Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Photo gallery: Handmade abstract fused dichroic glass jewelry sets

Happy holidays, everyone! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Joyous Kwanzaa! Happy New Year!

I hope you're all having a great holiday season, no matter what you celebrate. We always go to our friends' for Christmas, but this year, we brought a menorah so we could light the candles for the second night of Hanukkah. We really enjoyed combining our holidays and sharing traditions with our friends.

I couldn't take too much of a break, though, because December is always my busiest month -- and this year hasn't disappointed. I've had a lot going on with my jewelry and my music. This week, I had three holiday performances and on Friday, I'll be ringing in the new year (a touch early) by playing a local coffeehouse. This is something I've been wanting to do for a long time. I love performing for seniors, but I'd also like to branch out and play for other groups. This won't be Carnegie Hall, but it'll give me a chance to entertain the people in my neighborhood and to try some different types of music.

I'm also working on various jewelry projects. People seem to like my glass jewelry sets, so I've made a few more of those. What I like about these is that they give me a chance to work on certain skills. For instance, that abstract set with the chunky blue and purple pieces was slightly underfired to give it that very textured appearance. That glossy pink and green set with the dots is called "Midnight At The Oasis" and was made with three layers of glass. I've gotten much better at firing the glass at even intervals so it results in a smooth finish, as you can see. The blue and pink wire wrapped set was made with transparent glass, which again, gives the piece an interesting looking finish.

As always, I have more projects in the works, so please check in regularly. And don't forget to check out Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Abstract heart mosaic necklaces made from fused dichroic glass

I'm still learning how to cut glass into exact shapes because I find it difficult to score glass on a curve. It's much easier to cut it on angles. Therefore, I sometimes "cheat" and use pre-cut shapes for my base glass.

I love hearts, so I recently made these glass heart mosaic pendants:

These guys are about 1 3/4 inches by 1 1/2 inches. I'd purchased smaller hearts earlier in the year and all but one have sold. I wanted to try working with a larger canvas.

I may have saved some time by using pre-cut glass, but getting the mosaic shapes to fit is still pretty labor intensive. I had to make sure each piece fit and a lot of snipping and filing was involved. I wanted the pieces to fire evenly and not break, so I put them in my kiln for 15-20 second increments. This takes time, but I like using this method because I can remove the glass at the exact right moment. I generally start with 30 seconds, just to heat the kiln, and then fire at 15-20 second intervals. I put on my gloves and protective eye wear, and lift the kiln after each interval so I can see where the glass is on the firing schedule. With an industrial-sized kiln, you'd set the timer on a schedule so the glass slowly cooks over the course of several hours. Since I don't have that option, this is my modified version of that process -- and it works!

I LOVE these pendants, though. They're so colorful and pretty. I gave the one with the red section to my friend Nancy for Christmas. And I wore the one with the orange and green swirls. I'm actually thinking of keeping it. Imagine that? Me keeping a piece of my own jewelry!

Nancy was excited to receive her heart because she'd purchased one of the smaller mosaics from me. She likes to layer necklaces so her plan is to wear the bigger heart on a long chain and then pair it with the smaller heart, which she'll wear on a shorter chain. I'll have to get her to model the jewelry for you.

Because I love these hearts so much, I ended up buying huge pre-cut pieces that are several inches across. I hadn't realized just HOW large they are, but they're coaster-sized. Way too big to wear as pendants! I've worked on one so far, just to see what it would look like, and think these could make nice holiday ornaments -- or even year-round suncatchers. I mean, Christmas ornaments don't HAVE to be in the shapes of trees or gingerbread people, right? Sure, hearts are associated with Valentine's Day, but this is supposed to be a season where one celebrates love and family. Why not a big heart?

Check out the rest of my handmade jewelry at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Silver and pink wire wrapped dichroic glass jewelry set: fused glass necklace and earrings

This week, I had dinner with an artist friend and explained to her how to set up an Etsy shop. I suggested that she create some smaller, less expensive paintings to round out her collection, which includes large, expensive pieces. Granted her paintings are gorgeous and with the months of work she put into them are worth the money she charges... but if she's selling online, she'll need to expand her market if she wants to make steady money from her art.

When it comes to my jewelry, I'm basically the opposite as my friend. I use inexpensive materials and charge pretty low prices for my items. I don't use real gemstones in my work and my prices reflect my pieces for what they are: fun costume jewelry.

