Utopia Wednesday, Jan 19 2011 

Utopia. . .What a nice idea, huh? A world where everyone loves everyone, everyone looks out for everyone and everyone is equal. I don’t think the world we live in will ever be capable of such unity. If a simple biological family can’t achieve utter peace and harmony, who’s to think the world could be capable of such a high ideal? I think as long as the world spins, both love and hate will spin along with it. I know this sounds like a pessimistic point of view, but it does keep my feet on the ground. I have such a tendency to swing between the poles of the Utopian wish and stone cold realism. Often times I find myself stuck somewhere in the middle trying to figure out what it all means. Today is one of those days. . .I want to be productive, but my mind would rather theorize about the many mysteries of human life.

While pondering the elusive ways of humanity, I began thinking about what life on earth as an Utopian society could possibly be like.  What about games? Leadership roles? If everyone is equal, there would be no more competition because one of the drivers of the competitive nature seems to come from one’s need to prove one’s self. In Utopia, I can only imagine that games would eventually be phased out due to their lack of importance. Or, perhaps games would be played without the winner being recognized. . .Everyone gets the same prize for good sportsmanship and participation. Where’s the fun in that, though?? Why compete if you’re not going to be the only one who wins a gold medal?

What happens to the individual spirit in the Utopian society?? Or does it still exist at all? Would anyone have personal freedom? I doubt it. It may seem so in the beginning. . .Everyone doing what they love because it creates a happy spirit, but who’s plowing the fields as everyone sits enjoying their quality “me time”.  Who’s cooking dinner, and doing the chores? And what’s the punishment for not pulling one’s own weight? Well, nevermind that because in Utopia, there would be no punishment because everyone would know just what to do to keep unity, en mass. Everyone would agree on EVERYTHING. No one would have a point of view that would differ from their neighbor because that would cause the disruption that doesn’t exist in such a society. And THIS would be why I love the world and I love reality. . .Although brutal at times, it still has much to offer. In many cultures we think for ourselves, we have the right to our own points of view should we choose to express them. Competition and goal achievement  is a way of life and when we lose, we have the opportunity to decide whether to make peace with the loss or continue training for the next competition.

I love the world for all of its flaws. I love humans for all of their flaws. . I love reality and I love Utopia, but to me, it is only a fantasy rather than a vision and now that I am ending this session of outward mind ramble, I’m beginning to see why I choose reality. It’s the unexpectedness of what tomorrow may bring, the excitement, the emotion, the up, the down and the everything in between. The learning moments, the teaching moments and the quiet moments.

I make beads. . .They are my utopic fantasy expressed in concrete form. Little worlds where if I’m having a good day, everything is beautiful and in perfect harmony. I think this is why I like hearts so much these days. . .To me, they are symbolic of perfect unconditional love. Oh, there I go with that Utopian vision again but as I’ve already stated, it does live in my soul. . .

Romantic Obsession

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Taurus Moon Beads Tuesday, May 25 2010 

Taurus Moon

 Between my studies and my time in the studio, I’ve again neglected my blog duties. Of course if those two things were not “in the way”, it would be something else. For example, “I couldn’t get to blogging last month. .. I had to feed my dogs.” Okay, so in the mean time as I’m snagging some spare minutes and forcing myself to write a few lines, I thought maybe you’d enjoy hearing about the Taurus Moon beads. . .How they’re made, and perhaps what inspired them.

The Taurus Moon beads are definitely a recent favorite of mine. Not because I love to wear things with pretty pink roses. In fact, I don’t wear pink, nor do I wear roses. I wear tshirts and blue jeans, pajamas and no jewelry. Still, these little orbs of decedent beauty set my soul on fire when I look at them. I think I may have mentioned that I used to be an avid rose gardener.  This is either a former part of my self or just one who lies dormant until I have time to once again take care of a rose garden. They require a great deal more love and time than I have to give during this phase of my life.  Expressing my love them through glass feeds my soul.

The base can only be described as “ethereal”.  Most of the beads have tonal shifts beneath the clear surface, ranging in tones of pastel pink, mint green and gold with cloudy opalescent striations.  There’s just something magical about it and the pink rose murrini chips are perfectly at home in this opulent environment.  There is no real secret to getting the look either. . .Just a little patience, a rod of pale aqua transparent, Double Helix’s Aurae and some Moretti pastel white.  Even without the rose chips, the base glass has much to offer. The core of the bead is white, encased with Aurea, reduced and then encased with transparent aqua. The rest is careful application of murrini chips and some decorative leaves made of DaVinci and emerald green dots.

