Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Best Beading Book - Ever!

Well, I've found it: The best beading book ever is Embellished Beadweaving by Laura McCabe. 

Yesterday I was wandering through Michales with a birthday gift certificate and couldn't find anything I wanted. On the way out (with some beading thread) I spotted one lone copy of Laura's book. I've been following her work as an Artist of the Year in Beadwork Magazine -- meaning she has a project featured in every (I believe) issue of 2010 -- and have been so impressed with the luxuriousness of her pieces and the amazing colors and color transitions I figured I'd give it a shot.

Well, I opened it and couldn't put it down. I actually tried to read it while driving. (Don't even think about it!) I had no idea simple embellishments were the key to creating the kind of jewelry I love. 

I've got my eye on the April Showers Necklace (pg. 131), the Nudibranch Bracelet (pg. 83) and the Herringbone Cluster Earrings (p. 61), but, knowing me, I'll probably start them and say "wait...what if i did this?". That's the curse of the artist. We can't follow the rules even when we like them!

If for some reason you haven't heard of her yet, visit where you can see the necklace and order a signed copy of Embellished Beadweaving. You'll be amazed.

Think she'll sign my copy now?

Happy beading,

P.S. This is my personal, unsolicited opinion. I don't know her; she doesn't know me. I paid full price for the book. (Just in case you were wondering.)  :-p K

Monday, December 6, 2010

Win a Beading Kit!

Every once in a while I like to give things away, and what better time of year than December?

This time, the giveaway is through the Rochester NY Etsy Street Team's webpage: (Yep, you have to visit the team blog to see what it is. I'll give you a hint: it'll make a perfect holiday gift, but you'll want to keep it for yourself.)

The Rochester NY Etsy Street Team are an awesome bunch of small business entrepreneurs based here in Rochester, but selling their wares to the world through Etsy. Be careful, though: Every time I visit one of their shops, I find something I just have to have!

Happy Shopping, and don't forget to enter the contest by Tues, Nov 7!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I've found my thrill !

After a year, I've finally stumbled upon a niche in this business that I absolutely, completely *love*!

Creating bead kits!

Creating bead kits combine the best of all the things I've done before. It's pretty much a combination of the skills I learned over the years, from a variety of jobs and interests. These are (in the order I discovered them):
- computer programming
- carpentry
- writing
- weaving
- Teaching (MG)

Some of these connections are easy to spot. Teaching, for example. But Computer programming? Carpentry?

Well, yeah. Coding isn't much different from writing step-by-step beading instructions, and carpentry--at least the specialized remodeling old houses kind--is just another way to fit shapes together in a way that makes sense and supports more shapes. When you boil it way, way down that is.

How cool is that?

I have two kits done, more sketched out and have tried my designs in a couple of classes. Yesterday I ordered a case of the cutest little "clamshell" boxes and I haven't been happier in a long time.

Now can someone turn off the clouds over Rochester? Please? I'd sure appreciate it!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Where I work

I love seeing where other artists work, so this week I thought I'd contribute a picture of my messy little corner.

My workspace
Actually, this is pretty clean for me. I'm trying to keep only the glass I'm using in one sitting out on the table. Otherwise I wind up hunting for one glass rod in 50 while trying to keep the bead I'm working on solid but not cold. I can pat my head and rub my stomach at the same time, but rotating a bead in the flame while not rolling the rods I'm picking through onto the floor (to break!) is a whole different ball game. :)

some glass, sorted by manufacturer
I use Effetre (Moretti) glass most often because it's pretty inexpensive, but I love the way Lauscha glass melts (the purple and blue bundles second and third on the bottom from the right) and I use their clear for everything I encase. I also have glass made by Messy Color (on the right in the tubes) and some Double Helix (clear, bottom left). Whites and all my stringers are on top.

Even though they are all COE 104 (soft glass) I do have to be careful mixing glass from different companies in the same bead. Sometimes the glass will "play nice" together, but sometimes the "ideal" annealing temperature is so different that I just don't mix them.

