Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Handmade Lampwork Beads to inspire the Jewlery Artisan

I was fortunate enough to find the amazing shop of Lori Bergmann this morning and had to share her beautiful items with my readers. This interview was done by another wonderful artist Brenda of Brenda's Jewelry Box who has some truly unique jewelry pieces.

If you and I met… say at a bead show, "wink-wink," what would you tell me about yourself?
Hi! My name is Lori Bergmann and I’m so glad to meet you! (shaking hands and winking back). I’m a bit of a “Renaissance” artist because I love to dabble with a variety of artistic mediums and techniques—you name it and I’ve probably tried it or am planning on it someday! I’ve been an artist all my life and after college, spent a good chunk of time as a graphic designer and then worked as a full-time freelance scrapbook and paper crafts designer and writer for magazines and company consultant for about 10 years. But I’m currently obsessed with making my own glass beads (lampworking) and incorporating them into my jewelry designs. I moved to Washington about 4 years ago and am enjoying living here with my wonderfully supportive hubby, two slightly hormone-unbalanced teenage daughters (most people say that’s normal, right?), and two hairy dogs that like to shed and drool on anything that breathes. (Okay, enough about me—let’s go check out some more booths together!!)

How did you get started making your beautiful lampwork beads?
About 5 years ago, I was attending an annual trade show for the Craft and Hobby Association (CHA) and saw a company offering “make-and-take” fused glass pendants and also had someone demonstrating how to make glass beads on a small torch. I was immediately smitten, as I’ve always loved watching glass blowers at work and there’s just something about how light shines through glass that is totally mesmerizing to me. I took one of their basic bead making workshops later that year, bought my kiln, and started collecting other supplies and tools. But I was still busy doing other freelance design work and then we moved, so I didn’t set everything up and get serious about it until about 2 years ago. I learned mainly on my own, by playing and experimenting, reading every book on lampworking I could get my hands on, watching You Tube videos, and joining a great online community called Lampworkers Etc. (www.lampworketc.com).

Your muse is calling you, beckoning you to create...where do you get your ideas and your inspiration from?
I get most of my inspiration by things found in nature, because I feel that God is the greatest artist of them all and looking around, seeing all the amazing colors, patterns, and textures in the world never fails to sweep me into a creative mood. But the graphic designer in me also loves clean lines and geometrics, so I often combine the two ideas into my work. I’m always on the look out for inspiration in anything I see—whether it’s a texture from a home decor magazine, a color combo from a Target store ad, a vintage doodad from an antique shop, or native patterns seen during my travels. I like to keep my eyes and ears open, and constantly jot down ideas and sketches in a small notebook to reference later when I’m in the mood to work on them.

What drives your passion to create?
I think I’m one of those people who was born needing to do creative things—in one form or another—or I just don’t feel fulfilled inside. I love working with my hands, interpreting my thoughts and feelings into something tangible and unique that no one else in the world has.

Name an artist or designer (past or present) that you would love to meet and why?
I would love to meet Leonardo Da Vinci. Not only because I’m a big Renaissance fan and adore all things Italian, but I think his personality fits mine in that we both love artistic and mechanical/graphic design, as well as enjoy a variety of other intellectual pursuits. I would love to pick his brain, watch him at work, and learn more about the person who left behind such a legacy of amazing art and ideas that were light years ahead of his time.

What can we look forward to from you and your work in 2011...any big plans or events?
I always seem to have at least a hundred different design ideas swirling around in my head at any given time, so I couldn’t even begin to guess which ones will fight their way out over this coming year? LOL But I definitely plan on working more often with metal clay and combining it with my glass beads. I’ve also been planning to do animal portraits and/or sculpture work for quite a while now, so I think you’ll be seeing some of those soon! I have an article scheduled to come out with Bead Unique magazine and am hoping to do more published work throughout the year.

Lori makes the cutest acorn beads, and I just had to share my newest favorite, `Ivory Swirl Acorn Bead.` For all you Autumn lovers out there, this is a must have for your Fall designs!