However, I've been offering some bigger ticket glass items, mainly in the form of jewelry sets... and to my surprise (and delight), they've sold quickly. Each time I've posted a jewelry set on Etsy, it's been purchased within a month of being listed. My husband's advice: "Well, that means you should make more!" Duh, right?

I don't want to slap any old set together just to make money. These pieces take a long time to complete and I only sell the ones I'd wear myself. For all of the pieces I list, I have a lot of reject pile projects, as well. Sometimes my friends want those, so my effort wasn't a total waste!

I recently finished a new set using just two kinds of dichroic glass: mirrored silver and crinkle-cut pink. I call these necklace and earrings my Pink Lady piece:

When I have a pile of colorful glass in front of me, it's difficult not to reach for every shade and pattern. I like this simple striped design, though, and how only two glass layers are used. I've added another clear layer to the silver, but I don't like how it looks. Most colors turn shiny and sparkly when they're under clear glass, but the silver becomes muted. I prefer it when it has that metallic sheen.

I wasn't going to add the Swarovski crystals, but there's a tiny burn mark on the pendant. The piece looks OK when it's bare, but the pink crystals add some pizzazz -- and cover that imperfection. I then wire wrapped the earrings so they'd go with the pendant.

Because dichroic glass has so many unique patterns, it can be difficult to find jewelry that matches. Offering jewellery sets is the logical way to go! Check out my handmade pieces at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Enamel sugar skull hair clip with fused dichroic glass beads

My customers are constantly challenging me to think outside the box -- which I love. I'm pretty creative, but I enjoy it when others come up with a great idea for me to work with.

A friend of a friend recently commissioned me to make a Christmas gift for his daughter: a colorful enamel sugar skull barrette.

I haven't made too many accessories outside of the usual necklaces, pendants, earrings, bracelets and rings, but I was eager to try. I purchased some barrettes from the drugstore and got to work.

I didn't want to make the skull too big since it's going to be worn by a little girl. I wanted it to be comfortable in her hair and to not get tangled. I made a smaller version of the sugar skulls I've made for pendants and fastened it at the end of the clip.

Her dad asked that I make the piece very colorful, so I tried to think of patterns that a girl would enjoy. I added little hearts for eyes and rainbow stripes. Not all girls are traditionally "girly," so I didn't want to go overboard in using pinks and purples.

Once the skull was attached to the barrette, there was a lot of extra room, so I added a few glass beads to complete the design. I really like how I have two kinds of glass work on the piece: the enamel and dichroic. They mix well and I really should combine them more often.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to return to my enameling class this semester, but went so I could work on this skull. I ended up making two other pendants and a pair of earrings, so it ended up being worth my time. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do for the spring, but I'm not quite ready to say good-bye. I can't enamel at home because I don't have the space for a proper kiln and I would miss it if I weren't able to do it. It's just been harder to find time to squeeze in the class between my other jewelry work and musical gigs.

Anyway, I hope this girl likes her Christmas gift. I always get a little nervous when people buy my work for someone's birthday or as a special present. Hopefully, my skull will make her the best-dressed kid in her grade school. :-)

Check out the rest of my handmade jewelry at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Teaching Dichroic Glass Jewelry at the Cemetery!

Yep, you read that correctly: this past weekend, I taught a glass-making class at the local cemetery, Maple Grove, in Queens, NY.

Maple Grove was established in 1875 and is on the list of National Register of Historic Places. It's a non-denominational cemetery and among the many notable people buried there are singer Lavern Baker, aviation pioneer Charles Manley and Jacob Riis' wife, Elizabeth Riis. My good friend, Suzanne, who died in 2014, is also there.

Friends of Maple Grove (FoMG) offers various cultural programs, such as concerts, classes and even a murder mystery dinner, all which honor the history of those resting there or the Victorian Era. I was invited to teach glass-making as part of the latter. Decorative glass was trendy during Victorian times and many of the old homes in our area are adorned with elaborate glass windows.

Maple Grove isn't that big, but has two buildings: the old administration building and the large, modern art center. Concerts are usually held at the Center, but I had the class at the older building.

The place is amazing! The home is filled to the brim with historic knickknacks and costumes. FoMG puts on performances where players dress in old clothing and there's plenty to choose from.

