Monday, October 25, 2010

French Blue

Ah, the French! Ever the trend-setters in fashion and food, masters of the language of romance-- 'sigh'! I have always wanted to travel to Paris. The Louvre seriously attracts me; I want to meet Mona Lisa someday. Until then, I will have to satisfy myself with French fries and the world's prettiest shade of periwinkle blue, French Blue by Creation is Messy. It is described on their website as "an opaque blue". I think that description needs a bit of fleshing out. French Blue is a seriously rich shade of periwinkle blue. It is very easy to work with. One of my favorite colors in glass has been Effetre Periwinkle. I use it constantly. But sometimes I want a blue with a bit more of a presence. CiM French Blue is that color. It has undeniable style and stands out in the blue family, a chic French cousin to the standard periwinkle. In the photo, you can see the depth of the French Blue compared to Effetre Periwinkle. Just for kicks, I also compared Effetre Alabaster Dark Periwinkle to the French Blue. Many people have difficulty with the alabaster colors from Effetre, unfortunately. I love these colors- they almost seem to glow with an inner light. They are neither opaque or translucent. The Effetre Alabaster Dark Periwinkle is gorgeous but a bit brighter than the CiM French Blue. But due to the somewhat cantankerous nature of the alabaster glasses, French Blue is a safer bet for a zingy blue punch to add to your designs. Vive la France!

"Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers."- Voltaire


More gorgeous teals, this time of the blue variety and apparently named after something celestial. Creation is Messy has some of the most intense and saturated transparent glasses out there. Their transparent glass, Pulsar, is described on their website as "a transparent aqua blue". For me, I would have to add that it is has the richness of deep aqua that you see in the sky, high in the Rocky Mountains. It is a pure, dense teal blue with a beautiful clarity. I compared it to Effetre Dark and Light Aquamarine. As you can judge by the photo, Pulsar is similar in tone to the Effetre Aquas, but much deeper in shade. I actually do not see much of a difference between the light and dark versions of the Effetre Aquas- they look virtually interchangeable to me. The Pulsar stands out as a unique aqua shade. It is easy to work with in the flame. I experienced no pitting or color change. It plays well with silver. Love it!

"You must carry a chaos inside you to give birth to a dancing star."- Nietzsche

"The stars are the jewels of the night, and perchance surpass anything which day has to show."- Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Bold, elegant, powerful, suspenseful and, unquestionably, DRAMATIC. Of what do I speak? Why, the color 'black', of course. Black is considered a basic color, a solid and reliable, trustworthy standard. The kind of color you turn to in order to hide those extra inches or highlight those classy curves. Black also has the ability to lend an air of completion to a look. An indispensible color, in my book.

With those thoughts in mind, I took some time to compare various blacks in the glass world. You might be of the opinion that 'black is black', but that is not so, my friend. Blacks vary widely and some are far preferable to others. As far as glass is concerned, I have used Effetre Black for quite some time. I find it to be an annoying glass color simply because it is NOT truly black. Oh, it looks black in rod form. But you try to use it in making a glass bead and, suddenly, it is deep purple. I just hate that. Unless deep purple is what I am trying to achieve, which then would make it perfectly acceptable. But if I want a true black, I look elsewhere. I have been testing out the blacks from Creation is Messy. They have two blacks to choose from, with interesting qualities in each black. In the above photo, the two beads to the far left are made with CiM Hades (another great name). CiM Hades is quite comparable to Effetre Intense Black. It is a true black. Both of these blacks are very reactive to heat. Effetre Intense Black has a tendency to 'web' out, or spread out in little spidery tendrils as the glass is heated. CiM Hades also likes to spread out into a webby pattern as it is heated. The difference is that the CiM Hades does not get as intricate in its webbing and it leaves a smoky haze in its wake. You can especially see this effect in the bead that is second from the left. The three beads from the right are all made with Effetre Intense Black. You can see that the webiness is more intricate. The bead on the far right was super-heated and the bead developed some fine green veining, too. Interesting. The Effetre Intense Black did not get the smoky haze that the CiM Hades developed. I think both of these blacks are great for achieving various organic looks, just depending on what look you want.

