Spring Cleaning in (almost) August

It is time for a bit of cleaning in the studio.  I boxed up 123 beads and shipped them off to Beads of Courage today.  It was cleansing to say the least.  Many of the sets were my best and most special pieces.  While cleaning, I found my personal stash of bracelet connectors.  Originally, I saved these with the intentions to create something fabulous.  Time passed and life got busy.  What can I say, the "best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry".  So here is a chance to take advantage of my procrastination.  I'm offering the 3 connectors in a bundle deal on Etsy.  They are perfect for bracelet or necklace projects:

The connectors usually price for $35-$40 each, however the listing is priced well below individual retail... someone will be getting the deal of the century.  As always, free shipping to the US.  If you are a lampworker and like the honeybee design, visit Kerri Fuhr's site for the tutorial.  All the best and happy beading!


A scupltural demo requested by Kelly.  He measures approx. 6.5cm x 4.5cm x 4cm.  The process involved sculpting the shape, color encasing, then flame enameling.  He comes with his own sign:

Limited Custom Orders

Classes begin August 26th, so I have a few weeks of down time between sessions.  I will be accepting limited custom orders.  If you have a special request and would like to get on the schedule, please send me a convo via Etsy:


As always, it is first come first serve for scheduling custom orders.  

Happy Beading,

Love is in the Air No.3

I'm getting old or my memory is going.  I had to pull my sketch book to look up the title for this design from years back.  Maybe it is just a side effect from creating thousands of beads?  No matter the name, I know he will be loved in his new home.

Baby Hedgehog

"Baby Hedgehog"
 2.4 x 2.1 x 2.2 cm

Fresh from the kiln and ready for the woodland.  The design sketch was pretty straight forward, however the color palette had me second guessing choices of glass from the start.  Truth be told, I changed the colors at the last minute.  The soft-bristle coat features grays, browns, black, gold, and ivory in a complex cane.  I bounced back and forth on the main body color until settling on a limited run from CiM.  The cheeks, well they are adorable...  all said, I'm thrilled with how the little guy turned out.

Welcome to Paradise

 "Welcome to Paradise"
3 x 3.7 x 2cm
Soda-lime glass, enamel; flameworked glass bead.

The concept of my latest work arose from the desire to create a nature inspired, sculptural piece based on a Dionaea muscipula, aka Venus flytrap.  The original design featured a mosquito hawk (see image below), but as with most of my initial pieces changes are made, techniques are tested and it is back to the drawing board.  Pictured above is the second design featuring a common housefly.  I feel it better captures my intended humor, thus coining the title:  "Welcome to Paradise".

"Dionaea muscipula"
Soda-lime glass, enamel; flameworked sculpture. 
5.5 x 7 x 2 cm

Spotted Pansy

A two part floral demo from class.  Next week we will be working on leaves and frit accents to complete the floral set.  The focal would be perfect for an elaborate stringing project or crocheted necklace. 

Day at the Beach Tutorial PDF - Now Available

The "Day at the Beach" Tutorial packet is complete!  The E-book is a compilation of 14 Beach/Ocean Themed Designs – included in this booklet are step by step TEXT instructions for intermediate to advanced flameworkers, 1 high-quality color photograph of each completed focal, a sketch booklet containing of each design in a 5-step progression, and helpful tips. In addition, I include all Effetre names and numbers used throughout the tutorials. All of the glass referenced in this book is COE-104.

 A preview of the tutorials found in the eBook.

The eBook includes a printable sketch packet.  Example from the Spring Tutorial:

Why a printable sketch packet?

First, the packet illustrates the bead detail from start to finish. I wanted to give the reader a look into my world of glass design. I’m hoping the illustrations will help the reader become more adventurous and think outside the box. I suggest purchasing a set of colored pencils to experiment with the endless color options.

Second, I wanted to create an inexpensive booklet which includes a multitude of tutorials for intermediate to advanced students, who are unable to travel for classes/workshops. Also, I didn’t want to waste the readers time and their printer ink with instructions on “how to” create a simple round bead or press a lentil. I hope the innovative tutorial sketch concept is embraced by readers.

The packet is available via instant download through Etsy.


I have to apologize for the photography... it was unable to capture the beauty and depth of the Double Helix original Terra.  The luster of Gaia is also beyond lovely!

Anyone for a Dive?

 Waterlogged by all the ocean posts?  If not, strap on your fins and grab the goggles.  The water is perfect for exploring the Koh Toa Reef in Thailand.  Better yet, save on airfare and join us in Mesa, AZ this weekend for a special ocean themed workshop!
 Giant Red Devil
So strap on your fins, seal those goggles, and let’s explore - See more at: http://www.touropia.com/best-island-reefs-around-the-world/#sthash.XEoRuVAD.dpuf


Gearing up for the "Day at the Beach" Workshop this weekend.  So many ocean themed focals coming out of the kiln, not enough time in the day to photograph it all!  Seriously, I need to take a second to tap the sand out of my shoes...

