Thursday, April 26, 2007


I've spent so many decades around glass, glassblowers, beadmakers and lovers/collectors of artist created glass that it's inevitable I hear, and am asked my thoughts & opinions of issues and advances. Sadly this invariably involves various politics that are 'part and parcel' of these discussions. Humanity can't seem separate discussion from politics. Or perhaps humanity just doesn't want to separate them from each other.

My latest visit to the land of hot but unresoved issues was prompted by two of my students debating over the BEAD PRESS/BEAD MOLD issue as we were chatting after a recent class at my studio.

I don't know if everyone is familiar with this new turn in U.S. (tho old in european) beadmaking. In case you've not heard the issue/discussion centers on the fact there are ever growing number of lampwork beadmakers who are using tools made in machine shops that allow a lampworker to gather glass on the mandrel then insert it in this benchtop brass (or other metal) press and literally 'mold' the glass into the prescribed shape, size, thickness. It's not new as concepts in working glass on all levels goes.

But it DOES raise some interesting questions for U.S. 'art glass' lampworkers and buyers... Certainly, you can create a well shaped bead a good deal faster (particularly if you're a new(er) beadmaker). For the fairly experienced lampworker the outcome is very predictable, reproducable and expedient.

The question, and this is where it becomes sticky, is where does the line fall when determining a 'handmade individual artist created bead' (no two totally alike) VS the 'production bead'? It's a wide wandering line and there are a lot of points to consider on each side of the issue ~ for both the lampworker and the buyer.

The reniassance of small art glass (aka beads) in this country gained much of its momentum based on the unique and individual creation of every single solitary bead offered to designers (or collectors). The artist 'free formed' each bead the buyer/collector purchased. Concurrently the skill required to learn to work the glass to be able to create matching size and shape and infuse your soul into each bead took time and committment and skill of the material and the art. Each bead was created with hand skills passed down by generations of glassworkers to the next.

This hand skill components was what set the U.S. artist beads apart from all others available. Beads ceated by hand were unique in size, shape, design. Each bead created required command of the material to master consistancy. It takes a great deal of committment to the art to learn to create 'by hand and skill' (valuing mastry of skill over speed/voulume of the product).

It's a discussion as old as the industrial revolution. Tools (in this case molds much as in times past) DO increase speed and assure consistancy and ultimately lower price. Those are solid and valid points.

But what can (and should) be pondered is the issue of what we art bead lampworkers and all of the designers who use art glass beads or collect art glass beads are really all about? What our work is all about? (remember I mentioned it gets sticky)?

For me (as I'm sure you've surmised) it's about creating pieces that are heart and soul and skill and carrying on the generational skills of my 'old world apprenticeship'. It's more about the hundreds and hundreds (and hundreds...) of hours learning from my father and the decades of practice that have taught me to 'read the glass' and how to make it move and dance that I bring to my work and ultimately to you, the designers/collectors. The old world way in which I (strive) to bring life a piece of art for a 'one of a kind' design based on all my years of experience with this mysterious material...

Do designers find they're just as happy to work with pieces that are pressed out in voulme at a lesser price? Do they prefer true one of a kind pieces? Is a merging and use of both unique and pressed ideal for a designer? Perhaps....

Will collectors be drawn to a bead, pristine and perfect, that was one of 100 pressed out in a day at a lampworkers bench? Or will collectors of designer jewelry seek the unique? Does the story, the 'soul', the subtle variants in each bead matter less, as much, or more to the jewelry buyer than price....

If U.S. lapworker production beads gain favor, what will be the difference between US lampwork beads (pressed beads) and those imported from Czech, China and India?

It gets sticky AND tricky. The advocates of these tools (both sellers and users) will point out (vehemently I must say) that the SHAPE is only part of the bead - the embellishment is personal and artistic and and..and... and..... True, and yet conversely one must admit each bead is essentially 'produced' to specific size, shape and form by presses and that are all exactly the same on two of three points (shape/size). Thus, some of the handskill and/or individuality is lost, is it not?

Most importantly, does it matter to the designer and the jewelry buyer?

It's going to be a very interesting turn in the beadmaking field to observe as it unfolds.

For me, it's always going to be about the dance of glass - the magic of making a shape evolve by gravity by feel by heat and by heart. I have presses, I use them occasionally and I teach classes in their use. I've no bone to pick with presses or those who use them. Presses as all tools have their strengths both technically and econmically. Concurrent and unavoidable is the the fact presses require less hand working to create a bead. The beads are more likely to be exactly the same size, thickness, each bead completed more quickly. Not a snarky point of view - just a fact....

