Cactus Bloom Pendant

A Cactus Bloom is my inspiration

One of the first lampworked beads I made was my rendition of a desert bloom or cactus bloom.  Boy I loved making those beads.

Well, a cactus bloom is still on my mind, but I am approaching this inspiration a little differently now.  

This summer I took a class with Robert Lopez.  If you are not familiar with Robert’s work check him out here.  I love his quirky style and wanted to incorporate the feeling into my work.  I was really smitten with some pendants that he made.  You can see one in the upper right of this collage.inspiration Robert Lopez

 

He collaborated with a metal clay artist for the embossed medallions in the pieces, but what I liked about the pieces was the airy garden feeling, and of course the asymmetry. 

I thought my glass cabochons would set off the idea perfectly.

Most of Robert’s pieces use titanium and Argentium silver.  I decided to stick with sterling silver for my creation.

 

 

So I just finished my first piece.  And I am about 90% happy with it.  Of course I learned a lot and the next one is going to be spectacular.  I would like to have a few in the shop by the end of October.  Anyway, since I use sterling silver I had to solder all of my silver together.  With Argentium silver you can fuse some pieces.  I am very happy with the glass cabochon.  And I am extremely happy with the tube set stones.  The major flaw is a design flaw.  The tube settings are sitting too close to the bezel of the cabochon which made it quite difficult to push the bezel near the tube.  But the glass is in there very securely and will not fall out.  However I would not be happy selling this piece.  The next one will be much improved.  It’s a pendant but I am thinking some brooches too.

cactus bloom

new tag

Starbucks

I just read that Starbucks is releasing a new fall coffee drink that might just be better than the Pumpkin  Spiced Latte.  It is the MPL  for short – or Maple Pecan Latte.  It is described as an espresso drink with flavor notes of maple syrup, pecan, and brown butter.  Whoa.  That sounds decadent.  I always look forward to the Pumpkin latte but this new drink sounds like something right up my alley.

starbucks maple pecan latte

 

So that brings me to a question. 

How often do you imbibe at a Starbucks or the equivalent? 

My oldest daughter lives in Seattle, and I think I can safely say she has a coffee drink every day. 

Me – maybe once or twice a month. 

I have an amusing story about my parents and Starbucks.  Way way way back in 1990 my parents had a financial advisor who wanted them to invest in a company that was going public.  They lived in Northern Virginia at the time so he invited them to go to a Starbucks in Washington DC with him.  My Mother gleefully told me that she thought he was going crazy.  Her exact words…  who in hell would pay $3.00 for a cup of coffee.  So I guess I don’t need to say out loud that they didn’t invest. 

My Art Jewelry – something new

“Alabaster” Lampworked Beads – in a new necklace

art jewelry

There is an alabaster box
Carved, and beautiful
but fragile
just like my heart.
I trusted.
I felt certain.
But now live with broken promises
But like the box
I will endure

new tag

 

Yucca Leaf – inspiration for the fall 2017 collection

yucca leaf

Yuccas have long sword-shaped leaves with pointed tips. The leaves are often about 1 to 3 feet in length. Numerous yucca leaves grow in a rosette formation from a thick base.  

 I tell you this because I used the yucca leaf as the inspiration for many pieces in the Fall 2017 Harmony Collection.  I am showing you a photo of a yucca necklace with a handmade glass cabochon.  

yucca leaf necklace

This yucca necklace is a series of links in sterling silver cold connected together to form a collar necklace.  It is lightweight, and very easy to wear.  This yucca necklace has a lampworked cabochon from the Desert Bloom series.

The necklace can be found here

new tag

Do you ever wonder why lizards do push-ups?

lizards

This is just one of the juicy local wildlife questions that keeps me awake at night -tossing and turning, kicking the covers off, – and making it impossible to rest.  I need to get to the bottom of this mystery.  

So thanks to the Discovery Channel I discovered it’s the male lizards that engage in this push up activity (of course it is); and all he wants is attention.

Every morning I open the garage door – this is where I do my morning weight routine arm exercises.  And there he is sitting on a rock on all fours pushing and bobbing  – up and down and up and down.

I imagine all the lady lizards are out there swooning.  Yeah, we see ya big boy!

So aren’t you glad you came over to read my blog today.  Now you too can rest well tonight.

 

Lampworked beads for my artist jewelry

So you all know that I have a real passion for creating glass art in the flame of my torch.  (20 years and still torching)

To show off these exquisite glass beads and cabochons I soon branched out to jewelry design.  Simple pieces.  The glass was the star. 

Well as all things in life change; my artistic jewelry designs have really evolved too.  I still create jewelry designs that show off glass, but I also create jewelry designs that show off my expression of the deserts of the Southwest.  Which means sometimes it’s just the metal that speaks to me and sometimes gemstones and sometimes glass and sometimes all three.

I started adding metals to my glass in the torch to give the glass an earthy feel and to create colors that were totally mine.  The colors become more muted, and I can actually make the glass look like the stones and rocks found in the desert.  