The expanded tutorial PDF with accompanying sketch packet will be coming soon to Etsy for those of you unable to attend the workshop.  Here's wishing you a sunkissed weekend!

Shell Design

A hollow form is usually perfect for creating a sea shell, however what if a lampworker is hollow-challenged?  The design came about to help students create a shell without the frustration of perfecting hollows. 


When listing project ideas for the "Day at the Beach" workshop, a mermaid's tail seemed fitting.  What better way to capture the shimmer than with a magenta/blue dichroic glass. 

Retro Black Cherry No. 3

Revisiting a popular set from the past.  The updated design features the same lush color palette with the addition of pink and gray.  I threw in a set of mini hearts, perfect for a pair of earrings or charm dangles.  Almost forgot, the beads are fully detailed on both sides, so either way they flip, they will look fabulous!
Full Set View

Star Spangled with a Sparkle

"Ol' Glory" is the bead design demo for class this week.  Hard to believe it is almost July 4th.  Hope everyone has a safe and happy week!

Exciting News!

 Ben Browne, a friend and fellow glass geek, is now on Etsy!  Check out his shop:
Ben Browne Art
Starting this Fall, Ben will be offering workshops at the Mesa Arts Center.  His innovative mind is truly a gift.  I expect to see great things come from his desire to push the creative limits of glass.  His passion for art extents to photography.  Feel free to convo him via Etsy for custom work and professional photography pricing.  (Photograph courtesy of Ben Browne Art)

The World is your Oyster

I have been working on sketches of sea life for an upcoming workshop titled "Day at the Beach".  I kicked around some thoughts on sea shells and taking them to another level of fun.  Our last trip to San Diego, while chasing miniature crabs, the kids found a slew of oyster shells in the sand.  The two seemed like a fun combination. 
After 6 sketches, ranging from silly to life like, I settled on something in between.  The exterior is a silvered ivory so to shimmer in the light, yet dark enough to cast a gray hue.  The oyster's open half is filled with one of my Double Helix favorites, Kronos.  The crab was formed from 1mm, bright red stringers.  Small doesn't begin to accurately describe the little guy.  Leg to leg, he measures 14mm x 15mm.  Total time to torch: 1.5 hours. 
The finished focal would look fabulous paired with a strand of shimmery pearls.  I could imagine him on display, surrounded by sand, beach glass and shells.  Or how cute would it be to incorporate the focal on the handle of an oyster knife!?  No idea where he will end up, but I love the thought of someone flipping over the shell to find the silly little guy!

Urban Haute

A mix of turquoise, emerald, lemon, and pumpkin, accented by silvered ivory.  The simple color palette is one of my favorites.  Enjoy!

pOrtrait - ISGB Exhibit

"Looking Glass"

In February, the ISGB posted a call for portrait beads:  
 "A portrait is a painting, photograph, sculpture, or other artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. The intent is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the person. How does that translate into glass?  With or without the face and the expression, the artistic impression of what one sees in the mirror looking back, as a personal portrait whose story unfolds in the molten glass. That which depicts the deepest part of one’s own personality in how it is shaped, its color, the extent of its embellishment. In a single bead, the ‘face and expression’ of the artist as if to say "This is who I am. This is what I want you to see in me." Portrait is a personal artistic journey of the artist’s self. The artist’s self-portrait in glass. This exhibition will open in conjunction with the Gathering in Houston, Texas."  -ISGB Website

Busy with life, I didn't hear about the call for entries until mid-April.  Talk about a slow start!  With the due date to enter looming (May 8th), my mind began to swim with ideas.  "Looking Glass" soon emerged from the kiln, and I couldn't be more happy with the portrait focal.  The bead was accepted for the exhibit and goes on display during The Gathering in Houston, TX. 

Forest's Path

A secret door on the forest's path, covered in moss with weathered edge.  Where does it lead?  To another world, point in time, a far away place from the here and now?

Lessons Learned from an Antique Key - Class Notes

Years back, I attempted to create a trapped bead on a key.  Being self taught, the initial project was full of valuable lessons.  Here are a few gems of knowledge for flameworkers attempting to create a trapped bead on an antique key.
Key Jargon for Reference:
 "Bow" - the part of the key a person turns or handles.
"Bit" - the part of the key which operates the lock.
"Shank" - the part of the key connecting the bit and bow.
What to look for when buying a key: 