We didn't dress up, but the organizers, Helen and Carl, set up the event so it was a class/tea party. We used beautiful China and snacked on an assortment of tiny cakes and cookies. Carl suggested we work in the back room, which is larger and a bit less cluttered than the entrance area. We were surrounded by historic pieces, including a Civil War-Era tea set.

Helen picked up two microwaves for me so I could fire multiple pieces at once. I also purchased a second kiln, which is about four times the size of my other one. There were nine students in this class, but I was able to fire six pieces at once and save a lot of time.

Since this was a beginner class, I had my students make simple mosaic pieces. I pre-cut the glass shards and black bass pieces, but I let each woman try her hand at cutting the glass herself. I love working with the seniors, but there's only so much they can do. These students were much more involved in the process.

Once each made her glass pendant, I taught them some very basic wire work and showed them how to make a spiral necklace bail. So they learned two skills for the price of one class.

I couldn't believe how quickly the two hours flew by! At one point, I was running back and forth between the two rooms as I checked the kilns and was also trying to help the women with their wire structures. I actually broke a sweat! We all had a wonderful time, though, and everyone was very pleased with her piece. I always enjoy watching my students' faces as they see the glass turn molten for the first time. They never quite believe me when I warn that the microwave kiln heats to 1500- degrees, but when they see the glowing, red glass, they get it.

A couple of funny things happened during our time there. Carl brought his little dog, Sky, along. He's adorable and was well-behaved, but at times, it seemed as if he wanted to join us in making art. Also, at one point, a couple of other Maple Grove members stopped by to check out costumes for a future event. I was by myself in the front room as I checked the smaller kiln and turned around only to see the two guys dressed in velvet robes and ornate crowns. "What do you think?" one asked, with a grin. "Too much?"

I was a little nervous about teaching this class, but no one was burned or cut (always a possibility when working with glass) and everyone had a great time. The students kept telling me how wonderful the class had been and a couple purchased pieces from me. One said that she might have another job for me, teaching glass to her church group. And Carl and Helen have invited me to return! The ladies were asking if we could do a class once a month and if we could also do a wire-wrapping session. I'd love to do more, but I'm not sure if Maple Grove had the time or space. I'd be happy to teach a few times a year.

It's funny because both of my parents were teachers and I swore I'd never follow in their footsteps. You know what? I love teaching. I'd never want to work in a traditional classroom, but I enjoy sharing my art with others. It thrilled me to see these women fall in love with glass.

Here are some shots from the day. You can see the rest of my work at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Handmade fused dichroic glass jewelry: working with glass decals

It's been almost a year since I started making glass pieces. To date, this is my favorite jewelry discipline. I love wire work and enamel, but I'm happiest when I'm fusing glass.

I still have a lot to learn and am constantly experimenting with new techniques. Lately, I've been playing with glass decals. In April, I'll be selling my pieces at a Tarot fair, so I plan to have jewelry that resonates with this particular audience. My glass pendants will be adored with celestial symbols, Zodiac figures, Trees Of Life, etc. You can pretty much cover any interest with decals!

Hundreds of different decals are available on specialty sites and even Amazon, which has a surprisingly thorough collection. They're super easy to use: you soak the decal in warm water for about 30 seconds, gently peel off the backing and carefully apply the decal to the glass. Once the decal dries -- usually after a few hours -- you can fire it onto the piece, making the design permanent. So simple! Or so I thought...

I purchased several decal packs, including cats, sun and moon figures and fairies. As soon as they arrived, I eagerly got to work sticking decals on pieces, but I really should've watched an instructional video before digging in. For my first attempt, I heated the decal onto a piece of unfired glass, which you aren't supposed to do. The glass fused, but the decal burned, leaving a black mark on the surface.

Next, I correctly added the decal to a piece of already-fused glass... but this time, I heated the glass too quickly and it snapped in half. Damn!

Since the decals look best with solid backgrounds, I purchased beautiful fuchsia and gold glass. Unfortunately, the glass kept cracking in my kiln. I finally tried a new technique where I very slowly heat the pieces, 15-20 seconds at a time. It's a time-consuming process, but the glass heats evenly and doesn't break. I'm also doing this with the decals, so that they don't burn.

