Custom Orders, Part 2
After sharing my little "Daisy-story" (the final bead with the ashes is
still waiting to be born...), I thought you might enjoy a look at
another bead request from earlier this year. One of my longtime friends
and customers, Linda (selfproclaimed "best fan in Denver") was looking
for a bead in pink, quark-style, for a friend who turned 60. So, if
possible, she wanted a "60" somewhere in the bead.
As far as I
know, there are two ways to write a number inside or on top of a bead:
either with stringer (which has limits how small you can be) - or with
a Murrini (which can be as small as you want, but of course, it takes
forever to make).
Since I like custom orders mostly for the
reason that they make me do something I wouldn't ordinarily do, I
picked the "takes forever" way and made a Murrini:
As you can see on the right hand side of the first image, I made a 6,
and then a 0 - and I pulled the 6 quite a bit smaller than the 0,
luckily I had one inch of each number that was similar enough in size
to use. Now I have 10 inches of a 60 rimmed with pink - if you happen
to need a couple of slices, let me know!
Besides the birthday bead, I made a whole bunch of pink quarks in different shapes, since I was on a roll:
(mysterious photographic phenomenon - there seem to be two different
shades of pink, but that's only in the picture...) I'm not sure you can
tell just by looking at the pictures, but all of these beads were
inspired by my alltime-favorite movie of the moment: Avatar (I watched
it 3 times, which is definitely a record for me) - and each time I came
home and made a cane to represent this or the other creature....the
only other movie that made me do that was Lord of the Rings (if you
ever watch that again, check the "stringer-design" on clothes,
furniture and wall decoration...)
Anyway, if you are interest in
buying one of the above beads (or one of the many others I am
stockpiling), it will probably be next week, I'm working on the book,
and on Saturday I'm headed south to take a class at Frantz Artglass. I
already forgot the name of the teacher, but it's on using silvered
glass, an area I can definitely use some help with, I'm more or less
stuck on Tritone.....
The new tools are coming along great, I am
still waiting for "final" prototypes, but I'm superhappy with what I
have till now, and I hope so will you....see you soon!
Custom Orders, Daisy and Hold-me-Tight
Did the title of this newsletter make you wonder what I've been
smoking these days? Well, I am perfectly normal, at least for my
I'm not sure how many people's blogs you are
checking - I myself have a fairly short list - but when one of my
people doesn't update for a long time, I always assume somehow that
some sort of "disaster" has occured that keeps them from keeping me
entertained with more or less meaningless information (myself
included). Anyway, in case you were wondering about ME - All is fine
here, all pets accounted for - I'm just being busy with things, like
the book, taxes, preparation for my upcoming class on
all-florals-imaginable....and CUSTOM ORDERS!
In case you are a
beadmaker yourself, I am sure you have your own opinion on and
experience with custom orders. Some websites I have seen state clearly:
"Sorry, no custom orders". I never refuse a request, but I always ask
people to email me a picture of the bead or beadset, because I usually
don't remember what a set like "Teatime at Tiffany's" or something like
that looked like.
And once in a Blue Moon I receive an order
that has nothing whatsoever to do with anything I have made before -
and sometimes I just shake my head and say "no sorry, can't do" - and
sometimes I dive headfirst into the challenge (even though it might
take me a while to come out victorious at the end of the battle...)
since I have nothing else I would rather write about (not YET, at
least!!!!), I thought you might be interested in the process of one of
those rare challenging custom orders (If you're not interested, just
skip the next longish paragraph and scroll right to the end...). The
title of the Story is "Ad Memoriam a Dog named Daisy".
October I received a very sad email from a longtime customer and
friend, Julie, who had just the day before lost her 5 year old Bernese
Mountain Dog Daisy to a very aggressive form of cancer. She was
wondering whether I could make a special bead to hang from her rearview
mirror - a bead incorporating some of the ashes of her beloved dog.
Something with a daisy theme. Which beadmaker could possible turn down
a request like this from a friend?
So, the first step of course
was to get a photograph of Daisy - just to get an idea who I was
thinking about while at the torch. This was probably the easiest part:
Needless to say, I was already in love with this dog, before I even lit
the torch. Having lost Bonzo in such a tragic way 3 years ago, I know
how hard it is to even look at a picture of your dog - but I also know
that some day the joyful memories of the time together outweighs the
grief....anyway, I am getting sidetracked, as usual.
step was to "investigate" the look of a daisy. This might sound
strange, because we all know that daisies are white with a
yellow/orange core - and lots of people (well, not lots, but quite a
few) make daisies in or on top of beads, that we immediately identify
as "daisies" - but in reality, we beadmakers can get away with a lot of
"vagueness", just based on the fact that our brain identifies something
"as such" just based on the main "defining" features - like: white and
yellow = daisy. That's okay in a lot of cases, but when you're
"bead-anal", it takes a little more than that.
Thanks to Google images, it doesn't take much effort to come up with the perfect picture:
(If you look closely at the stamen, you can see all kinds of patterns -
nature never seizes to amaze me). But the most important feature I was
after were the petals - length, shape at the outside, shape towards the
center, number, "pattern" of the petal etc. I decided right away that I
had to give up on the exact number of petals (25), and the fact that
some of them overlap, some don't - but I started my daisy venture with
figuring out the perfect color of yellow for the stamen.
doesn't sound all that complicated - just pick a color from the glass
shelf, but in order to make the stamen, you have to encase the yellow
somehow, or the dots would eventually all "run" into each other. So, to
come up with the stamen cane, I made stringers in combinations of 7
shades of yellow and white, encased with either clear, light amber,
pale amber, transparent yellow and uranium yellow. I think at some
point I just got tired of making encased stringer, and I stopped at
about 15 different combinations (needless to say, at the end of it all
I had thoroughly confused myself and didn't know which one was which -
but I had pulled nothing but encased stringer and watched an entire
movie on the DVR...
The next step was to figure out how to make
the petals - either by striping them on (either from the outside in
towards the yellow, or from the yellow towards the outside, or to just
place a row of dots around the center and pull it inwards and outwards,
or to do a combination of striping and pulling, or pushing, depending
on the direction - confused? Well, join the party. Here is a picture of
all the different sample beads I made just to figure out the best WAY
to make the petals - and the best WHITE to use (regular Effetre, CIM or
New Ivory) - the all behave differently. (In the picture you can also
see that I dipped one mandrel in the center, hoping that it would be
easier to get all petals to look the same if I could flip the bead
halfway through....it actually IS easier, but dipping the mandrel in
the center only is a pain in the part you sit on...)
By this time I had already "invested" 7 hours into this project - and
still no bead. So, just for kicks, I changed gear and went down a
completely different daisy-path:
Well, I don't know about YOU, but I thought this was pretty friggin cute, I had no idea I had something like this in me....
- what does the "hang-from-the-rearview-mirror-version" look like? I
have no idea yet, but I'll keep you posted. And what's the lesson to be
learned in regards to custom orders? You better look at it as a labor
of love, because you sure can't expect to get paid by the
hour....unless Bill Gates wants a bead for his wife....
finally, what is a "hold-me-tight"? THAT I will tell you about
tomorrow, this newsletter took me a little longer than planned, and
it's time for bed. Good night!