So, two years on from my original attempts to research ventilation, I may have FINALLY found a solution.

It’s not something I can prioritize RIGHT THIS SECOND (car repairs, the holidays, various and sundry other issues), but it’s nice to know that there IS a viable, affordable ventilation solution out there that DOESN’T require that I cut holes into walls or hire an HVAC technician. Not only will this allow for safer enameling, but might even offer the opportunity to do lampworking, which is an idea I, quite frankly, salivate over.

So many things in my head.

For starters, I’ve taken up those domed cabochons that seem so popular with the kids these days. It’s a tight market, and it’s a time consuming and labor intensive process, so I don’t know how that’s going to go; we’ll have to wait and see. I did about 8 pairs of earrings (well, 9, but I’m wearing one now. Purely for testing reasons! Just wanted to make sure it wouldn’t make me itchy! It had nothing to do with the fact that they were really, really pretty, honest! And they have already gotten the attention of my co-workers without my having to go “Lookit Lookit what I did,” so that bodes well, anyway. And of course, because I’ve worn them, I couldn’t possibly sell them, because that would be icky. Oh well!), and when I saw the prices that similar earrings were going for, I was really disheartened; the amount of time and effort to make them way outstripped what people are getting for them. I was figuring I might have to sell them as a set with a matching necklace, or include matching earring jackets as part of the item (which I may still do, we’ll see). But I have a secret weapon called allergies that may very well allow me to charge more for them, even without that, so that works out.
I also had it in my head I was going to take up metal stamping, but then I couldn’t find my stamps that I bought years ago, and new stamps cost a mint. Then I found them, so that point is moot. Still, I may have found another way, that will be less noisy and make the cats less miserable: StazOn ink. Don’t know much about it, so this is going to be a learning experience. That said, the pair of earrings I have that, without question, get the most comments, are the ones I made out of copper washers and colored with alcohol ink. Going to try to take that theory and run with it, maybe with some soldering or riveting, coupled with this other idea for sort of motivational/inspirational jewelry that’s been puttering inside my brain for ages. Nothing hokey, though. Well, not VERY hokey. Hokey in my own special, obnoxious, pessimistic optimist kind of way. Y’know, life sucks today, but there’s always a 50% chance tomorrow will be better. OK, so it wasn’t yesterday. Or the day before that. Still – you never know. TOMORROW COULD BE THE DAY.
Hey, man. I enter the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes. Every. Single. Day.
Because tomorrow could be better.
Also, it’s free. Because the Powerball/Mega Millions jackpot has that same sense of possibility and hope, except it costs money, and I don’t have any.

Getting things started costs $

Why must all new endeavors be so freaking expensive?
Working on compiling a lampwork shopping list. So far: Devardi Glass Advanced Starter Kit ($193 or $199, depending on where you order from. Contains:  @5 lbs/80 rods of Devardi glass, 10 3/32″ mandrels, 1 3/16″ Pandora-style size mandrel – feh, 6 1/16″ mandrels, 8 Pandora inserts – double feh, 3″ x 4″ aluminum marver, handheld marver, lampworking torch – I already have one, purchased for enameling, but hey – the more the merrier – with stainless bracket – not sure what that is; maybe to hold the aluminum marver on the torch?, double-ended rake, bead release, cooling fiber blanket, 5 oz. of frit in random colors, aluminum heatproof desktop protector, 4 sets of tweezers, glass rod warmer to prevent thermal shock – a.k.a. you put your rod near the fire and it goes ‘splody, which, hey, seems like a good plan – stainless rod rest, instructional DVD which wasn’t well reviewed), rod rack for rod warmer, $5, Devardi Glass Mini Annealer (currently out of stock. Which is fine, because I currently don’t have the $ for the $200 starter kit, much less the $76 + ?$ shipping for the annealer, and the next two items on the list! That said… It’s a lot less than a $600 kiln PLUS all this stuff), ACE didymium over-glasses safety glasses ($53. They cut out the glare while lampworking while still allowing you to get a decent read on color. Supposedly. Dunno, we didn’t use them on Saturday), and various marvers to smooth the beads, and make them certain shapes/add grooves/make them groovy – $18 – $30 ea.
If the mini-annealer were in stock, we’d be looking at $352.48 in startup costs.
Again… if I were to remove the mini-annealer and pop in a real kiln (which I STILL hope to do, someday), it’d come to $882.48. That makes $352.48 seem positively affordable, in comparison, but it’s still high.
Decisions, decisions.
This is me, we’re dealing with, here – I’ve learned something new, which I both enjoyed and had pretty much immediate aptitude for (all but my very first bead, which is to be expected, and my very last bead, where I got ambitious) came out really quite shockingly well. Like, I would use these beads in a sellable product, well (if they’d been annealed. Which they weren’t. Which pretty much makes them shiny ticking time bombs, because they WILL shatter. One already has, and one is visibly cracked. ANYWAY…). This, predictably, makes me want to BUY ALL OF THE THINGS.
The voice of reason, quiet though it may be, says, “Do I REALLY want to do this? It’s a lot of money, and a lot of work. Will I USE this stuff/skill? I didn’t move forward with polymer clay.”
BUY ALL OF THE THINGS voice: “I’ll use it! I will! I spent $9 – $12 PER BEAD for lampwork beads at the last Innovative Bead Expo, for use in the kumi stuff I’ve been working on. OK, yeah, there’s an initial outlay to get started, but wouldn’t it be more FUN to be able to say that ALL OF IT was made by me, instead of just, y’know, ASSEMBLED by me? Plus… FIRE! MELTY GLASS! COLORS! SPARKLY THINGS! COME ON!!!!!!!”
Voice of reason: “You started off well, but then… way too many exclamation points. You know that, right?”
“Yes. But you’re also having a conversation with yourself, so it’s not like this is the thought process of an entirely sane person.”
“…Solid point.”

