Monday, January 19, 2015

Bead Porn!

It's been a while since I have "shared my finds" this is some of what I have recently acquired.  I was a little scared to type Bead Porn in my title...goodness know what a google search will do with that name.  Oh well...

First up are these gorgeous lampwork beads made by Susan Kennedy of Sue Beads.  It's no secret that blue is my favorite color.  But, when it is this deep and rich, and accented like these, well...'nuff said!

The next set of pretties are lampwork by Judith Billig of Icarus Beads.  Her etsy shop is in "vacation mode"...but I bought these  from an online auction on one of the way-too-many Facebook Groups that I belong to.  Her Facebook page, where she updates her beady goodness, can be found here.  Anyway, these beads have just a touch of pastel, encased in a thick, thick layer of clear glass, in an awesome square/dice shape.  I have named them Pastel Icicles, 'cause I think the name fits!

This next set of beads - a very large set as a matter of fact - is by Jenelle and her husband Daniel of Beads and Botanicals fame (link to their Facebook page here) .  Again - another auction win!  They contain her "famous" sea salt blends...Winter White is the title.  Swoon!

This last set of lampwork finds is from Catherine Steele.  Yes - another Facebook auction!  I was online the instant she posted this picture, and let me tell you, I had to fight to win this one! :)  I had seen her beads in matched sets, so I felt lucky to find this one!  Each bead is different and has intense colors...and I just love the bicone shape!  A link to her Facebook page is here.  

I am on quite a few email lists, one of which is Dakota Stones.  This is dangerous! :) Well, last week Dakota Stones announced that they had begun carrying large-hole gemstone beads.  While I adore gemstones, the holes are so tiny and not big enough for my first love - wire (except the thinner gauge wires, which don't hold up for what I make).  I don't tend to string beads with beading wire - I love the look but I hate crimping (HATE!) :) Most people prefer large hole beads for fiber or leather.  Not me....I instantly saw wire going through these beauties! 
From Top to Bottom: Picture Jasper, Yellow Jade, Faceted Sunset Dumortierite, Impression Jasper, and  Sky Eye Jasper
So far, I have made these earrings with the Impression Jasper.  I just love all the colors flowing in that awesome heishi shaped bead!

I finally felt well enough (worst flu EVER) to attempt to solder.  So, going through my stash of cabochons, I was so pleased to find this little Picture Jasper.

And, I used some of those Picture Jasper large-hole gemstones and some 18 gauge sterling silver wire.  I am a happy girl!

I am happy to report that I finally used the Flex Shaft to polish up the pendant.  OMG!  What a difference from using a Dremel!  With the big fat Dremel, I had to hold it in my left hand, with the jewelry in my right hand (I am right-hand dominant).  But with the Quick Change Hand piece I purchased (link here), I was able to switch - in seconds - from one mandrel to the next to polish this quickly.  And, this handset is so darn slender - and I held it in my right hand - so, again...I am a happy girl!

Today is Monday, which means errands (ugh).  But, I am happy to report that my mother is finally well enough to leave the house and wants to go shopping with me.  So, I will joyfully run those errands today!

Thanks so much for stopping by today!  I love to read your comments!!


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

New Year...New Tool

In the past 6 - 7 years that I have been making jewelry, I have burned-out not one, but two Dremel's...such talent!  I have no idea how I kill these machines, but I do!  So, after I murdered the last one in December (only 1 speed of 3 was working), I decided to bite the bullet and buy a Flex Shaft.  I did LOTS of research to decipher which one would work best, and I decided on this model.

I buy most of my tools, wire, sheet, etc. from Rio Grande.  I was lucky enough to  purchase this when they were offering a 3-day special on shipping.  Cause I gotta tell you, the shipping from Rio can be expensive!  So I bought a few accessories as well. The motor HAS to hang from the bench (or desk, or whatever one is using).  Since my bench is made of solid wood, I decided to buy the swing arm that is drilled into the bench - so much more secure than using a C-clamp.  (This is the swing arm model that I purchased - link here).  

I am so glad there were no camera's on me when I drilled the holes into my bench to bolt this baby down...I measured not twice, but 6 times!  Success!  I also had to move my bench around so that I could plug the foot control directly into a grounded outlet - no extension cords or surge protectors here!  Let's face it...I am in the basement and no one would hear me if I electrocuted myself!  This new bench location setup is much more efficient, too.

