Saturday, February 27, 2010

Glass: Pittsburgh Glass Center

If you have never tried lampworking or any other glass technique, you should try it. I've taken a few classes at the Pittsburgh Glass Center -- lampworking, fusing, stained glass, and paperweights. I didn't do it enough to get good at anything, but it is really fun. Someday when I have more money, more time, and more space I will try lampworking again.

Check out their class listings.  If you're in the Pittsburgh area, you can take a one-day or multi-week class. However, even if you're from somewhere far away, they offer week-long intensive classes for all skill levels. Make a vacation out of it!

Artist: Adebanji Alade

In honor of the sketch crawl I was going to participate in today but decided I didn't want to drive an hour both ways in the snow to get there, you can look at these incredible sketches from Adebanji Alade. Just looking at these makes me want to practice, practice, practice so I could try to become a tiny fraction as good as he is. 
He offers many tips for anyone who wants to sketch people you run across in your daily travels...subway, coffee shop, wherever.
Check out this sketch that he turned into a color mixed-media piece. Look at the green on the brim of the hat. Gorgeous!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Artist: Lynda Moseley, SCDiva on etsy

Lynda Moseley, aka SCDiva on etsy, has recently come up with faux jade polymer pieces that everyone loves. I bought her green jade Koi focal bead and it arrived yesterday. It is as smooth as glass! It prompted me to buy her finishing tutorial so I can learn her secrets!
She has done a lot of transfers on polymer...check out these super cute "circus" beads.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Projects: Necklace with Clare Scott beads

I got Clare's beads in the mail last week and bought all the "fixin's" for them over the weekend. I have a loose idea in mind but haven't started putting it together yet. You'll see photos when it's finished...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Travel: Weekend Trips

Rob and I like to go to far or nearby places, find a nice bed and breakfast to stay in, and explore the area for a weekend. We're about to go off on a belated Valentine's trip so in honor of that, and Shaun White's gold medal on the half-pipe, you can read a Shaun White tidbit and my mildly humorous observations in the tale of another weekend getaway.
You can read about other weekend trips by clicking on the white city names here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New Beads: Focals

I'm on a new kick and really liking the results!
See a few others on my flickr page.
These will be on my etsy site soon.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Earrings: More pretty ones!

Hmm...I wonder why I like these so much?! All from Nancy Jones of ByTheBead on

Photography: Cheap "photo box"

In the summer it's easy to take pictures of my beads. I head outside and the sun does all the work. But when winter set in this year with the typical Pittsburgh gray skies, I had trouble getting good shots of my beads.
My mother bought me a photo box last year but it's a bit larger than I can leave up on a permanent basis. And when I tested it, the lights weren't quite bright enough and there was a glare. I'm sure all that can be worked out but without a permanent spot, it's a fair amount of trouble to set it up for only a few items at a time.
These lamps from IKEA solved my problem. I bought this set for my nightstands and then discovered that with a Philips "Naturally Light" 75 watt "daylight" bulb in each, they provide enough light for my photos and the frosted glass takes care of the glare problem.

I place them on my kitchen counter below two recessed light for additional lighting power. (Make sure you get the two lamp set. IKEA sells a smaller version as a single item but it won't work because it only takes a 40 watt bulb and that's not enough light.) Unfortunately IKEA doesn't sell the set online.
See the picture above for the set up. I put my beads between the two lights or in the corner created by putting the two lights next to each other. I use a white Tyvek envelope or a paper towel for the white base.
I usually have to do a tiny bit of additional brightening in Photoshop but pretty minor. It's a great wintertime solution! Here is an image straight out of the camera and the same image after I tweaked the levels and brightness in Photoshop.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

DSfDF: Portrait of Karin Jurick

Jill Polsby organized a follow-up challenge/thank you to Karin Jurick for hosting and managing the year-end Different Strokes Portrait Challenge. Jill contacted as many of the participants as she could to see if they wanted to do a portrait of Karin to be included in a book for Karin.
My portrait is at left and you can view them all on Picasa.
Susan Carlin got fancy with hers...look how clever it is.

Monday, February 8, 2010

New Beads: "shotgun" shells

I made a new style of bead this weekend that I call "shotguns" because they reminded me of a shotgun shell. Not that I'm all that familiar with shotgun shells but it was the first thing that popped into my mind. I named the red-orange-gold pair at top "Kimono Shotguns" which sounds pretty Tarantino-esque, don't you think? As you can tell I love color and pattern! 
I made disk beads out of the red-orange-gold sheets and they sold a few hours after I posted them.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Scrap clay: no such thing!

