Friday, November 26, 2010

2011 - teaching and shows

Before we know it it will be 2011.  Hard to believe.  Seems like yesterday we were waiting for the world to end as we entered the new millenium and now 2011!  Time goes too quickly.

I have already planned most of my out of town teaching and shows for 2011 and the year is packed with shows and teaching in new and exciting places.  My year will begin with the Oasis show in March (that one is here in Toronto), then off to Las Vegas for the Glass Craft Expo.  Just selling this year, but perhaps I will be able to teach there in 2012. 

In May we hold our Toronto Bead Society Show.  I am a long time member of the TBS and have recently joined the steering committee.  I am the volunteer coordinator.  Not really my first choice of a way to help out - truthfully,  I am not that outgoing, so it has been challenging for me.  Soon I am changing positions.  I will be moving over to running the semi-annual TBS bead show.  Spring will be my inaugural show (as more of the assistant) and then I will be on my own for the fall of 2011.  This show was my first bead show ever and it will always hold a special place for me.  I am thrilled to be taking over the running of it.  It is already going along just fine, thanks to Sue Wise who has manned the fort for the last five years or so.  I shall be taking over from very capable hands.     

June will be Bead and Button.  Now everyone must love that show.  I have never been to such a big show - you could just get totally lost with all those booths.  And the classes - I understand they hold over 600 classes!  Unbelievable.  I have five different classes scheduled, so it will be busy and tons of fun, I am sure.  The calendar will be out sometime in December and you can start picking your classes on January 11th. 

The summer will find me teaching at Red Deer College for a week.  This has long been a dream and when they said yes to my proposal I was thrilled.  I am not quite sure of the dates, but a whole week of beadmaking as part of their Summer Series 2011.  I have long wanted to go back to summer camp and this is my chance!  I get to be the counsellor, so to speak, but still a whole week playing in the glass studio - it will be such fun. 

By the end of October I will be flying off to California to teach at Arrow Springs.  The class description is already up on their website and I could not be happier to be invited.  I will hopefully get to spend a few days with family at Lake Tahoe before teaching. 

By then I will be happy to spend time closer to home.  The fall will bring us back to the shows I just finished - the Toronto Bead Society show and the Ottawa show once more.  It will be an amazing year, I am sure.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Where does the time go?

Well, it has been such a busy time lately.  I realized it has been a long time since I put anything up here at all.  I am certainly staying busy and 2011 looks like it will be an amazing year. 

The 2011 schedule is pretty well full.  I still work part time in a downtown law office.  I love the people and they are very supportive of my beads and really, in this ecomony, nothing beats the fact that every two weeks there is a paycheque coming my way.  I get four weeks of holidays and can switch around my days here and there to accommodate a few extra shows.  The trade off is that I work extra every couple of months when things pick up and when my boss takes her vacation.

You know how life goes though - recently I had lots of things planned for the weekends.  Volunteering at the Creativ Festival (I looked after the Toronto Bead Society booth) and a Nortel demonstration booth.  I taught one weekend.  Then we had the Toronto Bead Society show and then the next weekend I was in Ottawa teaching and at a show.  Needless to say those were the weeks that my boss was away - so, full time hours for about a month and little time for days off.  Well, truth be told there was one day in there that I had off. 

Meanwhile I have bunged up a shoulder.  Not sure if it is the bead work or the typing at the office or a combination of both.  I have been going for physiotherapy for about a month.  Yesterday I had an ultrasound and an xray.  We shall see what those tell the doctor and then perhaps a cortisone shot.  I am quite leary of such a thing but really, the pain is getting to me.

I am happy to say that I am now back to the regular routine.  I taught a five hour introductory lampwork class today, tomorrow I teach crochet in the evening.  So, hopefully, up early and at the torch in the morning.  Then off to physio and then BeadFX for some crochet fun.

Tuesday will be an exciting day.   My daughter has a piece going up at the Gladstone for a show called HARD TWIST !: CHROMA!  It is a juried show of textile based pieces.  Sarah has been working so hard on this amazing piece that will hang from the ceiling.  I can't wait to go to the opening.  But first, on Tuesday, I will be her assistant in getting it downtown and then hung up.  She has all the hardware and we shall pack a small case of drills, hammers, stud finders and the like - just in case.  The opening is on Friday and the show will be up for about two months.  Stop in and take a peek if you can.  I am sure it will be wonderful.  Hopefully, I can take a few pictures at the opening to share. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Shows and Classes

Wow, time is flying by. 

