Glass Onion Bead Company was founded in 1990 by husband and wife team David Johnson and Debbie Austin-Johnson. While starting out as a stained glass studio, we have evolved into a bead store with the largest selection in Northeast Wisconsin. We offer a wide variety of classes with award winning bead instructors.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

One Man's Junk is Another Man's Treasures

Dave and I had a great time in Ripon this past weekend.  We stumbled upon an auction there that consisted of four barns and numerous storage sheds on the property of an old Vet.  Being Memorial Day weekend, you might think I am talking about a Veteran, but I'm not.  This man was a veterinarian who had been collecting stuff his entire life.  And I have his books and syringes and receipts from 50 years to prove it.  The grounds had tables and tables of awesome, rusty junk in and all around the barns and out buildings.
I had a blast bidding on things I really didn't need, but found myself in somewhat of a bidding war with a woman sitting near me.  She had no concept of money and was getting on my nerves because she seemed to want everything I did.  I probably went home with a couple things I should have let go, but I could not stop my hand from going up.  The sad part about this is by the end of the day, when the auctioneer asked my number, the poor guy delivering the stuff, knew my number by heart and shouted it out before I could.  As fast as I bid, poor Dave had to run the boxes out to the truck.  There were too many people sitting around us and my pile was growing.

I saw the owner sitting on a stool in one of the sheds.  He looked to be in his 90's.  I asked him about his collection and he said he'd been a collector his whole life.  I told him he was my kind of man!  There was so much stuff,  they actually had 3 different auctions going on at the same time.  I had a hard time deciding which direction to look most times.  We were there over six hours and the weather was not the greatest.  It was cloudy and windy and freezing cold.  This worked to my advantage as the crowd seemed to thin out by mid-afternoon.  The auctioneer started holding up boxes and held up just an item or two from each and was selling them for a buck or two.  I had no idea what I was even bidding on, but hey....one dollar?  I'm in.  I found I bid on a lot of kitchen utensils.

This man must have had at least twenty five potato and corn planters.  I didn't even know what that was before but I bought two of them!  Lots of stuff was rusty, lots of stuff hadn't seen the light of day for many years. Edison Talking Machine records, bugs, brass binoculars, oil cans, ammunition boxes, bugs, metal boxes full of old tools, kitchen scales, old receipts, bugs, 1904 metal bread maker.  Cool stuff.  I have no idea what I will do with it all, but at least that lady sitting by me didn't get it!

words for the day.....
Whenever a bird poops on my car, I eat a plate of scrambled eggs on my front porch
 just to let them know what I'm capable of.

Monday, May 27, 2013


Memorial Day means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.  To some, it is the first big weekend of the summer.  Time to have a cookout, celebrate with friends, and a day off of work.  To others, it is a day of reflection and sadness for the loss of a loved one who made the ultimate sacrifice.   So many of us forget that this is the real reason for the holiday.  I had an uncle who died in World War II.  His name was Flavian Schnese and he died in a battle just two days before the war was over. 
This is my uncle Flavian with my grandparents.  (I know you are probably wondering who would name their son Flavian.  Well, the same people who named another son Halarian.)  I remember my grandma riding in the Gold Star Mother's Car in the Memorial Day Parade.  I never really understood the sacrifice these mother's made.  Now that I have kids of my own, I cannot imagine their pain. Uncle Flavian is buried in France along with thousands of other soldiers.  Although he is far away, he will never be forgotten.
My Dad was also a soldier.  He, too served in WWII, stationed in New Guinea, Philippines, Hawaii and Japan.  He was in The 33rd Division, Anti Tank.  He served with three of his brothers.  The day the war ended, my dad took down a Japanese flag and all the men in his division signed it.  It was one of my father's most cherished souvenirs.  It hung on his wall for years and now it hangs on mine.   The freedoms these men provided us should never be taken for granted. We continue to enjoy these freedoms because of the men and women in the military who are still serving and protecting us to this day.
I hope we never forget to teach our children and grandchildren about the true meaning of this weekend.  Put out your American Flag. Take your kids to a parade.  Thank a Vet.  We would not have the country we live in, if it were not for them.
My Dad, John Vosters on 12-12-1943, stationed in Hawaii.  
(No clue about the dog.  Just found this picture and sadly, He's not here to ask)

words for the day.....
We can't all be Heroes because someone has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Dancing Bears

