Wednesday, January 31, 2007

More beads...

So, I didn't get anything new done yesterday but, I did get some of the old ones cleaned up.

This Ocean swirl set has been around here since I did a bunch of them last summer. I just love them and this morning, I dunked them in an etching solution.

It clouded the clear parts of the beads and brightened up the copper green.

I liked them before, but even more now.

I took them along on a bead shop visit today and sold them on the spot. Glad I got a picture before they were gone.

This little vessel (I even put a dime in the picture for comparison) was an experiment with using a solid base and building on it with a couple of different transparents. It's Ink Blue with light blue used to close the center. You can see the gray-blue base bead at the neck of the "pitcher".

Couldn't resist running a ring of raku frit around it too. Maybe I just can't leave well enough alone these days!

Getting back to the torch after a spell away is in some ways like starting all over again except that I have had a lot of input from viewing others' beads online and I guess I'm feeling pressure to do some of the things I've seen.

Maybe I need to stay away from the show and tells and just work on my own for a while.

This one was just an end of day experiment.

I made a very thin base of ivory and started adding rings of various transparents. Then, after melting it all in, I raked the rings up and down around the bead.

See the reaction of the purple - like a veil coming down in a V? You just never know what will happen with some of these mixtures. I'm not sure if it's a good reaction or if I just burnt the heck out of it!

With a little more playing with other colors and raking more precisely, this could be a pretty cool technique.

This one is pretty small too. For a real focal, I think it should be bigger. It could, however be a nice focal on a bracelet - and it seems like it would go with just about anything!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

More stuff!

It's nice to be productive once again.

First one I want to show you is this Fairy necklace that I made for a friend who is one of our former customers from The Herb Basket days.. She stopped in before Christmas, while we had the Christmas shop set up, for a couple of Tina's hydrosols and saw my jewelry. I have a blue fairy here at the shop, but she was hoping for something more green.... This is Wendy's Green Fairy.

You can't see all the detail in the picture, but her hair is full of flowers and she is holding a garland of flowers dripping from her hands.

It's always fun to put all the danglies on these gals and this one was no exception. She has a glass heart in with the beads on the bottom tassle, and a silver heart on one side and a silver star on the other.

This set of beads is certainly not my usual, but I like it a lot. I call it "Industrial Complex".

The dark silver plum glass has eluded me until recently when I read it really shows its silver color when exposed to an oxygenating flame rather than being reduced.

The colors are a khaki on one side and a light steel blue on the other. The band of silver plum turned into a band of hematite, so I strung it with some hematite beads I had on hand.

Pretty cool once you get the hang of it!

Finally, a Lilac vessel. More veiled cane just because I just love the look of this glass and it also works beautifully for hollow shapes. It is a little "stiffer" than regular soft glass and is much more forgiving as far as temperature goes.

Sometimes, if the vessel is out of the flame for a little too long while it is being shaped, parts of it just clink off into space. This glass will handle more temparature changes than most.

Looks like the neck needs a bit more cleaning, but a few spots of purple Rose frit gave it a little something extra. I think of them as pearly bulls eyes!

I have something else that came out of the kiln today, but can't show it, just in case I get to the Sizzlers meeting this weekend.

I love it when there are contests or themes posted somewhere because it always sets my mind in motion. Inspiration is the hardest for me and I've been having a hard time coming up with original stuff since I got back on the torch.

The Sizzlers are having a contest this time and the theme is "Love Stinks". Whether I get there or not, an image immediately came to mind and I made my bead .... it came out almost exactly as I envisioned it! Show ya after the weekend.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

It all started...

It all started with Tina posting to her Yahoo List encouraging the members to feel at home and comfortable about posting.... Now I can't seem to stop and I might as well take advantage of my chattiness to blog!

I said I'd post some of the work I've been doing, and there's a lot!

This focal was the reason I decided to tackle the double spiral pattern in the magazine I referrred to earlier today. I just like to make bracelets and this seemed like a new way to display a focal.

It's kind of tigerish in its coloring and I love how it picks up all the sparkle of the beads.

I have a couple of other experiments that I'm not posting today, but this peachy turquoise one is a combination of colors that I seem to use a lot.

The copper pearls just pop and the coloring is a little more vibrant than it shows in the picture. Those purplish seed beads are actually peach too.

