Friday, July 31, 2009


I love this focal bead, but in no way, shape, or form does this picture do it justice. My photography leaves something to be desired.

This might be why. This is a picture of my set-up. These pictures were the result of that set-up:

So I spent all kinds of time and very little money creating this beauty

Yes, it's a box. I cut out the sides and top, duct taped plastic drop cloth sheeting over the sides (as an aside, did you know that duct tape is one of the worst things that you can use on duct work? I learned that on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me.) and draped a kind of sticky drawer liner on the back and down the floor of the box. It's my attempt at creating something like this

a light tent, an item that I didn't realize cost only $19.99. I probably spent that much on drawer liner paper and the plastic drop cloth. Although I do have left overs of both items and you can't line a drawer with a light tent.

I don't think.

This arrangement plus Sam's camera

resulted in pictures like these:

Which aren't bad, but then I used the same darn set-up

and ended up with pictures like these:

I went outside a took pictures both with Sam's "real" camera and my point-and-shoot:

my little point-and-shoot

Sam's "fancy" camera

Sam's camera because my point-and-shoot couldn't even focus on this bead.

I took a long time setting up these shots:

The irony to all of this is that I think the best jewelry photos I've taken are of these beads:

Want to know my secret? My little camera on a tripod, two sheets of typing paper over top of my open computer, and a light shining down.

That's it.

So, for today, I give up on the photos. And next post I'll cover some photos of jewelry that some day I'll be able to replicate.

In my next life.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thoughts on Creativity

(Not my bead, but how I wish it was. One of Jill Symon's beauties)

I'm sure that really, the best beadmakers have one major thing in common. They make beads. And I know that seems obvious, but I mean that they sit down to their torches often. And they make beads that are ugly. And they have days that are off. But they continue to make the beads.

I taught middle and high school language arts for 8 years and there's a definite similarity in all things creative. First of all, like when writing, you don't know what kind of creative juices you can unleash unless you actually take the time to let them out. Stalking other people's creativity might spark a little of your own but not as much as actually doing the work.

I heard an interview once with Mary Karr, the author of The Liar's Club. She said she was not a great writer, but she was a really good re-writer.

You don't have the luxury with beads to rewrite what you've written. Once you've committed that bead to the kiln, it's over. But you do have the option, like everything else in life, of sitting down and trying again. Taking what you've learned and melting some more glass.

And I think that's the difference between the people who make really beautiful beads and the hobbyist.

This blog and my Etsy shop are my attempt at making beautiful beads, at holding myself accountable for producing something of value, and an account of the journey.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Heavens To Betsy, I've Got a Shop Up on Etsy!

These are the beads I made after drooling over the beads made by Kate Sullivan. They're not as good, but in the light, especially, they are a bit spectacular.

And the beads themselves talked me into making them into something wearable:

I have spent, really, all day (except when Jimmie and I went for a 35 minute bike race, The Tour de Lower Shore Drive, which he claims to have won. Don't listen to him, because his chain came off and I stopped to help him put it back on and then he took off without me. It's kind of the stuff movies are made of), I repeat, just in case my little aside got you off track, I have spent all day taking pictures and editing them and loading them on to etsy. The above pictures are some of the worst, but it's 10:30 at night, it's my brother's birthday and I forgot to call him, I still need to take a shower from our bike race, and I just don't care.

The point being... I do have an etsy shop. Finally. And I have filled it with things. Lots and lots of things. From jewelry to beads to personalized charms. There are goodies galore and, even though it's not officially posted, I'm giving away a pair of earrings with each purchase. They look an awful lot like these:

A little bit of sterling silver and silvery-grey, freshwater pearls.
You can preview items over on the right-hand sidebar. Or you can check out my shop right here.
I'd love to hear what you think. Good, bad, or ugly.

But not right now. How about in the morning?

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration
...thomas alva edison

Last post I was inspired by the aboriginal works I'd found online at this link. I don't even know if it's legal to copy someone's beautiful artwork onto a glass canvas, but I did it anyway. I don't think anyone is going to mistake my 50-cent-piece sized bead for the original, so I'm feeling pretty safe.

Here's the thing about glass. It never comes out of the kiln looking the same as when it went in. I thought this bead would be the masterpiece of my career. I was up at 7:30 (it is Sunday), excited as Christmas morning (I still get excited Christmas morning), ready to open the kiln and be awed and surprised and bowled over by my genius.

About that. That genius part. I guess I'm still in the 99% perspiration section of that equation. Because I was disappointed. The colors were dull, the large bead seemed overly busy. It hadn't cracked, so that was a good thing. There's not much worse than a bead that you've spent half-an-hour on coming out of the kiln cracked. Well, okay, there are a lot of things worse than a cracked bead, like cancer or war or throwing up, but it's up there.

But I had a surprise yesterday when Sam came home from work. He brought me some inspiration in the form of this:

which doesn't seem all that inspiring, but it contained this:

Glass. But not just any glass. Glass from Double Helix Glassworks. Reactive glass that changes its whole personality with a little coaxing from the oxygen or natural gas of your torch. It's all very exciting, don't you know, a little like getting a new box of crayons. I used the clear glass called Olympic Rain and made this set:

Nothing special; a wonky hollow, a bumpy bead I love and lots of spacers that have the look of opals and will look great with gold.

Today I'll play with another of the reactive glasses. I found this picture on Flickr and am in awe:

I know there's some silvered ivory in there, I'm not sure of the rest. I'll play around and come up with my own version. Perhaps I'll try my hand at interpreting another aboriginal painting.

Or I'll be forced to play some cards or read a book or clean the fridge.

I'll bet Thomas Edison never had to clean the fridge.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Mused Has Been Torched

Inspiration is a fickle mistress.

I have no idea who said that originally (believe me, I looked for at least 30 minutes all over the internet and also in my handy book of quotations), but it's true. It's also true, in my case, that if that fickle mistress isn't given regular attention, she's outta here.

I do know who said this quote, however:

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.

That would be Thomas Alva Edison who pretty much wrote the book on both inspiration and genius.

Lately, the well has been dry. Not bone dry. Not completely blocked. Just down to a trickle. Little pebbles, rocks, stones, placed by small, playful hands have blocked the even flow and have relinquished my beadmaking to a cliche of bead pairs. I have nothing against bead pairs. They're an art form unto themselves; evenly sized beads aren't the forte of a beginner. They're also quite usable in bead designs and make killer earrings. But there's nothing avant garde or inspirational in these bead pairs:


I just started reading The Bone People, a book that is going to change my life, my friend Copland assured me. Well, she just said it was her favorite book ever, but I'm sure that's what she meant. So far I've been very taken with the cover, a little piece of inspiration in and of itself:

I googled the author, Keri Hulme, and an artist one of her main characters mentions, Fujiwara Takanobu, and I googled Maori and aboriginal art. I have no idea what order I did any of this, or how I ended up with this site, but I am now inspired by Colleen Wallace Nungari's Dreamtime Sisters:

Sharon Hayes's Untitled

and Betty Mbitjana's Awelye and Bush Melon

Because, honestly, how could these not inspire you?

For the next few days I'll be putting in the 99% perspiration it takes to flame this inspiration and let you all know the fruits of my labor in my next post.

If you found this blog already, you're quite good since I'm simply playing around for the time being, working on an active, regularly updated place to post my recent beads, jewelry and sources of inspiration. Be sure to come back, but in the meantime, check out my other blog:
Cluck and Tweet, a site that's full of a whole lot of something.