Sunday, December 30, 2012

Resolutions 2013

Resolution time.  This year I have so many things I should do that I can't decide on which ones to focus on.  I have been working on simplifying my life, but for each step toward that goal, it seems like life takes me two steps back.  Maybe I should work on not stressing over the little things- that seems more manageable.  Life is too short to wear tight shoes!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Bead room clean-up

With family coming for the holidays, I had to clean off the sofa in my bead room so someone can sleep there.  Usually it is piled with boxes, display items, and lots of miscellaneous stuff, but now someone could actually sit on it.  It was a good reason to spend some time organizing all the stuff that has been piled up for the last few months.  I even ran the vacuum and heard lots of little click, click, clicks.  I know the sofa won't stay cleaned off, but it feels good to have at least that part of my bead room all spiffed up! 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Santas are out!

Over the years my Santa collection has grown.  It wasn't planned, it just happened all by itself!  They are very special to me because they are all handmade and I know the artists who created each one.  The tallest one is very special.  It was created by Silvia Hendershott, and she has retired as a craftswoman. 

This is just a small portion of my collection.  I don't plan on adding more because I am running out of space! 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My kilns

 To make lampwork beads that will last, they must be annealed in a kiln. Most bead kilns have a bead door that you can open and insert your beads still on their mandrels, which is ideal. Think about what you are going to use your kiln for most of the time and buy the kiln based on that need. I am a fan of buying a kiln for beads and a different one for fusing or PMC. Sometimes trying to get one that will do all these things results in none of them being done well.

Think about whether you want (or need) a digital controller. They raise the cost considerably, but are very helpful in following your annealing schedule. For beads, the firing schedule is relatively simple, but for complicated schedules for fusing or casting glass, a digital controller makes it much easier. If you happen to come across a really good deal on a bead kiln that doesn't have a digital controller, you can buy one and install it yourself, which is usually pretty simple.  An important consideration is the electric requirement. Most bead kilns can be simply plugged into a household outlet, but larger kilns may need a dedicated 200 amp outlet, so be sure to check the requirement of any kiln you are considering. Generally, the bigger the kiln, the more amps it requires to operate.

Another consideration is the type of insulation in the kiln. Ones built with firebrick (these look sort of like white bricks) will take longer to heat up to your working temperature, and then will take longer to cool down to room temperature- not necessarily a bad thing. A kiln lined with fiber blanket heats up and cools off much faster. It cools off fast enough that usually you must fire down (control the heat when coming down to room temps) or your beads can crack. Many firebrick kilns cool off slow enough that they can simply be turned off after an initial soak. A firebrick kiln is more fragile and not very portable. Usually you set them up and leave them there. Most of the toolbox type kilns use fiber blanket, making them much lighter and easy to carry around. These are ideal for beads, since you can easily put your beads in the kiln with the mandrels sticking out, but they don't work too well for fusing or PMC. After a lot of use, the fiber blanket will get mashed down and may need replaced at some point. I have one I have used for over 10 years, and while the blanket is much thinner than it was originally, it still does its job just fine.

My first kiln was a large one I used for fusing glass. It is a top loading kiln with elements in the sides and top and has a 36” diameter. I tried using this to anneal my beads, but it didn't work because the kiln lost too much heat every time I opened the door to put a bead in. I could have used it for batch annealing- making a bead, putting it in vermiculite or fiber blanket to slow down its cooling, and then putting the room temperature beads in the kiln and running a schedule. But there was a risk of beads cracking, so I bought my first toolbox kiln from Don McKinny, pictured at the top.  Unfortunately he no longer makes them- it is my favorite kiln, hands down! It is for annealing beads only, but I can get piles of beads in it. 

Then I decided I wanted to try some casting, and I found a great deal on a firebrick kiln that was for beads also. I thought that was a good idea- I would have a back-up kiln for beads in case my toolbox kiln went down. There was no digital controller on that kiln so I bought that separately. I simply stuck the probe in the peephole in the kiln, and programmed some schedules into the box. However I was having some beads crack, and it finally occurred to me that the probe reading the temps was 6-8 inches above the floor of the kiln. Since heat rises, I thought maybe the floor of the kiln was too cool, and sure enough, the floor of the kiln was 100 degrees cooler! So I added 100 to the numbers in the firing schedule, and then it worked fine.

