Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"Keep Trying" Tuesday

I'm trying to make bird beads today. I'm still in the trial and error stage. I think i want to make my birds a little more accurate to the real critter than these. One of the best things about trying to capture the nature of an object, whether you are drawing, painting or sculpting it, is that it really makes you LOOK at the object with new eyes. I thought i knew what birds looked like, but apparently they don't have round heads... I need to look at some real birds, and then try the mini glass sculpting again.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Business Machine Monday

As a follow up to my last "Business Machine Monday", I returned to ebay to test the waters last week, but found that my beads got very few looks, zero watchers and zero bids. Proving that it isn't the right venue for me and my little old business. But then again, beads aren't exactly flying off the shelf in the etsy shop these past two weeks either.

As one who has a lot of beads, folks almost always assume that i make jewelry. Maybe I should. But i don't. I really only enjoy making the beads.

But here's my business dilemma:

Let's pretend that the people supplying beads, buying beads, and those buying finished jewelry, are all in three differently sized swimming pools. In the kiddie pool with dancing elephants on the side you have me and the other handmade bead artisans. We supply the jewelry makers who fill the kidney-shaped in-ground pool with the lovely Grecian tile border. There are lots more folks in that pool, but since there aren't that many of us in the kiddie pool, i figure i may have a half a chance of getting noticed and selling my wares. Over there, in the official Olympics-sized pool, are the masses upon masses of buyers of finished jewelry. I decide that by staying in the little pool, i have a better chance of being picked than if i moved up to the kidney pool and made jewelry, and then hoped to be noticed by someone in the Olympic pool.

But, if i made finished jewelry ALSO, i might get a few jewelry buyers kind of stumble into my shopIF what i offer is very specific. For instance, i would be one of a gazillion people selling it if i sold bead earrings. But if i sold sock monkey bead earrings, that would put me pretty much in a bird bath, to continue my pool analogy. If anyone was looking specifically for sock monkey earrings, i'd be their man!

It's just a minor detail that the number of people looking for sock monkey bead earrings happen to be splashing about in a thimble.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Wicked Movie Quote

Hannibal Lecter: And what did you see, Clarice? What did you see?
Clarice Starling: Lambs. The lambs were screaming.

We went to the county fair last night and i took this photo of a lamb in a Hannibal Lecter mask. I think the mask is keeping the lamb from nibbling things it shouldn't, but it looked so much like the mask in The Silence of the Lambs it cracked me up.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Suddenly Thursday

Incapable of daily blog lately. But share my little spit of excitement today as i open the new glass order:

As you can see by the size of the bundles of rods, it is the ivory colored glass that i go through quickest (Band O Silvers, and GemBonz). When i get down to one or two rods of other colors, it is time to reorder them, too. I had 4 inches of orange glass left from a long time ago, so even tho i don't use it very often, when you put in an order you do a lot of "well you never know, i might want to make a ton of pumpkin beads for halloween". Because it's always fun to have a lot of colors in the workshop.

I keep all of the transparent rods in one holder, and all of the pastel colors in another container. I've seen pictures of other lampworkers' studios, and their colors are all separated in an "organized" fashion. But i figure, if you know what you want you can find it, and if you don't know what you want and could use a little inspiration, just look at the glass pile and see what's looking good together!

I can't wait to use the dark purple red. That's a gorgeous color. I'm thinking lime green and turquoise might fall out well beside it. I got more sludge (the bead release that you coat the steel mandrel with before you start winding the molten glass on it). And another book of silver foil sheets.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Special Bead Sunday

I have the radio in my workshop dialed to public radio these days and i was listening to the opera Tosca when i came up with this glass combination. It's an opulent beauty. I love the warmth of the amber and pink, the lightness of the all-transparent glass, and the slight pearliness that the silver gave to the rubino pink within those big glassy bumps.

Tosca is available in my etsy shop, The Bead You Need, as of this morning.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Do You Ever Feel Like Skipping a Day?

I had to avoid posting yesterday, since it could only have been Whiny Wednesday, and that's not the www persona i'm trying to foster here. But things are looking up today, and so it is Thankful Thursday!

I am thankful for so many things (although i could probably whine about just as many things), like i'm so thankful that my husband's job still seems pretty stable. When there are so many people being laid off, we'll accept the wage freeze, and the lack of Christmas bonus, with hardly a grumble. (See, i snuck a subtle whine in there, didn't i?)

