Friday, August 28, 2015

Beads and Silk Cords

Beads - they're in my blood.  I can't get away from them.  I don't want to get away from them.   All kinds of beads make me happy.  Lampwork beads are my favorites of course but I enjoy all the rest too.  Seed beads, clay beads, wood beads, ceramic beads, metal beads and on and on.  They are addicting.  Maybe that all goes back to my "hippie" days.  Afterall, I am a child of the 60's.  I didn't make them back then but I did wear them and often.  Plus as a child we all played with plastic beads in some form and who didn't play with marbles ?  Marbles are beads - they just have no holes.  Beads have been around for so long I don't think there's too many people that haven't done something with some kind of bead in their life.   Beads - they are a part of our society and many others - like it or not.  They're all around us and have been for centuries.  They aren't going anywhere and I'm sooo very happy for that ! 

This week, I've had the pleasure of being able to be at my torch a couple of mornings before the heat sets in.  The thing about that is it means the mornings are becoming cool again, slowly but surely, which also means, fall is just around the corner.  Yay !  My absolute favorite time of year - next to winter !  lol !  Which also means, many more days at the torch and for longer periods of time.  Which also means more beads are coming.  As long as my back and hands hold up.  lol !  Anyway this week, I was able to make a couple of sets, managed a pumpkin for Halloween and pulled some special stringers for some special types of beads.  Those stringers, took TWO, yes TWO hours to pull !  That was my day at the torch yesterday.  See, sometimes these pretty beads you see, all pretty with special decorations added in, take ALOT of prep time before even making one bead.  And then with so many additions to the bead, it can take a very long time to make that one bead.  Anyway, I wasn't able to make one of those beads yet but they will come.  :)  The beads I did make are still waiting to be photographed and a set is still soaking in the water.  Will have to show those beads later. 

I also worked on some brand new colors for hand dyeing silk cords and that's exactly what I did last weekend.  There are more new colors coming very soon too.  Colors I've never dyed before so it's pretty exciting for me !  :)  Anyway, photo's below of the newer colors.   All will be in my Etsy shop soon but are also available on my Facebook page  All of the cords now available in my Etsy shop can also be purchased via my Facebook page.  Just message me over there.  :)

                                   Deep Blue.  So pretty.
                          Deep Red  This red is darker than it shows and really stunning.
                              Neon Green !  Yes it's NEON !  :)  LOVE this !  More neons coming.
                              This is more a strawberry red.  Pretty.
                              Two tone turquoise.  Nice.

That's it for this week.  Thanks so much for coming by.  I hope you come back very soon ! 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Heat Wave Beads

This wasn't the planned post for this week.  In fact, I'm a few days past it being a week since my last post.  Our desktop computer decided it was time to go blank and require attention from a computer savvy person.  lol !  It's in the shop and supposedly we're suppose to get it back by today.  I am skeptical.  Anyway, it has all I needed to create the post I wanted to.  That will be for another time.  In the meantime, we have a "stand-by" laptop I am using now.  Typing on it is, let's say, problematic.  For me anyway,  I am not use to typing on flat keys and I always have trouble with that part of it. 

Yep, I was able to torch a few days over the last couple of weeks.  Right in the middle of this damned heat wave, a few mornings here and there it was down in the high 60's early, with no humidity.  I took advantage of it.  :)  Early in the morning is the best time for me to torch anyway no matter the weather.  I accomplish alot more than any other time of day,  Always been a morning person.  Anyway, that's why I call them heat wave beads - made during a brief respite in the heatwave. 

My time at the torch these last few times went in a few directions.  I actually made another set of beads.  lol !  Practiced on a new mold/press and mostly tested some ideas.  So that said, here they are:

The first photo is of a set of fall leaves.  I went a very different way than I have in the past and I really like how they turned out.  Color is on both sides.  Now, the question is to give them the matte finish or not.  The second photo shows one in the center that has that soft, matte finish.  Not sure what to do. 

This next photo shows what I've been practicing- dolphins.  Yeah, I need LOTS of practice there !  lol !   Each one took LOTS of time and patience.  Will need LOTS more practice to get them right.

This last photo is of a little set of a focal and spacers.  This is an xx large size of the cleo beads I made previously.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this size best. 

Until next time - thanks for coming by !  I hope you come back again soon.

Monday, August 10, 2015

They Love Pretty Jewelry Too

Yep, they do so I decided to finally take my jewelry making (bracelets really) into a whole new direction.  I have no idea if they'll "go over" or if anyone will like them or even if they'll sell but that's the thing about the unknown - one just doesn't know what's gonna happen.  lol !  The REALLY big thing is - at last, I got a little bit of mojo back !  lol !  Yahoo !  The jewelry making muse has made her return.