 The most common problem with kilns is the elements burning out, and if you are at all handy, they are not difficult to replace yourself. Don't fire your kiln over the temperature it is rated for, because that greatly shortens the life of the elements. With a little care, your kiln will work for many years!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Workshop on electroforming

I had a great workshop last weekend!  It was hard taking the time out of my studio, but well worth it.  The instructor was Kate Fowle Meleney ( and the subject was enamels and metals on glass beads, and most importantly, electroforming beads. I have wanted to try that for a long time, and I think this will be the kick I need to actually do it!  The process deposits copper on the glass, and the results can be very organic or very controlled.  I haven't seen Kate for quite a while, so it was fun to catch up with her, and her beads are awesome!  My head is full of so many ideas now I just need some time to work on them.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Two necklaces

The last few nights I have been working on two necklaces.  The focal beads are large, hollow boro beads and very similar in color.  Since most of my design time is spent going through my stash of stones, pearls, crystals, etc, I decided to put both necklaces together at the same time.  But after getting a pile of beads from my stash that I thought might work, I discovered that the focal beads are just different enough in color that they needed different stones, so there went that idea.  I usually string each strand in the necklace using mostly one stone, with something thrown in for contrast.  The necklace in the top photo has two strands of  amber stones (fossilized coral and sunstone- love them both!), a strand of aquamarine, and a strand of dark purple crystals.  For the necklace in the bottom photos, I mixed it up more, with each of the three strands strung with a mix of all the stones and crystals I used.  I am not sure which method I like best!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Family photos

I was in upstate NY a few weekends ago with my 3 sisters. We all brought along old family photos, 7 boxes in all, and tried to decide what to do with them. We sorted and weeded out the duplicates, and then divided them between us. We plan on scanning them, uploading to a photo site and having a family photo album printed. We found some real treasures!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

new necklace

I finished a necklace tonight.  The focal is a blown boro bead.  I love the organic nature of it, and I found some unpolished labradorite that matched it well.  There are pearls too, and tiny seed beads to bring in another color.  I tried to finish another necklace, but I must have measured wrong and it was too short.  I have to restring it, but it won't take as much time as stringing it in the first place, since I have made all the design decisions.  Shows are coming up fast!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


This month has been tough!  I was either at a show or teaching every weekend so far, and I have not been feeling well.  What started out as a nasty cold has morphed into a sinus infection, so I am taking antibiotics again and hoping I will feel ok by the weekend for yet another show.  Especially this time of year, I have no time to be sick.  I have not been able to work on my torch, or even put jewelry together, so I am really behind.  Those of us who are self-employed really suffer when we are ill.  No work, no pay.  When I do feel better, I will be working overtime trying to catch up a little!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Time flies

Where did Sept go?  My fall shows have started and several teaching weekends are coming up, which means it will be a while before I have a free weekend.  I didn't get everything on my list done last month, and it won't be done this month for sure.  Maybe starting my January to-do list would be a good idea.

People tell me it is good to be busy, and I totally agree.  But a little down time would be nice too!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Keyring bead

Oh happy day!  I have my favorite keyring bead again.  Years ago I wired it to my keyring to see if the bead would survive.  It is about 2 1/4" long and thin, and it survived just fine.  The wire has broken several times where it wraps around the keyring, but not the bead.  I had been making a lot of long, thin beads then, and was asked all the time how strong they were.  I think I proved they are not fragile at all!  Over a year ago, it disappeared.  Last weekend, a friend saw it on the floor of my car!  (We won't say anything about how often I clean my car.)  Once again, the wire had broken.  This time I used two lengths of wire to attach it- we will see if that works any better.  I always liked how 'clean' the bead is, and how the cane wraps around it.  I was not trying to wind it evenly; I wanted it to look like a natural vine.  I had grown attached to it, and really missed it.  I am happy that it came back to me!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Black beads and pearls

While I was sorting all my stone beads and pearls, I found these black pearls and immediately thought they would look good with my black hollow boro beads.  I like the contrast between the rough, jagged pearls and smooth beads.  So after taking a color theory class and sorting all my beads by color, I ended up making a black necklace!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Organizing beads

Ok, I give up!  I bought another drawer unit for my stone beads.  I now have 9 drawers full, each color in its own drawer.  The pearls are in their own drawer unit, and another unit is full of seed beads.  I discovered I have too many green stone beads.  Why, I have no idea.  That is not one of my favorite colors, so I don't know why I bought so many.  Now I need to figure out a way to sort them by shades.  Will this never end?

The cases on top are full of silver beads, silver findings, copper findings, etc.  I could spend days and days sorting and organizing!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Millifiori weekend

Last weekend I got to torch for 2 days with my glass tribe.  We picked a theme this time- millifiori.  For non-glass people, you make a thick cane with a design in it and pull it out to 1/4"-1/2", cut it into slices (milli's) and apply those slices to a bead.  Lots of work, but the results can be great!  I started with an attempt at a pink flower cane, but the colors were too close so the design couldn't be seen.  Then I made a cane with stripes on it.  They looked very organic to me, so I made several beads with ivory, silver leaf and dark amber, and applied the milli to that.  One of them cracked unfortunately.  I do like these beads and will explore this more.  Then I tried another flower cane using blue glass.  I didn't have time to cut it into slices and apply them to a bead, so I don't know if the cane was successful.  We will see.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Kutztown 2012

Ok, I stole 2 photos from one of my favorite blogs- Brothers-Handmade.  Both Joel and Rob were at the Kutztown Folk Festival.  They travel around the country, take amazing photos and blog about the shows and exhibitors.  I look hot, temperature wise, certainly not style wise.  Maybe because it was hot!  I have one of the coolest spots in the show, under big trees, and there is usually a nice breeze blowing-  sometimes too much breeze. Everything is clamped or tied down.

