Saturday, February 28, 2009

Creative Every Day

Some of you may have noticed the "Creative Every Day" logo to the right of my Blog.

I should have shared & explained far earlier!! The wonderful Leah, a talented artist & a generous, encouraging person has a fabulous website & blog "Creative Every Day" . Here she shares what she has been doing & what has inspired her. She talks about the creative process & encourages others to take part in her "Creative Every Day" & "Art Every Month" challenges. Please click on the links & take a look around.

This is a fabulous concept & Leah's emphasis on 'low pressure' (you don't have to post every day, or even every week - it's open & it's up to you) makes it easy to take part. One of the most significant things is what Leah sees as creativity & the fact that it doesn't have to be art related. She means it in the broadest sense, including anything art related but also activities such as gardening, cooking, playing with your kids, decorating & so on.

Each month there is an optional theme to work to - February's was 'Words'. To begin with I wondered how on earth I was going to work that into my glass beads. January's theme of 'Play!' hadn't been too difficult at all - that's what I seem to do best at the torch!
I realised that I was instantly restricting myself with that thought & that typing here or writing in my journal was in fact still being creative.... so I let the thought of 'words' go for a wee while.

Later I realised that something else I had been encouraged to work on could be put to good use... to gain enough stringer control in this month to actually be able to write legibly on a bead, when I finally had that 'aha' moment. I did it!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Recent Loot!

Being productive has it's drawbacks! In between all the stringer control practice & forcing myself to break out of my 'safe zone', I need to find time to individually photograph a lot of these, work out prices & list them.

I also have a lot more that need sorting.

All I can say is thank goodness for a visitor on Wednesday - 4 sets are already sold!


Have I mentioned before that a certain cat that adopted us manages to keep me endlessly amused?
I mean for a cat that doesn't really do much & seems to live solely to eat & sleep, one would wonder what can be amusing about that.

When he is actually awake he only makes a noise for one of two reasons - he wants food, or one of his special rubdowns. The rubdowns look positively vicious to me, but they rid him of loose hair & Hercules the Hedonist enjoys them immensely! So much so, that the second the Mailleman walks in the door from work - he'll run to the door, turn to look at the Mailleman & give his very distinctive 'Meow' to get out there.

Come to think of it - every time the Mailleman walks outside, Herc lies down in his 'ready for a rub' position. Hedonist!

Nothing cracks me up as much as that cats sleep positions though! I don't think a day goes by when I don't take a photo of him sleeping....after all it is pretty much all he does!
Some of his positions even have names - although I don't have a photo of the one we call his 'road kill' position.

"Noooo - not that neighbour again!"

"Take Me - I'm Yours!"

"I was here first human!!"

A just so I don't seem to be playing favorites here is one of poor Bizkit. She certainly appears more dignified than she used to be before Herc walked into our lives...even if she is sitting on my newly sorted cross stitch flosses!

- even if it is just a cat needlework!"

Of course like any typical kid - he decides to come awake just when I want to snuggle down with my book.

"C'mon - you really don't want to read."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Something I've been working on - that isn't glass!

Some years ago I started a cross stitch....ok, for anyone who really wants the dreadful truth, it was a little over 9 years ago. This was a kit I had literally fallen in love with & lusted after.

Mum, being the wonderful enabler that she is, talked my Dad into getting it for me for Christmas.
That in itself was no mean feat as my Dad had a huge distrust of giving his credit card details over the phone & would just never allow it to be done. However, this kit had to be ordered from Australia & Mum, being determined that I was going to have this somehow, managed to talk him into making an exception for his little girl.

I clearly recall seeing it for the first time, after unwrapping it on Christmas Day & not being able to wait to get it started! In the meantime I just had to satisfy myself with a thorough exploration of the kit contents.

Pharoahs Pet Karen CouchmanPharaohs Pet by Couchman Designs - Chart

I duly started it in the evenings when babies were asleep & very quickly realised that I was not at all happy with the blue used for the 'night sky', however I plodded on. When I got bored with working on the sky I would work on part of the cats body. I was excited to be doing my first (& probably only) animal themed cross stitch after years of flowery designs, or delicate ladies.