By the way, I think if you click on the picture (if the resizer is working properly) you will see these all bigger on a single screen.

I may have posted this necklace before, but I just wore it the other day to a dinner theatre matinee and it seemed to fit in here. It was another fun piece to try to match up with a special combo of beads.

It's been around for some time. One time, at a bead show, there was a guy set up on a card table sort of display with a box full of these Raku pieces. I've never seen his before or since and wish I had bought more.

It was a little expensive, but the pieces are so distinctive

It inspired me to try again with the "raku" frit on a focal the other day and the center bead in this bracelet is the result.

I added a band of Goldstone so there are copper beads in the base of this one along with gold ab crystals and a little turquoise thrown in - all to pick up the colors of the focal.

I love to work like this. Over the years I have collected so many "companion" beads and it's nice to finally use some of them.

Finally, my "Steel Blues". This may not look terribly exciting, but I love it. The base color is a dark blue metallic and all the sparlies just bring it alive.

It's perfect for those times when you want to "spark up" a blue jeans outfit.

Not as interesting to work as the really colorful ones, but each piece has a pattern and personality of its own so it is so much fun to watch what happens by substituting a crystal for a bugle bead or a breaking up line of seed beads with a fresh water pearl.

Sure is a good way to get out of the doldrums. I'd much rather be beading than playing a computer game (what I was doing for a week or so before this particular binge began!)
Until recently, you'd never know it was winter around here. This is the fountain in our back yard. If you can see it, the butterfly bush in the backround still has its leaves. Usually, these die back almost to the ground but this bizarre year, they are still green!

For the last week or so, we have been kissed by flurries overnight, but often by the end of the next day, all the white is gone. I'm surprised at my reaction because usually by this time, I'm so sick of cold and snow and now I'm remembering it wistfully!

Well, anyway, it all seems to lead to the winter malaise but I'm slowly pulling out of it and managing to torch again during the mornings and I just discovered a new seed bead pattern that I've been playing with at night in the most recent Bead and Button magazine. Sometimes I add one of my beads as a focal, but mainly I have fun just experimenting with various color combos. I'll be posting some pictures later today.

This is usually such a quiet time for my soap business. It's a time for trying out new scents and ideas but we are hearing from some of our customers already so things aren't completely static. It's nice getting an idea of what to expect for the new year and it's looking good.

I've been wanting to visit a new bead shop in our area, Lancaster Bead Company out across from the Rockvale outlets. They have some of my lampwork there and I really like the women who are running it. Maybe this week I'll finally get there to say hi and report back.

I must remember next year to set aside - or at least to expect - decompression time after the Farm Show. After talking with other participants, it's par for the course!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

... not a dress rehersal

After 8 days of sleep deprivation and exhaustion, we weren't sure why we had even participated in the Farm Show. We were both sick and needed to just take a break for a day or two, but we're gradually getting back to normal. Phew! Sometimes you just have to admit that you're getting too old for this stuff!

So, this afternoon I was listening to Dr. Phil. He's often my "backround noise" while I'm doing something else. I heard the expression, "Life is not a dress rehersal", and suddenly, I knew why we did the Farm Show. Of course, we would! What if we had passed up the opportunity? We would have always wondered what would have happened if we had. I know we met a lot of people and certainly have a lot of new contacts and opportunities as a result. But, "Life is not a dress rehersal" was my motto for years. Life is for living. So what if we're tired? We know what it is about now. We know what we will do differently if we decide to do it again next year. And who knows what will result from this experience? How could we NOT have done it?

Now for some highlights...

Well, Tina stole my title, but I can still start with this little piggie... well, a whole bunch of little piggies! We passed this gang each morning as we traveled the length (1 mile, I'm told) of the Farm Show Complex. One morning in particular the whole gang was nursing, but there was a terrible squealing going on. At first we thought it was some kind of squabbling over position, but then we saw that one little guy had been trapped on the other side of the pen and couldn't get to his momma. He ran back and forth, frantically squealing, desperately attempting to get through. It was such a pathetic sight and sound. Later, we checked back and he was happily sleeping with his littermates. He must have eventually gotten to the "trough" and all the horror of his situation was forgotten.

