Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lampwork and Swarovski Cosmic Ring Earrings

Bermuda Blue Swarovski Cosmic Rings, handmade lampwork beads, and 4mm Swarovski bicones in erinite. Blues and greens are so easy and fun to mix!

And speaking of earrings, don't miss out on your chance to win this pair of Vintaj Natural Brass earrings! It's easy to enter - just click here for details!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Stop looking at that azalea!

When I arrived home from Florida last week, my azaleas and dogwoods were in full bloom. Just gorgeous! I love this time of year. Except for that damn golf tournament - but otherwise, Springtime in the South is so pretty!.

Bailey saw the camera and threw himself down in front of the azalea, begging for a tummy rub. He knows how to work it for the camera!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

It's that time of year again

You know The Masters is right around the corner when you start seeing signs like this popping up, advertising anything and everything remotely golf-related:
As I sat at this traffic light, waiting for it to change, my mind took in this sign and though it must be a "typo."

How can you autograph tea? Surely they must have meant tee, autographed tees.

But then I thought, how would Arnold Palmer autograph a tee? That would be sort of like dancing on the head of a pin. So it must be tea.

By now the light had changed, so I snapped the pic and drove on, pondering the frenzy that this area is whipped into for 1 week every year.

And the golf course is less than 2 miles from my shop - on the same street we're on, so we'll be seeing big-time traffic jams next week! Yay.

Click here for the opportunity to win a pair of Vintaj Bronze Earrings! The more ways you enter, the more chances to win!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wednesday Worktable

It's Cellini Spiral, still.

When last we visited my Cellini spiral, I had just started connecting the 2 Cellini spiral tubes across the center of the necklace, where I was hanging a gorgeous lampwork focal bead that, IMO, goes perfectly with the spiral:

I have continued to work on this piece on-and-off, between the Florida Road Trip for the Torch Fired Enamel Workshop; doing repairs at the shop; and normal shop duties like taxes, housekeeping, blogging, etc.
Sometime last week I finally finished the center connection to my satisfaction, and I am saving it to show you when I finish the entire necklace.

Once I finished the center, I had a new dilemma - how to create a flexible finish for this necklace? The Cellini tubes are quite stiff, and I experimented with chain, bead stringing, and sari ribbon, but nothing was really right. I decided to try a different beadweaving stitch, and then needed to figure out which one was most compatible, and how to integrate whichever stitch I chose into the Cellini tubes, with their gaping holes!

I ultimately settled on a basic spiral rope, with size 11 seed beads as the core, so that the spiral is "skinny." I wanted it to fit inside the Celllini spiral at the end, and I attached my new skinny spiral to a few beads, sank it inside the Cellini spiral, and then decreased the Cellini spiral until it closed over the new spiral, locking it in place. I chose galvanized silver 11 Delicas for the decrease, because they were the predominant bead in the Cellini spiral, and it seemed like the thing to do. At the time.

Unfortunately, I didn't have any bead caps that were the right size and shape to go over the Cellini spiral, to make the change between stitches attractive and functional. I knew that this transition between the Cellini spiral and the basic spiral was not going to be pretty, but the bright shiny silver Delicas really call attention to it. But I don't believe that any bead I had decreased with would have made a seamless transition. 

So my next mission was to figure out a way to cover up the decrease. Since beadcaps had been ruled out, I thought back to the little freeform peyote ruffled skirts that I had created at the other end of the Cellini spirals (see first picture, above) and decided to replicate them at the decrease end, as a way to cover the decrease.

I worked on these skirts all day yesterday, and by the time I had finished stitching, my planned ruffled skirts had turned into big old Elizabethan collars, but I'm OK with them. (Perhaps because I'm itching to move on to a new project?!?)

Here are several pictures of them, from different angles - it was hard to capture the essence of what I am doing here.

That small tube extending to the left is the start of the "skinny" spiral.

