Monthly Archives: July 2008

Work Habits

One thing I’ve really enjoyed about my Lynx torch is that I can listen to music while I’m working. Usually I have Naxos Web Radio‘s classical era chamber music channel playing. Today I tried something a little different. I put on Matchbox Twenty‘s More Than You Think You Are. In the past, I’ve found this helpful cleaning music. Today it helped me make beads for a commissioned bracelet. So, classical music helps with creativity, but when it comes to work, something a little more rocking that I can sing along to is definitely the way to go.

The most recent addition to my studio is an emergency light. A few days ago I was in my studio during a thunderstorm. The power went off for about 30 seconds. I was bleeding the oxygen line on my torch, so it wasn’t like I was in the middle of making a bead, but it was still unsettling. The kiln went off, but came back on at the same point of it’s cycle when the power came back on. I’m really happy to have the emergency light because there are no windows in the basement, and with no power it gets very dark. It lends sort of a timeless feel to the studio. If I torch in the morning, afternoon, or evening, sunny day or thunderstorm, I have the same conditions in my space. I feel sort of cut off from the world when I’m down there, but it helps me to focus.

The last thing I want to mention is an update on the quitting smoking. At this point I haven’t had a cigarette in over a month. I’ve stopped counting the days and go a couple of days at a stretch without thinking about smoking. I’m still wearing the patch, and I think I will continue to wear the patch until after the gathering. Then I’ll step down on the nicotine and once that’s out of my system I’ll work on quitting the gum chewing.

I’m smelling things again. I caught a whiff of beer the other day. It was so surprising! I had forgotten that beer even had a smell. Tonight while cooking dinner, I smelled all sorts of smells. It’s very odd to smell again. I don’t smell all the time, just whiffs here and there. I didn’t realize what I was missing, but I’m glad that my sense of smell is coming back.

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Beads of Courage Day at Flametree

Beads of Courage

Beads of Courage

Today I went over to Flametree for Beads of Courage day. There were a lot of people there, and a few kids as well. I quickly got a reputation as “the one that drove over from Alabama.” I made a few beads, but I think it was a bad bead day. The torch was so hot! It’s a bit of a challenge to go from an oxygen concentrator to liquid oxygen. Now I’m thinking seriously about getting another oxy-con.

OK, that paragraph was cluttered with ideas.

Anyway, I may have mentioned this before, but I get so many compliments on my beads from non-lampworkers that I start to feel like I know what I’m doing. It’s nice to go someplace where I can realize how far I have yet to go. It keeps me humble, and I think that keeps me driven to improve. But sometimes I start to feel overwhelmed by how far I have yet to go, and I start thinking that I’ll never make it. I guess I’m sort of fragile in that regard. I need a dose of encouragement every now and again.

Encouragement came today from Maureen. She said my beads were great – for just starting out. If anyone would know, I figure she would. She also introduced me to Tadashi Torii who has a glass blowing studio near Decatur, GA – duckbill studios. One day maybe I’ll learn glass blowing. I seem to have quite a bit invested in lampworking right now. It will keep me busy for a long time!

I talked with the beads of courage people and it sounds like the program is really making an impact on the kids who have started the program already. The beads we made today are for major milestones in the treatment. They will be put in a box and the child will be able to pick a bead to commemorate the event. It’s hard to think about kids undergoing treatment for cancer and sickle-cell anemia. I’m glad that I can be a part of this program that makes a meaningful impact in young peoples lives.

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New Beads

Horribly Wonky Blue

Last Saturday my mother and I went to a bead show that Diane Kovach participated in. There were only a few lampwork people there and lots of other stuff. I guess I’m not fully in to the bead thing yet because the tables that weren’t lampwork either confused me or bored me. My mother also had a strong tendancy to skip over anything that wasn’t lampwork. We did the outer circle, and Diane’s table was near the end. After visiting with her for a moment, we felt like we were through. I did get a lovely bead for my birthday – I’ll post a link later.

Horribly Wonky Purple

After the bead show, we drove across Atlanta to go to YDFM, and after we shopped we drove all the way back to the Southern Flames meeting. It was all about photographing beads. Lots of good information there. I think I might have to get a light tent or something so I can take spectacular pictures of my beads. Also, an Infinite Rim Mold™ was added to the resource cabinet. I’ll have to borrow that once I’m ready to start making marbles.

