Sunday, November 29, 2009

Murrini Monday

My new blog feature - Murinni Monday - will last as long as I can think of ways to use murrini in my beads. I'm having so much fun with it, I have to share. All of my murrini comes from Lori and Kim online and on loriandkim on Etsy. If you're a lampwork artist - check them out!

Roscoe the Sheriff Penguin ~ You had to see this one coming. I mean, the little stars were staring at me, daring me to deputize a critter. And crazy-eyed penguin here was the perfect candidate.

Merry Murrini Christmas ~ Look! The Sheriff Roscoe's star is an ornament on the tree!

Morty the Mesmerized Owl ~ Morty's murrini eyes give him a trance-like stare. You are getting sleepy, verrrrrrryyy sleeeepy.

Critters on SALE

Capn' Jack the Pirate Wiener Dog

Great news! More of my critter beads are eligible for the SALE section of my Etsy shop! They don't like to hear that they've been "marked down" or put "on sale," so I figured I'd put a positive spin on it and say they're "eligible" - and now they feel privileged. Much like when my daughter's first grade teacher called and said my daughter "qualified" for extra reading help. It sounded like she won something!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fire Divas November Challenge

The Fire Divas are at it again, challenging each other in a bead contest. To celebrate the season of giving, the November challenge revolves around Thanksgiving. So take a look at these creative entries, then pop over to the Fire Divas blog to cast your vote for the entry you are most thankful for.

Friday, November 20, 2009

My Favorite Things ~ Critters!

I didn't mean to love critter beads. I really didn't. I wanted to be a spectacular bead artist who makes gorgeous, wearable art beads. But I got sidetracked. And now I often get sidetracked ogling the works of other critter bead artists. I'm not a stalker. Really. Ok, I probably am. I can't help myself. Here are some of my faves:

1. NLC Beads, aka The Sheep Goddess. Nikki's beads were some of the first critter beads I spied on ebay when I began my lampwork bead obsession. She's known for her adorable sheep beads, but her cats with the perfect little paw pads were what caught my eye.

2. Lori beads ~ I am in love with each and every pooch Lori creates. The detail is absolutely amazing.

3. PaulaNC ~ Paula's dog beads are so darn cute. And I love her other critters, too, especially her cheeky blue parrot.

4. Ankle Biter Beads ~ Deirdre's bug-eyed bugs and flirty fish crack me up every time. Her shop is a riot.

5. Studio Marcy ~ If you're a critter bead fan, I'm guessing you've heard of Studio Marcy and seen her glorious beads. They're whimsical and cheerful and funny. There's a huge variety, too, from hula dancing pandas to well-mannered gnomes.

6. deniseannette ~ I think bird-watchers have their binoculars trained on Denise's shop. Her bird beads are the sweetest I've ever seen. And she does everything from chickens to hummingbirds.

7. glassali ~ The bats and owls in this shop are so charming, and the descriptions are hilarious.

Talk about a day-brightener - one look at the happy faces on these critter beads, and your day will be that much happier.

A host of critter beads from NLC Beads. The poor screaming alien, always afraid of the quarter. For more from NLC Beads, check out her Ebay auctions.

Furry Jack Deluxe Puppy by loribeads on Etsy

Blue Parrot by PaulaNC on Etsy

Santa is a Cheesehead Fan (who knew?) by StudioMarcy on Etsy

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Therapy Thursday ~ Giveaway!

I was trying to come up with something therapeutic and uplifting for this week's Therapy Thursday, and I decided to go with the age-old practice of gift giving. Giving gifts is just as much an upper for the giver as it is for the receiver. So I'll be giving away a bead today on my blog. See that little pink hippo caroling with the teeny weenie? It could be yours by the end of the day. All you have to do to enter is comment below. It can be about anything. Also, leave some contact info (if I don't know you). I'll pick the winner by the end of today. Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Favorite Things

Star Struck graphic by Toxic Fingerboards

Just like Oprah, I have my own list of favorite things. I thought I'd post them here by category. Let's start with Children's Items, in no special order:

1. Toxic Fingerboards. This little company is the brainchild of my son and husband. My son loves playing with the little fingerboards, so my husband started creating them. Their online business has been up and running for nearly two years. And now, aside from the handmade wooden fingerboards, you can also find ramps and rails and other obstacles there. These are a great handmade toy for boys.

2. Crayola Model Magic Clay. It's so pliable and easy to work with - my kids love this stuff, and they spend many a night creating little treasures out of it. Then, they leave their creations out overnight to dry and they become keepsakes.

3. dollcloset on Etsy. First let me say that I was completely against my girls owning American Girl Dolls. I thought they were way too expensive for little kids to have as toys. But after much discussion, my mom finally talked me into it (her treat), and now both my girls have their very own. My mom has had a blast taking the girls to Chicago to pick them out and outfit them. But again, I find the AGD clothes to be pricey. So I went in search of an alternative, and I found dollcloset on Etsy. I can't say enough good things about the clothes Christine makes for American Girl-sized dolls! They're original and well-made, and the service is top-notch. So that's where I shop for doll clothes.

