New Direction

Well, it has been a long time since I made a blog post. I did make a few more baby seal beads, but they aren’t quite as cute as the one I posted. I will try making more at some point – it will have to be soon because I promised one to the Southern Flames silent auction. But other beads have been occupying my time recently.

I had a very wonderful class with Caitlin Hyde. That was February 18th and 19th. She makes wonderful beads and is an excellent teacher. One of the things I liked best about her class is that there was an individual project, so each student came out of the class with a unique bead she (or he) could call her (or his) own. I made a lion bead that I still need to work on a bit to find the right color of yellow.

After the class, I started making beads like the ones pictured here. They are very difficult and time consuming to make. And, they are still a little rough around the edges – not quite straight, not quite centered, not quite symmetrical. I think they are still cool though. And, they look a lot better in person than they do in a large photograph – so if all you have is the photograph, look at it small.

I’ve taken quite a few classes since 2008, with a lot of really good teachers, and learned a lot of good things, but this is the first time that I actually started making beads directly influenced by the class afterward. Oh sure, I would use this bit of information here, and that hint there, but the overall type of beads I was making wasn’t influenced. So, this is new for me. And, I feel that these are beads that might possibly be in something I could cautiously call ‘my style.’

I find myself drawn to graphic beads more than anything else. I like patterns. But, these beads are difficult to execute – straight lines, centered dots, etc. I find myself expecting to make something beautiful each time I sit at the torch and with these beads, it isn’t happening to the degree I would wish. I definitely need to practice a lot more to get these beads to where I want them.

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Fun Time Waster Website

http://www.polyvore.com/

I’m not much into fashion or shopping or girly stuff or anything like that, but I sure do love collages. This is a site that allows you to shop for products all over the Internet and make a digital collage out of what you find to put together an outfit, or any other kind of collage you want. There are the standard categories of dresses, tops, pants, skirts, shoes, bags, accessories, jewelry, beauty, and swimwear, but they also have backgrounds and text and music to choose from too. From what I can tell, almost anything you can buy online you can search for and add to your collage – you can even import items from other sites with a bookmarklet. This is my first try at a collage and it’s not great, but I suddenly realized how much time I was wasting and decided to get something useful out of it (like a blog post).

The site is polyvore™ and I think I will definitely add it to my favorites so I can come back and make a lampworking/bead collage. I think that would be nifty! Unfortunately, items from Etsy may not be imported. Ebay items may be imported, but I’m having trouble importing items from some of the lampworking sites I have tried – I’ll have to play around with this more. If you make a collage, be sure to tell me about it so I can see what you did.

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Return of the Baby Seal Bead

On Monday, for no particular reason I decided to take another shot at a baby seal bead. I have had a little plastic seal toy on my bench for months and months now (ever since I took the Marcy Lamberson class and made my first baby seal bead), but I haven’t gotten around to it until this week. I’m super happy with how this bead came out though, and I am looking forward to making more. I don’t know what I’m going to do with them, but it would be nice to have a sculptural bead in my repertoire.

I should mention that making sculptural beads makes me very tense. I don’t know why. Perhaps it is the whole keeping the bead warm without loosing detail and shape. I don’t think I have very good heat control, but maybe sculptural beads will help me with this. Anyway, I was trying to be more adventurous with the glass – take a risk and see what happens. And I’m so glad I did!

I think I was inspired by the demo this past Saturday at Southern Flames. Don Meadows made a horse head bead. One thing I was impressed by was the amount of tools he used to shape his hunk of glass. He used a lot of different graphite tools to do the shaping. It was totally amazing to see the bead take shape. Conversely, I used mostly gravity and heat to make this baby seal bead as I don’t have a lot of graphite tools. I did used tweezers, little masher tweezers, and a razor tool, but the rest was heat and gravity.

On another note, it seems like everyone in the USA is out of lead Satake clear. So, my plans for the Japanese fan torch are on hold for a while. I might have to try murrine with the 104 C.O.E. glass I have.

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Happy New Year!!!