Horribly Wonky Yellow

Early in the week I played with a new type (for me) of beads pictured here. I think I’ve made progress with the shape of the bead, but I need to work on getting the edge of the black straight. I’m just facinated with the swirly color mixing stuff, and once I get the edges straight I think these will be nice beads. I’m also working on tiger stripe beads again, and a bracelet for Paula’s grand-daughter. So I have a lot of work to do.

Tonight, we made a Red Velvet cake for my birthday tomorrow.

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NY Trip

Father

Well, I got back from upstate NY on Thursday. I was visiting my father. This trip went much better than the last couple of visits. The first time I went up there I was not doing well mentally – I was very anxious about driving, and my father wasn’t doing well either. We spent a lot of time sitting around the apartment listening to the radio, watching TV, or playing Civilization on the computer. When I was up there this past October, it wasn’t that much better. I was sick with ulcerative colitis and I still wasn’t doing too well mentally.

But this visit went much better. I was able to drive my father to his lab appointment, and up to Kingston to go shopping, and downtown to local restaurants, and even to the public library. We had plenty of pleasant conversations, and we generally got along better. My father and I discussed how well the visit was going, and he said a couple of times that he wasn’t hearing voices this time. We didn’t watch much TV, or spend too much time sitting around staring at the carpet. I did play a little Civilization, and I spent some time working with seed beads. I also had Internet sporadically. For the most part we were active despite the difficulty my father has with mobility. He’s very frail – he’s broken both hips already – and walks with a walker on short trips, but needs a wheel chair for longer trips.

My father even tolerated looking at all of the beads I had brought. This was an activity that was spread out over several days. My father’s eyes would glaze over after about a dozen or so beads, and I would put them away. My mother has been very supportive of the bead thing I have going, but my father hasn’t been so much. He’s come around a bit though. I think being able to see all the different beads I have made, and seeing other people’s reactions to the beads has really had an impact.

Milly is my father’s 93 year old neighbor. She goes to the same church as he does, and they talk on the phone every morning to keep tabs on each other. One day I went over to Milly’s apartment to show her my beads. I dumped out the first bag on her dinning room table, and she very politely made approving noises. I was a little surprised when she asked where the beads came from.

“I made them.” I said.

“Yes, but where did you buy them?”

Once she understood that I actually make glass beads, and saw the pictures of my studio, she was “flabbergasted,” to use her word. She was clearly impressed and suggested that I sell the beads at shows or in stores. After looking at the beads, she offered me tea and pound cake. I couldn’t refuse. I tried helping her, but I may have just gotten in her way. I learned that she has a great-great-grandchild, and her mother died when she was a baby. We had a good chat. All in all, I enjoyed my time with Milly.

Even though the trip went well, I was glad to get home to sleep in my own bed and get into the studio to make more beads. I don’t know when I’ll be going back up to visit, but I hope the next visit goes as well as this one did.

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Life as Normal

Geometric

Well, it’s day 14. I’ve taken up chewing gum, and I’m beginning to become dependant on the gum now. This is not a good thing. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m thinking that hypnotherapy might be necessary. In the mean time, I’m wearing the patch, and I’m chewing gum. I’m not smoking, so I’m more socially acceptable to most people. And, I’m not damaging my body with the cigarette smoke. Woo-hoo!

I’ve not been up to much except making beads. I got my lentil press – the picture here is one of my new lentils. I’m thinking that I must bore easily because after making lentils for a few days I’ve moved on to other things. I discovered a new shape for me – squashed ovals. I also got Margie Deeb‘s book The Beader’s Color Palette: 20 Creative Projects and 220 Inspired Combinations for Beaded and Gemstone Jewelry. I’ve really enjoyed this book.

Today I drove all the way to Acworth, GA, to learn how to make hearts. It was a great lesson, and I think with a little more practice I’ll be ready for the Beads of Courage day at Flame Tree Glass. I demoed hearts for my mother when I got home. She said the beads I made looked like hearts, so I must be doing something right.

I wanted to mention something about the name of this blog – Atypically Me. My mother pointed out to me that the title is a play on words – atypical antipsychotic drugs. I did not do that intentionally, and hadn’t even realized it until she mentioned it. But know that I know, I like it even better. I’m still struggling with how I want to develop my web presence. I’m leaning toward openness. I think it’s easier that way – I just have to remember that if someone has a problem with my medical history, it’s their problem and not mine. Plus, I think there is a lot less stigma toward mental illness now than there used to be. Or maybe I’m just oblivious. I don’t know.

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