Tuesday, June 23, 2009

flower photography

We had a wonderful time camping in the Pecos Wilderness of the Santa Fe National Forest. But when it rained we realized that we need to do something about either waterproofing our tents or replacing them...

We live in such a hot, dry and barren part of the state that it was nice to be in trees, have some cool moist air and topography.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Brief Hiatus

Taking another small camping trip. Back in 4 or 5 days.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


If you appreciate photography/ like to accessorize/ are looking for a really unique and affordable gift for someone, I strongly recommend that you visit mmsomewhere's etsy shop: Photo/Wallets. The artist/proprietor offers her very good art photography in the form of fully functional wallets. (Click on images to go directly to her shop.)

"approximate wallet size = 8"x3.5" (standard size)
graphics printed on double sided premium photo paper.
(paper will crease)
graphic is sandwiched between clear vinyl. sewn."

Walking through her shop is like spending time in an art gallery. She travels a fair bit so the subjects of her photos often have a subtle exoticness. There is a dead goldfish wallet that I'm quite fond of. The wallets with images of bikes leaning against walls have classic appeal. But i think it is her montage type images of architecture and urban subjects with their vivid clolors and intriguing compositions that i would most like to pull out of my purse when i'm buying a gallon of milk down at the corner store.

Monday, June 15, 2009


I photographed this poppy in my garden the other day.

That we find a crystal or a poppy beautiful means that we are less alone, that we are more deeply inserted into existence than the course of a single life would lead us to believe.

~John Berger (English artist)

My next entry will be about a maker of unique wallets/photographs i've come across.

Friday, June 12, 2009

PIF: Spreading the Good Feeling

They say the most meaningful gift is the gift that someone made for you. I guess that's why we are all fans of the handmade marketplace, etsy. There are tons of creative people there, and every one that i've had the pleasure to communicate with has seemed to be warm and friendly: the sort of people that enjoy not just making things, but probably giving things they've made, as well.

I'm pretty cynical and pessimistic, but I'm a genuinely "nice" person (imho) and i firmly believe in the ethic of going out of your way to be nice to others, it will affect them, and they will in turn go out of their way to be nice to someone else. I try to instill that in my three boys. And i've come across many examples of it while talking with etsy sellers i've had the pleasure to blog about. This is what PIF, or "pay it forward," is all about. I visited today's featured artist's etsy shop and was introduced to PIF etsy style.

As well as other things, etsy seller noneoftheabove makes lovely starburst polymer clay pendants (click on photo to go directly to her shop). They're nicely proportioned and i like the off-center crystal surrounded by the tonal gradation of clay dot spray, like a fireworks flower. noneoftheabove explains the reason why she PIF's: "I have been very lucky to have received much kindness in my life and I would like to pay it forward!" In her shop you can have one of her "PIF"-labeled items for the $0.20 listing fee, plus her reasonable s/h fee, and the promise that you will list a PIF item in your shop or perform some other act of kindness for someone. Now that's the true spirit of PIF!

So then you do a term search on etsy to see how widespread the PIF movement is there, and you get 1800+ hits! And get really excited! And then you start looking more closely at those PIF listings and discover that an awful lot of sellers have their own peculiar definitions for "PIF". Some people apparently use it as a tag just to get people to their shops, and don't even have any PIF items. Others say their PIF item is "marked down," but i'll take that with a grain of salt. I found people who might sell a very cheaply made pair of earrings for $1, but charge almost $4 for shipping, which kind of cancels out any real sense of PIF since you know the seller has covered their expenses and made a profit in the bargain. Others sell the leftover scraps from their craft for a few bucks. I'm sure fabric bits and tangled yarn would be useful to someone, but we don't really want to pay forward our garbage, do we? (Sheesh, offer that for free if you want and just feel good about recycling.) Another seller's idea of PIF was to ship your 2nd item for only $0.20 more... Does that make you pause for a moment and reflect on how affecting an act of human kindness can be?

I like noneoftheabove's definition of PIF best. She's offering an item she took significant time and effort to make, and is essentially gifting it to you if you feel you need a pick-me-up; a pretty piece of handmade jewelry. That's really a warm fuzzy. It's a hug, not a business ploy. And i will follow her lead, and her definition, and PIF in my shop starting this weekend. :-D

Glass vs Clay

While flitting through etsy offerings, i couldn't help noticing that artisan polymer clay beads are usually being sold for much less that handmade glass beads. I hope our sisteren don't hate us glassworkers for this inequality. But let's look at it, shall we?

The artist of etsy shop sigaliot (click on photos to go to shop) grabbed my eye with these bead designs. (I'm liking the retro dots thing, and the pink and green color combos, and i love the shapes!) IF, and that's a big if, i could make a bead like this in glass, it would take me at least 20 minutes per bead, i'm thinking. And for me, that makes it a $6 or $8 bead. (I'll explain my pricing system sometime if anyone cares.) Sigaliot doesn't charge that much, and if you look at other clay workers, their prices often look ridiculously low.