My work will always primarily be formed by the 'ancient' methods, using hard won skills and experience. Each bead created one at a time, each an individual, each truly 'one of a kind'. Because that's MY calling, the path my art takes.....

When it comes to ART, I believe the core element of it is soul (not speed, not volume, not price). So this kind of issue presents a choice of direction each artist and each jewelry designer in any medium has to make for him/herself.

Without a doubt there are those (in fact many) who'll take exception to my view as the world is fond of 'immediate results and low prices'. Which is equally valid. The ponderable in these discussions isn't really what is 'right or wrong' but listening to your own calling, your muse, your reason for your art...

Like discussions about 'art vs craft' and 'bead-stringers vs jewlery designers' it's sticky, snarky fodder - interesting to ponder for certain - as long as everyone talks/listens/remains kind. There's seldom harm in any 'good discussion'. Ultimately our 'art' is about us, what we choose to create, what tools we use (or not) what price point we set to mention a few. Each artist in the process see our vision, path and outcome. Each artist decides what 'matters' ~ no one else can dictate that (except perhaps for our muse, lol).

Thanks for reading and as always, your thoughts are welcome...

Monday, April 23, 2007


I'm crushed....

I was searching thru Victorias Secret offerings, seeking something 'pampery' for me.

I was profoundly bummed to discover there was flannel everywhere (still!) And cotton waist high unders OMG! (you know the grandma big as a table cloth style). At Vic's? Can you believe it?! Egads....

I mean I love flannel (I even own footed jammies!) But I needed something 'girlish'. I live in jeans and LAYERS of sweatshirts and T shirts to keep from freezing to death in the studio in this climate, so my unders are about all I have to feel feminine thru the year (aside from jewelry that is, lol)

I wanted something pretty, cheerful, geesh, maybe even a two pieces of underware that matched! roflmao what a concept! (I can't think of the last time I had PRETTY matching unders :-) the ones I have are faded from laundering and hey, how is it that SOMEHOW they never seem to be in the drawer at the same time and end up worn with non-matching bits)? LOL it must be my delayed-laundry-symdrome coming back to bite me in the arse!

Back to the issue at hand....

What's a girl to do.... I'm NOT going to search Fredericks, roflmao ~ I want pretty not wild, roflmao... Looks like I'll have to check out Walmarts or Tar-zaaay.

What's a girl to do indeed! :-)

Friday, April 20, 2007


I'm not one for social or poltical rants - not to be confused with not having strong opinions (ask anyone who knows me). My way leans more towards watching, listening, pondering and forming what are generally iron-clad opinions. I share them on an 'I'll tell you if you ask me' basis.

What transpired in VA this week has not changed my practice of WLP (watching listening and pondering). What did occur was a confluence of three events that prompted this post.....

*an email reply I sent to a woried friend the day of the tragedy
*a quote I came across today
* and I plan of action I had embarked upon months ago but was finalizing a mere week before VTech. It was an idea I'd been chewing on for several months at last nearing readiness to be turned to action....Even as I began to forumulate it I was fully aware it would most likely be classified (ultimately) as a small 'spit in the wind' against the way society makes trivial the violence we see nitely on entertainment programming and movies. Yet I was/am driven to proceed....

For what it's worth, I'm sharing my email text, inclusive of the idea I'd been chewing on, and the quote I came across today below. Rare Bird tho it is for me 'tell without being asked' I'd like to think these bits (my email and Bernbachs' quote) may be, in some small way, worthwhile....

My Email

I know it's impossible, but try not to worry about ****
or think too much about the pain for all those involved
(including those of us watching from afar). It'll eat
you alive. Instead just determine to make whatever
difference we can every day - kindness, care, to those
around us, known or unknown. Love deeply, say so often.

Life is frail, time is short. Accident, health, insanity
and time, like dogs in the dark, are out there and no amt of
worry or fear will make us more or less vulnerable.

Like the day and the nite it's all beyond our manipulation
as to outcome.

What we can do is live well, and in small kindness make some
stand against the unravelling of how life 'should be'.

In more politcal ways, speak out against the endless violence
on TV, films, video games that diminish society sense of
day to day outrage - and sadly show violence as an 'option'.
Tho granted 99 percent of kid/adults KNOW it's fiction
society and the media have to know it's fuel to the insane mind
(and simply barbaric as cultural standards go).

Last week I penned an email to A&E and Biography
(after listing and locating email addresses of all their
advertisers for cc) which says I find the violent programs on killers and rapists neither art nor entertainment and strongly recommended that biography feature heros - famous or common folk in their programs. I want both programs to STOP laying out sick details hour after hour and to stop bringing attention (if not fame) to this kind of act and the individuals responsible.... I advised them that I was 'grass-rooting' a boycott on products that support this sort of programming.