Ok so what am I talking about here ?  Well, as I get older, I have found it more and more difficult to manipulate clasps of all kinds except the magnetic kind.  I've made plenty of bracelets and necklaces with magnetic clasps and that's fine and dandy.  The magnetic clasps I use are super strong and can take ALOT of "punishment".   Still, there are those that don't like the look of the magnets on jewelry.  So what else is out there to make it easy for folks like me who have this issue of dealing with hard to handle clasps ?  What about tying cording ? Uhm, every time- no thanks.  Still too hard for some.  What about memory wire ?  Tried it for myself and just did not like it.  What about good ole' elastic stretch cord ?  I decided to give it a try recently for the very first time ever.  Made one bracelet, then another and another and etc, etc.  Yep, this is the answer I am thinking.  I always "thought" that elastic cord would cheapen the jewelry but why should it ?  If you use quality beads and componets it will look just like any other beaded bracelet except with no clasp.  The most important part, it will be easy on and easy off.  So, as it is, that is the direction I am taking on with my bracelets now.  Let's face it, we are all going to be older some day and still want to wear pretty jewelry.  This is for all of them including me.  :)  I'll still make pieces that have clasps.  I have quite a stash of all kinds but for now, it's all in the elastic baby !  lol !  These types of bracelets are for all of us that have hand, wrist and/or arm issues but also for everyone that just want's a pretty piece of jewelry that's easy to take on and off.  :) 

The photo below shows what I've put together so far.  There is one bracelet in there that I've used one of my own focals.  The rest are gemstones, OPB's, crystals, shell beads and seed beads.  I'm using up beads I've had forever and need to find new homes.  :)   I've had alot of fun putting these together and will be doing many more.  All are for sale and you can see some individual pieces on my Facebook page here 

Thanks so much for coming by.  I hope you come back again soon ! 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Cost Of Making Glass Beads - Lampwork - Melting Glass

 I know there are numerous posts on blogs, forums and personal websites about this particular issue, I’ve read them.   They all make great points.  I decided to add my 2 cents as well.  Mine won’t go into great detail about the actual prices of such things but will give a little bit of an idea of time and money spent.  Let’s face it, no matter what hobby or business you ARE in, it’s not cheap. Supplies and other expenses just keep going higher and higher.  I have a decent supply of glass that will last me some time however I needed a couple of colors recently.  I went shopping at the place I usually buy all my glass. Talk about sticker shock !  I hadn’t bought any glass in a while so was taken totally off guard when looking. No matter, I needed the colors so bought them.  I use to be able to afford buying by the pound – not so much anymore - unless there's a great sale going on but regular pricing, basic color glass such as white is $14.00 a pound.  Beads with silver glass, you know, those super shiny, pretty color beads that seem to just “dazzle” or look like metal – Well, those beautiful glasses START at $100.00 a pound !  Then, and only then, if you master how to work the glass will you’re bead not look like mud.  lol !  There’s more to that as well such as the torch you use, your flame chemistry and so on but that’s for another time.

Ok so here’s the list of what most lampwork bead glass artists/crafters have in their studio.   Not everyone mind you but the alot.  If you love to melt glass, you will have a well set-up studio with time, with everything you need and some extra’s.  This list is in no particular order. 

Torch ($200.00 and up), kiln ($400.00), GREAT ventilation ($500.00 give or take), controller for kiln (if your kiln doesn’t have one - $425.00 and up and a pyrometer if you prefer is $110.00), mandrels ($6.00 for 10), glass (No way to set price on this – different for everyone and can run into the thousands), bead release ($35.00 large bottle that you will need to replace as needed.  Depends on how often you make beads), bead reamers (usually a dremel with diamond bit) ($50.00 and up), marver ($30.00 and up), eye protection ($80.00 and up), face mask plus replaceable filters ($10.00 and up plus filters), table to work on (???), chair to sit on ($125.00 – I use an adjustable chair), great lighting, protective surface on table such as steel plate, protected floor, oxygen tank ($175.00 plus $35.00 and up to fill every time) and/or oxygen concentrator ($450.00 and up), propane or gas ($60.00 for tank plus $35.00 to fill each time).  Misc. items to add to your bead such as frit, murrini, enamels (hard to determine but could run well into the hundreds). such as knives, presses, molds for making murrini if so inclined, pokers, mashers, etc (Hundreds of dollars).  Most beads you see these days are not hand shaped unless the person states that.  Most are made with presses now. This can get extensive and expensive as there are many items that can be used for tools and shapers (starting at $30.00 and usually around $65.00).  If you are going to sell your beads you need: a decent camera (hundreds), lighting ($30.00 plus), photo “box” of some sort (handmade using at home materials or $12.00 for a cheapie and up), probably a tripod, photo editing program (there are free ones as well but the better ones cost), computer, printer, printer paper, printer ink, some sort of online shop or website that have their own fees or go to festivals (whole other ballgame).  Advertising –LOTS of time spent here, you need business cards as well.  If you’re going to sell, you gotta be able to ship the bead somehow.  So with that, you have to invest in proper packaging.  Remember, this is glass you are shipping.  Bubble wrap and/or “peanuts”, boxes, plastic bags to gather the beads and of course padded envelopes or possibly boxes to ship in. 
Time – you need lots and lots of time to learn, practice, take classes, etc. Even the pro’s out there learn new things all the time.  I’ve been doing this for 10 years, on and off (I don’t torch in the summer at all) and I learn new things all the time.  :)  With learning comes purchasing – books, tutorials, classes and webinars.  Yes, there is tons of free info out there but believe me, you can’t learn it all from the free stuff.  Just not possible.  Time to clean the beads, photography, advertising, listing and shipping all have to be included.  How does one value their time ?  Taking all I’ve just listed  into consideration, let's say it takes one hour to make a single focal bead with decoration, how much should that lampworker get paid ?
So there is my 2 cents.  I know I’ve left out some things but you get the jist.  It’s not cheap, in fact, it’s VERY, VERY expensive and the person you are purchasing that bead from is investing A LOT of their time and energy here. Also, you are getting something that is made with heart by someone who LOVES what they are doing.  You can’t do this unless you have passion for it.  Why spend so much time, energy and money in something you have no passion about ? 

