Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Years ago, more than I care to remember, some special friends (Phil and Gail Sellers at riverhillpottery.com) made this creche and gave it to me.  We lived in northeast Ohio then, and now we both live in other states.  They are still potters, although I don't think they make  these anymore.  Every year when I set it up, it reminds me of a different place and time, a very happy time.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

My Santas

My Santas are finally out!  This collection grew on its own, with no planning by me.  They were all made by friends so they are very precious to me, although I do see 2 M&M's in there, two vintage santas, and one lonely angel.  This is not all of them- there are more scattered around the house.  I love decorating for Christmas!  Every year I say I am going to eliminate some decorations, but I can't seem to actually do it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

shower doors

The things I have learned to do over the years.  Two weeks ago my husband managed to pull one of our shower doors off its rollers, and it was so corroded that it couldn't be fixed.  So I have spent the last week shopping for new doors, cleaning and re-caulking the tile, getting the frame for the old doors off and cleaning that tile, and finally, installing the new doors.  Tonight I finished the job, and our shower is usable again.  I am pretty good at caulking!

Years ago when we lived in Ohio, we bought an old house and I spent the next 7 years learning to strip woodwork, smooth rough plaster walls, tile, fix window screens, repair windows, paint, more paint, etc, etc, etc.  I loved it all, and even thought about fixing old houses as a business.  This was all before glass took over my life.

I think creative people are pretty good at just about anything they do. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas is coming!

My last show is done for the year, we arrived home from our Thanksgiving weekend, and I have a list a mile long of things that must be done NOW!  I skipped it all today and set up the tree. I have added a new ornament every year for a long time, and have tried to stop it before they pull the tree down, but I couldn't resist this little fairy!  She was made by Connie Brooks, a fellow member of the Reading-Berks Guild of Craftsmen.  All ornaments on the tree are handmade, and it is like a trip down memory lane, since most of them were made by friends.  Some friends are from long ago, and some have passed away, which makes them all the more special.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Reading-Berks Guild show set up

Yesterday I set up for the Reading-Berks Guild of Craftsmen Holiday Show at Kutztown University.  It always amazes me to see a facility before anything is set up, and then after when everything looks so good.  This is all my stuff- I had just loaded it in from my car and was taking a break before I started setting up.  There are not very many other craftsmen there yet.

About 4 hours later, this is my booth with dust covers and ready to go on Saturday morning.  You can see more craftsmen have been working on their booths.  I should have taken a photo without the dust covers, but I didn't think of it at the time.  You can see my purple table coverings peeking out.  Tomorrow I will be packing it all down after the show is over at 5, probably the hardest part of this job.  I had good sales, saw a lot of friends, and even managed to do a little gift shopping!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Lampworked glass bead II class

Last weekend I taught an intermediate 2 day glass bead class, and it was great!  We had a really nice group, with no one way over their head.  First we made goldstone stringers, then a vine cane and stamen cane, and then finally we made a bead with flowers, goldstone, vines and tiny black stamens, and finished it off with pixie dust.  I took my ice tongs so they could use them- I love that shape, a gentle lentil.  (That rhymes!)  These are some of the beads the class made.  I really enjoy teaching when the students are excited about learning new techniques.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

After a show

After a weekend show, I usually take Monday sort of easy.  That means unpacking the car, getting it re-organized in my studio, doing paperwork from the show, catching up on laundry, and usually taking a nap with my lap warmer.  After all that, I am ready and eager to get to work again!

Lizzie is getting older, and I can see her slowing down and napping more.  Just like me. 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Eye beads

Sometimes the best ideas come from customers!  At a recent show, a woman picked up my large (over 1 1/4") round, hollow eye bead and asked if I could make it in cone shape.  The round hollow eye bead is the one furthest to the left, and the rest of the beads are the result of her request.    Two of these are wired as a pendant, ready to add a chain.  I like them so much I will continue to make them.  This is one of my favorite color combinations, and I love to make the color gradation.