Pissing in the wind? Perhaps. But if it makes a difference to one life or one family it's worth the effort.

Small steps ~ pissing or whispering ~ into the wind - I have a feeling that's how all changes of value begin....

Inbetween? All we can do is live well, love deeply.


And this is the quote I came across today ~
Much like HAIKU, profound insight contained in a very few words....

"In this very real world, good doesn't drive out evil.
Evil doesn't drive out good. But the energetic displaces the passive."

- Bill Bernbach ~

Thursday, April 19, 2007


I try (really!) not to 'miss days' chatting with you here.

Tho this time of year the updates are at times less introspective and more of the 'write and run' sort. It is just so hectic in the studio (and life in general) thru spring/summer/fall (in mostly good ways!) In fact this time of year "domestic issues" become a crisis in and of themselves!

If you know me (or have read my official domestic policy entry)then you know I'm certainly no domestic diva by skill or choice, lol. Hence, you'll nod your head knowingly when I tell you in the last 10 days (give or take a week, roflmao) laundry had fallen to the 'end of the list' of things that captured my time/attention.

I finally had to admit I had a choice to make... either:

a) do laundry
b) purchase new clothing for DH and I
c) go au natural, lol

Now b is pricey and c is just not a fair thing to do to the world at my age roflmo, (and besides c is a REALLY bad concept for a hot glassworker ...) So "a" became the obvious (tho unexhaulted) choice :-)

Amazingly, between paperwork, packing and shipping orders, computer work, I got it all done (and no, I will not - ever - admit to you HOW MANY loads of washing and drying and folding it took!) But when it was done, I found that something as uncommon as Haleys comet (in my house at any rate) had occured!

Gleeful tho I was (well ok, more like pleased) that EVERY (yes EVERY!)PIECE of clothing was washed and accounted for I now found myself facing a new unplanned mini-dilema...(drat...) Just WHERE was I going to stow it all?! In truth DH and I own more clothes than drawers... Normally this is a no-crisis-issue (as you'd be amazed how totally effective a dryer can be as a continual interim staging area between clean/wearing/hamper)!

What to do, what to do.....? lol Ah well - each blessing has its curse, eh? As problems go, I'll keep it - but still ain't it a kick in the (clean) pants!"?!

I suppose I could thin the clothing herd - or clean the closet shelves (refolding does wonders as does putting winter things into storage) All logical but unapealing/time consuming options. Bleeehhhhh.

I think this calls for avoidance - eeerrmmmmm, I mean re-evaluation and development of a 'good plan' (aka structured avoidance, lol)

Yep, I'll 'ponder it' while I'm at the torches :-) So I'm off to the studio, coffee in hand (in one of many clean Tshirts)!

Monday, April 16, 2007


I wonder what it is with guys....

With most it is the battle to get them to replace the roll.
Then there's the 'which way it should be placed' issue :-)

I'm a waterfall person as I hate having to coax if from the wall. I like that first sheet floating in the air like a happy little leaf not melded to the wall by static electricity!

(I know...this is the point where you start to worry about the things that occupy my mind)!

But today I was reminded of yet another curiosity of male-toilet-paperness-behavior by my DH (who I have to tell you is incredibly thoughtful about such things ie: seat up, replace the roll - waterfall style too)! Still I haveta wonder if other DH's do this too....

After my DH replaces the TP (and I stress I adore him for not leaving it for me!) he leaves the original roll which has maybe 6-8 squares left on it, on the back of the toilet.... Hmmmmmm.

Womanhood just has to ask "why"? :-)

Is it military survival training? Is it that he just saw the last visa bill and is driven to think using those 8 remaing squares will save us money?! Is it division of labor as in 'I changed it, YOU have "remnanat roll discard duty"?

Yep, ya just have to wonder! LOL.....

Friday, April 13, 2007

For Journal Readers


SURPRISE! I chose this boro pendant from my work this week in the studio to share/offer to my journal readers for 'PRIVATE SALE' :-)


Email me by 'clicking' on the MINE! MINE! MINE! link, lol above the bead image if this boro pendant whispers to you :-)

This is a 'one of a kind' & will go to the first email arriving to request it & for journal buds - $12.95 (2.00 shipping) NYS res, tax also.

Domed face, flat back ~ filled with detail color which is magnified by the cyrstal clear boro dome.... A hand formed loop for stringing. 32.09 mm top of loop to base of pendant, 23.55 mm wide, 11.75 mm thick.


