Saturday, May 28, 2011

Give Me The Finger

My current turtle finger companion.

That's right. I'm looking for a few good fingers, so flip 'em this way. I'd love to start selling my turtle rings (I wear one, my kids have them and my sister has one that glows in the dark), but I'd still like to experiment on someone and see how I do with sizing a ring for someone I don't see in person. I've really only used copper wire for the wire-wrapping, but hopefully I'll eventually venture out to different wires. So if you like turtles and would actually wear a glass turtle ring (made with copper wire), please leave me a comment with a way to reach you after this post. Also, make sure you know the ring size of the finger you would wear it on, and I'll contact one or two people from the comments to get the info. to make and size a ring. Thanks in advance!

Another angle of my ring.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Who You Callin' Short?

I recently moved my "studio" from my dining room to my basement. This forced me to clean off my table, and boy was that a long time coming. I was not looking forward to picking through all that glass, but I knew I'd find some goodies and glass rods I'd forgotten about buried under more glass rods. I also was hoping to find some murrini that had popped out of my tweezers while I was trying to apply it. But what I mostly wound up finding were shorts. Not the kind you wear, mind you, but short pieces of glass. Those short pieces, which are about one to two inches long, are what is left when you use a rod of glass down to where you can safely handle it. I'm pretty sure I've seen special tweezers that are made for holding those short pieces of glass, but I've never used them. Sometimes I use my mashers to hold those smaller pieces, and sometimes I'll fuse a couple of them together to make a longer usable rod. But mostly I just let them accumulate. I have a lot of shorts. I think I'd better get fusing - that's a lot of glass that could be used.

What do you do with your shorts?

Here is a random picture of my cats after I folded some warm towels. Ernie is the orange one burrowing in the blanket. Burt got the warm towels and the other black kitty is Buzz.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Murrini Monday

Have you ever seen mushroom murrini? I hadn't - until today. My glassy friend Jo from Dogmaw Glass makes it, along with lots of other designs like flowers, leaves, ladybugs and palm trees (those are super cool!). I'm loving the 'shrooms!
In other murrini news . . .

I recently received a package of murrini from a glassy friend in the UK. She is just starting to make it, and she's finding it quite addictive to make (which is good for me, because I find it very addictive to use). So one batch is a nice bright color combo of green, orange and yellow and I used it to decorate the snail above.

This penguin is sporting a really sweet slice of green murrini with a rubino center - love that!

And there was a pack of purple and blue murrini, too, which I used on the cobalt big hole bead in the above picture. I decorated the amber bead with murrini from the orange, green and yellow mix.

The artist who made this fabulous murrini is not selling it (yet). But she is thinking about it. So hopefully she will eventually and I can post all her information and you can be playing with this fabulous murrini one day, too.

Happy Murrini Monday!
Here are my latest lori and kim murrini inspired critters. A mini owl and a mini penguin.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Express Yourself

Lately I've been thinking a lot about facial expressions on my critter beads. I think it came about because I was asked to make a flock of funny birds (similar to the ones in the short film Bird on a Wire). I noticed right away that the birds had very comical expressions - ranging from surprised to angry. I knew more than anything that the expressions I put on my beads would be the biggest challenge when I made them. Also, I had never put eyelids on my beads before (as a result, they all suffer from sever dry eye), so that added to the challenge. The birds posing on the Jenga block are the ones I made for my special order, and I was pretty happy with how they turned out. They got me thinking a lot about expression and how I could improve or expand on the facial features of my beads.

Back when I started making beads, I found a couple tutorials that were instrumental in helping me make critter beads. Super talented Emma Green, from Bead Envy, shares them on her site - one for a penguin and one for a cow head. At the end of the penguin tutorial, she reveals that the most important part of a critter bead is its eyes. "The eyes have it," as she puts it, and I agree completely. By adding eyelids to some of my bird beads, I gave them a more skeptical look. But also, the position of the black eyeball definitely will change the look of a bead from surprised to, say, lonely.

