Welcome to A Hot Piece of Glass!

WELCOME to my colorful corner of the world! I write here about the things I make, in glass, fiber, metals, and whatever else I can find to play with!

**And if you want to read more about me, check out Adventures In Living!, my personal blog, or The ScooterMom, where I write about my adventures on two wheels! If you're interested in medieval, ancient and Renaissance glass, check out my history blog, The Medieval Glassworker!**

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

My wish for all of you is a joyful, peaceful season, and a happy New Year filled with hope and love and lots of time to spend making cool things!!

See you soon!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Holiday break

Good morning, friends!

I know my blogging has been sparse lately....it's the time of year! The kids are all busy with activities, and I have been spending a lot of time at the museum lately, getting ready for a practice tour I had as an assignment. The tour was completed successfully, and the kids have one more week of school before Christmas break, so I am busily trying to get done all the things that need doing while the kids aren't home. And my husband completed another semester at the University of Richmond, and I am very proud of him. My youngest turned four right after Thanksgiving, so there was a party:

And then my middle daughter turned six, and there was another party:

My oldest tested for, and received, her green belt in Tae Kwon Do this weekend, too.

The period between Halloween and New Year's Day is a ridiculously crazy, family-event and holiday-filled time that always simultaneously makes me feel so good about all that I can do for my family, but also sucks the creative juice right out of me. I wrote about it in a post on the Studio Mothers blog the other day.

The kiln is still awesome. I can't believe the beads I can make now! Discs, and huge hollows, and beads with parts that stick out....all kinds of stuff that needs immediate heat and careful cooling after working. Now I need to work on getting my new torch (a GTT Bobcat is what I'm after!), and then I'll be set.

So, I'm still here, but taking a bit of a break for the holidays. I promise to return as soon as I can with pictures of new beads and other fun stuff. Until then, I hope everyone enjoys a fabulous holiday season, and best wishes for a terrific 2012!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Guess what I'm doing....

I am running my new kiln!!

So far, so good. I've never had a kiln with an electronic controller before, and the annealing cycle is programmed in it already....so there's a lot of anxious running back and forth while I watch the temps go up and down and try to figure out at what point in the cycle we're at. I wish I could turn on my torch, too, and make some beads, but my son (who's 4) is home with me. Not a good idea to play with fire while little ones are around. I guess I can wait til tomorrow or later tonight. Maaaaybe.


We had a fun and relaxing family Thanksgiving celebration on Wednesday night of last week.

I know what you're thinking...."Isn't Thanksgiving on a Thursday??" It is. But the custody schedule with my older daughter has her needing to be at her dad's by 2pm on Thanksgiving Day every year. We didn't want to miss having her join us for a holiday celebration, so we just have our big dinner on the night before! Then we can all watch the Macy's parade on TV the next morning and eat leftover pumpkin pie for breakfast. We've been doing this for years and it works out perfectly!

Mmmm....pumpkin pie....I think there's still some in the fridge.....

I hope, if you celebrate Thanksgiving, that your celebration was a fun and relaxing one. I sure am thankful for each and every one of you, who reads and comments on what I write, who supports my work and encourages me. You all are a blessing, and I appreciate each one of you!

Stay tuned for some new work from me later on this week (I hope). I am dying to make some disc beads that don't explode from thermal shock!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

It's Been A While...

Hey everyone!

Sorry for the radio silence of late....life got busy and blogging kind of took a backseat for a while.

Last week, we took our kids to Disney World for the week, which was awesome. Exhausting, but awesome. My son (3) and my middle daughter (5) did not know they were going on this trip (my 13yo daughter did), so it was a fun surprise for them. Of course, we had hoped for a more enthusiastic reaction than we got when we told them where we were going, but we did drag them out of bed at 4am for our flight, so I guess you can't expect too much energy by 10am.

Cinderella's Castle was absolutely breathtaking at night, all lit for Christmas. It was fantastic. The kids had a great time, and I loved seeing them see all my favorite things for the first time. My older daughter and I got in our 'missions' -- to ride Space Mountain and The Haunted Mansion each at least once. My son seemed to enjoy rides that were outside, but it was hard to capture him smiling. Disney World is a lot of noise and sights and commotion, and I think he was overwhelmed by it all. We don't visit amusement parks and ride on rides as a general rule, so this was his first experience with anything like this. It was beautiful to see him smile SO much on the Flying Dumbo and Aladdin's Magic Carpet rides, though.

I'm already planning our next trip, in three years. I love love LOVE the Disney Parks, especially the Magic Kingdom.

Let's see.....what else....

