Monthly Archives: March 2011

4 necklaces

I spent so time in my studio making beads and components this past winter, that I am just now getting around to putting them together. When I look at other people’s beads to buy, I have tons of ideas. Then I sit down to work at my bead bench and feel paralyzed by the myriad of options I’ve provided myself.  After a day or so I get into a rhythm of stringing.

I love the large copper focal bead, below, made by Shannon LeVart of Miss Ficklemedia. Her patinas are gorgeous. I am inspired to give patinas a try on my own. I ordered her e-book and some of her patina colors, but in the meantime I also attended the glass bead making workshop.  I’ll give both of those techniques some time to ramble around in the back of my brain while I work with the supplies I have at hand. Shannon also made the smaller patinated beads and the toggle clasp for this necklace. I made the silver beads (except for the small round ones) from PMC, and I had the bright copper beads in my stash, along with the brass spacer beads, from years ago.  The peach-lined light blue Japanese drop beads were an impulse buy at the Beadin’ Path sometime last fall. I’m happy with how they all came together, though some of the colors (the glass beads) look a little off since I took quick photos late this afternoon.

Each beach rock necklace has its own personality. I started with a simple design to re-familiarize myself with my rock inventory. When it comes to beach rocks, I prefer to make asymmetrical necklaces, but it helps me to get going with one or two that are easily balanced.

The color of the matte glass seed beads in the photo changes with a different background. The color below is more true.

The focal bead in the first necklace, and in the one below, is a hollow drape bead made from precious metal clay.

Tomorrow = more studio time for more necklaces. The latest weather prediction is for 6 to 10″ of snow and gale force winds. I hope the power stays on!


Filed under Uncategorized

Wordless Wednesday?

It’s a great idea. But I was busy in the studio today, after several days away, so photographs were  not at the top of my list.  I did take my camera with me when I walked to the post office. Nothing too exciting along the way. Before I headed back into the studio, I looked to see something green and edible coming up in my garden, at last.

Chives! A sure sign of spring, even though 3 to 6″ of snow is forecast for the end of the week.


Filed under Uncategorized

What do you want for dinner?

It’s a question Bruce and I  ask each other every morning. When you live on an island, with no grocery store, the choices depend on what you have on hand. Any veggies left since the last trip off island?  What’s in the freezer? Since each of us likes to cook, we usually keep a lot of stuff  in the cupboard to work with, but there is no such thing as “fast food” on Little Cranberry Island.

I try to combine my grocery shopping trips with the days I visit my mother in Bar Harbor, about once a week. When I get back from one of these long days, with several bags of groceries to put away, I really don’t feel like rustling up a meal. “What’s for dinner?”  often comes up as a topic of conversation among passengers on the last boat home because most of us don’t feel like cooking after a day off island.

Yesterday I arrived home on the last boat, after a weekend away, having stopped at the grocery store to pick up some atlantic salmon and a box of rice pilaf. Easy meal. We already had some brussels sprouts at home to go with it. I didn’t pick up extra groceries because I knew that I was headed right back off the island today for a dentist appointment. So what did I bring home for dinner tonight?  Rotisserie chicken. Our default dinner for days when neither of us wants to cook. We already had some (washed!) lettuce and spinach on hand, so I knew a salad would be quick to fix. I figured I would see what jumped out at me, in the store, to go with the chicken. (I used up the easy rice pilaf option last night.)

I couldn’t believe there was actually a package of potatoes called “Baby Boomer.” Cutesy packaging that I would have avoided, even if I am a boomer myself. But, they were only 99¢, a manager’s special, and I had a recipe for tiny potatoes that would cook fast. Into my cart they went.

The recipe, one Bruce served a month ago, is from Cook’s Country magazine. A most delicious lemony garlicky way to cook little red potatoes. (Though in this case the 99¢ Baby Boomers were white.) It only took about 20 minutes, made on top of the stove, which gave me time to whip up the salads and heat the rotisserie chicken. On a night when I really didn’t feel like cooking, I had a tasty dinner ready, with a cleaned up kitchen, in just 30 minutes.





