Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Safety First

If you've been drawn to the flame, chances are you've had some really 'DUH" moments. Moments that have disaster written all over them. I'm sharing with you some of my Duh moments in hopes that you'll avoid them yourself.

  • If you are using a c-clamp to hold your torch to your work table, periodic checks to ensure the clamp is secure is a must!

It goes without saying that safety is first and foremost the biggest concern. Sometimes I get too complacent and forget to do a mental check list. Ensuring that my torch is securely adhered to the table is the first thing I check now. A couple of months ago, my c-clamp had worked itself loose and had fallen back on me while lit. I was lucky that my reflexes where quick that day. Of course when being chased by a flame, I think all of our reflexes kick into over-drive. I wasn't hurt/burned but it could have ended bad. This incident was by far the scariest thing that I've encountered since lighting the torch the first time.

  • Never wear a brimmed hat while at the torch.

It's hard to judge the distance from something on top of your head to the flame. I lost my favorite hat by sticking the brim in the flame and catching it on fire.

  • Never scratch your head with the end of a glass rod.

Often times, while at the torch, I find myself in need of an extra pair of hands. Inevitably something will start to itch (nose, neck, head, etc.). With a mandrel in one hand and a glass rod in the other the logical choice would be to use the glass rod because the other is, well..... hot. Do not use the glass rod. It's sharp! I've done this a total of 3 times (hopefully the third time was the charm) every time ended with blood trickling down my neck. Okay, one time I scratched my nose, but that's too embarrassing to mention here.

  • Always wear non-flammable clothing.

Cold glass is shocky when introduced to a hot flame. Glass chips fly off and is extremely hot and has the potential to catch things on fire. Those chips can also find their way inside clothing or shoes. Tank tops and flip flops are not a good thing in the studio.

  • Chairs with wheels are a good thing.

Although not a requirement, having wheels on the chair you sit in is a good idea. It makes for easy escape should a bead or hot glass find it's way in your lap.

  • If you smell something burning, check that it's not you.

This is the mantra in my studio. Often times I'll wake up, grab a cup of coffee and head to the studio in my pajama's without bothering to comb my hair. The "rat's nest" that has formed on the side and back of my head while sleeping, is a disaster waiting to happen. It's a catch all for slivers of hot molten glass. You'll smell it before you feel it. Never let the smell of burning hair go unheeded. It will turn a bad hair day into a bad hair month!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

“The sun will come out tomorrow”


After blizzard like conditions on Friday.  The sun has reappeared melting snow and re-opening roads.  Although we needed the moisture.  I would have preferred a good soaking rain over the snow.  But I guess we don’t get to chose.  We haven’t seen this much snow in a long time.  The kids got a snow day and are now enjoying the building of the snowmen.  Little families are popping up all over the community.

 Amarillo.com | Local News: Major roads open again 03/29/09

Friday, March 27, 2009

Storm of the Century

Some time during the night a blizzard rolled in. Our nice spring like weather disappearing. Temperatures plummeted into the 20's with a wind chill of 0 and the wind gusting up to 50 mph.

Schools, Post Office and all roads leading into and out of my town are closed. My kids have not had a snow day for 6 years!

The thing about living in the Texas Panhandle is "If you don't like the weather, wait a couple of hours and it will change." Conditions can look like this one minute and clear up the next. According to the local weather station. By Sunday we should be in the 60's.

These are pictures looking out my front and back doors. The accumulation of snow is not significant. The wind is blowing for too much coverage. When I went out to feed and check on the mules. There were drifts over 4 feet. My foot prints disappeared as quick as I made them!

Looks like today will be a lazy day. I've got a fire in the fire place, a big pot of beans and cornbread on the stove and enough hot chocolate to last until the storm breaks. Life is good!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Still Waters

It's been a tough couple of weeks being in a slump. My muse took a vacation right when business had picked up a bit. But I think she's shown back up. I'm glad she did. It's so frustrating not being able to create beads you're happy with. Hopefully, I'm out of my slump.
I used light and dark turquoise and light and medium gray for this set. This morning I decided to etch it. In hindsight, I wish I wouldn't have, but the effect is still pretty nice. It muted the colors a bit more than I had anticipated. But I do love the feel of etched beads.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

One of those days!

Some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed! Yesterday morning I got the kitchen cleaned, took some pictures, posted on my blog then headed to the studio. This was my first mistake. I should have just stayed in bed.