Well, off to the torch I go. Have a great afternoon!!!

Jenny Friske-Baer Divine Spark Designs Saturday, Jan 9 2010 

Speaking of “not a tax evader” artisans, Jenny Friske-Baer of Divine Spark Designs  creates lovely pieces of lampwork beads in many styles and color pallets. Visit her site to enjoy her offerings. . .She can also be found on Etsy.

More info about Jenny:

My name is Jenny Friske-Baer and I started Divine Spark Designs in December of 2002. My goal is to provide beautiful, unique, handmade lampworked beads, glass and jewelry that will reflect the love and good energy gone into their creation and perhaps inspire others to discover their own Divine Spark within.

I started beading over 10 years ago (who can remember?) and I blame the addiction on my sister Gretchen! She got me started and soon after I often couldn’t find that “special” bead for a project. All of you fellow beaders know what I’m talking about – that perfect bead that has to be a certain color or shape or texture to finish off a project (or maybe even start one!). So I decided to try and learn how to make them myself. After sitting at a Hot Head Torch for an afternoon under the expert and patient instruction of my dear friend Kandra, I was hooked! I played for about a year on the Hot Head – saved my money – and now I work on a Bethlehem Barracuda Torch as well as a Lynx Triple Mix torch from Glass Torch Technologies.

Everyday I feel blessed that I am able to sit down at the torch to try and create something that others might find beautiful and full of good energy. And I feel blessed that the love of my life enjoys working side by side with me in our studio (a fancy word for garage!) creating many wonderful fused pieces and stained glass works of art.

Jet Age Studio – Renee William Wiggins Saturday, Jan 9 2010 

Today’s “not a tax evader” post is on the behalf of lampwork artist and maker of unique custom murrini, Renee William Wiggins of Jet Age Studio. Renee’s contemporary style  beads are full of vibrant color and murrini chips. You can view her galleries here  and her murrini offerings here.

A bit more info about Jet Age:

JetAge Studio sprung from the artistic minds of Renee and William Wiggins in 2006 as an effort to promote each other’s art as self-representing artists. We are working artists, and our studio has long been a multimedia studio featuring artworks in wood, steel, glass, and paint as our form of artistic expression. As we’ve grown through our art, so has our studio, and today we find the glass side has taken over the JetAge Studio namesake. The passion Renee feels to give back to the glassworking community in the form of working knowledge and custom artisan supplies has proved to be the right path for our studio.

Desa Elliot, Gothic Glass Jewelry Friday, Jan 1 2010 

Hmm. . .What to say about Desa Elliot? Well, I’ll start by saying that Desa is a truly sweet and generous soul who just so happens to be an emerging lampwork artist. She too was “circled and attacked by the U-boat”, “bitten by the U-squito”, “infected by the U-virus”, “stomped by the U-zilla”. You get the picture. So, I just wanted to write a few very kind words about a gal who I am quite confident pays her taxes, just like the rest of us. Desa and her mom Marilyn own and operate Gothic Glass Jewelry. They’ve been lampworking for just over a year and have been having a blast!

Here’s some fun and informative info taken from her website’s “about me” page:

We started out in this chapter of our lives with a class at the Des Moines Art Center over a year ago. Our teachers, Karin and Ferzana, (may their souls be forever praised), were the catalyst for a creative urge that has met its culmination through a media that is both temperamental as it is calming, volatile as it is beautiful.

Do not get the idea that this talent came easy for us, quite the contrary as a matter of fact. The techniques that we have learned, the reactions of glass to oxygen and propane, mineral to heat, are the result of many hours per day of practice. Repeat and redo, critique, and make improvements the next time. Try and try again.

Besides, both my Mother and I love to play with fire, therefore, practice is no real problem. No problem at all.

Gothic Glass belongs to my Mother and best friend, Marilyn Elliott, and me, Desa Elliott. With a strong background in art and a Master’s degree between us, we make a very eclectic selection of wearable art.

