Thursday, February 26, 2009


Somewhere in Illinois.  I guess it was too early for Cindi.

Julie, looking wide awake.

Cindi looks like she was on a mission.


Julie and Cindi picking out things for the store.

Yesterday, I went on a road trip with my friends, Cindi and Julie.  Cindi owns a bead store and a few times a year she heads to Chicago to a huge wholesale warehouse to hand pick things for her store.  She's been kind enough to bring me along on a few occasions, and yesterday we were joined by Julie Campbell.  Julie is one of the bead weaving teachers at Bead Haven, Cindi's store.  We had a great time picking out beads.  It's amazing how long it takes, but there's just so much variety out there.  I think it was especially fun for Julie, as she'd never been there before.  I think I saw a crazy, wild look in her eyes a couple of times when she wasn't looking!  I like to go because Cindi's  a lot of fun and besides, it's always fun to help spend other people's money!  Soon, she'll have all of her new goodies up and for sale in the store so go check it out when she does.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


My Dad, raising the flag last summer.

"We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before".
-President Obama

I was watching the Presidential address tonight and some of the words that he said got me thinking about all of the things that Americans have in common.  We all are worried about the future of our families, especially right now.  We are all concerned for the larger picture of the nation, whether we will survive the current economic crisis that we find ourselves in.  We worry about our own jobs, as well as our families jobs and our friends jobs.  We worry about the businesses that are the life blood of our communities.  We worry about the costs in terms of both human life and financial burden of the wars that we find ourselves embroiled in.   We can disagree about so many things in this country.  We are certainly a contentious bunch, Americans.  Sometimes I think we argue with each other simply for the sake of arguing.  Tonight, the President talked about how he knows that  all of the people in the chambers, who heard his speech, love this country and want it to succeed.  I believe that this is true for all of us out here in America, too.  That's a great thing to have in common.  And a great place to start the rebuilding.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


I've been such a hermit lately, that I didn't realize that I have an all day resin workshop that is fast approaching.  The workshop is at Bead Haven in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Saturday, February 28th.  This is going to be such a treat for me to get away from making things out of metal for a day.  I've taught a few resin classes already, but this will be the first all day one so far.  We've had a lot of fun in the classes that I've done so far. If there's been one thing that I haven't liked about them, it's that the class seems to over just as we're really getting started.  The extra time should really help to get everyone's creativity going.  I have some really cool things for us to use as bezels this time, including rings, brass and pewter earring bezels, pewter and brass pendants, bottle caps and some unconventional goodies too!  I have some really cool papers and fun bits and pieces to embed into the resin too.  Give the store a call if you're interested in Saturday's class.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


So, like I mentioned earlier in the week, the new issue of Stringing came out earlier than I expected.  I thought that when it came out there might be some interest in the pendant, so I had planned to have several made in the event that someone might like to buy one.  Well, thankfully, there have been some people interested in purchasing one, and needless to say, since I was clueless about when the magazine came out, I had none ready.  I had some of them that were made in fine silver, but none of the gold ones.  So, guess what I did yesterday?  You got it!  I spent the better part of the day making the pendants themselves, then applying the gold to them.
The gold is applied using a method called Keum Boo.  Keum Boo is an ancient Korean phrase, literally meaning, 'attached gold'.  I learned this technique a few years ago from the great artist and teacher, Celie Fago.  Gold foil or gold paste is applied to silver while heat and pressure are applied.  The result is gold that is bonded on a molecular level to the silver.  After the gold was applied and heated and burnished into the silver, I fused fine silver bails onto the hearts, tumbled them and then patinaed them with liver of sulfur.  I enjoy making these, but they are quite labor intensive and I should have been more prepared.  Oh well, I guess that's just how I roll.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


A dragonfly toggle in progress.

I'm working pretty hard these days, making lots of parts that I'll later assemble into finished jewelry or package up to sell as components.  I can become such a hermit when I get into one of these phases.  Sometimes I start working in the morning and don't look at the clock until I'm suddenly very hungry and I discover that it's 4 in the afternoon and I forgot to eat.   Sometimes when I'm working in the evening, I look at the clock and somehow it's 4am.  I honestly do not know how this happens.  This phenomenon also occurs when I'm surfing the Internet, especially Facebook, the greatest time-sucking construct of all time!   Sometimes, besides Paul, Facebook is my only sort of human interaction in a whole day!  Sad, isn't it.  Today I have a box of supplies coming, so at least I'll get to talk to the FedEx guy!