I'm still making some mistakes: there were a couple of pieces where the decal was underfired and rubbed right off the glass. The sun and moon figures have a backing and a coating on the front, which I hadn't realized, so my first attempt at firing them resulted in my pieces catching fire. But I'm learning! I'm practicing and am getting there, and as you can see from my above photos, have managed to create some beautiful pieces.

I've just ordered a couple more packs: inspirational words, like "Love," "Hope" and "Piece" and designer hearts. These decals add a fun, new dimension to my glass and it's been worth the effort to work with them.

Check out the rest of my handmade wire wrapped, fused glass and enamel jewelry at my WEBSITE/STORE or Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

I Was Screwed Over By PayPal

I usually try to keep this blog upbeat and focused on my jewelry, but I had a really bad experience with PayPal a few weeks ago and feel the need to share it.

PayPal basically acts as a "piggy bank" for funds; customers pay you through the site and you can then transfer your funds to the bank. However, you can also use it as a monetary source. For instance, when I took those glass classes last year, Brooklyn Glass only accepted PayPal, so I simply sent the funds from my reserve.

For the most part, I hadn't had any difficulties with PP, but trouble began a couple of months ago. I received several "invoices" from a stranger requesting that I send him money. The requests were ignored and deleted. I called PayPal and they simply advised me to change my password and security settings, which I had already done.

Next, someone hacked into my page and used my PP for $3 worth of online games. I am not a gamer, so this was definitely not me. I again changed my password and security, and called PP. They said they'd "look into it," but their "investigation" concluded that I was the one responsible for purchasing the games (I wasn't, I swear!). I kind of laughed it off -- I mean, it was $3 -- but their refusal to truly investigate annoyed me.

Well, in October, on our way up to Maine, where we were seeing family, I received an email saying that my PP funds had successfully been transferred to my bank account. Um... what? I hadn't transferred anything. Not yet, anyway.

Turns out, someone again hacked into my PayPal and listed a new bank account under MY name -- and took all of my remaining PP money. The bank used is legit, but it's a chain that my husband and I had never heard of, and is located in Alabama. Remember, we live in NY.

I called PayPal, hoping to straighten this out, but was on the phone for about an hour -- mostly on hold -- as I was shuffled from one department to another. Finally, I was put in contact with a representative from their fraud department. I explained the situation, but her conclusion was that because my name was on the account, it meant I'd made the transfer.

I kept trying to explain how we'd never heard of this bank, how the criminal obviously had the foresight to create an account with my name on it (and used his or her real name at the actual bank), how she should examine the IP address, call the bank, etc... but she refused to cooperate. Then she became angry with me when I got upset. She kept saying, "This is how we do it at PayPal, it's our policy." Shouldn't your policy be protecting your customers?

Frustrated, I hung up on her and called the bank to see if they could help me out. They confirmed that neither I or my husband have an account with them... but because I'm not a client, wouldn't send me a written letter stating that I'm not a member of the bank.

I'm not sure what actions I can take from here. In the end, it wasn't that much money. It was enough so that it stung, but I'm not going to go hungry or miss bill payments, or anything like that. I'm just disappointed in PayPal for not doing more to work with and protect their customers. One of their biggest boasts is that they're a "secure" site and obviously, they're not. Unfortunately, PayPal basically has a monopoly on online commerce. I know there are other programs out there like Google Wallet, etc., but Etsy uses PayPal as an option and many of my customers -- on and off Etsy -- prefer making their purchases through the site.

Part of this is my fault. I've learned that expensive lesson that money is definitely NOT secure sitting in a PP account and from now on, any sales that come through that site will immediately be sent to my bank. I should have done this from the beginning. Stupid me! Still, I wish PP would treat their customers with some more respect and really try to work with us on our problems rather than automatically assume we're in the wrong.

So if you use PayPal, let me be an example to you of what can go wrong. Do NOT keep funds in your account. Transfer them to your bank ASAP. Don't make the same mistake I did.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Adventures in making fused dichroic glass jewelry: my first glass demo!

It's been about 10 months since I began making glass pieces and this art has become my favorite out of all of the jewelry making techniques I practice. I got to share my knowledge -- limited as it is at this point -- with the seniors at the Homestead, a local residence near me.

In my last post, I wrote about how I'm going to be teaching a glass class early next year at Maple Grove Cemetery's cultural center. I want to get a few demos in before doing this, so I asked the Homestead's rec director if I could teach glass fusing at my monthly jewelry making class. She agreed and the seniors seemed to be excited with the idea.