We had the Oasis show last week in downtown Toronto and now I am gearing up for our Toronto Bead Society Show (Saturday November 6 and Sunday November 7 at the CNIB Building on Bayview just north of Eglinton.  

This has got to be my favourite show.  I have  been at each and every show that the Toronto Bead Society has put on.  At that very first show I shared a table with two other glass artists and only had a few fishie beads for sale. 

I have not made one of these little guys in ages.  They were such fun!  Decorated hollows and I so enjoyed making the wee little lips!

Then the week after that I head out to Ottawa to be part of the Ottawa Glass Bead Artists Show.  This is their third year for that show.  Last year was just nutty for me and I could not participate, but this year I will be there with bells on.  After that first year we talked about the "perfect show".  The general consensus was start fairly early on a Friday and go into the evening.  Have a good day on Saturday and then just forget all about Sunday.  Well, that is the schedule for this show.  I am so pleased!  It will be Friday November 12 and Saturday November 13th. 

On the Sunday, November 14th I have been invited to teach a one day workshop entitled "Squash It" at the Glass Shoppe Studio in Ottawa.

My friend Grace Edwards just opened this shop in Ottawa and I am so very excited to be teaching at her place and I am also really looking forward to seeing her new set up. 

I taught this past weekend and as sometimes happens I do a demo and I think, Wow!  I really like this bead.  So, I played around today and made a couple of sets of five beads decorated with flowers.  I used to make these heart beads all covered in vines and flowers.  I still do sometimes.  But I am liking these ones - I am thinking about making myself a necklace.  I hope five beads will be enough!  These are both up on Etsy, so I only get to make a necklace if they don't sell.

Monday, September 13, 2010

New Beads

I think the thing that I like best about lampworking is that it is a never ending journey.  I am continually evolving and changing and my work reflects that.  The skill level required to make really outstanding beads is so very high that there will always be things that I am just absolutely incapable of doing, but that I can always strive towards.

Lately I have been thinking about stringer work.  Once upon a time, I would have told you that there was absolutley no need for those teeny tiny stringers - fat was the way to go.  I learned how to pull nice, thick, even stringers.  But time passes and we change - with these new beads I am pulling these little flimsy stringers that require a whole new set of skills to use.

Recently I purchased a tutorial on stringers from JC Herrell (  It has some wonderful tips and was by donation.  I sent a little something and she was kind enough to mail me a thank you note - now that is class!  Her tips helped to reaffirm a few things, give me some new ideas, but more importantly just the courage to go ahead and try some stuff.

Some of my new Ottoman beads with large holes have been made using some of her tips.  I do have to say that after a time of working on a new style of bead I feel as if I begin to repeat myself.  I love to play "what if", what if I change the base colour to x?  What if I add an extra series of dots here or there.  But after about 50 or so beads in a given style, I guess I just get a little bored and I begin to get ready for a change.

I started to play with putting very thin stringers horizontally down long beads and using minimal decoration in an art deco/roaring twenties sort of feel.
I am not thrilled with this bead - you can hardly see that inside those black dots are red dots - in real life it is not much better than the photo.

My second attempt took into consideration that perhaps one would want to wear the bead horizontally.
I am starting to like them now.  That was the end of day one with my art deco beads.  I had a chance to see them the next day and was able to find quite a few hours for my torch yesterday.

This is the result:

My day began with the pink one and stretching out the dots - you all know I love to do a little raking!  Then I think I made the ivory one with the red and white dots.  Next came another ivory one, again that has just got to be my favourite colour and I am not sure I will ever get enough of it.  Then came the grey one - just how many dots can I get onto one bead and then lastly was the green one.

I am enjoying this new direction and my stringer work will only get better as time goes on.  I also made one with a very large hole in grey as well - it turned out fairly nice.

So, where did the idea actually come from  . . .  I ponder such things.  I am a big fan of Andrea Graham's felt work - she makes some amazing pods out of felt and I can sort of feel those in here.  I also am reminded of the Roaring Twenties, but I cannot really tell you why.  Perhaps it is  best to leave the feeling up to you - you can feel whatever you like and share it with me.  I love to hear what people say about the Ottoman beads - everyone has something just a little different that they remind them of.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Large Hole Beads

At Gathering I purchased a selection of number 8 seed beads (not too small but not too big either) and some thread to crochet with.  I used to crochet these little bracelets with number 10 or 11 beads.  I was obsessed for a time!  Then I made a promise to myself to try to use my commuting time productively - sitting there reading is very nice, but perhaps my time could be better used?