Well, I seem to be making beads again. These are from a while back, but I’ve been making more this week that are similar. It seems to me, (and I could double check this with my log book, but it’s downstairs and I’m not) that I haven’t been making a lot of beads recently. I made a lot of frit beads to make into jewelry, but other than that, there hasn’t been a lot of torching going on. I don’t know what I’ve been doing – perhaps it was just the holidays. But these last couple of weeks I’ve been making an effort to get into the studio at least four times a week. I don’t torch on Wed. because I have bell choir practice at church, but I’m thinking about arranging myself so I can torch for a couple of hours on Wed. as well. As it turns out, I like making beads! I’m not going to pretend that I don’t have a lot to work on. In fact here, in no particular order, are some of my goals/focus areas that I have identified for the New Year. OK, slightly broken in year. I’m a little late with my New Year’s post.

1. I want to work on bead shapes/ends (without a press)
2. I want to work on stringer control
3. I want to work on layering colors of glass
4. I want to work on encasing skills
5. I want to work more with silver/reactive glass
6. I want to work on hollow beads
7. I want to work with Satake glass and my Japanese Fan Torch
8. I want to work on making murine with Satake glass

9. I also want to push myself to have something to post to the forums (www.lampworketc.com/forums) at least once a week. I’ve noticed some differently accomplished people posting recently, and there are almost always people who compliment everybody, so I don’t have to worry about my two biggest fears: that mine will be the crappiest beads or that I’ll be ignored. And, I think the self inflicted pressure will be good for me.

10. I will also try not to worry too much about finding my own style or creative voice. I will work on executing the bead, and hope that once I have the skills necessary, my style will develop. I have only been doing this for a couple of years after all.

In reviewing 2009 in terms of beads, I noticed that I didn’t really accomplish all that much. I think in part that I lost my sense of adventure. I stopped experimenting and became conscious of trying to make nice beads. I allowed myself to sit in front of the torch and wring my hands saying “I don’t know what to make.” When I could have just pulled some stringer and tried wrapping it around a bead until I could make a nice smooth line (that’s #2 on the list.) Well, now I will have to experiment more and practice more. I have my list and I should probably print it out and post it in my studio somewhere. Hopefully 2010 will be a much better bead year.

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Blue Tooth (Harald for short)

Meet my new betta fish. I’ve had him for over a week now, but he is still new to me. We (mostly my mother) named him Blue Tooth after the medieval king of Denmark (not the technology), and we call him Harald. He sits in a two gallon mini aquarium on the island in our kitchen. He seems to be relatively happy.

It was very cold when I first brought him home and I worried that the cold air and cold car ride would be harmful to him. I was terrified I would kill him when I put him in his new home, even though I was careful to acclimate him to the new water. In the first few days it became clear he was cold as he just sat huddled in the aquarium plant, and again I worried for him. So, last Saturday I bought him a mini heater to warm him up, and he’s been toasty warm at about 80 degrees ever since.

The cats have also noticed Harald. They will sit in the kitchen and stare at the fish. Not only is it fun to watch the fish, it’s fun to watch the cats watch the fish. I don’t think we have to worry about the cats getting to the fish though. He is covered up pretty well.

So that’s my New Year’s gift to myself. I am still working on the big aquarium, but felt the need for a betta too. My mother is also enjoying the fish – she even talks to him! And now, we are in Trussville for another opera (Carmen this time), and I have to wrap this up. I hope I don’t fall asleep – I am happy to say I stayed awake for the whole opera last week – even though German is not the best language for opera.

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Holiday Season 2009

The holidays in our house are all about food. My mother likes to cook and try new recipes and so forth, so the holidays are a time when she does that. There are a few dishes that we make year after year and that I request, but it is also a time for trying new things.

For Christmas Eve, we had our traditional scallops in red pepper sauce with endive and green onions. My mother likes this dish because it is red and white and green – Christmas colors. Also, apparently it is traditional to have fish for Christmas Eve.

This year we also had a simple calamari dish that she saw on the Food Network. It has tomatoes and parsley and a simple dressing. Guess what – it looks like Christmas. Yep, red and green and white. I knew when I saw it on TV that my mother would want to cook it. And luckily for us, we have a new fish market in town that we were able to get cleaned and sliced calamari from. This dish looked better than it tasted, but it improved upon siting in the dressing a little longer.