I had worked on a new bead style, using a cone mandrel I had purchased and was anxious to see how it turned out. It turned out great until I went to remove it from the mandrel. Grrr! I had inadvertently wound the glass on the bottom of the cone mandrel, so of course the bead wouldn't come off. Okay, lesson learned. I chipped the bead off and chalked it up as a stupid mistake. A mistake that I spent 30 minutes on.

The previous day I had made a set of beads using what I thought would be spring colors. Peach, violet and green. I've used the peach color before, several times, in fact and it has always yielded a very light peachy color. Well, I guess the moon and stars were not lined up in my favor because what came out of the kiln was not what I had hoped for. Not even close to what I expected. The same glass I have used countless times before came out of the kiln a deep, dark Orange! Really? Now, I know that different flame chemistry will produce different colors in some glass, but I hadn't done anything differently. Why now? Okay, so I don't have a spring set, I have a Halloween set. Whatever. At this point in my day, I'm really trying to be optimistic. So, I'll chalk another one up and be happy that I've got a jump on my Fall beads.
On to another task. I need to clean some beads. Yeah, well not going to happen, as my diamond bit decides to lose all of the diamond coating. I've used those same brand of bits for over 2 years now. Never had a problem before. To top it off, it was my last 1/16" bit too. Now I'll have to make a trip to the store to get some. I figure this will have to wait because quite frankly the way my day was going I was afraid to get behind the wheel.
I'll admit at this point my optimism is really starting to wain but I'll plow through it. I fire up the torch and make some beads. I'm in the zone, life is good again and I'm on a roll. About the time I finish my 9th bead and go to put it in the kiln, I realize I never turned the kiln on! Yep all 9 beads lost. No more optimism here. I'm calling it a day. The only silver lining on that day? I still had 1/2 a quart of Moollennium Crunch ice cream in the freezer.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sweet Pea

What a week! As you can tell by my post dates, I broke my promise to post daily. I'm finding it increasingly difficult to find enough time in the day to do every thing I've committed myself to do. Talk about a full plate.
After playing catch up on my previous obligations. I manage to make it to the studio the day Mother Nature decided we were not finished with winter and dumped 2 inches of snow on us. Of course, the next day the sun came out, the temperatures rose and nary a trace of snow was left.
My love affair with pink continues in this set. Accented with a bit of pea green and white, I present Sweet Pea. Hopefully I'll have it on Etsy by this evening.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wild & Blue

Inspired by the leopard and my desire to use bright colors. I created this set using vetrofond pajama blue and ASK tribal turquoise. The spacers are effetre black.
I've never really been fond of animal prints but I did enjoy making these. I'm not sure I would have tried had it not been for the suggestion of my son's friend. In fact, I think I'll explore it further in different colors. I'll be listing these on Etsy this evening.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

10 Useless Facts

I think the reason it took me so long to jump on the blog bandwagon is because I find it extremely hard to write about myself and my work. Of course this mentality is not a good thing if you're goal is to have a thriving business. I'm going to step outside of my comfort zone and divulge 10 things about myself. Totally useless and probably of no interest, but it will serve two purposes: (1) Keep my blog updated, as I promised myself I would. (2) Over-come my social limitations, which is cheaper than counseling.

  1. I'm a contradiction in terms: I collect cookbooks but hate to cook. I enjoy looking at jewelry but never wear any. I like gardening/flowers but can't grow anything.
  2. I hate being the center of attention. Yet, I'm such a klutz and the most embarrassing things happen to me that more times than not, I am.
  3. I'm 5'11" and was the tallest girl in elementary and junior high.
  4. I've only flown in a plane 4 times.
  5. I've never seen an animal give birth in real life. (Talk about useless facts!)
  6. I have no sense of direction and get lost in the town I've lived in all my life.
  7. My secret dream, as a child, was to be a farmer when I grew up. (Just plain weird, I know.)
  8. I'm an only child.
  9. I married my High School sweetheart. Still happily married.
  10. Pink is my favorite color.