Nan Rozelle has been in the shop many times, her hands full of size 11 seed beads.  She feverishly scans the colors for just the right shades.  To say she has become pretty good at weaving with seed beads is an understatement.   Her father, Gib Miller made her a loom to create her little works of beauty.  Her latest project was the Dancing Bears.

Bead looms are based on a simple loom style.  Basically, just a frame with a method of keeping the strung warp threads a uniform distance from one another.  Nan says the hardest part (besides keeping it away from her cat) is to place the beads in a correct order.  She uses cross stitch patterns for the design and matches the beads to the DMC floss colors.  She also showed me another project that she is currently working on.  She sews a bead on the cross stitch fabric in each little square instead of a stitch.  That project looked fabulous also.  Maybe someday I will have to try this.  For now, I will just continue to admire her beautiful work!

words for the day...
If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

GNO - A Religious Holiday

Every third Tuesday of the month is Girl's Night Out.  It's like a religious holiday with my group of girlfriends.  Since we have known each other for over 50 years, that Tuesday night takes priority over everything.   Our group of best buds have been meeting for many years and we've gone through a lot of important milestones.  We've had our babies together.    We've watched each others kids get married.  We've sat through family funerals. We've weathered the good and the not so good.  Some of us have been through divorce and some of us are Grammas. 
It's like we're sisters, but by choice and not genetics. 
This group of women are some of the smartest and strongest women I know.   
Every third Tuesday night, the stories and the alcohol flow freely.  We fill each other in about what is new, who's kid did what, which boyfriend said what, "Oh no, he didn't"  blah blah blah.  Tonight we had a lot to celebrate.  One of us had her last radiation treatment for a brain tumor.  Another one of us had a daughter graduate, becoming a medical doctor and practicing at Harvard. Both are wonderful accomplishments.  Both make me proud to know  them.  I know we will all be friends forever.  We even have plans to live at the same retirement/nursing home when we need it.  It's that or the pact to push each other off a bridge. And I have a feeling, we will stick to that promise.  Life gets busy and life goes on.  All I know is I'm really lucky to have six best friends!

words for the day....
Friends pick us up when we fall down, and if they can't pick us up, they lie down by us and listen for a while.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Rusty Hinge Coolness

First and foremost, my heart goes out to all the people in Oklahoma tonight.  I cannot imagine the devastation and pain those people are going through.  My prayers go out to everyone involved, including the rescue workers. 

Here is a little piece of Rusty Hinge Coolness!  Who would imagine seeing two things as simple as a rusty, old hinge,  nobody would want and an old bottle cap laying on the ground after a county fair, that with a little bit a work, you can create something SO cool!

This is a creation from Katalina Jewelry.  It really is fantastic, but the construction of this piece couldn't be easier.  With a little bit of wire and a few beads on a leather cord, she has used her vision to create a rusty piece of coolness!

words for the day....
When something bad happens, you have three choices.
You can either let it define you,
Let it destroy you,
Or, you can let it strengthen you.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Great Day to Dye

It was a beautiful day today.  A great day to dye wool roving.  Not too hot, with a nice breeze to help dry the dripping wool.  It's quite a process, at least how I do it, anyway.  I start by getting my ketchup squirt bottles out and lots and lots of newspaper.
I use permanent acid dyes because I prefer the bright, beautiful colors.  There are so many colors to choose from. Sometimes I measure the powders precisely and sometimes I mix up my own colors, flying by the seat of my pants. 

I used to dye my roving in a kettle on the stove.  But after much trial and error, I have found the way I like best is the microwave technique.  You can control the color and patterns so much better using this method.
I start by soaking the roving in lukewarm, soapy water.  After gently squeezing the excess water out, I lay it on sheets of plastic wrap.

