Glaze Firing Ceramic Beads

I find that working in batches is most comfortable for me. I like to make a bunch of pieces, then bisque them, then have my choice of "matching" up pairs, glazing them at the same time, then if they make it out if the kiln, they are tied up as a pair. May seem a bit tedious to some people, but I really find that it soothes my slight OCD tendencies…
And not to mention that fate and pairing up "mates" really makes my inner romantic self pretty happy too!

Having to load a kiln with all of these can be a bit nerve racking as they are pretty tiny, and at Cone 5/6 this Nichrome metal will begin to slump – creating a possible complete meltdown if pieces touch and fuse at 2232 degrees F.
Loading a kiln like this really required a sense of space, balance of weight and how many pieces can fit. And practice for many years helps too…

Luckily only one teeny spot on a piece touched a kiln post. I was SO relieved!

These are all going to the Bead & Button Show with me (booth #610)! I have a few more kiln loads to glaze and fire – so it will be non-stop work when the kids are in school…

I love having an automatic kiln that you program and just check on…

I load the kiln in an hour (up to three), set the program, turn on the kiln vent, then close the kiln room door. If all goes as expected, 24 hours later (8 hours to temperature, then 16 to cool) I get to have a miniature Christmas Morning moment to myself…

This load will come out today! Will post a pic on my Marsha Neal Studio Instagram, Facebook, Twitter & Tumblr in a bit!

A Garden Grows No Matter What

There is that lingering feeling of frustration, forgetting, having to do something that wakes one up at 4am. Seems like I am finding that routine once more – but I think it may be a good way to get things done…

My garden is a good reminder of how life goes on regardless of deadlines and things that come up. It is a source of peace, inspiration, instant gratification (going to the garden center & bringing home a new plant! Love that!!!), and frustration if weeds start to eek in.

I love that some plants go back for generations in gardens – like these Iris from a neighbors grandmothers garden that I was given. But then there are others that barely lasted a season without the deer or other critters eating & killing them… Frustrating at times!

We live on almost an acre in suburbia, mostly wooded but lots of yard and garden too. And I am accepting that I alone cannot keep all of the invasive weeds at bay, and I need help.

Help that makes me cringe – but it needs to be done. Since my main side hill garden is a slope – it needs to have ground cover. And thistle, Japanese stilt grass, garlic mustard, and various vines, sticker bushes, etc are taking over my attempts to plant and successfully maintain a "native plant garden". And the deer eating the foliage of those native plants – and the voles eating the roots of many in winter – just is not helping!

So out come the plants I want that are viable. The rest are composted if not planted on the opposite side yard where our property ends and the neighbors downhill slope begins. Then out comes the tiller, the rake, the weed killer and in goes the grass (this is the "plan").

Then as I can, I will create a better plan, divide up those perennials, and take back areas on my side hill for gardening and get rid of the grass. The problem I have with this lies within the grass not having any ecological value. But it will allow me to get rid of the invasive plants by mowing and focus on the large areas of garden that do remain and making them better ecological niches.

Because really – I would rather spend my time in the garden looking for fairies and smurfs than trying to pull out thistle and stilt grass…

Now back into the bead studio while the kids are in school so I can get orders completed and Bead and Button Show inventory created (booth #610).

Hanging Ceramic Vases: Seed Pod Collectors

These small hanging vases are intended to hold little dried flowers, seed pods, and the like (not for holding water).

They started out as teeny bead cones, then got larger and instead of poking a hole through it – they had hanging holes inserted by the main opening.

My daughter is a collector and brings me snippets of flowers all the time!

And these vases are the perfect vessel to hold those tiny treasures…

But displaying them for sale – until today – I really struggled with that. How to go vertical and stable?

I had these wooden spool holders and decided to wire them up with 16 gauge galvanized wire and create a hook. So far, I am 85% liking it. Not too sure I like them being see through – as that detracts from the pieces a bit (or maybe I am too critical?).

For now this works! I am prepping creatively for the Bead and Button Show in early June, where I will be selling with Nikki of Thornburg Bead Studio – booth #610.

And the wire hooks pop off, the rack folds nearly flat (ideal for airplane travel), and the ceramic vases get packed separately.

Each rack holds 15 vases – which I think is a great number to have to pick from.

This year I plan on designing out some really fun and fast bracelets and earrings for the show as well!

Sure hope to see you there!

And you can always shop my Etsy shop and website any time!

Suspended Mushroom Photography

Hanging Mushroom on Steel Wire Marsha Neal Studio.

Hanging Mushroom on Steel Wire Marsha Neal Studio.

I’ve been thinking of how I want to photograph and market these small hanging sculptures.

I love to have them randomly hanging throughout my studio space – which does not have good natural lighting, so I am working on making a background that will work in my photo box. But my brain keeps saying – keep the background simple. The only way to really figure it out is to put it out there and see what works and what doesn’t…

Marsha Neal Studio Suspended Mushroom on steel wire.

Marsha Neal Studio Suspended Mushroom on steel wire.

Now to go and see how it looks in my Etsy shop and if it will make it into any treasury collections.

Macro view of Marsha Neal Studio Suspended Mushroom cap

Macro view of Marsha Neal Studio Suspended Mushroom cap

Plain Background in photo box for suspended mushroom by Marsha Neal Studio

Plain Background in photo box for suspended mushroom by Marsha Neal Studio

I just went and quick grabbed these images with the plain background. I don’t like the gray appearance, and have way too many to list to fiddle with the background. It’s already a pain to go in and add my name to the image. I just have no patience or time for that and prefer for my name to be in the image already. I’m all about doing this part as fast as possible…

Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.

Black Friday through Cyber Monday Sale

Marsha Neal Studio Etsy Shop

Marsha Neal Studio Etsy Shop

As a bit of Thanks for all of my customers – I am offering a lot of items in my Marsha Neal Studio Etsy shop at sale prices through Dec. 2, 2013.

For Black Friday through Cyber Monday to take advantage of the marketing that goes on during this weekend that kicks off the holiday shopping season, I am offering an extra 10% off sale and regular priced items when you enter coupon code: Thanks10 into your cart when you are checking out of my Etsy shop – until the end of the day on Dec. 2, 2013.

Hoping these extra discounts help your holiday project budget go a bit further this year!

Thank you for your continued support of my work!!!

Marsha Neal Studio Etsy Shop

Marsha Neal Studio Etsy Shop

 

Marsha Neal Studio Etsy Shop

Marsha Neal Studio Etsy Shop

 

Marsha Neal Studio Etsy Shop

Marsha Neal Studio Etsy Shop

 

Marsha Neal Studio Etsy Shop

Marsha Neal Studio Etsy Shop

 

Marsha Neal Studio Etsy Shop

Marsha Neal Studio Etsy Shop

 

Marsha Neal Studio Etsy Shop

Marsha Neal Studio Etsy Shop

And while you are clicking and cruising around, make sure to check out a lot of Handmade Artists that are also offering specials over this weekend (may not be every day – so read their shop announcements!).

Love My Art Jewelry Link Up for Handmade Artists

 

marshanealstudio

marshanealstudio

Ceramic Artist. Garden and Nature Enthusiast.

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