So, I am teaching a beadweaving class right now - taking a break here and there to type this entry - and once the class is over, I will start stitching the spiral ropes. Hope (*crossed fingers*) to finish them today, since they go pretty quickly. Then I want to stitch a toggle and bar, connect them, and be done - and when I finally finish, I will reveal the finished necklace here!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bird's Nest Pendant

I created this cute copper bird's nest, and filled it with blue and green "eggs" and embellishments for springtime!

I hand forged sheet copper to create the base of the nest, and used my brand new wire twister (actually a very old cast-off tool from my Dad, but this was the first time I've used it, so it's new to me!) to twist a long length of copper wire for wrapping the nest's edge. A speckled and striped 14mm blue and green ceramic bead is wired into the nest, along with lots of sparkly olive green Czech fire polished beads.  This cute pendant is only 1 and 3/16 inches in diameter! Wouldn't it look great on a piece of leather or ribbon?

And it's available in my Etsy shop!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Blog Giveaway

I am so grateful for my many blog readers, followers, and those who take time to leave me comments! I want to thank everyone by hosting a blog giveaway.

I will be giving away this pair of earrings the week of April 15 - exact date will be pinned down a little closer to that time - so stay tuned.

Vintaj Natural Brass and Vintage Swarovski Crystals

How do I enter, you may be wondering...

So many ways - the more ways you enter, the more chances you have to win! (Winner chosen by the trusty random number generator!) And note - leave separate blog comments for each step you complete!

1) Become a follower of my blog (if you aren't already), and leave a comment below telling me you are a follower.
2) Visit my Etsy shop, then return here and leave a comment below telling me what your favorite item in my shop is, and why.
3) Blog about this giveaway, include a link to this blog post AND to my Etsy shop, and then drop a comment here with a link to your blog post.
4) Post a link to this blog giveaway post on Facebook, and return here, leaving a comment with a link to your Facebook page.
5) Tweet this giveaway with a link to this post, plus #Sweet_Freedom, then leave a comment here telling me you've tweeted.

PS - I'll be naming the winner here in a blog post the week of April 15, so keep watching. However - I will contact the winner directly if you make sure I know how to reach you (through your blog, maybe, or through an Etsy account) in one of your blog comments here. If I don't know how to reach you, I'll post the winner's name during the week of April 15, and then allow 7 days for the winner to contact me before doing a second drawing for the earrings.

Good luck, and happy posting and commenting!

[NOTE: This giveaway is now closed, and the winner will be announced 4/16/12. Thanks for entering!]

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Last Florida Road Trip Post

Our Florida Road Trip only lasted 48 hours, 20 of which were driving (ugh). The trip South was made in the dark, so we didn't get to see a whole lot of sights, but we saw a few interesting shapes in the dark that we wanted to check out in the daylight, so we kept our eyes peeled on the way northward to home.

We had seen what looked like several pieces of oversized furniture on the way down, and sure enough, in the daylight, this was revealed:

 We actually pulled into the parking lot to try to photograph this huge rocking chair, but the chair was so large that we discovered we were too close to it to get a good shot, so we crossed the street again and snapped away.

Turns out once we crossed the street, we were in the parking lot for the actual Waldo Flea Market, where we saw a nice collection of rusty (rust = antique!) tractors:
We enjoyed our quick pass through Waldo (insert "Where's Waldo joke" here - we certainly did!)
I am so sad our road trip and workshop are over!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Beautiful Artwork at the JuxtaCenter

The Juxtacenter in St. Petersburg is home to the salon where we attended the Torch Fired Enamel Workshop last Sunday.

We were surrounded by so much beautiful artwork, in so many different media.

Paintings, of which "Bagel Knees" is one of many:

Woven baskets:

And sculpture:

Sorry this shot of a striking metal piece is blurry - I just couldn't get my arms to hold still:

And this is a sculpture that was directly across the room from my workstation during the workshop. I thought I had been looking at a big piece of coral, since I have coral, shells, and rocks on display at my house, so it seemed perfectly normal to me. But remember, I am legally blind, so I was caught of guard after class when I went for a closer look, and saw this:
And isn't that a cool table?

