Thursday, September 25, 2008


Today was my birthday. It was an early start, as we had to catch our flight out of Greenville to make our way to Hawaii. I had overly ambitious plans for the plane ride, but alas... I slept most of the way and enjoyed some in-flight movies.

I feel so relaxed here. Everyone is so supremely nice and I am so excited to be here. To the left is a picture of our new bird friend, a house sparrow, who was watching us eat sushi and eating the occasional grain of rice from the palm of my hand.

Right next to the show is a store called, The Liqueur Collection. And what a collection it is! They have probably one of the most extensive collections of beers and ales that I've seen in a long time. They even had an obscure brand of tequila that has Frida on it that Jean Yates mentioned in her blog about a year ago. Unfortunately, I didn't drop the $90 for the bottle. Sorry Jean!

Just down the way was a really cute children's boutique that Azalea just loved! It was called, "Cupcake." She got a little Asian baby-doll, whom she named, Asa. I am really impressed with how many cute little shops are around.

Here's a picture of Greg, Cynthia, and Azalea. We're staying at the Aqua Spa: Bamboo and it had a really great manager's reception where everyone was so friendly. We enjoyed the musical talents of "Uncle Ned" and sipped these great tropical cocktails called, Bamboozles.

Isn't that sunset the perfect way to end the day? Well, actually ending it with gelato and a soak in the hot-tub was the perfect way to end the day and celebrate my birthday.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Getting Ready...

Today was pretty intense with the sheer amount of work that had to be done before our early morning flight tomorrow. It didn't help that I woke up with a splitting headache. I got up super early and tried to finish a couple of designs, but couldn't focus. I've been getting most of my personal work done early in the mornings before anyone else wakes up. I hate the days where my creativity and plans are slowed down. Especially when we're on such a tight time budget. We still got a lot of work done - which is good.

For dinner, I whipped up a quick seafood gumbo. I threw in some red chili-coated mangoes that were sitting in the pantry. On their own, they were a little too spicy for any of us. Usually I'd also add chorizo sausage, but we didn't have any, so I chopped up some pepperoni. It got rave reviews and was so quick and easy.

I wish that everyone could see all the many treasures that Bob Burkett is skillfully crafting in the studio. He's been making the most spectacular cast-in-place stone settings. They've got a really nice Art Nouveau feel and are simply magical. It is really awesome having him around. He really is an inspiration. The pieces below will be PERFECT for FaerieCon. They're totally sexy.

Speaking of good things coming from the Green Girl Studios crew, Greg is the cookie-master! He totally makes the best cookies ever. For instance, the double chocolate cookie below. It was crisp on the outside, gooey on the inside, chocolaty, rich, and melt-in-your-mouth good. YUM! I'm definitely going to pack some in our snack pack for the trip tomorrow.

More Bronze Coins...

We've been busily getting ready for the shows. Cynthia has been carving non-stop and I've been pressing out as much bronze clay as can be done before we leave for Hawaii tomorrow morning. Make sure to come by and visit us at the Hawaii Glass Art and Bead Festival this weekend! Below is a picture of the latest batch of coins with the newest designs.

Below is a picture of all ten designs laid out. Depending on interest in the pieces, we might consider offering them on the Green Girl Studios website. But since the process is quite time consuming, they might be like the PMC charms and remain limited edition items sold exclusively at shows or by special request. The coins retail at $20 per coin. For the moment, if you EMAIL me, I'll set one aside for you, but they might not get shipped out until after we get back from Hawaii and I can't guarantee that we'll have the particular design on-hand.

I'm smitten with the pirate skull coin. It reminds me most of treasures unearthed from an archaeological expedition or salvaged from a sunken shipwreck.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New Necklace Design...

I got up early this morning and cleaned up the studio a little more. After I finished straightening up a bit, I made this necklace. Some of the early test pressings we did in bronze clay didn't have holes. I wanted to somehow use them. This is one of the solutions that I came up with. After a light scoring and sanding, I attached it to a large piece of composite amber with a heavy-duty epoxy adhesive. I then embellished the piece of amber with chain and daisy spacers. The natural brass chain is from Vintaj, the carnelian-colored Czech glass is from Raven's Journey, the carnelian discs, tigereye, composite amber, daisy spacers, and leather cord is from Talisman Associates, and the bird toggle and bird coin are from my family at Green Girl Studios.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Burning the Midnight Oil...

