Saturday, April 22, 2017

My new tutorial, "From My Studio to Yours - Volume Two" is now available for instant download in my Etsy shop! This is not a step-by-step tutorial showing you how to make just one bead, but more of a collection of photos and studio notes for some of my favorite lampwork bead designs using silver glass. I will show you a total of 75 of my favorite bead designs, listing all the glass colors used to make the beads along with a brief description of the steps I took to make the beads. I've also included technical notes on the subject of encasing your beads, silvered ivory frit, Raku, threading / drizzling (link to video included) and getting to know your glass. The tutorial is 95 pages and contains 89 photos.

Click here to check it out!

Saturday, December 1, 2012


I love watching my cat Puck bathe himself. For most of the show it's all the normal kitty bath things. The outstretched back leg thing, the propped up bathe the belly thing, the lick the paw and rub it on the ears thing which usually results in one or both of his ears turned inside out and stuck flat to his head. But when he finally makes it to his tail, which he always saves for last, that's when the laughter really begins. He acts as if his tail is not a part of him. Like it's something he has to catch and subdue before he can bathe it. He'll snatch it and give it a few licks and then it "gets away from him" so he flails it around and catches it again for a few more licks. It's like watching a little kid play with their imaginary friend and it cracks me up.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lock Up Your Husbands

The doorbell rings at 8:30 this morning. I went to bed around 4am so it takes a second ring to get me up. I'm thinking maybe it's Fed-X delivering my new ice cream maker and maybe he needs a signature, so I bolt out of bed, throw on some clothes and out the front door I go. But there's no ice cream maker on my doorstep and no Fed-X truck in the street. Instead, it's a huge Florida Power & Light truck at the end of my driveway. As it turns out, my husband decided to call them this morning because every time our neighbor's air conditioner kicks on, the lights in our house dim.

Up the driveway walks this EXTREMELY handsome, mountain of a man, and there I stand, barefoot, bra-less, and sporting a wild woman hairdo that looks like I brushed it with an egg beater. With sleep in my eyes and sheet wrinkles on my cheek, I'm trying so hard to concentrate as big 'ole Mr. Hot Hottie tries to explain about the location of the transformer and all about electrical load dump. FINALLY the conversation ends and I slink back into the house only to realize my t-shirt was not only on inside out, but backwards!

When I tell Brian what happened, he just laughs and says, "Stand back boys, she's all mine!" 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thank you Feliway!

I had the strangest cat incident this past week. Harley, my fluffy guy, was zooming around the edge of our pool and fell in. Thank goodness his head didn't go under and he was able to pull himself out right away. Clearly he was terrified and he must have released some SERIOUS fear pheromones! This triggered a very disturbing aggressive reaction in Puck. Puck has been his best friend for 3 years now. They play, eat and sleep together. Now, all of a sudden Puck starts attacking him. Swatting, growling, hissing and lunging at him. I had to quarantine Puck the first night for fear that he would seriously hurt Harley. And not just Harley, but he was aggressive towards me and hubby too. He even bit me twice while I was trying to calm him down. And poor Harley didn't know what to think. It's bad enough that he was traumatized by falling in the pool. He would just look at Puck with those big eyes as if to say, "Dude, what's your effing problem? It's me! Harley!"

I hoped after a good night sleep he would remember that Harley was his friend, but no dice! I was really starting to get scared when I remembered reading on my favorite forum about the benefits of using Feliway Spray by Comfort Zone. (It's a calming, synthetic facial pheromone that prevents unwanted behavior in cats.) So off to PetsMart I went yesterday and got a bottle of the spray. I spritzed all the places they like to hang out and by yesterday evening I could see Puck was starting to calm down. He was still a little bit hissy, but at least not acting like a crazed mad-cat.

I just snapped these photos of my boys, Puck (top) and Harley (the fluffy one) today. They're best friends again!!! So thanks Feliway for an awesome product!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My Sweet Jamaica

I’m writing with sad news today. We had to have our sweet little Jamaica put to sleep yesterday. I knew something was wrong when she wasn’t up yelling for her breakfast. She was laying in behind her little tent in the studio and when I got her to come out I realized that she couldn’t walk. I thought it may have been a stroke so Brian came home and we took her to the vet. The vet said it was more likely a blood clot and there was little they could do for her so we made the difficult decision to let her go. My heart is absolutely broken.