I carefully squeeze the dyes on the wet roving, letting it soak through to the bottom and gently roll the plastic wrap up almost like making a jelly roll.  I try to think about the color wheel when placing the colors but I get bored easily.  Sometime I pick a random number in my head, like a phone number, and that is the colors I use.  I have the bottles lined up on the table so I can pick from the 35 bottles/corresponding number.  I know...strange.  But sometimes I get really cool color combinations that Mr. Nelson, my old high school art teacher, would be proud of.

So, once the wet wool is rolled up, it is placed in a microwave dish and nuked for 12 to 15 minutes.  I usually dye anyway from 4 to 8 ounces at a time.  After it comes out, I let it cool and rinse any excess dye out until the warm water runs clear.

Next step, hang it out to dry!  You really should try not to squeeze it too much because the roving could start felting and then it's really hard to spin.  I love to see the lines of beautiful color, blowing in the wind.  One of the strangest things that happen, was once when I was dying roving at my cottage.  I had the wrought iron patio furniture on the deck and I was laying the wet wool over it.  I had made a deep red and pink batch and placed it outside to dry.  Not too long after, a big turkey vulture swooped down to pick up the red wool.  I'm sure he thought it was fresh road kill.  Ewwwwww.

Anyway, it really was a very successful day.  Now I just need to get my spinning wheel out!

word for the day.......

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Fold Formed Leaves

Dave has been beating his brains out upstairs in the studio.  The fruit of his labor has been fold formed leaves.

Fold forming is a technique that uses thin sheet copper that is cut, folded, hammered, hammered and hammered.  The hammering is done in precise areas.  First on the leaf center and then many hammering blows are places on the leaf edge with a small hammer.  They are kind of cool and could be made into some fun pieces.  If you are interested in a class in fold formed leaves, please let us know and we would be happy to schedule it.  Then you too, can get hammered.

words for the day....
If you're happy and you know it,
clap your hands.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Barbie Doll Jewelry

My daughter Brooke was a Barbie Doll fanatic.  She must have had 100 barbie dolls and would play with them for hours.  Her Grampa would pick them up for her at rummage sales and she was in seventh heaven.
My friend Annette found a site on Pinterest and knew I would love it.  Because of my fascination with dolls, well, really just the heads, (I collect old doll heads but that's a story for another day) she sent me the link and she was right.  I LOVE this jewelry.  It's weird.  It's creepy.  It's fun!

The artist can be seen on her website:  www.margauxlange.com    She has the most unusual pieces I have ever seen.  Just another thing for you to keep your eye out for when you are hitting the garage sales!

words for the day....
The world can be amazing when you're slightly strange.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

Happy Mothers Day to anyone who does the job of a mother, whether it be to your child, your step child, your four legged child or your husband who acts like a child,
I hope you had a wonderful day!
I had the pleasure of spending time with my kids today. Chinese food, Cold Stone Ice Creme, and great company!  It doesn't get any better.

words for the day....
A Mother is She who can take the place of all others
but whose place no one else can take.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

"GIRLS ROCK" Summer Art Camp!

Glass Onion Bead Co. will be offering three different “themed” art camps that hopefully will inspire the little artist in your daughter. Each camp is a one-week long session for girls ages 8-12 years old. There will be morning programs and afternoon programs. Each one is 3 hours long for five days.

This camp is for the girly-girl. We will be making sparkly scarves, and decorating hats with fabric, flowers and beads. Campers will make polymer beads that we will incorporate into colorful, handmade jewelry. We will paint a collage canvas using tissue paper, scrapbook paper and a baby picture of our rising artists. We will cover balloons with glued string and colorful yarns to make a awesome hanging sculpture. Girls will go home with lots a great artwork to wear and hang!