It probably comes as no surprise that I'm about to say that we've been burning the midnight oil. With all the shows just around the corner, we've been busily trying to prep. Lots of projects on our plates indeed! In a few days we'll leave for Hawaii. We're actually leaving on my birthday. I did the math and with us crossing all the time-zones backwards, I'll be actually celebrating my birthday an extra ten hours! Of course those hours will be spent aboard a plane, but nonetheless, it'll be the longest birthday I've ever had. If you're in Hawaii, make sure to come by the Softflex Hawaii Glass Art and Bead Festival. If you're not able to see us in Hawaii, come visit us at FaerieCon in Philadelphia the following weekend (October 10th - 12th). I also believe that my family/Green Girl Studios is doing a show in Jacksonville, Florida that same weekend with the folks at Bead Mercantile. (Oh! If you'd like to go to FaerieCon and would like to get a "Best Customer" admission pass, which will get you in for free for one day, please EMAIL me and I'll mail it out to you ASAP.) I'll also be in New York the following weekend for the Big Apple Glass Art and Bead Festival presented by the Bead Society of Greater New York and SoftFlex. It'll be nice to be back in my apartment for a spell. I know that Cynthia and Azalea will definitely want to check out FAO Schwarz while we're in New York. Cynthia is obsessed with the Ellowyne Wilde dolls. But I'm a magpie too and have my own collections, so I can't complain.

In retrospect, the photo above looks a lot like Hamburger Helper. However, it's not. It's a quick pasta I threw together with lots of basil, a hearty tomato sauce, goat cheese brie, soft baby Swiss cheese, Parmesan cheese, butter, garlic, mushrooms, and BACON! The results were a super rich and filling dinner to help guide us through our busy work schedule!

Custom Cool Jewelry...

If you're privy to the booming DIY scene, then you know that "custom" is the new IT word. Turn on any home improvement show or open any craft magazine and you'll see the word being used to denote something a step above the rest. Why? When Big Business cranks out carbon copy style after carbon copy style, individual and personalized imagery and objects are a welcome escape - a breath of fresh air in an often times stagnant pool of overly-recycled ideas and motifs.

Melinda Barta, the managing editor of Beadwork and Stringing magazines, is definitely in touch with the movement away from pre-fab "style" and towards a more distinct design - your own. With her new book from Interweave Press, Custom Cool Jewelry, she empowers the reader with over 200 projects. Not only does she give valuable tips on making your own pendants, charms, and clasps, but she presents several stringing ideas to use your newly created custom pieces. This book is LOADED with useful ideas that spark the imagination and provoke potential.

Melinda has a bevy of knowledge from working on various magazines (including PieceWork magazine), being author of Hip to Stitch: 20 Contemporary Projects Embellished with Thread, having a BFA in Fiber Arts from Colorado State University and being a teacher at schools across the country, including the prestigious Penland School of Crafts. She uses this versatile experience to enrich Custom Cool Jewelry and deliver projects from a truly unique perspective.

What I love best about Custom Cool Jewelry is that it is a spring board for endless creativity. It fundamentally teaches the reader how to open up their personal style toolbox and use what's inside. A lot of craft and jewelry books simply dole out formulas on how to duplicate someone else's ideas. Custom Cool Jewelry is different. It enables the reader to make stunning jewelry of high quality from their own well of inspiration, utilizing the creative and truly cool ideas offered up by Melinda Barta in this must-have book.

I definitely recommend this book!

Pirate Queen...

I'm so very pleased with the new bronze clay coins. They turned out GREAT! I made this necklace over my morning coffee. Azalea helped me. She cut the wire and in turn showed her baby dolls how to cut the wire. I wanted to make a necklace befitting a pirate queen. It's made up luscious pearls and red tiger eye from Talisman Associates, ceramic beads from Keith O'Connor, natural brass chain from Vintaj, copper chain from Ornamentea, siam Swarovski crystals from Fusion Beads, and the seashell clasp, shibuichi key, and new bronze coin from my family here at Green Girl Studios.