I had a previous post about "scrap" clay being my preferred way to work with the clay. Here's a what-it-started-as and what-it-became photo.

Elegant: Bonnie Tsang Photography

If you ever wanted to feel like you stepped out of the pages of a fancy magazine, get your photo taken by Bonnie Tsang. I go to her site occasionally just to look at all the spectacular photos.
I really like her "engagement" sessions like the one at right. They don't have any of the fancy wedding flowers, tables, decorations and such but they still look just as elegant and interesting. Very nice!

Saturday, February 6, 2010


I awoke to a 50-degree house this morning and discovered that the power was out due to the ginormous snowstorm that hit the east coast last night.

The power was not totally out, however. Lights came on at half-brightness and the TV would stay on for a short while then cut out, but the blower on the furnace wouldn't work at all. As the day went on, the house got colder and colder.

When the sun came out I took advantage of the warmth to shovel the driveway. There was about 17"...over the top of my snowboots to just under my knees.  See more pictures on my flickr page.

The temp inside was down to 44 degrees this evening when the power finally came back on around 7pm. I was already under the covers (+ 4 extra blankets) reading by half-light wearing sweatpants and socks, a long-sleeved t-shirt, sweatshirt and hoodie with a blanket over my shoulders. I also had the water dripping from two faucets to prevent freezing.

Thank you for getting my power back on, Duquesne Light linesmen!

Friday, February 5, 2010


You can make a decorative "word cloud" with a click of the mouse, like the one at left.
Cut and paste your favorite poem, a piece of writing, or all your friends' names, click the button and in a flash, there's a cool design with all your words. You can even change colors, fonts, and tweak the layout of the words.

You can save a screen shot but better yet, print it to PDF (go get a PDF maker if you don't have one at
The resulting file is vector! How cool is that? That means you could use the design to create vinyl cutouts, t-shirts, enlarge it to the size of a poster or banner, etc.
(The FAQ says it is legal to make money with the designs, you just need to list the URL with the design.)

Brains: Theory of intermittent reward

Here is something very unusual. If you google this phrase, "theory of intermittent reward," only one link comes up (only one? I didn't even know that was possible anymore!).

I find it odd that there's so little reference to it because it's the one thing I remember most from Psych 101 in college. It explains so much about human compulsive behavior (gambling, whining children, people who stay with abusive partners, etc). It's a BF Skinner theory (I think) and perhaps it has a more official name but I couldn't find a simple explanation of what I remember learning anywhere but on this page. (Start reading at the yellow highlight* or you can click on the picture at left.)

In short, it's the idea that the unpredictable reward is more alluring than one at even intervals. The subject never knows when the reward is coming, so they can never be sure when or if the rewards have stopped. They think "maybe next time I'll get what I want" so they never stop hoping. This takes many forms... "Maybe this time the slot machine will make me a winner," "Maybe mom will give in if I whine long enough," "Maybe my boyfriend will be nice to me again," etc.

How does this theory apply to my life? It's why I'm so addicted to checking my page. I click on it multiple times a day to see if a sale has occurred while I wasn't looking. Because the time between sales is unpredictable (it might be 5 minutes, 5 days, or 5 weeks), there is always the chance that THE VERY NEXT TIME I look, my sale number could be higher. As a result, I never tire of checking it. I'm like the little rat pushing the bar in hopes that next time I'll get that pellet! I guess we can just be thankful that OCC (obsessive craftcult checking) is not harmful.

*The picture and link are from a 1985 story by Gary Diedrichs called "Love in the 80's, In Praise of Dangerous Women" in Orange Coast Magazine

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tips: Link Within!

I just learned how to make the "you might also like" links under my blog posts! I've seen them on other sites and wanted to have them on mine. Just now I noticed the link under the pictures on someone else's blog. It led me to this link. You just click nd the software will load! How easy is that? Yay!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Cool: Moo Cards

If you have not heard of Moo cards, or if you've heard of them but not yet ordered, I say hop to it! I finally ordered a set of business cards and they are great! Every image can be different -- if you have 50 photos you want to use, you can do it. I don't know of any other place that lets you print one of each design.
The paper is really thick and has a super smooth matte finish (I got the regular paper, not the green option). The process is fool-proof -- you can select your etsy photos from inside the moo set-up page. It could not be easier!
You can order 10 free cards here, but why bother? Take my word for it, they're really nice. You'll like them. Just go for the 50 pack!


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