The second CiM black is CiM Tuxedo. This is described on the CiM website as "a regular black". Compared the the regular Effetre Black, it is far superior, in my opinion. Why? Because it is a black that is truly black. One big difference as well, the CiM Tuxedo has a tendency to spread and even web a bit when heated. The Effetre black is a bit more stable. But the Effetre Black is not really a black at all. It is a deep purple. So, if you want a real black to accent your beads, I recommend CiM Tuxedo for the job. It is in the third bead from the left in the photo. Please compare it to the CiM Hades. Very similar, minus the smoky haze. I used ivory glass as a base for all of these beads. As a result, I probably achieved more of a color reaction than you might experience using the Tuxedo glass on another color base, as ivory tends to spark color reactions.

So which black will be right for you? Well, that depends on what you want to achieve. If you want a dramatic organic look, try CiM Hades. For a true, dense and more controlled black, try CiM Tuxedo. Embrace the drama.

"A good many dramatic situations begin with screaming."- Jane Fonda

"Save your drama for the stage."- Unknown

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


"Welcome to Sherwood, my lady!"- Errol Flynn as Robin Hood, from the 1938 film.

I continue to love the color names that Creation is Messy bestows upon their glass rods. I am an old movie buff, especially those old swashbucklers. One of my favorites since I was a little girl is "The Adventures of Robin Hood", starring Errol Flynn and Olivia DeHavilland. A little corny, sure, but such fun! When I saw the glass named "Sherwood" by CiM, I knew I couldn't wait to test it. Instant attraction. Sherwood is a beautiful glass from CiM's regular color line. It is described on their website as "an opaque forest green". In my opinion, however, I really would not describe this color as a forest green. I guess I think of a deeper green as 'forest'. Sherwood is a lovely mid-tone green with a hint of blue in the undertones. It is a great color to use for leafy accents. I think Sherwood especially shines when paired with most purples, as pictured on the far left of the photo. It just 'pops' beside plummy tones.
Just for kicks, I experimented with Sherwood a little bit. I always like to use silver in my beads as well as reactive glasses. In the photo above, the second bead from the left has a Sherwood base that was lightly rolled in Effetre Intense Black frit. Any glass artist who has used Intense Black knows that it can achieve some interesting affects when paired with various glasses. Sherwood was no exception. Oftentimes, the Intense Black will spread out in a web-like fashion. But when paired with Sherwood, the Intense Black caused the base of the bead to turn black, leaving little Sherwood spots in its wake. Very 'intense', indeed!
Next, I used a second CiM color, Dirty Martini, as an accent with the Sherwood. First, I made a silvered Dirty Martini stringer (which means, I melted the Dirty Martini with some pure silver foil and pulled it into a teeny rod). Then I put that on top of the Sherwood. I love the reaction here. It is subtle, but the glass around the silvered portions seems to 'glow' and the Sherwood base turned a wee bit bluer in shade. Very cool and refined!
Lastly, I tried a traditional silvered ivory stringer on the Sherwood. This time, the reaction was much stronger, leaving dark grayish lines on the Sherwood. A much more organic look than the silvered Dirty Martini provided.
In conclusion, I think I especially like the Sherwood used straight (without silver to influence it) or used with the silvered Dirty Martini stringer. I think this color is sensitive to silver and a lighter use of silver shows it to best advantage. It is a beautiful color that I don't really think has an equal in other glass lines.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Teal- oh, how I love thee. Let me count the ways.
I am an adamant fan of the color, teal. It's one of those colors that goes in and out of fashion every ten years or so. The fashion powers-that-be have deemed it worthy of current consideration in this year's fashion rules. I, however, always love teal, no matter how popular or unpopular it may be. It is rich and interesting, a complex color that is neither blue or green but an enchanting amalgam of both.
That being said, today's post is a review/comparison of some of the teals available in the glass world. My focus is on the CiM (Creation is Messy) teal, Great Bluedini (love that name!!). It is part of CiM's regular color line, described on their website as "an intense transparent teal". I definitely have to agree with that description. The color is incredibly saturated, a deep teal that leans towards blue. In the photo, Great Bluedini is the color on the far left. The first, smaller bead is the color in it's pure form. It is very dark, as you see. The second, larger bead is Great Bluedini encased over a white core. It is so dark that it is difficult to see a difference between the white core bead and the pure color. But it is an opulent color and, when used in a thin layer over white, very lovely. The color is easy to work with, not especially stiff when heated and did not boil in the flame. I compared Great Bluedini to Effetre Light Teal (third and fourth beads from the left). As you can see, the Light Teal is significantly lighter than the Great Bluedini, though in the same color family. The Light Teal color is easy to see, either pure or over a white core.
Next in the lineup, I used the Great Bluedini- Unique 2 (the fifth and sixth beads from the left). The Unique color is a saturated green teal, almost an emerald green with a hint of blue. Also an easy color to work with that is rich and beautiful, but decidedly different from the regular Great Bluedini color. The last color I tested was Effetre Dark Teal (the seventh and eighth beads from the left). To my eye, this color was difficult to distinguish from the Great Bluedini Unique color. The Dark Teal has a bit more blue in it. Over a white core, the Dark Teal shows up a little easier than the Great Bluedini Unique color did.
Overall, I would say that all of the teals are gorgeous and easy to work with. The CiM teals are more saturated colors than the Effetre teals. I like them all!

