Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

I admit right now I"m bummin' alittle... due to the vile weather here in Des Moines, IA my sister and her daughter are not staying at my house Christmas Eve.. and then waking up together for Christmas morning with the kids.

It started years ago 5 or 6 years ago, and we all enjoy it. Both of us just have the one child, and while in most cases I'm very happy with my only beautiful daughter, having siblings on Christmas morning is magical. I am the youngest of 5, and I can remember Christmas mornings with my brothers and sister, trying not to wake up Mom and Dad while we sneaked peeks at what Santa left under the tree. (Santa never ever wraps presents at our house) At some point Mom and Dad allowed us to open up stockings before they were awake.. it very likely bought them an extra hour of sleep!

Gretchen ( my sis) and I thought it would be fun to have that experience for our one and onlys.. and every year it's proved to be more than twice the fun having 2 kids screaming in delight, trying to "accidentally" wake us up so they can see what Santa brought (we have a rule, usually broken, of no waking up parentals before 7am on Christmas), and the general mayhem that kids cause when ripping open presents and stockings. We usually have stocking stuffers for each other also... Last year Gretchen "helped" Santa by making me a beautiful mini sketch pad by hand. Gretchen often finds jewelry that she's admired from my collection in the heel of her sock! Santa has good taste, both in gifts and in helpers!!

But this year, Gretchen got a late start, the roads are trying to be nasty and there is the real possibility of a foot of snow by morning. She wisely, if sadly, decided to stop and stay with Mom and Dad tonight. I do not begrudge her the correct decision of this, but I will miss her terribly in the morning. I'm hoping the roads are clear enough tomorrow that Jerry, Jesscera and I will be able to join her at Mom and Dad's tomorrow for Christmas. My daughter, at 13, isn't quite as accepting. I think she's learning the lesson that while presents are nice, it's the Presence of the people you love that matter at Christmas.

Be safe everyone, be happy, and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My Dad is 80 today!

80 years ago, a Grandma I've never met had my Dad. Wow. 80 years. I'm so very appreciative that I've had 41 years with him.

Happy Birthday Dad!!! I love you, I'm proud of you, and you were the 1st best man in my life, and you are still in the top 2!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Kiln is on it's way!!!!!

I got an email with a ups tracking id today, and my kiln is on the way! wooo hoo! Course I need to finish arranging my studio so it fits, but I should be up and running by the end of this weekend.. so woohooo! Christmas is early in BarronMiller Land!
Above are some glass cabs in various stages of completion. Each cab I make generally runs through the kiln 2-3 times, trying to achieve the look I want. ( Sometimes they don't end up looking like I want, but it's fun to experiment, and cabs that I don't want to wrap make great magnets!) I currently use a small microwave kiln, which can do just 1 cab at a time. As you can imagine, it takes awhile to get even a small pile like this going doing just 1 or 2 cabs a night. With my big kiln I can do 2 (possibly 3 ! oh joy!) layers of cabs at a time... I should be able to fit 8-10 cabs per layer. And I'm planing on buying a few bowl/small plate molds and see how much fun it would be to play with glass fusing on a larger scale.

My bronze pieces are now "bone" dry, and ready for filing/sanding. I'm hoping to get back to that project by Friday. I really want to get them ready to fire, since I'm getting the kiln sooner than I thought! Let me say this one last time, just in case you were wondering what my feelings are about all of this.... WOOOOO HOOOOO!

Monday, December 14, 2009

getting ready for my kiln........ playing with bronze clay

This top picture is what 100 grams of bronze PMC clay looks like. I'm actually surprised how much I could make with 100 grams! They are drying on tiles covered with wax paper, which isn't probably the best way to dry them, but I just had to play with some clay... I got my big box of clay, clay tools and stuff for the kiln.. but I don't have the kiln yet. It's coming direct from the manufacturer and I'll be lucky to get it by Christmas. (RATS!) Once I get it I really want to be able to plug it in and just go to town making stuff. So I spent time Sat setting up a couple loads of glass for the kiln for whenever I get it. And today (Sunday) I decided to treat myself to just playing with the bronze clay.
This teardrop is about 1 inch tall. See the kewl texture? The no. 1 reason I have been dying to play with PMC again is texture. This by the way, is from a mold I made from a vintage glass button from my collection. I used a teardrop shaped cutter I can't wait to see what this will look like fired! The main reason I want to play with Bronze clay in peculiar is the spectacular color range you achieve! I made 4 of them, in hopes of making earrings probably.
This is another vintage button mold, this one is bone, and I"m pretty sure it's really old. I got it at an estate sale back in the 90's and it was mixed in with a bunch of Victorian to 20's glass beads and buttons. I had 6 of them originally, but I'm down to 3.. I sold the rest on ebay years ago ( If I remember once of them sold for over $20.00!) I made about 15 molds of buttons and vintage pins in my stash... it's going to be fun using them all.