Still, I was nervous. A few of the seniors have minor dementia and glass fusing involves well, glass, and fire. I didn't want anyone to get hurt. To prepare, I pre-cut all of the glass and filed the ends of each piece to blunt them. I also explained to the rec director that I needed to be the only one who operated the kiln.

I decided to have my students make mosaic pendants, which involved fusing colorful bits onto a black base. It's a fairly simple glass project, but the results are beautiful. They're also fun to make!

Before handing out the glass pieces, I explained what dichroic glass is and showed them the kiln and kiln paper. One of the ladies is 91, sharp as a tack, and has a wonderful sarcastic sense of humor. "That looks like something you'd heat Chinese dumplings in!" she said of the kiln. And when I showed her the kiln paper, "Well, now we know what we can use if we run out of toilet paper."

The rec director and I helped them arrange and glue the pieces and we then took a little field trip to the microwave, where I showed them how the glass is fired. This microwave was bigger than mine, so the piece fired in about two minutes -- and the women were impressed. They all "oohed" and "aahed" as I lifted the kiln's lid and presented the glowing, molten pendant. After, that same lady told me, "You know, at my age, I thought I've seen everything, but this is new to me. You can always learn something."

We finished up the lesson with everyone putting their glued pendants into labeled envelopes, so I could finish firing them at home. But the women wanted more! They've asked if I could do another lesson showing how I actually cut and shape the glass. They also loved the idea of working with pre-cut shapes, like hearts and stars.

I'm so happy and relieved that my class was a success! I really love working with these women and am pleased that they enjoyed glass fusion as much as I do. Now that I did this class, I feel more confident taking my lesson to other venues. I look forward to introducing more people to this art form.

Check out the rest of my handmade wire wrapped jewelry, enamel jewellery and glass jewelry at Naomi's Designs, MayaGirl Creations and Glass By Naomi.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Selling handmade jewelry: More weird tales from the craft fair, some interesting opportunities and working with precut glass shapes!

Last week was one of the busiest weeks I've had in a while. I had the art fair on Sunday, rehearsal on Monday and Wednesday, and then a combo vendor sale/concert at the Atria on Thursday. Whew! Happily, all went well and it's on to the next projects.

I didn't really make anything new for the Atria sale, figuring I'd just sell my leftover pieces from the art fair. I'm constantly making new items, so I always have a full inventory on hand. Unfortunately, I quickly learned that the seniors wanted less expensive jewelry. Most of my stuff is priced between $15-35, but many people asked if I had $5 items. Fortunately, I always bring wire with me so I can work on projects, so I churned out a bunch of cute wire pendants, selling 2 for $10. Those were popular and I made some sales! I also sold a few glass pieces, as well, but I know to have very inexpensive options for the next event.

I've mentioned my friend Judith on this blog before. She's my music partner, one of the biggest supporters of my jewelry venture and has also decided that she's my "agent." I'm very lucky to have met her and am so glad I called the Atria to see if they needed a flutist. Anyway, Judith hooked me up with two interesting jewelry gigs: I'm going to be doing another vendor sale at the senior home where she used to work and in April, I'm going to be selling my pieces at a four-day tarot card readers' convention.

Full disclosure: I know NOTHING about tarot. I've never seen a psychic or had a reading, or anything like that. I'm open-minded to learning, though, and the Readers Studio is a very popular event that has an artists' market and attracts hundreds of tarot practitioners from around the world. I can't guarantee that my jewelry will sell -- I never can be sure -- but I am certain I'll meet some interesting people!

To prepare for these craft fairs and now this tarot show, I've been trying to make some more commercial designs. When working with enamel, I sometimes use "blanks," which are pre-cut copper shapes. I like to draw and cut my own pieces when I can, but this saves time.

You can also get pre-cut glass shapes. Glass is a lot harder to cut into exact shapes like thin sheet metal, so I've ordered pre-cut hearts, butterflies, Stars Of David, Christmas Trees, etc. I'm still learning how to design my own glass cut-outs, but in the meantime, I can play with some ready-made objects. I've been using them as a base for these cool mosaic designs:

I have over six months to prepare for the tarot event, but I do want to make jewelry that fits the theme. I'm planning to get some more stars and other celestial shapes. I'm also playing around with decals, which you can fire right onto the glass. Eventually, I'd like to learn how to etch my own designs using etching cream. I haven't even been making glass for a year, so I have a lot to learn!