Filed under Uncategorized

Home sweet home

What a great weekend learning about flame working and soft glass bead making. My mind is spinning with ideas and thoughts about setting up a flame working area of my own. But, let’s face it. It’s March in Maine. Not a time of ready income for those of us who are self employed. If I do get into making my own glass beads at home, it will not be for quite a while. It’s not something to rush into, but I have the bug. Good thing that Ed and Virginia offer Open Torch Time at their studio.


Open Torch Time — Studio Rental of Flameworking/Lampworking Facilities

Hourly torch and annealer rental… practice your skills with other lampworkers between classes in a friendly and creative space. Get to work with and try different torches. All tools are supplied… of course you may bring and use any of your own favorites too. Do bring your your own glass, or you may purchase glass from us.

Friday evenings 5:30 – 10pm – Call to reserve your space.
Other days/nights are often available as class schedules permit. Please Call! 594-7805

Open Torch Rate: $10/hour
Includes: Selection of torches, tools, didymium glasses, mandrels, digitally controlled annealing.


Looks like I may be spending a few Friday nights in Rockland. But right now I’m really happy to be home, and I am looking forward to going to bed early.


Filed under Uncategorized

Glass class day 2

The first thing we checked were our beads from day one, fresh out of the kiln. Still on their mandrels.


The colored bits of glass, on the end of the mandrels, were how we kept track of our beads after they went into the kiln to anneal. Each one of us had an identifying color.

Holly’s and my beads from day one.

Holly and I also made some head pins. 

I would have loved one more day of class, but real life calls us back after we pick up our last batch of beads in the morning. Holly heads south, I head north. Bye bye Rockland.




Filed under Uncategorized

So much fun…

…that we played with fire all day and all night. I can see how people get addicted to this!  I’ve always liked handmade glass beads, but I now have an even greater appreciation for the skill it takes to make them. We learned safety stuff first, then had some great demos by  Ed and Virginia, started making stringers, and finally decided to take a break for lunch at 1:30. No one wanted to stop working. We came back from lunch, more demos, and then we started to make beads. No one wanted to break for dinner, but since the only pizza delivery in town was Domino’s, the four students headed across the street for Mexican food. Which we ate as fast as we could so we could get right back to the studio. Finally deciding to leave by 10….or so.

Ed and Virginia’s studio. Playing With Fire.

Holly lights her oxy/propane torch for the first time. “Don’t take my picture, I’m too scared!”

“Oh, okay. That wasn’t so bad. Now you can take it.”

Virginia demonstrates how to make stringers:

Making my first stringer:

Holly and I learn the hard way, not to pick up stringers too soon!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Packing up for glass camp!

Well, actually  it is a beginning bead making/flameworking 2 day workshop at Playing With Fire, in Rockland, Maine.

Last fall, after taking a workshop together from  Celie Fago in Vermont, my good friend Holly Kellogg and I decided we would try to meet up again for another workshop. She lives in Connecticut and we have developed a really nice friendship over the years between our blogs and in seeing each other at conferences.  If we’re lucky in life, we get to meet people who are extremely nice,  talented, generous with their knowledge, and who have  a similar warped sense of humor. Sometimes the connection is so strong that you would swear you were sisters in a different life. That’s who Holly is for me.

I may end up hating glass as a medium, though that means I would have to dislike it more than paint.  Or I could end up redesigning my basement studio to accommodate a bench for flame work. With the price of silver at $37.55 this afternoon, I have to believe glass is less expensive to work with. But what do I know? Nothing about glass. That’s why I’m off to glass camp today on the 4 p.m. boat.

I’ve had this tool box for 37 years. I bought it in college to carry supplies to the one art class I took. (It’s what all the art majors were carrying and I wanted to fit in. Art major wannabe.)

Th tool box goes with me to workshops, craft fairs, and just about any artistic endeavor. This time, I figure it won’t melt if I drop some hot glass on it.

Tools I think I might need….or at least the ones I like to have with me whether I need them or not.