A Midnight Snack...

Cynthia and I both suffer from midnight munchies. No matter what we're doing, we're bound to rendezvous in front of the food pantry at the witching hour in search of snacks! Instead of our usual grazing of dried fruit, nuts, and chips. I decided to make a really quick and simple dish. I boiled up some angel hair pasta while I was unloading the tumbler. When the pasta was cooked and ready, I drizzled some olive oil on top. Next, I melted some butter and threw in lots of chopped garlic. I then added a healthy sprinkling of lots of basil and a dash each of smoked paprika, ground red pepper, cayenne pepper, and salt and (black) pepper. After the butter mixture had heated up and combined thoroughly, I tossed the noodles in. Then I sprinkled bread crumbs on top to coat the noodles. To finish, I poured in a smidgen of aged balsamic vinaigrette and topped it off with grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


One would think that we had just discovered the wreckage of a pirate ship laden with treasures and salvaged the loot. However our means of acquiring these many treasures is much more modest! Cynthia carved the stamps and I pressed them out. Here are the bronze clay coins we pulled straight out of the kiln after a quick rinse. (They're in the tumbler now to work-harden them a bit and shine them up.) I must say that it was quite satisfying pulling the glowing coins from the black carbon, revealing what felt like an ancient treasure from a far away land.

A Busy Sunday...

We've been working quite a bit! The Softflex Hawaii show is next week and FaerieCon is the week after that! Today I organized part of the studio and pressed out some bronze clay. Each time I work with the bronze clay, it becomes easier. To keep our energy up, Cynthia made some Mexican chocolate shortbread cookies. For dinner, I whipped up a crab soup and some coconut rice bread. Bob, Cynthia, and even Azalea exclaimed that the soup was very good, but I think I've still missed the mark. Perhaps that's because I've had the pleasure of having Shanghai Joe's crab broth soup dumplings. I wonder what their secret ingredient is. To crumb up in the soup, I made a coconut rice bread. It was sort of a spin on a traditional Filipino dessert, bibinka. However, in my version, I didn't sweeten it above the natural sweetness of the coconut. It held up perfectly in the soup. It was a good meal to end the day.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bronze Clay: Revisited...

On the plus side, it's economic and much less expensive than fine silver clay. It's got a beautiful color and warmth.

On the downside, it takes a lot of conditioning to get it to a workable state. Using it straight out of the bag is not an option. Getting it to that point isn't the easiest. Or rather, it isn't the cleanest. It leaves a slimy sludge on your hands (which happens to turn your hands green if you don't scrub the heck out of them with a good pumice soap.) You also can't use the same tools or stamps you normally would use for fine silver clay. Cross-contamination apparently causes problems. The other downside is that you can't just throw it in the kiln and go. You've got to fire it in activated carbon in a steel container. (Estimated firing time for thicker bronze clay is on average 9 hours.)

I am interested to see what this product can eventually achieve. I have no doubt that with time, patience, and many artisans working with the medium that it'll become easier and more creative. Many of the issues that I had to deal with the bronze clay had to be resolved intuitively, as there isn't yet a great store of resources available for troubleshooting. In time, I'm sure there will be more information to come.

Bronze Clay...

Ever since Bead & Button when we got the scoop on the new bronze clay, we wanted to try it out. Who doesn't love the warmth of bronze? So, while I was here I definitely wanted to see what I could do with it. To the left is a picture of my yield. I wanted to make really simple projects to get my feet wet. Working with the clay initially wasn't easy. The consistency of the clay straight out of the bag was pretty hard and dry to begin with. It took a lot of conditioning and prepping to get it to a nice workable state. If I were to work with regular PMC like this, it would totally fall apart. I made a couple of links, some chain and a bee coin. I can't wait to dive back in and make some more goodies!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Eat Well...

We've been really busy crafting, but that doesn't mean that we haven't been eating well. Below is a picture of a chicken and lentil soup we made with a "fiesta" style cornbread. What that basically means is that we made a roasted tomato, grilled corn, and pickled green bean salad the night before and mixed that in with the batter. Everything turned out delicious!

