those ready-to-go bags gives me comfort among the detritus that is my studio.

Now if someone would just dust in here.....

You may have seen these before, but here are some past creations.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Today's Blog Theme -- Kindness

Just be kind. Smile at a stranger. Open a door for someone.

A story about kindness. I had to go to the ER alone (Rick had to stay with Zack at home) and I was in agony. My back was killing me and I hate our ER. One doctor to I think 26 beds, and I'd been there hours. I just couldn't hold the tears back anymore and trying not to do the "ugly cry" (you know that cry?) I wiped my tears on my shirt because apparently emergency room waiting areas aren't required to keep tissues.

As I sat there with my eyes closed, I felt arms go around my shoulders. A pretty lady about in her late 60's was looking at me with kind, compassionate eyes. "Are you here alone?" she asked.

I nodded, speech still not being a viable option yet.

She then said, "Well, you don't know me, and I don't know you, but I know sadness, and you looked like you needed a hug."

And that's when the tears and the ugly cry started. I couldn't believe someone I didn't know would give a damn about someone sitting by herself. She didn't know if I had something contagious. She was just .... kind.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Today's Blog Theme -- Journals

Big bad weather changes are not kind to my joints. No sir. So I've been entertaining myself with books, among other things (like a card game with Zack where I have no idea whether the card I'm getting ready to play is a good one. It's usually not.)

So I thought I'd share not books, but my journals.  Books would take all day and I'd like to read one. Another day I'll show you my dream bookcases and my favorite books! If you live near Annapolis, MD, a date at Barnes and Noble often requires two coffees. You up for it? Message me!

Ready?  And please feel free to make comments below!

Books are akin to different worlds to me, where the bad guy doesn't always lose and the beginning sometimes starts in the middle. This is one of my many journals, filling with a story. When I was younger, I wrote a lot of fantasy, with sword-wielding heroes and kickass heroines and a dragon or two. Now, I'm compiling my life and the odd funny story I dreamed up into a beautiful collection of journals I've been gifted.

This is a stack of finished journals. When I say "finished", I don't mean I wrote until the last page. For me, every journal has a definitive end. It's not always happy, and sometimes the end makes no sense to anyone but me, but they're complete.

Stumped at how to get started? A couple of years ago, I gave these away. Each day has a question to answer and lasts for five years. I got one for Zack, too, aimed at his age, and it covers three years. I have to admit we both stopped writing in year two because some of the questions just gutted us at the time, but we'll get back into it. The lovely thing about multi-year journals is you can start at any time.

Lastly, if you can, treat yourself at least once to a luxe journal. My husband bought this on Etsy from Europe, and while it came way after Christmas (NOT the seller's fault...I've been in their country and I knew it would take a while), it's fantastic.  If you don't want to spend a lot of money, Staples has come out with a new line of notebooks that are gorgeous.

I hope you'll write your story, be it fact or fiction. I want to leave my husband and son with some laughs, giggles, and a couple of "Mommmmmm!"s. (Those are the really good and unexpected stories.)

Why don't you start writing by leaving a comment?  ;-)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Today's Blog Theme -- Snow

We're experiencing a "blizzard warning", which means everything white is off the shelves in the grocery store (milk, eggs, bread, buh bye). Here, I have a picture of the snow...

Like it? White, ain't it?

The snow is blowing so hard it keeps triggering the automatic lights in the backyard. Now that, sir, is some heavy snow!

I'm silly, I guess, because although we're all in bed, I have the louvres on my blinds open so I can watch..well...this.


I did stay I wanted to move to Maine.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Today's Blog Theme -- Beads

Today's Theme -- Beads (and one paperweight).
I'm all for an eye-candy day!

The first bead I actually made wasn't a bead at all, but a paperweight. I wasn't sure I could get past the FIRE component of making lampwork glass beads, but I was still intrigued. Up in the mountains of Virginia, I was faced with an enormous furnace, a man who had worked with Josh Simpson way back in the day, and threw caution to the wind and got to work. This is the result. And I was hooked on glass.

I was also hooked on the new-to-me craze of torch-fired enamel and took two classes with Barbara Lewis.  Once again, I had to get rid of my fear of flame, but promptly burned myself when like an idiot I thought a bead that had fallen off a hot mandrel was no longer hot. Do not do that. Nope. 

