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.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Color Study

I am completely in the zone when I make these beads. These are my comfort beads. I could make them all day long, every day, and never tire of making them. They are created with black and crystal clear, along with a variety of color shifting glass. In this set I used Original Terra, Raku, Multicolor Dark and Chalcedony. Each glass has it's own color range that's just a little bit different from the next, and when used all together in a set guarantee maximum color punch. Oh, how I love color shifting glass...let me count the ways. (You can click the photo for a closer view.)


In my next life, I want to come back as a cat,

because I long to be comfortable

in any old awkward position.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Silly Things

Sometimes it's the silliest little things that make me laugh. Tonight I'm paying bills and it's time to renew my termite protection policy. After I put the stamp on the envelope I realized how appropriate the look on Homer's face was considering who I'm mailing this to. I'm so tempted to add one of those little talking balloons with "Yikes! A bug!" written in it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What Cats Dream About

With Insomnia, and a bedtime somewhere around 4am, I usually have plenty of time to relax at my computer for a little Internet surfing every night. Harley usually keeps me company by plopping down on the desk right in front of me. He likes watching the cursor for a while but eventually gets bored and falls asleep, and not long after, begins to dream.

He has two different kinds of dreams that I like to refer to as the "Feast" or the "Flight".

In the "Feast" dream he is eating. I'm sure it's something very nummy by the way he smacks his little lips.

In the "Flight" dream he is running. Not with his legs, but with his toes. ALL of his toes...on all four feet...twinkling as fast as they can go. I don't know if he's running after something, or running from something, but he's going as fast as his little toes will carry him.

He's a dreamer of dreams

Of sweet kitty things

Of feasts and flight

As he dreams through the night

-Harley's Mom

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


The sunniest spot in my studio is the window on the west wall. That's also the place I was instructed by my fabulous felines to place the kitty bench so they could enjoy a nice sunbath in the afternoon. On occasion, I have to borrow their bench. I photograph my beads under studio lighting for the most part, but once in a while I have a set of beads that just beg for natural sunlight. What I hoped was a natural admiration for my beady creations turns out to be them wondering what the heck mommy is doing on their cat bench. You can just about bet that any beads I photograph in the sunlight have been properly "cat-scanned". Below are some photos of cat-scans in progress.....

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Into Every Life......

...... A Little Cat Hair Must Fall.

Try as I might to keep the cat hair out of my packaging, sometimes a stray hair is just unavoidable. You see, the problem is that my shipping supply storage shelf also doubles as a "Feline shipping assistant bunk bed". The little slackers think anything resembling a box (or a laundry basket full of clean underwear and socks) must be a bed, so in effort to keep them off of my shipping boxes I had to give them boxes of their own. So if you ever receive a box of beads from me and notice that single cat hair prominently displayed under the shipping tape, please take pitty on me. I'm the one wearing the angora underwear!...Oh meow! >^..^<

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Location, Location, Location

When we first decided to adopt Puck, we had to set him up in the studio away from my other two cats until he got a clean bill of health. Later on when he was granted access to the whole house, my first order of business was to get rid of the litter box that sat right next to my workbench. (It's a little hard to be creative when someone is 5 feet away from you, pinching a loaf.) He also had a little feeding spot in the studio, but I noticed Harley and Jamaica eating out there quite a bit so I decided to leave it out there. Now Harley will go sit by the bowl and chirp at me to come fill it for him. It's the exact same food that's in the kitchen. The bowl in the kitchen is always full, but each day, between Harley, Puck and Jamaica, they will eat all the kibble I put in the bowl in the studio. I guess there's just something about "Studio Kibble". Go figure.

Oh, Happy Day!

I get a cool new soldering station and THEY get the paper it was packed in. A nice wad of paper like this will usually keep them entertained for three or four days before they have it shredded all over my studio floor. I shutter to think of the money I've spent on cat toys over the years, but sometimes, simple pleasures are just the best!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

On Bead Porn and Inspiration

Looking at beads on the Internet is my porn. I could waste away the hours just soaking in all the colors and shapes and sparkle. I get inspiration for my own bead making from lots of things like nature, fabric, paintings, bold graphics and other non-bead-related-art just to name a few. But the most fun way to get inspired is to look at beads made by other artists. I don't want to "look" to closely at the beads, because after all, I'm not out to copy them....I just want to be inspired by them. This is where my failing eyesight has it's advantages. What I do is browse the eBay listings for lampwork beads and I just scroll down the pages looking at all the little thumbnail pictures all in a row. I can see the beads just well enough to get a whisper of the color combinations, a hint of the shapes and a brief feel for the design. I do this without ever clicking on the auction for a larger view. After a few pages of browsing this way I can head off to my torch with all kinds of ideas swirling in my head, and at the same time, not really remember what any one bead actually looked like. It's like a fast inspiration drive by. You should try it sometime!

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Grim Fish Reaper

This is my husband Brian, wearing his new face mask I bought him for Christmas. Brian enjoys bass fishing and does catch and release for the most part. It’s pretty funny when you think about it. Just imagine the tales the fish have to tell their buddies after something like that. It would go something like this…

“Dude….dude! You’ll never guess what just happened to me! I think I just had one of them there near death experiences! Check this out….There I was, just swimming along, minding my own business, and YANK! All of a sudden I’m being pulled towards the light! Next thing I know, I am in the clutches of the Grim Reaper himself. So the Reaper takes the hook out of my mouth and then holds me up so I can get a good look at this other dude wearing a black ski mask, a funny floppy hat and camouflaged crocs. The Grim Reaper says "Hey Beer Dawg, get a shot of this" and then this Beer Dawg guy points something at me. I hear a clicking sound.…. and just when I think it all over for me and I'm goin' to the big fish pond in the sky, the Grim Reaper calls me Sugar Booger, kisses me and then puts me BACK in the water. I’m tellin’ ya dude, I just don’t know what this neighborhood is coming to. I told Angel and the Guppies we just have to find another canal!”
Above Photo Courtesy of "Beer Dawg"

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Does He Remember?

