Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Wishing all of you a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2010!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Wishing Everyone a Happy Holiday Season!

To those of you who celebrate, Merry Christmas!
To those of you who don't, may the spirit of the season brighten your day!

And to all of you, Have a Happy and Creative Day!

Monday, December 14, 2009

A New Commitment

Well, I did it. I just sent in my registration for the 2010 Bead Journal Project. If you don't know what that is, click on the link and check it out!

I'll be creating 12 beaded "journal pages". They don't have to be actual "pages", but they all have to be the same shape and size and must include beads. I'm thinking of creating small vessels, since I love the vessel form so much. And if I make it through the year, perhaps I can display all 12 as some kind of collection - maybe in a wall cabinet with 12 "windows". But it's too early to figure that out now, I just need to focus on one month at a time. After the holidays are over, I'll be creating January in visual form. We'll see what the new year has to bring...

And now I'm off to continue embellishing a vessel I've been working on for a few days now. Pictures coming soon. Now go have yourselves a happy creative day!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Wooly Weekend Weather

We've been having quite some weather all week - this weekend it was rainy. Yesterday was kind of a kick, it reminded me of the weather I was familiar with back in New England. It would pour down rain, then stop, then the sun would come out for a bit - next thing you know it was pouring again. Toward the end of the afternoon I finally went out my back door to see what was going on outside. I wish I had gone out earlier, there were probably a bunch of these off and on during the day. Unfortunately, by the time I got my camera and came back out again, it had mostly faded.

I decided it was time to take mom out to Starbucks for a jolt of caffeine, and stopped on the way to try and catch this piece of rainbow.

But the prettiest sky I got to see was while we were sipping our cappuccinos - the sky was continuing to clear in places, just enough for the setting sun to splash a tiny bit of color around.

Today, it was raining and overcast all day - no sunshine for me - but that was OK, since I was down in San Jose at the glass institute. It was "Super Sunday", which is a 4-hour practice session for my torchworking students where I'm available to answer questions and to help with any issues. I brought a bunch of my own glass with me and managed to make a couple of beads myself. By the time we were finished, I really wanted to get home and hop on the torch. But alas, it was time to rid mom of her cabin fever and get her out of the house for a bit. This evening, I'll have a chance to satisfy my "make stuff" urge - I have another vessel that I have to embellish. I made it last night, which was lots of fun. It was pouring again last night, and the rain on the roof of my "wet lab" makes a ton of noise. It was rather mesmerizing...

Here are some of my students during today's session. There's usually a bit of chatter going on during these sessions, but today I think everyone was really concentrating on the glass.

Here's Melissa, cooking some sauerkraut - ah, I mean melting down a bead. :-)

And it looks like Lisa is about to make a 2-color twisty.

Here's Bonnie, about to pull out some cane.

And here's Yoshiko at the torch. Check that out - how on earth did I manage to snap this picture right when her bead was between the 2 arms of the lamp?!

The kiln was nice and packed when we finished - I think it was a pretty good day.

And now it's time for me to get mom motivated so we can all go out for a good Chinese dinner - yum! Have yourselves a happy and creative week ahead!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

When the frost is on the punkin...

Well, last night was calm. No rain or wind. But holy smokes, we woke up in a frost-laden deep freeze! OK, OK, so you folks who live like Nanook of the North are laughing at me for being such a wuss. I can't help it, my blood has thinned out since I left Connecticut ages ago. And after just having looked at the weather that they're having in my former home town of Newington, CT, there's absolutely no difference between here and there. Sheesh!

My poor Niki was totally freaked out about the frost - she's afraid of just about everything and I'm sure that in her little doggie brain, something really bad happened to her stomping grounds overnight. I, on the other hand, was thrilled. After I donned my jeans and fleece pullover I headed out to the back yard with camera in hand. Here are a few scenes that are very rare in this neighborhood...

Perhaps these will inspire some new beads, or perhaps a "frost-covered" vessel. I'll just let the images float around in my brain for awhile. Funny thing is, we have oak leaves all over the place but I'll be darned if I can find the oak tree in the neighborhood that's shedding onto our yard.

Now it's time for me to get back to work. And it's time for you to go have yourselves a happy and creative day!

