Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Becoming Saffron

Here's what I'm doing with my birthday -- becoming yellow! Next up -- off to Ikea for a temporary pantry. This is the way most people prepare for a dinner party, right? Shove all the furniture around, cover the floor in plastic, and produce piles of sawdust?

Around the corner, there's a glimpse of my in-progress dining room mural! Click the photo to see the full-size version.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Happily Drowning in Rings

Six pounds of metal in the form of hundreds of small rings just arrived from Canada. If I didn't still have to price everything for this weekend's show, I'd be parked on the couch with two pairs of pliers, humming. In addition to stocking up on my favorite shiny copper, I ordered some solid bronze, and some black and bronze anodized aluminum rings to experiment -- they're sooo pretty! When this show is over, I will be listing a bunch of new chainmaille bracelets, necklaces and watches -- I've been wearing the prototype watch every day for a couple weeks, and I LOVE it! I'll also be building a chainmaille necklace and bracelet configurator to allow customers to easily order maille pieces in custom lengths.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New option for pendant chains

Starting today, you can pick a new kind of handwoven chain to go with your fused glass pendant! I'm now offering a chainmaille weave that I just learned recently and has already become my favorite. It's a silly-sounding weave called Shaggy Loops, and I love the way it casually splays out when it lays against a surface like your neck or wrist. I'll soon be listing some bracelets and standalone necklaces made with this technique, too.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Back into the fire!

Saturday's glittering creations are out of the kiln and ready for shaping into pendants and cufflinks. Next, I'll trace outlines onto the ones that will be become circular with a Sharpie and cover the lines with Chapstick so that they don't wash off while I'm grinding -- very high tech! Then I'm off to the basement for a while to shape each piece individually in two stages on the lap wheel -- first with a pad covered in 120 grit diamond pieces, then I'll move up to a 400 grit pad for a second pass. The spinning pads have to be kept cool with a constant stream of water, so this is a rather wet and messy experience. Hence the Chapstick!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kiln Full of Sparkle

I spent a large chunk of the day filling the kiln with pendants and cufflinks, and now I'm mentally exhausted! With beaded or chainmaille jewelry, you have a burst of creativity while designing the piece, then you get to mentally recharge while assembling the piece. When making fused glass jewelry, you try to fill the kiln to conserve electricity and to save time since each cycle takes 12 hours, and so you must think up new things for hours at a stretch without a break. It's tiring!

Tomorrow, when the kiln reaches room temperature, I'll spend another few hours grinding some of my melted constructions into circles and putting crisp, square edges on others with a diamond lap wheel, then they'll go back into the kiln again to soften those edges just a bit (the name for this second firing is "fire polishing", a term I love even though there's no actual fire involved).

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Chainmaille Fever

I've been making a looooooot of chainmaille lately! Between a set of several custom-designed jewelry pieces for a lovely lady in New York and a stainless steel version of my copper byzantine bracelet for a gentleman in Arizona, I was already spending much of my free time weaving, but then I sort of went off of the deep end.

First, let me apologize in advance for the horrible hotel room table point-and-shoot camera pictures. I'm on vacation for the weekend, and of course I brought my chainmaille supplies.

Stainless steel, it turns out it, is wretchedly stiff! I have a large stab wound in one finger after one of my pairs of pliers slipped while trying to close a ring, and the other, suddenly lacking any resistance, went shooting off and embedded itself in me. And I'm using the soft stainless steel -- there's also tempered spring steel used for chainmaille garments that you must need hydraulic pliers to use. At any rate, the weaving of this bracelet required frequent breaks, so I alternating working on it with working on an idea that occurred to me while weaving the bracelet:  a watch band combining double links of my classic two-color byzantine chain with the larger stainless rings. I love it and have been wearing it every day since I finished it!

Vacation is for learning new weaves, right? I'm being growled at to go take a shower and head off to breakfast now, but expect another post this evening with photos of the new technique I learned last night -- shaggy loops!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Green Craft Fair This Saturday

My recycled wine bottle serving trays and I will be at the Watkins Nature Center in Upper Marlboro, MD this Saturday, November 14th, for a fun new show in its first year! The Nature Center is encouraging a more eco approach to the gift-giving holidays by gathering artists who use recycled, natural and sustainable materials in their work. I'll be bringing some new etched designs that aren't yet available online, so be sure to stop by if you're in the area!