And speaking of Torch-Fired Enamel, I have been busy this week searching for and obtaining all the items I need to create my own colorful enamelled beads. I acquired my MAPP cylinder and C-clamp yesterday, as well as a few metal beads to sample in the flame. They may work, they may melt. Their composition is described as "metal" on their tags, so only the flame will tell!

I'm waiting for the metal tins I ordered for the enamel to arrive - they were an online order. And I want MORE BEADS!! I need a reliable source for iron or copper beads, at a reasonable price - anybody have any tips?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Two All-Beef Patties

After our Torch Fired Enamel Workshop on Sunday, we were hankering for a fancy meal, and went to a nearby Thai Restaurant.

We were seated across from a beautiful painted mural, and these pictures just don't do it justice, because the sun was shining through the front windows of the restaurant, putting a horrid glare on the painting.

The colors in this painting are lush and tropical, but what you can't really appreciate in this shot are the bedazzled jewels that the ladies are wearing, giving the whole mural a 3-D nature.

You know how I love some sparkly jewelry!

We ordered way too much food, and while perusing the sushi menu, old Eagle Eye (that's me!) spotted these items:

While we were all very curious as to the nature of the sexy man and sexy lady sauces, none of us ordered any. And then we discovered the secret that science has been searching for for years: There is NO difference between sexy man and sexy lady sauce! Who knew?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Flamingo Phone

The area of St. Petersburg where we attended our Torch Fired Enamel Class on Sunday is simply beautiful - very artsy, with lots of colorful paintings (no grafitti!) on outside walls of virtually every building, and gorgeous, lush, Florida tropical plant life.

We (and the GPS) had a little trouble locating the salon where class was held, so we drove around for 10 or 15 minutes before we stumbled upon it. We were thirsty, and this being Florida, it was hot, and we had 45 minutes to kill, so we began the hunt for Diet Coke. Sonya's phone told her there was a cafe within walking distance, so we headed off on foot. Her phone's GPS was as confused as my car's, but we saw lots of cool stuff as we walked (in circles).

We finally asked a couple of gentlemen if there was anywhere close to get a drink, and they apparently thought we were looking to party, but after we clarified that we were looking for sodas, they pointed us toward a bodega further down the block.

This is the outside of the little shop, where a pay phone has been removed, and replaced with these Flamingos congregating around a palm tree.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Official Fuel of Nascar

We interrupt your regularly scheduled "Wednesday Worktable" to bring you the continuing adventures of our Florida Roadtrip!

While driving through Ocala, I glanced to the left and saw cars, full-sized (race) cars, on top of a roof. Naturally, I point and make everyone look WHILE grabbing my camera and snapping a shot.

Drive-by photo:

As we continued the drive, we noticed that all the Sunoco stations in Florida are emblazoned in Nascar colors, and proudly claim to be the "Official Fuel of Nascar," but this Ocala station was the only one we saw with actual cars on the roof. It was definitely a road-trip highlight!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Baptism by Fire

As you know, we headed south to St. Petersburg, Florida, this weekend for the Painting With Fire Workshop. Nothing like spending 20 hours in the car in order to go to a 4-hour class! We jewelry artisans are a dedicated (and crazy) bunch...

We finally found the salon where the workshop was being held, in a beautiful, artsy section of St. Petersburg. This is the back of the studio where we played Sunday afternoon: those 2 garage doors open to provide wonderful ventilation courtesy of the sea breeze. Perfect!

This is the table, set up with workstations for all the students:

That's my workstation at the bottom left, with my apron on back of the chair, and my visor on the table. I needed my visor (in addition to my glasses) in order to see well enough to get the beads on the mandrel. Because I am seriously vision-impaired.