Another opportunity coming up is I'm going to be teaching a workshop at a historical cemetery near me called Maple Grove. They have a cultural center, where they have performances and offer workshops such as Victorian hat making. The woman in charge came to the Atria for a lecture and noticed Judith's glass necklace, which was one of my creations. She and I got in touch and I'm going to be giving a glass workshop sometime early next year. I want to make it fit into Victorian times, so I'm going to explain how decorative glass became popular during that era.

My jewelry is taking me on some unusual, but exciting paths. I'm eager to see where I go next! You can check out my collections at Naomi's Designs, MayaGirl Creations and Glass By Naomi.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Selling handmade jewelry: weird tales from the craft fair

It's September, start of Fall Craft Fair Season... which means it's time for another edition of "Weird Tales From The Craft Fair."

My latest event took place on Sunday. It was my neighborhood's local Community Arts Day and I was happy to participate. Vendors are juried for this event and though this was my third time selling at it, I was rejected for its second year. I no longer just assume I'm going go get in and was thrilled to be chosen. Here are some shots of my table. No, I do not know who Jeff is...

I was worried about being put on a side street rather than on the main road. Even worse, my table was put right under a shop awning and birds pooped on the table (thankfully NOT on the jewelry!!!). My friend Lani was with me, though, and she stayed calm -- and insisted that a bird pooping means good luck.

I'm not sure if it really does bring luck, but we actually got a lot of traffic and Lani was the best sales partner I could've asked for. She has retail experience and is a natural "people person." I always chat with people who approach the booth, but she managed to close a few of the trickier sales. For instance, one woman liked a pair of silver wire wrapped spiral earrings, but thought they were too long. Without missing a beat, Lani said, "Oh, she'll shorten them right now. Give her five minutes." I did... and the woman ended up buying the earrings and a matching bracelet.

There was also a woman who couldn't decide between two pendants. I thought she was just going to give up, but Lani talked her into settling on one ... and she purchased that and matching earrings. Thanks to Lani, I made more at this fair than I ever had.

I have to give myself some credit, though, because I worked my butt off preparing for this event. I spent many late nights finishing glass pieces and came up with new ideas for designs. A few people purchased my wire work, but most of my sales were the dichroic glass.

As always, I met some interesting people throughout the day. The first person to purchase something from my table was a politician, our neighborhood's councilwoman! She was really nice and bought a glass Star Of David pendant. Soon after, I was approached by a woman who was wearing a beautiful wooden necklace. When I asked her about it, she explained that it wasn't made of wood, but was constructed of polymer clay designed to look like wood. She took my card and later e-mailed me to send me some links about working with clay. This might be something my senior students enjoy doing, so I'd like to look into it.

I did see some familiar faces, too. My husband, Jon, stopped by to help me set up and take down the table. I was also visited by good friends Judith, David and Leah. Our favorite "visitor," though was the black and white cat who appeared in a window of the apartment across the street. He sat for almost an hour watching us from his perch. Lani named him "Belvedere." Obviously, we don't know his real name or even his gender, but we enjoyed his company!

I didn't take too many breaks, but during lunch, I took a quick look around at the other booths. A few vendors returned from previous years, including a young woman who paints striking abstract portraits. Last year, she only sold large paintings and a few other vendors suggested she sell smaller, less expensive pieces. She followed the advice and ended up doing well this year.

One of the first-time vendors, who had a booth near me, makes tinfoil sculptures. His stuff is amazing! His most popular item was his foil roses. Leah and David purchased a tinfoil dinosaur for their 4-year-old son.

Overall, it was a great day, but there's no time to relax. Tomorrow, I have another fair AND a gig at the Atria. In the morning, I'm selling more of my glass pieces and in the afternoon, Judith and I are performing a bossa nova program. We're playing pieces such as "Girl From Ipanema" and "Agua de Beber." As a flutist, I love Brazilian jazz, so I'm looking forward to this.

Meantime, the holiday season is quickly approaching, which means much more jewelry-making for me! Check out the rest of my collections at Naomi's Designs, MayaGirl Creations and Glass By Naomi.

