New pretties for the Janesville Renaissance Faire this weekend

Spent a while out in the studio last night making new shinies for the Janesville Renaissance Faire that's going on this weekend. I had planned to make a bunch of dragons, but I got distracted making miniature goblets, instead. These stand between 2" and 3 1/2" tall, and are an absolute blast to make. I'm taking my torch setup, so I'll probably demo making one at the Faire this weekend.
Miniature glass goblets from Maggs Creations

Today's project is to make more dragon pendants. I spent most of a day making pattern bars that I'll work on turning into dragons (and seahorses) today. Now, I just need to work on turning these...
Pattern Bars for making dragon pendants by Maggs Creations
...into more of these...
Borosilicate Dragon Pendant by Maggs Creations Borosilicate Dragon Pendant by Maggs Creations

Hope to see everyone at the Faire!

p.s. I got a new light to take pictures with, and last time I was up at my folks' house, I found a great piece of nicely aged firewood... what do you think of the quality of the photos? Reasonably good? Background not too distracting? I'd love feedback.

Why I probably shouldn't have caffiene before speaking publicly...

It started so well...

Nice Madison Bead Society Member: Have people been making glass beads for a long time?
Me: Oh yes. The technology for making glass beads has been discovered and lost dozens of times in the last several thousand years. It really started to come into its own in the 1400's in Murano, Italy. At that time, the secrets for making glass were guarded very carefully by just a few families. They wouldn't divulge the secrets of coloring glass to anyone but their closest family members. In fact, they kept the technology so secret that some transparent colors of glass were worth more than gemstones.

*quiet murmur of 'really? I didn't know that*

And then I got warmed up to my subject, and should have known better, but I continued spewing forth information...

Me: Yup, really. At the time, only a very few families in all of Italy knew how to make glass in specific colors, and they didn't make glass very quickly, so it was highly prized. But gemstones now...They had a huge number of peasants, right? Cheap labor. If you just shove enough peasants into a hole in the ground with shovels, eventually they bring you shiny rocks.
Nice Madison Bead Society Member: I... never really thought of it that way.

I could see Chris in the back of the room thinking 'I can't believe she just said that.'

Other things that I vaguely remember hearing myself say:

NMBSM: Do you ever get intimidated by the flame?
Me: When I first started out, a little bit, but once you realize that the fire is bolted to the table and it isn't going to leap out and bite you in the ankle, it's really not so bad. The flame is very focused, and doesn't throw a lot of heat sideways, so even though you're working with your fingers three inches either side of a three thousand degree flame, your hands don't really get hot. Of course, you also have to realize that the flame doesn't care whether your fingers are in it or not, it's going to continue being hot. So you do have to pay attention, but I don't find it intimidating.

NMBSM: Do you burn yourself very often?
Me: Oh no, mostly I cut myself on the end of the glass rods, the little buggers get really sharp sometimes. You get in the habit of putting the rods down so that hot end is away from you every time. And when you forget, the glass reminds you in a hurry. And I have to say, burning human smells really nasty.* I do occasionally have glass pop off the end of a rod and land on my arms**, but when that happens, it usually hasn't gotten very hot yet, and it's pretty much like a mosquito bite.

I think they forgave me for my lack of a verbal filtering system after we did a drawing at the end of the night and I gave away all of the items that I'd made as demos.

Few peektures of my new demo table (built by Chris) and one of me making a seahorse:
Picture of Maggs doing Flameworking demos for the Madison Bead <br />SocietyPicture of me doing a flameworking demo for the Madison Bead Society
Maggs making a seahorse pendant during a flameworking demo

* Although burning moth is worse. I try to remember not to leave the studio door open when I'm working at night, the damn things fly right through the torch. They can't leave it alone. Like a moth to a....

** By 'occasionally', I really mean about every fourth rod I put into the flame, but no need to scare them off before they've had a chance to get addicted, right?

A demo-ing we go!

Tomorrow should be fun, I get to go demonstrate fire to the Madison Bead Society. I haven't decided yet what I'm going to make, I'm thinking of just doing one of everything unless they stop me. Hee. A simple bead, a critter, a focal bead, a seahorse, a blown vessel, maybe a marble... hey, I have two hours in which I'm supposed to entertain a roomful of people with molten glass and fire. I can make a lot of things in two hours. I really hope everyone there asks lots of questions, so I'm not just playing with fire and rambling about whatever comes into my head... me rambling can be a scarey thing. I do have some useful information up there in my brain, but it's mostly cleverly hidden behind the garbage mine of useless trivia I seem to collect during pretty much every waking moment.

