Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Work Space

Torching areaThought there might be some question as to how the beads I talk about and show are made.

This picture shows my torching area. You can see I'm a messy artiste! I sit down to make one thing and the glass has other ideas. The plan goes up in smoke and new glass seems to leap out into my hand and so the clutter begins.

The box on the left side of the desk holds a number of lengths of PVC pipe which hold my glass rods and separate the colors. On top of the box are jars of frit and some Zoozi presses that are used to help shape the lentils, diamonds, pillows, tablets and tile shapes I like to play with.

The kiln is to the far left of the picture and on top of it is a can of mandrels. Those are the stainless steel rods that the glass is wrapped around to make the beads. The mandrels are dipped in a "release" which is sort of a clay mix which keeps the beads from sticking to them. The reason those mandrels are on top of the kiln is that I just dipped them and they need to dry . What better way than to put them on top of the kiln as it heats up?

The desk is littered with rods and tools left from the last couple torching sessions. Pictures for inspiration are on the wall and actually inside the hood over the torch. The hood is fitted with a fan to suck the noxious fumes out out of the room.

The cup in front of the torch holds water in to cool tools and quench beads which have gone wrong! And last but not least, the plant on the windowsill is an aloe.... for burns. Luckily, I haven't had a lot of occasions to use it (knock on wood!)

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Jewelry plus This and That

bloomin bluesI have been working on some jewelry.. I had two big (35mm, point to point) diamond shaped beads. Each one was gorgeous, but I wasn't sure what to do with them. Finally I put something together.. not sure how I like either one, but I'll post them anyway.

On the left is "Bloomin' Blues" . The focal bead is black with a reactive frit swirled on it. The colors don't show up very well here, but they include all the colors of the beads on the strings plus more. It almost has an inner glow about it!

On the right is "My Safari" - you know, the one you imagine, without the bugs and heat, where you could actually wear jewelry!. Another focal using a reactive glass, only as a stringer this time. My SafariLots of scroll work and lots of nifty colors popping, including a lovely pale turquoise, soft orange and lots of variations of tans and browns. I have smaller matching diamond beads that I'll be making into earrings.

These are not my usual style of jewelry, but I made the beads and decided I needed to try something new to do them justice. A stretch is always good... just wish I had some more experience with this type of stringing...

Guineas Do you know what these guys are? They are Guinea fowl - originally from Africa. They are pretty ugly (the proverbial face only a mother...), but they eat tics and we have very little problem with them around here... even in our woods, although our dog, Rudy, managed to pick one up very early in the season before we had started the drops on his fur that seem to keep them away.

In our area, farmers often have Guineas to act as "watchdogs". We only have three since ours tend to be suicidal, but on farms they run in packs of 15-20! They set up such a racket when someone comes in the driveway or farm lane that they certainly alert the people who live at the farm, not to mention various neighbors!

Our son is planning to move out on his own next week. Well, more or less on his own, he'll be moving into a house that we own. It was rented and has just become available. It's only for two months, until he leaves for college in August. I remember when he was little and I couldn't imagine him ever living away from me. It made my heart physically ache to even consider the possibility. People told me that when the time came, I'd be ready and you know, they were right.

He was gone for the fall session last year in Rochester. It was a tech school and various factors, not the least of which was the weather, brought him home to a semester at a nearby state college. I was happy to have him home, but in the time that he has been home, he has lost a lot of the independence he had gained while being away. And, you know, empty nesting it isn't all that bad either...

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Shopping Cart!

No pretty pictures today, but I am excited about adding a shopping cart to my Torchsong website.

My sister has been encouraging me to do this and since I added the soap beads and soap jewelry, I thought it was probably time. I emailed Traci at BETA, and on Thursday, she set it up for me very reasonably - one of the many services available as a BETA member.

She explained how to add new items and, in fact, as I was inserting the code for each item, I noticed a couple other things I wanted to add and was able to easily do them myself.

I thought, "Okay, nothing ventured, nothing gained." Really didn't expect anything much to come of it, but, bam, there was an order within 24 hours! I like this way of doing business. Now, it's even more exciting to open my mail each day.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Bubble, bubble, toil & trouble... and Gaudi

Bubble potI've had the materials and idea for these for so long and I finally put it all together. This pot is outside my soap/jewelry studio. I love that it combines soap and glass once again!

The glass bubbles are much more irridescent than they appear on the picture and as I walk to the shop, they just seem to be floating above the flowers.. exactly what I had in mind.

On WetCanvas, we're doing another charm swap and I've been racking my brain trying to come up with something original for my theme that I would really like. My icon on the board is a picture of one of the medallions (like the one on the right of the collage below) by Gaudi in Parc Guell in Barcelona.

I was talking to my sister about Gaudi the other night and it occurred to me that that would be a great idea for an inspirational piece, so I searched the internet for Gaudi images and put together a collage that I posted as my theme.
Gaudi Collage
When we were in Barcelona, we took a Gaudi tour which was probably the high point of our visit there. Until that time, I had probably heard of him, but had no idea of what he had done. The Parc Guell was fantastic and the Cathedral of the Familia Sagrada (which is still a work in progress) was truly amazing.

I laugh and say that the man could not draw a straight line to save his life! He just seemed to love color and texture - I really wonder what drugs were available to him at the time. His designs are absolutely psychedelic! To see them (and be "in" them) is breathtaking!

On the trip, we were with another family. The husband is involved in a major downtown revitalization project in the Southwest. He was telling us how hard it is to decide on building designs.. that it's difficult to judge what will be truly unique and yet classic in years to come and what is just wacky and a flash in the pan. The fact that the Gaudi structures actually got built is a tribute to not only Gaudi's foresight, but that of the city planners and those who financed his work.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Raku - finally!

