Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fun with Murrines!

I'm working on a complicated murrine which needs a lot of components. I am trying to keep in mind Loren Stumps admonitions of "Don't make it too big!", but I still tend to make them too large for my torch. On Sunday I tackled the next section, which took a couple of hours of custom color blending to start. The Italian glass comes in lots and lots of colors but the flesh tones are somewhat lacking...and I prefer to avoid anything like ivory which reacts, or most of the reds and oranges which can strike in unexpected ways for me! So I blended and blended and have a nice pile of flesh tones to shade with. And then I started, and of course I made the murrine too big, about 2 golf balls big. Since it was big, it needed big cones (these end up as waste glass at the ends of the pull), which took forever to heat up, and when it was finally ready to pull, first one pyrex punty popped off...and then the OTHER pyrex punty popped off, landing the huge hunk of molten glass on the edge of my table (fortunately NOT 0n my lap), right on the duct tape which holds the sheet metal on my worktable. Grabbed the murrine with hot pliers, managed to get one punty back on, (keep it hot, keep it hot), got the other punty back on, picked off all the melted-on duct tape, (keep it hot!) tried to smooth out the deep dent from the hot pliers, damn! Pulled it as best I could, cut it into pieces and threw it in the kiln.
No pictures, which is probably just as well!
After all that, I did get some pieces which would be usable, but I'm not thrilled with the I'll be re-doing it...SMALLER!!!
As Loren said in class "It's only glass"...and a little time, and it was good practice, and I learned a lot...but I did cuss when it landed on the table! Melting duct tape is smelly!

Cat Thinking

What do you suppose goes on in their wee brains? I certainly am puzzled by the kitty a good deal of the time. In town, she refuses to drink out of a bowl. She has a glass. On the bathroom floor. But lately, she has not been pleased by the placement of her glass. She moves it with her paw into the middle of the bathroom. Not the best spot for it to be in the middle of the night. I have watched her do it! (And I've had to HIDE the vintage bunny that has held my q-tips since forever, because the q-tips were being float in the water)(I couldn't make this up!)
At the lake, she will drink out of a bowl (or the water I'm soaking beads which are still on mandrels is even better). But lately, here, too, the placement of the bowl is unsatisfactory. She patiently pats and pushes it with those fuzzy little paws until it's in the center of the kitchen floor. This is not really convenient, but this isn't terribly important to cats! And the latest addition is a garnish. Placed there deliberately! Wouldn't you love to know what the heck she's thinking? I know I would!

Monday, January 26, 2009


Sometimes there are no words
and too many words.
No feelings
and too many feelings.
Swept and buffeted, helpless in a storm
that comes from nowhere and goes to nowhere
on the hollow wind which holds, which holds that soul
wounded and tangled in debris.
Bird feather, driftwood.
Broken glass.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Just Looking, Thanks!

I'm trying to be in a non-spending mode, which is difficult, being in the business of buying and selling vintage and antique stuff. But it's always pleasant to do a little cyberspace window shopping when I have a bit of free time. It costs nothing and often sparks ideas for me to look at some of the fascinating shopable sites out there. Here are some of my favorites.

Exotic India offers a custom tailoring service for Salwar Kameeze suits that fit perfectly. I love the ones I had made for me. Beautiful textiles to choose from and they even ship for free from India!

Floracopeia sells the most rare and unique essential oils, attars and perfumes. Nothing commercial or mass produced here, just wonderful things from around the world.

papier valise is a Canadian website offering all sorts of delightful little things for jewelry making and mixed media creations.

Lush is a store that can be detected halfway down the street...redolent of patchouli, fruit, flowers and spices! Handmade cosmetics and skincare, yummy, yummy, yummy! MANY vegan options.

Karen Augusta Antique Lace & Fashion : superb vintage textiles and clothing, the kind that simply don't come along very often any more.

Tribal Eye carries fascinating old ornaments from around the globe, described with a deep affection for the objects and what they symbolize. I can look at this site for hours!

Reprodepot Fabrics is a fun site to browse for great, hard to find fabrics inspired by the past, especially the 1960's. Stock changes frequently.

Anne Choi makes some of the most enchanting silver beads ever!

Anthropologie for whimsical, arty, creative (and quite spendy) clothing and housewares.

