Thursday, July 30, 2009


The acid etched bracelet that I flung onto the floor. Too bad I didn't think to take it's picture before I removed all the goo. It was not pretty.

Some resin filled hearts that I think will be a sweet little class at Bead Haven in a month or so.

A couple of years ago my friend Gail and I were in a class being taught by my friend Anne Mitchell. We were fusing fine silver (think molten hot silver wire) when Gail had a spaz moment and a really hot piece of silver flew out of her tweezers. The trajectory of the searing piece of silver was dead on for Anne, who was standing there talking to us. Now, Anne is a fairly mellow person, but I have to say I've never seen her move that fast. She grabbed a pair of tweezers, picked the thing up, all while contorting her body in such a way as to stay out of it's path. Cat-like reflexes for sure! I'm not sure if it was lack of sleep or what, but this was one of the most hilarious things that I've ever seen. Anne's classes were in that very same classroom this year and by golly, the carpet in that room still bears the scorchy scar of that day!
Well, today I actually did a very similar thing. I was using a torch to heat patina a brass cuff bracelet during an acid etching class. The darn thing flew off of my tweezers onto the carpet. I don't know how I did it, but I got it off of the floor with the tweezers before it could leave a scorch mark, but not before it melted polypropylene all over the surface of the bracelet that I'd just made. It took me the better part of an hour to get the melty goo off of the bracelet and the fumes made me a little woozy! I don't suggest you do this. It's always great to be so smooth in class when you're the teacher. So Gail, sorry for laughing at you. I too am officially joining the spaz club.
On a nicer (and safer too!) note, check out the hearts pictured above. These will be a fun little class at Bead Haven soon.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Nothing says 'Tour de France' like sunflowers.

Armstrong and Contador in Italy.

Andy Schleck from Luxembourg takes 2nd in the Tour. His brother Frank took 5th.

Lance Armstrong (3rd place) and Alberto Contador (1st place). Their team, Astana, won the team race by more than 20 minutes.

Well, the 2009 Tour de France is history. What the heck am I going to do now? You really get invested in the three weeks of the race and when it's over you feel a little aimless. I guess I could go out and ride my bike. Hmm. I'll have to think about that.
I like baseball a lot, but for me, these really are the boys of summer. Cycling is a sport that has, like so many, had it's share of bad press and bad players, but at it's best I think it's one of the most beautiful and courageous things that you can watch. I got interested in the Tour in 1999 when Lance Armstrong won his first Tour after his cancer diagnosis and treatment. I watched him win all 7 of his Tours. By the time he retired in 2005, I was hooked on the race itself. None the less, I was thrilled when Armstrong decided to come back to the Tour. While he didn't win, I think he struck a victory for anyone who's ever been told that they're too old, past their prime or just washed up. He made me proud. He'll be back with a brand new team next year.
The race itself did not disappoint. It was a wonderful mixture suspenseful moments, strained emotions, impossible physical and mental strength, and amazingly beautiful scenery. The 97th Tour de France begins on July 3rd 2010. How many days til then?

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Our lentils, waiting to be fired. Unfortunately, I didn't get pictures of the finished product. They turned out great, though.

Sheree, filing away.

David has a bright idea.

Suzi and Kelly, a couple of cuties!

Yesterday I had 2 classes at Bead Haven. Summer's fun because more people can take classes during the day. It seems like a lot of my students are teachers. Anyway, I had a lentil bead pendant class in the afternoon and a toggle class in the evening. Good work ladies! And David too! Thanks to Connie, Kelly, Suzi, Sheree and David.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Jamie, on the front porch on a chilly July 4th.

Jamie and Baby.

I wanted to wish my little sister Jamie a very happy birthday today. She's a smart and very successful adult but sometimes I can't believe that she's still not the little kid that I played with and teased. She's grown up into the best person that I know. I hope you have a great day Jamie!

Friday, July 17, 2009



Walter Cronkite died today at age 92. This makes me very sad. He was one of the voices that defined my childhood. I remember his voice describing many of the most important events of the 20th century. Many of these milestones I remember like they were yesterday, like Apollo 11 landing on the Moon and the astronauts walking on the surface for the first time and others that I'm too young to remember like the assassination of President Kennedy. He was a constant presence and his excitement and sorrow that was sometimes expressed on the air made him a very trusted and very human voice of our generation. I will miss him.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Mary and Nancy, embedding bits and pieces into resin.

Susan, who was visiting from Colorado and her stepmom, Mary.

Nancy, pouring resin one drip at a time into a bottle cap bezel.

Pam giving it a try.

All of our finished pieces!

I had a resin class this afternoon at Bead Haven. I like weekday afternoon classes because it feels like I'm in summer camp doing crafts in the middle of the day! Plus, I got home in time to watch the Tour de France, which I am addicted to. We had a good time picking out papers, transparencies, egg shells, and other little bits to embed into bezels. We had bottle caps, silver plated rings with bezel cups soldered onto them, brass bezels, etc. to play with. I always bring all kinds of things to embed and sometimes people bring some of their own things in. Nancy had lots of cool papers that she kindly shared with us. My favorite was some yellowed pages of an old book of Chinese text. Pam brought a small piece of fabric with an adorable sock monkey on it and used it in a bottle cap pendant that turned out really cute. What is it about sock monkeys? I love them! Everyone made such cute things. Mary made a ring with paisley paper in it that I liked a lot. I also liked Susan's ring that she embedded an old postage stamp in. Pam did a bottle cap with a hula girl that I was very fond of. My favorite of Nancy's was a bezel with a fish jumping out of the sparkly (glittered!) water.
I enjoyed all of the gals and thank them for a great afternoon.
PS. If any fellow bloggers out there know why sometimes my photos wont blow up when you click on them ( Like now! GRRRR!) and how I can fix it, I'd really appreciate your help! Send me an email, if you know the answer. Keep in mind that I'm a little technologically challenged! Thanks- Cris

Monday, July 13, 2009


A bottle cap bezel filled with resin.