The more I worked the sky, the more I realised that I really didn't think I could live with the colour. I know that the style of the design is representative rather than realistic, but it still didn't sit right with me.Rather than a nice inky navy blue, the floss used was a brighter royal blue (DMC-797 for those who know about such things). Eager to get to the face & eye's, knowing that a cross stitch really comes 'alive' once those are completed I kept on going.
Of course in true 'Deb' fashion once those were complete, I let the sky colour put me off....completely! The thought of undoing all that stitching in the icky blue that wasn't dark enough really got to me, so away it went.

The good news is that somewhere during the last few weeks I seem to have misplaced my 'anal perfectionist in everything I do' tendencies (but that is a whole different post, all about how perfectionism inhibits & holds you back!!). A couple of weeks ago I dragged "Pharaohs Pet" out & decided that of all the cross stitch UFO's I have, I really do want to finish this one.
I only get to stitch 4 hours per week if I'm lucky - but I will see this project completed.

Simply - because I can.

Pharaohs Pet Progess"Pharaohs Pet" Progress

The area outlined in blue is essentially what has been completed since revisiting this project, as of a week ago.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Inspiration from odd things

I'm the queen of 'odd' - believe me on this. I'm also the queen of 'easily amused'.

Back a few years ago when my nails were long & always painted I discovered what I thought was a really cool product - a colour shifting nail polish. It was imported from Australia, it had to be used over a black base coat, it was expensive & the full effect when painted was stunning.
Like the cars with the various colour shifting paint jobs (Harlequin, Mirage & such) this little beauty became a chameleon & changed it's look depending on how the light hit it.

Bugger the fact that I never wore green, blue or purple (or the hot pink , purple or bright orange of the second bottle...) on my nails, I also happily ignored the that fact most of the nail polishes in my collection were relatively safe neutrals that could be worn with pretty much anything & not scream too loudly - I had to have some of this stuff to play with. After all I'd been drooling over the colour shift paint jobs on some of the newer cars for a while....& this was the next best thing! Right?

Wrong! The nail polish was positively dangerous, I'd have been far safer driving one of the cars at 140kph in the city ;o)
The nail polish was dangerous because I'd find myself attracted to looking at it - especially when driving & every subtle nuance of light would cause those babies to change colour while manoeuvring the steering wheel. I'd find myself flexing & wriggling my fingers just to watch it change, before remembering that 'oops - I better watch the road'.
Yep - easily amused... & distracted it seems.

I eventually restricted it's use to one nail - thereby doing my bit for road safety.

A few days ago I was sorting through my drawers of nail polish bemoaning the fact that they were far too pretty to just dump & I came upon the wee bottles of colour shift polish sitting there amidst the later Holographic & other fancy types of polishes & marvelled at how frou frou this self proclaimed non- frou frou, practical girl really is at some things. I admired the fact that 5 years down the track this nail polish was still fluid & not set like a sludgy lump in the bottom of the bottle, so I figured I'd paint my nails one last time before trimming them to a respectable length.
I refuse to torch with nail polish on, knowing how flammable the stuff is - & how close I work to the flame. (I also secretly suspect that anyone who torches with acrylic or gel nails on has death wish).

This gives you an idea of a couple of the colours this polish shifts through (it took me ages to get just two reasonably representative shots on camera) & it also shows a cool blue-purple shade. The other colour also shifts, but somewhat more subtly from a champagne to a pale lilac - so the combination isn't as odd as it looks in the photo's. The colours can been seen more accurately on a car here.
All of this, of course, is really just to tell you how the colour scheme for these beads came about.

"Island Haze"

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Getting there...

To quote Hannibal's catch phrase ( of "The A Team" .... not Lecter!!!) "I love it when a plan comes together".

Monday, February 16, 2009

Breaking out the stash

Along the way of this journey in discovering the secret to stringer control (aside from the incorrectly perceived tedium of PPP) - I have discovered that in order to really learn, you have to get to know your glasses - intimately!

Not only does finding that sweet spot in flame matter - but how each glass reacts in that sweet spot. There is only one answer for that - try all the types of glasses that you have.

