Crafter’s Log – July 22, 2013

When I last checked in, I mentioned that I would be taking a little break from crafting for about three weeks following my first craft show of the year.  I didn’t stop making things completely, but I didn’t touch my torch for two weeks.  I even managed to get a little bit organized.  A very little bit.

is key.

When organizing, descriptive labels are key.

I was hoping that during that time, I’d get my new oxygen concentrator so I could hook up my new torch.  Plus, I was giving my left hand a chance to rest.

Is it a bead, or a paperweight? Largest bead I’ve ever made.  I couldn’t grip anything for two days afterward.

My poor hand…  Ever since I started testing the limits of my Cricket by making larger beads, my mandrel-holding/spinning hand has become swollen and achy.  According to WebMD, I most likely am suffering from DeQuervain’s Syndrome**.  It’s also called, “mommy thumb,” “washerwoman’s sprain” and “gamer’s thumb.” I think it’s time to add “lampworker’s thumb.”  Or maybe “bead maker’s thumb.”

That reminds me…  While taking some time off from crafting, I did some searching for new craft fair venues.  I came across a Craigslist ad asking for craft vendors and telling them to contact them via email for an application.  So, I did telling them that I was a lampwork artist and jewelry maker.  I got a response back that said, “We’ve already got enough jewelry vendors, but we could use your lamp artistry.” /facepalm

Sigh.  Yet another person who thinks “lampwork” means making lamps.  What is a girl to do?  Oh, yeah.  MAKE LAMPS.  So, I did, though not with my torch.  I used my bottle cutting “artistry” to turn a Skyy Vodka bottle into a hanging swag lamp.  Of course, I had some help from my hubby when it came to actually wiring the lamp, (and when I say “help” I mean that he wired the whole damn thing before I could even snap pictures to use as reference,) and it turned out pretty nice.

Skyy Vodka makes a nice lamp.

Skyy Vodka makes a nice lamp.

The awesome thing about bottle cutting/lamp making is that it can be done inside my air-conditioned house, rather than the garage.  OMG, it’s been so hot lately that I really have to go out to torch by 6:00am just to get a couple hours in before it gets too hot to work out there.  It’s been too hot to work out there, even when just etching the copper for earrings…

Etched 5 pair of earrings, including these dragonfly pride earrings.

…Which makes me really glad that I found (yet) another thing I can do in the house during inclement weather – beading.   It was brought to my attention that all of my jewelry (bracelets, specifically) were very breakable, being that they were made from glass.  A young girl at the Summer Stroll in Yuba City asked me if I had any bracelets that just tied on.  I didn’t, but I started looking at stuff on the internet and learned that macramé is making a big comeback.

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Triple wrap, 4 stitch bracelet with one of my lampwork beads as a closure. Let’s see a 12 year old do that!

Other than some embroidery floss “friendship” bracelets I made when I was a kid, I never learned how to macramé.  I watched some video tutorials, dug deep into my bin full of stringing materials, and tried my hand at making some macramé bracelets.  I imagine that a twelve year old at a summer camp is probably accomplishing the same thing right now, but still.  I was pretty proud of myself.  I grabbed a few of my “almost” orphan beads (which means that there are only 2 or 3 matching beads) and strung up a few on some cord that I had.  But, I can’t truly feel like it something new unless I buy a bunch of stuff from a craft store or two.

So, that was a couple weeks ago and there has been an evolution from hemp cord macramé to leather mosaic wrap bracelets.  I watched a video tutorial and fell in love with these bracelets.  They are comfortable to wear, fun to make and apparently, pretty trendy.  Four trips to the bead shop and $100 later…  It never ends.

Leather mosaic wrap bracelets - Craft du Jour

Leather mosaic wrap bracelets – Craft du Jour

My next sale will be Sunday, August 11th, 8:00am – 3:00 pm, in Placerville.  I’m going to be partnering with Susan Lopez of Patsy Emporium again.  Come say hi!

** Either I have this De Quervain’s Syndrome or osteoarthritis which sounds like something that someone of a more advanced age would have.  I’m going to go with “Gamer’s thumb.”