Still training at the museum. Still loving it. I did my first couple of practice gallery talks already, scored well on them, and had a ton of fun. Last session, we were shown how to use the library at the museum (dangerous for me!), and I am so excited to get in there and do some research for my upcoming three-object "tour" in December.

I'm done with shows for the season. Yay! Now to make a ton of inventory for a huge local spring show that I am applying to.

My kiln has not yet made an appearance. Boo! Some parts were back-ordered, so I hope to get it later this week.

In case you didn't see this on Facebook, I scored BIG at an estate sale a few weeks ago. The estate was apparently the home of a hobby jewelry maker who managed to own materials for just about every craft or art I like. There were shelves of jewelry books -- most brand-new -- and at $5 each, I was pulling them off the shelf in handfuls. I got a Pepe jump ring winder for about $45, sheet metal, wire (gold filled, sterling, brass, and copper), hand tools, a texture hammer (for $8), and a bunch of other stuff. Someone was definitely looking out for me, because most of what I got were tools and things I have had on my wish list for a long time. It was insane how little I ended up paying for a lot of this, and the only conclusion I can draw is that I was meant to have it. I am sure the previous owner of this equipment would be happy to know that it went to a jewelry artisan and metalsmith.

Now if only I could carve out some time to play with everything...that would be fantastic.

Oh, and because I don't do *enough*, I'm also trying to teach myself to crochet so I can make this scarf. How insanely cool is that!? I love that scarf, and I want one. So I will (hopefully) make one, before the weather turns warm again.

My tea is hot, and my to-do list is sizeable, so I guess I should get going. See you real soon! ;)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

New work!

I haven't been totally without time to create....

For your viewing pleasure, behold a bracelet made from the headpins I mentioned in my last post:

And made from a recent estate sale find, this necklace, called 'Relic', from my own copper tube beads and vintage glass and metal beads, mixed with my own lampwork:

And the matching bracelet:

Some heavy-gauge copper wire -- working on my hammering and shaping skills.

I especially love that fall leaves bracelet. I keep intending to put it in the shop, but I haven't yet....telling myself that the pictures aren't good enough, and waiting for a sunnier day to take more shots...

And that 'Relic' is one of the longest necklaces I have ever made -- 26". The photo does not do it justice.

I need to make a bracelet with those pumpkin headpins....THAT is really cool-looking in my mind....I just haven't had a chance this week to sit down and work it all out.

Art Bead Scene's October challenge is awesome, and I want to enter it (I already made appropriate beads), but once again, haven't had time to work out the design. Must learn to design in my head, on the run, so I can knock out the piece in one go when I *can* sit down to the work table (ironing board).

Okay, that's it for now....hopefully I will have more soon!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Last Time

I'd show you pictures of what I've made at the torch recently, but.....I can't. In my hurry to get the headpins annealed (it's a BIG fistful of headpins now -- I made even more!) so I could make something with them before the autumn was over, I shoved them all into the kiln, along with the cool ivory-black-olive dot beads and the teeny tiny hedgehog and fired them all up.

They're annealing as we speak.

My little Evenheat HotBox kiln is probably batch annealing in my garage for the very last time.



Why am I so excited about this?

Because on or before November 1st, The Glass Hive will be shipping me my new kiln!

I ordered a Wide Guy kiln way back in February of 2010. Yes, a year and a half ago. The Glass Hive has a fantastic layaway program, which I took advantage of, since putting together the entirety of the cash for the purchase was going to be difficult. With my last show, I finally was able to make the last payment, and now my kiln is being built!

No more babysitting the kiln. No more running out to the garage to check the temp and make minute adjustments with the infinite controller. No more being bound to the house while the kiln runs. No more waiting for a full bowl of beads to be made, and then trying to find a day when I don't have to go anywhere so I can run the annealing cycle.

No more making fabulous beads, and then not being able to use them right away.

Oh my goodness, I'm so excited! Of course, I have to figure out the logistics of where to put the kiln and my torch stuff so I can work and put beads directly into the kiln, but that's minor. :)

Soon....soon....I can hardly imagine what it will be like to fire up the kiln, fire up the torch, make my beads, put them directly into the kiln, and let the kiln complete it's cycle with no intervention from me, and then stop all by itself. Beads will be ready the next day, no more waiting.

Can you tell I'm thrilled!?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Wedding jewelry and other stuff

I don't know if you are familiar with FlockShop, which is Interweave's new shop. They sell great craft and art supplies at a discount, sort of like Woot or 1-Sale-A-Day, if you're familiar with that format.

Anyway, because I received so many wonderful comments about my use of fiber in making my Bead Soup challenge piece this year, I decided to give fiber a try for some other works. FlockShop had an unbelievable deal on beautiful fibers recently, so I splurged and bought three packages of different colors:

Gorgeous, right? They're killing me, though. I have ideas, but I am afraid to cut into/use them because they are so pretty. Hmm...

