Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dear Santa. Say it with Scrabble Tiles.

Dear Santa. What a cute idea for holiday decorating or a page in your scrap book. Customers ask for different combinations of letters, some of which I can fill, and this recent request was just too sweet. I loved the idea and I made a few special listings of them in my shop on Etsy. What will you wish for this Christmas?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Making a Difference. My niece, Maddie and her struggle to solve the puzzle.

When life throws you a curve ball, whip out your ukulele and start strumming.

That's what my then 16 year old niece did when she fell ill last September, or she would have done if she had her uke back then. My sister, Maddie's mother, called me one evening a couple of weeks after a family reunion to ask me about the symptoms of mono, something I had when I was Maddie's age. It was diagnosed as a viral infection.

But Maddie's symptoms grew from the initial fatigue, to severe shocks in her feet and lower legs, to the sensation of a 300 pound rugby player, who I think she named "Oscar", sitting on her chest.

The conditions worsened still, some of a private nature, and still others of an ocular nature. The pinches and shocks continued to progress up to her waist. The pain was excruciating. The symptoms progressed to the point that Maddie needed a wheelchair and a first floor bedroom because it had become too difficult and too painful to use the stairs in their century-old Victorian home.
Maddie has some awesome custom Converse!

There were countless middle-of-the-night trips to the ER, lots of blood work, several MRI's, a CAT scan, spinal taps (yes, plural) all of which left the doctors and specialists in some of the finest medical institutions in the Eastern US scratching their heads. There have been many helpful and compassionate professionals along their journey who have helped my sister navigate the complicated path of contacting specialists who may have held the secret piece of the puzzle that would put Maddie on the path to recovery.

There have also been some very large disappointments from some highly regarded specialists who reviewed Maddie's MRI's, inspected her without regard to Maddie's self-esteem, and after 5 minutes of their time told my sister the problem was all in Maddie's head, that she was a psych case. Still, there were others who suspected my sister of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, which meant they accused her of intentionally harming her own daughter to gain whatever satisfaction there is to gain from something as despicable as that.

The struggle to diagnose Maddie endured through February when at some final point of insistence a medical professional finally listened to my sister and reviewed the growing mass on the 3 MRI's Maddie underwent in the 4 month long journey, all of which had been reviewed by physicians and surgeons, specialists, if you will, who all discounted it as "inconsequential".

And it was malignant.

Maddie underwent surgery where they removed her thyroid; the tumor was that large, having been allowed to grow for 4 months. She underwent radiation therapy, which is scary stuff because they tell you that no one can be near her, or touch her or touch what she touched for about a week. And the pillow has to be tossed out afterward, along with the sheets. But she survived, and that's what we care about.

And we all prayed and held our breath, and hoped and wished and crossed fingers that Maddie would start to regain those things she'd lost. And some things were showing signs of coming back. She could walk better, for example. Her eyes were better. Some of the symptoms lessened. But there were other things that weren't getting better. She could no longer hold down food so she was fitted with a feeding tube.

And then it all started slipping back again. The tingling, the ocular disruptions, the breathing, and the fatigue were returning.

The diagnosis didn't end with cancer.

Two months after Maddie's diagnosis of cancer, by which time the cancer had metastasized to her lymph nodes, the surgeons and specialists all agreed that the paralysis was not due to "mental stress", but rather the paralysis was due to her being sick with cancer. Eventually, after almost a year of debilitating and paralyzing symptoms, Maddie was diagnosed with paraneoplastic syndrome (things that occur around a cancer, or "Neoplasm"), a condition related to cancer where the body mistakenly attacks healthy cells.

After the dismal experience at Johns Hopkins where the care Maddie received was not in line with the stellar reputation the hospital has maintained, my niece was referred to Mayo Clinic in Minnesota where once again we hold high hopes that the caring and compassionate specialists there will solve the riddle that Maddie's body holds; specialists in paraneoplastic syndrome.

Again, we'll pray and hold our breath, and hope and wish and cross fingers that Maddie will start to regain those things she's lost. We'll have confidence that the specialists in this particular case will be able to positively treat Maddie with the compassion she deserves and the results we're all wanting for her.

I have a donation box on the right sidebar of my blog to help fund the expensive journey my sister and Maddie need to take from Pennsylvania to Minnesota this fall or winter. All donations go directly to my sister, Laura, all of which will be used to help her family fund this trip.

I give my thanks to all of you who've read about Maddie's journey. Huge thanks to all of those who have helped support my niece and her family, whether it was with donations, a prepared meal, or a hug. You are all angels. To everyone reading this who has, or has watched a loved one struggle with a debilitating illness, you know the emotional strain this takes on a family and individual.