The design is an ancient one.  The more eyes (dots) there are, the more protection the bead gives the wearer, although the nature of the protection varied in different cultures.  One of the most interesting to me was the idea that a person did not want a god to look at them- that caused bad things to happen.  When wearing an eye bead, the eyes confused the god, who sent the bad karma to the bead which reflected it back and away from the wearer.  There are cultures today who continue the tradition.

Friday, October 1, 2010


This weekend I am taking off and visiting one of my sisters in upstate NY.  No work (although I may check my email and facebook!)  This will probably be the last few days I can just enjoy with no work related activities.  When I get back, I will be into teaching and shows until the end of the year.

My son is riding along with me, and I am wondering if I will subject him to an audio book.  It's got to be better than listening to his music!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Little beads

  I make these little beads for several reasons.  First, they are a good way to test new color combinations- I make small ones before I make the commitment of a big bead.  Secondly, I love to layer colors, and the results are not always predictable.  Sometimes there are good surprises and sometimes not, and the difference is not always instantly apparent.  Sometimes I have to "live with" a new color combination for a while.

This size is also very good for earrings, so I try to have a tray full of them in many different colors.  When I am working on making earrings for a show, I like to have lots of choices!  Since I mostly use them in pairs, and people mostly buy them in pairs, I end up with lots of orphans.  One of these days I will have to design a necklace with them!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fringe bracelet

I haven't made these bracelets for a few years, but I am inspired again!  The beads are in color ranges, and this one is amber and green.  (I also make a purple and blue set.)  After I have a set of my beads, I go through my stash of  stones, pearls, silver, crystals and anything else I have that looks like the color and size will work.  That can take a while, since I have a considerable stash.  A friend told me when I buy more stones, pearls, etc, I am assembling my palette, and I like that thought.  Any excuse for more!

That all goes in a pile, and then I have the fun of deciding which 6 items will work.  I look for items that will pick up all the colors of my beads, and I want different sizes and shapes.  Each of these 6 is then wired onto a jump ring to make a fringe (the jingle jangle between my beads.)  When I have 7 fringes made, I wire wrap the beads, with a fringe between each one, into a bracelet.  There is so much movement it makes you feel special!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Glass ornaments

For the third year in a row, I am making glass ornaments.  Last year and this year, the Reading-Berks Guild of Craftsmen was asked to decorate the PA governor's tree.  Each time, I tried to come up with something new, and this year had me stumped.  I finally made some spirals on large mandrels, and I liked them, but couldn't come up with any way to hang them so they hung straight.  After thinking about it, I made more spirals and at the end, pulled the glass into the center.  When I tied ribbon on that end, they hung straight!  They seem much more delicate that they really are.

While thinking about the glass spirals, I wondered if I could make narrower ones and use a heavy gauge wire coiled into a spiral to hold them.  Aha, that worked too, so now I have extra ornaments!

These will not be for sale.  Cleaning the bead release was a real pain!  I do love a good challenge.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Bead crochet

Years ago, I was set up at a bead show beside a woman who was an expert at bead crocheting.  She graciously tried to teach me and my friend Alice St Germain.  We both went home and worked hard, and Alice got it before I did.  (My excuse is I am left handed.)  After a lot of frustrating tries, I finally got it, and now every once in a while I get the itch to make another necklace or bracelet.  This one took me 2 years to finish, since I only work at it when I feel like it.  Leslie Pope,of Twisted Sistah, is an expert at matching colors, so I showed her my big hole bead and asked her to choose the appropriate seed beads.  I thought she did a great job!  This will be mine, not for sale.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Beadfest 2010

This week I have been busy making beads for Beadfest Philadelphia, Aug 20-22.  I stumbled on a new color combination that I love, and I can't stop making them in different sizes.  When I am getting ready for a big show is not a good time to be experimenting, but sometimes I have to go with the flow.  The base color is dark turquoise, a color I hardly ever use, so imagine my surprise when it worked so well.  Sometimes the raised dots reduce, but not always, and I haven't figured out why.  Ahhh, the mysteries of reduction!