This is just a small taste of Lori's gorgeous art glass beads. To see more of her beautiful designs, visit her etsy shop @ Ashlyn Design. But don't go yet! Lori has donated an exclusive 20% off discount coupon towards any 1 item in her etsy shop for one very lucky reader who will be chosen in a random drawing by me this Thursday, Nov. 11th. Also, you can visit Lori's blog to view my interview as well and enter for your chance to win an exclusive 30% off discount coupon towards 1 item in my etsy shop too. :)

To enter the drawing for Lori's coupon, leave a comment here on my blog. For 2 more opportunities to win; (1) help spread the word about my and Lori’s etsy shops and our special coupon drawings on your own blog and/or (2) “liking” my and Lori's Facebook pages (Lori's page) and (my page). Please add a separate comment for each of these things and include a link back to your site, along with your email address so I can contact you if you’re the winner. Good luck!

Thanks to Lori for giving us a sneak preview into her crafty world!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Virtual Craft Fair

A Day at the Craft Fair
by Donald T. MacKinnon
Saturday, a day I patiently waited for. Today is the day of the virtual Country Craft Fair featuring talented artisans from places near and far away. Forecasters predicted crisp clean air and pleasant comfortable temperatures for this mostly sunny day. It is perfect weather for looking at the beautiful handmade creations while walking from one artisan's booth to another. You never know I might even find some special gifts for the fast approaching holidays.
I think I may be one of the first ones here, but as I looked back, the parking lot was filling up fast. The crafts people worked hard they earned a break in the weather and received it. Admission was $2.00 to cover costs of running the fair, a very reasonable fee in my opinion. This is a very big event, as I looked across the fields ahead at the many booths and artisans eager to show off their works. There had to be an acre of tent-covered tables comfortably spaced across the close cut green field grass. Several large trees served to add shade, and contribute to the wonderful Country Craft fair ambiance.
After walking by several craft displays, something caught my eye as I approached the booth of Elektra Jewelry Designs, displayed amid an array of unique jewelry the likes of which I had not seen in a long time, was a stunning bracelet. A card under the bracelet display stand had printed on it this description: A very fancy jeweled cuff, handmade with 12-gauge sterling silver wire, and smothered with pearls, rose quartz, silver spacers, and Swarovski crystal. As I gazed at the beautiful work, the Artisan greeted me and offered to model the bracelet for a couple of photographs.
Jeweled Cuff

Jeweled Cuff
"The work is beautiful," I said as my glazed over eyes stared at the piece. The woman introduced herself and told me the sad story of her camera breaking. She mentioned that I could get the piece later on by contacting her through the Etsy On-line store using the "Contact Artisan" feature.
While she was setting the beautiful jeweled cuff on its display stand, a pair of earrings, "oh, these are very pretty, the luster and color is amazing" I said. I snapped a couple photos for later reference. A small card under the display stand, described the earrings as a pair of peach drop pearl earrings, hung on gold vermeil caps and ear wires.
Peach Drop Pearl Earrings