I highly recommend taking classes twice, if you can, especially if you didn't quite get a part, or rushed, or caught something on fire (I've done all three). The second class with Barbara, I learned even more techniques, felt much more calm, and didn't burn things up. She's an awesome teacher.

I finally (sort of) got rid of my fear of fire and turned it instead into a fear of propane. So essentially, I was still afraid of fire. But I had a studio built in my backyard anyway and started teaching myself lampwork. My favorite glass is CIM, although Bullseye has my favorite colors. Bullseye just happens to be a bit shocky, which means, basically, you never know when a piece of glass will shoot off the rod and onto you. Since I don't recommend taking Xanax before torching and I'm a bit twitchy, I'll go through my CIM before trying Bullseye again.

These are some of my simple spacer beads that came out well enough I felt I could gift them to my friend Cindy. 

No matter how many beads I make, I'll always love Other People's Beads the best. This is a combination of my lampwork and enamel and Barbara Bechtel's faceted polymer clay. Zack is interested in both glass and polymer clay, but he's not over the "GEEZ, the FIRE!" part, so I'm talking to a couple of friends about how to work the clay and come out with original beads.

I love vintage and vintage-inspired beads, such as these from AD/Adornments.  I gave these away during one of my contests, so if you like free beads or books, visit me often!

I love unusual beads, and these are probably some of the most adorable beads I've ever owned, given to me by a friend overseas. They have me completely flummoxed as to how to use them, so right now, they're sitting on a shelf with other neat things.

I haven't been able to make anything for over a year, so I'm putting together beads and bead sets to sell. I'll be sure to announce here and on Facebook when the store is open. It's been difficult to go through these mountains of beads, choosing which to keep and which to let go, but it makes me feel good to know someone else will make something stunning with them. 

Beads have been good to me. They gave me a very successful business for nearly ten years. Illness got in the way but I sincerely hope it won't stay that way, which is why I closed my shop, stopped doing shows, slowly am sorting thousands of beads, start making things when I can, and plan on totally rebranding my jewelry. 

From start to this first finish, this is who I was for ten years. Wondering what the next ten will bring?

(Please feel free to share this post!)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Today's Blog Theme ... Flowers

This year I thought I'd sift through my copious photo albums and choose a daily theme or a story about the pictures. I was shocked at how many photos I have in raw form that only need a dab of Photoshop. I thought, "I have stories to tell. Let's start small and tell them."

Since it's bitterly cold and calling for snow this weekend, I thought I'd share some flowers. Max, God rest his soul, ate and promptly yarked any plant we had, from lucky bamboo to cut flowers. I haven't fully tested Lily on indoor plants yet, but she didn't eat our little Norfolk pine, so there may be hope!


Flowers made of book pages.

A tissue paper flower Zack made me in preschool, going strong in a hand-painted vase given to me by my friend Katie.

Silk Gerbera daisies in my car. Pink for me, and Zack picked orange.

A necklace I made and kept in my personal jewelry box. The polymer clay flower is by Jeannie Dukic, the large white beads are Tibetan, and I added a Green Girl Studio piece and navy blue dyed cultured pearls. This appeared in a magazine, and I was very proud of that for me and for Jeannie.

I covered a small Styrofoam mannequin with dozens of weathered paper flowers (pinned on with crystal centers), a satin bow, and tiny pewter daisy spacers for a bodice. My first attempt at anything like this, inspired by Cindy Wimmer's many mannequins.

I made this for a monochrome bead hop, choosing purple as my color. I made the enameled beads in the background and decorated steel flowers with light purple crystals and darker dyed wood. I really loved this one.

And finally, another magazine piece featuring an incredible lampwork disk by Libby Leuchtman, layered with a copper correopsis bloom from Ornamentea. I added turquoise, wood, and Czech glass Libby sent me, hammered a texture into oxidized copper disks, and finished this long necklace with double strands of copper chain. This piece also made the magazine cut some time ago. It's in my personal jewelry box.

I hope you enjoyed some flowers if it's snowing in your area.
I welcome requests for other photo discoveries hidden in my computer!