The expression on my penguins is almost always the same - poker faced. They always look as if they don't know what's going on, like, duh, I don't know. I think the position of the wings contributes to this, too, because it looks like he's shrugging his shoulders.

For cow beads, I usually put down a layer of black before I put the white eyeball and then the teal coloring. All these layers take up space on the bead, and as I melt them in they expand, causing the eyes to smush together. For some beads, this is not the effect I want, so I pull off the eyes (don't worry, doesn't hurt a bit) and start over. But for cows, I happen to like how it gives them an almost petrified look. I try to keep the blacks of the eyes closer together and in the middle, and somehow it works.

The sad puppy dog eyes are probably my favorites to make. I start with a layer of black, then white, then a shade of transparent topaz or brown. For these, I try not to let them melt together like on the cows, but I do let them expand a bit. Then I'm careful to put the blacks of the eyes toward the top and also toward the snout. Now he looks like he could use a good scratch behind the ears. Or a cookie.

One look I'm still working on is the sideways glance. I tried it with the kitty on the right, but it seems like only one eyeball got the message. This happens a lot (see the pink bird on the right in the top picture). I need to work on getting those eyeballs in the same spot on each eye. It seems to work when the brown kitty is seated next to the bad fish-eating kitty because he's got something to look at.

I'm going to make it my goal to try to give my beads a little more expression and personality. Let's hope they are cool with that. If not, I guess they'll show me.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


It's Turtlepalooza time! That means all turtles in my Etsy shop have been marked down to $10. You read that right - $10 turtles! I've put them all into my new section called TURTLEPALOOZA, and I'll be adding more throughout the week. Turtlepalooza will run through Sunday, May 22. So grab some turtles at this low price before they run away! Ok, before they slowly slink away.

A turtle for your rope chain.

Gil has special powers - he glows in the dark!

Gil the glow turtle at night.

This is one of my all-time favorite turtles. Its shell is made of fantastic purple murrini (from lori and kim) that's been encased in clear.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Change of Plans

Here is Alex at Memorial Stadium where we went to pick up his race packet. He might as well get a t-shirt out of it, right?

Remember a while back when I enthusiastically wrote about the half marathon I planned on running in April at my college campus? Well, I wasn't able to run it. My knee was bothering me - my Cortisone shot had worn off, and I couldn't get another one until after the date of the race. I was bummed for sure, but my son had started track and he decided to run it. Even better! I could go to my old campus in Bloomington, Indiana, and cheer him on! And I wouldn't even have to break a sweat.

So I signed him up and we planned our trip. Just me and him. But two days before we were to leave he learned that because he's on his high school track team, he would be ineligible to run in the race. There are rules about student athletes competing in races outside of school. So now we both were bummed. He would have done really well, too, because he'd been running 10-12 miles every day for track.

But we weren't deterred - we went anyway. We stayed for one night instead of two, but it was plenty of time for me to show him around my old campus and check out the race course. We had so much fun. The last time I had been to IU was when Alex was a toddler. Now he's a freshman in high school. Things definitely changed, but they also remained very much the same and so familiar.

This is Alex in front of the Sample Gates that lead to the heart of the campus, an obligatory photo spot. The race course went through the gates (see the sign in the back?).

And here are me and Alex about 12 years ago in front of the Sample Gates. He was much less fussy during his second visit (thank goodness).

This is a shot of the Von Lee, a movie theater when I was a student. It seems to have transformed into a noodles & company restaurant.

Right before we left I remembered to take Alex back to Bryan Park, a spot we had visited back when he was 2 because, well, he was 2 and we needed a park. When we got there, I took a quick picture of Alex on this dinosaur. Maybe we got a few strange looks from parents of toddlers at the park, but we didn't care.

Here's Alex at our last visit. His obsession with dinosaurs was just beginning, and I remember we thought we'd hit the jackpot when we saw this cement dino at the park.