I'm thankful for the internet and so many people uploading so much information. I would love to try the Double Helix glass rods, but not many of them work with the propane torch. But because other propane people have "tried" new glasses, and then have posted about their successes and failures, i have a slightly better idea whether i would be wasting my money in buying these cool glasses to use on my set up. I just put in a glass order to Arrow Springs, and i did not pull the trigger on the Double Helix this time. Maybe i'll put it on my Christmas list, but at this point i can't afford to "try" something that i'm just not sure will give me some sort of results i can use. (~$25 per 1/4 lb. of one type.) What i'd be REALLY thankful for, is if someone out there would be willing to sell me a couple of rods of the DH colors that i have the best chance of success with on my propane system. I understand that propane torches don't work with the striking colors, but that some people can get good results with reducing colors, like Triton and Psyche.

If a little kitty or puppy was wondering around lost and overwhelmed in the middle of a parking lot, i'd like to think that most people would take some time to take the poor little thing to safety, by either dropping it off at an animal shelter or taking it home and pressuring everyone they know to adopt it. But i'm thankful that some people care about the welfare of hideously unattractive creatures, too. This snapping turtle might not have been feeling lost or overwhelmed, but he was probably feeling a little stunned and unsure about where the water went. And for all i know, he might have a sweet personality. He was in a big gravel parking lot, a good half mile from a wet ditch. Someone heaved him into their pick up and then took it to the university where they found my hubby who offered to take temporary custody. So this guy is living in our bath tub until Saturday when he will be transported to a permanent body of water, away from hiways and parking lots.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What They Tell Me Tuesday

I like the ring of that -- I'm a good listener. They tell me a lot.

They tell me that their friends were bragging on the various reasons they got banned from WalMart. One girl got banned for "cereal surfing" down the aisle on a bag of MaltOMeal. Now that's imaginative, but not a good activity. I wonder if it was a lifelong ban...

They tell me in the news that the high school didn't even put the graduate's name in the yearbook (Mississippi) because she was more comfortable wearing the tux in the official photo, instead of the drape that the other girls were photographed in. Seems to me that wearing either should be good enough. I'm sure she looked very neat and respectable, which must have been the intent of the tux and drape rule. How long have females been wearing pants now?? Seems to me the shock of a female in trousers might have worn off by now. Oh yeah, she's gay. Gee, do you think a touch of homophobia might have been the real reason for bringing all the "rules" to bear? I have such little patience for narrowmindedness.

They tell me they need 8 duo-tangs, 7 binders, with a set of dividers, pens, pencils, highlighters, calculators. Hey, guess what? The last one is now out of the glue stix and scissors grades!

They tell me that they missed picture day last year so their school ID card is blank, and it's okay if they laminate a picture of Jesus on it. There is a resemblance. But there sure isn't a halo.

They tell me the $60 shoes will last at least 3 times as long as the $20 shoes. Smart kid. They tell me everyone is wearing No Show socks. They tell me they always thought school cafeteria lunches would be better than my sack lunches--they tell me they were wrong about that. :-)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Business Machine Monday?

No, that doesn't sound very catchy.

But nevermind. My kids have been doing a bit of buying and selling on ebay lately, which made me decide to check into the handmade lampwork bead business on ebay.

It has been maybe 3 years since i last tried to sell my beads on ebay. At that time it was very frustating because there would be 10,000 listings in the "handmade lampwork U.S." category. The vast majority of these auctions would be from sellers of mass-produced beads made in China or India, and the legitimate handmade artisans were just lost in the pile. And that is why so many of us have set up over at etsy, and other artisan-friendly sites.

But currently there are just over 2,000 ebay auctions listed in the "handmade lampwork U.S." category. Most of them are still the mass-produced sort of beads, but i thought it might be a place to try to get rid of the vast quantities of miscellaneous beads that a bead maker amasses. So i'll see how it goes, but if most of the sellers have gone to places like etsy, it would make sense that the buyers have followed them.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Introducing Salivating Sunday Posts

It's Salivating Sunday! I give you one piece of eye candy that has me salivating. This set of handmade lampwork glass beads comes from the etsy shop radiantmind. Gorgeous beads, gorgeous photo.

Friday, August 13, 2010

All Sorts of Photographers

The digital age has had a huge affect on amateur photography. Remember the shoe box your granny would pull out from the back of the closet? Remember all the black and white photos of the cousins on your uncle's side? If you were lucky enough to have had a fore bearer with an interest in cameras and photography, perhaps your relatives were photo-documented in focus. Perhaps they were even "good" photos. But often the only photos considered worth passing down were the ones taken by the professional photographer, who would have captured the staged images of the "important" life events: bride and groom, the graduate, the family portrait.