I want to especially thank my sister, Laura, for being such a great Mama Bear and fighting the fight for Maddie and want to let the world know that long before the cancer diagnosis, she knew the key to the problem was in that first MRI when she saw the small mass on the thyroid that the doctors said was inconsequential.
Maddie over the summer with her sister, Emily (top), and her cousin, Bridget (middle).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cooper Tools Issues Recall on Weller W100 Irons

I love Weller soldering irons, particularly the W100. It's by far the best on the market in my humble opinion.

Once in awhile, things go wrong, and Cooper Tols has issued a recall on this particular product so this is a little PSA to my soldering friends. If you're using the Weller W100 soldering iron, please check to see if your iron falls under the recall.

For information on how to determine if your Weller 100 is included in this recall, and how to obtain a replacement, please click the following 3 links:
PAGE 1 | PAGE 2 | PAGE 3

Please click the images to enlarge them.

There is a number you can call once you have determined if your iron is affected and tehy can provide you with mroe details.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Make Something Spooky!

This is a super fun project Vanessa worked on last week. I'm always considering new ways to use materials around here, and the small rectangle tins in my shop paired with these fun little plastic beads seemed perfect for a spooky Halloween coffin. She couldn't make it fast enough, I was dying to see it!

Here's what you need and links to where you an find it. You may already have everything you need to make it.
Spooky Buttons
Tiny Tin
Glamour Glue
Luxe Doming Resin
► Black paper

- optional -

Colored Chains

How To Make the Spooky Coffin:
1. Trim black paper and glue to the inside of the tin and the tin lid using Glamour Glue. Let dry, then trim around the edge.
2. Coat paper with Glamour Glue to seal the paper, let dry.
Mix the Luxe Resin according to instructions included.
3. Pour resin into the tin and add the skull. Coat the skull with more resin.
4. Coat the lid with Luxe Resin. Place both lid and tin bottom on level surface and cover to protect from dust. Let cure 24 hours.
5. Glue the tombstone to the top of the "coffin" with any strong glue, including Glamour Glue, more resin, Epoxy 330, or E-6000.
5. Add a magnet to the back or a bail and a chain to wear as a necklace.

Super fun!!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Summer Blog Hiatus Over. Back to business!

It's been quite busy and very hot around the studio this summer with lots of new product testing, the development of new kits, and the excitement of a lightning strike in 90 degree studio temps. Firing glass in the summer heat is super hot work.

My daughter spent a week at a super YMCA camp where she got to eat sleep and breathe horses with a bunch of like-minded young girls. What fun! I remember those days well, and it was a rewarding experience for me, too, just knowing she was having a wonderful time creating life-long memories. This of course meant lots of intersate driving on my part, which was time I could reflect upon creative goals I'd like to reach.

I did find time to update the projects page on the website with a few completed tutorials. On this page you'll find the tutorial for making ribbon necklaces. Using compnonents small enough, you can make these to fit through the small Aanraku style bails.

You'll also find my tutorial on decorating dog tags. The tutorial uses Glamour Glaze, though Luxe Doming resin makes a nice durable alternative.

The tutorial for the Glass Bottle Cap kit is also online. The kit can be found at both and my shop on Etsy.

More updates coming soon. I really wanted to be sure I remembered how to use this thing. :o)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

How to Buy the Best Glass for your Pendant Projects.

Have you ever struggled with how to buy the best glass for your pendant projects? If you’re like me, you like quality goods and services at a fair price. I’ve been called a perfectionist on more than one occasion, but I think I’m just particular about where I spend my money and I apply that same perspective to my customers: if I won’t buy it, why should they? This tendency for perfection is true in both my personal life and in my business transactions. I like quality. Period.

I also like honesty and integrity and I have built my business of supplying the best quality materials using both honesty and integrity which is why I continue to fire some of the most beautiful handmade crystal clear glass available for crafting.

If you’re purchasing clear glass pieces for your creative projects, the two basic types of glass you would encounter are float glass and rolled glass. Most of the economically priced glass available is made overseas in China by large manufacturing companies that produce thousands of glass tiles each day and is made from float glass. Float glass is made by floating molten glass onto molten tin, hence the name. It's a process that imparts some of the metal properties into the glass sheets which can discolor or dull the glass. And while that glass may be hand cut and kiln fired, it’s 99.9% likely the glass isn’t hand cut and kiln fired by the seller. Just because the seller claims the glass is handmade, and I’m sure it is handmade by someone somewhere, that doesn’t mean it’s handmade by them.