Of course this leads to 'what shall I use this stringer on' - which in itself leads to a whole new lot of experimenting. Because I seemed to be perverse & started with practising my control on small spacer size beads I made a lot of test beads. This in turn forced me to use something to 'pretty' up the base bead when practising with a plainer glass stringer - enter 'frit', which I have previously avoided like the plague, because I have had so little success with it.

"Thai Teal"
I think that has changed! Now I'm enjoying playing with stringer AND playing with frit.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Practise Practise Practise

yep - getting there! Actually I never realized just how addictive practising something over & over can become - & just how many unexpected side benefits there are to be gleaned from it.

A Break Away

from practising stringer control & time to play with some of the lovely, but challenging at times, Double Helix this case "Triton".

"Evening Flow"

Friday, February 13, 2009

Just doing what I enjoy

now that I am getting the hang of actually getting the stringer to go where I want it to. I'm also enjoying watching the bead shape & design naturally progress.


'Mahoro' means harmony, or peace. By the time I got to this bead that is what I was feeling, somewhere along the way stringer control had ceased to be a challenge & I knew that I just had to hone my skills with a lot of practise.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Learning Curve

A first attempt at a raised stringer design both in & on a softer glass, on a larger tube shaped bead.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It Might Seem Like

more of the same - but it's all about not just getting it 'on there' - but getting it one there in a manner that is balanced around the bead. What on earth am I talking about? Warm up exercises in stringer control & eventually being able to execute a controlled & balanced design in that particular elusive technique.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It's Been Head Down

bottom up this last week. I'm on a mission (& almost off the internet.... I did say 'almost', as I have listings & website maintenance to do), making up for time lost away from the torch during the school holidays.

I have a particular skill I want to master & the determination to do so, in part motivated by a recent challenge, is keeping me well occupied at the torch.

I do allow myself one fun 'non-challenge' bead per torch session though:

"Just Gravity"

This one is a further developing of the bead I tried at a torch session on the weekend. (seen in the post below)

Playing with glass

I have just learned that not all frit sizes are created equal when it comes to pulling & using stringer made from them!

What can have a fabulous reaction when a larger size frit is used - can really turn to custard when a smaller size is used. Still I like the contrasts of the reactions


Thursday, February 05, 2009

Raku Revisted

Determined that raku wasn't going to be a one night stand, or should that be 'a one hit wonder' & that there really must be a secret to getting consistant results with it, I played a little further.
This time I actually made notes as I played....yes I did say notes!!

I know - the thought of me writing down things while at the torch is really quite terrifying, hot glass glass popping everywhere, caffeine fix to the left, kiln to the right, Wilbur in my ear & pen & paper at hand - not directly under the torch so to speak, but close enough that it could cause concern.


I'm actually pleased with the results, even though these two are lacking the wonderful vibrant purple that seemed to pop on the tube bead I showed earlier.


Lets be honest here anything would be a vast improvement on this poor baby.

For the record, taking notes didn't make a huge difference.... well, not after I absently put my pen in the water jar ;o)

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

It's all about compromise

or perhaps I have been invaded by the Pink Fairy.
It was with much amazement that in my travels taking the pre-teen to her new school yesterday morning, I spotted a rather pink car parked a wee way up the road. Even though I was turning to head in the opposite direction my mind absorbed the details (over & above it's vibrant colour!) & realised that it was the shape of times past.
So later I came home, grabbed my camera & went & took a photo of it!

OK - so it's not a colour I'd choose for a beauty like this - but the very first thought that went through my head was "Hey that'd be the perfect combination for the "Mallory & Deb" version of Thelma & Louise. The mailleman later asked if he could be Brad - I said "nope , the 3rd person would have to be Ang"! Of course our road trip would have a far better ending....probably with Ang & I deciding what the next colour should be ;o)

As if that is not enough pink for one year - today I made a trip to the dreaded mall to get myself some business supplies....doesn't that sound professional?? (actually it was a Portfolio to help with planning my time). Of course I was in a book store so just couldn't help but notice some interesting titles as I went past the shelves.
The title caught my attention - then I realised that the book was pink.