Adding pure silver to the glass (in the form of silver leaf and foil) is a favorite thing I like to do.  I take a glass rod of ivory.  Wrap silver leaf around it.  Burn the leaf off.  And then pull a stringer.  Then I use this stringer to decorate the beads in the flame.

Here is a favorite design using that “silvered ivory stringer”.

artist jewelry

I love 

creating the desert in glass and metal

 

I have been working on how to banish her

banish

 

 

Art Jewelry Inspiration – Spring Blooms in the Desert

desert inspiration - designer art jewelry

Desert Inspiration – Spring Cactus Blooms

Everything seems to be blooming a little earlier this year here in Tucson probably because we have had lots of rain.  So my art jewelry inspiration in the form of cactus blooms is just beginning.  This hedgehog plant with it’s majestic magenta blooms just started blooming in my yard.  Hedgehogs are the first cactus to bloom every spring.  And like many other cactus flowers, these blooms are really short lived – lasting for only a day or two.  Luckily the plant has many blooms that seem to take turns showing off so I can enjoy them for about a week.  

I really need to try to create this color in glass.  But I have found that difficult.  There is one glass that comes close called rubino but it is difficult to work in the flame and sometimes you end up with a nasty scum on the glass.  Did you know that glass is “colored” by adding minerals and metals.  Some of which are not too healthy to breathe while working in the flame.  Pink and red glass gets it color by adding gold metals.  So it’s really expensive too.

Another technique I have used to get this color is to fume 24K gold onto clear glass.  You end up with a vibrant pink color with a metallic sheen.  Thank goodness for my ventilation system in the studio as breathing gold fumes can lead to heavy metal poisoning.  I also wear a respirator.

creating the desert in glass and metal

 

I’m out in the studio creating art jewelry

creating - art jewelry

A Work in Progress – creating jewelry

So last week I showed you the disk beads I made and many of you emailed me to ask what I was going to make.  

I chose one disk bead and started creating a piece of art jewelry around it

The design is sketched (I’m keeping that secret for the moment)

Other elements ~

a large sterling silver disk

some glass headpins on copper wire that I made yesterday

later today I will research the closure I plan to use – and I might just fabricate it in copper before I make it in silver

I like to make my mistakes in cheaper material; plus I will learn if I need to make any adjustments in the design

Tomorrow I will begin fabrication in the studio

If the final piece makes me happy I will make 2 more quickly with the other 2 disk beads

Studio Atmosphere

I like to listen to music while I work.

Recently I bought a new album and I plan on listening to it tomorrow…  

Of course its not a record album but digital music on my ipad….

creating and listening to music

It’s DION – I remember him like this

creating and listening to music

Oh it’s gonna be a great day

creating the desert in glass and metal

 

Totally Handmade

handmade

Totally Handmade – what does that mean?

  • sketch the necklace – about a half hour
  • make the lampworked beads – about 2 hours
  • anneal the lampworked beads – 24 hours
  • clean the lampworked beads – 10 min
  • create a template for the silver links – 30 min
  • use template to saw the silver links – 1 hour
  • refine the silver links, and polish – 1.5 hours
  • fabricate the jumprings – 30 min
  • wire the beads – 1 hour
  • fabricate the clasp – 20 min
  • solder the clasp – 10 min
  • clean all of the silver components – 15 min
  • patina the silver components – 15 min
  • wire wrap semi-precious stones to one link – 15 min
  • connect the necklace  15 min
  • photograph the piece 30 min

It’s a lot of work; but I LOVE doing it.

Louise

Lampwork Bead Trunk Show

Lampwork beads

I will be having a trunk show of my lampworked beads on May 1 – 2.  Here is a preview of a few…..

Join me on Facebook at on Artisans Glass Open Market

Pearls

Higher Prices for Pearls at the Gem Shows

At February’s Tucson gem shows, prices of white freshwater pearls were significantly higher than in years past. I asked my favorite vendor why and he said that Asian consumers are the reason.

Top-quality round white freshwaters are the most expensive and toughest pearls to obtain. Plus, production of bead-nucleated pearls is up, as is demand for bigger sizes.

I personally like large baroque fresh water pearls with a shimmer of color.  An even though I found some beautiful pearls the price was almost double from last year.

The unique luster of pearls depends upon the reflection, refraction, and diffraction of light from the translucent layers. The thinner and more numerous the layers in the pearl, the finer the luster. The iridescence that pearls display is caused by the overlapping of successive layers, which breaks up light falling on the surface.  The very best pearls have a metallic mirror-like luster.

Here is a bracelet I made with a 16mm baroque freshwater pearl with a glorious luster and lots of flashes of color.

Pearls

I added 2 of my lampworked beads and a 22K gold spacer bead and strung the bracelet on a stretchy cord.

( see my video about stretchy bracelets)

I love the ease of wearing a bracelet like this and it really adds a little class to any outfit – including jeans.  All the colors of an Arizona sunset.

creating the desert in glass and metal

Winter Collection

I have been working on a few of my best selling designs and making them with lampworked beads from the Nevada Silver and Silvered Midnight series.  These beads are from a neutral palette and work well now into spring.  I have started to update my Esty shop with these designs.  Hope you enjoy ….

winter collection