Sunday, November 30, 2008

Shout out to ReneesSoaps

I hope everyone who celebrates it had a good Thanksgiving holiday, whatever that means to you. (The best Thanksgiving I ever had was the Thanksgiving nine years ago, the last year my mother was alive. With only two of us, we decided to skip the big Thanksgiving meal. Mom cooked a turkey breast--mostly for soup later--and we took turkey sandwiches up to the reservoir and park in the town we lived in at the time. It was cold and raw, but we sat and watched the water birds and talked until well after sundown, until a park ranger knocked on the door. Clearly he had seen the steamy windows and the old beat-up car and had assumed it was kids necking; he turned so beet red when he saw it was a thirty-six year old and her mother! It was a good day, and I am thankful I had it.)

But I digress! I want to talk about Renee's Soaps, a wonderful shop on Etsy.

I know that normally I feature ESST members, but Renee is a fantastic Good Citizen of the market world, who was looking for people to feature--and chose me; I'd like to return the favor!

And let me tell you, it sure isn't hard. Renee makes a large variety of items, from candles to soaps and lip glosses. She even has gender specific items, for Wonderful Women and Manly Men. (What I really wanted to see was her "Ugly Soap" section, but alas, it was empty.)

Among her offerings, Renee has some wonderfully unique scents. As someone who is very sensitive to scents, though, I zeroed on on the Green Tea and Aloe soap. I think I am going to have to get some of this; it looks scrumptious!

In the current economic climate, we're all stretching our money more than we might have in the past. Soap is an excellent bargain--handmade soap may appear to be spendy per bar, but I can tell you that it lasts far longer than the commercial soap and supports an independent artisan to boot. In addition to the good value that handmade soap provides, Renee offers a discount--buy any three bars for less than the price of two bars. It's a great idea to stock up on your favorite soap, give gifts, or just try out some of Renee's interesting and intriguing combinations. Yuzu? Hippie Hemp? Green Guava and Pineapple? DO WANT.

Finally, now is a great time to shop here--there's a "Buy two & get one free" sale from now until December 1.

What are you waiting for? Go get clean!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Beads of Courage Day

This weekend I went up to Beads by Design in Marietta to spend some time torching. The Southern Flames support a wonderful charity, Beads of Courage. Beads of Courage helps children who are undergoing treatment for serious illnesses such as cancer or leukemia. Each treatment wins the child a bead for his or her string, and serious treatments earn a handmade bead. It sounds silly, but increasing numbers of studies are showing that the kids in the program are more involved in their treatment and recovery.

Marcy Lamberson (bottom photo) showed us how to make cute face beads, which are in demand by both kids and staff. Kim Neely was making Georgia Dawg beads, and we all made fish, faces, and bumpy beads. I made one of my poodledo beads.

We filled up one kiln and were working on a second one when I left. Beads by Design contributed the studio space, the propane and oxygen, and the supplies. Flame Tree Glass gave us the glass. Thanks to everyone, we're going to have a lot of beads for the kids to use.

It was a great way to spend a Saturday morning--melting glass with friends, and doing good things for kids and the people who care for them at the same time.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Anglican Prayer Beads

I have a friend who is going to be getting some of these for Christmas! I thought I'd make extra, though, and put them in my shop at 1000 Markets.

An Anglican prayer bead set is not really a rosary in the Catholic tradition. It has only 33 beads, one for each year of Christ's life. The larger ones are in a roughly cruciform chape while the others are evenly spaced around the set, in groups of seven. Episcopal or Anglican beads do not have set prayers attached to them, as does the rosary. So why have them?

Like most prayer beads, they serve as a means for meditation. They help keep fingers busy so prayer can happen, and they help the user find a certain amount of peace
and stillness. The user can say any prayer he or she wishes to--the point is that the beads help with the prayers.

Making prayer bead sets is intrinsically satisfying--but it also helps me in my desire to make unusual but useful items. This set is sterling silver (all except the cross itself, which was imported from Italy. (Yes, I know that that is a Catholic, not a Protestant, crucifix. Anglicans are Catholic Lite.) I liked the serenity of the bluegrey glass, so I named this set "Serenity." You can see more pictures on the 1000Markets listing.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Lampworking 101: Studio

A few days ago on my Wall at 1000Markets, NineDragons commented that she wondered about how I controlled the design on the beads, and suggested a blog post. That seems like a good idea to me, but I thought I'd start with my studio, not with a technique.

