Monthly Archives: May 2011

Not just another foggy Saturday night

We’ve now seen the sun for two days in a row. Highly unusual this spring, and a welcome break the cold wet weekend. Despite the cold and fog on Saturday, people wandered down to the Town Dock around 6:30;  drawn by warm sounds, reminiscent of an evening the Caribbean.

The  Sunbeam was in.


And people were listening…


…to the energetic music of  Planet Pan, a steel drum band comprised of  high school students from the Blue Hill area.



Two seals even came by to see what was going on, but I was a split second too slow with my camera.



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It worked!

I had a great Memorial Day weekend, spending time with friends, baking, and even dancing to a steel band in the fog on the Town Dock. When I did get into the studio, it was super clean and organized, so I got right to work on repairs that had been hanging around for months. These are items that I did not make, but that people asked me to restring or repair, “whenever I get to it.” I’m delighted to say I cleared my bench of 5 necklaces and 3 pairs of earrings, all in the name of studio clean up.

In taking care of this business, I restrung a necklace I had made for my mother. It was a mixture of blue glass beads interspersed with a number of small sterling silver beads that had become quite tarnished. I used to toss those silver beads in a jar for “someday,” and pull out fresh shiny new beads for repairs. With the price of silver, (today $37.70/oz) I have not purchased new silver beads in a while, so it was time to face the dreaded clean up of tiny silver beads.  Have you ever tried removing tarnish from a 4mm bead with a polishing cloth? Hand cramp city. I remembered hearing about removing tarnish from silver by placing it in a pan with aluminum foil and something else. I had saved a little tutorial about this from a Beading Daily update I received by e-mail earlier this month. I followed the directions given by Beading Daily editor Jen VanBenschoten and it worked pretty well. Later, after the polished beads were back in place on my mother’s newly restrung necklace, I looked on the internet for more information about why this process works. I found the explanation I was looking for on I love having this kind of information at my fingertips  just as much as I love not having to hand polish all of these tiny beads.

Before: (If these look clean to you, I suggested clicking on the photo to enlarge it!)


I had stopped wearing this little necklace because I dreaded hand polishing the thin-linked chain. The shiny chain in the middle is for comparison:

Three little bits that were sitting on the windowsill in my kitchen, just waiting for this day:

Those bubbles mean business! Though, this worked better the second time, when the beads weren’t touching each other.


Ta Da!

And Ta Da!

The tarnish removing technique didn’t hurt the freshwater pearls at all. I did wonder why the little saucer beads between the pearls did not get clean (click to enlarge). Then I realized that the pearls kept them from coming in contact with the foil, so the chemical reaction did not work so well there. Still, it was a huge time saver. This trick is good to know.


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A really long day off island = a really short post on blog

Among the pieces I dropped off at Alone Moose today, was an asymmetrical necklace designed around one of the ceramic bird beads I bought from LeAnn Weih in her Summers Studio Etsy shop.


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“Honey, where are all of our little Pyrex dishes?”

“In your studio? Along with the other small bowls?”  This is a question Bruce asked me last week. I had to ‘fess up. Yes, all kitchen bowls of a certain small size were in my studio. All full of beads or doodads or whatnots. All in use. All holding something important, I thought, but what they were really doing was holding me back.

I am not good at focusing on one thing. A deadline helps, but even when I am faced with one, I will dance around the edges of whatever needs to be done, not quite able to sit still and accomplish the task at hand. Eventually I complete it, and sometimes I manage to finish a few other things I had no idea I was going to do.

This weekend the Alone Moose Gallery opens their doors for their 36th season in Bar Harbor. I have chosen the jewelry I’ll be taking over there tomorrow, but at 9:30 p.m. I still do not have it priced and inventoried. What the heck is the matter with me? I really hate doing this kind of work at night and this time I was determined to have all my pricing done before dinner. Didn’t happen. And now, here I am posting a blog before I finally get my work done for tomorrow.

But I did get all my little display cards made ahead of time, and that really is one thing finished on time.

The other thing I did was to empty out and return all the little bowls to the kitchen where they belong. (I have plenty of “studio little bowls” but they were also full.)

The last bits of the collection. Emptied and ready for the dishwasher.

It was no mean feat to get the dishes returned to the kitchen because it meant cleaning my studio. (Again.) When working with beads, one of the fastest ways to clean up is to dump the beads into a little bowl, to sort out later. This works for a while, until I run out of bowls and/or they take up too much space on my workbench. Without going into long detail, because I still have that jewelry to price, I sorted out beads from all these bowls, along with throwing out some magazines and rearranging some storage in the studio.  After 2 days, I have 3 very tidy work surfaces and the ability find things without making a bigger mess. Tomorrow I’ll be off the island, delivering my start of the summer inventory, getting groceries, and visiting my mother. My friend Susie will be arriving on the 4:30 boat, the same boat I’ll be taking. On Friday, there will be more people arriving for the holiday weekend. I’ll want to catch up with all of them, but if I get a few moments to work in the studio, I might actually be able to focus on what I’m doing. It is so much less distracting to have access to an uncluttered space.