Watkins Nature Center
301 Watkins Park Drive, Upper Marlboro 20774
10 am - 4 pm

In addition to the craft fair, the center will be accepting clothing donations for Planet Aide and hosting a book exchange!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Saying goodbye to a favorite necklace

My favorites tend to sell quickly. I'm not complaining, of course, but I do love to have them around where I can look at them. I kept the Orange Squash Blossom Turquoise and Thai Fine Silver Necklace out on a necklace bust in my living room where it would brighten and cheer me every time I went past.

Orange Squash Blossom Turquoise and Thai Fine Silver Necklace

Enjoy your new home!

The rest of my treasures and I are off to Hampdenfest in Baltimore tomorrow! I've never been to this show, and the neighborhood is very vibrant and eclectic, so I expect that I'll be shopping for myself as well as selling!

Here are a few new pieces I'm taking that I haven't had a chance to list in my online store yet.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Greenwala Choose to Reuse Contest

Greenwala is a new social network promoting environmentally-friendly products and practices. They host contests that highlight green ingenuity.

Recycled Wine Bottle Serving Tray I've entered my recycled wine serving tray in their Choose to Reuse contest. I'd love it if you'd support me and the concept of recycling into art by voting for my tray on Greenwala's website.

Also worth voting for is the Recycled Circuit Board Menorah, created by Debby Arem, another Maryland artist who specializes in recycled materials.

You can purchase my recycled wine bottle serving tray, which comes with your choice of handmade stainless steel cheese spreader or an embroidered gift bag, from my website.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Modern Mint Dining Set is born!

In my last installment, I showed you the last in-progress photo my green and chocolate oval platter, shaped into a graceful oval but still flat. The platter and its square friends have now made their way to a delighted bride and groom! I'm quite pleased with them as well, so I'm going to offer them as a regular product line!

Modern Mint Dining Set

A mod progression of milk chocolate and minty green stripes is accented with silver dichroic glass. The oval platter is 12 inches long and 6.5 inches wide, and the matching plates are 8.25 inches square.

I cut each fragment of glass by hand, piecing my plates and vessels together like quilts. In my home studio, I fire them to a full fuse, shape them on a diamond lap grinder, then fire them again into their final shape. Each takes hours to lovingly cut, piece and grind, and spends a full day in the kiln.

Your fused glass serving piece is completely food safe, and hand washing is recommended.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mod Serving Dish Saga III

In Stage 3 of the Serving Dish Saga (you missed Stage 2, unfortunately -- I didn't photograph the fused blank before I ground it), our jagged hero has been fully fused, then abraded with a disc coated with diamonds rotating at high speed to make crisp, square edges that will gloss up to a beautiful gleam in his second trip through the kiln! He is presently in line behind the fourth of a set of square dinner plates in the same pattern which was slumped today and is presently cooling in the kiln.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Just a typical Friday night

My dish drainer bristles with wine bottles -- I've just finished scrubbing the labels off, and now they're dripping dry. Many will require a second treatment with a de-gooing agent to remove all of the adhesive from the labels, then a second washing. You can see a few of my glass blossom candleholders off to the left -- I'm very behind in photographing them!

I've just put the last piece of a custom dining set into the kiln for its first firing. I designed four bright, modern, geometric dinner plates and a matching oval serving platter based on the recipient's love of green and the 1970s. After their first 18-hour trip through the kiln, I grind the rounded edges off to create a crisp, square edge on a diamond lap wheel. If there's a lot of extra glass around the edges -- for example, if I measured the mold wrong! -- I might use a tile saw first. Once I'm satisfied with the size and shape of the flat fused pieces, they go into the kiln again to drape into a mold to create a lip.