So using these beautiful beads as an example, a clay worker would first need to spend a couple of hours to make the canes to get ready to assemble this set of beads. Then there is the cane slicing , the assembling, and the shaping of each bead. I'm guessing, but this step alone might take about 20 minutes per bead. Then after baking, there is the laborious process of hand sanding and buffing to get the lovely, glassy surface shine. I think polymer clay is at least twice as expensive as a similar amount of glass, so there is the added cost of materials, too. Sure, the lampworker has to have a rather pricier oven to "bake" (or anneal) the glass beads, and the gas used in the torch costs something... Okay, so i can' t factor it all in, but it still seems to me that most clay bead makers are getting a bum deal.

At the end of the day, the clay artist has invested hours of labor into one set of beads and it would be nice to see that expertise compensated. I used to tat, and i loved using that classic knotting technique to make a doily, but no one wanted to buy it for more than you would expect to pay for a machine-made, Chinese produced, doily that you can get down at the Dollar Store. There are so many arts and fine crafts that suffer this fate. I'm sure it's a labor of love for the artist, but i wish the buying public could see their way to putting a fairer monetary value on such beautiful little works of art, a value that better represented the time and expertise that goes into the creation of the piece.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

And yet somehow...

...somehow pretty beads occasionally escape from this chaos!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Twisty Bones

I almost hate to show any of my beads after putting up pictures of such beautiful beads by other people. But what the hey. I made these bone beads with leftover twisties that were just sitting around my work area. Some of these twisties have probably been laying around on my work area for a couple of years... Some day I'll show you my work area. LOL I've never seen a picture of a lampwork bench like mine. Every, and i mean EVERY, picture I've seenof other lampworkers' spaces has looked like some ultra chique designer loft or something. You just know they have climate control, state of the art ventilation, track lighting, padded adjustable chair, ergonomically correct torch angle, and their glass is all filed in labeled cubby holes... Even if I spent days cleaning up my work area and repainted it it wouldn't look anything near as moderne and arty as these lovely studios. So, suffice it to say, I have lots of leftover glass bits laying around my torch begging to be melted, so I made some bones.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

More Brilliant Brites

Another lampwork artist who has mastered the brites pallet is etsy seller michals. (Please click on a photo to go directly to her shop.) She found herself naturally drawn to the bright colors, and says she's developed her recognizable stripes and dots technique over a period of time. She does acknowledge that she will make beads in a certain color scheme if she finds that customers are looking for it, but really she's working in a pallet she enjoys personally.

Michals really does some tricky-looking rainbow gradations, as in this focal bead, as well as some strangely pleasing color combos, as in this pair of pink, orange, periwinkle and muted green nuggets.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Brightening Up Our Day

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere."
-Isaac Asimov

And there does seem to be a science to combining glass colors to produce a bright and pleasing affect. I think you have to have an awareness of hues and intensities and compliments and contrasts that eludes me. Occasionally i will attempt bright, rainbow colored beads, but i've never gotten a result that i'm happy with. So whenever i see beads like today's artist makes, i look closely and i enjoy thoroughly.

When we are carving out our little niche of the etsy marketplace, I've wondered if it pays to restrict your shop to a narrow product. This way all you would have to promote is one kind of item, and once buyers of that item found you, they would always know which shop to go to first. I've wondered if I should offer only my bone-shaped beads, or only my flat fish beads, or only spiky beads in sets of eight...

Curious whether other sellers have made a conscious decision to specialize in one type of thing, I posed that question to etsy seller of undeniably "brite" beads,
beadygirlsbeads. "
That's what I like and that's what inspires me...It wasn't a business decision, I just make what I like and hope that I get some business!"

The beads in beadygirlbeads' shop make me happy, which makes me think that the artist must be in a constant state of joy in order to be able to create them and fill her shop with them (you really must see all of her offerings). Whether that's true or not, i don't think you can look at her beads without feeling somewhat lifted and brighter yourself!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Vivid Camping Experience

Everything about our little camping trip this week was "vivid". It was a wonderful break and my husband, three boys, the dog, and myself really enjoyed it.

Cacti and wildflowers were blooming in abundance. The brick red soil contrasted vividly with the lush green flush of spring foliage. The cottonwoods were fluffing on the breeze. We had a refreshing downpour followed by a vivid rainbow. The sun was hot, the scents of sagebrush and mesquite was heady, and the evening air was as sweet as could be. We enjoyed scenic hiking trails, the boys climbed cliffs and followed a meandering stream and got as dirty as they used to when we camped with them as little children. My only complaint is that they seem to make the ground harder every year. We're going to have to start packing an air mattress on camping trips, for us oldies.

My next series of blog entries will be devoted to vivid color combos that i've found in the etsy bead shops. Please stayed tuned for some spiritlifting.