In other news, I completed a set of jewelry for my friend Kelly, who is getting married at the end of this month. Two necklace and earring sets for her bridesmaids, and three pairs of earrings for junior bridesmaids and other helpers.

The day I shot the pictures was alternately overcast and brightly sunny. I couldn't seem to get the shots when the sun was actually out, so they are a little dark.

I really love making hollow beads, but I'm limited in glass color and type, only because it takes so flipping long on the Hothead to make them this size that the glass burns/devitrifies/reduces/oxidizes before I get the thing finished. Thankfully, this amber and purple glass is pretty stable. Kelly picked up the work last night, and I think she liked the pieces I made. They are much more sparkly than these photos do justice to, and of course, I was so happy to be a part of Kelly's wedding celebration! Thank you Kelly, and congratulations!!

In museum news, I have been studying Rococo painting like a crazy person these last few days, preparing for my first gallery talk. I'm speaking on Giovanni Pittoni's 1720 painting, 'The Banquet of Cleopatra', and I'm scared. I am a confident teacher, capable of teaching a wide range of subjects, but this really makes me nervous. It'll be okay, I know, but still.

There's a stack of art history books on my kitchen island about a foot high. I'm reading. A lot. I'm not making as much jewelry as I had been, but I sure am happy!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Quickie New Work Post!

Hey there!

So I set aside some time at the torch for me this past week (a minor miracle that I actually GOT to fire up the torch!), and I decided to try something different.

I made a bunch of glass headpins!

Check it out....
What do you think?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Nights at the Museum

Hi guys! I'm back.

I know it's Bead Table Wednesday, so quickly, here is a shot of my ever-crowded bead table (jewelry table, wire table, sewing table, mixed media table....):

What? Doesn't everyone sew and work metal and make jewelry on their ironing board??

The bathroom remodel this summer has rendered the garage workbench a little inaccessible for the moment, and I haven't had time to clean it off as yet, so that is why some of my metals stuff is in front of my (poor neglected) sewing machine.

But BTW is not what this post is about....no.

Most of you know that I was accepted into the training program to become a docent at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. It is a prestigious and comprehensive training program that lasts a whole year, and includes art history lectures, gallery exercises, training in basic museum education, and programs on the collections and holdings in the museum. It's a volunteer position, and I am undergoing this extensive training willingly, and without financial compensation. The rewards are much greater than that for me.

So far, we are three weeks into the training, and have completed lectures on ancient art and the ancient art collection in the museum. To say that I am happy is an understatement.

The first week, we were allowed into a gallery with our instructor and a security guard after the museum was closed. It was quiet and cool, and the halls were lit and the marble gleamed and outside it was dusk. It's an amazing experience to be so quietly surrounded by works of art created by countless hands and minds from across the centuries -- and millennia. All those people and all that creating....people we can identify and have images of, and people we only know as "the Virginia painter" or "R", or people we have no idea about at all, whose identities are lost in the passage of time. I was overwhelmed by the existence of these people and what they have left behind, by the magnitude of what we do creatively as humans, and by the seeming enormity of the task before me.

But now I see why it is that this appeals to me. Oh, it always has, the history and the concept of a museum, and the reading and learning. But for the first time in....years?....I sincerely feel that this is what I'm meant to be doing.

On some levels, it's intensely frightening.

On another level, it fills me with a joy I can't describe, and that has spilled over into the rest of my life in these last few weeks. Even in the midst of the chaos of three children starting school, husband in college, and work and family life activities. 'Go placidly amidst the noise and haste' has never been so applicable to my days.

I have a couple of years to spend working at the museum in this capacity, but my mind has already started to wander to "what's next?" as I find myself idly surfing the course listings for Virginia Commonwealth University's Art History department.

We'll see; I have plenty to do and to think about before I go get all fired up about any further schooling for myself. But for now, I'm happy to be doing what I'm doing, and looking forward to the future eagerly.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Still Hoppin'!

Wow! What an amazing Bead Soup party this time! So many beautiful works, so very many blogs to visit! I'm still working my way through all of the blogs on the list, and I have a feeling it's going to take a few more days at least. Wow, you guys are seriously talented!!

And thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you who left such lovely comments on my work! Knowing how many blogs there are to visit, it really means a lot that you would stop and offer kind words about my necklace. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

To any of you who are newly subscribed to this blog -- welcome! Now that the kids have started back to school, and September's whirlwind is settling down, I hope to have more content posted here, as well as on my other blogs, The Medieval Glassworker, and The ScooterMom!

Enough housekeeping and business...how about some news and pictures?

