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

It’s a New Year

the New Year – planning

I like to spend the last 2 weeks of December broadly mapping out my personal and business plans for the upcoming new year.  This year I accomplished that while nursing a cold; planning out the first 6 months.  And even though I have resolved to add some things to 2016 I usually don’t make resolutions, but instead choose a word to guide me.

the 2016 word is….  Drum-Roll-Please



the center of interest or activity.
“this generation has made the environment a focus of attention”
synonyms: center, focal point, central point, center of attention, hub, pivot, nucleus, heart, core, cornerstone, linchpin, cynosure
“schools are a focus of community life”
the state or quality of having or producing clear visual definition.
“his face is rather out of focus”
synonyms: focal point, point of convergence More
(of a person or their eyes) adapt to the prevailing level of light and become able to see clearly.
“try to focus on a stationary object”
pay particular attention to.
“the study will focus on a number of areas in Wales”


So for the new year I plan to focus on a few things….



January – I’m launching the collection (stay tuned); and will continue learning with a metals class
February – shop the gem and jewelry shows, of course
March – continue learning with a glass class
April and May – enjoy Tucson and focus on production
June – continue learning metals class

So that’s the first half of the year.  Got some great trips planned for the second half.

 I wish you the Happiest New Year ever!


creating the desert in glass and metal

A challenge – but it’s finished

Nevada Silver Pendant Necklace – finished

This piece was definitely a challenge, but I finished it yesterday and I am very happy with the results.  First the sketch


The glass piece was a Nevada Silver lampworked pendant I made a few weeks ago.  I wanted to cap it with sterling silver and hang it from a silver hollow form piece that I would fabricate and then set a labradorite stone that I had purchased recently – which really complemented the glass.  Then I would finish it with a hand made chain.

Here’s the finished piece

challenge pendant

Fabricating the hollow form in sterling was definitely the challenge.  Before you solder it you must drill a hole in order for the air to escape when it’s heated and prevent the piece from exploding.  The soldering went fine.  But then you pickle it and I realized the hollow form was now filled with pickle (an acid solution used to clean the silver).  OK so I soaked the piece in water and baking soda and rinsed and rinsed and rinsed.  But of course some water was still in there; so I finally had to dry the piece on a hot plate to get rid of all the moisture.  A good solution to the problem but it took forever, and I had to do it each time I soldered.  I didn’t want to risk heating the piece and vaporizing acid!!!

I had to solder the bezel twice as there was a very tiny gap.  So I got more solder inside the bezel than I had planned.  And then the stone wouldn’t fit.  Arrrggggh! I spent a fair amount of time cleaning out the excess solder but the stone was still just a little too tight.  Luckily I had just watched a video by Melissa Muir where she forms and polishes a glass cab.  Ummm  So I ordered the appropriate wheels for my jool tool and in 20 seconds had removed just enough of the cab for it to fit perfectly.  Plus I now can finish my own glass cabs…..   but that will be another post later.

Finally I fused Argentium silver jump rings to make the hand made chain.

It took a week, but it’s done.  I learned a lot and I love the piece.  I don’t think I can part with it….  So I’ll have to make another for the shop.

creating the desert in glass and metal

A Little Bit Boho

boho necklace
I  just finished this boho necklace to take on vacation.

The Lampworked Bead – A long slender bead

I used to sell all of my long beads ( sometimes known as cigar beads) to Chicago jewelry designer  Steph Korsage.  But I withheld this bead for my own stash.  Last I heard Steph was not creating jewelry anymore but has gone back to school.  A loss to the jewelry world….

Okay – the trip – is to Provence with my one of my daughters – a bi-annual girls vacation event.  Usually both of my daughters attend, but this year life has interfered for one.

Anyway, I wanted to make some new pieces to take with me and this necklace was inspired by the beautiful boho pieces created by Etro for spring 2015.  Of course I have to make some coordinating pieces to layer – a look I love.

creating the desert in glass and metal


In the book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field.  Go read the book and you can learn what he did to prove this theory about becoming an elite.

My Glass Beadmaking

So I have had well over 10,000 hours of practice in the craft of lampworking.  In the beginning I spent lots of hours every week learning new beadmaking techniques and practicing them until I perfected them.  I took classes.  I practiced more.  I really wasn’t content with my beadmaking skills until about 1 year after I started (1998).  But today I feel my glass skills are pretty good, more than pretty good actually.  Of course there is always another technique to try and perfect, but I know what I like to make and when I want a bead I can go out to the torch, make it and am very happy with the result.