Peach Drop Pearl Earrings
"Dina I enjoyed your booth, but there is much more to see," I said while carefully storing her business card in my camera bag. Elektra Jewelry Designs is a store I will visit again while shopping from my computer I thought as I turned toward the next booth on my list.
Opps, I have to stop here first, an unbelievable assortment of smells pulled me toward the Soapy Blessings booth. "Look at all these handmade soaps, got to have some," I said to myself. A lovely person walked over and introduced herself, "I am Patricia, you look like you need a little help to locate the source of a particular smell," she said. "Yes, I smell cranberries, which one of these" I said, as she handed me a round piece of soap saying, "try this one, Cranberry Orange Spice Soap". I read the label under the display plate; the soap has a cranberry fragrance mixed with orange essential oil, a touch of musk, sandalwood, and moss to give a sweet smell with subtle woodsy undertones.
Cranberry Spice Soap
Cranberry Spice Soap Closeup
"Yes perfect, please wrap a bar up and one of these also", I said while pointing at the dish with the printed tag Irish Cream Soap under it. Printed neatly on the tag, were these words "handmade soap using the dessert wine Irish Country Cream fragrance that is mixed with a small amount of Creme Brulee for extra richness."
Irish Country Cream Soap
The soap, I could smell the Irish Cream from where I was standing outside the booth. What a great way to start your day, a nice hot shower using one of these elegant soaps from Soapy Blessings to relax and get ready for the world.
Thanking Patricia for the fantastic soaps, I walked along the row of artisan displays until I saw a most interesting display of unusual candles at Valerie's Essentials, along with some free tootsie rolls and mints. Look at this candle, it is a scented candle, but more than that, it is a fish bowl with glass seaweed and a glassfish with real seashells all embedded in this clear wax called Gel. The booth had row upon row with gel candles having different themes. Some had no fish at all, but beautiful seashells imbedded in the gel. There was even one for golfers. The Artisan was busy with another customer so I took the time to look around the candle filled booth.
When it comes to desserts, I have no resistance. One of my favorite sweet treats is strawberry shortcake. Without a doubt, I am a strawberry shortcake eating fool. Poised dangerously close to me was a dish of strawberry shortcake. As I slinked closer the strawberry scent tantalized my olfactory senses. OH NO! The strawberry shortcake was a candle made from paraffin and gel waxes.
The candle maker finished up with the other customer just in time to see the disappointed look on my face. She smiled and introduced herself as Valerie. "I must have have one of those candles," I said while pointing at the candle. We talked a little about the candle as she wrapped it up for me. She mentioned another candle maker's booth I should visit while at the fair, Candles by Donald. I said I would try, as I waved goodbye, and continued up this little grassy rise toward another booth on my list to visit.
"Ah, here it is, LindaButterfly Cards and Art," I thought, then “Look at all these cards”, I said quietly to myself. “Sir, what did you say”, said a voice with a British accent from behind the display. “There are so many cards” I said. “Yes, I try to provide a good selection, something for every occasion”, she replied, as she appeared in front of me, this woman with a big warm smile. “Hello, I am Linda”, she greeted me. “Is there something special you need or would you like to just look around?” “Just one question; all of the cards I have looked at are beautiful on the outside, but with no writing on the inside, why?” “Good question, the card cover has different meanings. This way each person who buys a card can write something appropriate to the occasion at hand. Possibly to convey a meaningful personal message or recount some past experience”. She paused a moment, “The individual can make a card so much more than just a card. Look around, enjoy looking at the cards, ask and I will help you.” I had already made my selection, "Linda, I want to look over in theLindaCaterpillar section of your booth, will you wrap these two cards up for me". I paused a moment then said,"Yes, one Winter Fir Treesgreeting card, and one Frosty Ground greeting card".
Linda's booth was divided into two sections, I was in the LindaCaterpillar section now. This section is devoted to artworks done in acrylic, watercolor, pastels, and much more. I looked at the acrylics first; while looking, a painting named Dancing Tree captured my attention in a special way. From the acrylics I shifted my gaze to the pastels where a work titled Trees by the Lake moved me, but "I like all of Linda's Art", I thought. I asked first, then took these pictures to share with you. "Linda, I have to leave your wonderful booth, it is clear to me I need much more time." We said our goodbyes and she gave me her business card with her on-line store addresses on the front, LindaCaterpillar andLindaButterfly Cards and Art.
By the Lake, pastel
Dancing Tree, acrylic