Monday, December 07, 2009


It was cold last night. I mean, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and we're not used to temperatures going down below freezing. And since I've become an "old fart", I've been sleeping with socks on when it gets cold. I forgot 'em last night - not good, since it was a very cold rainy night. Some time in the wee hours I was dreaming that it was freezing rain and when I looked outside the entire neighborhood had become crystal city, all encased in ice. I'm glad THAT was just a dream - that stuff is very dangerous. I experienced more than one ice storm in my life, having lived in Connecticut. But the hills that run along the eastern edge of my home town of Fremont were covered in snow, and that was NOT a dream.

I was working this morning, but at around 12:30 p.m. I went to the post office to mail out some beads. I took my camera along and drove down to the southern part of Fremont where I could get some pictures of the snowy hills. By that time, the occasional sun and a bit warmer temps had started to melt what was left of the white stuff. But it still looked pretty, so I wanted to share. Do you feel a yodel coming on? ;-)

It was still very gloomy when I was out with my camera, so no blue sky for contrast. I got a bit carried away with the camera, and snapped a few more pix around town when I was heading home.

In the picture below, I was zooming by our local park.

It was kind of funny - while I was stopped at a light, I took the following picture because I liked the trees on the right. The guy in front of me saw my camera in his rear view, and seemed to get rather upset. As we made our way down the road, he pulled into the right lane to let me pass him, then immediately got behind me. I kept on driving, and then pulled into a left turn lane. Sure enough, he pulled into that lane behind me. I lifted my camera again to take another picture of some other piece of scenery ahead of me, and I guess that was good enough for him. He must have decided that I wasn't stalking him, because he pulled back into the "go straight" lane and left the scene.

Here's the scenery I caught after I turned the corner. Being from New England, I haven't seen anything that can hold a candle to the foliage display that I was used to seeing back there. But my heart still does a bit of pitter-patter when I see trees with leaves that are other than green.

Shooting while driving isn't a good thing, though. Not only are my pictures fuzzy, it's probably worse than texting while driving. Sshhhhh! Don't tell anyone...

If we get more rain tonight as predicted, we may have more snow up there tomorrow. Since I have to drive down there to pick up my unsold goods from the gallery and get paid for what I did sell, I'll bring my camera along again just in case. And maybe I'll spend a bit more time out of the car taking some decent "around town" pictures. Fremont has some very quaint neighborhoods considering the fact that it's just another suburban California town.

Now I'm going back to work. Stay warm, and have a happy and creative day!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Assets and Tax Law and Whiskers On Kittens...

Now THERE'S a title for you, eh? I've been back in the world of high-tech, revisiting a subject area that I was intimately familiar with many years ago. In order to be most productive I've been doing research into what has been added to the tax laws since I left that product. But that's not why you're here...

Whiskers on kittens being among my favorite things - well actually, whiskers on puppies - I'll now get on with the "favorite things" part of my post. I haven't created the raindrops on roses, but since leaves are definitely up there on my list of favorite things, that's where I put the raindrops.

Here are pix of my latest leaf beads, which I just listed in my Etsy shop.

I'm also offering FREE SHIPPING on all of my beads and jewelry in my Jumping Jack Glass Etsy shop. How's that for a holiday treat?!

Tonight is the opening gala for the Holiday Show/Sale at the Olive Hyde Art Gallery in my home town. I have several items in the show, and I'm hoping that some of them will find new homes. I worked very hard putting everything together, so tonight I'm just going to enjoy munching, sipping, schmoozing, and admiring the work of all the participating artists. What fun!

But now, for me it's back to tax stuff and accounting. For you... go have yourselves a happy and creative day!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Last Day Before Delivery

Holy smokes - where did the time go? I was very happy to have had a 4-day Thanksgiving weekend to work on all the items that I will be delivering to the Olive Hyde Gallery for their annual holiday show/sale. But here it is, Monday, and I still have a ton of work to do before my scheduled delivery time tomorrow morning.

I finished embellishing 3 vessels, made another vessel and embellished it, and made a scarf. And made some beads, which I will turn into jewelry today. Then I must tag everything and pack it up to go. It wouldn't be all that bad, but I have to teach a class tonight from 6 - 10 p.m. so I can't work on it this evening. So I am going to cut my post a bit short today. But I will leave you with some pictures of the work I did over the weekend.

Here are details from the first side of the scarf.

