Thursday, September 24, 2009

2009 - The Year Of Happiness - Accomplishments

I dubbed this year: 2009 - The Year of Happiness. The goal was to look for ways to be happy in all aspects of my life but no specific goals per say. Once I set the theme for the year, I just paid attention to what drained my happiness and what added happiness to my life.

As a result, the changes I've made this year are:
1) ToDo dates on my Toodledo tasks were always past due and RED. It made me feel bad. So: I removed the due dates on Toodledo tasks. I still get things done just as efficiently too and I don't avoid looking at my list anymore since there's no red to make me feel bad.

2) When I came home to piles of laundry, a sink full of dishes, dog hair dust bunnies on the floor, and messes on the counters, I was in a fowl mood instantly. So: I hired a housekeeper. When I come home Friday night, the house is CLEAN and my mood instantly lightens.

3) My house in Wisconsin was a huge financial burden with a lot of bad memories of my old (unhappy) life. So: I lowered the price until it finally sold. I lost money on the deal and even had to take out a loan to close on the sale, but I'm FREE and I feel much better.

4) I felt guilty spending time on stuff that I found "fun" like taking art classes and making jewelry. So: I started my own business to make jewelry and organizers so that the time I spend having "fun" is a productive investment in my business.

5) I always felt bad about not finishing my degree. So: I enrolled this semester in the last 2 classes needed to complete my undergrad degree. I'm not thrilled about having that heavy of a school workload this fall, but I will graduate in 2009, what a great way to end 2009 - The Year of Happiness!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Byzantine Adaptation Seed Bead Necklace

This piece was a pattern I found in the February Issue '09 of Bead and Button magazine. I adapted the pattern for a larger bead (the pattern was for 15s and I used 11s so I had to bring bead counts down like re-sizing a pattern for a knit sweater) and got rid of the hokey-looking seed bead clasp. I love the results. It was great fun and I get a lot of compliments because of the intricacy of the design and the delicate way it hangs. The little "links" of beads are extremely fragile though, so I'm thinking of trying it again with wire instead of thread.

Advanced Viking Knit

Wire is something I really love working with. It's a passionate part of my jewelry marking, whether it be chaimaille and jumprings, or wrapping beads with it, or making charms or clasps, or weaving it around a wood dowel (viking knit). Viking Knitting has to be one of my all time favorites. This advanced class is taught at Nomadic Notions. Taught again by Mick Mcnulty (sweet!).
Learned how to incorporate beads into the weave (beads directly on the wire) the first night. The second night we learned about twisting and adding bead embellishment to the outside of the completed viking knit as well as inserting beads inside the viking knit tubes. I didn't personally care much for the beads on the outside thing so I just knitted during that portion of class. I did do direct bead on the wire advanced knitting and also tried inserting beads into the tube (I used gold stone which looks really cool used this way...I got the idea from another student in glass who did it).
My favorite is the twisted sterling silver, although I didn't make enough of it, so I was pretty bummed that it's short. I'm going to have to make a section of chainmaille extension to finish this off. I did this with another piece too, but that is being featured in the my blog post for Rita Marie Ross's Soldering Workshop. The ones below are the ones I did with seed beads added directly to the wire. The solid one I just did a small section but I'm planning to make a full necklace of this since I really like it. The other one was done with sections of bead on wire that were then twisted into these little berry-like thingies. It's definitely one of my more unusual pieces. Thanks to Rita Ross for the idea of adding this pendant!

Ring Around the Wrist - Memory Wire

This class was my first exposure to memory wire. The class was at Nomadic Notions, taught by Emily. Very fun and very fast. I really liked this class and made four more bracelets the night I got home from class and a few more after that. The one I made in class was this first one.

I'm not sure why I like this so much,
perhaps its just so fast and easy and I can freely explore many different patterns in color and shape and size to create different texture and interest in each bracelet. The ones along the right really illustrate this. Love the charms too.

I asked Emily if I could do something
with larger stones and she was hesitant but I tried it anyway. It think it is very fun looking although it definitely doesn't retain it's shape like the seed bead bracelets do.

Shaping and Fundamentals - Lampwork Bead Making

Taking a Shaping and Fundamentals lampwork class, again at Blue Moon Glassworks, taught by Lisa, basically the intermediate glass bead making class. Lots of fun using the bigger "real" torch instead of the hothead torch with the fatboy MAPP tank. Things heat up much faster.

First night of class we learned about gravity and how to shape beads without tools. I made a nice big bead that I'm hoping to use as a ceiling fan pull someday.

Second night we learned how to make cylinder, barrel and bicone beads. I learned that I have to stop futzing with it. I had a great bicone, but I thought I could do better and ended up never getting it close to what I had originally. Argh! Lisa warned us this would happen!

Third night we learned how the four different techniques for laying stringer. She made it look much easier than I found it to be.

Forth night we learned how to encase and how to make twisted stringer.

Unfortunately I lost the bag that contained all my beads for this class. If I ever find the baggy, I'll snap some photos and post them.