"Studio" is a misnomer. I work in my breakfast nook in the kitchen. I have a 1968 "ranch" house, in layout like thousands across the Atlanta area, but I really do not need two tables. So I turned my breakfast space into lampworking space, as you can see above.

This isn't the neatest of studios. I'm still struggling with how to put everything away neatly in an intrinsically messy space, and still have it be accessible. Thee glass shelves really help--I think I want a few more of those, if I can find them.

What's in the studio? In the corner, of course, is glass. Glass has to stay separated by COE, or "Coefficient of Expansion" -- glass expands as it cools, and glasses that expand at different rates will crack apart. That wire rack holds my COE 104 glasses--Italian Effetre, ASK glass, Creation is Messy glass, and Vetrofond glass. The smaller copper rack above holds my Reichenbach and Zimmerman 96-COE glasses. Above that are tools. The shelves hold brass presses, mostly from Zooziis, and my collection of stringer (thin strands). On the wall behind the chair are more tools and eye protection. There's a water jar for quenching hot tools, loose glass I was working with, and (of course) my torch--a basic but wonderful GTT Cricket. Loose tools, marvers (shaping tools), and other items make up the jumble on the right. The window has my vent fan (my makeup air is around the corner), and a shield for the window glass. Ideally I should have a vent hood, but so far my window fan is powerful enough that it does the job according to my incense tests. That's where you light a stick of incense and hold it where you would be holding glass in the flame. If you smell the incense, you need more ventilation.

On the left, in the third picture, there's my kiln, table lamp, mandrels, and bead release. There's also, below, my collection of borosilicate glass (COE 33), Bullseye glass (COE 90), and Satake glass (COE113). Peeking out is my trusty old torch, a Bethlehem Piranha.

Under the table sit my oxygen concentrators, which I can run singly or as a pair. The thick, heavy braided rug is not exactly the safest floor covering, but it is dense enough that I can pick up anything before it catches fire, and it protects my new kitchen flooring from heavy table legs and, most importantly, from burns.

So how do you control the decoration on the glass? That's the next post. I'm crossposting everything at my 1000Markets shop blog!

Introducing the ETSY Supplies Street Team: Fabric Stash2

This is the next in my series about the wonderful peeps of Team ESST. Today's topic is:

Fabric Stash 2 is just recreating her shop (formerly "Fabric Stash"), but it promises to be a super shop!

If you'd like to find older posts in this series, search for the tag ESST members.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Introducing the ETSY Supplies Street Team: Flying Circus

This is the next in my series about the wonderful peeps of Team ESST. Today's topic is:

You never knew what you would find with Monty Python's Flying Circus, but you knew that it would be hip, cool, and different. Flying Circus absolutely lives up to her namesake. she has retro buttons and bottle caps, as well as cork, regular bottle caps, beads, and fabric for making your fun and funky designs.

Flying Circus is also ESST seller Cocomo. As Flying Circus, she has only 120 sales, so go lavish some love on her shop!

If you'd like to find older posts in this series, search for the tag ESST members.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Medical Alert Bracelets

One of the things I am committed to is making jewelry and lampwork that is useful, rather than being just One More thing cluttering up a home or office. Along those lines, I am creating a set of medical alert bracelet chains out of lampwork beads.
Medical alert bracelets can be real life-savers, but oh, boy, are those chains ugly! So here are some bracelet chains that are rather more interesting. You can find them at my ETSY shop, but also at my new shop at 1000 Markets. It's a wonderful site--come and visit it!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Introducing the ETSY Supplies Street Team: Fabricsamples

This is the next in my series about the wonderful peeps of Team ESST. Today's topic is:

Fabricsamples has wonderful, elegant fabrics that you simply will not find anywhere else unless you have contacts in the fabric trade or are a wholesale purchaser. She has toile, velvet and chenille, florals, designer samples, wholesale packs, and vintage fabrics. This is a wonderful resource for the bag maker, the decorator, or anyone else who wants excellent, unusual fabric in small lots.

FabricSamples is currently having sales, as she says here:

***10% OFF my any NON SALE ITEMS, when you Buy 4 or more Designer Fabric Samples. 15% OFF when you Buy 10 or more Designer Fabric Samples. I will send you a refund through Paypal after you pay! This is a limited time offer.*****

I have Reduced the Price of numerous items in this Etsy Store.
**PLEASE use the word SALE or REDUCED to find my Sale and Reduced Items in this store. I simply don't have enough sections!***
Fabric has nineteen sales, so go lavish some love on her shop!