"With a title like "Can we help it if we're fabulous?" - who could resist. Picking it up & glancing inside I found myself letting out not so subtle sounds of barely suppressed laughter. I suspect I am going to have to buy this book very soon - even if it is pink!
Check out the link above to Peta's website to read a bit more about it & find out about the personality that is Peta (a well known TV presenter & chef here in NZ) or here to read the official blurb.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Playing With Pink

Time to break out from the neutrals that I so seem to gravitate towards & take myself out of my comfort zone.
To me this means playing with pink - so I played....

Of course I couldn't stick to the original plan so I played some more...& fumed the poor pink to orange ;o)

They're back...

And I am so insanely pleased to know that I wasn't the only one that was obviously rejoicing in the fact that school was about to again.
The ultimate "you know you are not alone" comes the National newspapers are publishing cartoons of the very same thing....

Sunday, February 01, 2009

It's The Final Countdown! --->

...or how to turn a financial lemon into a Margarita (or even a tequila shot)

Oh dear - another School Year about to start. One goes out shopping or to a cafe & all you hear are the wailing laments of parents bemoaning the outlay & cost of School Uniforms & the dreaded School Stationary lists.

Ok - well maybe I over dramatized that bit. But you do see a fair share of eye rolling & hear gasps of shock at the prices of things. This is even worse when they get to Intermediate or High School.

You mention School Uniforms & Stationary shopping to a friend casually & you are greeted with "I know - such & such just spent $500.00 on the summer unform & then blah blah blah on the's DISSSgusting"
. In the past I must admit to having at least thought the same more than once.

But that was when I worked outside of the family home.....&, well I guess I kind of analysed how many hours at work it was costing me to pay for a school uniform & stationary.
I have even been known to stand there in a queue with everything crossed hoping that I have enough money in my account to pay the total at the checkout....without the hideous embarrassment of having to put something back ;o)

Well let me tell you - this last lot of l-o-n-g school holidays has been enlightening! Completely. Aside from a severe case of yo-yo butt (now an official entry in the Dictionary of Deb), where upon every time my butt would hit a chair to type or torch, I would promptly be interrupted with "Mum...can you/can I/can we", I have felt a sharp shift in my outlook.

So, earlier this week, with a spring in my step, I gleefully went shopping for Gabriela's Intermediate Uniform.....$100.00 for a skirt?....who cares. $80.00 for the jersey wonderful. "$30.00 for the polo with the school logo? - hey I'll have TWO of those thanks." "Oh yes we definitely want the sports uniform as well" & so on.

Thursday it was Stationary time - so instead of the usual manic round of scouring the latest circulars to see who was supplying all the products needed for the cheapest price & then tiki touring around the city to buy them , I went with the notoriously more expensive idea of buying them direct from the school instead.

Down to the School Office, we swanned & I asked for the complete Stationary pack. "Are you sure you wouldn't like to check the list & see if there is anything she might have at home?" I was asked. "No - it's fine" I replied "it, doesn't hurt to have doubles to fall back on".

So why the shift in attitude? I'll tell you - because I am the worst Mother one could possibly imagine.... I need some 'me' time without yo-yo-butt syndrome....I
need to be able to focus on all that I want to achieve this year without constant interruptions & drama's. I need to be 'Deb Uninterrupted' instead of 'Mum' a few hours a day! Slowly it had dawned on me that when they went back to school I'd be getting that 6 hours per day of freedom.

I then started pondering that perhaps the cost of uniforms & stationary (& later school supplies costs & school fee's) was worth that 6 hours a day freedom.
I even got carried away enough to do the Math!!! Now anyone that knows me will know that I absolutely hate math - it's a foreign language to me. So for me to willingly engage in some multiplication & then the dreaded division was nothing short of astounding. Oh yes - freedom is certainly a good motivator!

I have just discovered that to keep Miss Gabriela at School for a year - a total of 1158 hours of freedom is costing me....

a grand total of......

are you ready?

$1.92 per day - or 32 cents an hour! That is New Zealand dollars & cents people - so at the current exchange rate against the US dollar you can approximately halve it!!

Oh I might have just paid $115.00 for the School kilt made of what is possibly the ugliest tartan in existence - but hey I'm happy ;o)
Actually I'm almost bouncing ....

Disclaimer: I really do love my kids, but seriously 6 weeks & two days continuously at home over Summer??? And these holidays have been particularly stressful - just believe me on that!