Saturday, February 14, 2009


A heart that loves, is always young.
- ancient Greek proverb

Friday, February 13, 2009


I got a fun surprise today when the latest issue of 'Stringing' came out with a piece made with one of my pendants and toggle.  I knew it was going to be in the magazine, but I didn't think it came out until February 24th.  I found out that it was out today when a nice lady named Jo Ann e-mailed me to ask where she could buy a pendant. The necklace was made by my good friend, Cindi Slater who owns the cutest little bead store around, called Bead Haven.  I'm really pleased that it was in the magazine, it's fun to see your work in print.
If you have a copy of the magazine, the necklace is on page 70 and a bracelet that Cindi made in one of my classes is on page 55.  Check it out if you have a chance.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Bronze, fresh from the tumbler.

New toggle getting ready to be made into a bracelet.

I love the colors that you can get by heat patination of bronze.

A new toggle made from one of my newly carved molds.

A hand-carved bronze toggle.

I've been getting ready for some upcoming shows and have been making lots of bronze pieces.  I usually make lots of things and then tumble and finish them all in one big group.  I love the picture with all of the bronze pieces jumbled together.  It sort of looks like pirate booty, doesn't it?  I've often wondered how others work.  Do you make all sorts of components and then assemble them all into lots of pieces of jewelry?  Or are you the type that makes just a few things and then assembles things as you go?  The latter is probably a more organized approach, but I've never been able to work that way.  I prefer to have piles of pieces to choose from as I'm assembling pieces.  Just greedy, I guess.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Mary, texturing some copper with a flex-shaft.

Allison, polishing a textured brass disc.

Cindi, looking like she might hurt me!

Rosalee, putting a mighty fine texture on that brass!

Rosalee, applying texture with a steel stamp.

Mary using the two-hole punch, one of my favorite tools.

Some people, like Cindi, are over-achievers.

Allison's finished pieces.  I love that satin finish on the bottom pieces.

Rosalee's finished pieces. My favorites are on the upper right.

Mary wins the award for best heat-patination of the evening!

Tonight, I taught a metal-forming and texturing class at Bead Haven.  We had so much fun.  I swear that women love using tools, especially power tools even more than men do.  I know that's not the usual perception, but every time I teach a class involving hammers, torches, saws, flex-shafts, etc., the students have the best time.  Which always makes it so much more fun for me.  There's nothing better that a class full of really interested, engaged people.  I can completely relate, because I do so love all of my tools!  Thanks for making class so much fun tonight, ladies!

Saturday, February 7, 2009


The bright sun in the southern sky.

Melting snow, headed on a long journey out to sea.

Today, it is 60 degrees here in Iowa City.  Like they say, if you don't like the weather in Iowa, wait 10 minutes.  Anyway, it's a beautiful day to be out and about.  I even saw dreaded Box Elder bugs flying around outside on the south side of my house.  I guess they come out of their winter stupor when the temperatures are warm enough.  Oh, goody.   I suppose this means they'll be in my basement soon.  Sophie got to spend almost an entire, well-deserved day on the porch watching the birds who were squabbling like they think it's springtime, too.  I can tell that they are enjoying their time in the sun.  I hope you are too, where ever you are.

Friday, February 6, 2009


Nepalese and Tibetan Lapis, Coral, Resin, Copper and Silver beads.

Natural Sapphire and London Blue Topaz

Top to bottom: Tsavorite, Red Chalcedony, Mozambique Garnet, Sapphire, Ruby, Peach Moonstone, London Blue Topaz, Sapphire, Emerald, Peridot, and Apatite.

London Blue Topaz.

Jade, Lapis Lazuli, Kambaba Jasper, and Turquoise.

I took pictures today of all my gem show loot.  I wish It was easier to take good photos of gemstones.  They look pretty here, but so much nicer in person.   My favorites are the sapphires, the topaz, the lapis and the tsavorite.  Of course, my favorites will probably be different tomorrow.  I wish I could keep it all for myself.  I've been thinking about the things I'm going to put together with them for my upcoming shows.  My head is spinning a little with ideas, now I just have to get to work.  

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Sophie was happy to see us.