Friday, October 8, 2010


It's rough. It's unfinished. But it's a start.

I am taking a beginner metalsmithing course in fabrication. We start with a piece of sheet metal and saw it, hammer it, texture it, shape it, solder it, rivet it, file it, polish it, buff it and make something useful from it. It has been a wonderful new experience for me so far. My first project, a small copper box, is still a work in progress. As you can see from the photo, it's not the prettiest object you could lay eyes on. But to me, it's beautiful. I still need to rivet the lid pieces together and then create a hinge for the lid and attach it to the box. Before all that, I need to file it more and then polish it up. The solder is not especially tidy, but, hey, it's my first soldering experience. I'm just thrilled I soldered successfully! I am learning a lot and, in time, hopefully my abilities will grow. Every class scares me a little bit and humbles me a lot. Learning new things is challenging, often intimidating. But it's good to do things that scare you sometimes, make a few new synaptic connections, gain some experience and WAKE UP your brain! I'm lovin' it.
"Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely."- Auguste Rodin
"Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned."- Mark Twain

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I just want to prove that my little furry friends are W.I.L.D. They like to tear things up. They live to create mayhem, mischief and merriment. They are a force of nature, unstoppable and irrepressible. I have two Bengals and one tortie. The Bengals are incredible cats. They look like little leopards, slinking through the house, stalking helpless geckos. The tortie is a feisty, spicy kitty- ready to pounce and always a purr away from cuddling with me. I went cat-less for ten years. I've had these guys for ten months and my head is reeling from the change. I have had to alter many things in the last few months. I can't leave ANYTHING out or I risk kitty curiosity. They can't help themselves. Cats are voraciously curious, Bengals especially so. My standards have completely changed. As you see in the photo, they are frolicking on my dining table. I have tried EVERYTHING I can think of to prevent this. Just when I think I have it licked, I come in the door and find one or more cats chillin' on the table in a languorous sprawl. Disinfectant wipes have become my constant companion. I wouldn't change a thing.

"Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air..."- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"A little neglect may breed great mischief."- Benjamin Franklin
"When you're curious, you find lots of interesting things to do."- Walt Disney

Monday, October 4, 2010


This is a test of the emergency glass-testing system. This is only a test.

Such fun! Testing some glass colors from Creation is Messy, one of my favorite glass companies. So many glass colors seem to crossover from one company to another; but CiM (Creation is Messy) has some truly unique colors that I don't see in other places. Case in point, the CiM color, Zachary. It is a lovely shade of rich powdery blue. At first glance, it almost looks like the Periwinkle color you can get from most glass companies. But it most definitely is not Periwinkle. It is lighter and lacks the purplish tone of a true periwinkle color. Really, I would describe it as a true baby blue. This is a terrific base color and had some nice reactive qualities.