I love to make bellflower beads/headpins.  Here’s what goes into making just one flower including the supplies needed. 

List of supplies: ONE bellflower press, the ORIGINAL bellflower press, (these are EXPENSIVE costing $150.00 and up depending on the dollar) but worth every dime as they are a piece of art themselves ! ), glass, wire, pin vise to hold the wire, pickle (to clean the wire later), scrubbie to clean the wire later and small crock pot. 
Prep:  Set bellflower press out, cut wire (if you make 20 flowers, cut 20 plus wire).  Choose your glass color.  Turn on concentrator for 15 – 30 minutes to warm up for session and kiln to bring it up to garaging temp.  Using lots of electricity here.

Ready to make flower:  Turn on your ventilation (more electricity) !  Put wire in pin vise, tighten to make sure you won’t lose it, turn on torch and when ready, melt the amount of glass needed to make the flower, put the glass and wire in the press and press.  Now, put it in the kiln to anneal.  Annealing – At least a 12 hour process of ramping down, cooling, from holding/annealing temp of 950 degrees to room temp.

Ready to Clean the wire:  Usually the next day. Warm up your tiny crock pot, add warm/hot water and pickle, add flowers. Wait for about 20 minutes or so, remove flowers, rinse in hot water.  Dry and proceed to clean the wire further with scrubbie or Brillo pad.  Now they are ready to photograph and post to your shop, Facebook page, website, etc or use in making jewelry or in a project. 
That’s for just one bellflower and of course, more than one is made during a session. 
What do I charge per bellflower - $3.00.  :) 
If you’ve read this far, thanks so much !  :)  You now have a very basic understanding why handmade lampwork glass beads made by one person at their torch in their studio might cost what it does and might be well worth it. :)  Again, I thank-you for your support.                 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Information Please

Hello to one and all !  This weeks post is simply put, all about information about this and that.  Probably not going to be very long post but hopefully some fun and info about my little corner of the world.  :)

First of all, I am hosting a giveaway over on my Facebook page.  Click All My Beads Facebook  to go directly to my Beads page and LIKE my page.  Once I reach 100 LIKES on the PAGE (not on a post) then I will be hosting the giveaway and will post what the giveaway prize will be and the rules.  Don't worry, the rules won't be a hassle to deal with.  lol !  Some fun little game or something.  :)

My Etsy shop listings are finally dwindling down.  Slowly but surely.  Just an FYI - If you want anything over there, please shop now.  As all of the listings expire, I am not and will NOT be relisting any of it EXCEPT for the hand dyed silk cords and bellflower beads/headpins.  You can check out my Etsy shop HERE or click on any picture to the right in my Etsy shop.

With the heatwave still in full force with temps in the high 90's and with heat index temps of over 100 degrees, I'm still unable to sit at my beloved torch and make glass beads.  sigh.   Even very early in the morning it's still in the 70's with 100% humidity (we live near a huge lake).  Just can't justify opening that window to draw in back up air and heat up my work area anymore !  lol !  With a kiln set at garaging temp of 950 degrees to 960 degrees and the heat of the torch PLUS humid outside air, UGH !  Really not worth the impending heat stroke it will cause me !  lol !  So, I sit and wait for the cool.  sigh.  It'll come.  :)

Still no inclination what-so-ever to make, design, create jewelry.  Not one iota of creativity either.  What's up with that ???  lol !  Usually summertime, when I can't torch, is the high point of my jewelry making.  Not this summer.