That was harder than I thought. But it did serve it's purpose for the day. Hopefully by tomorrow I'll have something better to post. Off to the studio!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Stone Washed

Ever so often I get lucky and discover a new color. That's not to say it hasn't been discovered before. In fact, more times than not, when I've created something I feel is so unique and couldn't possibly be thought of by anyone else. I'll find down the road that it's already been done. A bit disheartening but one of these days I'll find that special technique, style or color that's yet to be discovered.
But I digress. I actually discovered the base color in the pictured beads quite by accident. More out of necessity than logical thinking. I had ran out of clear glass and my order had not arrived at the making of these beads. I wanted the depth that encased opaque glass has to offer, so what to do? I had a couple rods of CIM Glacier that I wanted to work with but no clear to encase with. I didn't really like the look of glacier when I encased it with the transparent blues I have, so I grab a rod of transparent light gray and tried it. Bingo! The color reminds me of my favorite pair of jeans. The jeans that really are not fit to be worn in public but are just too comfortable to throw out. The jeans that are the epitome of "What NOT to Wear" but fit in all the right places and don't bind in the wrong ones. Let's face it. We all have a pair of those jeans. Now you can accessorize them! I accented these beads with pearl gray. That matches the threads fraying around the holes. I added a touch of Carnelian here and there. That will accent the skin peeking out of those holes. What more could a girl want?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Hurry Up Spring

The unseasonably warm weather we've been having across the Texas Panhandle has given me a bad case of Spring Fever. Temperatures in the high 70's and low 80's have been wonderful. Of course by the weekend temperatures drop back down to the normal 50's & 60's.

I'm tired of the bulky sweaters and wool socks, the drab landscape and being confined indoors. Bring on the green sprouts of grass and vibrant colors of newly budded flowers! If I'm not asking too much, some rain to relieve this 2 year drought would be nice too.

I dedicate this set to Mother Nature, hoping she's as impatient as I am and will........Hurry up Spring!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Pool Side

Inspiration can come from the most unlikely places. While shopping with my daughter at our local mall. I ran across a little brown eyed girl. She looked to be about 6 years old. She was dressed in the cutest light blue gingham dress with flower appliqu├ęs across her collar. Her hair was pulled up in little pig tails that curled to her shoulders. She was cute as a button!

Now, when you have a daughter that is 13 going on 30. It makes a Mother's heart ache to turn back time and have that sweet innocence in your own child back again. Back to a time when you could pick out her clothes and there was no argument that it wasn't "cool". You see very little sweetness with a teenage girl. A teenage girl that wants to wear the tight pants and mid drift shirts (over my dead body!) A teenage daughter that rebels when Mom suggests long sleeves, high collars, knee socks and Mary Jane's are the perfect outfit for the Sweetheart Dance.

In the end we compromised. Not too much skin showed and she was still cool. But, as I watched her walking to the gym for the dance. I couldn't help but think back to that little girl and how I wished that my own daughter would come running back and crawl up on my lap and snuggle like we did when she was little.

And that was my inspiration for this simple set of beads. I used the color scheme of sky blue, pea green and periwinkle. I encased each bead in clear and added surface decorations to some. You can find this set of beads for purchase in my Etsy store.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Studio Tour

Originally my "studio" was where ever I could find a place in the barn. I soon realized this would not work. I like my things clean and organized, my husband? Not so much.

I really needed a space of my own. One Christmas my husband asked what I wanted. Normally, I say nothing but this year I really wanted a studio. Being lucky enough to have a husband that indulges me, that's exactly what I got!

Times are tough for everyone and we were no exception. We had to build on a very limited budget and we did. In total, I think we spent less than $300.

Since my studio is a room inside of an existing building (our barn) I only need two walls. The material for the walls we already had. The only out of pocket expenses were ventilation, paint, base cabinets and counter tops. We pooled all of our gift cards together and was able to purchase most of those things at a surplus store or on sale at Lowes.

My glass storage came a bit later. I was lucky enough to find the vinyl fence post on clearance at Lowes. They were a discontinued item and marked down to $3.50 a picket. I simply cut the pickets into 12" sections and stacked them on top of each other. Gorilla glue is a wonderful thing! My husband added a backing so the glass doesn't fall out the back.

While I started out on a hothead, I soon found I had very little patience for it and upgraded to a Nortel Minor. I am very happy that I did. It works like a charm.

You'll notice a mirror in front of my torch. I assure you that is not for vanity purposes. My husband, kids and friends think it's very funny to sneak up on me since the door is to my back. With the mirror, I have a little warning.
My pink arm rest are actually water noodles. They were inexpensive and do a fine job.

So there you have it. A glimpse into my studio. A bit drab and I really wished I had a window. It's not exactly my dream studio, but when you're on a budget, beggars can't be choosers. Or something like that. One of these days I'll fix it up and add more color. As it stands, I spend every minute I can at the torch. Lampworking really is an addictive medium, everything else falls to the wayside.