Oh, yeah - and note that Barbara put the first aid kit right next to me - almost as if she knew me!

Closeup of my workstation:

Here is our lovely and gracious host, Barbara Lewis, at the end of the table, doing a bead demo:

Some of the enamel colors we were able to play with:

Some of my classmates, hard at work fun:

 There was a lot of wonderful artwork displayed in the salon, sculptures, glass, paintings, baskets, and more - but I want you to enjoy the painting which is hanging at the far end of the worktable. I fell in love with this lady walking her poodles, and I even named her "Bagel Knees," because her knees look like the bagels we had at our hotel's continental breakfast that morning!

Here is a shot of my bead pan, filled with vermiculite and my cooling beads, as well as some of the enamel colors I was sharing with Kris:

Here is my bead haul from the workshop - some great beads, and some not-so-great ones. But I learned a lot, had a lot of fun, and came home with almost everything I need to sit down and start making these colorful enamelled pieces on my own!

And alas, I did NOT have an injury-free weekend.

About halfway through the class, I learned that fire makes metal beads HOT.

Nice singe marks on top of that blister, huh? This was taken almost immediately after I accidentally touched the bead.

Here is the finger this morning:

It's a nice, deep second degree burn, with a huge area of 1st degree burn around it. And the worst part? It's my iPad-tappin' finger. Really put a crimp in my game play for a few days....

And after the class, we got to see Barbara's brand new Florida studio - almost ready to open! It is in a beautiful area, and is just going to be gorgeous!

Monday, March 19, 2012

There's a right way, and a wrong way...

To make bead soup.

I used to keep my leftover beads in small plastic tubs, obsessively sorted by color. Since I am more of a bead weaver than a bead stringer, most of my leftover beads are seed beads.

I liked these tubs because they were a nice size, no taking up too much space on my workbench, and they stacked, each one nesting in the one below it. They were very stable when stacked, which was a good thing, since they didn't have lids. And lids would have made the whole system less attractive and functional for me, anyway, since I would have had to open the lids everytime I need to access one of the soups, and the stack of tubs would have been over 15 inches tall! Ridiculous!

But then came the day when we needed to move the stacked tubs of seed beads to the back room, for some reason. Who can remember these details now? All I know is that my assistant was carrying them, and the next thing I heard was a really loud "Shit!!!!" from the back room, and I walked back there to find this:

That black shoe belongs to the bead-dropper.

We spent the rest of the day resorting all the beads, because I have a touch of OCD, and I just couldn't have the colors mingling .... ewwww.  And then we weighed out the colors and packaged them in sealed ziploc bags and sold them as bead soup!

And I do not let the leftover beads build up like this anymore.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Road Trip!

After the store closed yesterday, 3/4 of our fun metalworking play group hopped in the car and motored south to St. Petersburg, Florida. 3 sassy women, 2 dogs, and a long, long drive - but look where we are:

Barbara Lewis' Painting With Fire Workshop!

We have been so excited about this, looking forward to it for weeks. And now it is here, and it will be over too fast....  :(

The last time Bailey and I stayed in a hotel, he gave me a black eye and a concussion. Crossing my fingers for an injury-free trip this time!

Look for many fun details and pictures from the workshop once I get back home!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Store Mascots

These are my beady buddies! They come to work with me everyday, which is the most wonderful thing ever.

This is Bailey, who is also my customer service manager. Bailey is very popular in our shopping complex, and lots of folks actually come to the shop just to play with him. One of our customers gave him this squeaky purple sheep for Christmas. He loves it!

Bailey takes great pride in personally and enthusiastically greeting every customer in the shop, giving out kisses, and also checking their pockets and purses for snacks. I think he is much better than a WalMart greeter!