Do you think he remembers that it was not so long ago, he was on the other side of that window looking in? Do you think he recalls the hot summer day when he crept into my yard and gobbled up hard corn I had put out for the squirrels? Could he still have any memories of how he nearly starved to death when his people moved away and left him behind? Does he have any recollection of the hurricane he weathered under the neighbors gazebo, and how he was chased by a big yellow dog once the storm passed? Do you think he remembers the horrible things that someone did to him to make him loose his trust in humans? Does he remember being alone and frightened and homeless?

It's cold outside today, and as I watch Puck nap on the kitty bench in my studio, I wonder if he considers how lucky he was that it was our yard he wandered into back in June. I think the rumble of his purrs tell me yes. But if you were to ask me, I would have to say that we were the lucky ones. >^..^<

Terra -vs- Raku

The flowers in this set were created by using drops of Terra over Intense Black, giving the petals a more opaque appearance than if the Terra had been used alone. Then the beads are encased in a thick layer of crystal clear.

Terra by Double Helix Glassworks has got to be in my top 3 favorite glass colors to work with. In fact, I would probably say it's my number one favorite, but the people who know me as the "Queen of Raku" would probably tar and feather me. That and the fact that I really do believe that Raku is just a bit more versatile, for me anyway.

Terra and Raku are alike in that they both shift colors when exposed to a high heat in the flame and then allowed to cool before striking, but that's where I think the similarities end.

Raku is a more opaque glass than Terra. The colors can range from earthy browns, to rusty reds, with greens, blues and purples in between. I have found that once struck, it will remain the same color during annealing without any special "lower" annealing schedule. I love Raku for the fact that I can choose to do encased beads or leave them un-encased for even more vivid colors. Either way, I can get the colors to pop and stay that way.

Now with Terra, I find that it's almost translucent when used in thin layers. This can be wonderful for achieving gorgeous boro effects when encased. You can do some really cool wispy encased flowers with it too. But for me, and this is only because my kiln tends to over strike the glass no matter how low I set the temperature, I have not been able to keep the colors through an annealing cycle without encasing the bead. I know this is not the fault of the glass, but rather the kiln that I use, but I still love the glass for all the things I can do with it when encasing it. The color range of Terra is much like Raku except, when encased, it trades the earthy browns for fabulous magenta and golden yellows that I just can't get with Raku.

So I guess when it comes down to it, I would have to say that Raku and Terra tie for first place in my heart.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Loosing Face

So I was going through some of my old photos the other day and noticing how I've changed over the years. The photo above of Brian and I was taken 18 years ago. One of the first things I noticed was that I had a really great smile back then. Albeit a crooked smile, it was still nice and big and toothy. Then I started looking at some of my more recent photos and my first thought was that it looked like my mouth was starting to shrink. That was until I came to the sad but true realization that my mouth was in fact the same size it's always been. The problem now is that it's just surrounded by a lot more FACE!

So I'm going to officially declare 2009 as the year I'm going to work on loosing the face! Well, some of it anyway.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

How About Some Beads?

When I first started this blog I thought I would be writing about beads. But so far not one beady post! My cats do silly things and therefore are much easier to blog about. But in the interest of beads, I think I'll share a little slide show of some of my creations....

Puck Update

I'm so happy to say that Puck has been the purrrrfect addition to our family. He and Harley tussle and play together every day and he respects Jamaica's space. He's such a little clown and quite the busy one. Harley is about a year and a half older than Puck and tuckers out before Puck is ready for his nap, so it's a good thing we have a toy box filled to the brim with play toys to keep Puck occupied until nap time.

I knew it wouldn't be long before we started calling Puck by nicknames instead of his given name. I'm not sure how it happened, but one day he became Puckleberry Pie. It just seems so fitting for his purrrrsonality. The shorter version is now P-Berry.
Here's a cute picture of him that I'm using as a graphic for some of my Cafe Press items. Pretty cool, huh?

It's kind of funny to watch Puck and Harley play together. Puck really abuses the play toys and a few I've already had to repair to keep the stuffing from falling out. But the funniest thing is to watch the horror on Harley's face when Puck pulls one of Harley's favorite toys from the box. It's almost as if Harley knows there's a good chance Puck will ruin it. So now Harley has taken to hiding his toys when he's done playing with them so Puck won't find them. I've found his favorite sparkly mouse in my shoes at least three times this week.

Here's one of my favorite Harley graphics that I recently finished. I'm hoping to have enough to do a calendar real soon.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy 2009!

Happy 2009 everyone! I decided to kick off the new year by doing something I've been putting off for a long time.

I just opened My Cafe Press Shop where you can find lots of great items related to glass beads and kitty cats! I've used images of my own beads that I made to create two really cool calendars.

Bead Dreams 2009 is more of a collection of colorful, abstract photos created by multi-exposing several bead photos into one.

The other bead calendar, simply titled Art Insomnia Beads was created with actual close up photos of some of my favorite beads.

And besides the calendars, I have some really cool goodies for the cat lover. Note cards, mouse pads, tile coasters, tote bags and more, all created with artsy graphics of my kitty cats. This design featuring Harley is one of my favorites!

So use the link above and have a look around. I hope you find something that makes you smile!