If you'd like to find older posts in this series, search for the tag ESST members.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

This is the next in my series about the wonderful peeps of Team ESST. Today's topic is:

Ella Hound specializes in Japanese and other fabrics, as well as intricate and beautiful papers. Ella's shop will be closed through January for a wonderful reason--she's having a baby! Look for her in January, though, to fill your fabric and paper needs. Ella has 65 sales so far, and when she gets back in the business, I predict her numbers will rise fast.

If you'd like to find older posts in this series, search for the tag ESST members.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm On a New Market Site

1000 Markets is a really exciting new online marketplace for handcrafted, handmade items. It's only been up for five weeks, but already there are some wonderful, professional artisan crafters there.

The site is set up as a series of markets. Right now each shop sells in only one marketplace, but that may change. Some of the markets that exist are the Handmade Haven, for many things specifically hand-crafted (not digitally created), Wear It Out, for jewelry and clothing at a lower price point ($100 and under), Foodcrafters Marketplace (I could gain serious weight here), and Child's Play, for items for children. The marketplace structure accommodates regional groups, such as the San Juan Island Crafters.

The site currently has no international support, but plans for that are in the works. It uses Amazon Payments, and charges no listing fee. Amazon payments use a higher percentage of the sale than EBAY or ETSY (5.5% plus &.50), but there are no PayPal fees or listing fees, and therefore the fee structure for merchants is comparable. There are fora for customers and merchants, and fora just for merchants. More to the point, it appears that the founders--who are extremely helpful and responsive--have studied other online marketing sites and are doing their best to avoid many of the problems that have arisen over time at those sites.

Sales are slow right now (so go over and check out the shops!), but, as I said earlier, the site is in its very early stages of existence. I am extremely impressed with what I have seen so far. Come on and visit!

Introducing the ETSY Supplies Street Team: Duet Supplies

This is the next in my series about the wonderful peeps of Team ESST. Today's topic is:

Duet Supplies is THE place to go if you are looking for ear wires. Duet has them in sterling silver, in copper, and in brass -- ready to match any metal you are using in your jewelry creations. She has them in different sizes and styles, from the classic French wires to beautifully rounded hoops. Ear wires come in packages of five or ten pairs, and are incredibly reasonably priced. She also carries some amazing wire wrapped beads.

She's currently taking holiday pre-orders, as she says here: "~*~*~*HOLIDAY PRE-ORDERS: We all get busy with holiday plans and activities around this time of year, and I am no different. In order to serve my lovely customers best, I open up the chance for pre-orders--where you can order those larger quantities (or small,) needed for your holiday designs. This way, I know how much wire I'll need to get everyone what they need, before I close shop for the holidays."

With 518 sales, Duet is doing well! Check her shop out. If you'd like to find older posts in this series, search for the tag ESST members.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Creative Slump III

I continued with Gwacie's assignments, and have dragged a couple of others into playing with me on The Glass Haven. Here's the newest pictures:

Gwacie's assignments were these: Make the longest tube bead you have ever made, make the bead with the most colors you have ever used on a single bead, and make the teeniest weeniest decorated bead you have ever made. Well, I figured that the long tube bead would be good for using up the shorts that inevitably collect when I'm done with a color. When I am going to keep using it I fuse the short to the next rod, but at the end of a set I can get lazy. So I wound a bunch of complementary colors at random on the mandrel, and added stringer in whatever color I grabbed first. The bead's a skosh over 2.5" long, which isn't the longest bead I have ever seen, but is either the longest or one of the longest I have ever made. It's as long as my longest bead release dipping lid, for sure.

Then I went for the weeniest bead. It is hard using a normal-sized rod to get a teeny tiny footprint on the mandrel, but with care I managed it.
Then I rounded the bead, which is surprisingly harder than it sounds when you have such a small amount of glass on the mandrel, and added dots. They're alternating, and are a bit cockeyed. I need to try this again! But I got a 2mm wide bead out of the exercise, which I thought was pretty tiny.

Finally, a bead with the most colors I have ever used. Id on't know if the dense white frit counts as a color, or the black base for that matter. For the rest, I just grabbed all my excess stringers and started striping. I have to say that I liked the bleed effect so much that I made a set in the same design! It should go up on ETSY tomorrow.

Meanwhile, it's my turn to come up with challenges for the ongoing SLump Game. I've got until Friday, though.