September 16, 2007

Fall is here!

Well, at least it's finally cooled down enough for me to comfortably sit at my torch for hours. But some days it gets too cold! I'm never happy.

Well, our craft sales will be kicking in full steam now. We take August off because it's just too hot out. My last sale was pretty slow, but I was able to touch base with a customer from last year and she has a wonderful project she'd like me to do for her. A birthstone bracelet. The birthstones will be replaced by floral beads. Each bead will have the birthstone color of one of her grandchildren. She's waiting for the newest arrival to their family before we finalize the details. What fun!

I've been making some leaf beads, and focals in fall colors. The halloween beads sold great on the etsy site, I still have some left. But above are some of the newer ones I did yesterday, and I'll have more online tomorrow night.

Happy fall everyone!

June 16, 2007

Let the sales begin!!

Well, Sunday June 17th marks the start of our craft sale season. I pack up every piece of jewelry making equipment I have and load it into the trunk of my Impala (piece of crap car) and venture off into craft sale land.

My sister and I started this about 3 years ago to earn money for the Amery Humane Society, Amery Wisconsin. Then we started adding our own products. Then, much to the animals chagrin, we ventured out on our own. Oh, and I actually did one season selling nothing of my own just to help her out. She better remember me in her will!!

My sister sells hand knit items. Baby sweaters, blankets, and cute little fruit hats for kids. But enough advertising her her.

I pack all my glass beads right next to my jewelry supplies and sell sell sell. I do very well at the sales. I make about $200.00 per sale. And that was just my first year. This is my second year selling my beads, and I'm hoping to do much better, now that I know what to expect.

It's fun to get out and meet new people. They're always amazed at what I've created with my hot glass. And quite frankly, so am I.

I just finished a 5 hour session at my torch. I've created a couple of flowers. A dog head, and dog bone. Two sea horses, a snail, a couple lobsters. And god only knows what else. I've forgotten, as the Alzheimer kicks in. Must need more coffee.

One of these days I'll have to figure out the You Tube website and post a video of my bead making skills. Quite the feat, I must say. It's amazing that I can actually make that dripping glob of molten silica turn into anything recognizable!

I'll post some pictures when the beads are done cookin' in the kiln. But my favorite is a little monster I've made thanks to the talented Sharon Peters. She's awesome at bead making, and I'd grovel at her feet if I knew where she lived.

Everyone have a wonderful weekend.

May 25, 2007

How to make HOT glass

Long story short:

I use MAPP gas and a hothead torch (for now). I use soft glass rods by an Italian company called Moretti. The rods of glass are about pencil thickness, and about 10-13" long. The glass is melted in the flame, and once soft and pliable, it is wrapped around a mandrel. The mandrel is coated in a chalky paste like substance that keeps the glass from permanently sticking to the mandrel. A mandrel is a very narrow steel rod, there are various sizes (even ring size, haven't tried those yet). As long as the glass is kept warm, you can manipulate it into any shape and form you talent is capable of. Then your bead creation is placed into a ~950 degree kiln for at least 20 minutes. Cooled slowly and you have your bead.

Short story long:

The torch head was in my first kit, and they are very affordable. $45 for the Hothead, vs $160.00 for the Minor burner. Hothead uses one tank, the gas. The minor burner uses propane and oxygen tanks. And you need two regulators, it's quite pricey. But, the draw back for the Hothead is that it's noisy, and you can only make about 1/3 the beads as it's slower. Propane/oxygen is faster.

Why don't I have a Minor burner if it's faster? Well, when you fund your own supplies, and have to have the cash prior to purchasing, you buy what's most important first. I bought my kit with a credit card. Bought most of my glass with a credit card. Now I have a huge credit card bill, and that's not what this hobby was intended for. Not only do I love it, but I want to make some money too. So, when it was time to buy the second most important thing, the kiln, I decided I'd pay cash.