So....here is what I've been up to lately....aside from cooking up the Bead Soup!

I helped a friend who needed a funny baby gift...and made a baby bottle into a ketchup bottle:

It was pretty simple, but I was impressed with myself when it came out actually sorta looking like the real thing!

It's not designed to be functional, just purely a joke between friends.

The school-year schedule is in full swing around here with activities just about every night for someone in this house -- tae kwon do, Girl Scouts, my husband has two night classes....it's crazy, but we're handling it. Oh, and my night of training at the museum. Now THAT is something I am really in love with. That's a whole separate post of it's own, though. More later.

Remember these vintage suitcases I bought last spring?

I thought they'd be great for a tabletop show display -- and they are -- but there is so much neutral in my display that nothing really stood out. So, I painted them!

A couple coats of spray paint and they were much better. I'll have some good photos of my display after this weekend. I've changed it quite a bit, and I'm really pleased with the way it has turned out. One of the very best things about using working suitcases as display props? Storage! Those things are FULL of all the little props I use on my tables. It makes for fast and easy setup at shows, too, which is fabulous, since I am always alone at shows for setup.

Hmm...what else?

I've been so busy, but haven't had a chance to photograph anything really interesting...guess this means I need to be running off to get started on prep for my busy weekend. I'm not going to ArtBliss this year (boohoo!), instead I am helping out with a local SCA event, and then on Sunday is Arts Around The Lake at the University of Richmond. I doubt the arts will actually be around the lake this year, since it's supposed to be rainy, but I am hopeful. Come out to see me and a bunch of other fine artists and artisans, if you're local to Richmond, VA!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ta - DAAAA!!!!

As my contribution to the Bead Soup Blog Party 2011, I give you...

Washed Ashore

While I admit to being a class-A procrastinator sometimes, this particular project sparked ideas immediately upon receiving the bead soup. For a few weeks, I toyed around with a variety of ideas, auditioning countless methods for achieving the end product I had in mind. Finally, FINALLY, late on Wednesday evening, the week of the Hop, I came to grips with exactly how I was going to execute this design.

It was a challenge. I never use fiber in my designs hardly anymore. But I knew I wanted a look of something tossed up on the shore of a beach after a storm (fitting, given the recent hurricane here). I think I achieved it.

So, after you have enjoyed my post, please go and visit my partner, Elizabeth Woodford, and see the beautiful necklace and earrings she created with the soup I sent her!

And then, after you've done that, start making your way around the Hop and check out ALL the fabulous work! There are over 300 participants, so it will not be a quick hop, but you will enjoy it. Here is the list, on hostess Lori Anderson's page.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Bead Soup is simmering...

I *just* finished my Bead Soup piece, and I am SO. excited. to show it to you! (nothing like waiting til the last minute, huh?)

However, I haven't photographed it yet, and I am going to be out all morning at a local farm market.


Come back here after about 2pm EST to see the piece I made. :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Countdown beginning....

Watch this space!

On Saturday, September 17, I will reveal the piece(s) I have made for the Bead Soup Blog Party!

And as a reminder, here is the 'soup' I am working with....pretty darn tasty!

And I canNOT wait to see what my partner, Elizabeth Woodford, comes up with!!

Saturday, September 3, 2011



A company called Riggs-Distler was assigned to work in my neighborhood on Thursday afternoon. The really nice work crew walked around and reset transformers and inspected lines for an hour or so, while the kids played in the sprinkler on the front lawn (because the generator was occupying the backyard).

I ventured forth to inquire of these gentlemen what we might expect in terms of restoration, and one of the guys said, "Oh there's nothing broken here. Just a couple of limbs on lines. Should take four or five hours, max."

I refused to get my hopes up too high, because we'd been having them raised and dashed over and over again. We had to go and find some dinner and take Wren to her kindergarten orientation, so really, it was best to just proceed as though nothing was going to change.

A run through Sonic for their fab hotdogs (and a cherry limeade for me!), and then we were off to meet Wren's teacher and see her classroom. We left the school just at dark, and drove anxiously down our street.....are there lights on? Is that a generator? Our neighborhood has a funky arrangement of electricity and just because certain houses are dark doesn't mean ours will be. But the mile-long cruise down our street yielded.....darkness.


We fired up the generator and started to get the little kids ready for bed, resigned to another hot night of sleeping, and more fun and games with the breaker panel.

Then my husband noticed a streetlight on at the corner. We have our generator jacked into the house power, so the main switch was off. He ran downstairs and flipped off the generator and turned on the main....and there was LIGHT!!

We let the little kids watch cartoons until 10pm, while we waited for the hot water heater to do its job. Hooray for electricity and modern conveniences!!

