Friday, April 30, 2010

A Big Bouquet

I got up with the birds and wired up a pile of little glass flower earrings this morning.
The centers are freshwater pearls in all sorts of springy unnatural shades with little bits of peridot, jade and laboradite beads anchoring the ends.
This pair is my favorite - the butter yellow pearls look so sweet with the transparent, iridescent green petals. They were made with Double Helix's silver laden reduction glass called Gaia.
The top of the bead has a little ruffle of twisted glass. You make this by adding a raised ring of glass around the bead and then spot heating and twisting with non-serrated tweezers. Dipping the tweezers in water to cool them helps, otherwise they get too hot and start to stick to the glass. Don't forget to keep flashing the entire bead while forming your ruffle, there's nothing more annoying than hearing a pop when you introduce it back into the flame because you forgot to flash.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Strawberries & Carrots (oh crap)

I know, I am not usually one for cute beads. Cute is just not my thing but my Mom requested a pair of strawberry earrings for Mother's Day. My mom can have anything she wants, no matter how cute.

I made three pairs, these little sweeties are the extras. Yes, carrots are not strawberries. You make carrots by inadvertently picking up the striking orange glass rod instead of the striking red. Very silly.

The whole process started with a few colored pencil sketches in my bead book.
I am a 'sketchbook thumper' - preaching that sketchbooks are crucial and an all around good idea. If you don't have one by all means start keeping one. I work out ideas, write down formulas so I can recreate beads again if I need to, and generally organize my scatted thoughts before torching so that I am more productive when I finally get to flame.

Look at that, there are three different ways of attaching the little off mandrel leaves, to the top of the berry, in my sketches. What a lot of time that saved working it out in the book rather than at the torch.
This is a page 50 from my 4th book. I use a small square, spiral bound sketchbooks that are available at most art supply stores. It has archival quality paper and the spiral binding allows you to fold the book in half and have less flammable surface area if you need to have the book nearby when your at the torch.

The earrings are up in my Etsy Belvedere shop.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dark Roots

Thorny, glass roots.
 Made with dark silver plum glass. They're about 2" long and were made off mandrel..
I think I will make myself a very, very fragile pair of earrings out of them.
Here they are with a little off mandrel pod. The tip is too long to be practical as a pendant, so I'll just wear it until I break it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Making Buttons

New obsession - fabricating pin back buttons with the badge making machine.

It's so cool. You assemble all the pieces and then mash them together with the little machine.

I went into Photoshop and reworked pictures of my old bird paintings into a tiny, round formats. Then cut, stack, whack, turn and re-whack. Viola! bird buttons.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bug Off

What is that?
It's a bug body.
It needed to be photographed before trying to take it off the mandrel. With all the attached bits and frail little legs I am afraid that it will disintegrate when I start pawing at it.
I am loving learning to make more sculptural beads with the torch. There is no plan, I am just making it up as I go along. Does anyone know of some books that would help me with techniques? I hardly need to re-invent the wheel, as they say. Classes at Corning would be great but my checkbook just won't allow it.

There are also some thorns, pods and other bugs to share with you as the week goes on.
The plan is to make this into a pendant with a head and butt made of gems and pearls.
The little spiky legs are Double Helix Triton. The bulbous body is Opalino Nile green with spots of Cim's Peacock and intense black. The wings are pale transparent pink with wisps of Double Helix Gaia to give them an iridescent sheen.
A field of daffodils in the park behind my house.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Little Golden Bird

It's full on spring here in Upstate New York - the magnolias are blooming themselves silly.
A new bird bead made to look like carnival glass.
The base bead is a swirled, transparent combination of topaz, pale pink and light grass green glass. Over that is a thin layer of silver laden glass that has a very golden, metallic, lustrous finish but is still somehow magically transparent.
I just listed the little bird in my Etsy Belvedere shop. (sold)

Sunday, April 18, 2010


A trio of new bird beads just posted in my Belvedere Etsy shop
A loon, a lazuli bunting and a lowly pigeon (sold).