Then along the way I decided I needed to learn some metalsmithing in order to take my glass beads and create the jewelry designs I envisioned.  And I am about halfway into my 10000 hours and feel a little frustrated at times.  First of all there are a lot of techniques.  And you need to spend time and practice on each one.  Mistakes while learning glass beadmaking were relatively inexpensive.  Not so when using silver.  But I am committed.  And I am very happy to see that the price of silver has come down again.

What am I Up to Now

I am obsessed right now on setting my beads into silver.  And I’m concentrating on rings.  So most of my creative time in the studio recently has been playing around with setting my beads…  In Gladwell’s book he states that natural talent really didn’t play a role for those who were successful at mastering their passion. (thank heavens!)  Practice is what counts and falling in love with practice is important.  So here are a few examples of this journey….

Practice - setting beads

Since the bead has a hole the first technique I explored was the tube rivet (not so easy with glass).  But I decided that using a thin piece of cardstock between the glass and the metal helps.  Then I just remove the card stock right before the rivet is complete.  Also the hole needs to be smooth and round so I have to pay a lot more attention to the bead release on the mandrel, and how I lay that first wrap of glass is very important.

Next I tried using a tap and die technique to hold the bead in place.  I learned this technique from Kristina Logan in the book Penland Book of Glass.  I like this technique a lot and want to play around with it more.

And lastly a stone in stone technique used in the work of Michael Boyd.  I am thinking of combining my tap and die practice with a set stone on the screw.  I really like the look of a stone and glass.

Each of the rings in the photos has lots of room for improvement.

Practice, Patience and Perserverance

So I am off to the studio now….  But I need to make more beads first….  That I can do!

creating the desert in glass and metal

Hollow Glass Beads

What is a hollow bead?

Lampworked beads are made by winding hot glass around a mandrel.  but glass can get heavy.  So a hollow glass bead is a bead that captures a puff of air.  It’s great because it is much lighter.  And these glass hollow beads are great for jewelry.

I first learned to make hollow beads in 2001 from lampwork artist Pam Dugger.  But the technique was to capture the air as you wound the glass around the mandrel.  Sometimes that happened and  sometimes it didn’t.  I’m not sure when exactly, but in the early 2000’s fellow beadmaker Jeri Warhaftig invented a “puffy” mandrel – a tube mandrel that had a hole in it so that you could actually blow a puff a air into the bead.  Genius!  In 2006 I took a another class, this time with Jeri Sheese, to continue learning the technique of making hollow beads.    Hollow beads are fun to make and decorate.  And about 90% of mine are successful.


Hollow Glass Bead



the Boho Collection

I have a collection called “Boho”  that incorporates my hollow beads.  I am adding some simpler designs to the collection – ones that layer nicely with other pieces and can be worn every day.  The beads are smaller but still hollow.  Coming soon in my shop.

boho necklace


creating the desert in glass and metal

Lampwork Bead Ring

Lampwork Bead ring

Using my Lampwork Beads in a ring

While I’m waiting for some materials to arrive from Rio Grande to finish a bracelet, I thought I would make a lampwork bead ring today.  I didn’t do much shopping at the Bead and Button show while I was there, but I did stop by fellow lampworker Jari Sheesh’s booth.  I love her beads and her use of silvered glass.  She inspires me to keep playing with this very expensive lampworking glass.  So when I got home I tried my hand at this lovely moody blue glass from Arrow Springs.  Reminds me of Tucson’s perfect blue sky.  I made several small disks and added dots of color, and then I wasn’t really sure what to do with them.  Today I decided they would look just perfect on top of this ring.  I also made some wonderful large hollow beads and will show them to you in another post.

I used a technique on this ring called coining an edge, which I really love.  The band is 1/2 inch wide.  The beads are tube riveted.  A small etched copper disk sits on top.  Will definitely make more – both the beads and the ring!

creating the desert in glass and metal

Sterling silver and glass

photo of silver and glass bead bracelet

I stated in January that I wanted my work to “evolve” to include more sterling silver.  So here is a piece I have been working on for the last 3 weeks.  Making this bracelet has forced me way out of my comfort zone.  There are several silver fabrication techniques.

The Beads

I made these lampworked beads in response to a challenge to make 40 beads using 2 or 3 colors.  I chose opal yellow and a black glass from Double Helix Glassworks that has a heavy silver content.  I also challenged myself to make a disc shaped bead with surface decorations on the side of the beads as I knew I wanted to set the bead in sterling silver components – like gemstones; but with a tube rivet.  So I also had to flat lap the beads on one side so they would sit nicely on the silver.  And I had to grind the hole slightly larger so that the sterling silver tube would fit.  Very happy with the beads.