(this means that I can now return to art-related posts! And I will show you what I made in the dark, while wearing my husband's LED headlamp!)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Hey everybody...

Just wanted to let all know that we have been without power since Saturday afternoon because of Hurricane Irene. I'm writing this while the generator runs our router so at least we have brief periods of internet. most of my internet time involves Facebook so I can keep up with news and friends, and obsessively refreshing the Dominion Virginia Power outage update pages so I can find out when we might have power back.

Also in the last few days, my oldest daughter turned 13 and I threw a party for her, in the dark (more on that later). Now that that is done, I can turn my attention to other things, like searching the area for power crews working on fixing lines, and cleaning out my fridge and freezer. :)

I'll be back soon!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bead Soup has arrived!

I love getting packages in the mail, especially when they contain such wonderful goodies as what my Bead Soup Blog Party partner, Elizabeth, sent me!

Check THIS out:
There are SO many gorgeous beads in this Soup!! Beads made from recycled glass in Tanzania, a gorgeous focal from a fellow Virginia glassworker, Linda Campbell, freshwater pearls, shells, glass beads with gorgeous finishes....the minute I opened the box and saw the beautiful goodies, I immediately had about a zillion ideas! I'm working out the logistics on the vision in my head right now.

I certainly hope the Soup I sent to Elizabeth is inspiring to her, too. Here's what I sent:

Elizabeth and I live about an hour apart, so probably by the time she sees this post, her package will have arrived. At least, I hope so!

This is going to be SO MUCH FUN!!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Puzzles and Works in Progress

First, I want to direct your attention to a wonderful podcast I was listening to in which Rice Freeman-Zachery interviews Sharilyn Miller. The podcast is at this link. She talks a lot about herself and her work, but also offers some really interesting insights. Personally, I love her work, so I am always eager to read and listen to anything I can about her and what she is doing. Someday, I would love to go to one of her Wild Wire Women retreats.

Somehow, today I have been able to get a few things done in the workshop. I have a long (LONG) list of 'stuff to make', and things I want to try out, so whenever I get some time to create, I never feel like I get enough done. Not to mention the fact that I have to shift between workspaces all over the house (metals in the garage, beading in the office, anything with water in the kitchen...). But I did get a few bits of copper enameled, some washers hammered and heat-patinated, and a decent start on some wire wineglass charms.

It's those wineglass charms that have been giving me the puzzling issues. I know in my mind's eye what I want them to look like, but getting there is....well, most of the fun, but still seriously taxing my engineering skills. I'm not even sure how much of a market there will be for them, but there are two wineries that are vendors at the market I am doing, so maybe I'll actually sell some. But first, I have to make some that work right.

But I'm always grateful for some time to make things, even if I wish I could work faster or make more things. :)
What are YOU making?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Bead Soup, Baby!!

Bead Soup Blog Party

It's time for the Bead Soup Blog Party to get going! I got my partner, and I'm pretty excited about it!

Elizabeth Woodford is going to be my partner for this dance!

I looooove what I have been seeing of Elizabeth's work on her blog and Facebook page, and I know whatever she sends me is going to be a lot of fun to work with. I have already been at the torch making a set of beads for her.

Soon, she and I will be posting our bead soups and working on our creations. You'll just have to hang on til September 17th to see what we make with each other's soups!

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Catch-Up Post

The time just gets away from me! I can't believe it's been almost a week since I last posted.

So, let's catch up.....

I will be part of Lori Anderson's Bead Soup Blog Party again! She is an amazing woman, and even more so to put this whole thing together. Over three hundred people are swapping beads and making a jewelry piece with their partner's beads. The last go-around was so much fun, and it's astonishing the creativity that people possess! Stay tuned, because I'll be posting more as time goes on.

I had a dismal sales day at the market this past weekend, which was funny because the market was busy and the weather was fabulous! Oh well. The good part is that I had a great time, chatting with other vendors and talking to folks attending the market. Every day can't be a zillion dollar day.

My enamels order from Fundametals came in and it was like Christmas! Jeanette is a wonderful person to do business with, and I highly recommend her shop for enamel, mixed-media, and metalwork supplies and tools. I got transparent and opaque enamels, and some Klyr-Fire. I had to wait til yesterday (Sunday) to play with everything, but it was SO worth it! I remembered most things from Melissa Manley's Hard Candy class at ArtBliss last year, and I made some nice enameled discs for pendants and earrings.

Apparently, yesterday was a Muse day, because somehow I made five new bracelets, one after the other. Awesome. I love it when that happens! Effortless creativity, using materials that have been sitting there all along, but finally decided to show me how they come together!

Some copper was etched, and this is the unfinished result....starting work on Halloween stuff, too.

