Monday, June 29, 2009

Late Monday Inspiration

I'm sure I've mentioned before that I have a love/hate relationship with the internet. Actually, I think it's my ISP that causes me all the grief. For several days now, it's been hit or miss whether or not I'll be able to access the WWW. I'm hoping that I can at least get this post out before it's Tuesday here!

We've had some wicked hot weather here lately, and on days like this I can't bring myself to fire up the torch. Last night as I was sitting in front of the fan putting the final touches on the "B" side of my "Dale" vessel I realized I was having trouble holding onto my needle. My hands just wouldn't dry off! Working with wool was almost as difficult as sitting in front of my kiln. But my vessel is complete! Pictures will be here soon.

Due to these conditions, last week's inspiration for the glass lab still stands. However, I have new inspiration pictures for this week's work in the wet lab. Perhaps this hot weather is stoking my desire for all things ocean.

This project is going to take longer than a week, I'm sure. I already have lots of ideas percolating in my brain. It's also going to require some torch work, so please keep your fingers crossed that the heat backs off!

That's all for now - I'm off to make a few templates for more work in the wet lab. Have yourselves a happy and creative day!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Selecting the Sub-Stash

I've gone through my lampwork beads and I've picked through my purchased bead stash - which is rather extensive, considering the fact that I've been accumulating it since 1996 - and I've narrowed down my choices for embellishing my "Dale" vessel.

Here are the lampwork beads I'm considering as well as the accessory "stuff" - Czech firepolish, fiber optic beads, Czech pressed glass, black coral, vintage Lucite Moonglow beads, and there might be a few other things I hunt up that aren't here.

While I was on the internet checking out a bunch of stuff - another addiction that I sometimes wish I didn't have - I came across the work of Cindy Wimmer of sweet bead studio. I was quite taken with her metal and wire work, and then I discovered that she's having a giveaway.

You can win an embossing hammer, a mixed metal stamped pendant, or a stamped copper, wirework, and lampwork bead bracelet.

Check it out HERE!

And now I'm off to select some beads from my little stash and figure out how I'm going to incorporate them into my vessel. I'll keep you posted on my progress!

How Did Saturday Get Here So Quickly?!

It seems that it was just "Inspiration Monday" - and now it's Saturday. Some weeks are like that, where time seems to be running on turbo power.

I did have an opportunity to let Mr. Chihuly guide my work with fiber this week, and I'm very pleased with the outcome so far. I still have to embellish this vessel and I'm going to do that with some glass pieces that I haven't made yet. I haven't decided yet what those pieces will be. I might completely depart from the Chihuly influence and put my own "stamp" on the vessel. In any case, I'm so in love with this piece as it now stands that I'm afraid I won't be able to part with it. Then again, that happens with several of the objects that I create - like that raku vessel that I created to go with the tube beads from MAKUstudio. I should know better than to get attached to my creations.

Here are some WIP pictures. I love how different the vessel looks after I finish fulling it!

Laying out the vessel - first layer

After the final layer is in place

Fulled and dried - side 1

Fulled and dried - side 2

Well, since the time I first started writing this post and now, I had a bite of lunch and went through my stash of beads. Looks like I won't be spending any time on the torch to match up this one. There are 2 beads in my collection that I think are just perfect for this vessel. Now I'm off to find all the other embellishing materials so that I can get to work on fancying her up. The next pictures you'll see will be taken in the photo studio with perfect lighting - yeah!

Have yourselves a happy and creative day!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Inspiration Monday

It occurred to me once again that I tend to get caught up in my "have to do's" and "should do's" (hmmm, should there be an apostrophe in there or not?), and my opportunities to just let go and have some creative play time are rather limited. Right now I have 3 fiber art commissions to work on as well as 3 in-progress projects. I'm thinking that if I pick a few things as inspiration for the week, it just might get me out of my comfort zone and nudge me to explore something new.

I keep lots of pictures on my computer as well as file folders full of printed material. Today I'm going to choose a few things that I hope will guide me this week in my creative endeavors.

For my fiber inspiration, I've chosen a few photos that I took last summer when my good friend Amy West and I went to San Francisco to see the Chihuly exhibit. I didn't realize that flash photos were prohibited, so I managed to snag a few before I was chastized by the exhibit police. I was really taken by his Basket series - maybe because I had just started making fiber vessels - and here are two of them that really inspire me.