The Sterling Silver Fabrication

Last year I was supposed to take a class with Kristina Logan to learn how she makes a ring by setting a lampworked bead in sterling silver.  Unfortunately I had to leave the class unexpectedly, and never got make the ring; but this technique has been on my to do list ever since.  So for the last 3 weeks I have been experimenting in the studio.  First I used Argentium silver for the back plate and fused a large jump ring to it so that the bead would fit in nicely.  It’s not really a bezel as the bead is tube riveted in place, but it frames the bead nicely. I decided to keep things simple and not texture the jump ring.  I also decided to file the backplate flush with the jumpring.  Ummm…. lots of work!  And I learned I should have filed that jump ring flat before fusing.  Next I soldered the sterling silver tube to the center of the back plate.  Learned quickly that I had to make sure the ends of the tube were perfectly flat after I cut it so that the tube would sit up nice and straight.  Learned how to solder that tube down in a class with Richard Salley a few years ago, so that went fairly smoothly.  Very important to make sure the tube is in the exact center!!  The pieces looked really good.  So I pickled and cleaned them up.  So how was I going to connect them together?  I decided to solder small pieces of tubing to the sides of the components and slide a jump ring in the tubing.  But I really didn’t want to saw out those small pieces so I used crimp tubes instead.  Now you have to understand that the crimp tube is thin and the component for the bead is pretty thick.  Want to guess how many of those crimp tubes I melted?  So thank heavens for You Tube where I  learned I could sweat solder to the component and then heat the component to attach the crimp tube.  I did have to file a nice flat side on the crimp for a good fit.  Now the clasp…  I wanted to make a toggle, but that would have made the bracelet too long.  I could have deleted one component, but decided to make a shepherd’s hook instead.  Learned how to do that with wire ages ago in a class with Lynn Merchant.  That got soldered on too.  Made a nice brushed finish.  Then check each bead for fit…. a little more flat lapping….  but oops the tube was now too tall to make the rivet.  file file file.  By the third one I figured out how much tube is just enough.  So it’s done.  I, of course, see all of the flaws.  But I am happy and I will wear my new bracelet when I go to the Bead and Button show in a few weeks.


Necklace – a new design

collage of a new necklace design

Fresh Design From the Studio

I have been in design mode lately.  I have made some new lampworked beads in the Painted Desert series.  And I  have been busy creating some new jewelry with those beads.  Today I am showing you this new necklace design.

You can see the inspiration in the upper left hand corner of the photo – three lovely barrel cacti sitting right in front of my studio.  The beads came first of course.  They are hollow.  And they are a little smaller measuring just about 3/4 of an inch.  I learned to make hollow beads back in 2001 on a regular mandrel by building up the sides of the beads and capturing some air which expands when heated.  But I was so eager to learn other techniques that I moved on quickly to other things.  More recently I took a class with Jari Sheese at the Bead and Button Show.  And I also purchased some wonderful “puffy mandrels”  which makes blowing the hollow bead a little easier.  Another Jeri (Jeri Warhaftig) designed these great mandrels.  Anyway, Jari makes some awesome beads and that inspired me to begin making hollow beads again.  I have made “cactus” beads a lot and usually decorate them with raised dots.  But this time I wanted to practice my stringer control so I “striped” on some silvered glass instead of dots.  I really got in the rhythm and made lots of these little beads.

Of course, I love to design jewelry using my glass beads.  And since I am having a trunk show Saturday at On the Edge Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ, I wanted to create something new with these beads.  I get a lot of catalogs in the mail and see that large circle silver chain jewelry seems to be trendy right now.   I didn’t want the large link handmade chain to go all the way around ; I wanted it long; and I had to figure out how to place the beads.  I’m not sure how it came to me, but instead of soldered rings I coiled the balled wire and slipped the beads on that wire before attaching the next coil.  I found some awesome pyrite chain at the Tucson gem and Jewelry Shows so I finished the design with an endless length of that chain.  See the picture of it up close in the upper right.  I am very happy with the results.  You can see I am modeling it in the photo too.  It makes a great layering piece.

Now I just need to name it……  that is always so hard.   Feel free to leave me some suggestions.

creating the desert in glass and metal


Production mode in the Studio

soldered jumpring on a lobster clasp

So this looks like just a lobster clasp and a jump ring….  and it is.  But part of my production routine for some of the bracelets I make is to solder this jump ring.  I like to do this because a bracelet gets lots of wear and can catch on things as it is worn; so this joint is very vulnerable .  The soldered jump ring helps to avoid a breakage.  I like to make up a dozen or so of these clasps and jump rings so when I am ready to make a lampwork bead bracelet I don’t have to stop and solder.  I end this type of bracelet with about an inch of 1 on 1 chain maille; but I don’t solder these jump rings because I want to be able to customize the length of the bracelet for client.  Here’s an example of a this type of bracelet.

lampwork bead bracelet