Well, we got home a little later than we expected.  In Dallas we changed planes for the final leg of our journey.  We were pulling away from the gate, when we heard strange noises coming form the front of the plane.  The flight attendant came on the speaker and loudly said, "That sound is not normal".  That's not a phrase one likes to hear the flight attendant utter.  We pulled back to the gate and our pilot informed us that the ground crew felt that it was a fan and they'd have it fixed straight away.  After a bit, he came back on an said that in fact it was much more serious, that it was a problem with the hydraulic steering and we would need to change planes.  While I don't like delays, I was happy to change as it was a hydraulic steering problem that caused the accident in 1989 where the plane tumbled across the runway at the Sioux City airport.  So after a bit we got a new plane and made it home safe and sound.  Sophie hasn't left my lap all night, so I haven't even had a chance to look at all of my Tucson goodies!  Oh, well.  At least I have something to look forward to!  Bead pictures tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


No matter how many times I stand by one of these babies, I never stop being amazed!

Me, Jill, Anne, Bria and Gail looking over what I bought this week!

Gail showing us her kits that she is selling at the Whole Bead Show, starting tomorrow.

When you look like this, it's time to go home.

Today, our last day here, we took another drive out to the desert to visit our old friends, the cacti.  We drove out over Gates Pass, though the Tucson Mountain Park and into the Saguaro National Park.  I always love doing this.  There is so much beauty in the desert.  I think some people see only brown and prickly, but it really isn't like that at all.  Well, prickly, yes, but there is also color and texture everywhere you look. In the spring, the whole place will be alive with flowers. 
After our trip out to the desert, I went to the Gem Mall Show.  All I can say is, wow.  This was the biggest show that I've ever been to.  It was giant tent after tent of gemstone beads.  After a while, it's just overwhelming.  I bought a few great things there, one of which was a magnificent strand of red chalcedony faceted beads.  They were so beautiful, but out of my price range, as they were great quality, but also a double length strand.  Another woman at the same booth was eyeing them and we sort of looked at each other and made a little deal of our own to split them and the cost between us.  We talked for a bit and it turns out that she'll be at the show in Santa Fe that I will be at next month.  We made a date to have dinner together.  Thanks for splitting with me Linda!
I didn't make it through even half of the show, when it was time to go and meet friends for dinner.  That was ok though, I've spent quite enough money on this trip, though, I really did stay on task.  Paul and I met up with Anne and Bria again as well as Gail Moore and Jill Wiseman for another great dinner at Cafe Poca Cosa.  I really could eat here 3 times a week.  We had a fun time and then went back to Anne's house for a bit to look over my treasures that I found at all of the shows.  It was great to see Gail and Jill because I hadn't seen either since the Bead and Button Show last June.  Both women are very nice people with big talent and even bigger hearts.  Check out Gail's work at  See Jill's work at
I've had a great time here in Tucson.  It's hard to believe that the shows are really just gearing up.  I feel like I've walked a million miles and seen every bead and gemstone in the world.  Of course, I haven't.  That's the amazing thing about these shows.  You see things that you've never seen before and certainly couldn't have conceived of in your wildest imagination.  Good luck to all the vendors at all of the shows, but most especially to my friends Anne, Jill and Gail!  It's been a great time.  Time to go home now.  

Monday, February 2, 2009


Today we went to the 'To Be True Blue Show' again, to finish what we started yesterday.  I've bought some fine, fine things on this trip and I'm not quite through yet.  Tomorrow, I think we will hit the 'Gem Mall' show.  When I get home, I'll post pictures of everything that I've bought.  After our shopping we went to the San Xavier del Bac mission on the Tohono O'odham settlement 9 miles south of Tucson.  The mission was established in 1700 and the current building was built from 1783-97.  The mission is know as the 'white dove of the desert' and it's easy to see why, isn't it?  It's so beautiful against that ever-present blue Arizona sky.  When I was last here, the restoration of the inside was not yet finished.  I have to say, I was stunned when we went inside.  The colors of the paintings which were muted, but lovely before, now just jump off of the walls.   I never even noticed some of the paintings that are there before as they were covered with centuries of candle soot and dirt.  Really amazing.  It makes me so grateful for the craftspeople who do that sort of restoration.  It's such difficult and painstaking work, but it must be so rewarding to save such a place from the ravages of time.  It's a really inspiring place for an artist to visit, practically every available surface is decorated.  Just the way we like it.

Isn't this cool?

This one's for you, Gail!

Color, color, and more color!

This statue has the prettiest face, which you couldn't see before the restoration.

Even the windows are beautiful.

I want this for my house. I'm going to need a bigger house!

I'm eyeing this as inspiration for a piece made of bronze.

Inspiration is everywhere here.

Every house needs a kitty.