And details from the other side. The wool fibers are on both sides of the silk chiffon.

And here are the embellished vessels. I really went over the top on the sunset vessel - I added my beads to both sides.

Sunset Vessel - Side "A"

Sunset Vessel - Side "B"

Sonoma Vessel - Side "A"

Sonoma Vessel - Side "B"

This next vessel is one that I created last year, but I didn't like the way that I had embellished it. I removed the embellishment, then redid it with a beadwoven collar.

And now I'm off to get a bite of lunch, then work work work! Have yourselves a happy and creative day!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Busy Weekend, Busy Week

I'm in crunch mode now, getting several creations ready to be placed in shows and galleries. This past weekend I spent Saturday making a few more vessels. Here's an in-progress picture of my wine country vessel. I have to embellish this one, but I haven't made the bead yet. It will be a small leaf bead (of course...), this vessel isn't large. It's going to the Olive Hyde Gallery in my home town of Fremont, CA for their annual holiday show/sale.

Here's the second vessel. I finished the beaded collar for it last night, I just have to sew it onto the vessel. I already have the leaf for this one. This one is for BAGI, and I'll be making another vessel for them. One will be for their annual glass auction and one will be going into the BAGI kiosk at the San Jose airport.

I need to finish these soon because they're going out to their respective temporary homes by December 1, and I really want to get professional pictures of them before they depart.

Speaking of BAGI, a few days ago we had our first "Super Sunday", and I was on hand for 2 back-to-back 4-hour torching sessions to answer any questions that came up during the sessions. These are sessions for any of my current and former BAGI students so that they can spend 4 hours of devoted torch time practicing any/all of the techniques that they've learned in my classes. It was nice to see all of these folks again, and wow - we sure had a full kiln! We'll be doing another Super Sunday on December 13, so if you've taken a class with me at BAGI and want to join us for 4 (or 8) hours of creativity, contact Chris at BAGI and let her know.

And now it's time for me to grab a quick bite of lunch, then get back to my tech job. "Making stuff" will have to wait until this evening.

Have yourselves a happy and creative day!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Catching Up Once Again

In my prior post, I showed you a picture of the latest vessel that I made with a promise of better pix of it to come. I never had a chance to get anymore pictures - I sold the vessel over the weekend. But I just about finished embellishing another one and I have plans for a new one roaming around in my brain.

The weekend before this last one, I taught a bead making class on Saturday at BAGI. Here's a picture of me doing a demo as a student watches. This picture was taken by one of my students with her phone (why it's fuzzy...). Not only do I NOT wear fashionable didymium glasses, they're the first didyms I ever bought. In true geek style, the left bow has tape on it.

During that class I showed the students a technique that I've been using for almost 10 years. While they were making their beads, a picture popped into my mind and the following Monday I went out to my studio and started creating my vision in glass. I've had some drawings of petroglyphs and pictographs on my work table for a couple of years but I never did anything with them. I just wasn't sure what the entire bead should look like. I now have 5 of them in my Etsy shop! I brought them all to the bead show with me over the weekend and they were a big hit. Some have new homes. Here's my version of rock art, in bead form. All but 1 have designs on the back as well, but you'll have to go to my shop to see them.

On a completely different note, this week I took the plunge and started a new contract job back in the world of software development. I'm excited about it, and I also realize that my creative time will be that much more precious. I have a gallery show coming up shortly for which I must prepare, I have to create a piece for an auction for the place where I teach bead making, there's a holiday ornament show for which I must make some pieces, and there's another opportunity to put my artwork for sale in a small gallery kiosk at our airport. So now I'm going to take a deep breath and get back to work.

Have yourselves a happy and creative day!

Friday, November 06, 2009

New Vessel... and What Does "Service" Mean To You?

This has been an extremely busy week for me in the teaching department! I taught a class on Tuesday evening, provided a "bead making experience" for a group of about 40 women on Wednesday morning and afternoon, taught a class that same evening, then taught a class again last night. During my "down time" between those classes, I managed to finish this vessel. It's a small one - I don't make small stuff very often - but it turned out very nice. Better pix are on the way...