Now almost everyone has a digital camera and since the cost of film and developing is no object, we take thousands of photos each. And we take photos of everything: the really good Ruben sandwich we had for lunch, the cat sleeping, the layout of the furniture in the living room, ... I like the idea of having our daily lives documented, not just the big milestones along the way, not just when we are wearing expensive clothes and have our hair parted straight. I don't know that my distant descendant will ever want to look at my digital photo collection, though.

I've had my current camera for three years and i tripped the 10,000 image mark last month. I'm not saying i'm a great photographer, but that kind of practice has to show somehow. I have to hope it does. Pre-digital, not many people could have afforded that much film and developing.

I know a few teenaged girls that take an awful lot of self portrait photos for their FaceBook pages. And they have gotten REALLY good at taking wonderful photographs of themselves. I've tried it. I can't do it. But in their cases, practice has led to perfection.

I think that taking a good photograph is all about observation of the subject and then capturing the subject in such a way that you are communicating something fundamental about the subject to the viewer. When you have a certain amount of experience in taking photographs, you start making creative choices that influence the outcome. Even if you are just looking at your photos and observing that "this one sucks, but this one's ok", you're being artistically discerning, sort of. If you want to look good for your FaceBook shot, you learn from experience about harsh vs. filtered light, 3/4 angle vs. nostril shot, big toothy grin vs. Mona Lisa smile, loud stripes shirt vs. a solid color, stuff in the background vs. simple backdrop.

Considering all the young people snapping photos with digital cameras and cell phones these days, and all the YouTube videographers, I theorize that there are more inadvertent artists amongst us than ever before. Something positive about Generation Y!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dr. Lisa Says

Just like the song: he learned to walk while i was away.

I'm very happy to be back to the part-time nannying again. Pip is faster and busier than he was a month ago, but we still have a bond, and i'm so set to vicariously enjoy his wide-eyed wonder. I'm looking forward to a full morning of putting little sticks down holes, picking wild flowers for mom, putting pebbles in a bucket of water, bouncing golf balls down the steps, pulling books off the shelves, going Godzilla on block towers, ... I love it. For a few hours a day. I can't maintain it much beyond that before i start longing for more mature diversions, but it certainly provides a good counterbalance to the rest of my life. Everyone should get to spend an hour with a sweet child at the beginning of the day, and an hour with a cat and a good book at the other end of the day. There's my "feel good" prescription.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

X Fish Up

New X Fish beads are now in the etsy shop.

GemBonz are moving up town! I mean to use sterling silver findings. I need to find a clasp that will open wide enough to fit over the heavier D-rings on a size large dog collar, but not be too big in proportion with the bone bead. I'm going for a one size fits all item. And the bones will be larger than i had been making them, too, thus becoming more of a statement. And i'm getting rid of the Swarovski crystal on the charm (unless someone specifically requests it). I'll just use a round sterling bead. And with the sterling findings, the charms will look nicer when worn as human jewelry, too. I think that will cover all the bases. I offered too many options before. Some people like the choices, but others don't want to have to think options when they're just shopping and having a good time. Hey, sounds fun! I should spend more time shopping... :-)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Trademark? Phhht...

Oh boy. So a few months ago i had to cease and desist from using the name "BirthBones" for my bone-shaped birthstone charms because i was infringing on someone's trademark. After brainstorming with my friend we came up with a brilliant new name: Gem Bones. But alas, it also has been previously thought up and registered. As far as i can tell after my visit to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website, there is no Gem Bonz or GemBonz name registered yet, so i'm running with it, so to speak.

The cost to register a trademark with the USPTO is $275-$325. I won't be coughing it up. The amount of business i do is so small that it probably isn't worth it. IF someone comes along and registers the name out from under me, i'll either change names again, or move on to something else, i figure. Cut throat business woman here, eh?

All Cats Present and Accounted For

When i woke up this morning, something was different ... (photo from mikeZellers blog).

The last of our cats turned up yesterday to welcome us home from holidays. I was happier to see Stinky than he was to see me. I thought the sound of my voice sweet-talking him would twig a memory for him--cuddling in bed and getting the kind of treatment cats love. But, nothing. He just gave me his back. Oh well, all the cats become sucky, fat house cats once the colder weather comes. I try not to be hurt, and bide my time till November.