So, I began crocheting some necklaces - they stitch up pretty fast and I can pretty well do one in a week.  I realized pretty quickly that all my mandrels are the wrong sizes so off to Nortel for some more.  The new ones are great - one is a bit snug but the other fits beautifully.  I had some fugly attempts at Ottoman in such a short space - but I am making progress.

 I really liked this one.  I have a hard time doing the same thing over and over again - I want to make it more interesting or mix it up somehow.  This sometimes works beautifully, but there are some beads I made this past week that I am not taking pictures of!

Then, today I made one this one.
It instantly has  become the new favourite!  It is always the newest bead that is the favourite!  I have a really cool green crocheted rope all ready and I think I will put it together and wear it!  I really need some cool bead caps.  I am hoping to take a pmc class at BeadFX soon.  I have been resisting the precious metal clay for a very long time - but I think I am ready to succumb!   We shall see how that all turns out!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Playing with new colours of glass that I bought at the Gathering

The International Society of Glass Beadmakers annual Gathering was recently held in Rochester, New York.  I am so glad I attended.  As always, I learned a lot.  I think that is one of my favourite things about beadmaking - there is always more to learn. 

At each Gathering there is a room with a number of technical vendors.  This year I bought a wee bit of glass from Frantz Art Glass and two new tools from Arrow Springs.  Sometimes my tool choices just don't work out so well, but this year I think I got two great new tools. 

The first new tool is a teeny tiny rod holder - it holds little rods of glass and is also pretty tiny itself.  I am loving it - I use a lot of stringers in the work I am currently doing and this is coming in very handy.  The second tool is a small pinched tweezer tool used for pulling stringers and twisties.  I used it today to pull a twistie and - WOW !!  - I am so pleased.  Usually you have to hold onto the tweezers and squeeze tightly the entire time you spin the glass out - well, not anymore - this is going to make things much easier.

As for glass I think I am in love with Spanish Leather - In real life I think it looks a bit redder than in the photo.  It is a great deep red that is holding it's own against the ivory.  That ivory - it wants to take over everything!
This next one is probably pesto (I have used it for the main top colour) - I purchased both pesto and biscotti - they seem very similar in my test beads, and frankly I can't tell you for sure which one this is.  The base is CIM olive or commando (again - not sure exactly) - but it is a great soft pale green. 

This one is called Cinnamon Choco-Lotta - on this bead it is the base colour and all the little dots.  It looks browner on the rod than it turned out - kind of a wishy washy colour  that is not really giving me any sort of a thrill. 

I am still playing with hearts and flowers - This one the base is again, Spanish Leather.  I bought a bit of tag glass and that is the brown bits - I am sure with some coaxing I could get it to be prettier, but I certainly prefer a glass that will get pretty without all the striking and cooling and reducing and striking and wishing and waving and hoping that I usually have to go through - and then the trying to remember all those steps!  I like to be in control and I guess I just don't feel like I have any control when I am so not sure how I got there, but those colours can be sooooo pretty - it is hard to stop trying to achieve all that prettiness!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Back from Gathering in Rochester

I could probably go on and on about what a good time I had at the ISGB (International Society of Glass Beadmakers) Annual Gathering that was held this year in Rochester. I have been able to attend the last 3 out of 4 Gatherings and I have had an amazing time each and every year I have attended. It is basically a jam-packed 3 1/2 day conference. You can stretch it out longer if you take some classes, but this year I pared it down to the bare minimum and drove down on Thursday evening.

We started the event with a reception at the George Eastman house - WOW! is all I can say. I was so very sorry that I did not have my camera in my purse. I almost turned my phone back on to use it's little camera, but I had vowed to keep the telephone off to save money.

Turns out that keeping the telephone off and using the hotel phone for the 4 or 5 calls I made was a poor decision on my part. More research was needed and, I expect many of you know this, but using that telephone in your room in the hotel is like throwing money right out the window! Never again! I will suck it up and pay my cell phone provider their roaming charges and data packages and at least know what I am getting into - the hotel managed to surprise me with a $90 bill for those measly 5 phone calls.

This guy was hanging out in front of our hotel room window. I was intrigued - just who is he? Peter Pan? Nope - he is Mercury. He was unveiled in Rochester on January 29, 1881. He was designed by J. Guernsey Mitchell who was commissioned to build the statue by brother-in-law William S. Kimball. Kimball wanted the statue to grace the chimney of his new tobacco factory. The statue remained up until 1951 when the building it was on was demolished. Mercury was put in storage for a period of 23 years, but he was put out once again. He really is adorable standing out there reaching for the stars.

