Friday, December 27, 2013

Adding beach sand onto glass beads

I had a request to make necklaces for a group of long time friends who have ties to a beach area.  Since the beach is an important part of their history, part of the request was to add sand from that beach to glass beads.  I love getting requests like this one because I probably would have never tried it and like to experiment.

I wasn't sure what to expect so I did a test run with craft sand from Hobby Lobby.  I made the beads as usual, then rolled them in the craft sand to embed some of it on the surface.

Then I put them in the kiln and had to walk away.  When beads go into the kiln it's not always easy to tell what the final product will be - I thought they might be ok but not really all that pretty with sand all over the surface.

I was wrong.  I loved them.  The sand added a little bit of character without overwhelming the bead and I was excited to try it with the beach sand. 

Here's an important thing I've found out during this process: real sand and craft sand = very different.  Even though I knew that, I didn't really know it until I opened up the beach sand to add to the beads.  The beach sand granules are much bigger than the craft version, so adding it to the surface was less like a dusting and more like introducing gravel. I used a wire sifter to keep the bigger pieces out and try not to overwhelm the glass.

The sand was wet (which makes came from the beach and it's December). Rather than rolling the molten bead in the sand, I brought a little scoop full of sand to the flame to make sure it was dry before applying it to the beads.  I was careful not to add too much - the more foreign matter you introduce to a bead, the more likely it will crack.

Anytime I'm trying something new like this I make extra beads so I can have my pick when the time comes to use them.

Here are the finished beads - I added them to necklaces with leather cording and small sterling initial charms.

Since these are gifts, I won't name names - hopefully they went out in the mail early enough to be part of the Christmas celebration.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Side trip: a new look for the copper dome

No matter what I might think about how much it cost, the first time I saw the new dome on the Kansas State Capitol building I couldn't believe what a change it was.  

I used to work in Topeka so I got used to seeing the patina on the dome (and then, for an eternity, the scaffolding around the dome while renovations took place).  But I hadn't been through in a while and when I saw that the renovations were complete I made sure to bring my camera on the next trip.

I'm really fond of adding patinas to copper and I loved the old look but the new deep color is stunning.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Guest post: Swimming duck cupcakes

My 12 year old niece Grace made the cutest swimming duck cupcakes last weekend and is letting me share her process here.  (Thanks to my sister Susan for taking and sending me the pictures!)

Adorable, right?  She made the cupcakes from scratch and let them cool completely, then added a layer of frosting to adhere the head and tail - a donut hole and a marshmallow cut on an angle.

She melted yellow frosting by heating it in the microwave, then turned the cupcakes over and dipped them one at a time.  This step takes some time - you have to hold the cupcake upside down for a minute or so while the frosting cools.

She cut Starburst candy and squeezed them into beaks and feet and sorted mini m&ms to get sets of eyes. The final step was attaching the candy with little dabs of frosting.  

A fleet of ducks!  They all seem to have their own little personalities.

This one looks like the puppy at the shelter compelling you to take it home; I don't think I could eat this one.  Unless I closed my eyes.

Great job, Grace - thanks for letting me post the project here! 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Artist's Synchroblog - December project

The Artists Synchroblog is a group of bloggers who post every other month on the same topic, sharing our experience or perspective. On alternate months we undertake a Pinterest Project where we each take inspiration from a Pinterest picture, create something (art, a meal, a DIY project, etc) and then post about it.  You can read more about the Artists Synchroblog here.

As much as I like random texture and pattern, I'm also drawn to repetition.  There is something really tidy about a pattern that continues through a piece of metal or glass. I have several images from Hally's blog pinned to my Art/Inspiration board on Pinterest - when I look at these pictures the repeating pattern is what I notice first. 

Hally Grace Photography: Oh Calgary, My Calgary
Image source - Hally Crangle

 Image source - Hally Crangle

I made this pair of earrings using the hydraulic press and a diamond pattern die to try to mimic that fence pattern in copper earrings. I like the little points it added - they look a little bit sharp but they aren't. And the pattern looks really cool from the front or the back - I had trouble deciding which side should face out.

And of course it seems like lately I can't make anything in copper without adding a heat patina...

Don't forget to visit the other bloggers involved in the Artists Synchroblog to see what projects they made from their Pinterest inspirations:

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Copper wine glass charms

A friend asked me if I could make a set of these for a holiday I'm thinking I might need a set of my own!  (Ok, not really.  I never, ever have people over to entertain so that would be a waste.  But maybe I will make a set to give as a gift to someone more extroverted than me.)

She asked for the copper charms to be numbered, one through eight.  I've seen a lot of wine glass charms, but I don't remember ever seeing them numbered and I think it's a fabulous idea.  They can work with any set of guests.

Each of the charms has a polished agate bead dangle added in colors that are complimentary to the copper.  I added a little bit of a patina to bring out the detail on the numbers and those should just get better with time.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ben's art show

Every year the Bizarre Bazaar is held the weekend after Thanksgiving.  It's the only show I do every year...I'm not very committed to selling my work at shows but this one is fun and full of energy and just has a great vibe to it. The gallery lighting in the venue is a little bit weird so the pictures aren't great, but here is a shot of my table as the event was starting:

I used to try to figure out different ways to display things and finally realized that this seems to work - I try to keep it fairly clean and simple and there is enough variation on the height of the displays to highlight some pieces nicely. 

But enough about's old news.  I've been doing the show for about 12 years. 

This year Ben had a table next to mine.  He put together mason jar solar lights to sell and we asked my sister Hally for some help with how to display them.  The lights are beautiful, but it can be hard to tell that in well-lit areas.  The first several hours of the show take place in the evening so we knew it would eventually get darker and the lights wouldn't need too much help. But at the beginning of the show it's hard to see that they are lights at all.  Hally suggested we build a little dark box to have a couple sitting in there and print out some pictures of the lights at dusk. She was right - those things definitely made a difference.

So the show started and Ben was doing big business.  To the point that he really needed help managing the demand...he is quite a salesman and has no trouble engaging customers.  I could probably take some tips from him, but I won't.  I just get way too embarrassed.

I spent most of the first few hours behind Ben, wrapping up his lights to give to his customers (everyone was walking around with bags that were lit up - it was kind of comical) and ignoring my table. He brought a good stash of the lights, keeping extras in plastic tubs under his table.  He sold out within the first three hours of the show.  It was incredible to watch it all unfold and how excited he was to sell all of his stock. And then he had plenty of time to walk around and see what the other vendors had to offer before the first day of the show ended.

The second day of the show went great for me as well (although I definitely did not sell out) and when it was all said and done we were both very happy with the experience.  I'm also really glad that I don't have to do it again for another year....I don't know how people do show after show after show all year long.