Regarding "service", I'm a bit irritated (understatement) with my web hosting service. I guess you could say they provide a service. I mean, hey - there's good service and then there's bad service. In which category do you think my recent experience belongs? Here's what happened:

My web hosting service "upgraded" me. This past Wednesday evening, after I got home from a very long day of teaching (started at 10 a.m., finished at 10 p.m.), I went to check my email. I couldn't log in to my web hosting account. I checked my Yahoo email account, and there was an email that I had received at 9:59 pm welcoming me to my new upgraded account. Using the new login information, I got into the new interface and found my email. OK, so I can still receive email - great! There was also information in the welcome email that talked about this upgrade. Isn't this wonderful - they migrated all my email to the new email system, but not my address book. What???!!! So... my email address book is gone. Just flat gone. The upgrade email does tell me, "You will however, have the ability to create a new Address book once the move to our Advanced Email Platform has been completed.". Well isn't that nice?! I mean, gosh, how many email systems are there that DON'T let you create an address book?

So then I go to my website and see this lovely message rather than my splash page:
I thought, "OK, tomorrow this message will be gone and my website will be back up.". HA! - Not. So around 3 p.m. on Thursday I called tech support. I told the guy about this message and asked him how to get my site back up. He started looking at my website (he's tech support, he's got access) and then he started reading the content of the splash page to me. Then he told me to wait a few hours, that my site would be back up. I told him that it had been down since the prior evening and he rudely started reprimanding me, saying, "We upgraded 9,000 sites, what do you expect?!". Huh? Then he said, "Do you want me to read more on your website to prove that it's still there?". OMGosh, this is tech support?

Fast forward to Friday (a couple of hours ago). I go to my site, still not up. I call tech support again and ask them what's going on. This time I talk to "Steven". He tells me that the guy I talked to yesterday didn't know the answer to my questions. Yeah, no kidding! So "Steven" tells me that in order to get my site back up, I have to contact the company with whom my domain name is registered and have them change my primary and secondary name servers. I asked "Steven" why this information wasn't in the welcome email. Response: "Because they didn't put it in the email". (GROAN.....)

I'm hoping that my site will be back up some time in the next few days. In the mean time, perhaps it's time to start looking for a new web hosting service. Although these days, the "service" portion of that expression is questionable, regardless of who the host is.

I'm off to the torch now - go have yourselves a happy and creative day!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

A Little Fiber, A Little Glass

Today I finished a sample piece for a "Join in and Make Challenge" that's part of the online felting community to which I belong. It was interesting and fun, and I learned quite a bit about this technique. I'll be incorporating my sample into a larger felted piece. I wanted to use it on a vessel but it's just too heavy. I may try this again with some refinements. Here's a lousy picture (my own picture... bad lighting) of my sample. Does it make you think of anything in particular?

Later, I'll be working on more of my embellished felt pieces for possible necklaces/pins.

Regarding glass... I got into a discussion with someone last week about flame annealing soft glass beads. I've been making beads for over 9 years and I've been a member of the International Society of Glass Beadmakers for 9 years. All the information I've read and heard on this topic is that so-called flame annealing does NOT properly anneal your beads. If you anneal them this way, they are more likely to break some time down the road than if you anneal them in a kiln. Why? Because flame annealing does not eliminate the stress that is created in the glass when parts of the bead (outside) cool at a different rate than other parts of the bead (inside). The person with whom I was having this conversation insisted that when she took a bead making class many years ago, they did not put their beads into a kiln. They flame annealed their beads, and she still has these beads many years later and they never broke.

So I ask all of you folks out there who are glass bead makers: What is your take on this subject? Is flame annealing sufficient? Would you ever sell beads that you only flame anneal? Would you even bother flame annealing?

And now I'm off for a Starbucks treat. Go have yourselves a happy and creative day!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Minimal Embellishments

When I make felted vessels, I'm so tempted to deck them out with all sorts of embellishments. But sometimes less is a good thing. This is one of my recent vessels that I planned on embellishing. I even had the seed beads all picked out for the rim. After I added my lampwork disk beads to the vessel I decided to stop. It took a bit to hold me back - the seed beads were the perfect color for the vessel - but after a lengthy conversation with myself, I handed the vessel over to be photographed. It's now in my Etsy shop - no turning back! :-)

Today I was going to spend the whole day on the torch, but I decided to do some felting instead. It's the last day of the "Shibori Autumn" challenge on the Working With Felt online community, so shibori felt is it. I've never done this before so who knows what will come out of my machine. I'm just hoping that it will be suitable for the project I have in mind. Stay tuned...