As you can see in the photo accompanying this post, I tested this color in various ways to see how much you could play with it. Some of my observations are as follows:

1) Zachary topped with a silvered ivory stringer leads to very organic reactions. I really liked the dark lines that popped out!
2) Zachary rolled in Effetre intense black frit led to an interesting reaction. I usually use intense black with ivory and get a very webby look over the ivory. On the Zachary, the intense black had a tendency to sink in and minimally web out on the very edges of each black spot. Actually, the intense black turned out more of a deep, deep purple against the Zachary. And, around each black/purple spot, the pretty powdery blue blooms out; but the background turns a grayish-blue and does not look like the original Zachary blue. Interesting! I can see using this combination to achieve an animal print look.
3) Zachary rolled in Raku frit- not particularly outstanding. The Raku changed color a bit; some soft peach and yellow tones popped out which look nice against the Zachary blue. Dark reactive lines hardly presented themselves at all. Using the Raku frit is a good way to achieve a soft, pastel accent on the Zachary, but nothing too exciting. Very quiet effects.
4) Zachary looks quite pretty encased in clear. I imagine this would etch beautifully, though I did not do an etch test.
Overall, Zachary is a very nice color to work with. It is described on the CiM site as an opaque baby blue and is part of their regular glass line. I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


It is often said that patience is a virtue. Indeed it is. I am not flush with copious amounts of patience, unfortunately. It is a quality that I struggle with at times. Despite the struggle, I really want Patience to win. She deserves it, after all, being such a mellow gal.

Why do I mention patience? The last few weeks of glass bead making have been IMPOSSIBLE! I am in the midst of my first official glass testing experience and everything that can go wrong, has gone wrong. Exploding glass, torch head with flames shooting out the sides, sooty and blackened beads, wonky beads. It's as if I have forgotten how to work the glass. Ever had that happen to you? Good news is, I finally discovered why so many difficulties. One glass-exploding day a few weeks ago, some shards of glass took up residence in my torch head. It never occurred to me to check the torch head. I just realized it yesterday. So now I know why almost all of my beads have come out all smoky and gross. I have since cleaned my torch head and, finally, I am back in business. Sigh of relief.

Patience also has come in handy for my current metalsmithing class. Last post I mentioned the sawing difficulties I had been experiencing. Well, I put in a little practice time, watched a few tutorials posted online by my instructor and, I can truthfully say, my sawing has improved. A lot. Yay for me! I did learn one valuable lesson in class last week. Actually, two valuable lessons: 1) Never, EVER, get your finger(s) in the way of the saw blade. It may be teeny-tiny, but it can do some serious damage. No, I didn't need stitches and, yes, I left a blood trail on the way to get a bandage. 2) Never, EVER, get distracted while sawing. Save the chat session for those less risky moments in your life. That being said, my biggest concern that night was whether or not I got blood on my project. I didn't. I was elated that I was able to finish my sawing for the class that night! And my finger is mending nicely. It should be good-to-go come time for my next class!

The following may seem like a complete change of subject but, trust me, it ties in to our subject today. In the last several months, I have been busy bonding with my three new-ish cats. They are still technically kittens, but getting seriously large now. Two of them are Bengals- a fascinating breed of cat. They are part Asian leopard, part domestic cat (usually Abyssinian) and completely unique. I was told they would be "playful", "kitten-like all of their lives", a bit rowdy, good jumpers. These cats are anything but ordinary. They could be in the circus! They are incredibly acrobatic, full of grace, rambunctious, obsessive, sweet, skittish, somewhat destructive, and totally loveable. They keep me on my toes and require a large dose of PATIENCE to live with their non-stop antics. Not to be overlooked is my one sweet tortoiseshell shorthair domestic cat- just a garden-variety type of cat, looks-wise. Personality-wise, she is a force of nature, up to the task of garnering her share of our attention. (Photo in this post is of my male Bengal, nosing the camera lens!)

"One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life."- Chinese proverb

"Patience is also a form of action."- Auguste Rodin

Thursday, September 16, 2010

In Absentia

"In absentia" is a lovely Latin phrase. It literally means, "in the absence". This phrase conveys the thought of not being present, perhaps when one should be. Macabre as it sounds, I think it appropriate to use a dead language to define the idea of not being physically present. I also think the term is apropos to explain not being virtually present. I don't like to make excuses because they sound lame at best. So I will simply get down to business and write this post!

