Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Kimmie here:

If you read the last blog post, you saw that I was working with Wayne Robbins and Judie Mountain on a piece for the Bead&Button Show's Bead Dreams competition. Great news:  We're In!

The necklace turned out beautifully:

I made the nest and the little birds using Wayne's exquisite glass eyes and beaks; Wayne and Judie made the copper and bronze leaves and Judie pulled it all together in a beautiful, and to my eye quite wearable, necklace. I haven't seen the finished piece in person yet. Can't wait!

Joan has been extra-active lately with her rescue dogs, but somehow also managed to develop a new line of charms and beads!
Look at the Delicious color and texture:

My favorite is the cat with spiral head. Reminds me of the Cheshire cat.

There are still seats available in my classes at B&B. Join us!
Click here to see the schedule. These classes are all on the weekend: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

From left to right, the classes are X-Wing Ring with Spikes, Peas on Earth Pin, and Warped Square Ring with Joan Miller bead.

All of these projects feature Joan's marvelous work. It has been such a treat developing them, and we're not done, of course. There are more pieces and projects in the pipeline!

Come see us at the show! Aside from Joan's can't-miss booth in the Marketplace at B&B, I will be helping her out at Midnight Madness on Tuesday night, and Joan will join me at Meet the Teachers on Wednesday night. You can sign up for classes anytime before they start, so if you're undecided come see us and check out our class samples in person, then decide which one to take. All are guaranteed FUN!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Art of Collaboration

Kimmie here:
I have been lucky enough to work with glass artist Wayne Robbins on several projects in the past, and we're at it again. Wayne has made some bird parts, beaks and eyes, and I will be making them into birds with nests. Wayne's partner Judie Mountain will make the piece into a fabulous necklace. We're hoping to enter the piece into the Bead&Button Show Bead Dreams competition.
The first bird turned out beautifully. Not quite what I want for a necklace, but I think we will be doing lots of these as freestanding sculptures. He's irresistible! I have named him Lew:

 For the next bird, I photographed the process, so you can see a little bit of what goes into a piece like this.
I started with Wayne's beautiful glass pieces, using an epoxy putty to attach them to copper wire. Then I used the putty again to hold the wire in place, with the features where I wanted them:
Ha, looks a little weird! You can see where I used a jewelry saw at the bottom to remove excess putty and wire.
Next, I used bronze wire to make the feet:
I used a file to sharpen the claws, and a coarse brush on my flexshaft tool to clean them up and add some texture:


Then the putty again, to attach the legs to the body. On impulse, I decided this guy should be sitting on the nest, like a swing, rather than inside it. So I sat him down on a little canister to harden:
I made the nest out of bronze wire and a little vintage rotary brush I got from Gail Crosman Moore:

 Here's the bare bird sitting on his nest:
While waiting for the putty to fully cure, I used my wool cards to blend a soft baby-birdish color. I love mixing colors in wool. It's pretty amazing how controllable it is:
Once I had the color right, and the putty cured, I used my trusty needle to felt him into shape. This cunning tool holds a single needle without the necessity of breaking off the tip. I had to order it from England!

Finally, I added just a few bits of feather. To do this, I pulled the tiny tufts apart and used a felting needle to ease them in. One thing that really pleases me about this piece is that the attachment to the nest is quite invisible. Some simple engineering makes sure that the piece will be wearable and balanced when hanging at the bottom of a necklace.

I sent this guy off to Wayne and Judie yesterday. Sure hope they like it!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Year, New Projects!

 Kimmie here:
Here we are in January, but there's no time for taking stock. The Tucson shows are just weeks away; I have a few things in mind that I'd like to look for, but there's no telling what we'll find.

The Tahoe area got a decent amount of snow in December, so you can be sure I've been getting my share of turns in. I learned to ski last year, and it's coming along pretty well. The snowboard remains my favorite, however.

Here's the morning view from the Grandview Express lift at Sierra-at-Tahoe resort. Hang in there and you can see Lake Tahoe just at the end of the video. Is it any wonder I can't get enough?

Yes, I got a GoPro camera for Christmas. Morgan and I are determined to keep our heads about us with this thing. But it's not just for our outdoor adventuring. The GoPro will be fabulous for making beading tutorials too! My dad helped me practice with the editing software, and it seems quite simple. I'm really looking forward to doing this as an addition to my kits and just for fun, too. First up will be a tutorial on joining the Flying Fivewing cocktail ring featured in Contemporary Geometric Beadwork, Volume 2. I have promised that for the FREE Pattern Library that Kate's putting together. I know a lot of people are anticipating it, so look for step by step photos in a week or so, and a video before too long.

Talking about the creative process, sharing how it happens, is what Joan and I wanted to do with this blog from the first, but I know that on my part I tend to get caught up in it and blogging falls by the wayside. But I realize more and more how useful it is to stop and describe what I'm doing. I have several exciting projects cooking, and have set a firm intention to keep you in the loop.