It must be spring......

I knew this when I saw my DH pull in from work with a huge box in the back of the truck. A new push/trimming lawnmower that was about to be 'presented' LOL.
I say 'presented' because DH always updates me with any new purchase he's procured for the kingdom when he comes thru the door. He is apparently unaware that I take note of all arrivals via the windows :-)

It's the little things in life that are the most enjoyable, don't you think? Take this mower in a box for instance. The promise of shiny new machine, no gunky grass, no chipped paint, no wobby wheels! All you have to do is ASSEMBLE it!

Oh my.....

The last mower that 'came home' was fully assembled, right down to the oil. That was a happy day! I loved that mower for it's 'readiness' ;-)

It's not that DH or I are engineeringly challenged - in truth we both do well. It's more a question of the way in which DH and I approach such tasks. Our approaches differ a bit.... OK, they differ A LOT! roflmao.

I'm a 'adjustable cresent wrench' kind of person.
(DH is a find the proper metric fixed socket or ratchet kind of guy)

He's an "open all the packets of bits IMMEDIATELY and lay them out first". (I'm one who "opens each packet as you need what's in it")

We are both of the opinion that since you logically KNOW where wheels and handles on a lawnmower go you'll only read the directions if you get stuck....

Oh my indeed....

And no matter how many times I do some of these things, I'm chronically amazed at the multitude of small parts needed to accomplish seemingly straight-forward tasks.

I will confess only to you here, we DID have to remove (then replace!) the rear wheels to situate the mover handle where it belonged (the directions most likely DID say to attach handle prior to wheels had we read the directions, lol) But aside from that we did well. No left over parts, a lot of good laughs (both at ourselves and a few at each others expense!) and now there is a fully assembled shiny red lawn mower with oil in it mostly ready to go. I note "mostly ready to go" as it has no gas in it yet.

One thing you learn by this point in life is that it's best to quit while you're ahead, lol.

We'll see if it RUNS tonite :-)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

QUOTE of the day

Rogues are always preferable to imbeciles...
(because now and again rouges take a break) :-)
Quote attributed to Dumas

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


I have to say, I love this man I share my life with...
We'll have been together for 33 years next year and he sill makes me laugh, still makes me feel like who I am and what I do matters - especially to him.

We're one of those odd couples who are best friends. We love our time together. We are both very very (did I mention VERY, lol) opinionated and driven ~ and by no means do we see/agree on things at first blush. We kiddingly are referred to as 'the debate team'. Nothing, not a thing can occur without at least a 'tri-level' discussion. But we always know what the other is thinking, that's for certain.

Since the advent of email, he's taken to writing me when he arrives at work. It's a long commute for him and I've always liked to know he's arrived safe. Years ago he'd call, now he emails me. It's one of those relationship rituals you don't think much about, but are a gatepost in your day....

Most of his emails are straighforward with 'are you teaching late tonite', do I need to stop for pizza on the way home? kind of things. But SOMEtimes his emails are just priceless. Funny or fuzzy, make me laugh out loud or print them out to save like a hallmark card.

He, (sometimes as you reading do too) shares the "joy" ;-) of my periodic bitching about the bookwork/inventory/paperwork in general (it's an ongoing un-favorite of mine that PEAKS at end of year/tax time) Yes an anual event living with me :-) And he's been equally dismayed with this winter that is more endless than USUAL, so we've been splitting the piss and moan time - me, bookwork, shoveling, him the endless wait for spring, longing for the summer to be free of lousey drives each day, an end of staggaring heat bills (aka a bit of spending money) and release from what is probably HIS biggest pet peeve, road salt. SPRING bringing freedom from watching the car rust away DAILY due to road salt...

So his email this morning just made me laugh out loud....


"I'm here......anon and anon...the latin version of ground hog day. Not a bad drive in....nice without snow on the roads. I hear that spring is just days away with a short pause of just 6 weeks after that till it's warm.

A true sign of spring nearing........the car is almost gone.....but at least paperwork for the year is behind us ...thanks to you for your hard work.

I hope we can enjoy this weekend and have some fun trying to decide how to spend the refund money...Forget I said that" becaause I KNOW you'll want to 'save it'....

Yep, I really really love this guy ;-)

Hope you found something good in your email today too! :-)

Monday, April 09, 2007


I know.....I know..... ;-)

I keep writing (or finding) things that have little to do with glass or beads or jewelery et al...

