Sunday, November 30, 2008

And In The Beginning There Was Wool...

Today is going to be a felting day for me. I have a piece in progress that I absolutely must finish because I need my work surface to do the many more projects I have in mind. Also, regarding this piece in progress... I want to wear it to the SGB Norcal holiday party next Saturday! It is a nuno felted scarf that's been on my table way too long now, whispering out to me to coax it into "done-ness". Coax is the word - for nuno felting, the process is slow and gentle, unlike the process for felting a rug. However, I think there might be some wonderful aspects to felting a rug. For one, I could probably get rid of my elliptical machine - the actual felting process would be a great form of exercise! And for another, I might be able to use it as an excuse to buy a hand-held torch to add to my inventory of "cool tools". Well, not actually cool - it'd be mighty hot!

By now you're probably wondering what I'm talking about regarding the elliptical machine and the torch. I'm going to point you to a film that'll explain it all. It's a 15-minute video - if you turn up your sound, you'll have an "almost like being there" cultural experience along with the visual information.

Felt Maker In Iran - a Dying Breed

Perhaps the "little man" who comes in late in the film will continue the tradition. It's a shame to see these old world arts die out. It's also wonderful to know that folks like the Raissnias are trying to revitalize felt making in Iran.

Here's my work in progress - it needs to shrink down about 20% before it's wearable. With nuno felting, the process has to be slow and gentle because you felt the wool into a silk chiffon base. If you felt it too quickly, the wool will felt to itself before it has a chance to come through the silk. This is the second scarf I've made, or I should say "will have made" - I'm not there yet. I was really pleased with my first one and decided to continue with this very time-consuming process. For this peacock-colored scarf here it took me many hours over 3 days just to dye the silk chiffon and then lay out the fibers. It was like painting a picture with fine tufts of wool and silk. I already have my next scarf planned in my head and I've made some wool "components" for it.

Felting is such a nice change from bead making - I can actually touch it while I'm creating it! Touch a glass bead while you're creating it in the torch and it will be an experience you'll never forget. Trust me, I know...

So now I'm off to fill my bucket with warm soapy water and begin the rolling process. Hopefully I'll still have enough arm muscle left to make beads tomorrow - I have a few orders to fill before Christmas, as well as make something to put into our annual SGB Norcal holiday party silent auction. All proceeds from this auction go to the Beads of Courage program.

And in case you're wondering, SGB Norcal is the Society of Glass Beadmakers of Northern California. We have around 100 members and meet once a month for chit chat, watching and giving demos, sharing food, and general camaraderie. If you are interested in glass bead making and would like to join our group, just give me a holler - I happen to be in charge of membership.

Now to go play with wool... Have a wonderful rest-of-the-weekend!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Eat Eat Eat... Shop Shop Shop...

What a feast! Last night we had a big turkey dinner - I love Thanksgiving turkey dinners!

My stepdaughter Alison brought over the fixings for her "annual pumpkin cheese cake" and put it together in our tiny cramped kitchen. She employed the assistance of her friend Rob - gosh, I love seeing a guy working in the kitchen.

While the cooking was happening, we got a phone call from my stepson Adam, who lives up in Portland (OR) with his lovely wife Ines. Gosh, we sure miss them! Alison couldn't pass up an opportunity to chat, and she's great at multi-tasking...

So today is Black Friday and I've decided to help some of my favorite vendors get into the black today. No, I won't be Christmas shopping - I'll be heading over to the International Gem & Jewelry Show to replenish some of my jewelry supplies. I have a show coming up in February and I'm completely out of some components that I need. So I'll go fight the crowds - yeeha!

Here's what I'll be dealing with later this afternoon...

And then tonight I'll start making more jewelry, yeah! I have so many rocks in my stash it's crazy!

Speaking of Black Friday, I've put every item in all 3 of my Etsy shops on sale today! If you're out there shopping in cyber-land, come and see! I have all of my beads on sale at Jumping Jack Glass, my jewelry is on sale at Shirley Cook designs, and my fiber art is on sale at Flames & Fiber.

Tomorrow I'll be heading down to the Kaleid Gallery in San Jose to help put up our glass ornament installation. This is a show/sale put on by the San Jose Glass Artist Alliance. We're installing ornaments to cover a 60-foot wall! I can't wait to see it completed - that's an amazing number of ornaments. I'll definitely bring my camera for that event.

So I'm off to fight the crowds, and maybe I'll come home with a few unexpected treasures. How fun is that?!

Have a productive Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Tonight is the last night of my Beadmaking 1 class. Despite the fact that I'm sad about the 4-week class coming to an end, I'm excited about giving a bead to one of my students. She has no idea it's coming...

On the first night of this class, I gave a demo of making a plain donut-shaped bead. I don't teach bead decorations on the first night but I always decorate my plain beads with at least some dots here and there. I told my students why - it's because I donate all my class demo beads to the Beads of Courage program. I want the kids to get a bead that's "happy". If you aren't familiar with this wonderful program, please click on the link above and check it out.

Anyhow, I noticed that one of my students was listening to my talk about Beads of Courage with rapt attention. I also noticed that she had no hair and was wearing a head wrap. Last week I had a little chat with her about her cancer treatment, and decided that even though she isn't a "kid with cancer", going through this kind of experience definitely requires courage and she needs to have a purple heart for making it through the end of her treatment. Her course of treatment isn't finished yet - the radiation treatments are yet to come. I can't even imagine what she's facing, and I wholeheartedly applaud her for attitude and courage. She told me she wants to get better at making beads so she can make purple hearts for the kids in the Beads of Courage program. Wow!

Well, here's to you, Caren - I hope you like your purple heart bead!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Let's Get Twisted...

