Archives for January 2014

Lampwork Demo at Desert Artisans Gallery

Lampworking Demo


In the studio – well, the beads are still in the tumbler  (see previous post)

In the meantime, I am demoing lampwork glass bead making at the Desert Artisans’ Gallery here in Tucson, AZ.  Here is a picture from yesterday.  Having a great time!

Studio Stories – Taking the Shine off

I love the look of matte lampworked glass beads.  More so I love the FEEL of the matte beads.  And for many years I have been using an etching acid to get the look.  But lately I have been very unhappy with the results.  The lampworked bead still looks good, but the etch is not consistent and the glass beads have been feeling really gritty.  I know my etching solution is old so that might be the problem.

But years ago I took a lampworking class with Jim Smircich.  I’m not sure if he is even still making glass beads, but I really learned a lot in that class (as well as making several lifelong friends).  He talked about tumbling glass beads to take the shine off.  And tumbling produces that wonderful smooth satiny feel.

So years later here I am committing to trying the tumbling.  I have a wonderful tumbler that I purchased from Rio Grande for my silver work, and I just got a second drum so it can be devoted to tumbling.  Got the grit – I’m trying 1000 grit.  And bought some plastic pony beads to use as filler.  The timer is set for 60 minutes.  Pictures later….


The Tucson Gem and Jewelry Shows

the Tucson Gem Shows


Every year in February Tucson is host to “The Gem Show” which attracts tens of thousands of attendees from around the world.  It is not just one show, but a collection of 40 – 50 separate venues spread all over the Tucson area – in tents, at hotels and in RV’s.  There is something for everybody – gems, finished jewelry, tools, equipment, artifacts, beads, classes, minerals, rocks – polished and rough, fossils, and more.  And yes, it is overwhelming.  I have been attending since 2002.  Here is a link to the schedule of shows 

So I thought I would make a quick list of tips especially if you are a new attendee….

  1. Have a plan.  Find the shows that have vendors that you are interested in and plan your route.  You can do this online before you arrive in Tucson, but as soon as you are here pick up a 2014 guide which can be found for free at each venue you attend.tucson Guide  And remember you cannot see it all and the traffic is a nightmare.
  2. Book your hotel early.  It used to be that EVERY hotel in the area would sell out, but since the recession rooms can still be found right up to the beginning of the show.
  3. Pre-register for the shows you want to attend because the lines do get long especially on opening day.  And that will cut into your shopping time.  Many of the shows are wholesale only so bring copies of your resale tax certificate or business license, and of course business cards.  I actually print up that information on labels because each individual vendor at a show will also ask you to fill out forms to show that you qualify as a wholesale purchaser and the labels save time.
  4. Bring cash.  Yes, credit cards are widely accepted (make sure you call them and tell them where you will be), but cash is quicker.  It will be a time saver and sometimes you can negotiate a bigger discount by paying with cash.
  5. Parking.  Yes, you can park at most shows; some have free parking and some is paid parking.  And there is a shuttle service to many of the shows.  So you can choose to park once and then use the shuttle.  Just remember that at the end of the day there are long lines to get the shuttle, and you can get stranded…. Been there; done that!
  6. A roller bag is a must if you are a big shopper.  Those beads and rocks get heavy really fast!
  7. Bring bottled water.  It’s a dry heat here in Tucson!
  8. Bring snacks.  There are many places to catch a bite to eat, but I never wanted to waste the time.
  9. Some shows are outdoors…. Bring a hat and sunscreen.  and comfortable shoes.
  10. Bring bottled water…. Did I mention to bring bottled water?
  11. You can try to take notes; that just doesn’t work for me.  Just make sure to get the vendor’s business cards and website information so you can purchase throughout the year.  I organize all this information at the end of the day in a notebook on Evernote…  (a wonderful app!)
  12. Bring a camera.  What you will see will just be too amazing to describe in words.
  13. Consider taking a class if that interests you.  There are many classes offered at the shows now.  This will be my second year at Art Retreat in the Desert
  14. Then in the evening dine and relax at one of the wonderful restaurants in Tucson.  Go to bed early and start again the next day.
  15. And oh, yeah… bring plenty of water with you each day.  Did I mention you need to have water?