Also, I'll get to show off and test out my brand new table surround. Thanks to Chris, who finished building it today (he even put on a coat of tung oil). It's all pretty and shiny and way more sturdy than my last one, that was just a few sheets of plexi with hinges riveted to the edges. The new one is still plexi, but now each panel is nicely framed in wood with pretty brass fittings. Keeps the crazies on the proper side of the table, so I can't contaminate the rest of society with my madness. Hee.

Come see the show! It's over at Meant to Bead in Sun Prairie tomorrow (well, later today actually), 6:30-ish until 8:30, or until everyone gets tired of listening to me blather about my favorite topic/obsession/career.

Here be Dragons!

Farmer's Market yesterday was, indeed, a bit rainy, but all in all, not too bad. No wind, it wasn't bitterly cold, and the rain wasn't ever a downpour, just rain. Or drizzle. Mind you, I still prefer a 70 degree sunny day over what I had yesterday, but all in all, I'm glad I went out. Plus, I got to show off my new dragon. And I took a picture, even, although I got a few strange looks for getting out my camera, pointing it at my chest, and snapping pictures of myself. But there it is. If I'd waited until I got home, set up the photo dome and the lights and found a background and everything else, well... I'd still be waiting. So anyway...

Here be dragon! There will be more eventually, but here's one, anyway. And, by comparison, this is a dragon I made in June, 2008:

And these are a few I made last year:

It's kinda fun looking back at older stuff. I mean, I know my skills are improving -- with the amount of time I spend at the torch they pretty much HAVE to -- but it's a lot of fun for me to look back and see the changes over just two years. I love playing with molten glass. I should go dig up some of my very first beads. I have them in a little box somewhere.

Dependent on the weather...

Well, I'm currently planning on going out to vend at Farmer's Market tomorrow. It should be pleasantly rainy, but hopefully not too windy. If it's windy, I'm not going. If it's pouring buckets, I'm not going. If it's merely cold and rainy, I'm going. Possibly this time I'll even get to power walk at least part way around the market and pick up some goodies, which I don't get to do on good days, because I feel guilty asking neighbors to watch the booth if it's a busy day.

The nice UPS guy brought me my brand new pair of boroscopes today, which are glassworking filters plus shade 3 welding glasses over the top. You really should have them if you're going to work a lot of borosilicate, because when it gets hot, is puts off a lot of nasty bright IR. What this means, of course, is that when Chris got home from work today, pretty much the first thing I asked him was 'honey... would it be possible to put a few hundred more watts of light out in my studio?' It seems kinda silly, to get darker glasses to block the bright lights of hot glass and then install brighter lightbulbs, but well, there it is. Appropriate eye protection is all well and good, but when your shades are so dark that your dragon's nostrils end up in an inappropriate place (don't ask), a bit more light might be in order.

Might have a new dragon pendant for show and tell tomorrow (depending on how his nostrils look by the light of day when I'm NOT wearing welding goggles). I'm working out a new design. Made one in clear yesterday, but it didn't survive the bounce test. The one I just stuck into the kiln tonight got a bit of a re-design that will hopefully do the trick. Off to bed, need to get up at the crack of dawn.

Always read the fine print

Agh. Just bought a pdf tutorial online for making glass dragons, and since it was a bunch of pages of very nice color photos, I uploaded it to Office Depot to print it, because they're having a sale on color copies right now. Checked the box for full color, changed the paper from regular 20 lb recycled to a nice 24 lb bright, submitted the order, confirmed that I was happy with all of the options, clicked the box that said 'I have double checked all of my order options and am satisfied that everything is correct', paid for it, and got a confirmation email. Which I read, because I'm kinda ocd like that.

Color copies for 39 cents, check. 24lb bright letter - lunar blu. Chec... waiiiiiiiitaminit... Err... umm... okay, don't panic, it's got the sku number for the paper, I can look it up. Maybe 'lunar blu' is the brand name.

Nope. Lunar blu is exactly what it sounds like, a nice, shiny, bright blue color.