The next booth on my list was just ahead. Oh, this looks like fun, Custom Clothing and Costumes for You, the banner over the booth read. Look at all the costumes, Luke Skywalker, Snow White, Sheriff Woody, Jessie the cowgirl, Oompa Loompa, and so many more. All the props needed to take a kid well into a "make pretend world", AND all the props needed to take an adult well into a "make pretend world"; why should kids have all the fun. More than just costumes, this is handmade quality clothing. I asked the woman who designs and makes all of this beautiful clothing if I could take some photos to share. Here are a few teasers:
Custom Clothing and Costumes for You has an on-line store with listings of all the costumes. Please remember that Custom is NO problem for this Artisan.
I left the costume booth with a smile and crossed over the grassy field to another row of booths. The colors here abound as each tent roof perimeter is lined with triangular flags, and the booth front displaying a large banner with the store name, and logo. The tables covered with colored cloths and lined with ribbons, all designed to attract the attention of a potential buyer. The day continued to be pleasant with good lighting for numerous photo opportunities.
I think I will visit my friend Shelly, her boothHandmade Creations by Shelly is just a head. Shelly was very happy to see me, and put together an incredible display of handmade items. We started at a corner table where she talked about each item in this grouping of different crocheted designs, and all the time knitting a scarf. Shelly loves to knit and there is hardly a time when she is not knitting something. While looking at all the items she had knitted and crocheted, I noticed a beautiful book or album cover.
This is a very nice way to display the photo album on the coffee table. Next to the crochet album/book cover was a hand knitted felted tote bag. There were small pouches and bags that would work well with anything that fit into them. The selection seemed endless as we walked around the booth, I saw scarf's, hats, gloves, ponchos, caplets, purses, felted bags and designer collections.
Hand Knitted Woman Shawl
Hand Crochet Pom Pom Scarf
I took a few photos and said my goodbyes. The day was going fast, with the sun already getting low on the horizon. I wanted to visit Susan's booth just ahead on the left, ah there it is near that big tree. Her banner with shop name in big colorful letters,Susanneedlehands is displayed in the front of her booth. Susan loves to sew, knit, and do crafts. The tables, piled high with felted bowls, felted plates,scarves, knit bags, water bottle carriers, and even a teddy bear looked beautiful.
Crochet Storage Bowls
Handmade Knit Teddy Bear
Water Bottle Carrier
Handmade Knit Scarf
Her shop is non-profit with all the money going to various charities that can always use some cash. I could not stay long, time was not on my side I said goodbye to Susan and headed to a booth close to the exit.
This would be my last stop, I was hungry and tired, but so happy to have spent some time looking at crafts, taking pictures, and just being outside on this beautiful day. It was time to meet Kelsi and Ryan, the booth Kelsilove, like the store is a collection of everything. Many of the items are made from recycled materials, something I love to see. Kelsi greeted me while modeling her Soft Olive Green Knitted Scarf. The scarf looked beautifully warm, and very soft. Oh, thats Ryan in the other photo, Kelsi's neck is not that hairy.
Kelsi and Ryan were eager to show me a wonderful collection of environmentally friendly jewelry,brooches, scarves, photography, art, and more. Here are some Photos one of a unique brooch, and another of a pair of Big Green Bulb Earrings.
Ryan had some of his art on display. He told me of his new on-line store called On The Floor Studio where he sells digital prints of his not so digital paintings. These are great, certainly a "must see" place to go. Here are two of his many wonderful prints.
Wave of Paranoia
Look What We Found
I said my goodbyes to Kelsi and Ryan, and walked down the slight hill toward the parking lot. All the while I contemplated this fantastic day I had at this virtual country craft fair. In closing, please visit all of these artisans at their on-line stores. There you are sure to find unique, quality, handmade works of art, each and every one.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Welcome Home Candle

Welcome Home scented natural palm wax pillar candle
Written By CandleGuy821
Welcome Home, at first I thought, "what an odd name for a candle fragrance".

The fragrance description changed my mind; toasted graham crackers,
vanilla frosting, creamy caramel, and juicy raisins. While growing up,
these are some of the things I remember about coming home, my favorite
I was probably no different than any other kid. On a cool day after
school, I would come home to some graham crackers and a glass of milk.
Then there were the special times when my mother baked a cake and
frosted it with vanilla butter cream frosting. On those days when I
opened the door the smell of baking would say "Welcome Home". It might be a vanilla, chocolate or spice cake with juicy raisins, but always the frosting was vanilla butter cream.
The natural palm wax pillar candle scented with this wonderful fragrance that smells like graham crackers, vanilla frosting, creamy caramel, and juicy raisins, says "Welcome Home" with or without the glass of milk.