For the girl who likes to do it all. Campers will make treasure boxes covered in paper collage to hold special stuff, and we'll make air-plaster cupcakes, decorating them with paints & chalks & adding other cool stick-on stuff. We'll be painting & working with modpodge, covering a canvas using decorative paper and a photo of themselves . We'll make sun catchers with tissue paper & plastic & make a great wall hanging using wood letters & scrapbook paper. We will cover many mediums for the girls to enjoy

This camp is for the girl who doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty! We will make paper mache bird houses and popsicle stick bird feeders. Campers will paint a canvas using flowers and leaves and cut up vegetables for stamps on their paintings. We will paint driftwood and make them into a mobile and construct awesome dragonflies out of helicopters and sticks! There will be lots of great projects for home and outdoors!

Dates For Camps
Monday, June 17 through Friday, June 21 9:00am-12:00pm
Monday, July 8 through Friday, July 12 1:00pm-4:00pm
Monday, July 8 through Friday, July 12 9:00am-12:00pm

Monday, August 5 through Friday, August 9 1:00pm-4:00pm
Monday, June 17 through Friday, June 21 1:00pm-4:00pm

Monday, August 5 through Friday, August 9 9:00am-12:00pm

The cost of each art camp is $100 plus a $25 art supplies fee.  Each camper will choose a camp name and will be called by that name for the week.  Campers are encouraged to wear old clothes or bring a big old shirt to wear because we will get dirty!  Each session is limited to eight girls per camp so hurry and get your registration in early!  Call or email with any  questions you may have.
Call or stop in for a registration form.  We look forward to exploring and creating with your daughters!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Resin Flower Spring Bracelet

Well, I think it's safe to say....Spring has finally arrived!
Even though everything is behind in the growing stages, I'm sure it will catch up quickly!

I made this fun little bracelet to let me know spring is really here!

I made a square stitch base out of size 6 seed beads and attached a vintage button clasp.  I then went a little crazy with no rhyme or reason and just started adding resin flowers and glass leaves.  Coming up from the bottom, between two of the size 6's, I picked up a resin flower and added a smaller seed bead for a stopper bead and then went back down through the flower again.  I did this randomly until the bracelet was full.  It really was quite easy to.  We have a great selection of glass leaves and resin flower beads in stock right now.  If I can't have my flowers blooming outside yet, at least I can wear them around my wrist!

words for the day...
Today, be happier than a bird with a french fry.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Mother's Day Giveaway!

It's almost mother's day.  Think about everything your mom has done for you.  Diapers, midnight feeding, potty training, (imagine if she never potty trained you... you would be walking around in a Depend right now) she taught you to count, she taught you the A B C's, did your laundry, cooked for you, did your homework, chauffeured you all over town, cleaned your room, hugged you, etc.  All this because that's what mothers do.  Where ever your mom is, here or beyond, let her know how much you appreciate her!

 We are giving away this glass dichroic pendant in a Mother's Day drawing! Post your comments about your mom  for a chance to win it!

words for today.....
Sooner or later, we all turn into our mother.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Addicted to Tin

I am an addict.  I am not ashamed to admit it.  I am addicted to tin.  Tin cans.  Tin signs.  Tin lunch boxes.  Tin toys.  If it's tin, I want it.  Now some people may think this is a bad thing.  But I don't.  There are much worse things than being an addict.  For instances,  I could be a hooker.  See...much worse.  No, just a Tin Addict.

One of my favorite things to make are pins and brooches.  I like to work the image on the tin into the design.  I think this adds interest to the piece. I started making my recycled spools quite a few years ago,  People at art shows would say "Oh, old film canisters" or "Are these old thread spools?"  No, I shape the the tin from old signs and cans into cylinders and rivet them with old coins.  That's when i get a quizzical look.
I love working with tin.  The pattern is already there for you.  Call me lazy, but I think that is one of the many benefits of using tin, besides the inexpensive price.  I love to scour local thrift shops, searching for tins with small patterns or unusual lettering.  Keep your eyes out, rummage sales, flea markets and who knows...you could become an addict too!

words for the day....
What you put up with, you end up with.