Maybe I will combine elements from both of them into a single piece. I have some "stuff" that I've been wanting to use, but up to this point I hadn't had a vision for it - now I do! I'm not sure if I'll create a vessel or something different - I'll let the mood of the moment dictate what comes of it.

For my glass inspiration, I had already decided what I wanted to "play" with. These are some royalty-free stock photos that I found, which I will use to guide me. Since the next show I'll be doing will be in Miami, I thought that an ocean theme would be appropriate. And today is rather hot, so these pictures make me feel good in MANY ways!

Wow, I want to jump right in! But the area of the Pacific that's closest to where I live is just too dang cold to do that. A nice trip to Hawaii would be lovely right about now...

So that's my inspiration for the week. It might take me more than one week to get to it, considering my commissions, in-progress projects, and the fact that I'm teaching classes on two evenings. You folks will just have to keep me on my toes!

And finally, a wonderful jewelry artist - Cassandra Graham of Wilde Jewels - posted a picture on her Facebook page. She purchased a set of my leaves at the Bead & Button Show, and she has been very busy since she got home. Here is the set of leaves that Cassandra purchased at the show.

And here is the necklace that Cassandra made using my leaves to accent a wonderful focal bead by Wayne Robbins.

Thank you, Cassandra - you rock! If you've never seen their work before, you absolutely must visit Wilde Jewels and Mountain And Robbins.

And now I'm off to the kitchen to play with some food. I have no inspiration for that task, so I'll just have to rummage around and see what I can come up with. (Yes, I ended my sentence with a preposition - bad Shirley!)

Now go have yourselves a happy and creative day!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Today's WIP - Cuckoo Raku

I've been working like crazy on my felt project inspired by the raku tube beads that I purchased from MAKUstudio. These are some pix that I took during the work in progress. The lighting was lousy - when you're married to a professional photographer, you get rather spoiled - and Len wasn't around with his fancy lighting setup. But you'll get the idea here. I can't wait until I finish embellishing it and have Len take some REAL pictures!

Here I have finished laying out all the fibers, gotten them wet, and started the felting process. I was really concerned that all the colors I used would blend in together and turn to muddy colors, similar to what happens when you mix paint. Then I had to remind myself that when the fibers are wet they get much darker, and fibers with similar color values tend to look the same.

This is as far as I had gotten on Wednesday before I had to get ready and go teach my bead making class. I finished up the felting and fulling of this piece last night while I was parked in front of the TV. Here's the vessel so far - and it's just about dry! What do you think - did I get the colors in the ball park?

I'm hoping to finish embellishing it today so I can bring it with me tomorrow. I'll be attending the monthly meeting of the SGB Norcal (Society of Glass Beadmakers - Northern California) up in the Sacramento area. Our favorite torchworking tool and glass suppliers Arrow Springs is hosting the meeting along with a mini glass bead bazaar, and it'll be a great time!

But now, I just might go and try to find that new pair of shoes...

Have a happy and creative day!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Catching Up and a Plea for Help - Updated

Here's an update to the story of the animal shelter in Las Cruces, NM. - looks like it's an ending that's not so bad.

Now back to our regularly-scheduled programming. I was so busy preparing for the Bead & Button Show that I got way behind on posting Etsy Treasuries in which my work was featured. Here are the treasuries along with some lovely items from the curators' shops.

voscollecion included my Lush Felted Vessel in her lovely treasury "FRESH TIME".

Thank you Karina! Be sure to visit her store for some lovely glass and silver jewelry, such as her turquoise glass and silver ring. That would fit perfectly in her treasury!

Funny the way the universe works - when I went to the listing in my Etsy shop for my vessel to get the link for this post, I saw that it sold today!

PaulaArt included my Saburu Felted Vessel in her treasury "It felt natural".

Thank you, Paula! Please visit Paula's shop - she creates some wonderful mixed media art and collectible clocks such as this Slice of Time clock!

And now it's time for me to head out to the wet lab to work on the "raku" project that I started yesterday. I'll leave you with my last picture of the B&B Show. My friend/collaborative partner Nanette took this photo of me in my booth, peaking out over my "Dr. Deans". After I reached that "magic age", I developed a severe case of trombone arms and can't see a dang thing close up without my magnifiers. I have no idea what I was looking at, but Nanette caught me by surprise. Hey, that girl needs a haircut!

Now go have yourselves a happy and creative day!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

When Inspiration Arrives in the Mail...

... I just change my plans and go with what feels right. And today, I will NOT be going out to find myself a new pair of shoes.