Speaking of reaching for the stars, I collaborated recently with Heather Taylor to enter a piece in an ISGB show called Covergence II. The idea was to create some fantastic piece of jewellery that would / could be worn by an real or imagined person. Our piece is entitled Poetical Science for Ada. The piece was designed for Ada Byron (Lady Lovelace). Ada was the daughter of the poet, Lord Byron. She was a poet and a mathematician – she considered herself a “poetical scientist”. The piece made it into the show. Currently, the pieces are being shown in Rochester at the Nan Miller Gallery until August 21, 2010. On Friday evening at Gathering I took the Gallery Tour and attended the Nan Miller Gallery and a couple of other galleries. It was great fun to see all the pieces and especially exciting to see mine again. We are in very good company and the pieces will travel around the US for a whole year, ending up at the Bead and Button Show in June 2011. I have every intention of visiting with her again in Milwaukee - in fact I have sent off proposals to teach there again.

All day Friday and all day Sunday of Gathering is spent watching demos and lectures on many bead related topics. This year's theme (though by accident I am sure) was insects. Teeny, tiny off mandrel insects. I was enthralled to watch Wes Fleming and Michael Mangifico work. Wow! is all I can say. I tried some fairy wings, but they are not good enough to photograph. It is very difficult to work tiny like that with soft glass.

Saturday of Gathering is a great big bead fair. We had the best time and this year I even took half a table!

I am already looking forward to attending next year's Gathering in Louisville, Kentucky.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Home from holidays

We had the nicest time in Nova Scotia. We started in Lunenburg, then made our way across the province to Digby for some whale watching. I was very keen to go whale watching in a zodiac. It was the calmest day I have every seen on an ocean. Not a wave in sight, which made it great fun and easy to see tons of harbour porpoises. I did not get any great whale watching shots, but my hubby did. I will try to post some soon. I was too busy watching the whales to be taking pictures. We saw one jump right up in the air in front of us - amazing! We also saw moms and babies. Such fun to see the little tail and then the big tail!

While in Digby we had to check out Bear River. Somehow I imagined it to be a bigger place but we met Rob Buckland-Nicks of Flight of Fancy - what an amazing shop. All handmade stuff - not one piece of mass manufactured trinkets in sight. It was wonderful!

I bought the most beautiful bird, hand painted by Rob. He paints all kinds of birds on rocks that he finds on local beaches. He was kind enough to share many locations of great beaches, too bad we weren't around long enough to go exploring on all of them.

While in the Digby area we stopped by a small park that I had seen advertised called Balancing Rock. We had about an hour before whale watching and thought we could make it down to the rock and back. We had barely enough time, but we made it. It was a great walk on some pathways through a bit of marshland, through a bit of forest and then down 237 steps to the edge of the ocean where the most amazing sight was awaiting us.

I am not quite sure how it stays there, but it certainly is impressive. The walk up the stairs was a bit of a trek, but it was so well worth it. I am very glad to found the time to see this in person, so to speak.

After Digby we headed west towards the Cabot Trail and Baddeck. We took a day to explore the trail. Which was not nearly enough time. We stumbled upon a cliff near Chedicamp and I took this cute picture of a baby seagull. He is so ugly, I actually think he may be cute! There were seagulls and cormorants nesting on this cliff face. I just sat down on the top of the cliff and watched. I could have stayed there all day, but we had tons more places to see.

On the way back down the Cabot Trail we found Wildfire Pottery. Sarah Beck makes the cutest animals and she was kind enough to postpone an errand in Baddeck so we could do some shopping. She was so kind, said no need to feel we have to purchase anything, but I just fell in love with this puffin. I have such a soft spot for them. He is too cute!

Our trip was wonderful. The people were amazing and we stayed in bed and breakfasts all the way. Every one of them was great in its own way. Much more fun that staying in hotels, in my opinion.

I have found some time for my torch and am getting very excited to go to Rochester for Gathering. It is fast approaching (in like two weeks!). I signed up for half a table so I am not under too much pressure to make a zillion beads! I think I actually have enough for the one day show. I also have a bunch of trade beads - that is my favourite part - bead trading at Gathering on the Sunday night.