Oh, and my shop has been updated with some more pieces. I'm trying to get my stock up before holiday shopping, so look to my Facebook page for updates!

I think that's it for the catch-up....for now, anyway!

Have a great week, everyone, and I hope to have more to show you in a few days!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

One Bite At A Time

This is the message board in my kitchen. I like to change the message from time to time to reflect things we need to think about, post messages to congratulate members of our family, encourage each other, or just inspire someone to do their best.

Lately, I've had quite a lot of GOOD in my life -- good news, good happenings, positive outcomes. I've told you some of it already. I'm so thankful for all of it.

Lately, though, I've also had a lot of NOT-SO-GOOD. In July alone, one of our dogs nearly died and required expensive emergency vet care, the master bathroom shower leaked into the living room ceiling and caused a catastrophic failure of the drywall, resulting in a huge 3' square wet hole in my living room ceiling and the total destruction of my master bathroom, and the air handler for our upstairs heat pump backed up and began leaking into the ceiling of the master bedroom. You can imagine how that went.

The work that I do as my 'day job' has slowly crept up to a level that is overwhelming. I've gotten many parts of it under control, but for a while there, I was seriously stressed and managing WAY too many teeny tiny details. Add to that the kids being home, and getting enough time during working hours to handle everything is nearly impossible. Thankfully, my boss is awesome and trusts me to get the work done.

My middle daughter was having a hard time grasping some of the finer points of appropriate school behavior.

Somehow, I hurt my foot enough that walking is painfully difficult.

We have to choose contractors for the bathroom remodel. I have to pick out tile and cabinetry and paint and accessories for a project I wasn't planning on doing.

It's all been a lot (too much!) to handle.


In all of this, just when I thought the Universe was all about handing me a big bucket of crap, I realized I was also getting handed a bucket of good stuff, too.

People starting coming out of the woodwork with recommendations for tile guys, and drywall people, and plumbers.

The sales guy at the tile place helped me narrow down my choices and choose a selection of really pretty and complementary tile for our teeny master bathroom.

We found out we might be getting a decent refund from a previous homeowner's policy we weren't supposed to be paying on.

I got a raise at work!

Wren had a great day at school yesterday.

My foot pain (that I thought might be a stress fracture) is actually plantar fasciitis. Soft tissue injury, difficult to heal, but not as bad as a fracture.

I got some copper pieces ready for etching.

And my husband brought me flowers on Monday.

So, when I take everything together, there really has been a LOT of good along with the not-so-good. Staying positive is a good thing, and it helps. I'm so grateful for the support of friends and family, including my virtual 'tribe' -- you guys! Sometimes, it's true. When you have a LOT on your plate, you just have to remember to deal with one thing at a time so it all doesn't overwhelm you. Eat that elephant one forkful at a time!

AND, to bring some focus back on art and jewelry, here's my Bead Table Wednesday contribution...

I've moved things to my sewing space to try to keep my kitchen island from becoming a beady, coppery wasteland of in-process projects.

I hope you all have a terrific Wednesday!

Friday, July 29, 2011

So Many Great Things!

I've got a bunch of really great things to talk about today, and maybe even some pictures, too!

First, I can't believe I forgot to tell you about this, but a few weeks ago I was notified that I was accepted into the docent training program at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts! I wrote about it on my Facebook page, but I guess I didn't say anything here...I'm SO excited, though! Training will start the second week of September, and run through next year.

Second, I finally went ahead and ordered some postcards with jewelry-care information on the back. I used one of my very favorite photos of my enameled beads, some wire and glass, and the brass plaque I stamped 'creative'.

I got them done with VistaPrint, and they're not bad for the first go-around. I'm thinking of putting that image on my business cards, too. It captures most everything I do with my jewelry these days -- metalwork, wire, glass, enamels, stamping -- so I think it would be a little more 'iconic' for my business.

Does anybody use MOO cards as business cards?

I made beads this week, braving the heat to do so. I'm getting really frustrated with my torch setup these days, because I have so little time to make beads and I want to knock out a big bunch at each torch session. Unfortunately, with the HotHead, it takes a long time to melt the glass, which translates to extra time roasting over the flame and fewer beads made in an hour. Roasting me, as well as the glass, some of which doesn't take kindly to roasting and turns all kinds of funny colors, or just flat out burns. Sigh. Someday, someday I will be able to move on from my HotHead to something that will get me where I want to be, glasswise. I am starting to feel very limited, and that sucks.

All I need is money, though.

Quoth the Raven...."Got to get started on some Halloween ideas!"

Chickens and eggs for the market

Blue beads for a necklace idea I had.