It should be another good day for bead production. Tomorrow i will begin to list new items in the shop. Hubby and the boys are heading out to the Bosque to fish and poke about for various invertebrate specimens for classes, which begin all too soon. That leaves me home alone to do whatever i want to do! I will be distracted by the garden for a while--we had a soaking rain on Thursday night and the moisture makes it so much easier to pull weeds (got a great crop in the rock garden after being away on vacation for a month. It never ceases to amaze me how much vegetation the desert can produce! The "unwanted" sort of vegetation, at least.) There is a countywide ban on watering, so if we could get another rain today, the" wanted" plants will be very appreciative. About 2 days of this 95F weather, on sandy soil, is all it takes to dry out the gardens and set the plants to suffering. Rain, plox.

I should have planted my vegetables much earlier in the spring than i did, but i harvested a few carrots and beets yesterday--getting lost under the overgrown marigolds seems to have helped them not get too dry and shrively. I missed eating the beet greens this year, but look forward to making a nice pot of borsch.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Simpsons Did It

There was a Simpsons frog in the clouds! (I outlined it for you if you don't find it yourself.) hee hee

HOT Ink and R.B.Awesome

The Devil's Ink Well is scooped out of rough red rock. The water pooled within is Kelly green and full of little blue fish, darting and shimmying. The sky glowed neon blue. My nostrils are scorched by fumes of salt and sulfur, hanging in the still desert air. Cicadas shrill in the...

The "poetic magic" was shattered by the arrival of pick-ups and jeeps. Out leap 6 highly organized teen aged boys who waste no time in dragging a basketball net up to the lip of the Well. One boy is designated videographer, recording his mate, "Real Bro Awesome" (lol), as he attempts to heave a basketball into the net from a spot halfway around the rim of the Devil's Ink Well. Two boys are on backstop duty, one is a runner, carrying the balls back up to "Awesome" when he runs out of balls, and one boy is halfway down the wall with a rope and seems to be ready to retrieve balls if they fall into the "Ink". They called their stunt "The Bottomless Shot", and i have no doubt we will be able to find it on YouTube soon, when they successfully shoot their stunt.

Their degree of organization and planning was impressive. I expect they haul their net and balls to all sorts of places to make YouTube-worthy shots. Real Bro Awesome is probably already a household word, at least in the Roswell high school. :-)

There is a fad of YouTube videos of people making amazing basketball shots, outside of any basketball game or court. It's good having teens myself, or i would miss out on the waves of video subjects that YouTube attracts. I would have missed the 10,000 videos of talking cats, for instance. It's fascinating. If Mr. Awesome had sunk his shot before i got bored, i might even have been in his video and had my tag-along second of fame.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Who? Who? I'll tell you who: jfarrisfromtheheart, that's who...made these neato polymer clay owl beads.

My little niece was born with an owl fetish and i'm going to do something with these for her. Perhaps just a loop of nice satin cord so that she can hang them from drawer knobs and such.

Jfarrisfromtheheart makes some really fine insect pins and pendants, too.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Back at the Ranch

Home at last! What a great holiday we had, though. Fond memories to see us through the winter. [Here's a picture of us taking a break on the long homeward journey, having a sandwich at Monument Rocks, in Kansas.]

A strange thing happened on my trip. In the two days it took to drive up to Canada, i sat in the co-pilot seat and did nothing. I didn't even have a book to read. And i did the same thing on the way back down. I had my notebooks with me. I could have written. I could have designed beads or jewelry. I know that if i had brought needle, thread, and socks with me, i would have made critters. But i didn't even do that. One of my sons had an extra novel, so i read Steven King's Tommyknockers for half a day, until the kid wanted his book back. What a shameful waste of several days, though!

We got home last night, and this morning i took my etsy shop off Vacation Mode. And almost immediately, i had a couple of sales. Thank you, buyers! So i'm going to run out to the workshop tonight and do some beadmaking. Nothing like sales to light the fire under me and get me moving. Don't get me wrong--i would make beads anyway. But when there is the incentive for cash, it motivates me. I'm crass, that way.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


The return leg of the migration begins in the morning. It has been a wonderful visit with family and friends, but it will be good to get home and take up our responsibilities-- especially the various pets who may be half psychotic by now, although i'm certain our pet sitter is doing an excellent job. And we are so grateful for his willingness to look after the menagerie!

Two days on the road, and a day to get organized, do laundry, and get a start weeding the gardens. Then i hope to have the etsy shop open, and the business of making beads rolling again. Woohoo!