Crafters Log, May 31, 2013

A couple weeks ago, my husband and I took a weekend trip to the Mendocino coast to celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary. It was gorgeous up there and we had a great time. I took lots of pictures and when I got home, I wanted to make some beachy-type beads. I looked at a few samples on Etsy and, inspired, decided that I really needed beachy-barnacle-looking murrini.

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On a one to five scale of success, I think I hit a three, which was a marked improvement over my previous attempts. I didn’t burn myself and it was round-ish, and I was able to snip it into slices. Just saying “snip it into slices” makes it sound like no big deal, but let me tell you, those boogers fly EVERYWHERE. Wear safety glasses. And shoes.

I’m still pulling my murrini too thin so I ended up with some baby barnacle things. Ah, well. The beads still came out OK, and that’s even considering that I made them using my new extra-large Zoozii’s Straight Sided Lentil press. This press is like 4 times larger than my previously largest press. Holy cow, does it take a lot of glass to fill. Midway through wrapping the glass on the mandrel my carpal tunnel kicks in and I have to take a break and rest my hand.

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Having the moderate success with placing my own crappy murrini, I took out the precious butterfly slices I had purchased over a year ago from… Oh, goodness. I can’t remember where I got them, but clearly, the guy (I remember it was a guy) can make WAY better barnacles than me. I’ve hoarded these butterfly chips for a long time. I think I’ve used a total of three of them now. Anyway, feeling brave, I used a couple of them. Again, on a one to five scale of success, I’d say I hit a 3. I gave myself a point for not smearing it too bad, but you can clearly see a line where the clear glass in the murrini ends and my clear encasement glass begins. Meh.

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Now, I don’t like to toot my own horn, but LOOK at the SKY!! This is a major accomplishment for me. Do you know how many times I’ve tried to make a realistic blue sky background? I always end up using flat Light Sky Blue glass and looking enviously at others more realistic sky. Then, BREAKTHROUGH! Someone (I think it was the fabulous, generous Jacqueline Parks, aka GemsInBloom) had suggested Dark Sky Blue encased with CIM Marshmallow, which is a semi-opaque opal white. Now I can’t wait to make birdy beads with it. Or trees.

With the arrival of the end of the month comes payday, comes my monthly spending spree. I only get paid once a month so there is typically a flurry of purchases during the first few days, then a major spending diet for the rest of the month. This month’s flurry, brings some new glass (basically just refilling some of my old standy-bys, and restocked my Dark Sky Blue and Marshmallow since I’ll be making so many skies) and ordered myself a nice treat:

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My poor little car (named Violet – Yes, I named my car. I always name my cars,) has been through it lately; nails in the tires (multiple), a rock to the windshield courtesy of a cement truck and an unfortunate hit & run in a parking lot that scraped up her right rear quarter panel and rim. I decided to treat her right and replace the ugly black and yellow car dealership frames. Actually, I’ve been meaning to do it for a while but the frames finally went on sale during the monthly flurry.

And one last bit of info to share… I’ll be doing my first sale of the year on June 22nd in Yuba City for their annual Summer Stroll. I’m partnering with another lampwork artist and all-around crafty person. It should be fun. I’m going to work very hard during these next few weeks to beef up my inventory and show displays.

Crafter’s Log – May 9, 2013

I’ve decided to change things up a bit since the normal weekly updates just aren’t working for me (obviously since it’s been over a month since my last post).  Between crafting and writing about crafting, I just have no time to actually have a life.  So, I’m just going to do sporadic updates when I feel like it.  Hey, guess what?  I feel like it today.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been a very busy little bee.  I made a bunch of beads, mostly random, but some with an intended purpose.  I tried out a couple tutorials for the first time with varying degrees of success.  The first one was from Jacqueline Parkes’ My Secret Garden, which is awesome.  There’s a special tool required, but I was able to pick itup locally and very inexpensively, which is like a first for my special lampworking tools.

Not my first effort.  That one lives somewhere in my "never see light of day" pile.

Not my first effort. That one lives somewhere in my “never see light of day” pile.