Very soon I will be updating some posts I've made in the past.  One in particular, tips and tricks for using the bellflower press.   If there are any other posts you'd like to see updated or revised, please leave me a comment below.  :)  It won't show up immediately but it will be posted.  :)

Below are just a few of my favorite photo's saved from the web. 
I don't know the photographer or even remember where I got the first photo but isn't the color amazing ! 

Just for fun.  I LOVE Snoopy.  One of my all time favorite characters.

Think Snow !  :) 

Ok that's it for now.  Thanks so much for coming by !  I hope you come back again very soon. 



Monday, July 20, 2015

Summer Days

Ohhhh man is it HOT and humid out there !  I hibernate during these hot days of temps in the 100 degree range - with and without heat index !  Today's high - 105 with heat index.

Because of the heat, no torching.  It's just too hot to melt glass.  I'd melt right along with the glass !  lol !   With the torch going and the kiln parked at about 950 degrees the torching area is almost the same temp as it is outside plus the hot air coming in the house.  Nope, can't do it.  So the beads you will see are ones that were made before this Hades heat set in.  :)

Jewelry - well, it's just not there yet.   Such is life.

I do have a few bead pictures I can show so here goes.
This first set is more fun with that new press I have.  I love making beads with it !  This particular set is made with some new frit I have and includes a few donut shaped spacer beads with it.  Love the fun colors in the frit and I really have fun cutting !  lol !
This press is one reason I can't wait to get back to the torch when it cools down.
White base with fun colors in the frit. 

These round beads are fun to make too.  Round with sparklies added in then lightly encased in clear so the sparklies have some depth to them.  All transparent colors except the lilac which is almost transparent.  ;)  More of these will come about too later on.  

I finally bought some glass to add to my supply.  I haven't bought any glass to melt in a very long time so there was a bit of sticker shock involved.  Prices have increased dramatically compared to the last time I bought any which was probably a year or so ago give or take.  And honestly, there's just no reason prices need to be so high.  It's a total ripoff but nothing any of us can do about it - if we want to melt glass.  That whole scenario is for another day.  All I know is, my glass will last a bit longer since I don't torch during the dog days of summer.  Think SNOW !  LOL !

I can't remember who took this photograph but it was taken in the Smokies and posted on the Great Smokies National Forest Facebook page HERE.  It's so gorgeous and perfect to help one cool down on this nasty summer day.  Go to their page if you're on Facebook and check out all of the fabulous photograhers that post there work.  Amazing stuff.

Thanks much for coming by.  I hope you come back again soon. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Glass Beads In The Works

So much to say, so little time.  lol !  The past week has been so hot and humid.  Typical for this time of year and now the coming week is suppose to be hotter and more humid.  Problem is, no rain predicted !  We need it badly too while other parts of the country are drowning in rain. 

Even though we had all that heat, I did have LOTS of torch time.  Every morning I was at the torch trying new goodies and a new technique.  I REALLY want to talk about the technique I played with but I must carefully think that over.  The new goodies are the press I got recently, new sparklies and some silver.  Fun, fun stuff.  So I played all week. 

I made lots of little bead sets over the last couple of weeks and lots of focals.  Focals have always been my favorite thing to make in the last few years.  The bigger the better.  But playing with the new sparklies made it even more fun.  Check out these beads.   All focals, all encased.  Left to right:  pretty lavender, aqua in the center and amber rose on the right.  Yummy colors !  These were so much fun to make and each one took a while to make.  I've never been great at encasing so it takes me a while to get it right.  Boy, but when it's right, what a treat !  lol !  If you look closely, you can see the light shining thru the beads except for the lavender bead.  That is not transparent glass.  ALMOST transparent but not quite.  lol !  These are for sale on my Facebook Fan page HERE  if your interested in purchase.  All of my Beads on that page are for sale.  :) 

I have no other photo's to show.  lol !  I have a bunch of beads I made and still have not taken pictures of any of them other than these.  lol !  I have NEVER done that before.  Talk about lazy.  Well, not entirely.  I was pretty busy LAST week doing other stuff.  Since I won't be able to torch for the next several days (at least) due to heat, that will give me plenty of time to do the photographing I would think.  lol ! 

Time for me to get my day started.  I hate starting late.  Thanks much for coming by.  I hope you come back again very soon. 

Remember to check out my facebook fan page with the link above.  Also, check out my Etsy shop for hand dyed silk cords, some jewelry and some beads from long ago.  lol !  When the bead listings in my Etsy shop expire, I will NOT be listing them again.  If you want any of the beads that are left, now's the time.  :)