Friday, September 2, 2016

New handmade wire wrapped necklaces and earrings -- and an exciting update!

I have several new items to share, but first some very exciting news: my jewelry is now being sold in Threading-N-More salon!

I've been getting my eyebrows done here for years and have always admired the colorful jewelry on display. Finally, I got up the nerve to ask the owner if she'd consider buying some of my pieces. She agreed to take a look -- and ended up purchasing 36. Woot!

Now I just have to hope that my jewelry actually sells for her. If all goes well, this will be an ongoing gig. She has three salons so my work would be featured at all. If customers don't like my work, well, she gave me a chance, which is so, so appreciated. I've been trying to get my stuff into stores for a long time and haven't had success. I'm thrilled to have this opportunity.

One person who DOES like my work is the owner's young daughter. As I took out my necklaces, the little girl promptly put each on, so she was wearing all of them at once. She then stacked all of my bracelets onto her arm. Later, a few of the necklaces got tangled, so she helped me pull them apart. As she did so, she said, "I feel like I'm fishing." Then each time she successfully untangled a necklace, she'd announce, "I caught another fish!" It was very cute.

The owner purchased several of my fused glass pieces, as well as a couple of my enamel necklaces. But she and her daughter really liked the wire wrapped jewelry I made with briolettes. I designed these pieces specifically for our meeting:

These briolettes were a gift from a frequent customer of mine who's also requested a bulk order. I've been working with this woman for months and she's become a friend. When she heard I might be getting this salon gig, she sent me several bags of briolettes as a "Good luck" gift -- and they worked! So my work on one large order led to another. This customer prefers I don't mention her by name, but I can't even begin to express how grateful I am to her. Every artist hopes they'll meet someone who believes in them and gives them their "big break." She's that person for me.

OK, enough mushiness! Let's talk jewelry. I wanted to make pieces that highlight the briolettes so I chose colors and accents that matched. I've always liked the combination of pink, silver and black so when I saw the large black briolette, I went right for the silver wire and fuchsia crystals. Meanwhile, I wanted to do something to show off the colors of those rainbow briolettes, so chandelier earrings seemed like the best bet. This was the most convenient way to feature all of them.

I have large red briolettes and originally designed earrings where they hung from a big spiral. However, these earrings are too heavy for the average person, so I made a modified version using smaller stones and a thinner gauge wire. These are perfect! I also made a version with silver wire and purple briolettes, which I forgot to photograph. The salon owner loved these, so if they sell, I can make them in a variety of colors and wires.

In other news, I was again accepted into the local art fair, which is September 25. I'm especially excited about this year's event because I plan to exhibit my fused glass pieces. I sold them at the little fair I did at the home a few months ago, but this will be my official "debut." I'm already working on some new jewelry sets and will continue to make new pieces up until the day of the fair. I'm also excited because my friend Lani will be visiting that weekend and will help me work the booth. Lani is an absolutely fantastic saleswoman, with a background in retail and telemarketing, so I'm putting her to work! I'm hoping my glass will set itself, but if anyone can close a deal, it's her.

Sorry for the lack of posts, but as you can see, I've been busy! I'll have more pieces to share and will keep you updated on my latest goings-on. You can check out the rest of my handmade wire wrapped, glass and enamel jewelry at Naomi's Designs, MayaGirl Creations and Glass By Naomi.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Fused dichroic glass jewelry making techniques

Many friends and family members have asked how I've learned to fuse glass. Well, I did take a class at the beginning of the year and I also watch a lot of videos. My favorites are by Tanya Veit, an artist who works for AAE Glass. Her videos are comprehensive and I've learned so much from her. There are several on YouTube; you can also download some on the AAE site.

I'm also learning different techniques just from practicing. The great thing about having my own kiln is I can make as much glass as I want. So while there have been failures, I've also picked up some new skills along the way.

Lately, I've been working on layering. Ideally, you'd have a full-sized kiln for fusing glass -- one where you can make dozens of pieces at once and fire them over gradually increasing temperatures over the course of a few hours. Frankly, those tools are expensive and I don't really have room for one in my apartment, so I'm depending on my microwave. It limits me because I can't do multiple firings like you can with a larger, more professional kiln, but I can still do plenty with it -- and I've been experimenting with various techniques and textures.