Leaf Litter

I want to start making more off mandrel, sculptural beads.
These little sheer color leaves are for a sample pair of earrings.
They're just grass green and topaz melted, swirled, mashed and shaped into little leaves with a hole at the top. I wonder if they are strong enough to be bracelet charms?

Metal Head

Record Store day was a blast. Here's my favorite snapshot from the festivities.
Curses, foiled again!

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Fly earrings.
I vividly remember asking my then two year old daughter who was playing on the floor of our living room "What are you eating?"
Her answer was a cheery "Fwies."
The little bead on the butt is a peridot and the head is a garnet.

Hooray Hooray It's Record Store Day!

It's the biggest day of the year for Indie Record Stores.

Which means, in my house, this past week has been devoted to preparing for the merry madness. It's like throwing a wedding, except that there are eight bands and four cakes.

These are the designs for this year's buttons. I am rather proud of them, I think they capture the spirit of the day. We have a button making machine and it is calling to me to get busy and press out the last few buttons. If you live here in Rochester, NY and you would like one - get on over to Record Archive and ask Dick to give you some, his pockets are full of them.

In case the green goat button on the right doesn't make any sense to you - it's a spoof on a Genny Bock Beer can. The local brew of choice in the spring. I think the pizza wing & 45 insert butterfly speaks for itself.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Quilters Gone Wild

I went on a retreat last weekend, emphasis on the 'treat.'
Hosted by my gal pal Margaret Spevak of "Quilting with Margaret." Twenty-four ladies trekked to Bristol Harbor in the finger lakes for three days of non-stop sewing and other fun. This panoramic view of the lake was what we looked at all day from our sewing tables.

We made quite the productive mess. Amazingly, this snapshot shows less than half of the tables set up in the hotel's ballroom.

Here's my old Singer. Mom gave it to me several years ago, she bought it in high school. It still works perfectly.

I whipped up a quilted shoulder tote, with little yellow birds (a Bright Eyes reference) for my daughter Margaret.

I don't do much quilting. I think it's kinda weird. You take big pieces of fabric, chop them into little bits of fabric and then painstakingly sew the whole mess back into big pieces of fabric. Snort.
I also patched together a big, double sided, seat cover from vintage upholstery fabrics to recover the ratty pillow that the dogs nap on. And even made a fabric flower out of some of my scraps.

This is my second year at this springtime event - already I cannot wait for next year.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Vintage Venetians

These are antique Italian wedding cake beads.
Usually, the roses, stringer and gold leaf decoration that typify this style of Venetian glass bead is done on a base bead of white, ivory or pale blue. I have never seen them in black before.
These are also particularly old, probably a souvenir from someone's grand tour. I am guessing, because they are black maybe they're Victorian. Perhaps they're an Italian glass bead riff on mourning jewelry?
There are eleven of them shown here. Before I took the photos I pulled three off the strand - two for a pair of earrings and one for reference.
I have listed them in my Curious Old Things Etsy shop.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Beads Drying

Back from my weekend get-a-way with the Quilters Gone Wild and am recovering nicely. Pictures soon, of what I made, not what we did.

In the meantime, all I had energy for yesterday was to ream out a big bowl of beads.
Note the pair of flies in the upper left hand corner. I am planning on making myself a pair of earrings with them.

Gratuitous cute dog photo.
My friend Margaret's weimaraner was under the table, all afternoon, while I cleaned my beads.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Bird Bath

A bowl of bird beads soaking.
My glassy flock from Tuesday evening's session with the torch.
They're all about 1 3/4" from beak to tail feathers.
I made them all with 'shorts' from my leftover bucket. Shorts are the ends of glass rods.
Two inches of this rod and an inch of that - it's fun to make things from your scraps.
And of course, some Double Helix and bits of embedded fine silver foil to lux them up a bit.
They're way too big for earrings,
so I think I will wire them into pendants.