NooOoOoOoOoo! It is, of course, after their official store hours, so they're officially closed, but I dialed up, and on the fourteenth ring (yes, I was counting, waiting for voice mail to kick in so I could leave a message), someone actually picked up. He's going to leave a message for the guys in the printing department to call me before they print anything. Hopefully, they'll see the note, because otherwise, I'm going to have a shiny new 32 page full color tutorial printed on bright shiny blue paper. Guh. I have a feeling that the print shop guys are going to call me at 7:30 tomorrow morning. It should be fun. I don't generally attain coherency until after 9:30 am. For those of you rolling your eyes, I stay up until about 2 or 3am working (or messing about on the computer, either way, awake), and then I sleep until the shiny lightbulb of doom is fairly high in the sky. Or until the cats start jumping on my spleen because they want me to open the window shade so they can sprawl out in the sunbeams. Curse you, daystar.

First Market of the Season!

It was a wonderful Farmer's Market. A little chilly in the morning, but all in all, a wonderful day. Saw a lot of familiar faces, met some new people, and generally had fun. Also, every time I set up and tear down, I realize how much planning went into the booth setup. It takes me just over 20 minutes to set up with Chris's help, and if we're really hauling, at the end of the day, I can go from sitting in my cart and vending to having everything put away in the appropriate place and the cart hooked onto the back of the truck in nine minutes. We timed it one day, just because we were curious. Setting up at non-Farmer's Market shows takes a little longer, but not all that much.

It's also possible that I got a sunburn today. Most likely it's windburn, but it could have been sun. Saw a lot of bicyclists today, and it made me wonder... people who bike a lot often go around all the time with one pant leg rolled up so it doesn't get caught in the gears. Do they get a biker's tan on the bottom half of one leg like truckers get a trucker's tan on their left arm so that when they go to the beach, they look like they've had a leg transplant?

AaaaaaAAAaAaaah! The Market Approacheth!

So I'm frantically trying to get everything re-assembled for the Farmer's Market. I've had five months to get everything spread all over the house and garage, and I'm trying to find everything that I'll need for market tomorrow. On the plus side, it's not supposed to rain or snow or be brutally cold tomorrow, so regardless of whether I have everything completely ready tomorrow, at least I won't have to court hypothermia. In fact, tomorrow at 7am, when I'll be about ready to set up, it will be a whole, entire 38 degrees F! And it should be all the way up to 54 degrees by mid afternoon. With practically no wind. Yay! Practically balmy. I'm thinking that probably I'll wear my jeans tomorrow instead of my shorts, tho.

Hope to see everyone at Market tomorrow! I don't have an assigned spot this year, but I'll almost definitely be within sight of either the Veteran's Museum or TeddyWedgers up at the top of State Street.

Mom just called to say 'I know we were going to come tomorrow for a visit, but can we come tonight, instead, and stay for an extra day?' I assured her that this wouldn't be a problem, because the fact that they're coming early gives me an even more legitimate excuse for not having a clean house. 'Sorry, but since you came early, I couldn't do all of the cleaning I was planning to do after I got home from Farmer's Market'. Hee. They'll be getting in tonight around midnight. Mom said 'we'll just sneak in super quietly, so we don't wake you up.' I assured her that I'll definitely still be awake and packing for the market. Procrastinate? Me? Naaah, never.

Well, I can't put it off any longer, it's finally time to go sort the pendants. I've been making them all winter and just putting them into a big box, now I have to actually go put them into a nice shiny display, which really means that I have to try to remember how much I was going to charge for each item. I think pricing is about the hardest part of making and selling anything. I enjoy playing with fire and molten glass so much that it doesn't feel like work, and so it's hard to put a price on something that I'd do for free.

Dane County Farmer's Market Starting next weekend!

That's right, it seems like it was just snowing yesterday, but on April 17th, the Dane County Farmer's Market moves back outside! if you want more information. I'm not sure what spot I'll be in this year, I haven't heard yet if I finally have a high enough seniority to have a permanent spot or if I just get the luck of the draw every weekend, but I should be there, with lots of new shiny things! Come get the first of the Spring vegetables and check out all of the new artists at the top of State Street. Hope to see you there!

Northside Farmer's Market

I'll be vending at the indoor Northside Farmer's Market this Sunday. It runs from umm... I guess I should probably know the times before I post, right? 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. It's in the space that used to be the old True Value hardware store, in the Northside TownCenter (at the corner of Northport and Sherman). I'll have lots of shinies there, and there will be some fabulous produce and baked goods, so come on out. This will be my very last market of the season (although the Northside market will have two more weekends in December), so come on out and say hello!