Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Aww, nuts

Last night I had my first experience with anaphylaxis. Generally whenever I eat walnuts or pecans, my mouth burns for a while. Milk usually lessens the amount of time it goes on. So I had ice cream last night, and I was unaware that there would be pecans in it. As usual, my mouth started burning, but within a few minutes I was having a hard time breathing. I threw the ice cream out. By the time we got home, my face had swelled a bit and turned red. Husband was concerned he may have to use his Epi pen on me (which he has because he gets allergy shots twice a week and he could have anaphylactic shock from it, I guess).  Thankfully, a couple liquid Benadryl solved the problem.

No more pecans for me, that was as scary as I could handle.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Quoth the Raven

If you know anything about me, you likely know that I have a slight obsession with all things dark / gothic / macabre. Also, Edgar Allan Poe (thus, the name of this blog). So no one would be at all surprised to know that I couldn't resist an impulse buy of a cross-stitch chart based on that. On my list of projects I'll be alternating through is "Never More", by Jasmine Beckett-Griffith. You can see the painting here. Isn't it awesome?!?! So excited.

Lately I've been working on gridding a project that I'm making for Husband, still working on the rooster for Grandmother, and slowly accumulating fabric and thread for a big Native American themed piece I'm going to make for my aunt.

I made a few beads the other day, but none are anything special, really. Leaving town seems to have taken a small toll on my bead making mojo, so I've got to get back in the groove.

Also, I've started a Halloween cookie project. They're all baked and outlined. Next comes decorating and detail work, and I'm having a terrible time getting started.

That's it for today. Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Wedding and No Funeral

Hasn't been anything new over the last few days. Husband and I have just returned from a four day trip to and from Illinois for my oldest Younger Sister's wedding. Good times. Today we went to the glass supply over in Golden for bead release and came home with some new clear to try, and some very popular opal yellow, and a couple rubinos. I need to get the motivation to clean and label all these rods so I can go play. Le sigh.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Why Your Imported Mass-Produced Chinese Beads Are Inferior

Next time you want to say to your lampworker friend "I buy all my beads from Michael's (or Hobby Lobby or wherever)"... Don't. Also along those lines, try to avoid things like "Well, I can get the same kind of bead from the hobby store for 30 cents". You can ask why your friend's beads cost more, if you can do it in a nice manner and spare 20 seconds for the friend to explain why their beads are better than your cheap imports.

However, I'm going to explain the difference right here, right now, and hopefully save everyone the trouble later on.

1. Your beads are made in a sweat shop. Want to help starving Chinese children but don't have the money for adoption? Buy some beads. They're made in sweat shops by children and poor women. These people have to make as many beads as they can, as fast as they can. They work in TERRIBLE conditions. It's crowded, poorly lit, and very poorly ventilated. The lack of ventilation greatly increases the likelihood that the worker is going to develop serious lung diseases and tumors at a much younger age. They could die from it, too. There are toxic fumes created from the fuel AND the glass as it melts.

2. Your sweat shop beads are probably not annealed. Annealing is the process of slowly cooling the whole bead at an even rate. It reduces stress points (which will later become cracks and breaks) from the inside out. You may not see any cracks, but there are stress points there, and there will be cracks, and the beads WILL break at some point. Good bead artists will make sure that you know that their beads are thoroughly annealed in a kiln.

3. The beads are usually not well-cleaned. If you see some brownish dirt-type stuff in the holes of your bead, it's not clean. That stuff is called bead release and it is what holds the glass in place while it's being made, and allows it to slide off the mandrel when it's finished. Bead release is toxic stuff and is VERY bad for your lungs if you breathe it in. Most bead designers clean their beads underwater to reduce airborne particles of bead release and to prevent friction while cleaning.

4. The designs on your beads were probably stolen from a professional bead designer. The owners of the bead production companies are notorious for buying a tutorial and sending it to their outsourced bead production places. They will also sometimes buy one bead from a professional designer and send it to their shop to have it duplicated. The difference is that the independent designer makes each bead carefully and with great attention to detail. The imported beads are noticeably inferior in design.

If that isn't reason enough, here are some extra reasons why you should buy from your friend:

You support your friend and their family. Your money goes to clothes and food and school supplies. You boost your own economy- the money you spend stays in your bead designer's neighborhood.

You can take comfort knowing that you're getting a good product- your friend has put in a LOT of time learning the craft. She takes care to anneal the beads, thoroughly clean them, and will gladly replace or refund them if something happens to it. There is a lot of pride that goes into your handmade beads, and your friend wants you to be able to tell everyone you know about them.

You save on shipping and customs costs. Maybe only a few cents tacked on at the store, but it's there. You can put that money toward better beads.

Your friend can probably do custom work for you. If they can't, they will make it a point to learn so that they can make what YOU want.

Handmade is better. Always.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Have You Seen Me?

Been away a while. Not because of any one thing, necessarily. Just lost track of time and forgot to drop by and update. I got an impossible-to-satisfy customer with a customer order. I ended up buying a beadroller to make Pandora spacers so she'll go away. Made a few other beads, had a lot of cracking issues. Got the issue fixed. Hopefully back on track. Here's some recent stuff.