I have shelves everywhere in this space, and I was able to move my most-used tools directly to the left and right of my bench.

I went ahead and purchased the magnetic tool arm and the peg arm for the swing arm, and I am so glad I did! One side of the magnetic arm holds about 90% of my files.  Instead of digging through a drawer, they are so easily accessible now. 

Swing that arm 180 degrees, and I was able to hang many of the drill and sanding mandrel attachments to the other side.  The best part is that the Dremel mandrels work with the Flex Shaft - thank goodness! 

I have not yet hung anything from the peg arm - but I will!

Since contracting the flu on Christmas, and caring for my Mom who is also healing from this nasty, nasty bug, I have only done a bit of wire wrapping - I need to be at 100% before I can wield a flame around!  But I am almost there and I cannot wait to utilize this new tool and see what it can do!

So, have you purchased any new tools lately???  Do share!!!

Thanks for stopping by today - have a wonderful rest of the week!


Sunday, January 4, 2015

And the next thing I knew, it was January

I NEVER get sick - well, I used to never get sick.  Not a cold, flu, allergies - nothing.  Late Christmas evening, I felt a tightness in my chest that was constricting my airways.  By Saturday morning, my fevers had spiked to 103.  Against my better judgement, I went to the nearest Quick Quack (that's what I call urgent care, and I have YET to be adequately diagnosed at any of these so call medical institutions).  

After 2 1/2 hours of sitting in the lobby full of other people coughing up a lung or two, I was screened and tested positive for 2 separate strains of flu.  Yippee.  They prescribed TamiFlu, but by the time I got out of the Quick Quack at 5:50 PM, all the pharmacies in my area were closed.  Since when did the pharmacies close at dinner time?  What rock have I been living under?

After a few phone calls in the morning, we located located a pharmacy that actually HAD TamiFlu on hand (it's like Gold, people).  $125 later - yet another prescription that my crappy insurance (thanks Health Care Act) does NOT cover, and one pill later, I became worse.  So, no more TamiFlu for me.  But the tightness in my chest, and soon the wheezing and shortness of breath became almost unbearable.

Monday rolled around and I have never been more thankful to have a Primary Care Physician that I can trust - took me YEARS and many failed attempts to find her.  Anyway, add bronchial infection and bronchitis to my ailments, four prescriptions, and by Tuesday, and I am slowly (and I mean slowly) but surely on the mend.  

Flash back to last Sunday...Mom does not feel well.  Same crappy flu symptoms.  But, she is in the "elderly" category, and, according to her and my doctor, has to be watched very carefully.  So, like a dutiful daughter, I wrap my mother up in her warmest coat, slap a sneeze mask on both of us, and take her to her doctor on Tuesday.  Her doctor declared that, although a slight fever, it appears to be a cold.  Never even checked for flu.  Hmpf..

Wednesday - 11:30 AM.  I leave a message for my mother's doctor's office to please call me - my mother is tanking - fevers, terrible cough, yada yada.  The doctor never called back.  (Note - I was very selective in choosing this doctor 5 years ago, as he is a specialist in geriatrics...hmmmmm)  At 6:00 PM I contact the "on call doctor" who tells me that if her fever spikes, call 911 and get her to the ER.  You see, when the elderly suffer from high fevers, and many times, dehydration, they lose their cognitive abilities.  This is not something I recommend anyone ever have to go through - it is very scary - and I hope I never have to witness that again.

So, New Year's Eve was spent in the ER.  I have only wonderful things to say about Novent Prince William/Manassas Emergency Room.  The doctors, nurses, everyone, has always excelled and I felt a wave of relief when the chest x-ray came back negative for pneumonia.  But, a bag and half of saline solution pumped through her veins, and Mom was back to her old lucid self.  The doctor told her, a minimum of 64 ounces of liquids (non caffeinated) daily, or she can come back for refueling.

Mom slept from 4:30 AM New Years Day until Friday morning.  She woke to take drinks of water, etc., but no food, not much talking.  But she was "back" - just very, very tired.  She ate 3 very small meals yesterday, sat in her chair to crochet, played on the computer, all semi-normal stuff.  Still very weak, but improving every single day - thank goodness! advice to anyone who gets this blasted, "never been this sick before" flu, DRINK LOTS OF LIQUIDS.  It's the only thing that worked.