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Yesterday the weather was a little cooler so I spent several hours pulling weeds, and found these hanging on a huge weed.  I have no idea what the name of the weed is, but these remind me of Chinese lanterns.  I wonder if they will keep their shape while they dry.  The color is wonderful, and the shape would make interesting beads.  Hmmm, start with a hollow bead, etc. etc. etc.  I also wonder if I could cast them in glass.  They might be too fragile to make a mold, but I could try when I have a little time to experiment.  Not sure when that will be.

Friday, July 30, 2010

New book cover

I just heard from my publisher that my book is being printed again.  This time it will be in paperback (this makes the price a little lower) with a new cover.   For the first printing, it was part of a heritage series of books, and this time it will stand alone.  The news of another printing is good!  That means the book is selling well and they need more!  Yay!

My second book is taking form slowly.  I have been working on it in the evenings, but have a long way to go.  I can't say much about it yet, unfortunately, but I think it takes a little different slant on glass bead making.   My photographer Kevin Brett Soul Imagery is coming next week to start photographing for the book.  I must clean up my studio before then!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hot hot hot

Here in eastern PA it has been hot, hot, hot this summer!  I remember last winter, when we were all tired of the endless snow!  This photo was taken in Feb, early in the day, with lots more snow coming.  Now I am tired of being hot any time I go out.  Thank goodness our house is air conditioned!  It has been running almost nonstop, and I am dreading the electric bill when it comes.  We have been making some changes to reduce the bill, like putting the tv and computer on power strips and turning them off that way.  We had already changed all the light bulbs to more efficient ones and try to be more aware of turning lights off.  All this has helped, particularly since our electric company was deregulated last winter and the rates went up something like 30%. 

Stay cool, everyone!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Kuztown Folk Festival 2010

What a week!  There were 3 days over 100 degrees and one day of rain.  I drank lots of water, used my neck coolers constantly, had fans running, and managed to survive.  In my 15 years at the festival, this was the toughest.  (Well, the year of the tornado and storms was tough too!)  The funnel cake stand was right across the street from me, and I only had 2 all week.

My friend Carrie spent 5 days demonstrating for me.  She made lots of beads and  explained the process to lots of people.  Notice the purple neck cooler, and the bandana on her forehead to stop the sweat from rolling into her eyes.  The kiln is behind her, so she got the heat from all sides.  
My other demonstrator was Jenna, who was there for 4 days.  She started making beads when she was 11, but only gets to torch once a year when she demo's for me.  She managed to miss the really hot days, but still needed a neck cooler.  Both of them are really dedicated and I had to remind them to take a break once in a while.

The old fashioned birch beer wagon is just down the street, but I have never tried it.  Our big treat this year was smoothies- so cold on a hot day!  I also bought a big bag of roasted almonds to munch on all week.  This was not a week to diet- I had an ox roast sandwich, bratwurst, bbq pork, corn pie, funnel cake- you get the picture.  Now to launder my long dresses and pack them away for another year.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Window beads- after

I finally finished grinding and polishing the windows in these beads!  Two days ago I started them, but before I finished, the bolt that holds the wheels flew off the grinder and I couldn't find it.  That caused a trip to Lowe's and Home Depot.  I ended up buying 3 different kinds of bolts and tried them out today.  Only one worked, so I was glad I had bought a selection.  All six beads look good.  I never know how the inside will look until I polish the windows, and sometimes  I scrap a bead. 
This is my grinder/polisher.  It is an odd conglomeration of things I already had except for the wheels, which I had to buy.  There are six of them, I think, from coarse to super fine. There is no splash guard, so I hold a plastic strip in front of me, but I still get soaked by the time I am done.

These are the beads after using 3 wheels on them, with 3 more to go.  The final polish makes the glass so clear you can read the writing on a light bulb in the reflection on the window.  I really like the contrast between the rough reduction frit and the smooth window.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Window beads before

I am getting tired!  There are only 1 1/2 weeks until Kutztown Folk Festival and I am working hard.  My fingers are getting sore from all that wire wrapping putting jewelry together.

These are some window beads waiting for me to grind and polish the windows- a before photo.  I keep forgetting to work on them, and I really do need to finish them up this week.  That is a nice job on a hot day, since I get soaking wet grinding them.   Maybe tomorrow. 

