Sunday, November 18, 2018

Using Enamels in Lampwork Beads

Here’s a rundown of the enamels I use for making lampwork glass beads, such as it is. I don’t actually use all that many colors. I have tried a few others, but these are the ones I’ve settled on. 
I like enamels because they give nice, clean colors with none of the problems you can run into with glass rods. No devit, no mud, no worries! I also find them essential when I’m trying to duplicate most types of designs from nature~ I always use them as part of my seahorse patterning. I wrote a blog about an experimental bead of that sort a while ago, trying to imitate a natural pattern. My camera ran out of gas in the middle of the experiment, so there are no pics of the best part, but you can get an idea of what was done, anyway. 
Here are links to a few articles on this blog that talk about enamel use.

I’m still not really sure about the edp trick, but it’s worth further exploration. 

Here are the colors I use, and why!

*  White(9010)- essential~it’s great for a background and can make the colors pop. And there are other things you can do with it too, like overmelt goldstone frit into it for an interesting stone like look (there’s a little more to it than that, but not much. I need to find my old notes as I haven’t done this in years.)
*  Bright red (9840)~ great for a nice, stable red red. If folks ask me for something red and I am thinking clearly, I virtually always use red enamel.
*  ‘New’ purple #9740~ a nice, clean purple. Dark purple is OK, but this reads more true to me.
*  Light or dark orchid(9760 or 9780)~ wonderful pink either way~ also essential. I don’t know if I can tell one from the other. Reacts nicely with raku and iris gold frit.Also lovely with a line of rubino running through it.
*  Oxford blue (9650). There are several blues that are all very similar. Medium blue or blue green are OK, but I prefer oxford. There is also something called just 'aqua' I think which is quite nice.
*  Transparent aqua( might be #9452)~the only transparent I really want to have around. It’s a nice light aqua blue, not dark like all of the ones mentioned above. Probably best backed with white enamel.
*  Melon yellow (9830)~ kind of halfway between orange and yellow. I’m not a big yellow fan, but I do like this color.
*  Green~ I’m pretty sure it’s apple green (9330) that I like. Moss is a bit too grey and dark for my taste.

I have not tried orange red (9835) but it looks intriguing.
NOT black. I’ve gotten it and it just seems to turns kind of dark grey and takes over. Then again, maybe some folks know what to do with it!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Free Shipping~ Or Not

What’s so free about free shipping?! Recently, etsy has been having a sweepstakes with a big prize and all you have to do to be registered in the drawing is to have free shipping in your shop over the holidays. Huh! Apparently this is something that customers actually prefer to, say, a 10% off sale. It is also something that I can’t get my head around. My shop motto should be something like ‘fair and sensible pricing on everything all the time.’ Because that’s what I try to do. 

So how about this free shipping thing? Why not do it? Well, frankly, I can’t see how it would not cost my customers more, in some cases much more, than just charging a fair shipping price. Why? Because I do have to pay for shipping. In order to offer ‘free’ shipping to my customers, I’d simply have to add it to the cost of each item up front. To be truly fair about it, I’d have to go through all of my etsy sales and see the average number of items in a single order and then, being some kind of a math genius, figure out from there exactly how much I would need to add to the cost of each item. What a pain! But let’s pretend I feel like doing that. Let’s see if I can lay it all out.

Right now, I charge shipping for the first item and the rest are gratis. The reason is that it doesn’t really cost me much to add another item to a box. And if someone buys a bunch of things, well, I’m happy to eat the additional cost and sometimes even upgrade to priority mail. 

So today, if you buy 10 beads in my shop, you pay $3.50 in shipping within the US.

Let’s say I offer ‘free’ shipping and have done the calculations and found that the average person buys 2 items at a time. Generously, I will add only $1.75 to the price of each item to cover shipping costs. Now let’s say you are a wonderful customer and buy 10 items at once. Well, because I’ve added $1.75 to each item, you’ve just paid a whopping $17.50 in shipping, instead of $3.50. That’s $14 extra dollars, in case you weren’t paying attention.

The other side of this is that if I did offer free shipping, folks might simply purchase one thing at a time, costing me both extra time and money. I feel that what I am doing now is fairest for everyone.