But then again I suppose a lot of 'energy' that nourishes our muses comes from things we read or see, things that cause us to think...(or laugh) so with that in mind, ENJOY!
I've learned that life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.
I've learned.... That we should be glad life doesn't give us everything we ask for.
I've learned.... That money doesn't buy class.
I've learned.... That it's those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.
I've learned... That under everyone's hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.
I've learned... That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.
I've learned.... That when you plan to get even with someone, you are only letting that person continue to hurt you.
I've learned.... That love, not time, heals wounds.
I've learned... That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with intellegent gentle people.
I've learned.... That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.
I've learned.... That no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.
I've learned.... That life is tough, but I'm tougher.
I've learned... That opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.
I've learned.... That when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.
I've learned... That I wish I could have told those I cared about that I love them one more time before they passed away.
I've learned.... That one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he may have to eat them.
I've learned.... That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.
I've learned.... That I can't choose how I feel, but I can choose what I do about it.
I've learned.... That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it.
I've learned ... That it is best to give advice in only two circumstances; when it is requested and when it is a life threatening situation.
I've learned.... That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Sorting is a word known to women, a task both daunting and delicious (depending...)

If you read my meanderings you know that now at full blown midlife I'm finding I'm driven to simplify. A daunting task for a lifelong packrat for certain. Boxes upon boxes, drawer after drawer filled with little timecapsules of the years. Who'd have thought that the 'saving' of tiny bits of this and that (or, lol hurried tidy-up sometimes!) over decades past could account for such volume?! Amazing indeed.

Much of it is a 'quick-look and toss' caliber. More of it is 'this could be useful someday to someone somewhere sometime... This results in quick emails of 'can you use this' or the ebay pile! :-)

The best and the worst of this quest are the 'surprises'. Those things that you bought and 'tucked away', forgotten for years! Shopping without leaving home! LOL...

Amid the findings are snippets of the heart - letters, pictures, the first book, cards my DH gave me before we were even married three decades ago now. Wine corks and London underground tickets. The warp and weave of so many memories in these little tiny bits of "space~consuming riff-raff", lol.

There are moments I confess when I wish I were of the mindset that can/does send such things to the trash with abandon! I envy them the fact that a wine cork or a half hank of beads doesn't 'speak' to them, or make them smile....

Then again maybe I don't actually envy them at all.....

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


If Barbie is so popular,
why do you have to buy her friends?

I have to admit I love this quote for two reasons.

First, its just damn funny! :-) Second it reminds me of my very early childhood when I WISHED it were true! Go to the store, find a friend or two in a box, guaranteed to like you because the box declared it to be so! Really, it did! Did you read the box? It clearly said "MIDGE, Barbie's best friend"!

I searched the shelves at the stores every time I went, but my young eyes never found a box (or a person) with a banner exclaiming they'd be my best friend if I paid the purchase price! I never found it declared that someone would be my friend if I took them to the counter, and paid the sticker price.

Or did I?

Thinking about it from 'adult-land' all these years later, I realize that from the beginning of your life relationships are tricky if not downright peculiar things and they all have an 'investment' required. Not so bold or tacky as a 'purchase price' but no relationship comes for free. Some 'cost' more, some less. Some come with lots of extras (so many that you think too many must have been packed in the box by mistake!) Other relationships seem to have "parts missing". But you cant' take them back to the store for an exchange.... I'm thinking of no one - and everyone - that I've ever known in my life and it's just struck me that there are a fair number of parallels between 'BARBIE' and her social issues and many of us (ok me at least, I'll leave everyone else to their own ponderings on the topic).

Barbie's parents are never mentioned so she must have been all set there! lol You did have to buy her sister (but who among us has not bought off a sibling! OR tried to sell one off for that matter!!!! roflmao!)

But friends now that's a tricky one.... You choose your friends for no reason other than the fact that you like each other. It's a renewable contract sort of thing I think. Some contracts get renewed, some don't. Sometimes you get given away in a trade of reality, sometimes you are tucked safely in a drawer - not devalued but put away for better times. Sometimes you are chosen but then (gasp!) taken back to customer service for exchange for a newer friend as you were only purchased for the moment and once that moment/need passes so does the need for you.

But best of all are the times you are chosen off the shelf as a friend and kept around forever. The times you become such an integral part of someones life that you're there till your fingers point in funny directions and your hair is brittle.*(remember this is a DOLL analogy and you may recall barbies fingers were kind of thin and would take an odd bend or break off when she got old! lol) Funny pointing fingers, brittle hair, but cherished...

Now that's the kind of friend you want to pick off the shelf (and the kind of friend you want to BE if someone chooses you and takes you to the counter.....).

My point? I'm not the least bit certain. Just thinking out loud.

I wonder if BARBIE has any insights to add...
I'll have to get her out of the cedar chest and ask her.