Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tip of the week

This is my BFF, Perry. And, no, I am not a sad, lonely, phsycotic beadmaker (although I am something of a quiet loner, the neighbors all say). It's a paring knife - hence 'Perry'- and when it comes to lampworking, I've found few tools of better value and greater usefullness . Perry is one of those things I wish I'd known about right off the bat and regret all the wasted time we spent apart.

He's not a 'trade secret'. Most lampworker's have a trusty little knife that they use on a regular basis, but it's not something you think about when you first start out. I didn't figure it out until at least 2 years into this adventure, so I thought I'd share this knowledge with anyone out there who doesn't already know.
If you do already know, move along, there's nothing here to see.

I picked Perry up at the Goodwill (for God's sake, don't tell my daughter I referred to the Goodwill in my blog. She'll, like, totally die of humiliation). He used to travel around with us in our travel trailer (back before the travel trailer was crashed and ruined in an ironic twist of fate that I won't go into here). He's small but powerful, incredibly sharp,very pointy and, best of all, I paid about 25 cents for him.

He and I have been collaborating at the torch for about 2 years now and have spent much quality time together. He's truly my most fab BFF.
Here are some of the things he and I have made together.

Perfect for cutting seashell spirals and adding ruffle-edge elements

Impossible to make this bead without Perry. Essential for cutting spiral lines and utilizing Michael Barley's (freaking genius, that guy!!!) 'baleen' technique

No optic molds for me. No way, never make it easy. Every indent and petal is hand-cut.
Perfect for a poke in the eye,drawing down the brow, shaping a beak, or making feathers.

Again with the 'baleen'. Pretty, ain't it?

I'd heard that there's a new tutorial out there, teaching this internal, stacked spiral technique. Perry and I have been doing it for years and I didn't realize it was such a big secret. I should have written it down, I guess. Oh well, it's really not about the money...

These are just a few of things we've made. There really are an endless variety of tools that you can buy, try and then stack back on the shelf, but I think simple things are best. Sure, there are a dozen different tools I could accumulate that would probably end with the same results - and probably much faster, too. But I like doing things this way. It makes me feel more connected to my work - less like a production robot and more like a true artisan.

Which brings up a commercial I saw on TV that's been annoying the hell out of me.

What's 'artisan bread', supposed to be anyway?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bunnies fly the coop...

...or hutch.

A good day, but a little sad. Two of the bunnies, Stairs and Star, found a new home today. I'm happy because the family that took them already has a rabbit and knows how to care for them. They got to go together, so they won't be lonely. That's good.

But those were the two that Connor loved best. He would sit with Star on his lap, playing video games and hanging out. He loved that little bunny.

And Stairs, the escape artist, everyone's little sweetheart. He crawled out of the cage when he was just 2 days old and got lost. We found him after an hour, miles (in bunny measurement) away from the cage, icy cold and grey. We were sure he'd die, but, no. He was a tough one and pulled through. Always the most curious and always the first to go exploring, the spirit of adventure is strong in him.

So, I get to face my little guy when he gets home from school and teach him yet another lesson on loss. But, at least this time, he was somewhat prepared for it.

Live long and prosper, babies.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Finally working again

After many weeks of mishaps, injuries and unforseen 'emergencies', I'm finally back at to regular torching sessions.

How many wierd things can happen in a single month, you ask? A lot, apparently. I mean, seriously:

1. Fridge dies
2. Back goes out and leaves me on the couch and with limited mobility for almost 3 weeks. Actually fainted from the pain, fell down and cracked my elbow on the dresser. Awakened to find large, slobbery dog globbing up my face with his big, stinky tongue. Gross, to say the least.
3. Rabbit has babies, AGAIN, adding even more stress
4. computer crashes and cannot be repaired. Lost all contact with outside world. Also lost many pics, contact info, forms, templates, etc...
5. had to go out of town for 4 days for work
6. custom order went very, very wrong and ate up many hours of time. No more custom orders.
7. new fridge must be replaced - this sucked. Can't believe how much hassle it is to move in and out of a refrigerator. Twice. How do people manage to move out of entire houses? I'm never leaving this house. Never. Ever.

So, whatever. All is well now and I've been chugging away, trying to relearn this strange and mysterious art of 'lampworking' all the kids are talking about. Hold a tiny, thin metal wire and spin liquid glass onto it into shapes and designs that actually look like something, all while huddled over a hissing, searing stream of fire? Crazy talk, I say.