Purple Blast Jumper (we own this one)

4. Our neighbor, Timmy. He's great fun and my girls love to play with him. You should see the ginormous things they make out of cardboard. Sorry, Timmy is not available to the general public - he's ours.

4. raspberrykidz on Etsy. This is my sister's shop. It's filled with super-fun kid art drawn by her very own kids. Then Rachel, my sister, scans the images into her computer and takes out any random scribbles and professionally colors the pictures. She even raises parts of the images for a really cool 3D look. She'll even do this with your kids' doodle (these make such great gifts for parents or grandparents!). Check out some before and after kid art on her website, RaspberryKidz.

5. Apples to Apples Jr. Just plain fun. Even our youngest, who's just learning to read, loves to play. It's a great family game.

More of my faves in the coming days. Let's hear your favorites for the kiddos!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Therapy Thursday!

This week's Therapeutic Thursday is twofold. First, I'll reveal to you my lack of artistic drawing skills by showing you a picture of the bananas I put in my kids' lunches. I start each week day with making lunches, and although I have a 13-year-old who is perfectly capable of making a lunch, I still supplement his choices by adding fruit or carrot sticks or some other healthy addition. A few years ago I took to drawing faces on the fruit that has inedible skin, like bananas and clementines (these are especially fun to draw on due to the puckered peel - I've sent many a angry-old-man clementine to school over the years). My kids haven't tired of this practice yet. I like to think it's a little bright spot in their day, pulling out their banana and finding Mr. Mustachio looking back at them. So there's the therapeutic part - I get to draw silly faces (therapeutic for me) and they get to enjoy them or peel them off quickly before anyone sees (although there's a boy in my first-grader's class who asks to see her banana everyday, so at that age it's pretty fun). And the point I made about showing you my lack of drawing skills is this: it just goes to prove that if you're not good at one thing (for me, drawing - although I really really wanted to be good at it as a kid), there is still something else out there for you. Who knew that I would be nearly 40 years old before I found my niche in the artistic world? I know you can, too. Start with bananas.

And here's a banana phone. These can come in handy in school cafeteria emergencies.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Fun with Murrini

I've been having so much fun playing around with my new Murrini from loriandkim on Etsy, and I wanted to show some of my results. The top picture is a pea green turtle with a slice of murrini topped with clear glass on its shell. I love the magnifying effect the clear glass has on the tiny piece of murrini. I had to change where I put the bead hole to make these turtles - now the hole runs horizontally through the shell. But that's the only way I could properly show off the murrini on the top of the shell.

This one is a tiny turtle in pea green, with a really cool murrini slice topped with clear on the top of its shell. Again, the bead hole runs sideways through the bead - which would work nicely for rings.

On Saturday, which was my birthday, I took advantage of the sale Lori and Kim had on their new website and stocked up on even more murrini. Have a look around their glass candy shop, and see if you can guess which four murrini packs I picked.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Therapy Thursday!

This is just plain funny. Guaranteed to lift your mood.

L@@ky What I Bought

Nope, it's not edible - though it sure looks yummy! It's murrini, which are tiny pieces of glass with intricate little patterns on them. Two of my fellow lampworkers, Lori Peterson and Kimberly Lynn, began making their own murrini and selling it on Etsy. And a few weeks ago I finally succumbed to the little voice that kept telling me to "buy the murrini, buy the murrini." It was as if I'd been hypnotized or something. The only reason I had resisted up until then was because I didn't really know how to use it. I had tried applying murrini to a bead only a couple of times before, and both times were disasters. When I melted the pretty little piece of glass onto my tweezers, I just gave up. But then I found loriandkim on Etsy and I knew I had to give it another go. So floating around my bead box are a few practice turtles that have been decorated with some of Lori and Kim's fun "Whatever Murrini" - a mix of several kinds of murrini found in their shop. And the other day, when I was making a Christmas tree bead, I decided my ornaments just weren't that exciting. So I dipped into my new murrini and decorated my tree in style.

Now Lori and Kim are selling their gorgeous little creations on their own website - loriandkim - and I'm starting to hear that little voice again . . .

Monday, November 2, 2009

Hippo Tutorial

Here's how to make a hippo bead, in several easy-to-follow steps.

First - and this part is critical - plan on making an elephant bead. Wind the pretty blue glass around the mandrel. Add a head. Then painstakingly add a trunk to the center of face. Keep on adding glass until the trunk is out of control. Then get fed up with the whole thing and pull part of the trunk off (don't worry, this does not hurt the elephant if you do it quickly). Next, realize that it just doesn't seem to be working out, so smash the remaining stump of trunk into the face. Melt that in and take a look. Then come to the obvious conclusion that this bead was meant to be a hippo. Add a couple eyes, some nostrils and some horn thingies on top. Then add some legs and a tail, and voila! It's a hippo. Easy as pie.

Any questions?