  • A whimsical mixed-media collaboration with Wayne Robbins and Judie Mountain.
  • A peek into the studio (you will laugh).
  • Notes from Tucson.
  • Working out bead designs, thinking about color.
It's hard to predict what I'll be working on next; one thing often leads to something completely different. That's half the fun, and it's what I'd like to share with you. Join me!

Happy 2015
Cheers, y'all!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Its Been A While

As usual blogging takes a back seat to well just about everything else.  So here's what's happening.  The big push for the Bead & Button Show is about to begin. I got my selected Bead Dreams piece in the mail yesterday(its due at Kalmback offices on Friday.)  Its always a bit of a struggle to come up with a display.  I fell back on base with twisted wire.  I like the beads to be seen from all sides and not just set on the shelf. Twisted wire adds a little whimsy and I don't think it detracts from the beads too much.
So back to the big push.  Officially it begins May 1 when I will devote every waking second to making as much inventory as I possibly can and ends at the last possible moment before the show.  I can pack while the kiln is cooling, right?   I ALWAYS  have more on my list than I can possibly make.  In addition to my show inventory, I have teamed up with Kim Van Antwerp who has designed beaded kits to go with some of my beads.  She is teaching the "Party On" Robot Pendant class which was inspired by last year's Bead Dreams 1st place category winner "Robot Party."   Kim also designed and adorable ballerina kit using my face bead and Penny Michelle's sterling silver parts.  I love these little ballerinas. 
I will be assisting Kim at the Meet the Teachers reception on June 4 the night before the Bead Marketplace opens.  We will have robot and ballerina kits as well as whatever wonderful creations Kim brings.  I am very excited to be working with such a wonderful artist and I hope this will be a long long collaboration.  We live on different sides of the country so I will probably babble her ears off with ideas when I get to see her in person.........and don't forget to sign up for her Friday night Robot Class.  Visit my FB Page for a special offer to early registrants.  Its a good one, you'll want to check it out if you are going to B&B for classes.  
So I won't see much of the Florida sunshine, except through my studio windows for the next month but that's OK.  Big pushes like this usually lead to innovations on old ideas and some new ideas and that's where the fun is. Plus there is nothing like opening up a big kiln load of beads which inevitably looks like a little pile of beads because hey, they're beads; they're not big.  I have already developed a small obsession with a new matte gunmetal finish that I used on my eye/keyhole bead.  I did hearts and a smaller box version of the eye/keyhole but I am dying to do companion beads and strands in the finish that incorporate the screws and rivets from the robots.  Actually I think robots in this finish may be in order.  This is exactly how things spiral out of control for me.  This is only ONE series of beads and I could spend the entire month on it.  
So its off to the studio for me today.  I am into it but not pushing hard this last part of April but just want to put together a little head start on May production that I hope will motivate me.  I don't have any trouble WANTING to make beads but sometimes the physical aspect of sitting too long and using my hands too long takes its toll.  My other pre-"May push" task is to get my work area clean and my slips ready to roll.  Mixing ALL my colors and cleaning tip on slip bottles can be a two to three day chore so I tend to put it off as long as I can but work is so much sweeter when everything is newly prepped.  

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Curtain Call

Kimmie here:

 Did you know? I will be showing at To Bead True Blue at the DoubleTree in Tucson February 2-7.

I have made several sample ballerina dresses and am now faced with the charming task of deciding who gets to wear which so I can display them at the show.

 Can you help?
Black, pink, and white are our available kit colors, so those dresses take priority.

 Please comment in the blog or on facebook so I can get these ladies dressed and ready for the show!

Not coming to Tucson? Order your own kit or request a pre-made ballerina at www.joanmillerporcelain.com!

*finished ballerina dolls will not ship until mid-February.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

It's time to register!

Kimmie here:

Hey everybody, it's time to sign up to make a Party-On Robot pendant at the Bead&Button Show!

It's going to be loads of fun, and you'll end up with a wonderful pendant like this:

Click here to see the class description:

If you're not familiar with the Bead&Button Show, check it out and start packing. It's a fantastic experience. My class is Friday evening, so you can come to town, make  your robot, and spend Saturday and Sunday shopping for beads and meeting your favorite artists!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Into the Big Time

Kimmie here:

I am completely chuffed, thrilled, and excited to announce that I will be teaching at Bead&Button Show 2014!!

Joan created a special version of her charming, first-place-winning Robot Party beads for me to build a class around. Here's a photo of our Party-On Robot pendant!

Don't you love that control panel, those colors?!

The beadwork here is basically a cabochon setting holding the control panel piece, peyote stitch around a foundation of modified right-angle weave; the RAW gives it a uniquely graphic look:

It's a simple project, suitable for an intrepid beginner, and students should be able to finish it in a single 3-hour class session!

The print version of the class catalog is out now, and online browsing for classes will begin December 10. Class registration begins January 7. There are only 12 spaces for this class (Friday June 6, 5-8pm), so get in there early!

Not going to the Bead&Button show? Joan and I will be offering this kit online soon.
If you are interested in ordering or pre-ordering, do let us know--contact Joan through her website, www.joanmiller.com.

We are also thinking about a more advanced version of the robot kit, with different types of arm/leg constructions. Sound good?