After, after and after:


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Long time, no see

A friend, I had forgotten about, accompanied me on my walk this morning. At last!


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Colorful birds

are providing some nice compensation for the incredibly gloomy weather we have had all spring. (Yes, I know it could be worse. We don’t have flooding or tornadoes to deal with.) Yesterday the high temperature for the day was 48°. (That’s 20° below normal for this time of year.) The sun was out on Sunday for an hour or so, but it was gone before it set.

Waaah, waaaah, waaaah. Before it’s time to call in the waaahmbulance, I’ll tell you about the cool bird activity which has been taking place regardless of the rain, fog and cold weather.  There really is something to see any time I look out my window. We finally have a few pair of cardinals on the island and two of them frequent our bird feeder. Even when I don’t get a sighting, I can hear them singing most of the day. When they come to the feeder together, they do something I have only seen cardinals do. The male brings seeds to the female, and feeds her.


Pretty darn sweet.

Most people on the island keep track of the birds. Some more than others. My sister-in-law, Karen, arrived from Baltimore on Thursday and she has seen tons of warblers, already.  I can’t identify them like she can, but I did notice a Magnolia Warbler and a Myrtle Warbler (aka Yellow Rumped Warbler), before she got back to the island.

Watching the warblers is not as easy as looking out the window at the bird feeder. They hop around from branch to branch eating bugs and barely staying still for more than a few seconds. This is a good time of year to see them, with the leaves not all the way out on the trees. Karen keeps her binoculars handy most of the time. Today she stopped over to borrow some yeast and to play a quick game of Banagrams. At one point she picked up her binoculars and looked out the window. “There’s a Chestnut-sided warbler.” He stayed around and jumped along the ground for a bit so I could get a good look at him.

As Karen left, she looked again at the tree tops and said, “There’s a Blackburnian Warbler!” I had never seen one before and it took me a while to see him for myself, but I did.

Our Postmaster, Joy, has bird feeders galore and half the birds on the island stop by at her Post Office feeders. She had not yet seen the Rose Breasted Grosbeak, who kept me company last week, when she decided to add some black oil sunflower seeds to her feeder. (She has been spoiling the birds with her “meaties,” the already-shelled variety of sunflower seeds.) She figured the Grosbeaks liked opening their own seeds. I got a call from her on Monday. She confessed to successfully luring my Rose Breasted Grosbeak away with her fresh, unshelled bird seed. I might have missed the Grosbeak if I hadn’t had an equally colorful visitor to take his place on Sunday.

A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was enjoying the orange I had put out, in hopes of getting some of Joy’s Orioles to visit me.


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Having trouble remembering…

…the last sunny dry day.

I guess it could be worse…


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In yesterday’s mail…

…these sweet little ceramic beads I ordered from LeAnn Weih at Summers Studio. LeAnn and I are blogging buddies. She makes ceramic beads and pendants, and also works with bronze clay. I especially love her birds and I finally got around to ordering some from her.  There’s nothing like knowing you won’t be able to get something, to make you want it even more. I scored the last three birds LeAnn had in her Etsy shop. (LeAnn is about to move and her Etsy shop will be open again when she is settled in her new home.)

LeAnn’s beads look even better in person, and I really like the extra detail she puts into her packaging.

Having opened the box yesterday, at the end of a very tiring off-island day, I only looked long enough to admire the beads but then went on to fix dinner. I didn’t look any closer because I knew I would be checking them out in my studio this morning. When I took the beads out of their box this morning…surprise!

LeAnn had included an unexpected little collection of green/blue beads. How did she know these colors were my favorite?                    THANKS LEANN!!!

Up I went to the studio, to deal with a bead table that looked like this:

I ended the day with a much tidier workbench, several pairs of finished earrings and some necklaces I hope to finish tonight.

Since I have linked this blog to my FaceBook page, I noticed that the thumbnail photo that shows up on FB  is the last one I post on my blog. So, instead of advertising my messy workspace, I’ll end the blog post with this raven who watched me as I walked by this morning in the fog.


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Missing a day here and there

I did well keeping up with the Post a Day challenge until last week. I missed a day.  Then I missed another day yesterday. That’s life. The only one who might beat me up about it is myself, and I can’t be bothered with that.  Today I was visiting my mom off the island and yesterday I spent the day trying to pull my June Working Waterfront column together. I got it finished, but it took all day. I was lucky to have some colorful company just a few feet away.

The computer I write on is in our dining room. One of our bird feeders is just outside the window. This handsome rose breasted grosbeak stayed at the feeder most of the day. A bright spot on a gloomy rainy day.

This has been one of the wettest, coldest springs we’ve had in a few years. The forecast is for more of the same tomorrow. That sounds like spend-the-day-in-the-studio weather to me.


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Tiny beads ready for action

Out of the kiln and out of the tumbler.

The Pez beads have shrunk  about 12%.

The next step is to oxidize the beads to darken the recessed areas.

I did not oxidize the heishe beads, since only the edges will show and I want those to be bright.

After hand polishing the oxidized beads, the higher areas are bright silver. These beads are ready to go!


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