Denim Raku BraceletJust a quick post. I finally got some good results from the "Raku" glass.

Really pleased with this bracelet!

The main beads are a steel blue (denim) base with stripes and dots of Raku. I combined the beads I made with some jade and mahogany obsidian.

This would look great with jeans or any navy, jade green or "safari" buff outfit.

Moonchild Oh, okay, I had to add this one too.

I call it "Moonchild" and the beads are a glass called "Galaxy" . It may not show in the picture, but they have a definite translucent quality very much like moonstone.

Spacers are opalino white along with some clear AB crystals. I just happened to find the butterfly bead in my stash and it matched perfectly.

I know just where this one is going, in fact I knew from the minute I took these beads out of the kiln.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Back to Work

Trio of BeadsAfter a couple days of recuperation from the weekend, I got back into gear and made a number of new "Soap beads". The top bead (#1) was the most requested one at Ft. Wayne. Tina was wearing a necklace just like it and everyone wanted "hers"

#2 is another engraved bead, only using a green enamel instead of the soft blue-green and #3 is a purple enamel stamped with a special SOAP stamp made by my DH, Bob.

I'll be putting these up on my website and attempting to add a shopping cart soon.

Forever in Blue Jeans
Last night, since it seems Wednesday has become "inspiration night", Tina was over and we made another "Salt Spa Soap". We're calling this one "Forever in Blue Jeans".

We used some of the blue Australian clay we got at the conference in Ft. Wayne from Kangaroo Blue along with a bit of Blue Oxide. It's scented with a fresh, woodsy fragrance with just a hint of smoky vetiver. Yummalicious!

The basic recipe for this soap is on our book "Herbal Soaps from Scratch" which is available on Tina's website.

Today, I'll be heating up the kiln and lighting the torch to make some fun beads. Time to stretch.

And I'm looking into some sterling soapmaker's charms to add to my line and offer to some of the vendors who have inquired about my soap jewelry.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Ft. Wayne

What a great weekend! The First Annual Soap and Candlemaking Bee in Ft. Wayne, IN was a rousing success!

My sister, Tina, and I drove the 9 hour trip in about 11 hours (there are a lot of nice rest stops between Lancaster and Ft. Wayne!) The drive out was fun and relatively easy since it was almost all interstate highways. We didn't get lost even once... door to door.

The hotel and conference center was a perfect venue and everything was organized to a "T", even with a few last minute glitches that seemed to come the way of Traci, our "Hostess with the Mostest". I won't even get into the food... we seemed to eat non-stop from the time we left until we got home, but the chocolate buffet Saturday afternoon was the highlight of the trip.

It was a blast meeting, in person, many of the people we have only met through forums and email over the years - putting faces to their forum personae, so to speak!

We picked up a lot of new and interesting ideas and products to try from the wonderful selection of vendors. And the goodie bag(s) was a definite winner.

The presentations were fun and informative, and our talk on adding herbs to soaps went very well, especially considering we haven't spoken together to a group in over five years!

Herbal Soaps from ScratchAs vendors, it was a great show. I sold a number of my soap bead necklaces (as well as a few bees) and will be hard at work making a bunch of new ones. I'll be adding them to my website soon, on their own page. Tina gathered quite a few new fans for her magazine, The Essential Herbal as well as selling a number of her booklets and kits. Our book, Herbal Soaps from Scratch was also a hit. The books are available on the Essential Herbal Site.

The trip home was still fun, but much more tiring than the trip out. Coming in from the nice, flat, smooth, straight highways of the midwest to the mountainous, twisting highways of western PA is a challenge.

Our worst problem was deciding to get new windshield wipers somewhere in Indiana. We had experienced a number of showers and downpours on the way out and thought it would be nice to have a clear view on the way home, just in case. The problem came when we had to install the new wiper blades. We couldn't figure it out and neither could the people working at the rest stop. After about 45 minutes of struggling, Tina turned the unchanged wiper upside down and said, "I think this is the trick." We tried it and she was right... they just slipped right on! We were on our way with something new to talk about. Oh, and we never did get a chance to try them out since the weather was perfect the whole way home!

Then there was the stop for fireworks in Ohio. Bob (my husband) and Rob (our son) requested we stock up. It was interesting reading the names of all the various fountains, mortars and other amazing things available in the store. We made our choices... it was a two for one sale after all and it only took 1/2 an hour to fill the trunk! We moved all our goodies from the show to the back seat so we could stow the fireworks safely in the trunk, and were on our way again.

After a stop for gas, we decided we were basically driving a bomb... an overstatement for sure, but one we found more than amusing as we (now a bit punchy) rolled along through PA on our way home.

Almost exactly 12 hours after leaving Ft Wayne on Sunday, we drove in my driveway. What a fun trip... The Twisted Sisters definitely ride again!

Now, we're considering doing the Chicago Soap Convention in August. It's only 70 miles longer than this one... why not?!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

More for the Bee

Image hosted by Photobucket.comA few other beads I'm working on for the Soap and Candle Bee. I'm having much more fun with the bees than the soap.

We did a very slow, unexpectedly long craft show this weekend... time which could have been better spent making beads or trimming soap. I'd go into it, but don't want to wind up insulting anyone! I will say that Tina and I still had fun. Lots of opportunity for people watching.

Now that I seem to have caught up on soap, I'm actually creating at the torch again. Mainly working on things for the Bee, but next week, watch out!