Our family is getting bigger!

Tomorrow morning, there will be a new addition to the family. His name is Snuffy, and he's a 12 year old tabby cat. There will probably be much wailing and griping from our other two, mostly about the fact that for several weeks, Snuffy will have the guest room all to himself, which means that our house will have a Closed Door! Oh noes! Not a Closed Door!

We're going to integrate him into the fambly as slowly as possible, to keep from stressing anyone out unduly, and Chris and I will take turns sleeping in the guest room with Snuffy, to get him used to us. He was my Great Uncle B's cat, and we all promised Uncle B that he'd have a good home. So, it's looking like his new home is going to be with us. Pictures to follow.

I've had a long talk with Jackie, and she's assured me that once she's decided that Snuffy is not Satan in disguise, that she will teach him the proper tail flick technique with which to knock the maximum number of beads off of whichever surface he happens to be lying upon. Marley has promised to show him which drawer contains the treatfoods, so that he will know where to stand and miaow piteously. They have both refrained from commenting upon whether or not they're willing to share the sunspot in front of the sliding door, but it's a pretty big sunspot, and despite their best efforts, they have thus far been unable to spread their bodies out quite flat enough to cover the entire space, so I'm pretty sure that Snuffy won't be stinted on sunbathing opportunities.

Keep your fingers crossed for happy family expansions. And for not too many upsets that our house will for a week at least, contain a Closed Door.

Not out vending today

Also, I'm not out at the Northside Farmer's Market today because apparently I can't count to two, and I'm off by a weekend (I vend there every other Sunday, except when I have a show). I will be out next weekend, instead. The sad part about it is that since we got there bright and early to set up, we were also too bright and early for most of the farmers to be set up, so I couldn't get my cookie fix.

Aaaaaah, run away, run away! It's GRAVITY! It's going to kill us all!

So umm... I dropped an entire box of glass on the way into the house, while trying to block the cat and close the sliding door at the same time. I'm fairly certain I said a bad word. Possibly a few bad words strung together in a creative fashion.

The Dead: Two focal beads, two fish, one dragon, one turtle (the one I really didn't like anyway), and three eyeball pendants.

The Undead: A dozen plus focal beads, two fish, an eyeball pendant and handful of production beads, which all survived, unscathed and unscuffed.

The fact that the majority of them survived, even the incredibly long focals and the extra finny fish, is because them suckers go straight into a kiln when they're still hot. Can beads be made without putting them directly into a hot kiln to anneal? Of course. Will I ever do so? Nope.

I really didn't like the turtle anyway, but this was probably a rather extreme way to go about getting rid of it. On the plus side, a lot te casualties were made from borosilicate glass, which is pretty infinitely recyclable, I can just reheat it, mash it around, and make it into a different pendant. Theoretically, you can do this with soft glass, too, but I haven't had as much luck on that front.

New Dragon Claws

I've spent the past couple of days working on a new design. Dragon Claw pendants. I have to say, I love borosilicate glass. Sculptural work is really where my passion lies. Even when it doesn't turn out, which happens, it's the ultimate in recyclable material. If I look at something and say 'hrm, that looks like umm... poo', I can just reheat it, mash it up, and turn it into something else. I might do that with a turtle that recently came out of my kiln. Might not, because of the people I've shown it to thus far, more than half of them said 'oh, that's really cute'. So it's possible that someone will want to give me money for the privilege of owning something adorably cute. If not, I can declare that it truly is hideous, and melt it down for spare parts. Can't do that with soft glass.

In any case, here are my new dragon claws. Collapse )


Moving forward, one foot at a time...

Finally starting to get back into the swing of things after vacation. Chris and I had a wonderful time playing tourist in Washington, DC, and then I had an incredible two-day glass class with Trey Cornette ( down at ABR Imagery in Bloomington, IN. I really shouldn't be allowed to take a two day class in a glass warehouse again. Came home with an empty wallet, a truck full of shinies and a brain full of new techniques. And then I immediately insisted that Chris build me some new tools, so I could play. Shiny new solid brass marver plate. Yay! I'm so glad that I have someone who can MAKE THINGS who is also entirely tolerant of my insistence that I need this new thing absolutely right now can you build me one please?!

I really need to get back into having some sort of a routine. I accomplished almost nothing yesterday, and then to make up for it, today I spent fourteen hours hunched over the torch, happily playing with borosilicate glass. Made some simple pendants, a few turtles, some dragons, and I've attempted something new in the way of a dragon claw holding a marble, just to fool around a bit. The dragon claw holding a marble is because at RenFaires, someone inevitably asks for one, and is disappointed when I say 'nope, but I have all this other cool handmade unique glass stuff!' "But no pewter dragon claws with marbles?" Now, I can say 'nope, but I have dragon claws entirely made out of glass!' You want onna them pewter ones, try Hobby Lobby.

Also, while I'm talking about new and improved glass things... my dragons have FEET! They're not the best feet in the world, but they're a start. Hopefully, they're enough to keep people from looking at my dragon pendants and exclaiming about how lovely the seahorses are. *cry* I spent about an hour experimenting with making claws out of clear glass on a clear rod, and then made a dragon with feet. Took a few pictures before I popped it into the kiln, and I'll admire him more closely tomorrow. The hardest part was deciding the right number of toes. I tried four, then three, and settled on two. It might look better with three, eventually, but at the moment, my toe-creation skills are only good enough for two. Keep in mind, please, that the entire foot is about half the size of a raisin. Bleah. I need to go take a nice hot shower, my neck muscles are all tensed up for some reason. Possibly that whole 'hunching over a torch trying to make miniscule feet out of molten glass' thing. Behold, the feet!