Now, here’s what my current shipping charge covers, just in case you’re wondering. Postage of $2.66 (if I can ship from home~ if not the postage is the entire $3.50), an envelope, which usually costs .50, a touch of tissue, bubble wrap and tape so we’ll add .10 there, and another .05 for a business card and a note for a whopping total of $3.31. So I get paid about .19 for making the box, packing and walking to the mail box~ just like in olden times… Oh wait! Now that etsy is taking 6% (or something) of shipping charges, I actually get nothing for packing it up and sending it off. Ah well.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Lampwork Glass Bead Tutorials~ Sculptural Techniques

Over the years, I have sent a lot of tutorials in to magazines to be published, often at their request. I've decided to try fixing up a few of them to be sold on etsy- new and revised by me! Why bother? Because I feel I can make the tutorials even better myself! How?
  • I get to edit the photos myself. Often they come out cleaner and crisper when I do the work. 
  • I can add tips and extra information that there was no room for in the magazines.
  • I can include extra photos.
  • At the end I add a one-page list of all the steps for easy reference.
  • I can add a picture of my beloved pup if I want to!
Because these are PPTs (previously published tutorials), they are only $5 each and will be bundled for extra savings too. The location of the original publication will be noted in the etsy listings so if you already have it, you don't need to buy it again.

I've begun with a couple of sculptural tutorials- a Dragon's Head (Dragalope) bead and a Fish Bottle Bead. These are beads that only I make, so the instructions are all from my wee brain. I feel they give a lot of information that is especially nice for folks who want to try their hands at sculptural beads. Find all of my tutorials here: Glassbead tutorials on etsy

Mask and turtle instructions should be available shortly. These tuts have been published in a variety of places- The Flow, Soda Lime Times, Glass Bead Evolution and Glass Line to name a few. I thought it would be nice to have them all in one place!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Glass Leaf Project- Blowing in the Wind

Over the years (many) I have made a LOT of lampwork glass leaves. They are pretty quick and can be a good way to try out new colors and combinations. When someone buys something online, they are likely to get a lagniappe 'lucky' leaf included (unless I've temporarily run out).

When I went to a family reunion, I made a bunch- leaves off the family tree- to give away. When I left, I forgot the leftovers in the rental car (my silly family was reticent to take more than one each). The company was kind enough to let me know and I told them to just keep them and distribute them. They probably pitched them.

Lately I've been wondering- what happens to all those leaves? Do they get used? Worn? Given away? Put away in a dusty drawer somewhere for 'future use'? Tossed in the trash (hopefully not)? I decided it was time I tossed out some ideas of what to do with those wee leaves, so I am officially starting the 'glass leaf project' in hopes that these leaves will slowly make their way out into the world. The first leaf that officially became a part of this project was given to a well known lampworker~ he wanted to return it, but I insisted that, if he didn't want to keep the leaf, he could begin this project. So the first project leaf (in picture at right) may be somewhere out there already.

If you have a glass leaf that I made, you have just become an unwitting participant in this project. You may participate by leaving your leaf gathering dust in a drawer if that is your choice! But here are some other ideas:
* Wear it~ just put it on a cord and voila! There, that was easy
* Make something out of it- OK, that's why it's sitting in a drawer, right? Too hard!
* Give it to someone else to wear- someone who you love, someone who needs a bit of cheering up, a stranger on the street, whoever you like. No strings attached (well, you might want to put it on a cord for them).
* Put it somewhere and let someone randomly find it. Maybe with a little note that says 'take me'.
* Toss it in the drink. That's right, toss it in the nearest body of water for archaeologists of the future to find. A bajillion years from now, these wee leaves could be found all over the world~ that's a fun thought. I have tossed a lot of seconds and failed beads into bodies of water along my travels~ ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, the Gulf of Mexico~ so this part of the project is already in motion.

I do hope some of you will not only participate, but also let me know where your leaf ended up~ with a picture if you like! I don't know how to do this kind of stuff, so I will direct you to a post on my facebook fan page where you can comment and share pics if desired. Or you can post pics on my personal page!