Tuesday, April 29, 2008


It started last evening, a soft but persistent rain, the kind that gently soaks the earth.  But today the earth is hosting great puddles, and there is mud again.  In Maine we have mud for a while in early spring, then we never see mud again for a year, at least that is how I remember it.

So today is a wonderful day to post a couple of stone-like beads with spring irises on them.  I love to combine metals, like silver and copper leaf, and maybe a little reactive frit, to get these organic effects.  These beads evoke a little of the Japanese sensibility.  One has a suggestion of moving water in the background;  the vines are also metallic-based, giving them the look of venerability rather than that tender green of early growth.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Bold Statement!

Some of my beads are pretty large, upwards of 4cm in length, and they need a larger "canvas" for themselves in terms of how they are made into jewelry. Lately I have been experimenting with non-precious metals, making hammered clasps, and some of them got to be pretty large themselves.

So, my mind being the inventive conjurer that it is, came up with this composition with a floral bead made with complex floral cane murinni which I developed last year. The clasp is copper tubing, hammered, presenting itself as the "new pink gold" in this world of atmospheric soaring costs! It is treated with Renaissance wax to prevent it from reverting to its true colors, like the carriage and the pumpkin.

The necklace is on black silk Embead material, with Chinese knots, and it sits just below the collarbones. It is also intentionally asymetrical, to challenge our sensibilities just a little.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Soft Spring Morning

These are some of the most beautiful days of the year, the air is cool, fragrant and promising. The soft rich smells of warming earth fill us with hope, and under all the mulching leaves from last year green shoots thrust themselves into the world, strong and ready to grow.

I chose this bead for today because it is soft and luscious, with a blast of spring green making its way from underneath the pale creamy petals of flowers.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Let me give you some ideas, Spring!!

I guess we shall have to tease the warmth out of spring this year. Just when we decide to leave our socks off it chills up again, and it is back to sweaters and regular shoes. But meanwhile, I have some florals to give major hints to Spring about what we want!

These beads are large, nearly 4cm each (well, one, the luscious one with lots of flowers is 4cm). They are shaped and pressed with Jim Moore's 2" lentil press, a tool so beautiful I pick it up sometimes just to enjoy the metals and the craftsmanship! So here's the show, Spring, your own personal catalogue of things you could throw our way. (We will have to continue the show next post. We could only put in four shots today.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008


I saw some murrini on a bead from an artist in Germany named Adi, and I loved the freshness of them so much I made them as a floral cane with stamen. In this bead they look like water flowers being moved by currents in a spring stream. The bubbles are compliments of copper leaf between layers of glass, which also renders the glass a deeper aqua. The bead is
nearly 4cm long and feels like a microcosm of water-life in the hand, very comforting and calming.

If you have ever made a bead you might know the intense focus that can take your mind off everything but the flame, the glass and the mandrel. If you enjoy working with glass you may also benefit from the near-healing qualities of the work......when the bead itself gives you even greater pleasure and a healing essence, you cannot ask for much more from your work, except to hope it does the same for others.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Little Help From My Friend

There is an amazing bead that Andrea Guarino Slemmons makes called the Sea Garden. She demonstrated it at our class but we did not make one because the class was ending. So when I got out my notes and tried making one it looked AWFUL! It was dark, with no hint of the lovely treasures inside. I made three or four of these. Then I saw a couple using most of the techniques we learned....they were made by Lisa A., who had also taken Andrea's class, in Indiana. Her bead was beautiful, filled with light and lots of aquas, my favorite colors.

So I called her up, and the first thing she asked me was whether I used tanked oxygen. No, I answered, and therein lies the problem. I won't go into details, nor will I give away the even more awesome solution to the problem, but I will show you the beads I made after this generous and eye-opening help from my friend! I am not calling them sea gardens. They are lyrical, and evoke a sense of flowing, of currents, and they are filled with the mysterious colors of dichroic glass. And I am SO HAPPY to be able to make them the way I have!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Turkeys and Peepers

In my neighborhood there is a resident flock of turkeys which has been around for about three years. They sleep in the trees near our bedroom windows, parade down the road like peacocks, and dine under a neighbor's window. She puts food out several time a day and if it isn't out there yet they fly up and gently bump the windows. I saw them today for the first time in a while, as a couple of large dogs had frightened them off, and the male was proudly herding his ladies across the road for a lunch date.

More exciting to me was the beginning of peeper season the other evening. These little frogs live in a pond across from my house and they are brought into spring activity by the degree at which the sun finally hits them on its return to summer mode. They will yell and carouse for quite a while to find mates, then quiet down. But in the fall, when the sun is hitting us at the same angle on its travels toward winter they will pipe up for a short time.

I hope you enjoy my mini-rogues' gallery of tiny, smiling frogs! They owe their good genes to Mary Lockwood. One of her frogs lives in my studio!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

What was that about Spring?

Another cold and wet front is drifting over Maine today with a promise of a wet three days, THEN....spring. We are so gullible but also hopeful. You cannot argue with warbling birds at 5:00am now, can you?

So to keep the momentum going, three more florals are dancing and twirling about to enchant you. The black floral has amazing metallic color from silver blue and Tink's magic teal dust. The green beads are lightly etched, and I was surprised to find the Terra glass in one floral cane is shiny, since it does not etch, so there is a new quality to the petals I had not planned on.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Soft Spring Sun

Finally today the morning turned sunny, the birds who have made it back to Maine were trying out their songs in the crisp morning air. And the woodpeckers were sounding out the trees in the woods for good strong messenging qualities...they are looking for chicks, after all, they just don't drive hot rods!

So to honor the unfolding of spring as we know it in this northern clime I am showing you a lovely soft-spoken floral, etched to bring out the delicate dusting of saffron yellow frit on a pale rose transparent glass. The pale cane petals belie the bold centers of pink and black, hinting at the ability of even the softest flowers to persevere!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Class with Andrea Guarino Slemmons

Andrea is one of the most generous teachers I have met. She taught us most of her signature beads. Once we learn the style the real challenge is to use the techniques to evolve new work of our own. We used Moretti opal yellow, various 96 COE enamel powders, PMC and silver coring to develop this collection of beads in the bottom photo. After working on off-mandrel hearts with the ingredients Andrea uses, including opal yellow, I made my hearts with a Reichenbach yellow glass with a combination of frits and enamel powders, and silver foil. Andrea's mothwing beads are unique to her, but I did experiment with color changes, second photo from top. And while I love Andrea's galaxy beads the best, I experimented with some silver-laden colors and practiced my fuming techniques, resulting in a bead that is more like an oceanic vortex, top photo.

A few years ago I took a wonderful class with Michael Barley, another kind and generous teacher. But I was not quite ready for all that he taught. This time I had more capabilities and understanding of the ways of glass, so much of what Andrea taught was greedily absorbed. I hope I will be showing more beads composed with her beautiful techniques. Fuming glass with silver and capturing it in the bead is pure magic.

I also got to know Kristen Frantzen Orr, one of my most favorite beadmakers. Let's hope sharing Thai food and rides with her allowed some floral techniques to rub off...I love to make florals!

I met Stosh, such a cool woman, and Susan from Alaska, so down to earth and warm. Taking classes is a great way to expand one's skills, meet other artists, and stretch the collective envelopes. I am so glad I went to Port Townsend.