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I never pass up an opportunity to take a picture of an alpaca. There were a number of them there and, as always, they were adorable. They just seem so fluffy and gentle. I've never been on the other side of the fence with them, but I suspect I'm right.

This one's topknot seems to have flopped. The ones I am familiar with have very fluffy poofs on top of their heads. He must just be having a bad hair day!

One of the highlights for us every day was the balloon artist, Dennie Huber, who was across the aisle from us. Dennie created the most absurd animals and hats and hat-animals throughout the day. He would hold off some of his specialties and pull something new out of his hat each day.

He had told(warned) us about his "Chocolate Moose" and decided to pull that one out one day for the entertainment of the crowd. We saw the first one emerge. We knew it immediately from his description. Then he proceeded to make another and then two more only the last two were strawberry and blueberry.

The kids loved them. I'm not sure how the crowds they bumped through felt about them but it was amusing and most people were pretty good-natured about it. At one point, we looked through the double doors just in front of us and saw all four of the kids running across it. They looked like a coral forest floating down the fire hall!

It was like sensory overload. We weren't aware of the cacaphony that surrounded us each day until we tried to talk to someone or when I attempted to get cell phone verification for a charge sale. In the mornings there was a strange noise in the hallways which we eventually realized was the result of thousands of chickens, goats and sheep saying good morning to the world. Carousel music played constantly in the backround and from time to time a Civil War band would play patriotic marches. Oh, I almost forgot the screaming children!

I didn't realize how many very large families there are in our area, nor had I seen the double and triple strollers that are available now. What a diverse sampling of humanity passed our booth.

I guess we jumped in with both feet and experienced the whole shebang. All in all it was great!

I may even manage to light my torch tomorrow. It's been over a month. I hope I remember how to melt glass.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Farm Show Pix

As promised, I come bearing photos.

We finished setting up our booth. For today, that's the only thing I have pictures of.

We think it looks pretty spiffy and the computer screen will be where we will show a continuous loop of a short soap making demo. We're on a corner and most of the soap is behind us on the shelves.

The painted blue "thing" on the right is a giant bluebird box that appeared overnight. Somehow we offended our neighbors because we got the corner. I think by rights they think it should be theirs, so we now have this "thing" completely blocking our view to the left. The event coordinator didn't think much of the set up, so we'll see if anything happens to it. We'll probably get blamed for that too... oh well.

Another shot from the "front".

Tina's books and magazine are to the right and the main soap display is on the left.

We only have a few bars on the display and will have to get what our customers want from the shelves in back. This may change as the week goes on!

Oh, the judging of the soaps is over and we placed second in the "decorative" class. First was some beautiful molded soaps and we had entered some of our Lavender swirled bars. I'm not sure what they were looking for in the "Lye" division, but our Patchouli/Rose didn't place there. The winner made some plain white soap. We should have entered a chunk of our lard soap... Live and learn.

So tonight, DH made us a prime rib dinner so we'll have some protein to start us off. Farm Show food is supposed to be delicious, but it looks to be extremely expensive - I mean, a $2.75 Pepsi! We'll be taking a cooler each day, at least that's the plan.

So, all our plans are made and we'll see how we fare...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Here we gooooo...

Well, today we went up to the Farm Show to set up. We met the people in charge and were enlightened as to what to expect. It seems we have a pretty good location. We can expect to be exhausted by the third day which will be even longer than we expected since if we hope to have a parking spot anywhere close to the building we must be there about two hours before opening (and it's almost an hour's drive.) We were prepared to be exhausted though. Oh, and apparently we have a very good chance of selling out!

Bob and Rob came up in the (packed) pickup truck and helped us cart everything in and set up the "furniture". Rob was thrilled to find a machine full of free milk in every imaginable flavor. Pepsi, however, was $2.75 each in the machine, so we'll be taking a cooler up each day. Probably a sandwich or two might be a good idea too.

When we got there and hunted up the woman who was our original contact, she immediately started encouraging us to enter our soap in the judging, so we picked out some nice bars and entered in the "lye" category and the "decorative" category. A ribbon from the State Farm Show would be nice. The judging for that is tomorrow at 8 AM.

So we're almost ready to go. Already we feel more prepared and I probably won't wake up with an anxiety attack during the night tonight.

I'll be taking and posting some pictures tomorrow evening. The show officially opens on Saturday.

Here we goooooo!