As usual, I'm running late again. I have to teach a beadmaking class in San Jose this evening - it's the last night of class for my 4-week Beadmaking 2 session. Gosh, I love teaching - but the last night is always a bit sad. I'm sad to see my class come to an end, but oh how gratifying it is to see how far the students have come since the first class 4 weeks prior.

Tonight we'll be making complex twisted cane. There are so many different ways of making twisted cane that I could spend an entire 4-hour class on that topic alone! So the rest of my class will be spent on other types of cane, mainly cane used to make flowers, leaves, and stems. And then we'll review all the topics from the entire 4-week series. Here are some twisties that I've made both recently (in last week's class) and several years ago. I guess I really am a pack rat, I can't believe I still have these little bits of cane left over!

Speaking of twisties, here's a group of "twisties" - the Flame Dames! This picture showed up in the latest issue of "Profitable Glass Quarterly" and was taken by Greg Fuchs at the ISGB Gathering in Oakland, CA in August. Holy cow - we are now famous. Yep, I said "we" - I'm one of the dames. Now that's REALLY twisted!

I'll be back later this week with more tidbits from the world of a nutsy artisan. Hope you all have a wonderful evening!

Friday, November 21, 2008


Yep, the internet is SOOOOO seductive! It's amazing what you can find by hopping from link list to link list. But it sure doesn't do anything for one's productivity, though - aaacckkk!

I did manage to get some ornaments done yesterday, and I'm on the torch again today. I'll have a couple of snowmen finished by the end of the day, and perhaps a few stockings and gingerbread folks. And, of course, more leaves. I really do love making leaves!
Here's where I am right now - there are 2 missing from the picture because they were too 3D to put on my scanner.
This is not good - I should have 3 times as many as this. I guess I'd better scoot outta here and get back to work!
Hope you all have a creative, productive day!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Being Creative While Facing a Deadline

Today is a torch day for me. There's a big glass ornament show/sale coming up at Kaleid Gallery in San Jose, CA and I'll be making ornaments for the show. I have to turn in the bulk of my ornaments on Saturday - yikes! How did I get myself into this situation?

I'm a new member of the San Jose Glass Artists Alliance, co-founded by Janett Peace, who is one of my fellow instructors at the Bay Area Glass Institute. When Janett saw my glass leaves, she asked me if I would make several for the ornament show/sale and, of course, I said I'd be delighted! Unfortunately, this was only a few weeks ago. And then suddenly, everyone wanted to buy my leaves and I've been selling bunches of them. Since I only have about 15 left to put into the show, I need to step it up - 15 would be a very meager showing on the 60-foot wall that will contain all of our ornaments! Then last night when I went to bed I got thinking (now THAT's dangerous!)... perhaps I should make other things as well as leaves. But my first deadline is in 2 days, so that doesn't leave me much time to be creative. Let's see... snowmen... gingerbread people... snowflakes... I don't even make these things in glass! Well, why not?

Now I'm thinking about way back when I first moved out here to California - 1974! The company I worked for hired a new graphic artist named Heidi, and Heidi and I became good friends rather quickly. So good, in fact, that she was my maid of honor several years later - and I was her matron of honor (matron... now THERE's an unpleasant-sounding word) two years after that. So back to the ornament thing... Heidi the artist - as opposed to her friend Shirley (me) the software geek - thought it would be fun to make Christmas ornaments out of bread dough. She got the recipe, invited me over, and we spent an entire day and evening in her little 800-sq. foot apartment molding, sculpting, baking, and painting ornaments. I was amazed at how well mine turned out considering that I had absolutely no artistic ability. There was a snowman, of course, and a dog with floppy ears and a big bow around his neck, a camera for my hubby (he's a professional photog), and a few other things I can no longer remember. Heck, if I could get creative back in my geek days I think I should be able to come up with a few things today. Thanks, Heidi, for bringing back some great memories and being my muse today!

I'm also thinking about my time in Italy at the beginning of 2006. I took a glass sculpture class with the world-famous glass maestro Lucio Bubacco. Perhaps I could draw from that experience today - try to relive the feeling of being in his studio in Murano, ready to start another day at the torch. Wow, now THERE's a great memory!

Here are a few pictures my friend Janice took from that class. I'm the mesmerized one in the pink sweater. Wow, Lucio is absolutely amazing! If I can recapture that experience even just a little, I think I will have a successful day in the hot shop. Perhaps tomorrow you'll get to see some of my creations. Wish me luck!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Gosh, It's Only Been 2+ Years...

I first started this blog back when I went to Italy to study with Lucio Bubacco and Vittorio Costantini. My oh my, that was almost a lifetime ago! February 2006 - getting close to 3 years ago now. I was so overwhelmed by the time I got home that I abandoned the blog and set about creating stuff. After this long cyber hiatus, I've decided to come back to the online world - and much has changed since then!

I now have 3 stores on Etsy. I decided to sell my creations that way because they fall into 3 categories. First and foremost are my beads. I still love working at the torch, and I teach lampworking at the Bay Area Glass Institute (BAGI) in San Jose, CA. My second Etsy shop is devoted to my work with fiber - a new love of mine that started in February of this year. I love mixing my glass work with my fiber work, and it's gotten rave reviews! And lastly is my jewelry shop. This is where I sell the wearables that I create with beads of all kinds - my lampwork, stones, pearls, wood, other glass, precious metals, etc. etc.

So now that you know a little of what I've been up to here, I'm going to go rejuvenate - i.e., get some sleep! - so I can spend a long day at the torch. There's an ornament show coming up at Kaleid Gallery in San Jose, and I'm making glass leaves to sell in the gallery. Here's one of my glass leaves that's in keeping with the holiday season. I'll be making lots of other kinds of leaves as well. Busy busy...
Related Posts with Thumbnails

Color Inspiration!