Anyway, I can't end without posting a picture of my new torch:

Nortel MEGA Minor Bench Burner, Torch for Lampwork
Nortel Mega Minor Burner (Surface Mix)

I so love being able to reduce silver-laden glass without having to hold a leather glove over the air intake holes on my old Hot Head. I came close to burning myself quite a few times doing that. It got really hot, and I suspect it was pretty dangerous too. (So don't try that at home :-P )

That's it!

Keep on torchin'.


Friday, August 20, 2010

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I just sent in my request to join the SRA (a group of Self Representing Artists who work with glass). As part of the application, they asked for photos of my beads and where I made them. This is to try and verify that I really am making beads and not reselling another artist's work.

This is an excellent idea, IMHO, and I very much want to join.

This got me thinking, though, which generally gets me into trouble. Wouldn't it be better to ask for pictures of horribly yucky beads? Beads that no self-respecting artist would ever sell? If I could produce a picture of, say, a misshapen blob of puke-green with violet dots, they'd know for sure that I had the tools necessary to melt and shape glass. Hmmm?

Or, I could just send in this photo of some of my very first (bad) beads:

(Believe it or not, I actually wore this necklace--I love the colors--and people complemented me on it. Either they have poor eyesight, or they are *very* polite.)

My point is this: Many glass artists try to explain how labor intensive well-made lampworked beads are, but I can't find anyone showing pictures of how many things can go wrong in the process.

So, being the smart-aleck I am, and having many, many examples to draw from, I present to you a new Blog Post Series: How NOT to Make a Lampworked Bead.

Comments? Questions? Outraged Lampworkers? Comment away!


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Where do all the artists go?

Since being bit by the lampworking bug, I've spent hours searching the web for everything lampwork related: pictures of beads, flameworking videos, sites to buy glass, blogs about beads, and especially sellers of jewelry made with handmade lampwork beads.

You know what I've noticed? Many, many sites link to artists whose sites are no longer there! These aren't old links, either. It seems that on their way to finding what they really want to do, many people try out lampworking. Then they try something else.

I guess it's evolution of a sort, but I'm strangely bothered by it. I hope I'm still making stringers and shaping beads when I'm old and grey (okay, more grey). I can't imagine doing anything else. But who knows? 

Until then, I'm following the artists who've "hung in there." And making beads.



Some Artists I follow:
Corina Tettinger - has the best bead newsletter ever 
Harlan Simon - makes easy-to-see and follow beadmaking videos

Monday, May 31, 2010

For the Kids

If anyone is in the Rochester, NY area this weekend, Studio 34 is hosting a bead-making workshop on Friday June 4 from 4-8 PM. We'll be making glass beads to donate to the Beads of Courage program, which awards kids with serious illness a special bead at various milestones in their treatment. I think this is a wonderful program, and Marilynne is terrific for donating torch time for this.

If you're not a bead artist, but still want to lend your support, stop by the studio! You can 'sponsor' a bead with a $5 donation to the cause and watch one of us create a bead of your choice to donate! (But you may want to choose someone more experienced than me for this. These girls are talented!)

Here's to a fun Friday!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Well, the honeymooon is over. My torch and I had a spat.

I was wrapping a bead with a short piece of stringer when I suddenly, stupidly forgot I was working with MOLTEN GLASS in a FIRE and REACHED IN to adjust the stringer. Whoops.
I burned my index finger pretty badly, but it could have been oh-so-much worse! I am grateful that all I have is a hot-head torch. My first thought after I got my finger under cold running water was, "And I had to get Chem-Pro for the extra 500 deg." LOL

Love and learn. (Yes, that was a typo, but it makes sense so I'm leaving it.)

I'm back at it, though. I was even out there melting glass with a big 'ol bandage on my finger. That probably wasn't so smart either, now that I think about it. But I'm still in love with each and every little bead I make.

:) Kelley

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I'm in Love!

I’ve had my new HotHead torch for 2 weeks today, and have made over 200 beads! Most are small, simple beads--I’m working on shape--but I love them all equally.