The other thing keeping me occupied is getting ready to submit class ideas to Bead and Button - can you believe that the deadline is coming up in the next few weeks. I have to have demo beads, descriptions and photos done and then everything needs to be mailed to Wisconsin! I have been working away and am getting close. One more angel is in the kiln because the first demo bead was not the most photogenic lady you ever saw, so tonight, after teaching all day, I made another one. We will see what she looks like in the morning.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Nova Scotia Here We Come

I have been playing with larger hole beads. This is my newest Etsy listing. I have not had any sales there yet, but I am giving it another try. I find it much more difficult to create a smaller bead rather than a long one. Though very long beads are still a great challenge as well.
This morning I started my day by making this bead. It took a full hour and half and it measures 56mm long (which may make it my longest bead ever!). I am still in the heart phase - I think they are so pretty - those wee hearts. Such fun to pull out and see how they evolve as I work the glass.

I am not likely to get time on my torch for a couple of weeks. We are heading out to Nova Scotia for a holiday.
I hope to find beautiful beaches like this one to walk on and take lots of pictures. I have dreams of making some of these pictures into beautiful works of felted art. Perhaps some glass as well, but I am not sure I am trying beaches and trees in the glass just now, but felt . . . well I have this stash of felt just waiting for me upstairs.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Heart Day in the Studio and my first Viking Knit completed

This is what the kiln fairy had for me today! I have been on a big hole bead kick for the last couple of days. Today I focused mainly on heart shapes. I really had a lot of fun.

I took a Viking Knit class at Bead and Button with Anne Mitchell. I came home all geared up to make a necklace and after a convo on Etsy it came to me . . . I could make the Ottoman beads with big holes! Wow! That certainly simplified a whole bunch of issues re: attaching them, keeping the two pieces the same size, etc. I am also trying to make some smaller large hole Ottoman style beads with bracelets in mind. There is one up on the Etsy site and the little one here (the heartless one) will likely get up on Etsy in the next few days as well.
Here is a picture of the finished necklace. It turned out so beautifully! I had to get my dear hubby to help with the pulling - he wanted credit - so I have officially named him my Viking Puller! I am sure he is thrilled! But truly, I do not have the strength to do that pulling by myself. The beautiful rosewood thing with the holes (I am sure there is a proper name) is designed to be put into a vice, but that would mean a trip out to the garage and fighting with the vice - assuming there actually is one attached to the tool table out there (though I am pretty sure there is one). Asking the hubby was ever so much easier. My daughter was also suitably impressed. She had helped a bit with the stitching and I think she was wondering what I was up to as it was not so impressive before the magical pullling happened. It is quite addictive. I am already planning on the next one!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hilton Inspired Bead

I had a chance to do some beadmaking both on Sunday and Monday. I did not print the picture from the Hilton Lobby, but I tried to make that sort of fan image in the centre of the bead. Not quite like the image, but inspired by.

Then I just played. Believe it or not I am already thinking ahead to next year's Bead and Button and was making some toggles - they are such fun and I am thinking about proposing a class on how I make them.

I have begun to focus on more of a bicone shape. The tube shape is truly an easier one for me but after a whole year of intense marvering practice I have improved and that opens up more options. I really like this one. I do like the little flower motif - that shape is still quite challenging to make and I am happiest at my torch if I am feeling challenged.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My First Posting on this Blog

Here I am trying my hand at blogging.

So, a little about myself: My name is Amy Waldman-Smith (but I bet you have already figured that part out). I began lampworking in 2001 when I took an introductory class at Nortel Manufacturing with Lezlie Winemaker. In those days both Lezlie and I were known by other names, but time change and so do names sometimes.

I fell in love at first bead and have not looked back since.

I initially had no intention of setting up a studio, but the minute that was possible I jumped on it. I never thought it would be more than a hobby, but in 2003 I was asked to teach at BeadFX when the owner became pregnant with her first child. I have been teaching at BeadFX on a regular basis since then. I teach introductory lampwork and also some intermediate classes. You can check their website for when - just click on the month you are interested in and you can see all the classes they offer. Click here to go to the BeadFX site.

I recently returned home from the Bead and Button show. I came back last Monday and am slowly recovering. What a week. I took three little classes - all tons of fun and for the first time I taught lampworking at Bead and Button. What a blast.

I participated in the Flame On to raise money for breast cancer: I have say I was very nervous. My pal Betty is there behind me - she stayed for the entire bead! (over an hour). The other onlookers are gazing at Dora Schubert - she had quite the following and I do wish I could have watched what she was up to because that girl does some amazing stringer work!

I finally found some time for my torch today. I work in a law office in downtown Toronto 3 days a week - can't quite give up that wonder of a regular paycheque. I work for the nicest people ever - so it makes it very easy to go into the office. I do miss my torch.

I took this photo in the lobby of the Hilton Hotel in downtown Milwaukee. I am wondering just how to incorporate it into my beads. We shall see what happens.