Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bones Bonanza!

I've been messing around with some fantastic new glass colors, and first i made some heart beads as samples and then i made some little bones as samples. As most of the colors i was enthused with were actually kind of "gunky", they looked better as bones than as hearts. Check out the olive green ones, the ones with the surface sheen. That is a Vetrofond ODD called "verde muschio", if i got that right. It starts out as a transparent glass, but the more you work it, the more opaque and creamy olive it becomes. I can't seem to control the sheen, how and when it comes out, but i really like the transparent-opaque feature. Anyway, soon i had a small pile of bones on the table and they seemed to be sorting themselves into nice color combos. I listed a couple of "piles" of tiny bone beads in The Bead You Need this week.

Now, if anyone knows of some greyblue glasses that will give me this similar "gunky" look, please let me know-- i want 'em!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mmmm. Sponge Toffee.

I haven't made this since i was a teenager. I found two different recipes, both very simple. Basically, you boil 1 c. white sugar and 1 c. corn syrup until hard ball stage (300F). Remove from heat and whip in 1 t. vanilla, followed by 2 t. baking soda. Pour immediately into a foil-lined 9x13 inch dish. Cool, and break into pieces. Dip in chocolate if desired.

When making the first batch i used a recipe that called for less syrup, and partially substituted some honey for some of the corn syrup, and then proceeded to scald the mixture. But boy did it foam up (bottom stratum in the photo). Getting past the burnt sugar taste, i could tell that i didn't like how strong the honey taste came through.

So for the next attempt (middle stratum), i went to a recipe that called for equal parts sugar and corn syrup. I may have erred on the slightly undercooked side. The resulting candy was a little pale, and it didn't foam up very high at all, and lacked the tangy toasted sugar taste completely.

For my final attempt (top sample), i repeated the former recipe, but used a combo of vinegar and vanilla. I cooked the syrup mixture much more slowly and was more confident of the temperature when i removed the heat. The result was a fairly perfect color, texture, and flavor.

I dipped the pieces in semi-sweet chocolate, which is nice, but next time i would not coat more half of each piece of toffee, just a little bit of chocolate per bite being ideal.

Monday, December 19, 2011

And Yet Another Branch

Branching out still further, i have a new etsy shop, entitled GemBonz. It is a boutique for the pet lover. I only have a handful of items on the shelves at this point--mostly earings and bracelets. I haven't started listing the dog and cat collar charms yet. Instead of having these finished pieces in my The Bead You Need shop, mixed in with all of the loose beads i sell to jewelry makers, it makes sense to me that i offer them in a specialty shop. A shop that people who shop for paw print and dog bone jewelry can easily bookmark and find again and again. ;-)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Going To The Chapel

I hear wedding bells ringing. These little sock monkeys, aptly adorned in royal blue to coordinate with the wedding party, have been invited to A.'s wedding next year. Notice the heart on the back of the heads? They will be given a place of honor, wired in amongst the blooms of the bride's bouquet!

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Bead You Need Branches Out

Notice anything different? New shop! over on ArtFire. So now i am running two shops. Neat thing is, i have them both signed up on Google Analytics, so i can compare how they are doing in terms of numbers of views and such.

The etsy outlet, if i understand these things correctly, is geared primarily for searches within its own site. So mostly, a person isn't going to find my stuff unless i've sent them to it via my own promotion efforts, OR they happen to be on the etsy website. I think etsy claims to have a membership of 10 million people, so that's a lot of shoppers.

ArtFire, however, seems to push their seller's items on google, so theoretically more people from off-site will happen upon my stuff. According to The Answer Bank, there are 250 million plus people surfing the net on any given day. I like them odds!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Papillon Beads

One of my recent custom bead orders called for a papillon likeness. Something about the expression of the one on the right reminds me of a French porcelain figurine. The one on the left is more of a cartoon version. I'm new at dog bead renderings and it has been a little frustrating, taking several attempts to get something not coarse and clumsy.

Friday, November 11, 2011

That Crazy Cat

I had to come up with a cat bead for a wonderful customer. And that is how this cool design was born, and i'm cazy about it. I want to spend a few days working out some more color schemes for them. But the kitty beads have to wait until i get about 20 sock monkey beads made! More on those in a future blog post. The red crazy cat is available now in the shop.

That Crazy Cat Lady's

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sock It To Cancer

I've been really busy lately with custom orders, and it has been a lot of fun. This pair of sock monkeys sport a yellow ribbon and initials "H1" and "H2" for a couple of girls who are fighting cancer. I'll talk about the Beads Of Courage Program in an upcoming blog post.

The yellow Astro bead and blue green BandOSilver beads are in the shop now. I'm working on cat beads, bird beads, dog beads, dog tags, and blue wedding sock monkeys this week (photos soon).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mini Lampwork/Doll Beads

Well-known fact: every American Girl doll needs a special necklace. As do many other dolls. My mini lampwork beads are in my etsy shop, and are available in a variety of stripe colors. These are great for people earrings, too. Because some gals like a small bit of color and sparkle at their ear lobes, rather than a chandelier.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


The most interesting photos i find on my camera are not taken by me.