Vosges for "haute" chocolate in the most exotic flavors.

Laduree Paris, sublime pastries which are a pleasure just to look at (though I'm sure they taste heavenly too!)


Cheezburger? On Ceiling????

Is NO cheezburger on ceiling. Hmmmph.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

New Seeds and Pods From Another Planet

An astonished alien pod:
Alien berry:
Many layered alien:
The best blue glass available today (IMO!):
Golden core underneath the enamel:
A family portrait!

Clownfish Murrine

I thought I would share to process of making a murrine. I wanted to be able to add little groups of fish to my underwater beads, and it's hard to place tiny murrine side by side without distorting them, so I decided to make a little group in one murrrine. This first picture shows the first step, one large fish murrine. Here it's almost done, it took about 1 1/2 hours to get to this point. The fish image runs in the same direction as the rod i am holding in my left hand.
Now it's time to build up a big cone of clear glass on each side to prepare it to be pulled.
The punty with tape on the end is Boro, which holds up better without shocking through this slow-ish process.

Finally I have a good cone on each end, and a boro punty on each side. The cones will be wasted, better to waste scrap clear than my precious murrine!
Now I slowly and evenly heat the entire mass, the heat must be even throughout to get an even pull, without letting any parts get so hot that the image will distort or move inside.
Starting the pull, out of the flame.

Pulling, pulling, pulling!

And pulling a little more!
Several sections have been put in the kiln, here I'm cutting a chip to look at while the rest anneals. Then I'll put that final piece into the kiln too.

The finished pull. The thickest sections can have the cones sawn off and will provide nice big fish.
A fish bouquet!
Hmmm, not especially fish-anatomically correct, but a good first effort!
The next step was to cut 5 pieces of equal length and bring them up to 980 degrees in the kiln. I melted a nice platform of clear and then picked them up one by one and built a new bundle, with clear surrounding each one. And then repeated the above process, this time ending up with a cluster of 5 tiny fish. Any anatomy issues disappeared at this scale!

And here we have itty-bitty fish, ready to use. When plunged into clear, they will just seem to float! And any encasing will magnify them a bit.
Mmmm, tasty itty bitty fish!
Next week, I hope to complete my new mermaid face. I'll get photos if there's anyone around to take them! (Maybe I should dust off my bench before having pictures taken, do you think? And I'm glad that the truly insane hat I was wearing doesn't show in the picture. Hehehe!)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The January Blues

(to the tune of any blues song...)

Oh January, baby,
Why you come around again each year?
Baby, don't you know by now
that I don't want you here?

Oh January, baby
Why you hangin round my door?
Makin icy little puddles
of melted snow upon my floor?

Every year I cry and ask ya
Please go back up to Alaska
And take February with you
And stick it in an igloo
And don't come back next year,
cause I still won't want you here
I got those January blues....

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!?!?

Adieu 2008, Bonjour 2009.
I don't tend to make much of a fuss over the "new year", which in my mind begins on the winter Solstice instead. Over the years I've come to see New Years Eve celebrations as tending towards an alcohol fueled, hysterical, forced gaiety at a time when my mind is turned inward in a contemplative winter-induced, chocolate and shortbread detox!
We spent a very quiet, peaceful evening with a good bottle of wine, a silly movie and a cozy fire.

We lost our cable and internet access for several days, which led to Food Network withdrawal for So and internet withdrawal for me! It was repaired today, so I commenced 2009 virtuously by doing a little work.

Sadly I will be spending tomorrow clearing merchandise from one of the antique malls where I have had selling space for 9 years. This makes three venues from which I used to sell that have closed in the past year. One closed due to the owner retiring, one closed due to cash flow problems despite a valiant struggle, and the mall is closing because the owner of the building wants to repurpose it and wouldn't renew the lease. Do you think the fact that the farm across the road sold for $4 million last year may have something to do with it? I do. The space is just on the very edge of town and is urbanizing rapidly. I'm very sad it has closed, leaving the wonderful, knowledgeable staff without jobs, but there is hope that a new antique mall will open at some point. I like to have lots of different selling venues, and I remain optimistic that there will be new opportunities.

That being said, check out my Etsy shop for new "Seeds and Pods From Another Planet" beads!