Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I'm leaving South America for awhile and tavelling back to Tanzania (in my mind only!)  My first love was always glass and I've been getting back into it.  And, more successfully, I think!

While in Tanzania, I had the priviledge to visit Shanga, which employs handicapped people, mostly deaf to create glass beads and jewelry. http://www.shanga.org/

 Needless to say, I was on cloud 9 when I found out that was going to be our first stop on day one of our trip! Being deaf--I had cochlear implant surgery 5 years ago--which was nothing short of a miracle--and making glass beads myself the visit to Shanga was a big highlight for me.  They make their glass beads out of wine bottles and their process is somewhat different from what I am used to.  They melt the glass in a kiln, dip in a mandrel--no bead release--, pull out a blob of glass, shape it into a bead, then remove it immediately from the mandrel and cool it in a fiber blanket.  I don't think I got a good picture, but I'll look.  I thought that I was going to get to try to make a bead while there, but, do to the language barrier, I missed my chance!

Here, he's dipping the mandrel into the hot glass to gather the bead.

Removing the hot bead from the mandrel to place in the fiber blanket to cool.

                                         My new Shanga friends with our guide, Ahadi.  They're holding up
                                         glass beads that I made for them.
So--my next glass adventure is going to involve (trying to) make some glass beads out of winebottles.  I have some ideas of what I'd like to do, but I'm going to wait to post til I have some decent bottle glass beads!

My thanks go to Cecelia Cohen for her tips in the book The Glass Artist's Studio Handbook.

And my future thanks to Bronwen Heilman for the bottle bead class that I'm taking from her at the Bead & Button Show in June.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Two Nameless Birds...and more on the frigate!

I never thought to bring this up, but this frigate is a male.  The females have a white belly.  Just in case you want to name him!  Back to the feet--which I had some trouble locating a picture of--and, again, thanks to Wikipedia for the information--they are pretty unnecesary, as these birds can stay in the air for more than a week.  Thanks, again to Betsy and Mark Blum, who graciously offered to allow me to post one of their photos on my blog.  Alas, I couldn't copy it from Facebook.  I hope you're priveledged enough to be one of their friends so that you can view the magnificent shot of a frigate in flight--from below.  Much better and more detailed than the one that I posted!

Well--here's my frigate--remember the plume on the head is my addition!

And...my pair of birdies!

Remember--they still need names.   And...due to the underwhelming response to my contests--if you REALLY want my frigate, besides a name, I'll need an essay (under 500 words, please!) telling me why you can't live without him and, either subscribe to my blog or become a fan of Goulash Designs on Facebook.

Email entries to my by Saturday, February 4.  If you chose to subscribe to my blog instead of, or addition to becoming a Facebook fan, mention that in your email.

And, remember--deadline for the Blue Footed Boobie's naming looms near--it's tomorrow!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Obsessive Compulsive

My birdies are starting to border on obsession for me.  I, finally, got a reasonable facsimile of a blue footed boobie finished.  I decided to forget the springs and wires and to do the feet off mandrel and pull the legs into points which I could glue to the bird!  Yes--for now, I'm relying on glue, but I'll probably look for another way to do this, too.  For now, he's just standing on a piece of wood that I had lying around.  I thought that this resembled the rocks that surrounded him in the Galapagos.

I'm getting better at this and, maybe, changing my direction from jewelry to more sculptural objects.

I'm getting faster in my glass bead making, too!  Which is good, cause my frigate--you remember, the one that was getting a makeover with some goofy feathers--well, I got impatient and tried to force some coper wire legs into him--and, of course I broke him.  So, yesterday afternoon, I rather quickly made another, better one.  I did leave the hole in his head--origionally--I wasn't planning on fessin up to breaking him.  So--He'll be a bit festive too!

I didn't know what kind of legs a frigate had so I went in search of some pics.  In the wild I saw them, either flying over our ship or perched on the ship mast or perched in the bushes as in my original photo.  I then went to do some more research and learned from Wickipedia that they do not swim and also do not walk well--which is why we saw them either soaring or perched.  One source on the internet--this one talking about the Hawaiian frigate--said that they couldn't walk at all.  Their feet are also partially webbed.  In the best photo that I could find, the feet appeared to be white in color.  I decided that I needed some brush for him to perch on and remembered some twiggy things that I made in bronze clay awhile back which didn't come out right for what I was working on at the time--a recurring theme for me, as you've learned!  So--I'm making them into a perch for my frigate.  I have to add some more metal clay and refire so I'll post pics in a day or two.  This will also keep the feet somewhat inconsequential as they seem to be in nature.

OK--another contest--my blue footed boobie needs a name.  Drop me an email at susan@goulashdesigns.com with your suggestions.  The winner gets him!  Deadline for this contest is Tuesday, January 31, 2012.  I may be giving away a frigate, too!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

I'm Heartbroken!

I was extremely excited yesterday.  I had a reasonable dimensional frigate and what I thought was a fab first try on a blue footed boobie in the kiln.  Waited patiently til this AM to look at them.  I removed the boobie from the mandrel--was wondering how to do that, cause I'd used a button mandrel, making it a two-holed figure--you'll see in the photos.  It came off the mandrel fine--and then it broke!  I had heard a crunch while it was in the flame, but thought that I'd reheated it enough and corrected the problem.  Sigh!  Here is the result...and, yes, it does have to stand against a wall.  I just stuck it on some thin wires to photograph to give you the idea.  I am thinking springs as I mentioned before and probably some kind of a base as this is more of a sculpture than a bead.  Maybe a piece of dark wood or rock, to mimic the rocky beaches of the Galapagos!

And, as you can see, I'm still having trouble arranging pictures on Blogger.  Any advice will be

Frigate pics to follow.  Have to make some wire feet and a headdress.  It's kind of goofy looking anyway and I started too low on the mandrel so it has a hole in its head.  I'm thinking of adding some kind of feather.  Guinea hen look interesting...but maybe too flashy!

Found some on the web that look interesting--remember, we're looking for the frigate, not the boobie!


What do you think?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I'm Still A Birdbrain!

Well, I actually have a pretty decent pair of blue boobie feet made.  Was ready to get on the torch today and try to make them a body.  I decided it was time to check my gas lines for leaks and found a few that I haven't been able to fix.  So it will have to wait.  I did mess up on my information on Boobie species.  There are no white footed boobies--just red.  For some photos and descriptions please visit:


Interestingly enough, the red footed boobies still appear to have blue beaks!  I don't remember seeing any of those on our trip!  Here's a better pic.  Notice the touches of red on the beak and the blue eye rings.

Red-Footed Boobies, Red-Footed Booby Pictures, Red-Footed Booby Facts-National Geographic

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I'm a Birdbrain!

I've got birdies on the brain.  I'm still working on my frigate.  My second one is not bad.  I think a bit better than the first.  His beak stands more at attention.  I've thought of adding some black spots to the bellies, but I think that, even when I perfect this that the flat ones are still cartoonish.  If I get a good dimensional one, I will add them with enamel.


Today I want to try some dimensional birdies.  I've got my button mandrel dipped for some blue boobie feet.  I'm thinking a bobbing bird for this, but I really don't think I can pull it off!  Did I post a blue footed boobie?  There are actually three kinds of boobie birds in the Galapagos:  The blue footed, the white footed and I forgot the other name!  I'll look up my notes and add some information on my next post.

Good news is, we don't have another trip planned before next summer, so I'll be able to catch up on my past, unfinished projects.  I have been even more lazy than usual over the holidays--I hope that some of you have noticed--but plan to get back on track!

Oh yes--and Happy New Year to you all!