I do take comfort in the fact that she had really good days right up till the end. At 19-1/2 years old, she caught her very first lizard on the patio last week. She was so excited about it and managed to break it’s tail off before Daddy Cat (Brian) took it away from her and let it go outside. I’m going to miss her so much. Rest in peace sweet girl.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Treasured Again

As of this month, I have been making glass beads for 7 years. My, how time flies when you're melting glass! In all that time, I have made jewelry only for myself and for family. Recently I bought two spoon bracelets to take apart and use the spoon elements in some of my own bracelets. I liked the way it came out so well that I've decided to make a few to sell.

The bracelets include an antique silver plated spoon handle, Bali silver beads and clasp, my own lampwork beads and a sterling silver extender chain.

The first pieces I made were from those bracelets I bought to take apart, but I've recently started making my own spoon elements for my jewelry.

It wasn't until after I had the first batch of spoons on the way that I started researching what would be involved. The first thing I found out was that the metal needs to be annealed. In other words, it has to be heated with a torch to a dull glow and quenched in water to change the molecular structure of the metal making it easier to bend. No problem. I have a torch.

Then the handles need to be cut. I'm sure I may eventually use some kind of power tool for this, but for now, the hack saw is working splendidly. The cut edge needs to be ground and polished and that's where hubby's bench grinder and my Dremel came in. Then holes need to be drilled in each end for stringing into jewelry, so we got to dust off the old drill press.

I have to polish off the fire scale from the annealing process and bend the handles in a nifty bending fixture that my hubby made for me. When the metal was annealed, it removed the lovely patina that shows off the pretty patterns in the spoons, so now I have to put it back. I use liver of sulfur to patina the silver. Amazing how a hundred years of patina can be achieved in just seconds! The only problem with the liver of sulfur is that it made my whole house smell like an egg fart for a few hours. I think I'll be doing the next batch in the garage with the doors open! After the patina is applied I get to give the piece one last polish with a silver polishing cloth and at last, the piece is finally ready to be used in jewelry!

So far I've managed to get metal filings in my fingers, filed part of my fingernail off on the grinder, burned myself on a hot drill bit and I have silver polish embedded in my fingerprints. I'm just flying by the seat of my pants here and learning as I go along. It's fun and rewarding, but there was one point where I stood in my garage, shirt soaked in sweat and everything that flew off the grinder stuck to my face and neck and me wondering why I didn't just buy more already made spoon bracelets! Good thing I don't give up that easy.

I love the idea of using this beautiful vintage flatware in my jewelry designs. The spoons and forks I've been collecting for my new project date as far back as 1881 and most of them are from the very early 1900's. I think about the original owner and how they must have treasured their silverware. Did they only use it for special occasions or did they use it every day like my Grandmother did, just because it was beautiful. By giving this flatware new life in my jewelry designs, now it can be treasured all over again.

The bracelets I have pictured in this post are now up for sale in my Etsy Shop.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

An old dirt road and the man I call my Dad

I never knew my biological father. My parents were divorced before I was born.

About 15 years ago my Mom married a wonderful man. He's a kind and caring man and I sometimes think of what it would have been like to have him as my Dad all along. He calls me Sissy and I like that a lot. I couldn't ask for a better father if I had hand picked him myself.

When I was about 8 years old we lived on an old dirt road. The kids in the neighborhood would swim in the lake next to my house. This was back before computers and video games and we would play outside all day. We would drink from the hose outside when it got hot and not come home until we heard our parents calling us for dinner. We played in the street a lot, but the highlight of our week was when the road grader would come by. It was a huge tractor with blades that would smooth out our old washboard dirt road. We would follow behind the grader and ride our bikes in the fresh piles of dirt it would leave on the edge of the road. And I remember the grader operator too. He would watch us in his rear view mirror to make sure we didn't get too close. He never fussed at us. He would just smile and shake his head.

