Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pinch Me

A foursome of vintage Venetian beads from my collection.

Cool eh?
The core looks like medium Topaz  with an simple encasing of clear.
These are small beads, each one is only about 1/2" long. They would be great for earrings.

I would start with a tiny core bead of any color and encase that with clear or a pale transparent. Then wind on a thread of clear to form the ridges around the middle of the bead. The ridges were added as one long spiral of glass, not as individual bands.

Finally, spot heat and pinch with a fine point pair of tweezers to make the little gathered spot in the middle. Each bead was pinched on the front and the back. In the photograph below you can get a great look at the spot where the ridges were pinched together.

I cannot believe how scummy the clear is on these, can you?
Apparently nasty clear is not a new problem for the Italian glass makers.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Opium Den

A rather macabre pair of earrings.

Hand hammered brass earwires and spiral links, cinnabar rounds, black bone skulls and bone datura blossoms. Three and one quarter inches long.

It was kind of weird making earrings without any of my beads in them, but I kind of love them.

Friday, February 25, 2011

More Milk Please

My what a lot of 'milk glass' beads and jewelry I've made.

Book 2, pages 12 and 13 (above and below).
So many little snippets of paper - I think the white and clear 'twisties' above are actually waxy birthday cake candles. And the skull earrings - Mable & Sable. I still have them and wear them regularly.

And there are more milk glass pages in a later sketchbook, there's plenty of milk still to be spilt.

Book 3, pages 16 and 17 (above and below).

Click here to see the white peony petal bracelet.

I am sure that I have made dozens of milk glass 'dove' beads.

Mable and Sable today.

Milk glass 'hobnail' beads, bone skulls, vintage carved ivory rose beads, freshwater pearls, seed beads and gunmetal wire.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Oranges and the Blues

Monochromatic beads - these are in an Effetre transparent color called 'Intense Blue' which a real Noxema blue. It's gorgeous to work with because it never boils or scums and flows beautifully.

Miss Kiki in the crazy orange chair. Little pumpkin pie.

Book 3, pages 80 & 81.

O mandarin oranges.

I have not had you in years and years.This can started singing to me yesterday in the store.

99 cents of pure delight?

Will you be as good as my childhood brain says you will be?

Winter is so grim, everyone has the blues. I think a little overly decorative, crazy sweet, vividly colored food is in order.

My grandmother mixed the leftover syrup into ginger ale to make cocktails. I may add some vodka.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Early Birds

Two sketchbook pages that are from the first bird beads that I made. These days my birds are a lot more sculptural but these little round ones are so simple to make and very sweet.  I can't even tell you how many pairs of these became earrings.

Pages 27 & 29 from book 3.

Caw Caw Caw

A new crow oil painting. It's an homage to Audubon's "Raven" from his "Birds of North America."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fuschia & Forsythia

Book 3 page 3: Fuschia pendants.

Sketches for floral beads made on the end of mandrel. The lower drawing was just added this morning. Has anyone tried sticking a short glass headpin into a molten bead? It would look so cool. I wonder, would you stick the wire in and then make the ball on the end? Or, could you make the ball and then insert the head pin?

Trial and error baby, trial and error.

Book 3 page 8: Forsythia

This became a big yellow necklace that I donated to a charity auction.
You can see the beads here and the necklace here.

Book #3 page 75

This is a very typical page from one of my bead sketchbooks. It's just a couple of pictures clipped from a decorating magazine that gave me an idea for beads. I pasted them down and drew a few notes in the leftover space.

For a closer look click on the picture and a larger version will open.

You can do this!
All you need is an archival glue stick, a blank sketchbook and a ball point pen.

I suggest a small, spiral bound sketchbook. A spiral binding will lay flat when it's open to any page. For safety's sake, please, don't put the book on the bench when torching. Mine rests on a barstool next to where I sit. That way I am pretty sure it will never burst into flames. I tend to be a bit poppishly impatient with my cold rods.

A gratuitous photo of Napoleon P. Oodle.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

'Bug' Beads

How do you keep an old bead blog gassed up and ready when you're not making any beads?
The same way I keep myself going when I cannot torch. I go to the sketchbooks.