My friend Alice St Germain just got her website Succulent Glass up and running again.  She still needs to add content, but the bones are there and look good.  She even started a blog!  Congratulations on getting that far!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Open torch!

I am lucky enough to have a glass tribe.  Years ago we met mostly in workshops, became friends and started getting together to torch, fuse, cast and any other glass activity we could think of.  A while ago we lost the location we used, and we really missed it.  Recently a friend moved into a house with a large garage, and she set up the garage as a glass studio.  Last weekend, we converged on her garage and spent the weekend working together again, at long last.  We had 6 torches and 3 bead kilns set up, along with space for fusing and casting, and a kiln or two for that too.  It was so much fun spending two days working and talking glass with friends who are as fascinated by it as I am!

Because I am getting ready for a huge show (Kutztown Folk Festival), I spent the time making beads, experimenting  with new colors.  I learned some new combinations that work, and some that don't!  It is all good!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Work work work

I worked all day and don't feel like I accomplished anything.  That is probably because I didn't get any beads or jewelry made.  I unpacked the car, did my books, paid some bills, did some laundry, unpacked the bead case, and worked on a list of what I need to make in the next 3 weeks.  It is a really, really long list!  My friend Joan Miller wrote about not having to do the push for a big show this year in East Coast-West Coast Bead Blog, and right now that sounds pretty good.  But I would miss not being at the Kutztown Folk Festival so I will work overtime this month.  I have my list, and will try to follow it, although sometimes the glass has a way of doing what it wants.  Off to torch!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Panic mode

Today I loafed.  It will probably be the last day I can loaf for 6 weeks or so.  Tomorrow I start working overtime to have enough beads and jewelry for the Kutztown Folk Festival.  The festival runs 9 days, this year starting July 3 and running until July 11.  This will be my 15th year exhibiting there- hard to believe. It is a tough show to do, sort of like running a marathon, but it is also a ton of fun. My neighbors at the show have become family- one of them started bringing their 3 grandchildren to the show years ago and I have seen them grow up. They still come by and say hello, and see if I need any help.  The photo is Johnny Claypoole, who painted hex signs.  He has passed away and his son Eric has  picked up the paint brushes to continue the family tradition at the festival.

The food is wonderful- the PA Dutch know how to cook, so I eat good all week.  My favorite is strawberry shortcake with vanilla ice cream!  Down the street from me is an ox roast, and the meat is so tender it melts in your mouth.  There are also sausage sandwiches, funnel cakes, soft pretzels, pork and sauerkraut- I could so on and on but you get the idea.

There is music everywhere with strolling bands and musicians, and clog dancing, and wonderful traditional crafts, and of course quilts!  Hundreds of quilts!  It is a great way to spend the day, or even several days.  I will try to take lots of photos this year!

So off to bed for me.  Tomorrow I work!   

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Audio books

Today I made the same bead, over and over.  Most of them will be made into jewelry, so I needed a big pile.  Usually I get 4 or 5 of these beads done, get bored and start making other beads.  I get bored easily, one of the hazards of a creative mind.  (That is a nice way to say I sometimes have trouble staying on task.)  Today was different though.  My ipod has a very, very long audio book that I got for a long car trip, but I didn't even get halfway through it on the trip.  So for the first time, I tried making beads while listening to a good story, and it worked great.  The time flew and before I knew it, I had a kiln full of these beads.  I will have to find more good audio books!  By the way, the book is Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet.  I highly recommend it for listening or reading!

In my previous glass career making stained glass windows, I couldn't cut glass while listening to a book- I would miss some dialog and have to rewind the tape (this was in the dark ages when they were all "books on tape".)  Guess my mind had to concentrate too much on cutting, although grinding and soldering were fine.  So I wondered if I could make beads listening to a story.  For more complicated beads, it might not work so well, but for production work, it was great!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Studio photos

