Monday, June 30, 2008

Introducing the ESST Street Team: Artful Mosaic Supplies

All of my street teams have wonderful members; between at least three of them there is a lot of crossover and mutual membership. The fourth is a supply street team, and over on the Etsy forums there's been a lot of disdain and outright hostility toward supply sellers recently.

However, supplies, commercial or handmade, are a viable part of ETSY, and I think we supply sellers belong there. Yes, lampwork can be seen as tiny pieces of art, but ETSY classifies us as handmade supplies.

Hand-cut glass shows up in the first person on my street team, Artful Mosaic Supplies. Artful has got a wonderful shop and feedback rating. She carries glass squares, colored grout sand, decorative bits, beads, and anything else you might think of that you would need to make a mosaic. Some of her stuff is extremely unique; you won't find those patterns or backgrounds anywhere else. On top of that she's a great teammate!

Frit Beads

A much better day at the torch, although I didn't update yesterday as promised. Yesterday I straightened up the house, and then collected my neighbor's dogs for a week-long stay, much to the disgust of my Quality Control Inspectors. They see a dreary week of living under my bed during the days; I know that they'll be used to the dogs within three days. Plus Milo, the puppy, and Diamond, the two year old, are both crate-trained and sleep at night in their boxes (much to THEIR disgust, as they are used to sleeping in their owner's room). Then I had a lovely dinner with a friend whom I haven't seen for a long while. We had chickpea tomato soup, and talked, and garlic bread (we both share the idea that if there aren't at least four cloves of garlic per meal that there's something wrong!), and salad, and blueberries and cream for dessert.

Anyway, I did some plain frit beads, and had a more productive day. First I started testing a frit blend developed by my sister, who sells frit and beads on ETSY as Iron Mountain Jewelry and That Frit Girl. It's a lovely bluegreen. Maybe Mountainside as a name? I don't know. Anyway, in the picture from left to right there's the frit on Moretti white, on Moretti light ivory, on clear, on white with silver, on white and swirled, and on white, encased. The encased bead cracked, but I don't know if it was the frit or if it was the wrong COE clear. I want to do one of my Kalera Long and Lean series ... which I need a name for. Some shards of cobalt would look great with this frit as a base.

Then I did some plain sprees in a frit called "Aphrodisiac," on sky blue for a base, with tiny flat-leaved flowers.
Those went fast and were fun to do. I swirled the frit because I was afraid the frit blotches would compete with the plain flowers. On balance I think I'd leave them be next time. It made a nice, straightforward set that went pretty quickly. I actually made eight beads, but one chipped when I was cleaning it, and one I hadn't firepolished well enough.

Finally I tried Copper Green and Purple frit, which came out beautifully. I thought something was missing, though -- a texture or interest point -- so I added a layer of fine silver foil, and that got the look I was hoping for.

This morning I have to grade papers in earnest--in an eight-week semester the chore never ends, not if you want to be responsible and give regular feedback so students can grow. Maybe I can torch this evening.

Meanwhile, the canines are barking at my neighbors, and it is time to bring them in!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

When I'm Feeling Uninspired ...

Well, before I explain, a good thing happened. My friend Melanie Gulley owns a new bead store in Avondale Estates, just east of Decatur, GA. It's really one of the only bead stores this far east now that the Stone Mountain store has closed, and so it is exciting to see! She's done a great job with it.

Thursday I dropped by with the cigar boxes in which I keep my beads, and she picked out a lot of beads to carry in her shop. I mean a LOT! My Etsy store went from 96 items to 68 in less than an hour, and she also took several items that weren't listed on Etsy. Now let's hope people buy them! Whether they do or not, it's such a rush having someone like my stuff enough to want to use up some of her shelf space on it. Of course, that AND having people buy them is even better, for both of us. She also wants me to teach some beginning lampwork classes if we can get the space and insurance regulations straightened out. Diane Kovach of DKDesigns, our local Southern Flames co-president, is really excited and is offering a lot of help. (I had asked her to make sure that I wouldn't be cutting into her livelihood, because I have a full time job and she doesn't. But she doesn't really teach in this quarter of the city, so that's good for me!)