Talking about being hot, the Wheaton Arts Glassblowers were there with regular demonstrations.  They are a real crowd pleaser and help to educate people about glass.  I love to watch them, but I prefer to work with my torch on a  much smaller scale.  We usually get to discuss glass a few times during the week, which is always fun.  Hope to see them next year again!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Kutztown Folk Festival is over!

The Kutztown Folk Festival is over!  It is 9 days long, and this year was grueling.  It was hot, hot hot all week!  We drank lots of water, ran fans, used neck coolers, and drank smoothies that were so cold they hurt going down. I had lots of help all week, but there were times when I wondered why I put myself through this!  Doing shows is hard work, and this is one of the hardest.  But I guess the bottom line is I love meeting the people who like my work enough to give me their hard earned money for it.  I would be creating my beads and jewelry regardless, and I feel blessed to be able to have a great business that I love.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Designing necklaces

It was hard, but I got out of my studio for a day and took a workshop on designing necklaces.  This month I have been working overtime making beads and jewelry for the, but the workshop came up, and I couldn't pass it up.  Penny Diamanti, from Beadazzled, was the instructor, and the class was so inspiring!  I have so many new ideas, which is exactly why I took the class.  I had hoped it would push me out of my comfort zone, and it worked!  The first photo was layer 1 of necklaces, and there were 3 or 4 more layers to inspire us. 

I took some of my animal print beads and a bag of assorted stone beads, and we picked through them and chose a color scheme that worked.  That night I couldn't sleep with all the ideas running through my head!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Panic time

June 1st!  Well, actually it is June 2, but close enough.  This starts my yearly panic, making beads and jewelry for the Kutztown Folk Festival.  It is a 9 day festival so I need to have lots and lots of beads and jewelry!  My work table is a mess, which means I have been working.   I really do need to finish some of those projects so I can see what I have done, and what I need to work on.

I worked hard in May to cross items off my to-do list so I could concentrate on studio work this month, but fate is playing with me.  Among lots of other things that keep popping up, I have jury duty on June 25.  I will try to get excused from that.  I am all for civic duty, but not 3 days before I set up for my biggest show of the year. 

My pile of beads is growing and the boxes of my jewelry is filling.  While I am torching, I am listening to Water for Elephants and really enjoying it.  Now if I can just keep going until the end of the month!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I can now officially zentangle!  On Sat I took a class with Katy Abbott (great teacher!) and loved it, as I knew I would.  I love lines!  These are the first tiles from everyone in the class, and I think it is fascinating how different they are.  This is very similar to some doodling I often draw, but more organized.  I will have to restrain myself- I must make beads and jewelry for my 9 day show in early July.  Once that is over, I am looking forward to exploring this more!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Black blown boro beads

Tonight I finally put together a necklace that has been in my mind for a while.  I made these black blown boro beads (say that fast!) months ago and didn't know what to do with them.  They are so plain!  When I saw a strand of the rough crystal quartz, I suddenly knew!  I may tweak it a little yet (the photo definitely needs tweaked!) but essentially, this is it.  I love it when something speaks to me!

eglassplace's photostream

black & white hollowblack and whitemore black and whitekumihimo and hollow borosboro hollowskumihimo and hollow boros
snowmen and treesamber cone shaped pendantblown hollow bead necklaceIMG_1019blown hollow beadamethyst necklace
green rutilated quartz necklacered velvet necklacequartz slab necklacequartz slab necklacered velvet necklaceblue multi-strand necklace
teal multi-strand necklaceblown hollowblown hollows and matching setshollowsaquamarine and boro beadblues pendant

Stained glass

Today I started organizing all my slides of my stained glass designs.  Those of you who applied to shows years ago will remember all the hassle with slides- this was before digital photography.  Because I applied to many shows, I have many slides of the same piece, and that is totally unnecessary now since I haven't made any stained glass for years.  I have all my slides out because I am working on a book of my stained glass patterns, so it seemed like a good time to throw out duplicates and bad shots.  But what was I thinking, starting such a big project when I am so busy!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Serendipity, or kumihimo & beads

 Serendipity!  I love it when things come together!  Several years ago I got hooked on kumihimo, a type of braiding, and I made a lot of necklaces.  Most were done with eyelash yarns (I love the texture!) and finished into necklaces, and there were 4 of them still hanging around.  Several weeks ago I made some blown hollow boro beads and accidentally used the wrong mandrels so their holes were much larger than normal.  Last night, lightening struck!  The holes slid over the cones on the ends of the necklaces, and some of the colors matched!  I now have 2 new eye catching necklaces!