Learning alot and learning that I'm not a fast learning in lampwork. It's going to take me some time to get good at this. I am a bit nervous about setting out a work space in the house for craft room is carpeted. Not cool. Really need to get the flooring redone in the house!! I'd like to tile the floor in that room. Hmmm.

Silver Fusing

This class was taken at Blue Moon Glass taught by Gwen Youngblood. Talk about a class that was way over the top! Each student got to use a brand new workstation with all the trimmings! The course price included all materials including the fine silver required to silver fusing. What an experience. I've had some pretty negative experiences with beginning torch work classes and soldering so I wasn't so sure I'd enjoy this class, but with some encouragement from Jim (the owner), I signed up. Boy am I ever glad I did!

Not only is Gwen a great instructor, but she gave me the room to explore outside of the prescribed lesson and that really made the difference. See that figure eight on the bracelet with the 3 beads hanging from it? That was my idea to see if fusing a figure eight would work. Cool, huh?

Had a great time. Made some great pieces in 3 hours times (yes, both bracelets and the 3 stacking rings were all made and completed in class and she even put them in the tumbler for us so they were polished by end of class). This class did a lot to undo the phobic response I was beginning to develop with the torch.

You basically just make sure your cuts are flush and that the seams are perfect and then you heat the fine silver wire like you would to anneal but you let it go beyond glowing right to the point where it flashes and then you remove the flame immediately. The result is a ring without a seam, and without any solder or solder discoloration. Brilliant. LOVE THIS TECHNIQUE!

Now to try soldering again....not sure if I'm ready for a soldering class again yet, but I have found the instructor I'm going to use, Rita Marie Ross, who comes highly recommended, when I AM ready. Her next class is being held the week of midterm exams this fall so I'm going to have to postpone it for now. Deep breath, whew! Oops, nope, she pushed out to the following week. I'm taking the plunge! Stayed tuned for the results from her soldering workshop!

Intro to Freestyle

This is another wire wrapping class that I took. It was taught by Brenda Posh at Sea of Beads. It was very similar to the wire wrapping class taught at Nomadic Notions by Mick. I preferred Mick's approach in terms of techniques, but Brenda's wire wrapping examples are some of the finest pieces I've ever seen. I wish I had pictures of her pieces as they are all quite stunning. She's an amazing artist! Here is a class pic, that I took of all the student pieces. My two are the turquoise and copper ones.

Knotical Knotting

This is a class taught at Nomadic Notion. I had a great time in this class. The technique takes quite a bit more time than other projects I've done and it's awkward because you're trying to string beads and tie knots in your silk cords while it's clamped to a clipboard no less. With all the silk cords and them all being so long it's tricky not getting them all knotted up on the ends but with a little care, it is manageable. I absolutely love the end result. One thing I wish I'd realized in this first attempt was that it would have been wise to stagger the two clamp shells to which all the silk cord ends are affixed (2 per end). Because I didn't I had a challenge in finding end cones that were long enough and wide enough to house the two side-by-side clamshells and still cover the cords from the end knots to the first sets of beads. These cones are amazing though, although I can't believe they cost me over $30 for the pair. But gold vermeil isn't cheap these days, not that I needed/wanted vermeil, but I needed a large gold-toned pair of cones and this was literally all I could find. Again, it was worth it for such a lovely piece.


This ancient form of braiding was taught by Mick Mcnulty (one of my absolute favorite teachers in Austin) at Nomadic Notions. I immediately fell into a rhythm with this weaving and can't seem to put it down once I've started. It makes me feel calm, similar to how I feel when doing viking knitting. There are a ton of different weave patterns, and the materials students have used in class are varied. Leather, lace, yarn, beads, ribbon, silk, rubber, suede, satin rattail, cloth. Lots of fun although I'm not quite sure what to do with it? This isn't a jewelry piece that I'll probably ever wear but I would like to finish at least a couple of them. As you can see I made quite a few in a one week period between the first and second class. I really enjoyed making them because I could watch movies at the same time.
The two rainbow ones are using different gauges or thickness cording, and the larger one has 16 instead of 8 plies. I cut the color-shifting cords so they started generally at the same place in the color pattern on all plies used.

The easiest material to work with is by far the satin rattail. By changing the color line up and/or the weave pattern you get different final pattern results. I can only imagine the number of pattern varieties that are possible. The brown/black and red/white weaves use a slightly more complicated weave pattern, but I really love the look of these patterns.

I had a blast trying different materials and weaves. In this "furry" one, I used just about ever type of material I had on hand, including suede, rattail, chenille yarn, gold cord, satin ribbon
, chiffon ribbon, beaded cord, and two different types of eyelash yarn. I also did this again with different types of orange and yellow yarn and up close it actually looks like some variety of tweed.

I did finally make one into a necklace which I love. I'm waiting for more kumihimo/viking knit end-caps so that I can finish off more.