This morning, my little package arrived from MAKUstudio. I purchased these wonderful raku tube beads, and when I opened the package I immediately ran out into my wet lab. I recalled one of the purchases that I made when I was a vendor at Stitches West in February, and I just knew that I'd have to use it with my new beads. This is a single skein of hand-painted Merino wool yarn - whatcha think?

Now I'm going to go select the rest of the fiber that I'll work with on this project. It's been way too long since I've played out in the wet lab, and this will be a fine activity before I go teach my bead making class this evening. Stay tuned for a WIP update on this one. I have a feeling this will be a keeper for me - I mean, a girl's got to have some treasures of her own, yes?

Have yourselves a happy and creative day!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Aisle 1200 Neighborhood

Not having a booth helper this year at the Bead & Button Show severely limited my "out and about" time, but I did manage to snap a few pix of some of my neighbors. Here's one of my "across the street" neighbors - the wonderfully talented Kimberly Affleck of seahorse fame - in a moment of humor at her booth.

Kimberly was a new B&B neighbor of mine this year, but definitely not new as far as friends go. I first met her in 2003 at a glass-related event on the Oregon coast, and she and I were paired up to do some collaborative beads. Everyone thought it was a perfect pairing, since both of us have very organic bead styles. At the same event a year later, we set aside some time to create more of these collaborative beads. Here's one of the beads we made back then.

That was the event at which I showed Corina Tettinger how to make the little "starburst" murrini, or what I call my "fossils". Shortly after that, Corina posted a "how to" on her website along with a link back to my website. Thanks for giving me credit, Corina!

Here's what was supposed to be a candid shot of my next door neighber Liz Rowe. I tried to sneak up on her, and that's why her credit card sign is poking her in the corner of her lip. (No, not really!)

And here's my other "across the street" neighbor Brent Graber, a.k.a. Mr. Smiley, visiting a bit at Kimberly's booth. I'll bet that's why Kimberly was having a moment of humor! Brent makes some seriously drool-worthy borosilicate beads - go check 'em out!

My flight home on Monday didn't leave until late in the afternoon, so I had the morning to relax, do a bit of shopping (I mean, really! The sales tax in Milwaukee is 5.6% - the sales tax in my home town is 9.75%!), eat in a non-rushed manner, and chat a bit with some of the other vendors who were still hanging around. I had a brief conversation with my friend Wayne Robbins that morning while I finished up my morning coffee and oatmeal in the local Starbucks. Wayne makes the most wonderful torch worked borosilicate sculptures!

Here's the view from the Starbucks window - this is the skywalk that goes from the Hilton hotel to the Midwest Airlines Center where the show was held. Considering how cold it gets during a Milwaukee winter, the skywalk is definitely a necessity!

With another B&B show behind me, I can now focus on the upcoming ISGB Gathering in Miami, FL. Yikes - Miami in July! It's a good thing we'll be in an air conditioned hotel.

Tonight I'll be teaching a bead making class, so I won't get a chance to add more rows to my work in progress. Oh, maybe just one more... Here's what I've been doing in the late evenings - can't wait to get this one finished. It'll look a whole lot different in a few more days, just wait and see!

And now for some lunch, a few errands, and then my prep for tonight's class. Have yourselves a happy and creative day!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Back On the Torch

After I returned from Bead & Button, I thought that teaching 3 classes during the week would be enough torch time for me for awhile. After all, I just about wore myself out getting ready for and doing the show. But toward the end of the week I just had to get back into my studio to make something. I started out with what was most familiar to me - yes, a leaf bead. A lovely deep olive green oak leaf with some nice contrasting dichroic glass, which I always use sparingly. It's funny, every time I take a bead out of the kiln I visualize how I would use it in a finished piece. Sometimes it's jewelry, other times it's a fiber piece - maybe a vessel or perhaps a bag. This oak leaf would definitely become part of a necklace. I even have stones that would match it perfectly!

After I put the leaf into the kiln, the ocean called to me. I made another one of my seaside beads, but this time I flattened it into a tabular bead. I added some froth to the edge of the water on this one, and after looking at it several times over the next few days I got even more ideas for my seaside beads. I'm getting very excited about enhancing these beads and I'm also thinking that I need a trip to the beach very soon. It's been ages since I've visited the ocean! Maybe I'll take mom for a drive out to Half Moon Bay when the weather warms up a bit.

