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FiberWire

Did I mention that my daughter Nellie has her own fiber dyeing and spinning business? She just launched it about 6 months ago.  More recently she began experimenting with spinning fiber onto wire. I have LOTS of wire in my studio that I use for my jewelry work. Well, she snagged a spool of copper and several of her hand-dyed fibers and the result is a new product I am SO excited about: FiberWire. I'm very proud to offer Nellie's wire in my shop at Starry Road Studio.

Kiln Opening...

Results of last night's firing:

Glazing and Firing

I thought you might like a little peak into my glazing and firing process, from start to final loading of kiln. Depending on the size of the load, this can take anywhere from a few days to two weeks. Today's firing took about 5 days to glaze (3 - 4 hours each evening).I'm particularly excited about this load since it includes several new styles in an african/tribal theme, including Clay Dings and Spool Beads. I can't wait to see how these turn out!Glazing...
This batch included several pieces in Black Raven stoneware. I am using a technique that involves dipping in white porcelain, then glazing in one of my favorite colors: Hot Coral.
I'm using a similar technique on these little spool beads: first I dot the rims with dabs of white porcelain, then I build up dots of Hot Coral glaze on top of them to create little "bumps".
I also have a number of these in other of my more traditional glaze treatments.
Next comes the fun part (not!): loading the kiln. 
Again, depending on the size of the load (and number of shelves), this can take anywhere from 1 to 3 or more hours. Today's load took about 2 hours, and 1 1/2 shelves.
My bottom shelf sits about 4 inches off the kiln floor - the bottom of my kiln tends to get hotter than the upper areas so I find that this little bumper space helps. As you can see, the bulk of my load is going on this shelf. I also consider this my "cone 6 sweet zone". I leave about 8 vertical inches here - the next shelf will sit on top of the square posts.
After I get everything on racks (at my workbench) I carefully move them to the kiln. Here I am doing some final straightening of gear links - I want these to hang as close to 90 degrees on the hanger bar as possible. I found this helps to prevent twisting and warping during the firing. I am also doing a final check of every single bead and component to make sure they are not touching each other (if they did, they will become permanently fused together) or the sides of racks or other kiln furniture (again, to prevent fusing). Glaze is pretty much glass - you have to think about what it might touch when it is molten - whatever it touches it will fuse to. The insides of beads and hoops are therefore bare clay (not glazed), so that when hung on wire racks they will not fuse to them.
  The second shelf contains whatever I couldn't fit on the shelf below - mostly several black raven pieces - once fired to Cone 6, they will become a yummy deep black. :)
I top off the load with a "cap shelf" to help contain the heat within the loaded shelf zones below. Its kinda like making a sandwich with the shelves - the top and bottom shelves help to hold the heat in the zones where the glazed ware is stacked.
That's it - I started the kiln up at about 8:30 pm. Tomorrow I get to open it up and see what I got! Stay tuned!

Searching for the White Whale

Back to the Sea...
I have been working on my little whales for some time now. Until now these have only gone to friends and private sales. I am gradually introducing them to the public. You will begin to see these in my shop over the next few weeks.Each whale I create is precious to me, as though there is some little spark of life in each one, each with a slightly different expression and form. I am particularly fond of my ivory and white whales: I call this series "Moby".  He will be swimming over to my shop later this week. Right now I believe he is somewhere off the coast of Nova Scotia playing with him fellow whale friends.
Other whaley friends are not far...

Asymmetry

I just had to share these gorgeous earring designs by Staci Louise Originals - all featuring a number of my Ancient Earth Relics and Star Link components...I love her use of asymmetry for a truly primitive "found objects" feel - like treasures gathered on an archeological dig - so provocative and inspiring...

Announcing Art Jewelry Elements

Did I mention I am part of a cool new team blog?Art Jewelry Elements - you have to check it out.I get to work with this awesome team of fellow artists:Jennifer Cameron is our founder and editorMelinda OrrBarbara LewisKristi BowmanLinda LarsenI'm SO excited. We have lots of cool ideas and topics that we'll be rolling out over the weeks and months to come. So please stop by and pay us a visit!- Karen

Treasures at my Doorstep...

What an amazing day. I spent the afternoon at Keeneland taking in the beautiful weather and a fun day watching the ponies. When I arrived home I had 3 packages waiting for me!First ... these sweet glass beads: Then ... a collection of yummy metal components from the amazing Staci Louise: Next ... from my super talented buddy Genea - check out her sweet new packaging! I just love her new stamped design and the hand-made card she made for me!Then...OH. MY. GOODNESS. I could not believe my eyes as I opened her package: so many lovely treasures, and extras...
Absolutely gorgeous glass beads. I'm so in love with her Wing Dings; just look at all this color, everything so beautifully executed and presented. Gasp ... One of the most exciting sets - Weeny Dings!!!! Check them out at the upper right of the picture below.The other night as we were chatting, I hinted that it might be cool to make some really small wing dings. A few hours later...voila! I'm so excited about these (well EVERTHING!). I'm picturing some cute fringy earrings with colored linen and these tiny weeny dings. I can't wait to play!!!

Whales Ahead!

Out of a life-long fascination for the life of and on the sea, a couple of years ago I created the Whale Cup. I used a salt white glaze on the outside, Hell Fire Red on the inside, then storied it with antique illustrations. This inspired a series of beads based on the sea, in particular, WHALES!So far these have been created in limited editions and by special requests. I'm currently at the cabin working on making more - I'll be introducing these and other ocean-themed beads in my shop in a few weeks...You may ask, what is the source of the fascination for the sea, in particular, for the history of sea-faring navigation? Easy - my father. My dad was a navigator in the air force (from the pre-computer days when they literally "shot" stars through a tiny astrodome in the top of the plane). He has always loved the water, sailing, and tales of the sea. I include here a photo of my dad teaching my daughter Audrey to pilot a sailboat.

Spring Bead Collection

Did I mention how much I LOVE making color palettes? Here's a few with beads... I'll be posting these and more over the coming days... enjoy!
Secret Fairy Garden
April Showers
High Desert
Spring Garden Mix
Sand Dollar Bay
English Meadow
Mango Orange Mix
Mountain Meadow Flowers

Whale Bead Meets Suburban Girl Studio

... and finds a home in a lovely bracelet. 
I have recently been making little whale beads and my friend Diana of Suburban Girl Studio bought one. She made it up into this fabulous little bracelet as a present for a friend who needed a little cheering up. I am SO in love with this bracelet!
Here's a picture of the completed bracelet...
Little Whaley, handmade by me from porcelain, and high fired with in aqua crackle...
Included in the design are Diana's own porcelain beads, a glass bead from SueBeads, a ceramic swirl from Jubilee... 
Glass beads from Molten Mayhem and another of my aqua crackle porcelain beads.
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