My camera is conveniently located in the most trafficked area of the house. Everyone grabs my camera when they see something they think needs to be photodocumented. I take photos of new beads for my etsy shop every two or three days and then download all of the images from the camera. Often i am surprised by what i find. I have three teenaged sons, and i will spare you the picture of the swollen purple toe, or the blood trickling out of a gaping shin wound (unrelated incidents), but these pics were among the more pleasant surprises from my camera this morning.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What a Lovely Cranium You Have

Here is my entry for the October Design Challenge : "Haunted" for the New Mexy Etsy Team (stop in and view the team blog). This handsome fellow is made with ivory colored glass. Ivory is the softest "soft glass". This is a happy feature when you are sculpting in the heat of a torch, because the glass on the end of your ivory rod melts quickly and you can apply it to your bead with such smoothness. But the low melting temp of ivory becomes a problem if you are have any detailed topography on your bead, since in melts flat while you are working away on adjacent areas. The teeth in the jaws of this grinning skull are of a glass called opal yellow. It has a higher melting temp, and this allowed me to keep the teeth sticking out in slight relief. And such rotting, crooked teeth should be noticed! (Available in my etsy shop now.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mini Lampwork Beads

But first an update on the surprise guinea pigs. Poor little Headley was very runty and weak and passed away at 1 1/2 days old. Brent, who spent the first couple of days with his head bent so that one eye was staring skyward, is doing wonderfully now, and has even straightened out.

It makes me very sad that the breeders at this pet shop had such unconcern for their animals as to leave males and females all crowded together in one cage. Sure it's a good way to get a maximum number of progeny to sell, but it sure isn't good for the animals and the quality of the progeny.

I have been working on a new series of really pretty beads. They are mini encased stripes. I'm still working on colors, but i hope to have them in my etsy shop over the weekend.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What-Do-You-Know Wednesday

I didn't know... Two months after purchasing a sweet little guinea pig, Sudsy, from a local pet store, we unexpectedly are the caretakers of two additional pigs.

Seems that guinea pigs possess the very interesting feature of being able to procreate at an extraordinarily young age. According to web sources, little male piglets as young as two weeks of age can impregnate a cagemate, and a female can conceive as young as 4 or 5 weeks of age.

Sudsy, our teen mother, fortunately, had no trouble birthing, and she seems to be caring well for the two little ones. If one is a male, he will be named Jesus (Spanish pronunciation, thank you) in honor of his pseudo-immaculate conception.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Paw Print Key Fob

A customer asked if i could make beads with dog paw prints, so i had to make a few to find out. I turned one of the resulting beads into a key fob. I think i shall have to make a few more, as i have several floating keys on my key rack, and the paws look really pretty.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Buffalo Lake Hike

It has been about ten years since we've been here and the water was getting low then. In the 1950's Buffalo Lake, in the Texas panhandle, was a busy little lake complete with cabins and fishing derbys. But playa lakes come and go depending on rainfall The '50's must have been moist times, and maybe the cabin-constuction era was wishful thinking. In any case, the cabins are long gone and the drying trend on the high plains continues. Today Buffalo Lake is a grass-covered depression (first photo).

We had a pleasant afternoon hike around the lake bed and saw mule deer and lots of nice beetles (disclaimer: not my fingernails). We tend to look for beetles everywhere, as my hubby is a coleopterist. The photo with the steps is an old dam, and the other pics of structures are of the sluice gates.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Canyon Petal Bone

This bone is made using CiM's Canyon de Chelly. It's a really fun glass to use as it will give you from cool grey to a really warm buff, depending on how you heat it. I love a glass that gives you gradations! (Bead available now in my etsy shop.)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Little Black Dress Beads

I can't help thinking how awesome these beads would look worn as the sole splash of color with a little black dress. I have this set available in my etsy shop now. I wonder how a set in amber and magenta on black would look...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Teal Vermiform Beads

I like the little windows of transparent teal glass in the ivory glass of these "vermiform" (how i've begun referring to this style of bead). This set of ten beads is in my etsy shop now. They feel really nice to handle; their irregular shapes gives them an air of being antique and handmade and thereby "special". lol

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lampwork Chicken. And Oatmeal Cookies.

Here is a little glass bead chicken family that i made today. They will show up in my etsy shop tomorrow, with three new sets of beads.

If you like oatmeal cookies, and you aren't put off my super sweet marshmallow icing... click here for a really good recipe.

Friday, September 23, 2011

New Beads

More bones this week: this is a nice trio of transparent cobalt blue bones with blue blossoms. Definitely not Halloween bone beads. And i made a set of very colorful vermiform beads. They don't look as wormy in bright colors as they do in murky colors. And that's probably a good thing. All of these are in my etsy shop now.

Monday, September 19, 2011


My only bead eye candy today is one of the listings i made with some assorted "soft glow" beads that i had accumulated as leftovers from previously made sets. I think the gentle colors of these beads really lend themselves well to combinations. I made three such sets and am selling them for less than my usual custom ordered bead rate since you have no say in the colors or sizes in these selections.

I have been spending the evenings metal detecting with one of my sons, and so even though i have made a few beads in the last week, i haven't gotten around to photographing any of them. Treasure hunting is so much fun... you never know what you're going to find when you get a signal. We have found quite a few coins, the best being a silver one worth $15 on ebay. A bracelet made of sterling silver beads was a cool find also. For personal fun we also liked finding the face of a Thomas the Tank Engine toy, and a metal toy school bus circa 1950's.

And tonight while we were detecting we found a New Mexico blind snake (not my photo). Six or seven inches long, silvery pink, vestigial eyes and a blunt tail. They aren't normally found above ground so we felt incredibly privileged to see this, our second, individual of this secretive species.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Brenda's Bones

These bright shiny glass bone beads (plus another half dozen) are going to a lovely lady in Colorado who turns them into suncatchers, which she then uses in fund raisers for the canine organizations near and dear to her heart. For example, Stiggy's Dogs, which unites military veterans with rehabilitated shelter dogs. She is just one of the truly special people i have had the good fortune to meet through my beadmaking business.