What that means, though, is that I suddenly went from having enough inventory to keep the Etsy shop going and to prepare for the three day Down The Street Bead Show in September to having not nearly enough inventory. I know that I can always pull items for the show if they haven't sold, but ... so I was in the enviable position of both having a whole day to torch and the need to crank out a lot of sets.

And, wouldn't you know it, I went brain dead. Even the one custom set I am making to order this week turned out poorly; not one blessed thing from the kiln came out right. So, to quote Lisa Kudrow, I "let it go, let it go!" and started fresh today.
Am taking a break--the kiln's almost full, and we're having a monster thunderstorm, which we needed. I just hope the rain continues in a more gentle way, because this was a true gullywasher, and that will run off rather than filling lakes and aquifers.

But I digress. My online friend Kandice Seeber has a wonderful blog, "Coloraddiction." Every so often she writes about a basic color in one of the main soft glass palettes, and shows how it changes when combined with other colors. Some color combinations I knew about, but others I had had no clue.

So when I am uninspired, I turn to Kandice's latest entry and try that color combo to see what I like. Throughout this post I've pictured some of the beads I've made with her most recent "tried but true" color, light turquoise. To jump start me today I tried frit blends, and will post those tomorrow!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Wasp out!

Okay, I am very, very glad that my propane tanks last as long as they do. With the way prices for everything are increasing, I like having a reasonably fuel efficient torch. Of course, I haven't been working boro as much as I had hoped, either.


It is summer, and the tanks get nice and warm. Apparently the hornets think the underside of a tank is a lovely place to build a paper nest. Of course, I found this out after I had begun pulling up the tank out of its protective resin box. Anyone want to know just how far one can hurl an empty 17.5 lb propane tank? Just ask me.

Didn't get stung ... for a woman as fat as I am, I can move awfully fast when I am appropriately motivated to do so. A small cloud of hornets (it was a VERY small nest) constitutes appropriate motivation.

Starting work

If I'm in the middle of a project, whether it is at my full-time job or at my lampworking, my desk is cluttered. Papers, books, references, student papers -- all are organized so I can get at them, but it may not appear to be organized to anyone who looks at them. Similarly, rods of glass, twisties, pieces of cane, tools, and glass pieces lie scattered all over my tile-topped worktable.

But when I start working on a new project, such as writing an essay or making up a custom order, or even just trying some experiments with glass, I have to clear my desk or workbench. I put away all the glass rods, line up the tools, organize my stringers, and sweep up the pieces from popped glass. It's all part of the process of getting ready.

What new project have I got today in glass? I just got a new-to-me disc press, and I am excited to try it! I also have a custom order for my Fiesta series. Academically, an article appeared in the Atlantic Monthly about teaching adult students that seems to me to be written from the position of a helpless victim, and I want to reply with a far more active and hopeful vision for both adult students and their professors.

It's already ten ... time to clear those desks and get to work!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Susan Sheehan at Flaming Hot! asked people to think about what they could be if they had any talent, ability, or lifestyle they wished. Hmm, you mean, like a lack of procrastination? I've been told that having too many ideas is always better than having too few, but when combined with procrastination, too many ideas can be a problem, too ... I don't want to commit to doing any one thing, so I wind up avoiding all of it.

If I could have any ability I wished, I think it would be the ability to really focus and see what's around me, and to translate that into an artistic vision -- painting, glass, writing. I'd like to have the freedom to travel for half the year and see places, and have people to travel with. But I don't want to travel all the time; I've moved so often that I find I want roots in the small daily accumulation of life, the knowing of a single place over time and season. I want the macro vision that comes from leaving and looking at the world, and the micro vision that comes with knowing something well.

Thinking of knowing makes me think about having gone back to my glass roots with a couple of organics this week. This one is "Abalone Shell,"
made with Vetrofond oddlot seashell swirl, raku, and cobalt, plus some silvered ivory stringer. I really like the way the glasses react with one another!