For dessert, Azalea and I cut some peaches, mixed in a couple of spiced peaches (that we prepared at the height of the peach season), chopped pistachios and almonds, and butter. We topped the peach mixture with brown sugar biscuits and topped off with pistachio ice cream.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I've been absent from the blog world for a few days now. My apologies. However, we've been crafting up a storm and my hands are nowadays nearly always covered in clay or paint or some variety of glue. Needless to say, I am deliriously happy. The core of my happiness is in making things. The best days are ones devoted to the practice of translating an idea into a physical manifestation and letting the creative forces flow through you. Sometimes things work out perfectly. Other times, things don't always go according to plan. I don't think that the latter of the two is bad necessarily. Sometimes it forces the artist to think outside of the box or to learn a valuable lesson about the medium or process.

A big plus about being down here in Asheville is that I'm not alone in my creative pursuits. Someone is always beside me making something as well. Someone is always across from you to bounce ideas off of or to get a second opinion or friendly advice. For instance, Bob Burkett is also staying with us. Below is a picture of some of his recent creations. He is truly a master craftsman. He can bend and manipulate metal seemingly supernaturally and breathes life into each of his pieces. (This is particularly evident in his articulated pieces like the turtle and bat with moving limbs!)

If you're lucky you can potentially pick up one of his amazing pieces either in Fresno at the Central California Bead Society show this weekend, at the Hawaii Glass Art and Bead Festival presented by Softflex next weekend, or at FaerieCon (October 10th, 11th, and 12th). But you BETTER HURRY! He sells out FAST and since his pieces are almost all limited runs, you might not have another opportunity to do so!

(Also, thank you Lorrwill for your shout out as well! CLICK HERE to go to her post. Oh, and thank you Lauren a.k.a. LaurelMoon for mentioning me in her post about artist cross-pollination. CLICK HERE to go to it.)

Monday, September 15, 2008

New Necklace...

Here's another good that I whipped together last night. This necklace design is made up of red coral and turquoise from Talisman Associates, silver chain from Ornamentea, vintage Czech glass with a beautiful AB finish from Pudgy Beads, a silver toggle from my family at Green Girl Studios, and of course original artwork on shrink film pendants. I think it looks quite smart and has an art nouveau feel to it.

Illustration Friday: Island...

Here's my submission for this week's Illustration Friday. The theme for this week is, "island." As soon as I heard the theme, I knew that I wanted to do a floating island. It's surprising to see how previlant this archetypal image appears throughout various mythologies. The piece is made up of layers of collage, washes of acrylic paint, and pen and ink. I've also woven in papers as well for added texture and depth.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Shrinky-Dink Necklace...

I've been so busy lately, that I haven't had a chance to really play with the shrinky-dink components that I've made. Above is a picture of a design I whipped up. Azalea helped me. She cut all the wire. (Well, except for the fine silver wire that I fused to make soldered jump rings.) The necklace is made up of golden shadow Swarovski crystals from Fusion Beads, Hill Tribe silver from Na Bo Row, chain from Ornamentea, and of course... my original artwork shrinky dink pendants!

One of the great things about this piece is that it is SO LIGHT! It's airy and seemingly weightless around the neck. I'm really looking forward to making more little treasures with the shrink film.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Chocolate Gravy...

We made chocolate gravy and biscuits for breakfast! It was delicious. Our grandma used to make it for us when we were especially good. Now we make it for our special guests.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Third Generation...

I've been absolutely hooked on the shrink plastic. It's affordable enough that it doesn't feel "precious" while you're working on it - just like doodling. But once it's shrunken down, it feels like a little treasure. We've been having a lot of fun experimenting with them. Laura Belkin and Bob Burkett arrived yesterday and we've sucked them into it as well. We had a movie night tonight and for much of the evening, the shrinky-dink was out! What fun! Above is a shot of the "third" generation of shrinky-dink film I've made.

More Shrinky-Dink Fun...