A Peak into the Desert

So today I am going to give you a peak into the desert…..


The flowering plant you see in this photo is a yucca; notable for their sword like leaves and large panicles of whitish flowers.  Some of the first lampworked beads that I created were based on these flowers.  Notice the small lentil shaped beads in this photo.


Yuccas have a very specialized pollination system.  They are pollinated by yucca moths.  The insect purposefully transfers the pollen from the stamens of one plant to the stigma of another, and at the same time lays an egg in the flower.  Most yucca moths have white wings to blend in with the creamy blossoms of the yucca plants they pollinate. Yucca-Moth

Ummm..  note to self  – possible bead.

So I have 3 projects designed in my sketch book….sketches

so stay tuned…….tagline

Monday Morning Jewelry Inspiration

There is nothing better than to start the week with a little jewelry eye candy.  It helps set the tone as to what I want to create  this week.

I tend to like to wear jewelry that is simplistic yet packs a wow factor and gets noticed.  A simple chain does that; but I’m not talking about your mass produced chains.  Check out this chain from Jaime Jo Fisher.  Chain by Jaime Jo Fisher

I love everything about it.  Plus she really photographed it well.  Here is a link to her etsy shop in case you want to see more of her work.

And here is a chain I made and like to wear a lot.  Anne Mitchell taught this technique at the Bead and Button Show.Chain by Louise Little

It really combines well with other necklaces too.

This week though, I am working on a chain necklace that combines some of my lampworked beads in the design.  so stay tuned……


My Goals for 2014



Ahhhhh  the desert – really beautiful!  but DON’T touch.

These last two weeks in December I spent saying good-bye to 2013, and started on my map for 2014.

My word for 2014 is evolve.


1. develop gradually, esp. from a simple to a more complex form.

One of the recommendations from my coach when I “restarted’ my bead and jewelry business upon my move to Tucson in 2010 was to focus on the one thing that I did best and promote that.  Of course that is lampworking and I really applied myself to stay focused on making beads and jewelry with my beads.  But all along I have been taking silversmithing classes, and this year I want to “evolve” my art to really incorporate both the glass and the metal together.  I also have been exploring other glass techniques such as pate de verre and enameling and hope to combine all of these methods to showcase my style.

So on to my map for 2014….

First off I like to answer these questions

and then I will make a grid of 12 squares and pen in my goals and dreams to a specific month.

What are 3 goals I really want to accomplish?

  1. Develop a cohesive line of jewelry that combines both metal and glass beads
  2. Consistently blog and engage in social media
  3. Apply to the major shows I would like to participate in.

What are 3 techniques that I want to learn or improve upon?

  1. Always wanting to learn more lampworking techniques.
  2. Learn to make better molds for pate de verre
  3. Continue improving my skills with metals especially soldering

What are 3 things that I will do for “myself” each day?

  1. Exercise time
  2. Relaxing time
  3. Forgive myself when I want to watch something stupid on TV

What are 3 things I will do to improve my health?

  1. Eat better.  Just started following a modified paleo diet.
  2. Exercise more.
  3. Get massages

Where are 3 places I want to visit?

  1. I would like to go back to Italy.
  2. England and Ireland
  3. More of Arizona

What 3 things will I gift myself with this year.

  1. Studio equipment
  2. Studio equipment
  3. Studio equipment

What 3 acts of kindness will I do each week?

  1. I started doing random acts of kindness in 2013 and cannot believe how great it makes me feel – so I want to keep doing that.

What are 3 things that I can do to help new jewelry artists?

  1. Continue to write magazine articles.
  2. Work on an e-course that I think will help
  3. Blog about my studio experiences

Find 3 galleries who might want my work.  Or apply to 3 shows

So I need to get busy…… make my 2014 what I want it to be!!