We ate dinner at the Trojan Horse and breakfast at the Village Deli. And in between we walked all over campus. We visited my old dorm (totally updated!), Assembly Hall and Ernie Pyle Hall, where I studied journalism and worked for the school paper. I practically lived in that building. It felt good to go back and have a look around.

Before we left, I remembered that the Bloomington Handmade Market was the same weekend (quite a good coincidence), so we ventured on over there and walked around. The place was packed, and there were a lot of Etsy sellers and just so many talented artists. It was really wonderful. When we got to the table of Melissa Bryant of mywireempire, a print caught our eye:

Obviously, we had to have it. It was perfect. Gee, I wonder why . . .

And now the print hangs in our hall/kids' bathroom. It looks great!

Melissa Bryant makes amazing prints, and she's doing an animal a-z series. You can see more of her work at mywireempire.

On our way home, Alex took a few pictures of the wind turbines in Northwest Indiana. We had never seen them up close before, and boy are they huge! There is a long stretch of them and it feels like you will never pass them all. When we got home and I looked up mywireempire on Etsy to see Melissa's other prints, I found this one:

One of those cool coincidences, don't you think? Her print is called tiny paper cranes, and I just love it.

It was such a fun trip, and so nice to have the time alone with my boy.
I think I wore him out.

Monday, May 16, 2011

No Murrini Monday

That's right, I'm not going to do a Murrini Monday today because my pictures are so bad! I have some awesome murrini to show off, too, but my blurry photographs wouldn't do it justice. Once I get my photo issues cleared up, I will have a super-deluxe Murrini Monday.

In other news, I'm breaking up with ArtFire. I'm just not getting the attention I crave. I wanted this new relationship to work out, but I'm just not feeling it. Sure, there was the occasional bit of excitement. You know how it is in the beginning. But soon it began to fade. I was putting so much into the relationship, but I wasn't getting enough back. Call me needy, I can take it. I will keep the fire burning over at Etsy. ArtFire, I hope we can still be friends, just on a different level.

My ArtFire shop is currently open, but will likely close by the end of the month or whatever my last payment covered. So stop by for some deals, like the owls above.

Thanks, and Happy Monday!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Blurry Photos - Blame the Cat

That's right, I'm putting all the blame for my recent batch of blurry bead photographs on my cat, Bert. No, he didn't just jump on the table where I was taking pictures and shake things up, causing the photos to blur. It's not quite that simple. This cute little kitty bit through the cord on our camera remote. The camera remote allows me to take pictures of my beads without touching the camera and therefore moving it, thus keeping the camera steady and the pictures crystal clear. The remote is attached to the camera by a nice, thick cord, so no hands need to be on the camera when I take a bead picture.

So the other day my husband went to set up the camera and found the cord had been bitten right through. We knew right away it was Bert. He's done this sort of thing before.

These are the mini blinds in my daughters' room. He not only bit the cord completely off so we can't pull them open, but he has chewed through other spots of the cord, causing this pretty picture. He has bitten off the ends of pretty much every pull cord to all of our mini blinds. Now when we open them we have to hook the little stump of a cord over the top of the window frame so he doesn't chew off more.

But the fun doesn't stop at camera remotes and mini blinds - oh no! There's more! He has also bitten the cords on several pairs of ear buds. We all keep our iPods in drawers now to keep them protected from Bert. The problem for me is that I can't remember where exactly I hid my iPod. :(

Just the other day I took off a rubber cord necklace and put it on my dresser. Within seconds, Bert was on my dresser and with one swift bite he had severed the rubber cord in half. I couldn't have stopped him if I tried, he was so fast.

Does anyone else have this issue? Any remedies? Should I sleep with a squirt gun and be ready to shoot at a moment's pounce and bite? We've never had a cord-biting kitty before and he is driving us mad.

Of course, we love him to pieces. Pun intended.