Now go have yourselves a happy and creative day!

Friday, October 30, 2009

More Wooly Mixed Media Wearables

Continuing on in my exploration of work with fiber, I created another mixed media piece. I still haven't decided how I will complete these pieces - pin, necklace, or attachment to some other felted work. This piece has a split personality. The face is a raku bead that has two sides - one side is glazed, the other black. Day and Night? Happy and Sad? You decide! I've assembled this piece so that you can turn the face to whichever side suits your mood.

So here's number 2 in my latest collection...

Once I determine a permanent use for them, I'll have some "real" pictures taken. The colors are much nicer up close and personal.

Now go have yourselves a happy and creative day! I'm off to the torch...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wooly Wearables

Not too long ago I blogged that I had "Made Something On a Whim". I got a bit wild with that piece of felt and it's now a cuff that I call Sprout. I adorned it with a button by Lisa Peters, then added some organic-feeling froufrou. Here are a few pix of the almost-finished piece. I say "almost" because I still have to put a lining on it and then add the closure. I planned on waiting until someone wanted to purchase it before I put the closure on so that I could make it a customized length. It seems that before I could even put it into my Etsy shop, a Facebook friend claimed it for her own. I guess I'd better hurry up and line this piece - yikes!

A couple of nights ago I took a book to bed with me that I hadn't looked at in awhile. I usually do a bit of reading before I turn out my light for the night and this particular night I just wanted to look at inspiring pictures. As I paged through the book, which has nothing to do with felt, some ideas popped into my head and I was off in dream land. Yesterday I created the felt piece and last night I started to embellish it. Here's the piece in its current state.

I just need to turn it into whatever it's going to end up being. An embellishment for a bag? A pin? A necklace? Not sure yet, but I think I'll be creating more of these. I already have the fibers and embellishments picked out for the next one. And there will definitely be wearables in this collection!

But now I have to get ready to go teach my bead making class. So go have yourselves a happy and creative day!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Glass Blowing Demo, Quilt Show, And Another Vessel

I've been busy in the wet lab lately, preparing for the upcoming holiday show/sale at Olive Hyde Art Gallery in Fremont, CA. Here's the latest vessel that I finished - I just put the collar and faceted lemon quartz on it the night before last. The collar is a spiral rope, and the vessel is also adorned with peridot chips.

I have three more vessels that are ready for embellishments - all I need is time, yep. But alas, tonight and tomorrow night I'm teaching bead making classes so my vessels will have to wait until Friday night.

Over the last two weekends I've hauled mom along with me to a couple of events - here are some pictures that I took.

The first event we attended was a glass blowing demo at BAGI, where I teach glass bead making classes. I had the pleasure of watching Marc Petrovic create a blown glass fish, with assistance from Treg Silkwood, who teaches glass blowing classes at BAGI. I was sitting a bit far from the action, so my pix aren't the best - but you'll get the idea.

When Marc initially blew the piece, the mouth end of the fish was attached to the blow pipe. After Marc shaped the tail, he attached a punty to the rear side of the fish and removed the fish from the blow pipe. In this picture, Treg is holding the punty steady while Marc shapes the mouth of the fish.

Here's Marc giving the fish a good heating with the torch.

After Marc has applied some fins, he uses the torch to heat the fish while he does more shaping.

And here, Marc is applying hot glass to make another fin, with assists from Treg and Jon Scally.

And now for something completely different...

The second event was the annual Pacific International Quilt Festival. I think that show gets bigger and bigger every year! We were there for 6 hours on Saturday and didn't get to see any of the wearable art or vendors. I was going to go back on Sunday, but there's just too much to do here in my "labs". I'm glad I didn't wait until Sunday to take pix of some of my faves. Unfortunately, I didn't get the artists' names who made them. Here are pix of my absolute favorites in the show. And go figure... most of them involve trees and/or leaves. :-)

These are definitely not your grandma's "just throw it on the bed" quilts...

And now I have to get ready to go teach my bead making class. It's a special topic class - we're going to be making hearts! I'll be bringing some of my own purple glass so I can donate purple hearts to the Beads of Courage program. Each child receives a purple heart bead at the end of his or her treatment.

Now go have yourselves a happy and creative day!

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