I'm off to make earrings now -- I'm gearing up for my first craft show of the season, next Saturday, April 25th, in Crofton, MD. If you're in the area, I'd love to see you! It's at the Crofton Country Club from 10am to 4pm. You can find details and directions on my show list.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Prehistory Chunky Stone Necklace

We have favorites. I'll admit it. I made one Saturday night. I came home from my glass jewelry workshop, and instead of doing responsible household things or things that other people wanted, I made jewelry.

Ha! Take that, world!

This is my favorite kind of necklace to design -- multiple strands of contrasting shapes, colors and materials! This one-of-a-kind treasure is composed of picture jasper, tiny fossil rounds, and polyhedrons of green apple turquoise capped with shells. Only the bold need apply! Visit Jellybug Artworks to make it yours.

Featured in an Etsy Treasury

I discovered this morning that my Lemon Glass Blossom candleholder is featured in an Etsy Treasury called HELLO BUTTERCUP full of bright, sunny, yellow things!

The swirly glass I used in this lovely draped piece, perfect for tealights, is indeed like a little bowl of sunshine -- completely radiant! When I dye my hair yellow, this is the hue I use.

The treasury curator, JodieMO, makes adorable handbags. If you're in the market for a carrying accessory, check out her Etsy shop!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

New Toy!

I'm back at Vitrum Studio again this weekend for a two-day workshop in making fused glass jewelry. I'm learning the technique for composition of layered dichroic pendants, plus I'm going to learn new edge finishing methods! We designed seven-layer pendants today (the average pendant you see for sale on Jellybug Artworks is two to three layers), but we don't get to see them until tomorrow afternoon -- they're very cruel over there at Vitrum.

During our lunch break, we're free to roam the retail part of the studio, drool over the gorgeous supplies, and lighten our wallets buying beautiful glass and the tools to work it. Having done all that last weekend, I spied a large bowl sitting on a stool. It was just done in clear glass, but the shape was wonderful -- sides that are slightly concave rather than the usual convex curve. Inspecting the mold rack, it was clear which mold it was shaped with. I was smitten, but I wasn't sure it would fit in my kiln! Application of a ruler revealed that at 12 inches in diameter, it might.

My larger kiln runs on household current, which limits its size. It has a 13" round shelf, but I can't necessarily put a 13" round mold in it because the pyrometer sticks out from the wall of the kiln a couple of inches, interfering with the vertical clearance. (What's a pyrometer?  When a thermometer is in a kiln, it becomes a pyrometer -- it measures FIRE! I derive great amusement from this.) The folks at Vitrum said they'd happily take the mold back if it didn't fit, so I dashed home with my new toy only to find that someone (okay, it was me) had put something in the kiln this morning before heading off to the workshop, and it was still too hot to come out! OooOOoh, the agonized waiting!

A few hours later, I was finally able to remove the wine bottle cheese tray I'd been slumping and eeeeeease the new mold down into the kiln. Shoved over to one side because of the projecting pyrometer, with a quarter-inch to spare on all sides, I judged that it would do. (I frequently decide that things will work whether they like it or not -- because I want them to, darn it.)

So tonight, I am prepping the new mold with kilnwash and emitting small squeaks of delight while a beautiful slab of blue Spectrum waterglass is in the kiln, fusing into the 12" circle that I will slump into a gorgeous, drool-worthy bowl tomorrow.

Ain't she a beauty?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Coldworking Glass Workshop

I made this platter at a workshop last weekend called The Complete Bowl at Vitrum Studio, which is conveniently right up the road from my house. It's about 15 inches long and 6 inches across with a graceful curve. I took the workshop to learn how to use various pieces of coldworking equipment -- lap wheel, tile saw, sandblaster -- for finishing the edges and working the surface, but I also picked up some design techniques like using clear glass to displace transparent glass to make light spots and cutting transparent sheets to let the undercolor well up in the cracks.

Look carefully, and you'll see that I've sandblasted leaves into the orange stripe and horizontal stripes into the green stripe on the end.

I love the square, polished edges you get from coldworking the fused piece before slumping it. Unfortunately, a sufficiently large diamond lap wheel setup is about $5,000 and requires a lot of upkeep. Fortunately, I can rent time on Vitrum's equipment!