I started with MAPP gas, but used 4 cylinders in 2 days. At $7.49 a piece! The local welding supply store had a better answer—a 20# tank of Chempro. Less expensive and 500 deg.F hotter than MAPP gas. So now I have an outdoor-grill-size tank of gas hooked to my HotHead torch. It even has a gauge so I know when it’s empty! Which, thankfully it hasn’t been yet.

Since the HotHead came into my life, my husband has been behaving strangely. He’s volunteered to make dinner. He’s started getting my son off to school in the morning. He stops by the computer for a hug. He even pokes his head into the garage “just to say hi.”

I wonder: how long will the honeymoon last?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Beading Together!

My little bead room had some company this week! My 11 year old niece came to redeem her “Raid Aunt Kelley’s Stash” birthday coupon.

Earrings were the theme, and she brought shirts to design them for. She designed three pairs of shorter dangles: one pair from black triangle beads and clear and teal crystals, one pair with a rich purple pearl and two sparkly metal beads, and one pair with blue glass, yellow crystals and chain.

Before we could blink nearly two hours had passed!

It was so much fun to sit back and watch the joy on her face as she sorted and matched and slid beads on and off headpins. And when she said, “Can you make danglies here and here, and put this here like this?” to be able to answer “Yes! I can do that!” was priceless.

She’s coming back again soon. :)


Monday, April 5, 2010

WOW! (#1)

It's my first WOW! post. Yay!

I found a wonderful book on netting at the library the other day: Netted Beadwork by Diane Fitzgerald. I was drawn in by her stunning netted beads, but after my latest peyote stitch disaster, I decided to start with the simplest thing in the book.

Here's the result:

Pretty gosh-darned cool, isn't it?
It's a simple lace chain with one of the ends pulled into a tight circle. That's it! I'm so impressed.

If I come across any on-line, free-domain instructions I'll post them for you!

Off to try the netted beads, now. Happy beading!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I can make beads!

See the beads on the blog header? I made those. They're borosilicate glass from Studio 34 here in Rochester (for those interested in a relaxed, no stress beading class).

I've been dying to go back and melt more glass, but just can't seem to get there. So, being of the sink-or-swim mentality, I saved up a bit of cash and bought a Hot-head torch, didymium safety glasses (I look like the biggest nerd in them), and some mandrels & bead release. Then I sat in the garage for three hours. With the door open, of course.

Some of the results weren't so great (my husband had to crack off a couple of the worst, stuck-on beads with a hammer), but I actually produced a set I love the first day!

I can't wait to see how the next batch comes out!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

WHOA - long peyote chains

Well, here's my first WHOA! post.  In other words: don't try this at home.

I read lots of magazines on beading. Lots. And on-line tutorials and books. I'm a researcher. I like to see how three or four different artists do something before I try it at home. This month I'm into peyote stitch. And it's pretty darn simple until you get into patterns (which I'm not). After making a couple dozen beaded beads, I decided to take up an author on her instruction to make a piece of flat peyote weaving as long as needed. I then intended to roll it into a bead long enough to reach 1/2 way around a bracelet.

BIG mistake. They say it can be done, but apparently not by me.


The beads in this picture represent about 2 hours of work. The tension is all wrong and the beads keep sliding around, even though I taped one end to my coffee table (great tip, BTW, just use a tape that is easy to remove later!). I kept going, though. Until I discovered I missed a stitch in the previous loooong row. And Since I'm a perfectionist AND I kept sticking my way-too-sharp-needle through the Nymo thread in the previous row, that was the end of that.

Next time, I'm using Fireline, a dull needle and fewer beads. No matter how much you research, there's no substitute for experience!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Welcome to my blog!

Come in and pull up a're welcome to join me anytime.

I have a webpage:, and my finished jewelry is on display at: This page is where you'll get to know me, my work, and my jewelry making WOW's and WHOAs. (WOW! I just made that up. Can it be copyrighted? Hmmm.)

I'll also blog about the weather here in Rochester, NY (mostly cloudy on any given day) and if it's killed my jewelry photos for the day, my son's 'help' (some days are better than others), and the general state of affairs in my little bead room.

Come back often, and comment, comment, comment! I'll answer any reasonable questions. :)