Christmas day, we had a huge brunch. I made potatoes and onions – one of my favorite things and an absolute must have for the holidays. My mother made chocolate chip scones, which we ate with clotted cream and seedless raspberry jam. We also had some sage sausage to make up for all the carbs. OK, this was a great way to start Christmas – it was absolutely delicious!

Then it was on to making dinner – reminder for next year, take the roast out to warm to room temp early in the day! We ate sort of late on Christmas, but it was all good. We had a beef rib roast, horseradish sauce (I make the sauces), Yorkshire pudding, spinach, and fingerling potatoes. We also had our holiday salad which deserves a paragraph of its own. Let me just say that the beef, the horseradish sauce and the Yorkshire pudding together are just yummy! We kept commenting about what a good choice it was and enjoyed the heck out of it.

OK, holiday salad. This salad we used to carefully compose the individual components on plates, but we discovered that it is just as good all chopped up and tossed at Thanksgiving. We have endive, watercress, and radicchio – yep red, white, and green. We also have pear, toasted hazelnuts, and blue cheese. The dressing is a simple vinaigrette made with hazelnut oil. We found an excellent blue cheese that really made the salad – Rogue River Blue – which is apparently, I just found out today, the best cheese in the USA. (It won best of show out of 1326 entries at the 26th Annual American Cheese Society Competition.)

Anyway, we also had ambrosia and cookies for dessert on Christmas. We used pink oranges – Cara Cara oranges. It wasn’t quite as good as regular oranges. And, according to my mother, much harder to prepare than regular navel oranges. I prepared the coconut. We had some discussion about which job was worse, and we both felt that the other one was worse, so that was good. The cookies were spice cookies that I mostly made except for the freshly ground spices which my mother was in charge of.

We didn’t do quite as well for New Year’s Eve – the head chef (my mother) was phased due to new hearing aids – Lyric hearing aids which are inserted into the ear and worn 24/7. We tried for lobster and pasta with a white truffle butter sauce. It was good, but the recipe said it served two which was clearly a mistake. On New Years Day we had lentils and sausage for dinner since I rejected the traditional Southern food. I think my mother was still phased. We did have a white chocolate bread pudding with white chocolate sauce which was very good, but it lacked in complexity a bit.

So now we’re back to our regular eating – and struggle to not eat too much. We are working out to the Wii fitness “game” I got us for Christmas, and I am going to Curves. And now, I am going to help get today’s unexciting dinner on the table.

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Aquarium Dreams

Several months ago I decided to set up an aquarium. It has taken forever to accumulate all the pieces, but I finally have all the parts except the fish. I still have to fill it with water and figure out the filters, but hopefully I will get it set up by New Years.

Getting the fish will be a bit tricky. My local fish store (LFS) is no good. I bought most of the parts there, but decided not to continue doing bussiness with them when I ordered a specific item and they replaced it with a cheap knockoff while still charging me full price. The other place to buy fish is a large pet store chain. But I’ve seen so many dead fish in their tanks that I’m really reluctant to buy fish there.

So, it looks like I’ll be traveling to buy the fish. There is a really nice fish store north of Atlanta that is near my mother’s audiologist. She has an appointment on New Year’s Eve, and I might go with her to get the fish then. That is if I get the tank set up and cycled.

I have gone back and forth on this project several times. When I first got the idea, I was truly excited. I have always wanted an aquarium. But somewhere along the way the sheer cost and complexity of setting up an aquarium made me doubt if it was a good idea. I carried on collecting the pieces needed though, as I didn’t really see a way out. When I got the fake driftwood decorations I had happy thoughts of what the tank might look like once it was all set up. But when I looked at my book and in online fish stores I began to despair that I would ever be able to pick a stocking scheme.

Now I am excited again, and with the tank in it’s current state can begin to see how trully wonderful it will be to have such a thing in the house. I’m thinking about angelfish and cory cats. This is one of the stocking schemes in the book I have, so I know it’s a good pairing, and the fish will be readilly available. Now I just have to find the time between now and New Year’s Eve to get the tank ready.

Wish me luck!

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