My first effort was passable.  I used the same glass as what is used in the tutorial but it came out just meh.  I’m too conservative sometimes, I think.  Anyway, the big learning curve to this tutorial has to do with timing and placement of the components.  Anytime I have to pull components first, it usually doesn’t go well, but this time, I had minimal shrapnel.  One flower made and I decided to tackle another one since that had gone pretty well.  This time, I tried pink – the same pink I hadn’t been able to make the rose petals with.  Yeah…  It didn’t go well, but I don’t think it was all my fault.  Sitting in front of the torch, pink rod in hand, creating my gather, I noticed it.  A bubble formed at the end of the rod, then blew out.  There is a small hole down the length of the rod. $#@!

I think that most of my newer dark pink glass has this hole, which really ticks me off since that glass is not cheap.  Grr…

Getting better with the flowers.

Getting better with the flowers.

The other tutorial I tried was the Kerri Fuhr Raven.  It went pretty well.  The background I tried was one from her tapestry tutorial.  Now, I’ve tried this tutorial before and frankly, I really suck at it.  Stringer work has never been my strong point and neither is raking, both of which you really need to do this successfully.  I’m getting better though, but since I had already messed up the tapestry bead, I figured, “I’ll put a bird on it.”

The raven came out pretty good!  It’s nearly impossible for me to photograph without setting up my light tent, but yeah.  I’m happy.

If you totally ignore the background, this one isn't too bad.

If you totally ignore the background, this one isn’t too bad.

In other news, I have a new hobby.  I need another hobby like I need a hole in the head, but I’m weak in the face of learning something new that is both fun, functional and marketable.  What is this thing?, you ask…  glass bottle cutting.  Someone on Lampwork Etc. had posted some picture of wine bottle glasses – basically just the bottom of the bottle cut to the length of a drinking glass.  They posted a link to a YouTube video and I was off.  It’s so easy.  At least, I think it’s easy because I haven’t actually tried it yet.  My cutting contraption is on its way from Amazon right now.

Then, I started looking through the forums and saw a few threads on making beads from bottles.  I’ve thought about this before, but it always seemed kind of difficult.  But now, I think I’m OK to tackle this.  I have a kiln now, which I didn’t have when I first thought about it.  Also, with recycled glass, you really can’t mix it.  Bottles don’t come with the co-efficient of the glass stamped on them.  This is important because you can’t mix different COEs because one glass will cool much faster than the other which will cause it to shatter.  No bueno.  You really have to not mix the glass.  Even say, beer bottles from the same 6-pack might have different COEs so you really need to keep the reclaimed glass separate.

But really, what’s the fun in making a bead that is only a single color with no decoration?  Not much, at least not for me.  The ONLY time I do this is when I’m making simple spacers.  Boring.  Enter a new tool/idea to my life…  Stamping it with leather stamps.  I picked up a couple of cute designs – flower and butterfly – so I can make some beads with some dimension and interest, even though they are all one color.

I put some feelers out to my friends and co-workers about saving their glass bottles for me, so hopefully I’ll get a good amount of free glass to try this stuff out on.  Luckily, a lot of my friends drink a lot, which I guess is why they are my friends.   What I’m hearing a lot from them is “I only buy the really big bottles.” That’s cool with me because I can make vases and candle holders.

Time Warp…

I actually wrote this a couple weeks ago but never posted it because…  Yeah, I have no excuse.  I just didn’t post it.  Moving on…

The bottle cutter arrived and I excitedly tried to cut a couple beer bottles.  Miserable failure is how I would classify it.  I thought, maybe the beer bottle glass is too thin, so I tried an old wine bottle.  Again, miserable failure.  But the wine bottle was green, so I took it out to the garage and whacked it with a hammer.  That was satisfying.  Then I turned on the torch and melted it down.

Recycled/upcycled/reclaimed glass beads

Recycled/upcycled/reclaimed glass beads

Melting the glass down and pulling it into rods was pretty fun.  I used a new press to make the sweet little flowers, then I dug out my old presses to do the other things.  I actually love the leaf press for this reclaimed glass.  I’m going to try it with some brown/amber beer bottles soon.

Success!  Tumblers.

Success! Tumblers.

I finally had some success cutting the bottles down to “tumbler” size glasses, so I grabbed a pretty Skyy Vodka bottle my sister gave me and tried that…  Yeah – NO!  The bottle didn’t cooperate, so…

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Bwaa ha ha!  Let it be known… This is what happens to naughty bottles in my house, bitches!