The black and green one will be a bit more challenging as I need to make this into a double rope clasp of some sort to accommodate the glass focal piece I found at a local bead show that works really well to make that particular strand not look quite so much like a jump rope! :)

Braided Bracelet

I double booked myself for classes the evening of this class, which is something I try hard not to do. I keep all of my classes in Google Calendar to help prevent this. The class was taught by Claudia Cola at Sea of Beads. The braided bead bracelet takes on a ton of different looks depending upon the beads you choose. I was going for a dark earthy look. I'll try to get a pic of Emmy's piece to show the different looks that can be achieved because she used crystals and pearls with a red and white theme, very beautiful but extremely different from mine. She had some difficulty if memory serves me because of the number of passes you need to make with the thread and the size of the drill holes typically found with pearls, but she made it work. You'll be amazed that they are the same pattern, I'm sure.

Caterpillar Bracelet

This class was taken at Nomadic Notions. I think the teacher was Emily. I missed the first night of class because I was traveling due to the sale of my house in Wisconsin, but my friend Emmy made my base that week so that I was ready for the 2nd of the 2-day class. I ended up losing the piece and starting over (I eventually found the first one under the sofa). I like the end result. Some say it creeps them out because it looks like a sea urchin. It definitely has a feeling of movement when on your wrist. It does sort of look like a sea anemone, but I like it. Using different number of beads allows you to control the height of different sections, allowing you to create texture. Using different colors and sizes of beads allows you to control the transitioning of colors so it is either very striking contrast, or very organic changes of one color transmuting into the next. Had a lot of fun with this one, although it did require some time to complete.

Decorative Wire Links

This was another great Nomadic Notions class taught by Mick Mcnulty. I learned how to shape wire into fun shapes to use in jewelry that can be used either as links or as focal points or even as charms or clasps. Spirals. S-shapes. Hearts. U-shapes. X-shapes. Even figure eights! Much fun. Haven't used these to create a piece yet, but I hope to someday soon.

Glass Fusing and Slumping

Took another class at Blue Moon Glass, for glass fusing and slumping. The first week we learned how Bullseye glass, heated in a kiln, reacts to objects in its way. We used a fire resistant batting (don't remember what it's called) and cut out designs with it, and then placed our two layers of glass (one clear, one colored) on top of it on a kiln shelf and ended up with (for lack of a better description) thick glass trivets with designs embossed into them. Mine is a sun face. Considering I had to come up with a design quickly (something out of my head in like 15 minutes with no reference), I'm fairly happy with it. Notice there are a lot of air bubbles in it which we learned is caused by the air pockets sandwiched between the two layers of glass as the glass had a rough finish on one side, so air was trapped during the firing process. You can see from the picture, but there are different levels in the sun's flames, some are a single depth and others are stacked created a double depth emboss. I wish I'd put creases in the batting to make a line between the upper and lower lips but I didn't know this would work until the 2nd glass, because a few other students just tried it and it worked.

Next we did a square dish that we slumped into a mold that made
it rounded like a shallow bowl, or sushi plate. I didn't do any design on mine, just one layer of brown glass (bottom) and one layer of iridescent crackled glass (top), which turned out really nice with the brown highlighting the ambers in the iridescent spectrum. Another student did the same thing but with blue glass on the bottom and her iridescent glass has a much more rainbow spectrum appearance where mine is mostly ambers and purples.

Next we did a round dish that we slumped into a mold that made it rounded like a shallow bowl (pretty much the same as last week except we cut out circles instead of squares, circles being more difficult). I decided to do a design this time, something a bit more challenging. I cut squares of glass using the Morton Glass Cutting System, and then hand cut the edge pieces to fit the outline of the base circle (a bottom layer of pumpkin orange glass). You glue the pieces on the base with small amounts of glue before firing. I used some color shifting glasses, so the design looks considerably different then before it was fired, but I think it turned out really nice.

Then we did a donut slump where we put our glass on a donut shaped mold so that the glass melts into the middle hole, creating a vase-like piece. I tried to do something a little different, using a criss-cross or grate pattern of glass slats but it was fired with other pieces that required a longer kiln time so my piece was destroyed in the experiment, which I figured was highly possible. I'm hoping to use parts of this failed piece in future pieces.

Last we were allowed a free-form piece using any of the slumping molds Jim had on hand. So I chose a 22-inch mold shaped like a surf board and this really cool display piece that Jim did as inspiration.
Jim's Piece:
The cutting ended up being more than I found I liked, so it's been sitting a while. I hope to get this one done some time soon, but
I may just have to take another class to get myself motivated to finish it and get it off my kitchen table. It uses this vanilla glass that will react with a turquoise frit causing these antique-looking brown lines so I'm hoping the end result is a very rustic
and organic looking piece remeniscent of bone...I may have to end up getting it sand blasted to get the effect I'm looking for, but I won't know that until after I finally get it fired.

I also started the rough cutout for another piece I want to make that will have rimmed board of metallic triangles, but I promised myself I wouldn't finish that one, until the surf-board one is done; otherwise, the more tedious one will never get done! At least I know myself well enough to prevent that from happening....I hope.