So… yeah. As per usual, a shopping list of shinies. As per usual, no $ to get them. Really – no $. Between the stupid %⅞ç{ing deck and the stupid %⅞ç{ing HOA payments, I’m tapped out, probably till August I can use a little $ here and there in the interim, but not enough to do much.
3 months. 3 months to forget everything I learned, & start over again. That worked out well, with enameling. *headdesk*
At least it gives me time to really work on the craft room (y’know, where all of this is supposed to end up going).
Patience is not a virtue I’ve got a whole lot of. *sigh*

It’s time to get things started.

OK, now I REALLY need to work on the craft room.
Thompson Enamels is raising their prices. 8% on enamels, 10% on everything else. So, predictably, I just placed an order for more enamel. Not a lot; just enough that I have a full rainbow of opaques (Orient Red & Sunset Orange I had, ordered Mellow Yellow & Hunter Green, already have a couple of blues, ordered Iris Purple – which I’ve wanted to order for, like, 2 years, but couldn’t justify the cost because purples are wicked expensive for some reason. Plus a couple of colors of 6/20 frit – foxglove purple, black and mellow yellow; I already had red, white and blue. The frit is good for Headpins, & making dots on stuff).
I’ve torch-enameled exactly once, since the original class. In the garage. In the middle of winter.  It went badly, but not TERRIBLY. About as badly as one could expect, given that I’d done it once, almost a full year before. But it being summer, now… ain’t doing this in the garage.
Between wanting to enamel, & wanting to get some metal clay studs done, getting the craft room into some kind of usable shape is imperative.
End of story.

Out of cheese error – redo from start.

Why must I have a million ideas, & no time, energy, or money to enact them?
Can I solder titanium post/stainless steel flat pad earrings to PMC stud earrings with Cool Tools’s Low Temperature Solder Paste? (I have everything I need to attempt this, with the possible exception of an annealing pan with pumice)
Ooh, I’d need lots of Gilder’s Paste to make the earrings (that I don’t even know if I can make work) pretty colors! Ooh! And molds! Lots of molds for studs!
I wonder if it’d be OK if I put mica dust in my homemade personal care products (that I haven’t even started making, yet)?
I need to get started on the kumihimo braids for the solid perfume lockets (lockets on order; may arrive sometime this MONTH; have not yet attempted any kind of solid perfume making. Ever); I need more of that dark blue variegated satin (have lots of satin. Have lots of VARIEGATED satin. Just NOT THAT COLOR.)
Translation: I MUST BUY ALL THE THINGS!!!!

Moving right along.

OK! So! Bit of an update.

I have a house! I live there!

It’s still full of boxes. It’s been a month; I just… haven’t accomplished as much as I’d like. Which for me is pretty normal, but still frustrating. But! Such predicaments, we must move ahead.