Once I get my kiln, I'll run a few of these at a time to get the right range on my kiln, then I'll be able to do batches.

Bronze clay has to be "cooked" in activated carbon in a stainless steel container, which can give the pieces fabulous patinas. I also bought PMC3, which is fine silver once it's fired and doesn't require the carbon treatment. I was saving the PMC3 I bought to play with once I get the kiln and get good running it, but after having so much fun with bronze, I"m thinking of breaking out a package and just firing it with my torch, which is an option if you don't have a kiln. I'm going to try to be good, but I like having that "back door" if I just can't stand the wait!!

here is a gallery of PMC and copper and bronze clay pieces, some of these are just to die for!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pretty in Pink

It's almost 2010, it's hard to believe, the year has gone so very fast! I'm mostly doing stuff to get ready for Christmas, like most people, and I've not really made much art jewelry in the past week. My file of pictures is getting low, so as soon as I get past Christmas I'll start gearing up making fun stuff. I hope to have my Kiln by then, so I can continue my experiments with glass fusing. I've also ordered some PMC (Precious Metal Clay) and tools to play with in the kiln.

So I'm going to concentrate the next few blogs in getting all the pictures I've got left uploaded to the web. This bracelet is "pretty in Pink" in 2 soft colors of Japanese Seed Beads. It's done in herringbone and brickstitch. I like making these bracelets, it's a fun way to play with colors and use up some of my huge huge stash of seed beads. I started my jewelry journey with seed beads, and I still love them, though I don't use them as much as I used to. So many wonderful materials to use! Wire, metal, crystals, glass, stones, found items... it's all good. It's been a good year art jewelry makin' wise, and I can't wait to have an even better 2010!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Central IA Artist Coop Gallery

I got a great call on Sunday.. It was Monika at the Coop - my nickname for the Central IA Arist Coop Gallery located by target in Merle Hay Mall in Des Moines, IA. My jewelry is selling well, and she wanted me to bring in more items. Yeah! I had a great time picking out pieces to take in, and I really tried to bring in items in the "present" price range, $20-40 dollars.
Here are four of items I brought in Monday for the Gallery. This Wreath pendant is made out of color-clad wire, with Swarovski crystals as "berry" accents. It's a great holiday pendant and it's only $16.00. Next is this great pendant in sterling silver, pearls and agate, for only $24. The Christmas tree at top is all sterling and swarovski crystals for $20.00 This periwinkle Mother of Pearl blue pendent with crystal accents is only $20.

These are just some of the affordable art pieces available at the Coop. Over 20 Iowa artists now have pieces in the Coop, and prices start at just $1.25. So if you are in the Des Moines area, stop by and check it out... this is the perfect time of year to buy someone, including yourself, a Christmas present that will be loved, be unique and support local artists. Paintings, pottery, dolls, mixed media, jewelry... it's all at the Coop!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I just ordered my Kiln!

It's a paragon Caldera, and I can't wait to get it.. unfortunately it looks like I will have to- The Shop I'm ordering from is out, so it's getting shipped directly from the manufacturer, and I'm to allow up to 4 weeks for delivery.. ugh!

Still I have plenty to keep me occupied in the meantime. I have a couple of commissions to work on, I'm working on class prep for next week, and I've been working on ID pendants, what I call "mommie tags". They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and metals... brass, copper or sterling silver. I've got a few pics but I've got a new stamps and some new ideas so expect to see more in the near future. If you are interested in ordering circle, fan, or square or triangle shapes, email me. for 1" inch or less charms the copper and brass run $20.00, and the sterling runs $25.00. This includes the texturing and stamping of names or inspirational words for you. Shipping anywhere in the USA is only $2.00. These make great gifts anytime, but especially Christmas!