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.