Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Beadin' It Up!

Glass fans, today is for you! Bead haters, click away now. You have been warned.

I have been busy on my torch, including a really great class this past weekend, so I thought I'd share the fun with you. I'm doing something else fun tonight, so maybe I'll have TWO things to talk about in ONE week.
Nah, never happen.
I had a friend who ordered two frogs and a ladybug for his young daughter. I haven't made a satisfactory ladybug yet (although the teacher of the class chose my first effort bead to go on a necklace for her stuffed animal), but here are the two frogs, one blue and one green. I hope she likes them. Need to get crankin' on that ladybug!

The glass shop where I buy most of my glass has a great necklace made out of all red, white and black beads. I was inspired by this to rip it off shamelessly. Here's what I have so far. The pendant (front left) was actually going to go to my beloved doctor, but I don't like it, so I'll be making her another one.

These beads are all made with silvered glass, that crazy expensive stuff that I love so much. On the left is a pendant that's decorated all in silvered glass except for the pink swirl. Silvered glass fumes the underlying glass, so you can only see the true color of the base bead under the pink.

The four beads on the right were all made with Triton and light purple transparent. I simply have not figured out how to tame Triton under a layer of clear glass, although other people have no problem with it. I keep getting a weird orange color. I described it to someone this weekend, and she made a really funny face at me and said, "Orange? Really?" Yes, I'm a freak.

The four in the middle worked out more or less as planned; I may make earrings out of the matching ones.

The beads in the picture below are my recent experiments with color reactions, which is another particular passion of mine. The three on the left use turquoise, purple (called EDP or evil devitrifying purple because of the difficulty people have in working with it) and copper green, all of which are highly reactive. Until recently, I was skeered of EDP because I've ruined beads with it. Now? What the heck, it's just glass, right? Every bead is a learning experience. And I managed not to ruin those three, or the one on the right, or the one on the bottom left, all of which used EDP.

The one on top is powder pink with rubino decoration, really nice looking. I'll have to pick up some more of those colors to play with them. On the bottom left is copper green and silver pink. I'd like to try copper green and silver blue and am requesting that my handy dandy glass shop stock some so I can try it.

The bead set below is the original one I made for a co-worker. After talking further, we ended up with a different design for her, so I still have these, looking for a happy home. The base bead is blue (messy glass), with a twisty of yellow and silver pink.

The necklace below is one I made for myself in a bunch of different colors I liked together: turquoise, pea green, violet, cobalt, pink... just all sorts of stuff I wear. I made it long so I can loop it around twice.

These are a bunch of black beads. On the left, a spare of a cross I made for a friend. On the right, a suggestion from a friend (he has the one that's not etched), and I kept this one. Then he and another friend asked if I could make a cross like that bead, so I did (sorry for the knot on the bottom of the bead, can't be helped). On the bottom is a black and yellow bead requested by a friend who rode in a LiveStrong challenge.

Next up is my new favorite bead. I got some new silvered glass this weekend called Aurae. I lovelovelove it, and here is why. This is a white bead with Aurae decoration.

Another view of the same bead. I only hope I can replicate it, because this one will probably leave me very soon, and I want my own.

Here are the beads I made in class this weekend. The instructor, Andrea Guarino, was amazing. She was personable, such a great beadmaker, and so generous to share the techniques that are the backbone of her business (not that any of my beads look like hers, so she's in no danger from me). These are Saturday's beads. The two to the left of the hearts are ones I made at home on Saturday night -- I was that fired up.

And these are Sunday's beads. Notice how many fewer there are on Sunday. These are a lot more complex. The one on the upper left (which, again, looks nothing like one of Andrea's) takes her an hour to create. It's called a Sea Garden. The two in the middle are called Galaxy beads, and the one on the right is an Ammonite.

Same beads, flipped over so you can see the other sides.

If you really like the bead pictures, make sure you're checking out my twitter feed; I post pics there whenever I make a new batch of beads, and lots of those pics never make it to the blog.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I Love a Halloween Challenge!

It's not often when you're charged with helping someone celebrate a holiday for the first time.

It happens when you're a parent, but then those people don't remember the celebration.

For Halloween this year, I had the great joy and privilege of helping someone celebrate Halloween for the first time as an adult. One of my co-workers , named Pei-Yeh, was here from Taiwan, and she was fascinated by the holiday.

I invited her to my house for the day with lots of plans in store. First up: my friends Matt and Becky came over, with many tools and stencils and a hollowed out pumpkin. Becky is the ultimate craft queen: she can sew (being a lifelong quilter); she can crochet; she papier-mache'd their Halloween costumes. She also, not surprisingly, is a crackerjack pumpkin carver.

Unfortunately for Becky, hubby and I had gotten the world's most difficult pumpkin the day before Halloween. Warty and thick-skinned, it resisted any tools we could throw at it: pumpkin tools, steak knives, paring knives, even a hammer/screwdriver combo. This explains why our pumpkins turned out thusly. You guess which is which.

Once finished with the carving, Pei-Yeh wanted to see my torch and watch me make a bead. I had previously made her a necklace using some beads I made:

So now, since I had a frog bead that I needed to make for a friend, she went out to watch. Here is what I made; it's probably the best frog I've managed to make thus far.

Once finished with melting glass, Pei-Yeh and I changed into our Halloween costumes and prepared to go trick-or-treating with Son the Younger and one of his friends. Since they are 16, we hoped to blend into a crowd of teens. Here's a pic of me and Pei-Yeh in costume:

Here's my sweet baby boy... doesn't he look cute?

And this is his friend the Evil Clown, who took great and horrible glee in scaring older children all over our neighborhood.

We had a wonderful time trick-or-treating, and no one question Pei-Yeh's age, although I got a funny look or two and one snide comment.

After the trick-or-treating fun, we headed downtown. In Austin, that means 6th Street, which is party central. I've never been on Halloween, simply because it's such a zoo. It's a great place to people watch on any ordinary weekend, and the street is barricaded on weekends to allow for foot traffic, so on Halloween? On a Saturday night? With perfect weather? Fuhgeddabouddit. And I would have, had it not been for Pei-Yeh. But what the heck, I'd never been, so off we went.

We left early, arriving around 9pm. There were plenty of families and lots of older folks to be found. I would assume that as the evening gets later, the average blood alcohol gets far higher, the younger set comes out to party, and the costumes get wilder. I was more than happy to come early and go home early. Still, there were some great costumes.

The Shrek family. Notice that even the baby is dressed up. How cute is that?

This guy was on stilts and had some serious stilts skills. He was as comfortable on stilts as I am on my feet (and more so some days).

I'm not sure what this guy is, but it's a cool costume.

Pei-Yeh was delighted to pose with Yoshi.

And tell me this isn't the greatest group costume ever: the entire cast of the Mario games!

I've spared you a couple of the other pictures I took, like the dancing fat man who painted himself blue. Suffice it to say that Pei-Yeh thinks all us Americans are crazy.

I'm not sure she's wrong.