A kiln? you ask. A kiln is a controlled "oven" where I can anneal the beads. Annealing is important to glass structure. Wikipedia ( I think I love this site) defines it as: Glass is heated until the temperature reaches a stress-relief point, that is, the "annealing temperature" at which the glass is still too hard to deform, but is soft enough for the crystal structure of the material to flow together. The piece is then allowed to heat-soak until its temperature is even throughout. The time necessary for this varies depending on the type of glass and thickness of the thickest section.Glass is heated until the temperature reaches a stress-relief point, that is, the "annealing temperature" at which the glass is still too hard to deform, but is soft enough for the crystal structure of the material to flow together. The piece is then allowed to heat-soak until its temperature is even throughout. The time necessary for this varies depending on the type of glass and thickness of the thickest section. For more information see:

Therefore, it was vastly important that I obtain a kiln as soon as possible, and after two year, I figures that time frame had long elapsed. After all, if I was selling glass as art, under my name, I certainly don't want someone dropping their bead and having it shatter.

So, I set out to earn the money myself. But to do that I needed to first-get rid of some of the bead stock I'd already built up. And second-find some way to do that. The Internet was the obvious choice: vast audience, open 24 hours a day. But a website would cost me over $20.00 a month, and for that, I might as well just charge the damn kiln.

Luckily, in one of my Saturday morning ventures surfing the net. I came across a great website, owned by a VERY talented bead artist. Lori, at, and one day, while perusing (ha, through in another big word) her site, I saw this link: Well, now why would someone need TWO sites? I'll have to go check it out. By the way, you should check out Lori's site too, she's pretty darn funny.

And I found ETSY, a website to buy and sell all things handmade. Go check it out, It's just like Ebay only better. It's way more affordable, and your items will stay in your shop for four months, vs the 7 days on ebay. The people on ETSY will pay what your products are worth, and the site is very user friendly. And they have cool stuff like my ETSY mini, that shows my products to the right of my page.

A couple of my popular beads are showing.

May 23, 2007

Controlling liquid hot magma?

Hmm, you ask yourself, "controlling liquid hot magma? @#$%&*!" Yep, that's right, controlling liquid hot magma. Why? Because I like Austin Powers, named my cat after him. And because I make glass beads. So, since glass comes from the earth, made from silicon sand, I can take the manmade glass and create my own art. Therefore, controlling liquid hot a sense. Ok, just humor me.

What makes glass? Silicon sand. That's right. Some crazy freak decided one day to take sand, heat it up beyond normal standards, and see what would happen. Voila, glass!! Did you know the earth can create it's own glass either from geologic activity or lightening strikes (yeah, I have a biology degree too). Obsidian, a wonderful geologic object, jet black and shiny as, well, as glass. Check it out, earths own glass:

Enough rambling, I'm not really that smart. I just sound like it. I had a professor in college once, he was so smart, he could answer any question. He'd go on and on and on when someone asked a question. Took me two semesters to realize he never really answered the question sometimes. But he'd throw in all this technical stuff and we'd all be in awe. But I caught on, and well, my BSing skills were born.

How did it all start? you ask. Well, my friend asked me to take a bead making class. I said, "No way! What am I going to do with a bunch of useless beads." Really, I said that. Hard to believe, I know. Well, six months later, I thought maybe, just maybe, it'd be fun. So off we went to class. Made about 10 beads. I have them made into jewelry, they turned out, well, ok I guess (now that I've learned more).

Neadless to say, I was hooked. Left that day with a kit and tons of inspiration. And I've never regretted it. I've taken every class available in my area, bought every book, and researched on the internet. I made my own studio, in the garage (much to my husbands dismay, taking over his territory, he says). Built my own bench. Just bought a kiln, and now, will be taking fusing classes.

That's my short history. More to come. Check out my beads and work at and (hope these links work, I'm not really as smart as I sound!)

Gotta go, thanks for checking in.
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