This is something I keep in my tool box, always. A little scrap of wood with sample stains for the deck of a ship model. My father was a model maker after he retired from Kodak, and he had bits like this all over his work bench. He passed away 15 years ago, but he always feels close when I grab my toolbox to head out on another artistic adventure.


Filed under Uncategorized


I spent the day off island visiting my mother. No appointments, no grocery shopping, no agenda other than catching up and having lunch together. I straightened up some things in her apartment and read her my latest Working Waterfront column. She knows the people to whom I refer and the island is a place she misses a lot. She is the person who first taught me about birds and familiarized me with the little blue Peterson’s Guide, so I know she liked hearing the parts about recent bird traffic on the island, too.

I came home to an empty house. Bruce left this afternoon to attend the  Canadian/US Lobstermen’s Town Meeting, in St. John, New Brunswick, sponsored by the Lobster Institute. I usually savor time alone in our house, and so does Bruce. It’s rare that we are both away, in different locations, at the same time, but tomorrow I am going to Rockland  for a weekend class in glass bead making at Playing With Fire. I won’t have even 24 hours by myself, and instead of savoring it I am actually feeling a little lonely. I am someone who craves time alone, rarely goes to someone’s house just to “stop by for a visit,” and dreads talking on the phone. Lonely is not a word I ever use to describe my feelings. So, tonight feels unfamiliar.

As I wondered what to post on my blog, I looked over some of my older photos. What really kept jumping out at me were the pictures of our sons, Robin and Fritz. It struck me how very much I miss them tonight. They are grown men, (grown island boys) living in cities, with wonderful women who love them. They like their jobs and they are competent and successful in them. All is as it should be and just as I would have wished for them. And here I am, taking some time to miss them and to feel lucky and grateful that I will always be their mom.

Robin and his fianceé Stephanie in Napa.


Fritz and Meghan last summer in our kitchen.


Boys being boys in Baltimore.


Filed under Uncategorized

A good day for earrings, but photos…

…not so much. I had a great morning in the studio, finishing some earrings with rivets, and some with copper pieces I had patinated last week. I spent the afternoon taking 118 photographs of 5 pairs of earrings I was planning to list on Etsy. I thought I was getting some good shots until I began to crop and edit them. Some were okay, but there weren’t 5 decent images of any one pair. Etsy will have to wait until next week, because I have something really exciting to do this weekend.

Silver was $36.97 today. Yikes. The cost of silver clay has become prohibitive. I’ve started thinking about sheet metal and simple fabrication. After an experiment with patina on copper discs, I decided to rivet them to some earring shapes I had cut from sterling silver sheet. I hammered the silver and gave it a hand finish, rather than a high polish. Not sure if I like the concave discs on this particular pair. The shape is from a template I made for toggle clasps, but it works out pretty well for an earring too.

I love the colors in the copper so much, that I decided to learn more about it. I’m waiting for the arrival of some patina solutions from Shannon LeVart at Miss Ficklemedia. The pdf file for the Color Drenched Metal tutorial is well written and looks like it will be easy to follow when my supplies get here next week.

Oh yeah…rivets!!

More copper discs with patina, mounted on PMC discs, mounted on beautiful glass head pins made by Sue Kennedy at SueBeads.

Hey Sue, check us out!

I had some copper discs lying around…. and I’m waiting to learn more about patinas….but I just want to keep riveting! Check out Sue Kennedy’s off-white glass head pins below. The white disc inside the rivet is some kind of bone. (I think.)  Sterling silver and gold filled head pins are used as rivets.

The photos below are the best of my worst ones. (Faint praise.) I didn’t feel like taking the time to deal with everything they were reflecting. That’s the problem with shiny silver and photography. I was happy with the decorative rivets, though.

Finger reflection and finger print….eeeesh. Not recommended.

Whoa baby!


Filed under Uncategorized

Special order

I’m finally getting around to finishing some work I promised a while ago. I love making beads with different designs on each side. They give me a chance to put together a necklace that can be worn two different ways. I textured the beads using silicone molds made from local objects. (On Islesford it doesn’t get much more local than rocks and cedar.)



Filed under Uncategorized