I’ve just this minute completed an order that brings me up to 3 – 4 oz of the following enamel colors in order of when I remembered them, a.k.a. no particular order (some of these I had already ordered, so this is a grand-total list):

Thompson Enamels:

Sunset Orange

Foxglove Purple

Peacock Blue Green

Ultramarine Blue

Flame Red

Beryl Green (Transparent)

Robin’s Egg Blue

Medium Fusing Clear (Transparent. Duh.)

Calamine Blue


Discontinued Rio Grande Colors:


Mallard Green (transparent)

Sea Green

Silver Grey


I have slightly less than 3 oz of a few other colors: Foundation White, Butter Yellow, Jungle Green, Daphne Blue, Black, Mocca Brown

There may be others that I’m just not remembering right now.

I’ve got a whole bunch of copper and iron beads and charms to start playing with. First order of business, I think, being the copper tags, bought for the purpose of having a sample of each fired color to tape to the lids of the tins. Of the things needed to get to work, the only things I officially do not own at all are an appropriately sized loaf tin, enough vermiculite (I looked at what was included with my Bead Pulling Station, and found it not enough for my comfort), and the MAPP gas can, itself. The loaf pan should be obtainable at Shop Rite; the others are readily available at Lowe’s. The can is slightly cheaper at Home Depot, but they don’t carry the vermiculite in store and Lowes does, so… there you go.

Oh, and I haven’t yet located the torch head I bought. For some reason, it wasn’t packed with the rest of the enameling stuff, so I have to hunt in the office for it.


Mind you, I may be ready for this. My tools and materials may be almost ready. What ISN’T ready is the room I plan to DO it in! Right now it’s a catch-all for things I wasn’t sure where to put elsewhere. All my musical instruments (two guitars and a trumpet) and their accompanying music are there. A boatload of vinyl records are there. I don’t know where those things are going to end up, but I don’t think they really belong in the office. I may USE them in the office, but I don’t think they can live there, given that it might get warm in there. So, they need new homes. I need to dig the window exhaust/intake fan out of the closet. This was the only ventilation solution I could come up with, in the short term. I know it’s not ideal. We’ll have to see how things go. But it’s better than nothing.


So! Yes! Enameling to begin soon. Then, most likely, kumihimo, for bracelets to hang enameled things from. I imagine earrings will also be happening. Even necklaces are possible, though historically, I haven’t had a whole lot of patience for necklaces. I think that with a combination of chain, kumi, and enameled beads, necklaces will happen a lot faster than they would with, say, individually formed wire links.


In other news, I’ve ordered tiny, nickel-free stars, for the top of Swarovski Christmas trees – ‘tis the season (or near enough, anyway).

I have absolutely no idea what to do with Thanksgivukkah, as far as jewelry. Blue turkeys, perhaps? Ah, no, no turkey enameling blanks to be found. *sigh* I’ll have to think of something….


Anyway, just wanted to keep you in the loop. Things are coming. I will be making sparkly things. They will be posted. The train marches on. 🙂

The Lion in the Hedge

Brain ‘splody!

I have such an idea! GAH! May not have the talent to pull it off, but I’m going to use molds and texture sheets as much as possible.

It’s rare that something comes to me this fully formed; the last one, I STILL haven’t managed to execute….

OK, so when I was a kid, we used to visit this place in Hillsborough called Duke Gardens. It was Doris Duke’s (of the tobacco Dukes; also Duke University – see the Wiki article for details beautiful greenhouse network, which she opened to the public ( Every section of the greenhouses was for a different type of garden (e.g. the American desert, Japan, China, England, etc.). It was a great, nearby destination to take your (mostly well-behaved) kids when there wasn’t much else going on, it was indoors… perfect. And it was BEAUTIFUL.

Anyway, a few years ago, the foundation Doris Duke set up to take care of the gardens after her death, destroyed them. They provided rationales behind this decision, talking about how they weren’t ecologically responsible to maintain, etc. I don’t know the real reasoning. All I know is, they’re gone. Decimated. They have ceased to be. They are an ex-garden.

And it’s a crime.

I didn’t find out it was happening until right before they shut it all down, and by then all of the remaining tours were already sold out. Trust me, I tried. I didn’t get a chance to see it one last time; all I have left are vague, childhood memories.