This is Gumball, who mostly hangs out in his bed, which is strategically placed so that he can see me, no matter where I am in the shop (except the bathroom!) Gumball is a rescue, and has Mommy issues and abandonment issues, and gets very upset if he can't see the Mommy.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Cellini project update

Sorry, this is a horrible picture because of the lighting at my workbench, but this is the progress I made yesterday connecting the 2 Cellini spiral tubes. The lampwork focal will hang from the Bali silver elbow tube, but I disconnected it so I could manipulate the beadwork more easily (and it still isn't really easy to manipulate - I have about 20 different pieces of FireLine worked in there, and they are all serving a purpose, so I keep getting tangled!

I hope I can work on this some today, before I lose momentum, but I have a lot of do-over jewelry to tackle today!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Is this the new thing?

PIF Treasuries on Etsy - have you seen them? Have you been in one?

I was featured in not one, but two of these PIF ("pay it forward") treasuries over the weekend.

While it is certainly an honor to be featured in a treasury, these PIF treasuries, which I had never heard of until last weekend, smack of extortion. And I don't think the curators grasp the concept of Pay It Forward.

For the entire purpose of these PIF treasuries is for the featured artists to turn around and create a treasury paying homage to the curator of the PIF treasury. Which seems like "Pay It Backward", to me.

I'm guessing there is a PIF treasury team over on Etsy, encouraging folks to do this in the name of self-promotion. Which is totally not in keeping with the original idea for treasuries, but whatever. Very little about Etsy is in keeping with the original concept of Etsy nowadays!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wednesday Worktable

Still working on the Cellini spiral project. Working the large tubular spiral components into a design is challenging, so I'll be doing a lot of playing, and undoing, most likely!

Yesterday afternoon I decided to put some freeform peyote ruffled "skirts" on the ends of the Cellini spiral tubes. I threw in some off-white freshwater pearls at the edges of the ruffles.

These skirts are supposed to hide the freeform peyote connectors I design to connect the 2 tubes to a focal bead.

I got a little bit of stitching done on the peyote connections last night, and will work on them more today.

Isn't that focal bead amazing?!

These are the beads I am planning to use in my freeform peyote.

Off to start playing!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Beady Dilemma

I recently rediscovered Cellini spiral, a stitch I hadn't done in about 5 years. I started this particular Cellini over a month ago, and (of course) worked on it a little, then put it aside as other projects beckoned.

The last time I worked with Cellini spiral, I used S-lon thread (size D) and smaller beads, and I was a brand new beader (the Cellini spiral was the first time I ever touched beads - even before I learned stringing!).

I returned to my new Cellini spiral last week. I used Fireline this time, and also threw some 4mm Czech firepolish beads into the mix, and my stitching tension tends to be very, very tight, and this combination of variables meshed to make this particular Cellini spiral almost completely inflexible. At first, I thought if I just made it a little longer, it would start to flex. And once it got to be 3 inches longer, it did actually bend a little, with extreme pressure applied to both ends. It will certainly never be a bracelet! And by the way, this idea that continuing to make something longer will eventually make it all better, never works. NEVER! And yet, I'm sure I'll try it again, and again....

So then I had a 3 inch long beautiful tube, but what to do with it?

I decided to use it as a component of a strung necklace, so I stitched up a matching 3-inch long Cellini tube to go on the other side of this theoretical necklace, but now I have to figure out what to do with the ends of the tube, which are (as I see them) huge gaping holes:

None of the many beads or bead caps I have at my disposal will completely cover the ends of this tube.

I absolutely love the colors and patterns I created here, and have several ideas of ways to cap it. I could stitch bead caps, or I could fabricate some bead caps from bronze or copper. But I have the germ of another idea planted in my creative subconscious, and I'm going to try to flesh that out, first.

This project will probably end up on the workbench for tomorrow, because today is set aside for doing the monthly sales tax report and catching up on all the do-over jewelry (repairs) I have let accumulate in my work basket since last Friday. I think folks are spring-cleaning, and bringing in all their broken jewelry for a little sprucing up!