Today is the first day I have not worn a sneeze mask when walking around my house, and I feel free!


Monday, I foresee a visit with Mom's doctor - just me and the doc, not Mom.  Something snapped last week with her care, and the trust I had for his team is now broken.

I apologize for digressing from jewelry making and will hopefully get back to creating again very soon.  I bid everyone - including those in my household - who is reading this Good Health for 2015.

Thank you for stopping by!


Saturday, December 20, 2014

2014 Ornament Swap/Hop

Scheduling conflicts have prohibited me from joining blog hops this year.  But, when the gifted Sally Russick sent out the invites for the Ornament Swap/Hop I knew I had to join in, and I am so glad I did!

Sally pairs up the participants - and the only requirement is to use an art problem here!  I was so excited to learn that my partner was Jenny Davies-Reazor.  I met Jenny in person at Art Bliss a couple of years ago.  She is so multi-talented and truly fits the bill of "Mixed Media Artist".  In my humble opinion, my favorite of her artwork is her ceramics...and not just beads!

Before the swap, Jenny sent me a little survey, asking me questions such as my favorite colors, my favorite beverage.  Well, when I opened the package containing her ornament, she took my answers to that little quiz literally!

Look at this masterpiece of hand-sewn felt!!  My favorite colors are blue and green, and why yes, my favorite beverage is coffee!  The details in the leaves (look at that tiny red felt bird people!!) are amazing!  Even the back ...

The porcelain knot bead is by Caroline at Blueberri Beads and the little red lampwork bird is from Lori Lochner. I cannot get my camera to catch the subtle details in the porcelain knot... but trust me - just gorgeous!

She then spoiled me with what she called "extras", which came in their own sweet little felted envelope.  Packaging is everything!  Isn't this sweet?!

Now, her extras were wrapped in lovely brown tissue that I would swear was scented with patchouli.  That scent - whatever it is - still lingers in my studio and is one of my favorites!  Look at these beautiful works of art, handmade by Jenny

Two of those ceramic pieces are cabochons and I WILL attempt a prong setting for those babies!  But, look closely at this mixed media piece:

Polymer clay, hand painted, with the word "create" from a dictionary (I assume!), and resin poured on top - isn't this fabulous!  What a word!!!  This is my favorite! :)

I have three Christmas trees in my home.  One is a pencil tree in my living room (24" wide and I love that - no furniture to move!)  One is in my family room, and my favorite of all trees is my white tree, which sits in my upstairs foyer.  This tree holds all of my treasured ornaments, many of which were made by my mom, and my Christopher Radko glass ornament collection.  The picture above is Jenny's ornament in my favorite tree!

I made Jenny an ornament with lots of wire (duh!)  But, I also used two treasured art beads, as well. My intent was to have a blue bird, perched on his nest (the wire wreath) while waiting for his food, and his tiny little house in which she can quickly go to rest after a long days work hunting for that food.  It was my intent, anyway!

The lampwork bird is by none other than Donna Millard, and that exquisite little polymer clay house is by Marla James.

I also sent Jenny a copper fold formed leaf pendant I made, glistening with just a touch of gold gilders paste, and a copper toggle clasp.  

Jenny - I cannot thank you enough for your thoughtful, personalized art work - I feel so blessed!  Thank you to Sally for hosting this wonderful "Gift Giving" Blog Hop - it is my favorite!

Please give some love to the other participants!

Thanks so much for stopping by today!  


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Copper Bangles - Winner of the Giveaway

So, I went to Random.Org this morning, and the winner of the set of  these 3 copper bangles...


I am particularly happy that her number was chosen as Lori is the Queen of the Bead Soup Blog Party Hop, and one of the most talented jewelry designers!  She is one of - if not the first - blogs that I stumbled upon and started following "way back when".  She is a kind and generous soul, and I am so pleased to gift these to her!

Lori, these bracelets are wrapped up and in today's postal run!

Thank you to everyone for the wonderful comments -  I truly appreciate each and every one!  Thanks for stopping by today!