This year has been beyond busy for me due to circumstances beyond control. Finally, the dust is settling, things are sorting out, breaths can be taken. At least until the next time. In the interim, I have been as creatively productive as possible. Currently, I am taking a metalsmithing class. Just getting started, actually. I must say that I have a whole new respect for metalsmiths. Sawing metal is my biggest challenge so far. I had no idea that jewelry sawblades are so very thin! My sawing technique has a L-O-N-G way to go. The first night of my class, I broke eight blades. Eight of them. Meanwhile, the students on either side of me were doing an incredible job of sawing. One cut out a cute little flower shape. The other cut out a sweet little bird. And me? A misshapen oval and eight broken blades. I should note, however, that I am typically a slow learner when it comes to crafty things. But I do sincerely hope that I can reach a point where my technique does improve. Practice, practice, practice!

I remember when I took a glass bead class for the first time. The torch was absolutely terrifying to me. The hot glass wasn't my favorite feature, either. I was living on the edge! But I eventually got a feel for it. Interestingly, the torch in metalsmithing holds fresh terror for me. I didn't expect that. I am so accustomed to using a torch when working with glass. But it's all different with metal. One of the torches in the metal shop is nicknamed "Big Bertha". It is used to anneal large pieces of sheet metal. "Big Bertha" is intimidating. She breathes fire. She is potentially explosive. My synapses are firing away as I learn to wrap my mind around it. It is a comfort to me that the metal shop is full of ladies using hammers, saws and torches. Not a man in sight. The only men in the building are in a pottery class next door. Huh.

I am also an official glass tester for Creation is Messy! This is the first time that I have had the opportunity to participate in the testing process. I received my package of glass ( a boxful of rainbow! ), sorted it out and got started playing. I have to say that I am a huge fan of Creation is Messy glass, a.k.a. CiM glass. They have colors in their glass line that are completely unique, with more streaming out constantly. They are particularly interested in pleasing their many customers, a wise business practice. I will be reporting some of my CiM glass observations in future posts.

Pictured in this post is just one of the sample beads I have been working on throughout the testing process. Beadmaking has been a bit frustrating lately. My bead release (a clay slip used to make bead removal easier after firing) has been failing me non-stop lately! I keep a bowl of water near my torch to "kill" beads that are not working out. The bowl is full of shattered glass right now, with the death toll ever mounting. Perhaps the high humidity we have been having locally is a contributing factor. I don't know. I will just keep trying!

"Never give up. Never surrender!"- from the movie, "Galaxy Quest"

"Age wrinkles the body. Quitting wrinkles the soul."- Douglas MacArthur

"Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged men who kept on working."-- Unknown

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


In high school, I took Geometry, as most students do. Up till then, every math course I had taken was not too difficult for me to master. But Geometry was a whole new set of rules, a different brand of logic. Postulates, theorems- nothing could be assumed. Nothing. I had to back up every assumption with proof, show how I had arrived at that proof and make sure all was logical. It was a tall order for a creative thinker. No matter how hard I tried, I simply could not get a better grade in that class than a 'B'. Well, I wanted an 'A'. Badly. I decided that, no matter what, geometry was not going to get the better of me. Not this girl. I worked HARD, harder than I ever had before and, finally, in the last semester of the school year, I got my 'A'. Well, technically, it was an 'A-', just barely. But it was good enough for me.

I got so much out of that class, so much more than I expected to. I have absolutely no recollection of how to solve a geometry problem, but I did retain valuable life lessons: 1) Never, ever assume anything. 2) If something is important to you, the work to achieve it is worthwhile. These lessons have remained with me through out my life. I try to live by them and pass these values on to my own child. Was all that work really worth it? You do the math. I'm done with geometry, no more sweating through tests. However, I, like everyone else on this planet, must daily face conundrums and struggles of various sorts. What to do? Never, ever assume anything. Make sure of the facts and use those facts as your guide to answers. And don't be lazy. Work your little hiney off to achieve your goals. Once reached, those achievements may not be exactly what you hoped for in the end, but they will be adequate to satisfy you if you did your best.
"When your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt."- Henry J. Kaiser

(The one thing I still remember from geometry is the beauty of geometrical fractal patterns. They are mind-boggling. They take my breath away.)

(The bead pictured in this post is for sale in my Etsy shop.)