Anyway, here's what I've got on eBay this week. More is coming but this is a start.

By the way, does anyone need a bunny?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Make way for ducklings...

Of course, they're not actually ducklings. They're big, orange, fabulously homely Sandhill crane babies and they like to wander around my back yard. Aren't they adorable? I love spring!!!
You don't want to get too close to them, though, or Daddy will take your eye out with his gigantic beak. These cranes are over 4 feet tall and quite fiesty, even when they're not busy being over-protective parents.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Made it into Stringing Magazine!

I almost forgot!!! A selection of my little woodland animal beads are featured in the Spring issue of Stringing Magazine.

How fun is that?

New bead sets...

I hope everyone had a good weekend. Lot's and lot's and lot's of rain here, as I suspect there was everywhere.
I've been busy working on new bead sets so I've got several new listings on eBay.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


I remember when we made this birdhouse together, my daughter and I. It hung so bright and shiny in the cypress tree where we could see it easily from any point in the back yard. Such an innocent time, when she still looked forward to doing things together, when I was really her closest friend and most reliable confidant.

When I asked her about her day and she told me.

That was years ago. It’s old now and no birds ever lived there. The paint is worn. The wood is decaying and the chain is rusted. The bottom fell out two summers ago.

I know that time passes and children grow up. That’s the way it should be and I love watching her change, becoming more and more the person she’ll be as an adult. But I worry.

She’s twelve now and her life isn’t as easy as it used to be. She’s caught in that shadowy, confusing time where up is sideways and black is grey. I think she’s a little lost – trying too hard to grow up, to move into this new phase, to shed her old self and become someone entirely new. I’m not sure how to help her find herself, how to make her understand that her old self is wonderful and beautiful and that her friendship is a treasure.

She’s stoic but really an open book, willing to put herself out there but so easily hurt - always young for her age, a little socially awkward but such a sweet, loving girl. Some of these new ‘friends’ she’s trying to make are so different from her. They’re hipper, more savvy, have already moved forward in so many ways. She wants to be like them, be with them, be accepted by them and this is what I most worry about.

I can see her making mistakes and I want to step in – intervene and fix it the way I did when she was little but I know I can’t do that every time. Things are different now and she’s not a baby. The world is bigger than she ever realized and this is something that she’ll have to learn, to accept, to deal with. It’s just so hard, watching it happen. Not knowing when or where to jump in. How much is too much? When to push and when to step back? These are hard questions.

But then, these are hard times.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

If I were a .....

If I were a month I'd be September
If I were a day I'd be Saturday
If I were a time of day I'd be deepest night

If I were a sea animal I would be a mermaid

If I were a planet I would be Saturn
If I were a direction I would be due South
If I were a piece of furniture I would be a hammock, swinging in the breeze

If I were a liquid I would be the sea

If I were a gemstone I would be an amethyst
If I were a tree I would be a river willow
If I were a flower I would be a peony

If I were an element of weather I would be a summer storm

If I were a tool I would be a torch
If I were a musical instrument I would be a violin
If I were a color I would be the softest sea blue-green

If I were an element I would be water

If I were an emotion I would be resolve
If I were a fruit I would be a lime
If I were a facial expression I would be a single arched eyebrow

If I were a sound I would be trees blowing in a high wind

If I were a car I would be a jeep (or a Jag)
If I were a food I would be a pineapple
If I were a material I would be cotton batik

If I were a place I would be the beach

If I were a taste I would be spicy hot with a hint of sweetness
If I were a scent I would be amber and sandalwood
If I were a body part I would be hands

If I were a song I would be 'Melt With You'

If I were a bird I would be an osprey
If I were a gift I would be wrapped in the funny pages
If I were a street I would Lombard Street
If I were a city I would be a hidden treasure, written up in a travel magazine

If I were a pair of shoes I would be flip-flops

My thanks to Lori and to Pearl and Pebble - wonderful blogs that I 'borrowed' this from. Please, take this and fill it out for yourself and then pass it on to your friends. It's such a wonderful way to take a minute and think about yourself - about who you are and what you're about

....for a change

Important, true thoughts

It is true that whenever a person loves a dog he derives great power from it.
~Old Seneca Chief

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