Long week, but good

It's a busy week at The Vinery, we're hosting the RAGS* conference this year, which means that retail glass sellers from all over the country (and Costa Rica, too) are here in Madison to get together and network and talk about ways to improve sales, more classes to offer, different ways to advertise, etc. etc. They're also all taking glass classes, Stained glass, fusing, mosaics, and flameworking. It's that last one that has me, personally, hopping. I'm putting in a few more hours this week to be available to answer questions and helping keep things running while the guest instructors are doing their thing, and then on Friday, I get to be the 'guest instructor' for an all day boro class. It's tons of fun, I love gabbing with people who are every bit as passionate about glass as I am. Mind you, they might be passionate about a different part of glass than me, but glass is glass, I love it all (except for actually DOING stained glass. Too. Slow.) So yesterday I went in early to help out, talked all day with people about the retail side of the glass business, which was fun, and then taught Flameworking club in the evening. And THEN, because I wasn't tired enough after a high-energy day, I let myself be talked into staying extra late so that some of the Flame Club students could keep on playing with glass. Muhuhahahaha! Addicts, every one of them! Well, several of them, anyway. We were there until about 11pm. Which, all things considered, is not a late night for me, I typically stay up until 2am, but when I'm doing that, it's in my own studio, quietly making beads and stuff, and not in a class situation, where I'm pouring out all of my energy into a class full of people, who are eager to learn everything I want to teach them. It was an incredibly fun night, but exhausting. In a good way, mind, but exhausting all the same. I also made the world's ugliest mini-goblet, which I immediately gave away to one of the ladies in class on the condition that she never tell anyone that I made it. No, I didn't take a picture. It looked vaguely like some piece of cobbled-together medical equipment that you might find in a medic's horse-drawn wagon in a twisted post-apocalyptic era. No, really, it was astoundingly ugly. I should make another one.

*RAGS is some acronym like Regional Area Glass Sellers or Retail Art Glass Sellers or Rabid Area Glass Syndicate or umm... I should probably know what it stands for, but when it all comes down to it, I'm just a register monkey, NOT a retail store owner, so I think they'll forgive me for not knowing. I know that the 'g' stands for glass, and that's pretty much the only one I'm sure about.

That was fun

I just got done teaching private lessons to a very nice couple who stopped by at Farmer's Market on Saturday and took one of my cards. I love teaching classes, especially in a one-on-one situation, or very small 3-4 student classes. I'm what one of my students described as a 'helicopter teacher', I tend to watch over my students quite carefully and verbally coach them through each step, telling them what they're seeing, and explaining how to read the heat in the glass as they're working (it's very important in working glass to recognize what the different glowy colors mean). So I love smaller classes, where I can give each student a lot of really personal attention. I try very hard not to be a 'mouse grabber', where I take their piece away and do it for them, because the temptation is always there. But instead, I hover, and occasionally adjust someone's elbow to indicate how they should be holding the glass.

The two people I had in class today were very nice, and much fun was had. Each one went home with a pendant, I managed to have enough oxygen to last through the whole class (I was a little worried, but didn't say anything because I didn't want THEM to worry). I have backup tanks, but switching the tank out while someone's piece is happily cooling off to room temperature and then heating it back up again is always stressful.

So, that being said, I have now successfully taught two people simultaneously in my studio (I've taught one person at a time before, but not two), we all fit into the 9x10 room without too much hip-checking, and everyone was pleased with the results. I should make a bigger sign at Farmer's Market about teaching, rather than just having it written very small on the back of my business cards. Plus, maybe if I had students more often, I wouldn't have to spend three hours cleaning the studio before each teaching session, because it would STAY cleaner and less cluttered.



Naaah. Doubt it.

Yay pickles!

I went to my favorite u-pick farm this afternoon and picked a bunch of pickling cucumbers. I picked a ton last week and actually pickled them, with jars and everything, but that's for, you know, later. So today I went back and got a bunch more cucumbers and then Chris and I went to Dorn Hardware (because they have EVERYTHING) and found the perfect container for me to make refrigerator pickles in. It has a fairly small square footprint, but it's very tall, so it holds a bucketload of vegetables without taking up an entire shelf in the fridge. Now I'm just impatiently tapping my foot waiting for them to be ready. And pondering what else to throw in. I have a pickle crock already in the fridge, but it's small, which is why we just went out and got the bigger one. In the big crock, I have cucumbers and onions, and in the little one I have a few cucumber slices that I haven't fished out yet (they're underneath all the new stuff, and my chopstick-fu isn't quite up to par), and some kohlrabi that I just put in there two days ago. I haven't tried kohlrabi as a source of pickled goodness yet, but that's the fun of having a nice container of vinegary-briney-goodness in the fridge, I keep saying 'hrm, I wonder if THIS would be good as a pickle'.

Now, the waiting.

Aaaagh! The waiting!

I hate waiting.

I should clean my studio, since I'm teaching a private class in it tomorrow (two students plus me, should be fun, but might be a tight squeeze unless I get my tushie out there to clean).

Are the pickles done yet?