Those grey transparent beads? Those are supposed to be crystal clear glass beads, but thanks to the HotHead, that's what I get. I look forward to the day when I get to work with clear glass again.

Other good news...I was invited to blog at 'Studio Mothers', which is a wonderful community of support and inspiration for creative moms....and not only moms! I've really enjoyed reading it, and now I am thrilled to be a part of it! Check out my intro blog post here.

I added dates to my schedule at the Manakin Market, so I will be there twice a month for August, September and October. The market ends the last Saturday in October. I will also be at the University of Richmond's Arts Around The Lake show on September 25 (oh please don't let it rain like last year!), and Whimsical Wares, in Richmond, which will be sometime in November.

I think that's the update for now. Lots of things going on around here, but it's also August, which means my kids are home all day (no camp/summer school/activities!). I'm trying not to get too stressed about having less time to myself, and instead trying to figure out how I can fit in little pieces of productive time to make jewelry and get stuff done. I'll get there, I'm sure.

If any of you are local to Richmond, VA, and interested in having your own private A Hot Piece of Glass Trunk Show at your home, please get in touch! I'm starting to book dates for home sales, and I've put together some great hostess benefits that will get you some free and special-sale jewelry and accessories. Whether we want to believe it or not, Christmas shopping season will be upon us soon, and a Trunk Show is a great way to get some shopping done AND hang out with friends! Email me for details.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

It's Hip to Use Square!

Today I was at the farmer's market in Manakin, VA. If you've heard about the weather we've been having here on the east coast of the US, you will know temperatures have reached over 100degF for the past few days. The heat indices have ranged from 105degF up to an amazing 116degF yesterday afternoon. It's unbelievable.

And I was a vendor at the market today. Yikes. Thankfully there is shade in our market site, and a fairly decent breeze (which started to feel like a blast furnace around 11a.m.).

But that's not why I'm writing.

I set up at the market, and immediately made two sales to the market managers of some glass chicken and egg earrings. It was so hot that I was pretty sure those would be my only sales today. During the long lull in business, I decided to play around with my iPad and see if I couldn't get a better handle on my credit card acceptance application, Square.

Some quick backstory: I had a credit-card processing account through my bank, complete with the old imprinter and carbonless charge slips, and the need to telephone each card transaction in at the time of the sale, meticulously typing in looong strings of numbers. I hated it, but it was inexpensive and it worked for the limited amount of credit card transactions I did. Recently, my husband and I purchased iPads. Another artisan friend uses and likes Square on her phone, so I got the 3G version of the iPad so that I could use Square when I was at markets or art shows.

I had received my (free!) Square device (it plugs into the headphone jack on your phone/iPad), signed up for an account and linked it to my business bank account. At my first market, back on July 9, I got to use it for the first time. Of course, I hadn't really read the instructions, figuring like most technology, it would be fairly self-explanatory. It wasn't totally, but it was fairly easy once I figured it out. The sale was completed, and the money, less Square's processing fee, was deposited into my account within a day. So far, so good.

So at the market today, I was prepared to use the Square again, this time being pretty clear on how to use it. I decided to fiddle around on the website to see what else I might need to know to make transactions better. Good thing I took the time to read the FAQ!

I found out that I could use the device and application as a cash register, inputting cash AND credit card transactions. It would even tell me how much change to give back (yay for those of us who don't do math on the fly very well)!

You can make an inventory list, complete with photos, so when a customer makes a purchase of an item, you can attach that inventory entry (with thumbnail photo) to their transaction and email their receipt with a picture of what they bought!

Customers sign their transaction slips by using their finger on the touchscreen and can opt to have a receipt sent via SMS or email. In your account, you can see a list of all the transaction you have processed. So cool!

I haven't even really begun to fully explore all the things I think this application can do. Granted, I've only been using it for about a month, but consider me a happy client of Square. If you are looking for a credit-card processing method, I recommend trying Square.

(These opinions are mine alone, by the way. No affiliation with Square whatsoever, beyond being a happy client of their application.)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Market Day!

My trip to the new market was a really successful day for me! I ran late leaving my house in the morning, which always makes me nervous and irritated (I abhor being late for anything), but it almost couldn't be helped. Torrential rain put a damper (ha!) on my typical evening-before-a-show preparations of loading the car.

I arrived without trouble at the site, and found the market manager, Lisa, friendly and helpful, showing me to my assigned place, and letting me know how the market worked and where to park. It was a glorious place, my spot, in the inner ring of vendors, under the trees. Lisa had said the site was often breezy, and yesterday was downright windy at times! But the sun shone and the temperature was perfect, so I couldn't complain. The only issue might be the presence of poison ivy (to which I am spectacularly allergic) in the occasional spot under the trees. Yikes. Turns out there was one small plant in my tent that I didn't notice, and of course, my kids ran through and over it constantly while they visited, but so far no one seems to have been victimized.