  1. Shank:  The shank design is very important.  A hollow-barrel shank can receive a heavily dipped mandrel.  Try to avoid trapping bubbles in the bead release.  During heating, the trapped air expands and will "blow" the dried release directly out the end of the key barrel.  The sound and blast of hot air is very startling.  I suggest gently warming the barrel and wet bead release during the drying process to let the air expand and bubble out the end of the shank, near the mandrel.   
  2. Patina:  The patina helps to indicate the key's make up.  A dark patina usually indicates the key is made from cast iron.  Newer keys made of nickle/zinc alloys are not recommended for flameworking, and can shatter under the intense heat of a torch.
  3. Bow:  The bow gives a clue to the age of the key.  Circa 1800-1900, the bow of keys were commonly curved and smooth.  Bows can feature designs such as trifoils, bishop's miters and crosses. 
  4. Size:  Smaller keys are easier to balance on a mandrel.  The weight of larger keys can quickly wear upon a flameworker's fingers and wrist.  Keys between 1-2 inches are recommended.
  5. Quality:  The craftsmanship of the key will be reflected in the final project.  I tend to look for keys with unique bits and bows.  Some keys have tapered shanks and added fluting.
Upon locating the right key for the project, choose a mandrel that loosely fits the key's hollow barrel shank.  A good rule of thumb is to pick a mandrel 1/16 inch smaller than the barrel opening.  Dip the mandrel in bead release and insert into the key shank.  Be sure not to trap air in the barrel (refer to tip #1 above).  Place the flame dried dipped mandrel upright in a cup of sand until the key has cooled.  It is important for the key to be on the same axis as the mandrel's axis line. 
Once the bead release is dry and the key is cool, use a paint brush to coat the key's shank with bead release.  The final step of preparation will allow the glass to adhere to the shank during flameworking. 
Note:  A heavy coating will allow the bead to later spin freely on the key.  A light coating will keep the bead trapped in place on the key without movement.  I suggest using a gray Sludge Plus, Dip & Go. 
Upon drying, the key is ready for the bead of your choice!  After creating a bead on the key, place the "key" mandrel in a 950'F kiln to anneal.
Once the cooled key emerges from a long soak in the kiln, clean the bead release with a mild soap and water solution.  A soft bristle brush comes in handy when cleaning the bit.
I hope you have enjoyed these notes from a recent class.  Feel free to email me with any questions.  Always remember, you are in charge of your own safety!

Happy Beading,

Shimmer No.1

A shimmery set of example beads for an upcoming class on dots and stringers.  I will be making room in the glass cabinet for some limited edition runs, a few odd lot bundles and refilling some favorite colors.  Very sunny, bright and happy, opposite of the colors in a recent set:  cool, crisp, and clean.  

Summer Berries

Examples for the class demo tonight.  We will be covering the glass color palette which best mimics life-like raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries.  We will also discuss the bennefits of flameworking the berries on headpins or mandrels.  Lastly, the berry demo to wrap up the night, followed by questions/answers.

Bead Exchange - June 2014

The ASGB Bead Exchange theme for June is "dots".  I kicked around a few ideas before settling on the technicolor beauties above.  Looking forward to seeing all of the dotty designs on June 22nd at the Mesa Arts Center.  Come and join us! 

Let's get Organized!

The Work Space:
Have you ever heard the saying, “Organized people are just too lazy to look for things”?  Well, let’s be lazy together!  Here are some helpful ideas for organizing the clunky shaped tools and supplies necessary for flameworking.

Posting Project SketchesA magnetic board holds sketches or tutorials for design reference while at the torch.  Available at a local office supply store, craft store, or online retailer.  Make sure the board is mounted away from the reach of the flame.  Paper and fire do not mix! 

Stringer Storage:  Kitchen utensil holders can be used to store bundles and bundles of stringers.  Pictured above is the OXO holder, available at Bed, Bath & Beyond or online retailer.  The stainless steel holder features a “Lazy Susan” base, allowing for quick access to stringers.  Transparent stringers in the holder on the left, opaque stringers in the holder on the right. 
Glass Rod Storage:  Plastic Rectangular Downspouts cut down to 15 inch length sections and stacked in a cabinet.  The downspouts can be cut and purchased at a local home improvement store.  Make sure to use a hair dryer set on cold or air compressor to blow out the plastic flakes from the cutting process.  The cabinet is a kitchen island from Ikea. 
Bead Presses:  A stair-step spice organizer works wonders for holding presses.  With the ascending display of tools, labels can be easily read when locating a press.  Available to purchase from a kitchen store or online retailer.
Mandrels:  Ceramic Mugs filled with dried rice or sand to hold pre-dipped mandrels.  Multiple mugs can be used to organize small, medium, and large mandrels or blowing tubes. 
Mashers and Rollers:  A stainless steel hanging bar with “s” hooks can be used to hang any tool with a hole.  Loop a piece of twine through the handle and then hang on the hook.  The bar including mounting brackets and separate “s” hooks can be purchased from Ikea, online retailers, or local home store.

Murrini, Enamel and Frit:  Plastic storage containers are a wonderful solution for organizing anything small.  If you purchase murrini, make sure to label the containers for re-ordering the correct color or variation.  If you make your own murrini, label the containers with the glass recipe for making additional murrini.  Available at most hobby stores in the jewelry/beading department.

Bead Caddy:  Displays and organizes current projects, marbles, cabochons, and “orphan” beads.  Great for holding example beads for size reference while making pairs or sets at the torch.  DIY project: wood, dremel, paint, screws, felt and a bit of elbow grease.