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.