A bunch of resin filled bottle caps from a previous class.

A Sanskrit verse embedded in resin.

Resin earrings with a Greek poem.

A sampling of bezels used for class.

This Wednesday, July 15th I'm teaching a resin class at Bead Haven from 1-4pm. There are still a couple of spaces available, so if you have the afternoon off, or can play hooky for a few hours, come and join us!
Call the store for more info at 319-247-2323.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Paul, hiding behind 12 of our 36 tomato plants.

The view from our patio. Please don't look at the weeds!

A friendly little pollen drunk visitor. There's beauty everywhere, isn't there?

Paul and I spent the day working in our yard. After days of excessive heat and then unbelievable torrential rains, the gardens remind me of that show on the History Channel, 'Life After People'. Let's just say, I haven't been keeping up with the work. If you know me personally, you know that I don't like hot weather. A few of my friends and relatives (you know who you are!) have even implied that I am not as nice as I could be when I am hot. So, anyway, not much has gotten done outside lately. Today was a perfect midsummer day and we did get lots done. Paul chopped up a big branch that fell from one of our trees the other day in another wind storm, while I weeded our front yard. I filled up both of our yard waste barrels and I still have more to go. It looks a lot better though. At least it looks like someone lives here!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


This photo is from an earlier class, but I forgot to take one this afternoon.

Clockwise from the top, Barbara's cuff and copper discs with the dots, Connie's dragonfly, copper cross-hatched discs and large hammered domed and heat patinaed discs, and David's triangular pendant and domed 'optical illusion' discs.

I taught two classes at Bead Haven today. First, I did the slide tube bracelet class and then later in the afternoon I taught an ever popular, acid etching class. Everybody did great job. I never get tired of acid etching. I think it'd because you never really know what you're going to get. I think it's exciting.
I've still been playing around with the enamels for the last few days. They're really intriguing. I think it's one of those great things that's so easy to play with, but you could spend your whole life becoming accomplished at it. I'm really enjoying it, but I need to get back to real work and get some jewelry put together with all of the parts that I've been making the last few weeks.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


A not so great photo of tonight's fireworks. 

Maybe Suz can do better.

Doesn't Paul look happy?

We had a great day today.  Visited family, ate lots of great food, then got home just in time to call our friend Suzi and watch the fireworks.  Had a limeade and burger at Sonic (yum!) and went home and got to watch the replay of the prologue first day of the Tour de France.  I'm watching right now, in fact.  I have serious love of watching cycling, especially the Tour, which is weird, since I don't get on a bike too often these days (my Airdyne doesn't count!).  I have watched every day of the Tour for the last several years.  I do love it, so today couldn't get much better!  I hope your day was great too!  
I just watched Lance start his Tour comeback in the time trial and he did great!  Go Lance, go!

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Today, I'm going to celebrate our country's independence by going to Independence (Independence, Iowa, that is).  I'm spending the day at my parents house in my home town.  We're going to eat a bunch of food, play bocce ball and have a good time and I hope you all celebrate well with your family and friends, too!

Friday, July 3, 2009


Copper discs, ready for dapping.

Domed and cleaned and ready to go!

A copper disc, covered with enamel being torched from below.

The enamel beginning to melt, looks like melting sugar.

The clear enamel, fully fused on the copper.

Some of my first tries.

Another shot of my first attempts.

Wow, it's almost been a week since I last posted.  I'll try not to do that again or you all might not come back!  I haven't been feeling very creative lately and I haven't felt like I had much to say.  When I feel like that, I've found that the best thing to get me going again is to try something new.  I've been itching to try enameling for a long time now.   I'd really like to get good enough at it to teach a basic class, plus I just love the look of enameled metal.  I got a couple of books and got out the enamels that I bought a year ago (I know, my bad!) and I set to work.  I have to say, this is the most fun I've had working in quite a while.  I did a basic, easy torch method because I thought might be good as most people can afford to buy a torch but maybe not a kiln.  I used Thompson enamels and copper.  I only had transparent enamels and I think I would prefer opaque ones for the copper, but it was ok for a first try.  I want to try it for a bit with copper and then try with fine silver when I feel a bit more comfortable.  Since the transparent colors were, um, transparent, I couldn't really get deep complex colors with them with out building up the colors in many layers.  I also tried a make-shift raku treatment using some dead leaves in a tin can, putting the hot, enameled piece in the can and clamping the lid down until it cooled off.  This gave me my favorite results.  
I think I might love doing this!  It will go along perfectly with the metal work that I'm already doing and it will be a great new class to teach at Bead Haven and here in my studio.  And as for perking up my creative juices, I'm already thinking of what to do next with it.  So, the moral of the story is, if you have something sitting around at home that you've wanted to try, but just haven't gotten to, get it out and give it a try this weekend!