Forever Love Monday, Nov 9 2009 

Forever Love Bead Set

Forever Love Bead Set

Again, past due for a post.  . .”What am I going to write about?” is the question that’s been flapping around in the back of my mind like a dusty moth that won’t go away. Each day, I sit down at this keyboard and begin pounding out text,  only to later delete it, while telling myself “I’ll try again tomorrow”.  Being a bit of a philosopher, I tend to take my “pen” too seriously. The short and to-the-point posts are more difficult for me to write than the long, personal essays that you see here on occasion. Really, this experience doesn’t need to be so difficult. . .All I need to do is choose a subject and write. Guess I’ll try that and see where it goes. 

Of all of the offerings I listed last week, the “Forever Love” bead set was my favorite. This may be because I had identifiable source of inspiration for the set. It was created with Catherine of Aragon in mind. Prior to making this set, I had just finished watching the Showtime series, “The Tudors”. I didn’t have great expectations for this show, as I knew it would be historically inaccurate and a bit trashy. Not that I have a problem with either, but I do get on my own nerves when I watch period costume dramas about subjects in which I am familiar. I had hoped before watching that the writers wouldn’t take too much liberty with Catherine’s character. She was always my favorite of Henry’s wives. She had faith in her husband, her crown, her God and her people. As it turned out, they did a great job with her character and I loved the show.

Even though Catherine’s life didn’t end on the gallows, it was none the less filled with tragedy. Henry seemed to see her as a prudish, cursed and broken baby machine.  As far as I am concerned, she was an elegant lady of grace and far too good for the crybaby king.  When the ISGB made a call for entries for Convergence II, her majesty was one of several women that immediately came to mind.

I intend to go down my list of period women who I’d have loved to design beads and jewelry for until I arrive at the bead design that I want to submit for Convergence II.  Catherine’s set was easy to imagine. I chose Double Helix Psyche as the base glass, for it’s deep purple tone. When barely reduced, this beautiful glass takes on a iridescent blue haze. The russeted red base for the florals were provided by Double Helix’s Terra Nova 2. . . An amazing, yet fickle glass that sometimes also yields rich crimsons and purple-reds. Since no queen would be complete without her diamonds, centering each floral with a CZ only made sense.  Rather than name the set, “Catherine of Aragon”, I chose “Forever Love” per her expressed feelings for Henry that she took to her death bed. 

Later in the week, this set would inspire another set called “Poetic Chivalry”. . . A similar design but in different colors.

Poetic Chivalry Bead Set

Poetic Chivalry Bead Set

On a personal note, Ashley is miserable, the babies are growing and it can’t possibly be much longer before they finally arrive. (By the way, Happy Birthday, Ashley! I know this discomfort isn’t what you had in mind for you 21st. I had you only four days before my own birthday. You were all the gift I needed that year and to this day, you continue to be just that.) 

Of to the torch I go. . .Have a great Monday!!

Beautiful Day in September. . . Tuesday, Sep 1 2009 

September is one of my most favorite months of the year and today, being the first of September, was a great reminder of why I love this month so much. The air was dry, the temperature was mild and I could actually work in my garden this morning without developing sticky haze on my skin.  I’ve promised myself that I would take advantage of each and every beautiful day that September has to offer.

I’m still behind on a lot of things, but I did find time to mop my floors and wash the wee yorkies. They no longer smell like feet, so we are a happy family again. My time is becoming less limited each day, and I do expect to be listing some bead sets and focals in my store within the next few days. (REALLY! I mean it!) I think I might have a small set and a focal to list tomorrow, if they turn out okay.

I’ve had quite a response to the finished pieces that I’ve listed over the past month. A heartfelt thank you goes out to each of you who have purchase or expressed interest in them. Your encouragement has been great for my soul. I’ve really enjoyed putting the pieces together. I don’t know about you gals, but there’s just something about holding those sparkling little components in the palm of your hand that feels soothing and satisfying.  I have a few new pieces, if anyone is interested in pre assembled bling!

September Jewels

September Jewels

Okay, so my next post will be about new loose beads. . . See you all very soon!