Keeping my studio somewhat organized is challenging!  One of my biggest problems is how to store all the rods of glass I use to make beads.  Love, love, love the colors!  I need to be able to find the colors I want, and also see when a color is getting low so I can re-order.  I re-purposed the wood cubes- they were toy storage for my kids, who have been out on their own for quite a while.  Then I bought plastic downspouts, cut it into 14" lengths, and stacked it in the cubes.  I tried to keep the transparent colors in one section, opaque colors in another section, etc, but as I keep adding new colors, I am running out of room!  There is a section with mystery glass- I don't know the manufacturer or the color name.  It sure makes it challenging sometimes!
Every day when I am done torching, I put the glass rods and tools away and sweep all the chips off.  I like to start the day with a clean workbench.  It doesn't stay that way for long, but if I start out that way, I seem to be able to concentrate on the beads and not the mess.  Wow, my water dish is really dirty!  Instead of didymium eyeglasses, I use a shield, which I love.  My original thought was that if the prescription for my eyeglasses changes, I would have to get new didymiums, which can be quite expensive.  With the shield, I can wear my own eyeglasses.  A side benefit- it shields a lot of the heat from hitting my face, so in the summer, it is much cooler!

I keep tools in cups and glass rods in pots, all within reach.  The table behind me holds lots of other goodies, like silver foil and leaf, enamels, frits and wire.  They all have proper homes, but they never seem to get there.  This is all the stuff I use on a regular basis, and it seems like too much work to put it all away, and then get it out the next day.

My studio is my favorite place in the world! 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

New book!

 Big news today!  I just signed a contract for writing another glass beadmaking book with Stackpoole Publishing.  There goes any free time for the rest of the year!

I enjoyed writing my first book, Glass Beads: Tips, Tools and Techniques for Learning the Craft, which was aimed for beginners.  This one will be a little different, with some advanced techniques among other things.  The same photographer, Kevin Brett of Soul Imagery will be working with me, which makes me very happy.  He takes amazing photographs!

The rest of this year will be spent either making beads, putting jewelry together, or writing my book- and also a few necessary activities like paying bills and doing shows to pay those bills.  That leaves no time for cleaning the house or cooking.  Oh well.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

No power!

What a weekend!  Our power went off yesterday evening and didn't come back on until late this morning.  With no power, I couldn't make beads, read, put jewelry together, work on the computer, etc, etc, etc.  I finally played solitaire on my little netbook for a while, and went to bed early- not an easy thing for me, being such a night owl.  This morning I decided to do some shopping, something I seldom do, and before I got out of the house, the power was back on.  I went shopping anyway since I wanted speakers for my ipod for my studio- I really don't like the ear plugs, and I had a coupon so away I went.  Found a great little set I think.  I plan on listening to an audio book while making beads.  Last weekend, on a long trip to upstate NY, I started listening to Pillars of the Earth.  After at least 10 hours, I didn't put much of a dent in it.  I didn't realize it was so long when I bought it!

Next week I promise more photos!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

3 goals for 2009

Last year I had 3 goals to accomplish:

1. Redesign my website, which I did.
2. Get beads up on etsy to sell.  I sort of did this.  At one point I had 6 beads up for sale, but I never added more, and the listings expired.  I have finally realized that I really don't want to do this!  There is always something else to work on and it keeps getting pushed to the bottom of the pile, so for now, I will concentrate on selling my beads in other ways.
3. Make a blog.  So I am only 5 months late on this one, but I finally got it done.  There are still a lot of things that need tweaked, but it is up and I am posting, so that counts.

So far this year, I don't have any specific goals other than the usual- lose weight, make lots of beads, have more patience, solve the world's problems.  One thing at a time....

I finally created a blog- I think! There are lots of things I want to customize, but I can work on that a little at a time. So now I need to think about what I want to say. My life is similar to many other artists, and to other glass bead makers, but to anyone else, it probably looks pretty bizarre! I am a night owl, and work on my computer late at night. If I get on during the day, the hours slip away and before I know it, I haven't finished anything else. As it is, I often go to bed around 2 or 3am- way too late, which makes mornings difficult. My friends know to not call before 11am or so!

For the last several years, this bead has been my signature bead. I call it my window bead. I create the windows by grinding and polishing them (on the front and back) after I make the bead, using lapidary equipment. It is time consuming, but worth the effort.

Tomorrow I plan to spend the day running errands. Maybe on Friday I can get on my torch again to make beads, my favorite way to spend the day!