We've been having so much fun making shrinky-dink! (Cynthia says that I should call them "shrink film" to sound more professional.) In any event, we've been experimenting with the clear and matte sheets. I like how the matte looks like milk glass and how the clear can look like stained glass. SO MUCH FUN!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


We've been burning the midnight oil. One of the projects we've been working on is one of our childhood favorites: Shrinky-Dink! When we were kids, we used to play with them all the time. We colored and cut out all the figures as usual (I favored the Masters of the Universe set), but in the margins is where the real magic would happen. We'd draw our own figures and gems for our treasure chests. So, it is nice to revisit the medium soaked in nostalgia with jewelry purposes in mind.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Fun Times...

Earlier this evening, Cheryl Ann (one of Sheila's friends from the Fine Arts League of the Carolinas) invited us over to her apartment for dinner. She's got such a cute apartment and the food was delicious! We had a lot of fun talking and eating. Cheryl Ann set up a work station for Azalea and she made lots of little watercolors. We had such a delightful time!

Five New Necklaces...

I couldn't sleep very well last night. (I think, perhaps, I had a little too much iced coffee.) So, I whipped up a couple of necklaces. My family at Green Girl Studios has started casting several of the components in shibuichi. Many of the designs I made use some of the newly revamped components.

Above: The focal lampwork piece is courtesy of Z Designs in Glass. It is showcased with carnelian, Czech glass from Raven's Journey, a wood bead from LillyPilly Designs, ceramic beads from Keith O'Connor Pottery, sea urchin rondelles, and of course, the new bird flying in the clouds toggle from my family at Green Girl Studios.

Above: A polymer Heather Wynn pendant is featured with ceramic beads from Keith O'Connor and Melanie Brooks Lukacs of Earthenwood Studio, coral, wood, and amber beads from Talisman Associates, and a gold-plated key and heart toggle from my family at Green Girl Studios.
Above: I've created this necklace using a Grant Diffendaffer polymer bead, Keith O'Connor ceramic beads, Czech glass beads from Raven's Journey, cyanite and wood beads from Talisman Associates, natural brass chain from Vintaj and a Wisdom mermaid pendant and seashell clasp from my family at Green Girl Studios.

Above: Stephanie Maddalena's sea urchin-looking lampwork beads are paired with vintage Czech glass from Newtique, parapadsha Swarovski crystals from Fusion Beads, pearls from Talisman Associates, polymer leaves from Klew, natural brass chain from Vintaj and a large flower clasp from my family at Green Girl Studios.

Above: This necklace is made up of carnelian, pearls and red tiger-eye from Talisman Associates, a Czech glass drop from Sticks and Stones, Swarovski crystals from Fusion Beads, and lots of lovely aviary charms from my family at Green Girl Studios.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


Today we went to LAAFF (Lexington Avenue Arts Fun Festival) in downtown Asheville. We met up with Sheila's friends from the Fine Arts League of the Carolinas and saw our friends Meg and Alisa. Meg is a fantastic photographer and Alisa is a talented web-designer and proprietor of Lucky Design 7. We also saw our friends Melissa (from Chevron Trading Post) and her boyfriend Jinx. It was HOT outside. To cool off, we popped in Izzy's Coffee Den for a couple of iced coffees. It was a lot of fun!

Later on we watched a gentleman try to break the world's record for riding the tallest unicycle. Unfortunately the first go around didn't work out so well for him and he fell from the seat. Luckily for him he had a harness on. Apparently he was planning to try again, but we didn't wait around to see if he accomplished the goal or not. Good luck would-be-world-record-breaker!


We decided to have a little get together. So, Sheila and I whipped up a little feast. It was a lot of fun. I've missed entertaining and having people over. To the left is a picture Sheila took of me cutting oranges for the sangria. At the bottom is a shot of all the goodies that we prepared. (Not shown is Sheila's peach cobbler and my freshly whipped bourbon vanilla cream.)

Friday, September 05, 2008

Solstice by the Sea...