I've added both the oak leaf and the seaside bead to my Etsy shop. Saturday I had such a nice surprise - I taught a class all day and when I got home, I saw that both of the seaside beads that were in my shop were destined for new homes - one to a very loyal Etsy customer, the other to one of my students who is also a bead customer. And my loyal Etsy customer, who has a great name - it's Shirley, of course ;-) - also purchased the only raindrop leaf I had. More of those will definitely be coming over the next few weeks. Gosh, I have so many things I want to accomplish in the glass lab before I go to Miami in July!

I also put a few other beads into my Etsy store today. This bead came about during my "red phase" - for some reason, I just couldn't stop making beads with red glass. I even made leaves that had red in them. I don't use red in the glass lab very often, but I sure got hooked on it for awhile. I was going to keep this one for myself - I have some brecciated jasper beads that would look fabulous with this bead - but I resisted the urge and now have it available for purchase.

The other bead that I listed is another oak leaf bead. I decided to try a different background for this leaf. My friend Nanette from Scorpio Beads gave me a lovely board of unfinished maple quite some time ago, and I thought it might look nice behind my leaf beads. Here's the picture from my shop listing. What do you think - should I stick with the maple or the plain background?

Well, now I think it's time for a cup of blueberry tea, a bit of seed bead work, then off to bed. I have a busy week ahead of me. Hope all of you have a happy and creative week!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Home Again, Home Again...

I returned from the Bead & Button Show Monday at about 10:40 p.m. after an uneventful flight. I was rather grateful because shortly after I arrived at the airport in Milwaukee to begin my trek home there was a tornado warning and the sky was very dark. The "officials" said that the warning would be in effect until 4:30 p.m. Sure enough, at 4:30 the clouds broke and the sun came through. Wow! I sure wish the weather prognosticators were that accurate all the time.

Here are some pix of my booth. I think I convinced myself that I must reconfigure my show setup. It took almost 2 hours to pack up all my stuff and break down the booth after the show closed. Perhaps I need to rethink my "stuff" rather than my configuration. But I enjoy offering a wide variety of products. I had lots of leaf beads, focal beads, pendants, earrings, a few necklaces, several bracelets, felted vessels, and my new felted vessel kits.

The next evening I taught the first night of a new Beadmaking 1 class and Wednesday night I taught the first night of a new Beadmaking 2 class. Tomorrow I'm teaching a Beadmaking - Working With Metals class. Busy busy! At this rate, I'm not going to have much time to replenish my bead stock for the upcoming bead bazaar that I'll be doing in Miami. But I do love being busy. One of the things that I don't like about doing long bead shows is that I don't get a chance to "make stuff" while I'm gone. So after I finish this post, I'm heading out to the torch for awhile. I sold all of my oak leaves and I only have 1 raindrop leaf in stock, which I've put into my Etsy shop. Tonight I'll be embellishing a felted vessel.

Speaking of felted vessel, my new vessel kits were a hit at the Bead & Button Show, and I'll be putting them out in my Etsy shop as well. I can't wait to see what my customers do with them - each kit was a different mix of colors! Here's my sample vessel for the kit - and this is the one I'll be embellishing tonight.

I splurged on myself at the show. In years past I've stocked up on seed beads, Czech glass beads, lampworking glass rods, and any unique beads that caught my fancy. This year I didn't have a booth helper so I didn't get out on the floor to see anything. But I DID make it a point to find Lisa Peters of Lisa Peters Art. After seeing the fabulous pieces that my cyber friends Carol Dean Sharpe (sandfibers on Etsy) and MaryLou Holvenstot (time2cre8 on Etsy) created with Lisa's ceramic buttons, beads, and cabs, I just had to visit her booth - and she was right next to my collaboration partner Nanette, just 4 booths down from me! Here are the treasures that I brought home with me that Lisa created. I have no specific plans for them, but there was no way I could leave them for someone else to purchase!

Aren't they fabulous? I can't wait to start working with them. Perhaps they will adorn some of my felted objects. They might even inspire something new in my journey with felt.

Awhile ago I saw a blog post by Kate McKinnon regarding the new work she was doing. I was completely taken by her bird-related rings, and when I looked at them "up close and personal" at the show, I just couldn't resist. I've worn it every day since I got it, and it's amazing how many comments I get. The ring with the 2 birds on it is mine all mine! :-)

And now I'm off for a short visit with my torch. The day has really gotten away from me, and I definitely must create a few new beads before evening (and pizza, yay!) arrive. Mom will be ready to head over to Starbucks any minute, so I have to scoot. Have yourselves a happy and creative day!

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