I'm headed back this coming weekend for a workshop on glass jewelry to gain new insights and techniques for my fused glass pendants.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pearl Posie Pendant

Pearl Posie Pendant Spring is in the air -- just the ask the daffodil sprouts in my front yard!

If you're longing for the return of sun and warmth, this pendant is for you! A metal pendant with a cheerful carved flower hangs from a double strand of cultured pearls in fun, fashion colors -- spruce, teal and mango -- accented with tiny pewter flowers.

Visit Jellybug Artworks for more pictures and a chance to own this item!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Where Should I Sell My Work?

From time to time, new artists who are just starting to think about selling their work online contact me about how to go about this. While composing another such response on Etsy this morning, I realized that a blog entry would make it even easier for new entrants to stumble across this information!

In addition to my main online store,, I have a few of online boutiques, and Etsy has definitely been the most fruitful. I've had two sales among the four other third-party stores I maintain. However, Etsy is a vast sea of products, so it's hard for anyone to find you.

If you have programming expertise in the family, though, my own online store is the source of most of my sales. People generally find it by Googling for what they're looking for, and the vast majority of my customers use it.

Here are some online boutiques you may want to set up a storefront with. They're all free or free-per-sale sites -- I don't bother with any of the monthly-fee sites because I don't know whether they're worth it and I already have the monthly expense of

Etsy, the 800-pound gorilla of indie art scene, is, in my experience, the best of the bunch, at least for US sellers. It's fairly easy to use (though you'll find that setting up sales is annoying and very manual), and it's been the source of most of my sales outside of

Geared toward international markets, all prices are in euros and the US is considered a foreign country. I've had one sale here, and it was to a very nice lady in Switzerland.

Smashing Darling
Definitely meant for the indie clothing market, I've had one sale here. Their commissions are the highest -- 18% -- but they absorb the Paypal fee, so it's more like a 15% commission.

Shop Handmade
The tool for setting up products is incredibly irritating, so I use it minimally. No sales here. You can either pay a listing fee, or allow a sponsor's ad to appear on the product page.

Another zoo of a site, SilkFair has the advantage of bulk uploading (thought I've never gotten it to work, and I'm a computer professional, and it can import from your Etsy store (though it's necessary to check every product afterward for accuracy of shipping costs and such). I haven't had any sales here.

1000 Markets
Haven't tried this one yet, but I intend to.

Haven't tried this one yet, but I intend to.

Made It Myself
Haven't tried this one yet, but I intend to.

Very indie-looking site for buying straight from the artist. Haven't tried it.

Where do you sell your work online? Any good sites I've missed? I've love to add them to the list.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

One Day Mardi Gras Sale!

Celebrate Fat Tuesday with 25% off purple, green, and yellow items! This sale will run for one day only -- Tuesday, February 24th. Below are some of the lovely things that will be discounted next Tuesday. Browse all of my sale items now so you'll be ready to pounce when the sale starts!

Capitol Region Etsy Street Team Sale

I'm not the only one having a Fat Tuesday sale! Some of my fellow members of a local artists collective are also offering discounts on the 24th!
Half price on this pink and brown paisley tote - (regularly $44.95)
50% off Sterling Silver and Rose Quartz 5-decade Catholic Rosary (regularly $65)
50% OFF all 8x10 photos!
Half-off hand cold forged sterling silver hoop earrings (2-inches long) (regularly $15)
All Hair Accessories 50% off the listed price!
10% off Yarn and FREE SHIPPING!
All Neckwarmers 50% off Listed price

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Escapees from the bead show!

I went to the Baltimore Bead Society's winter show yesterday. I was after a few findings that I can't get from my main suppliers, and I was trying hard not to buy anything else. Bead and gem shows are candyland for us, and it's very easy to come away with hundreds of dollars worth of treasures.

I did really well through the main showroom ... but then I saw orange.

They're doing some craaaazy stuff with turquoise these days. These brilliant orange pumpkiny beads are dyed white turquoise! I can't keep my hands off anything this bright, and it only takes one thing off the table to break down my resolve not to buy anything. Oh yes, some spotty turquoise! And some crazy lace agate! And some striped agate! Mine mine mine!