Now flash forward to about a year ago. We were having one of our family get-togethers when I told the story about the dirt road and the grader. Come to find out, my step-father, who has worked for the county all his life, was the grader operator that graded our road! He knew me back when I was just a little brat on a bright pink bicycle and had no idea at the time that 40 years later he would be my father! It's funny how fate has a way of bringing people together. Now I feel like we're the family that always should have been.

I love you very much, Papa, and I'm proud to call you my dad.

Happy Father's Day!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Our New Pool

Well hello happy readers! Guess what we're getting! I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count. That's right....a swimming pool! And not just any swimming pool, it's a Pools by Greg pool!

I wanted to do a blog post about our pool construction as a "What to expect when you're expecting a pool" kind of thing. This is our first pool and I found the whole construction process to be quite fascinating. But before I get to the how-to, I'd like to say a few things about the company we chose to build our pool.

Pools by Greg has a long established presence on Florida's Treasure Coast and has been building pools since 1980. With well over 7,000 residential and commercial pools built, they have plenty of experience under their belt. Our pool building experience began with our Salesman, who was the key to helping us iron out all the details like size, shape and location. He was very helpful in answering all of our questions and helped us come up with a pool plan that met all of our needs. Over the last month we have had quite a few guys working in our back yard and most of them we have come to know by name. These guys work together like a well oiled machine and every one of them have been so friendly and courteous. A real pleasure to work with. And as with any construction company, a good project manager is the key to making sure things move along smoothly. Most of the work is completed by the Pools by Greg crews, with the exceptions being the gunite crew, the Gemcoat crew and the screened enclosure company. We've been very pleased with the work of everyone involved in this construction.

You can see a larger view of any of the photos in this post just by clicking on the photo. Just hit the back button on your browser to return to the blog. So without further ado, let's get to the how to.....

This is our back yard, and the site where the new pool will be built. We had to remove a large tree, but we were able to leave the stump to be dug out by PBG.

After the big stump was removed, they carefully laid out the pool shape and location.

And then let the digging begin! Nothing quite as exciting as breaking ground, well, except for the finished pool, but we'll get to that soon enough.

After the rough pool shape is done, they erect wooden supports to attach the backer boards to.

Once the backer boards are in place you can really start to see the shape and size of the pool. After the boards are in place they also add steel rebar to strengthen the pool structure.

Next came the Gunite crew and they masked off the whole area. The gunite is applied pneumatically, meaning it's blasted onto the walls of the pool with something that looks like a fire hose.

It takes several loads of gunite to cover the pool. This is truck number two, waiting out front for his turn.

In this photo you can see the guy up front, yes, the one in the concrete hat, applying the gunite to the walls. The two guys in the background are scraping and shaping the walls and floor of the pool before the gunite sets up.

And this is what I got to see when they took down the plastic walls! It's starting to really look like a pool now!

Here you can see the steps, and at the far end of the pool you can see the "swim out" which is like a cool little bench seat.

After the gunite cures, they do the tile work and form around the pool for the patio / pool deck.

Next comes the big cement trucks to pour the deck. The guys work fast to get everything level and insert expansion joints and the deck drain before the cement hardens.

Throughout the whole construction process the county inspectors stop by to monitor the progress, but it always helps to have a furry little on-site inspector looking on to make sure everything is going as planned....well, at least until he gets distracted by a butterfly ouside the window.

Here you can see the finished deck with the expansion joints and drain in place.

Next comes the deck finish. We chose to go with Kool Deck brand concrete deck and patio topping. It makes for a comfortably cool surface to walk on and has a non-skid textured surface that reduces the risk of accidents when it's wet. This was fun to watch as they sling it onto the deck with a dash brush that has a short handle and really long bristles. Once it starts to cure, they trowel the top of it nice and smooth.

Here's what the finished deck looks like.

Next comes the screened enclosure. We also decided to have a patio roof put on so they start on the roof first.

Large parts of the enclosure are pre-assembled at their shop. They look like huge versions of the erector sets we used to play with as kids.

Now it's starting to look like a patio.