Michelle Mach of Interweave's Beading Daily just spotlighted the web exclusive project I did for Stringing Magazine called, Solstice by the Sea. CLICK HERE to download the instructions for free. In her piece, Using Leftovers, she discusses different ideas of what can be done with beads or other components (like chain) remaining after a project is finished. Not only does using leftovers really stretch a budget, but I think they are also a good "personal style indicator."
At the last show I was at, I had several nice discussions with different people about how they didn't know what to make or that they were just dabbling and how nothing they did seemed to fit together. I think in a day and age where selling is so integrated with the continuing of making things, identity branding becomes so much about who someone is as a designer. Some feel as though they must assign themselves to an artistic enterprise to be successful. It's easy for some designers. They find what they like and they stick with it and never vary too far from what's successful for them. But... for those of us who like to dabble or have varied interests, it's daunting to feel successful when there doesn't seem to be an overt cohesion within the work. It's painful when we try to super-impose an idea of what we think we should be doing or making. It's harder to recognize our voice within the work. I think this opens the door to a lot of self-doubt. What gets lost is remembering that all those tangents and experiments and dabbling forays, enriches our perspective. We add layers and dimension to our understanding of our craft. It is important to feel confident as a designer to express a point of view or create a story with your work. Self-doubt is the mind-killer.
Looking at leftover beads is a great tool in getting a more in-depth look at your own personal style. Patterns start to form. You'll start to see which colors, cuts, and materials you're most drawn to. What at first may seem disconnected in their individual states, collectively takes on a new face - your face. It becomes a mirror to understand better who you are as a designer. This is empowering. Knowing your preferences and style, allows you to make more informed choices.


We had such an amazing time in Atlanta at Anne Choi's house! She has the most incredible collections ever! I could spend forever looking through her charms and books and beads. It was simply a wonderful trip and I'm so happy that we could go down. I'm utterly grateful for the opportunity. Anne Choi is one of my favorite artists and one of my favorite people! I cannot sing her praise enough. She is the cat's meow!

Above: Anne Choi had a set of three bracelets from a girl's trip to Europe in 1911. We were all stunned by the details of the charms. Even though the binoculars were tiny and probably the size of a quarter, looking through them, one could see scenes of Paris.

Above: Cynthia and I brought along a few artist trading cards to work on while we were there. I did the backgrounds while we were in Asheville the night before we left. I was inspired by her many books about botanical folklore. The red one on the left is of dragon's blood tree, the yellow one in the middle a pitcher plant, and the fuchsia one on the right is of a mandrake root.

Above: We got some really great coffee and pistachio muffins from San Francisco Coffee Roasting Company. I'm particularly fond of the Highland blend.

Above: I'm a fan of Project Runway. I love the concept of a television show about creativity and problem-solving. Though, the inevitable drama that goes hand-in-hand with reality competitions grates on my nerves a bit. Drama aside, it's a weekly treat. One of my favorite parts of the show is when they go to Mood's to pick out fabric. I have very fond memories of going with my mom to the fabric stores and looking through the bolts of woven knits and silks and faux furs. One of our stops in Atlanta was a trip to Gail K Fabrics. It is divine! It has a wide selection of fabrics, buttons, and trims and is quite affordable. Personally, I think it's better than Mood's. You can get the same designer fabrics for a fraction of the price.

Above: Here's a photo of three of the little treasures I got. I'm quite pleased, as these designs are even more rare. One hardly see any of her charms or pins nowadays. I love the mandrake motif, especially the one in the pose of Botticelli's Venus. They are definitely worth the wait!

Above: One of the days, we had India for lunch at a great place called Desi Spice. The weather was perfect. Not too hot. Not too chilly. A nice breeze was flowing through. So, we took advantage of the outside patio. The above photo is of the underside of one of the umbrellas.

Above: Here's a shot taken from the Doll Houses and Miniature Designs shop in Lawrenceville. We stopped in to take a look at their mountains of miniature goods. I never knew the vast array of tiny treasures available. (I, of course, got a miniature glass owl.)

Above: For a couple of sweet treats, we made our way out to Decatur to The Chocolate Bar. They were quite tasty. At the top of the picture is the "homemade Oreo cookie" filled with white chocolate ganache and salted caramel and milk sorbet on the side. At the bottom and to the left is the blueberry ice cream over lemon jelly. To the right and at the bottom is the jasmine creme brulee.

Cynthia and I had such a wonderful time. It was good to see Anne and Lynn and meet Freddie and their friend, Debba. We talked about so many things - anything from dolls to Egyptian hippo goddesses. The environment was fun and relaxed and creative. I have so many ideas now. We simply could not ask for a better time!