I was really happy with my new display:

Sorry for the into-the-sun shots....was the best I could do at the time.

I couldn't believe it, but I sold that necklace on the denim pillow...it has one of my etched trees on it, and I really wasn't sure I wanted to part with it, but...I was happy to have it go to a really nice woman who admired so much of my work. I very nearly sold the hollow bead necklace to the left to another jewelry vendor, and I may yet, but it wasn't in the cards on Saturday.

The market sales for me were pretty decent -- just as good as my best day at any other of the local markets -- and I did learn a few things that I want to have well in hand before my next day there on the 23rd:

  • I need to make up some jewelry care cards. A no-brainer, but I haven't done it, especially since my printer has decided not to print on cardstock anymore, and I'm occasionally terribly frugal about business supplies.

  • I need to make up a postcard with my next show dates on them. Now that I am involved with this market, I have shows coming up!

  • This market has LOTS of vendors with chickens, rabbits, sheep, and alpacas. These lovely people need earrings. And maybe charm bracelets or pendants.

  • As usual, this type of market does well with lower price point items. This means more bookmarks, zipper and cell phone charms, and single-bead pendants, and earrings.

  • There are wineries vending at this market. Wineglass charms! Wine bottle stoppers! Cheese knives? Hmm...

As you can see, I have lots to do. I need to make a list, because at the moment, I don't even know where to start! But it's all for the good. Yay! Good sales and lots of appreciation for my work is like a shot in the arm. I feel so much better about everything.

Friday, July 8, 2011

To Market, To Market...

After a yearlong hiatus, I've decided to go ahead and do another farmer's market here in the Richmond area. I applied to the new market in Manakin-Sabot, My Manakin Market, and was notified that there was a place for me, beginning this Saturday (tomorrow!!). So, I will be hauling my show stuff out today and tonight and getting things ready. I'm really glad I had just done that gallery show with my girlfriend Carolyn a few weeks ago, because most of my stuff is organized and intact.

I'm also going to try out my new iPad and the Square for accepting credit cards. We'll see how that goes. I have the 3G 32GB iPad and I will be activating my 3G data plan for the first time. It should be a learning experience.

I know that farmer's markets may not always be the best venue for artisan jewelry and accessories, but I'm going to try it. I need to sell some work, and I need to expand my customer base in the Richmond area, and markets can be a cost-effective way to make that happen. We'll see.

I'm hoping this is going to be a good thing.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


It's summer, and so that means my time to create and be creative is limited and short. I'm sorry to say I have nothing really new to show.....it's been hot and I've been busy, and spending time with my kids while they are home this summer has been a top priority.

My middle daughter started summer school this week, though, and that has been a bittersweet experience. She'll be starting kindergarten in the fall, and this past spring when we registered her for school, we learned about the School Readiness program that was being offered (free!) to rising kindergarteners. It's mostly designed for helping kids who have not had preschool experiences get ready for 'big school', but Wren certainly could benefit from the structure. Plus, she is really REALLY ready to start school AND she could ride the bus! What's not to like?

New backpack, new lunchbox, and she's happily off! The first day, the bus driver took the kids to the wrong school, but that little adventure got straightened out and all is rolling along well now.

I didn't even cry that first day, when she climbed those bus steps and waved to me from the window. I *was* monstrously choked up, though. My baby!

*deep breath*

One thing I have been obsessed with lately is making fresh mustard. From scratch. You know my deep and abiding love for medieval history, right? Mustards have been around a loooong time, and a friend took a class from another friend who did some of her own research into period mustards. Well, now that we have the technology and the source for the mustard seeds, it's ON! The other day, I made honey mustard, peach mustard, a garlic and herb mustard, and a pepper spice mustard (with cloves and cinnamon!). Yesterday is was dark blackberry mustard, and today might be a wine-infused spice mustard. It's fun, and we have been buying our household meats from a custom butcher lately, so there is NO shortage of tasty grilled and smoked things to put the mustards on. YUM. I might be giving people homemade mustards for Christmas this year!
From left to right, top row: Pepper spice, peach, honey
Left to right, bottom row: plain ground brown mustard, garlic-herb, blackberry

In other news, I have been anxiously awaiting news from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, to see if I was accepted into the docent training program. The person who interviewed me said they'd make their decision and notify people by July 7th.....and it's July 7th! I think I will have to find something to do so I am not constantly refreshing my in-box.

Maybe Noah and I will go to the bookstore and peruse the jewelry magazines. Or to the spice store for more mustard seeds.


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