Here the enclosure is complete. Nice to have an outdoor area safe from the ravaging of the Florida state bird, also known as the mosquito!

After the enclosure is up, the final finish is put on the interior of the pool. We chose Florida Gemcoat because it has the look and feel of natural stone and depending on what color you choose, can influence the overall color of the pool water. Then it's time to fill'er up! The city water has a greenish cast to it but that will all be fixed once the chemicals are added.

And here we are, all filled up and sparkling clear! Isn't that inviting? Got Margaritas?

Here we are after final grade and sod replacement. We're just waiting for the final inspection and then we can bring our furniture out and decorate the patio. I'll be updating this post just as soon as we finish our irrigation and landscaping, so stay tuned for some finished project photos!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

What Can Brown Do For You?

Wait a second….did you hear that? That sound! My heart racing and palms sweating as I race to peer through the blinds in the front window. Nothing evokes a Pavlovian response quite like the familiar rumble of the big brown truck gearing down to make a stop in front of my house. Whether it’s Ed, or Dillon or Lisa, (and yes, I know them all by name,) I just know they’re bringing me a box of shiny new glass rods for the melting. They never bring me bad news, or bills, only happy, sparkling things. UPS, you rock my world!

Monday, June 21, 2010


I wonder if there’s a specific moon phase that causes one to be indecisive. I say that because I went into my studio today and I can’t for the life of me decide which glass to use today. Shortly after, I realized that Puck is having the same problem, only his dilemma is which toy to play with.

Sometimes when I’m faced with this problem, I just have to walk away from it for a while.

If that doesn’t work, then sometimes it helps to look at things from a completely different perspective.

In the end, after all that digging in the toy basket, this was Puck’s choice.

Perhaps I should make something pink and green and blue and sparkly!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pet Careers

Oftentimes I joke about getting my cats a paper route to help pay for their kibble. But I was thinking, if they were people, what careers they might actually have.

Puck would surely be a bathroom attendant at a swanky night club. Nobody, I mean nobody can go to the bathroom in this house without his assistance. He’s very interested in the whole process and does everything but hand you a towel and offer you cologne.

Harley, on the other hand, would either be an artist or a writer. He has an unnatural obsession with ink pens. He likes rolling them off the desk and carrying them around the house. I can show him a pen and he comes running like I have a toy in my hand. Countless dollars spent on cat toys and he likes ink pens!

So what careers would your pets have?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Remembering Ben

We got the phone call early in the morning on New Year’s Day. Something had happened to my father-in-law Ben, and it didn’t look good. We rushed to the hospital and before we could even get inside we were told that he didn’t make it. The tears flowed and the rain fell on our faces.

It rained the day my grandfather passed away. My Nana told me it was tears from heaven because the angels were crying. So it came as no surprise when years later, my Nana passed away and we had a terrible storm. As silly as it may seem, every time I have lost someone close to me it has rained. The falling rain has always been strangely comforting as I remember what my Nana told me so long ago.

I love this photo of Ben. A lot of what you would want to know about him you can see right here in this one photo. He was a big fellow with a kind heart and a warm smile. He loved to laugh and always had a story to tell. And without a doubt, he loved to fish! But what the photo doesn’t show is that he was also a wonderful husband, step-father, grandfather, brother, father-in-law, friend and a fishing buddy. On the first day of this new year, he left us behind to travel on ahead. We miss you terribly Ben, and we will carry you in our hearts forever.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Bead of a Different Breed

My journey into making beads actually began ten years before I ever picked up my first glass rod. My medium then was Polymer Clay. My style evolved over the years and I eventually began creating sketched beads. My favorite subject matter, of course, was cats.

I shaped and baked the bead and then hand sketched very detailed portraits of kitties. The bead was then sealed under a layer of liquid polymer, baked again and finished with a protective coating. I did the sketching under extreme magnification using an opti-visor. Sadly, after several years, I had to give this art form up due to terrible headaches and rapidly failing vision. I enjoyed it while it lasted, and while I do miss making kitty beads, I have all the photos to look back on and smile. I did manage to keep a few for myself, but the following photos are beads that I sold.