In the above photo, I show how those techniques can create very different types of glass. In the upper left-hand corner is a piece that's been overfired. To be honest, I did not mean to overfire it, but I left it in for a bit too long. The dichroic glass is deeply embedded into the clear base and rounded out; there are few distinct lines between designs. Also, the colors have dulled.

On the other hand, the piece next to it, in the upper right-hand corner, has been underfired. While the dichroic glass has been fully fused onto the base, it still has a textured, 3D effect. The glass edges are well-defined and the colors pop. I personally love underfiring because the pieces are so vibrant.

That blue piece in the lower left-hand corner has been fired for just the right amount of time (this is a lot like Golidilocks, LOL). I did this by using only two layers, as I did in the pieces above. It's simply blue glass fired onto clear. That top layer is "uncapped," resulting in glass with a shiny, metallic finish.

The other blue piece in the lower right-hand corner, was made with three layers: clear, blue and green tie-dyed dichoic, clear. This glass was "capped," resulting in a thicker, rounder design where the dichro looks as if it's floating.

When it comes to techniques and layering glass, there are literally millions of things you can try! Veit demonstrated pendants made with five or six layers; she likes to use transparent glass so she can create interesting colored background and add depth to her designs. I've been trying to do more of this. I successfully fired a four-layer pendant the other day, but the colors were too dark and it came out looking a little murky. Still, it didn't fall apart or melt, so I at least know it can be done. I'm going to continue to practice and see what I come up with -- and if I make some beautiful creations along the way, even better.

Check out the rest of my handmade jewelry at Naomi's Designs, MayaGirl Creations and Glass By Naomi.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Silver wire wrapped and fused dichroic glass jewelry set with Swarovski crystals: glass necklace, pendant, earrings and bracelet

Summer is usually quiet for my jewelry business, with August being especially dead. This year has been crazy, though -- not that I'm complaining! I had my class yesterday, plus I've had a bunch of large orders. Also, August 22 marks the deadline for submitting work to my town's annual art festival.

I was accepted into the festival last year and in 2013, but I was rejected in 2014. There are many talented artists in Queens, so I can't just assume I'll make it in. That was what killed me two years ago: my hubris. I didn't submit my best photos and a blurry picture kept me out of the event. Many more people now know of the fair so there's a lot of competition. I need to step up my game.

A few weeks ago, I completed a custom order for a woman who contacted me on Etsy. She had me make her an abstract fused glass jewelry set containing a wire wrapped necklace, earrings and a bracelet:

I loved designing these pieces, but it was a lot of work -- and a bit stressful at times because the customer had specific colors and patterns she liked. We were both really pleased with the end result, though, and I decided to create a similar glass jewelry set:

I had a lot more freedom when it came to making this and based my patterns around this gorgeous butterfly glass. This was an impulse purchase I made when I was ordering red dichro for the other set. I saw the butterflies and just had to have them! Now I'm trying to get my money's worth and use this glass as much as I can.

I also really like that gold-fuchsia glass that looks pink from certain angles and yellow from others. It's an unusual color, but is so pretty.

The first set's pendant is on a black cord, but I wanted something with a bit more "oomph" for the festival. I added rainbow colored Swarovski crystal bicones to the chain for an extra burst of colors. The crystals repeat in the bracelet chain. I was going to make the earrings with posts, but ended up turning them into dangle earrings with yet more crystals.

I get to submit three photos for the festival, though last year I submitted four since one enamel piece had a different pattern on each side. I'm definitely including this set, which will also be a show piece if I get in. I'm thinking of including a photo of the first set, as well as a picture of a wire wrapped item. We're not required to share photos of pieces that will actually be in the fair; they just have to represent our product.

I'm really hoping to make it into the fair this year. I sold many items in the last two and I'm especially excited to show off my glass. Also, I've become very involved in the community over the last year by working in the two nearby senior homes, and I enjoy being a part of the local art scene. I've met some wonderful artists and musicians and like being involved. Perhaps if I'm rejected, I can volunteer and help out at the festival in another way.

Whatever happens, I'm proud of what I've accomplished as a burgeoning glass artist. I still have a lot to learn, but I'm happy with what I'm creating along the way.

Check out my handmade wire wrapped, fused dichroic glass and enamel jewellery at Naomi's Designs, Glass By Naomi and MayaGirl Creations.