This is "Tree of Life." I wasn't trying to make a tree, let alone one that seems to stand through a silver river or silver stars. It's made with the same materials as the beads above, with the addition of raku frit, and is a good example of "time to use up every scrap on my work table." I have some more, but ... was I talking about procrastination? I have to finish my grading and get to class to teach!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mosaic Art Glass Pieces

A couple of weeks ago I was floored to find out that my cracked beads, broken beads, and wonkies were usable! Carla of CarDon Creative Designs was very happy to get several ounces of beads and bead bits to use in mosaics. I'm really excited to see her finished products!

Because of that, I've started to sort my bits n' pieces into color ranges, and have begun to list them on ETSY. Right now I have black tones, yellow / oranges, pink/purples, blues, and greens. CarDon needed a good bit of pink and purple, so those tones are mixed, and I don't do an awful lot with oranges or yellows in general. Blues, yes--I love working with blue, and green as well. Plus I have been playing around with the combination of light turquoise and clear colors in the base range, following Kandice's Coloraddiction blog, which always has such wonderful color references!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Pulling Rainbow Cane

This weekend my friend J and I took a class at Flame Tree Glass on pulling rainbow cane. As we were the only students, Lance went ahead and gave us a good solid review of latticino in general, which was really good--I pull it all the time, but I really had no clue as to the theory of it. After this class I am a lot more able to get the precise results I want, rather than guessing what will happen if I put the glass in different spots.

What is latticino? It's a thin rod of glass that has a white (italian latte, milk) or clear base, and colored threads spiraling down the rod. Each color lasts for the full length of the latticino cane. Rainbow cane, however, is different. The color starts at one end and slowly goes through a short section of each color, each one blending slowly into the next. Here are some examples from class. We pulled a monster cane that was truly a rainbow, with colors from purple to red, and these images are the two parts of various canes:

To make any cane, first you melt the end of a long rod of white or clear. You can press it into a paddle shape or roll it into a cylinder that is somewhat fatter than the original rod diameter. Using a paddle or a barrel will change how your cane looks! Then stripe colored glass onto the paddle or cylinder, parallel to the rod.

If you want rainbow cane, make a paddle, and put the color widthwise on each side of the paddle, as if you were crossing the T relative to the upright rod. On the short edges of the paddle, lay glass parallel to the rod -- that's what makes the colors stripe one after another on the pulled cane, but keeps the black constant down the rod.

One of the lovely things about latticino is the brilliant color you can achieve. Layering a transparent color on white gives you a clarity that is unmatched. The problem is how to get the color to last throughout the cane and not get too pale and attenuated -- a couple of the ones below have inconsistent color. Generally, the thinner you plan to pull the cane, the more layers of transparent color there should be to make sure you get the depth of color you want.

Here are some of the other ones that we pulled, or that I pulled this weekend:

Now I just need to learn to USE twisties so they stay recognizeable. Mind you, they are perfectly lovely when you jumble them up, but I'd like to practice using them very precisely.

Here are some beads made with a green and blue "rainbow" latticino cane, laid on in stripes but still allowed to jumble together a bit. These are just from the blue part, but you can see the green shading in.

I think they have a bit of a Monet Iris look, but I called the set "Mexican Blanket," because the combination of the cobalt and green with the white and thin black stripe reminds me of the Mexican blankets we used to use as picnic and park blankets when I was a kid. I need to make a twistie with orange, pink, and hot green shades to complement this set.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

YART Sale on ETSY!!

And what, you ask, is a YART sale? Well, it's a yard sale, only for art and supplies! Check it out ... mouse over to Etsy and do a search for "YART". The sale begins to-day and will last for ten days.

From me, look for sales on existing beads and on bead seconds ... but also I have fabric destash, linen embroidery thread and floss destash, cigar boxes, and other goodies. So keep watching.

In beading news, there's some interesting developments in Avondale Estates. Melanie Gulley is opening The Bead Shoppe!

It will be located at 2849 E. College Avenue in Avondale Estates, in the Twin Oaks shopping center. You can find more information at 404.914.4602, or email It will be nice to have a quality shop closer, and NOT in Alpharetta or Buckhead.