Orphan Auction on Ebay Saturday, Aug 22 2009 

Orphan Auction on Ebay

Orphan Auction on Ebay

With things being so crazy, and work being more a chore than a pleasure, I have a group of 20 orphans that I listed on Ebay last night.  When I made them, I was in a bit of a funk. I was suffering from the “U Virus”. If you are unaware of this social disease, here’s a public service announcement, written in part by CUVDC (Center of U Virus Disease Control), member, Mark D. Muell:

The “U” Virus – There is not yet a cure but there have been some very promising breakthroughs. After several setbacks, we understand that this virus can cause some debilitating symptoms, like panic, rage, fear, loathing, disgust, speechlessness, insomnia, dry heaves and other extremely painful unpleasantries. Our goal is to find a cure for the “U” virus. Through research and the sharing of information and ideas, we at the CUVDC, (Center of “U” Virus Disease Control) are determined to develop an antivirus to vaccinate those infected, or are at risk of infection. Funding for this program is being collected through the AGLF fund. The “U Virus” germ is quite large and easily identifiable. It looks a lot like Veruca Salt from Willie Wanka. If you see it, do not run around screaming with your arms flailing about. Fear could induce a hybrid strain of the virus. It is best to look the germ straight in the eye as you laugh from the pit of your stomach and as loudly as possible. Further public announcements will be made as we continue to work to eradicate the online hand crafted art communities of this unfortunate disease.

"U" Virus Germ

"U" Virus Germ

If you are looking to shop for beautiful bead bargains that will benefit our mission of eradicating this social disease, please have a gander at Debbie Peirce’s webpage for links to products that directly benefit the AGLF. Click, Click, Click ME!

Peacock bangle and other sparkly things :-) Wednesday, Aug 19 2009 

The weather here in NC  during the month of August is always hot and humid and often times, my bead production is slower than usual. I run an ogygen concentrator rather than pure oxygen and the humidity in my studio seems to effect the oxy output in a negative manner. I guess if I’m to go through a big mess, right now is the best time. My studio is MISERABLE a place to be anyway.

I wanted to make a set of peacock beads for ebay but most of the ones I’ve made in the past few days really aren’t so pleasing. This is related to my oxyconn issue. I’m using silvered glass by Double Helix and it’s not so crazy about my sad output of oxygen. I did yield two very nice beads though, so instead of keeping them for a set, I made a bangle and mini pendant. This is especially good for my soul right now, because it allows me to spend some of my creative energy that would otherwise be bottled up and spewed in a volcanic emotional outburst.

Peacock Procession Bangle

Peacock Procession Bangle

 

Peacock Procession Mini Pendant

Peacock Procession Mini Pendant

 

This piece is one of my most recent favorites, because I love the soft aquatic blues and shimmering gold.

Romantica Lampwork Pendant

Romantica Lampwork Pendant

Alrightythen! Now that I’ve spent half my day photographing and listing three measly little pieces of work, I’m going to retire to my dungeon to make more beads. Hope it’s cooler where you are!!!

Sandy Cowen, please keep her in your prayers. Saturday, Aug 1 2009 

I just wanted to pass on some information about Sandy Cowen, a very talented glass artisan who is also being targeted by the now infamous, Ullja Kuntze.  She had a stroke a couple of nights ago and was released from the hospital this morning. She is back home and resting, so please keep her and her family in your prayers during this difficult time. 

If you are an artist and find yourself “lucky” enough to be featured in her blog, don’t respond to her allegations. Just like a computer virus, she seems to be everywhere on the net. . .Forums, marketplaces, YOUR BLOG, YOUR SITE, ect. If you try to defend yourself against what she’s accusing you of, she will twist your words to make you look guilty so she can scare off your potential customers. She’ll do it in all caps, bolded fonts and lots exclamation points. She’s done this to me as well as the others, HENCE, I’m no longer commenting on those accusations. She is NOT your judge and jury! She’s simply a bitter lampworker who ruined her reputation so badly that she can’t sell in your marketplace anymore.  The IRS is not out to get you. Your state revenue office is not out to get you. Your local tax assessors are not out to get you. (Mine was not only helpful, but quite pleasant too when we spoke on the phone.) Calm down and take a deep breath. This is only a psychological game she’s playing. Email me with if you hear from her and I’ll give you my immediate attention.

As for me, I didn’t get to work today but that’s okay. Mark is taking me out to dinner for some well deserved small talk and margaritas. I’m pretty excited about that.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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