There is little enough of it to be found online, but I’ll provide some of what I’ve found:

In the middle of the English garden, there was this enormous topiary hedge, and in the top of it, just above an arch, was a lion head mounted within the ivy.

You can just sort of see it, in the 4th picture down on the right, on You can also see what happened to it, on the left. 😦

So I was hunting through various jewelry supply and metal clay supply websites, as I have a tendency to do… pretty much all the time. And I found this mold for a roaring lion’s head.

Yes, I realize the lion wasn’t roaring. Well, actually, I DIDN’T; I had to go look it up. But clearly, the lion isn’t roaring. However, I’m willing to let that slide, in the interest of having a mold for it. Y’know, instead of me trying to come up with a lion’s head on my own, which would be impossible since I can’t even DRAW it.

Here’s my thought.

The lion’s head mold in copper clay (with a white tinge, provided by Gilders Paste. And yes, OK, it’s roaring. But it’s INSPIRED by, it’s not going to be identical, OK?), surrounded by ivy leaves, also in copper clay (greened, via African Bronze Gilders Paste). The back of the pendant would be the ivy texture tile from Cool Tools.

Name of the pendant: “Duke’s End.” Which fits nicely into my whole song title thing, and also sums up the concept pretty perfectly.

I have no real idea of how I’m going to execute this. I don’t know how big it’ll have to be, or whether the bail will be on the back, or if it’ll need to have two bails, one on either side, to balance it out. It’s going to have to be pretty big, I’m afraid. We’ll call it a statement piece.

I, quite frankly, can’t wait to get started on it. Except I’ve already spent my allotment for jewelry stuff this paycheck on the alcohol ink project. So… patience. Which I’m so fantastically good at.


But the idea isn’t going to go anywhere for a while. Especially since I just got it all down, right here. J

Off we go….

OK, so yes, I’ve gone and spent money I probably shouldn’t have. Approximately $96.

That said, I’ve spent significantly less money than I would’ve if I’d headed in the soldering direction (which I’m not really set up to do right now, anyway, and would’ve run me over $200 to start up even SORT OF properly), and THIS project gives nearly instant gratification (as last night’s efforts show). So I’m not sorry, not one little bit.

I’ve just purchased 5 sheets of 6” x 12” pieces of sheet metal, in interesting (but fairly inexpensive) varieties, some pre-textured (because currently, it’s cheaper to buy textured metal than to buy hammers to texture it. I have precisely one chasing hammer, which is flat on one side and ball pein on the other; I used the ball pein, yesterday. If I have any success with this stuff… and I think I will… the sale of the textured metal pieces will pay for the textured hammers) , some not, and a whole heck of a lot of alcohol inks, because someone on Etsy was selling, like, 6 packs of them for $30 (they retail at $10/pack. I know. I looked, yesterday).

I don’t have metal shears yet, so I’m going to be stuck making circles around the edges of the sheets for a while with the punch & die set purchased at Harbor Freight at the same time I got the dapping set. But there’s nothing wrong with circles. And I can always purchase copper shapes at Rio if I want to branch out in a different direction before I get to the shears. Files will be purchased from Harbor Freight at a very reasonable price. And then… we’re pretty golden! Or… y’know, coppery and brassy! With pretty colors and sparkly dangly things! I can re-open my shop, and have actual EARRING JACKETS to sell (y’know, those things I promised from day one, and in fact have only actually marketed two varieties of?)! There’s surprisingly few people out there doing alcohol ink jewelry (only 13 pages on Etsy, and most of it is resin or glass), so… yeah! Cool!

I am excited.

It’s been a while since I was truly excited about something (at least, since my original kiln went kerflooey, and I discovered that torch-firing enamel was going to be a bigger problem than expected). It’s a nice feeling. And I can do this NOW, and quickly, and it’s PRETTY, and I can embellish it with the gazillions of beads I’ve already got in stock.



Waiting for the hammer to fall


Hey, look! I did something! Hammered, domed, inked (only on one side, though, so these’ll be mine). It’s my first alcohol ink attempt; I imagine I’ll get better at it. Hope so, anyway. Still – not bad, for a first try, right? The first coat of sealer is drying. There’ll be a second coat, then more drying. And eventually, earring hooks and sparkly things, through the holes I punched my very own self. 🙂 *squee!*