I have been very busy with my bead books. Farting around with them, working out new ideas, pasting little bits of colored paper onto the pages. Thinking about using old ideas in new fangled ways.

It's all part of getting ready for the happy day when all my new equipment is here and the space I have rented is ready. Keeping my fingers tightly crossed, I now have a tentative date of March 5th to get my keys.

The two pictures above are pages 84 and 85 of book #3. "Bug Beads"

They're not really glass insects, but they do have mashed wings on their sides which makes them sort of buggy looking. I make them with a simple pair of tweezer mashers. A great, must-have, cheap tool to keep on your bench.

This is a favorite pair of earrings made with this style of bead. I wear them all the time, especially on a stupidly cold days like today when I am whining and dreaming of spring. Their colors were inspired by lilac bushes.

There they are in my bowl of everyday earrings. The six, or so, pairs that I wear most of the time. It's a lovely, old, small Murano glass candy dish with gold foil inclusions. Glass, glass, glass - it's everywhere.

So what do you think?
Can I keep you entertained until the 5th of March with pages of bead porn from my sketchbooks?

Hope Springs Eternal

The thaw is on! Warm, gusty winds. Tender green. The first daffodil shoots. Spring, is that you?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Winter Roses

One of the things I have been messing around with while I have been without a torch is fulled wool.

I have made a bunch of these woolen corsages. Each one made with circles of shrunken sweaters, bits of organza and some vintage buttons. Sewing is not my forte, but they were fun to do and made great gifts.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Sweet Tweets

I found a little bowl of beads last night that had gotten lost in the holiday shuffle. In there were three little birds. They reminded me just how much I love to play with fire.

I haven't melted any glass in about six weeks, big sigh.

But now I am taking a deep breath and setting up my own lampworking studio. I've saved up some money for the equipment and am visiting studio spaces today. I am so excited I could pee myself.

Anyone out there in the lampworking world who would like to make suggestions, or give warnings, about equipment please leave comments.

Please tell me what you are using. Share your torch stories. Do you love it?

I am thinking of getting a Nortel Mega Minor for my torch, and a Paragon Bluebird XL for the kiln. I plan on using a concentrator as my oxygen source.

I can hardly believe it's real.

p.s. the birds are in my "Belvedere" Etsy shop.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Let Them Eat Glass Cake

This is an antique Murano lampwork bead called a wedding cake bead.

Usually the sparkly bits are done with adventurine (copper flakes) but these are very old and have 24k gold foil.

The necklace was found at an estate sale. It's a complete ruin. Alas, some of the coral colored glass beads are chipped and the metal is all corroded and the clasp doesn't open..

I find this kind of antique Venetian bead very inspirational. 

I was going to take the necklace apart and sell the beads on Etsy individually but changed my mind and put it up as is. Maybe some saint would like to restore it, or maybe somebody else would like to tear it apart for components. If you're interested it's up in my Curious Old Things etsy shop right now. (sold)

Merriment & Mischief

I decided this morning to post a few pictures from my opening.
It's sort of self indulgent but who doesn't love a good party?

The one above is my favorite.

Some of my paintings and some of the empty spaces on the wall where pieces had already sold.

 The Professor of Rap does not fist bump, but rather greets you with the finger of God.

Kerry, if you read this, watch out for this guy below. He lives in the building where you have your studio.
Don't worry, he's more or less harmless.

Miss Eliza sporting one of my hand knit hats. Devil baby.

There was crazy live music all night - here's my husband playing harmonica while the Brunett Family Band sings Johnny Cash's "Jackson."

I need to say "thank you so much" to each and every one of the over 200 people who showed up and made it a fabulous party.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Winter Drags

This winter on and on it drags, like a bad movie.
My opening was a huge success. I am over the moon.
The dream was to sell enough to finance my own glass working set up. And it happened. Pinch me.

The last rose of summer is looking pretty sad.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Barn Board Bizarro

I found the most perfect frame for my self-portrait at an estate sale...

I think it's perfect.