Posted on 2 Comments

Bead Table Wednesday

I’m not very good at telling you guys what’s new in my studio, but it happens to be Wednesday and I have seen other jewelry artists participate in this, so I thought it would be fun to post about what’s on my bead table today.

Trying to stockpile pieces for fall, I’m working in series rather than my usual, “make what I feel like making today.”  The current series is (begrudgingly) utilizing my stash of Koy Glass lampwork beads.  Some of the donuts have rather large holes, and usually this doesn’t bother me because I stick a bead cap over it or a bead in the hole and it looks more polished.  But donuts are worn with the hole showing, so I chose to line them with silver or copper tubing, which I get in the plumbing department at Lowes.

This is one of several “bead tables” in my studio, so maybe another Wednesday I will show you the organized chaos of my real bead table.  Here are the copper-lined big-hole-beads I did today.

And with all the tap-tap-tapping I woke up my studio partner, who was napping across the hall.  So I put her to work stringing beads.  Here is her bead table.
What’s on your table?
Posted on

Lampwork station

When we lived in Delaware I had my lampwork torch set up in the basement of an 1860s row home, with the hood venting through a removable pane in the nearby window.  It was dark so I could see the glass color as it melted, and it was cool even in the summertime (which is important when you’re working near a torch).  And then we moved to Virginia.  Now our house is a suburban colonial.  Melting glass in a carpeted bedroom (my studio) is not an option.  The basement is finished except for a below-grade (no window) storage room, so I couldn’t just recreate my former setup. We now have a garage (thankfully) but there is no place to vent a hood except for large openings like doors, and if you are venting bad air out a large opening, the fumes are going to come right back in.  So for 3 1/2 years I pondered but did nothing.  Then a series of events happened to get the ball rolling…

Mom & Olivia watching the glassblower

1.  On New Year’s Eve we went to the local First Night celebration, and included in the entertainment was a demonstration in the studio of a new glassblower.  I was so excited to have a real live glassworker right in town here.  A few days later I talked to him on the phone to inquire about renting studio space since it is close to Olivia’s preschool. 

2.  The next week I met lampworker Hope Gibson when we were in St. Croix.  The most important thing I brought home with me is her motto, “Relatively Close.”  Her beads may not be perfect, but they’re gorgeous and she doesn’t sweat the small stuff.  I have pockets of perfectionism here and there, to the point of not being able to try certain things if I don’t think I can do them perfectly.  Lampwork falls into that category, and I need to constantly remind myself that I am not going for awards; I just maybe need some blue beads.  (Hope’s other motto is “Be bold, eat chocolate, wear art” and I have taken that to heart as well.)

Helping Mommy buy downspouts

The local glassblower never called me back about studio space, and that turned out to be exactly what I needed.  I still had all my equipment (torch, hoses, kiln, oxycon) from our old house, so I finally decided to have a contractor install a window in the garage with sashes the size of a box fan.  Then I got a great idea for glass rod storage from Kerry Bogert using vinyl downspouts.

And right after that I found out I was pregnant and spent the next few months (first trimester) exhausted and napping whenever I could.  I had lost my steam, and all I had really needed was some new bead release. (Bead release is the stuff that keeps the glass from permanently adhering to the metal rod around which you are winding the glass.)  But…

3.  Two weeks ago I drove through the Finger Lakes region on my way to my in-laws’ house.  I stopped in at Artizanns in Naples, NY and found this awesome bracelet with wonky, earth-toned beads.   Wonky=irregularly shaped, and in this case it was fabulous!  Very organic, where lampwork is often bright, cheerful, and perfect.  It made me want to make beads — earthy, sloppy ones.  So I ordered some new glass colors (first time trying Creation is Messy) and fresh bead release.  I still need to test out the hose connections and pressure, then do an incense test on the ventilation. 

So… I’m closer to making some lampwork than I was six months ago, but I’m still not there yet.  Not to mention that school is out so Olivia is home every morning and I am trying to work ahead making jewelry to sell in the fall when our baby is due.  Glass rods don’t go bad, just the bead release.  So if I don’t get to do everything on my studio to-do list this year, so be it.  I’m in the season of Having Small Children and that’s what’s important right now.  I’m down with OPB (other people’s beads).

Posted on

Thinking spring & The Bloom

It’s that time of year…  The holidays are over, there are pockets of warm days surrounded by blustery cold, and I’m yearning for spring.  This is the time of year I start on my spring line, and especially now that I have a little one it’s important to start early or it becomes summer before I know it. 
I’m experimenting with “new” media like doming resin and polymer clay.  Oh, I’m no stranger to polyclay, but it’s come a long way since I was working with it as a teenager.  While cleaning out the storage room in my parents’ basement I came across my old box of Sculpey.  So I experimented with some simple textured pendants and bird eggs and it’s still good after 20+ years.  And mixing 2-part epoxy reminds me of helping my dad with his model train layout when I was a kid.  We didn’t get the mixing quite right, so part of the river was sticky after curing.  This time around I’m aware of tricks like using a flame to encourage air bubbles to pop, and testing the leftover epoxy in the cup (instead of getting fingerprints on my pendants) to see if it’s cured. 

Here are some of the components I have gathered to make into necklaces, bracelets, and earrings for spring.

Along with spring in the Shenandoah Valley comes the Bloom.  Everyone wears pink and green to celebrate the apple blossoms, so here is the start of my collection for Simply Charming Boutique.  Fortunately in recent years the rest of the country has had a love affair with that color combination, so there is some wonderful lampwork to be had. 

If you see something you like in either photo, just email me for pricing and availability.

Posted on

Christmas Rest

It worked!  Making an order deadline (and subsequently enforcing it) has created a distinct lack of stress this year, for the first time since I started my business in 2004.  I finally get to enjoy December, hang out with my family and friends at will, and not get burnt out doing custom orders at the last minute.  We figured we won’t bother getting a Christmas tree until Olivia “gets” it (and wouldn’t want to eat it), though.

I’ve been sitting on a set of Twelve Days of Christmas sterling silver charms for a few years now, every year forgetting about them until January.  I hung them from a simple chain bracelet and they, along with the following set of jewelry, are at Simply Charming Boutique in downtown Winchester, VA.  If you don’t live locally and you must have something, just drop me an email and I can see what’s left.  Not pictured is another pair of earrings with the green Swarovski crystals from the necklace.  (Peridot Satin for those Swarovski fans out there.) 

The thing I love about these Christmas lampwork beads is the gold swirls and holly that resemble Lenox china with a subtle nod to the holiday.  I’m not into cutesy reindeer or snowmen lampwork beads.  The necklace is actually a bracelet with an extender that hooks into the other end. You can wear it as either, depending on your outfit or taste.

Have a Merry Christmas!