Similarly, glass that is stated as “designed” by the seller doesn’t mean the seller made the glass. It just means they placed an order with a manufacturer in China who makes glass tiles to order. It’s a rather deceitful way of not being straightforward about who makes their glass because they want the customer to assume they made the glass themselves. For example, if you place a custom order with me for glass and I cut and fired your glass, would you claim you made the glass? Probably not. You gave me dimensions of the size you wanted and I cut and kiln fired the glass for you. The glass, however, is still handmade. Did you design the glass? If instructing glass to be cut to a 1” square is called “designing” then I suppose you did.

Why should you be concerned with any of this? Because there are obvious visible differences in the glass you’ll most likely receive if you purchase glass not handmade (ie. not hand cut and kiln fired) by the seller (float glass) vs. glass handmade by the seller (rolled glass). If you are spending your time and talents on creating beautiful jewelry or other pieces of art, wouldn't you want to use the most beautiful glass available?

What is the difference between the glass types? There are basically two different glass types available for glass pendants: float glass, and fusible glass. Float glass is typically used for tiling your kitchen or bath and architectural installations. Thin float glass is also used in soldered charms, and the glass you put your photos behind in a picture frame is also float glass. The float glass sold for use in glass pendant making is a low-iron glass. Low iron means the amount of green (iron) in the glass is reduced or removed. I, too, offer this economical glass as an alternative when high quality glass isn't important. While the glass is clear and colorless, it lacks the spectrum of light that you would see in crystals. It’s dull and flat and lifeless. And cheap.

The alternative to dull and lifeless glass is called rolled art glass, which is the type of glass used primarily in glass fusing. This is the good stuff, and not just because I said so. Rolled glass for fusing has such high clarity that it’s very much like crystal in its appearance. It shines, it sparkles and is alive with all spectrum of light. It’s breathtaking by comparison. Each piece is a work of art. Rolled glass is the same type of raw glass used in large fused glass platters, and glass vases, and such. It's art glass and is specifically created for use in fine art pieces.

How can you tell the glass you’re buying is quality art glass handmade by the seller? First, you can ask. I believe most sellers of glass tiles for jewelry and crafting are decent honest people and will give you an honest answer if asked outright about the glass they’re selling. Ask what type of glass it is, if it’s rolled glass (high clarity, used for fusing) or float glass (low clarity, lusterless used for architectural installations). Ask if it’s imported glass, or if they cut and fired the glass themselves on site. I don’t think anyone would be offended by these questions and most glass artists are more than happy to discuss their craft.

If you still suspect the glass is not handmade by the seller, ask if the artist can custom fire glass to meet your specifications. If they don’t make custom cut glass and only offer specific sizes, they probably are importing their glass and you should continue your search for quality handmade glass elsewhere.

If you have purchased glass and are concerned that it's not the quality of glass it was advertised to be, check to see if the glass is smooth on both sides of the piece. If so, the glass is float glass and was most likely not handmade by the seller.

Support true handmade supplies made by the artist who created the products you're purchasing. Your finished pieces will radiate with life!

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Kentucky Oaks...Fillies and Lilies

Saturday is the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. The Derby is the first race in the Triple Crown and is dominated by 3 year old colts. I haven't missed watching the Derby more than a handful of times in the past 30 years. I love the excitement of the race, the beauty of the animals, the thrill of a win (or not!)

What you may not know is that today, the day before the Kentucky Derby, is the 136th running of The Kentucky Oaks. While the Derby is open to both colts and fillies, this race is just for the ladies. If you think the fillies aren't contenders, last year's winner, Rachel Alexandra, went on to win The Preakness against all those colts :o)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Colored Petite Ball Chains. Love them!

Wow, these are 1.5mm petite and beautiful colorful chains for your pendant creations. Not clunky or chunky, and not plain at all. Choose from 10 fabulous colors. Closures included in matching colors.

Shown are black and gunmetal on a 7/8" pendant using a small Aanraku bail.

Chains available in my shop

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mighty Strong Magnets! Super Strong Rare Earth Magnets!

Crafters unite with Mighty Strong Magnets! Wow, these magnets are super strong. So strong that they hold a soda can to the top of a car going 70mph! I have these magnets available in my shop on Etsy, but will soon have them available on Available in 3/8" and 1/2" sizes.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Glamour Glue Back in Stock for the Season!

I'm so happy to announce that Glamour Glue is back in stock now that the temps have risen, and is ready to ship! You can find Glamour Glue at and in my Etsy shop in the Glaze and Glue section.

Glamour Glue is a non-toxic, safe to use, PVA adhesive used in book making and other fine craft projects using paper. Archival quality that dries crystal clear!