Monday, February 26, 2007

Fusing glass is fuuuuuuun!

Wow, what a fun weekend! Mary Jane and I met in Burlington and had lunch at the Vermont Pub and Brewery, where, to ease my guilt at leaving Tom for the weekend, I bought him a growler (half gallon jug) of Dogbite beer. We stopped at Vermont Beads and Fibers in Middlebury on our way down to Chester.

We managed to find the Quail Hollow Inn ( in the dark in an area where I've never been before (an accomplishment!), and were completely enchanted with the place. One of the innkeepers, Peter, gave us a tour of the place before showing us to our room. This photo is the reception area of the Inn, looking into the dining room.

Our room - woa. The bed had to be one of the most comfortable beds I'd ever slept in, and the room was warm and cozy. We were right down the hall from the staircase that led to the bar and the hot tub! When we got back from dinner, our beds had been turned down and a little piece of chocolate had been left on our pillows. (I could totally have gotten used to that!)

The next morning, breakfast was an upside-down apple pancake cooked in maple syrup. Hot tea and fresh orange juice were already at the table, and Jane and I just loved it!

So, stuffed to the gills, we headed over to the Fletcher Farm School in Ludlow where we met our teacher, Cheryl, and the six other women we would be learning with this weekend. We spent what seemed like thirty seconds learning how to cut glass with the different styles of glass cutters, and then off we went!

We were each given a 1/2 pound bag of dichroic "scrap" glass, which were leftover pieces from whatever glass supplier Cheryl purchased them from. She showed us how to measure and cut a straight line (which I never did figure out!), and told us that for our first pieces, we should just do a single layer, meaning, a base of opaque or transluscent glass, a piece of dichroic or two in the middle, and a clear cap on top. Half of the fun was sorting through all the colors and patterns and textures of the glass to come up with different designs. We put our first attempts onto small ceramic brick shelves covered in special ceramic fiber paper, and into the kilns they went! When they came out two hours later, we were shocked - not only were they all beautiful, but they looked almost NOTHING like what we had put into the kiln two hours ago! Hahahaa!

This photo shows all the different cabs I made this weekend. Other students embedded fine silver wire into their cabs to use as earrings or glued bails on for use as pendants, but I left mine as cabochons so that I can embroider around them to make bracelets and pendants.

The second day was just as good as the first, except that we had to go home at the end of it!

For breakfast, another gourmet dish at the Quail Hollow Inn - this time it was French toast with orange zest cooked in honey, with maple syrup that, as Bob said, "kept us bouncing all day"! When we got to Fletcher Farm School, Cheryl had just finished loading up the kilns with the last of the pieces to be fused from yesterday. We worked on learning finishing techniques, which included using a glass grinder to sand down and straighten the edges a bit, how to cut a backing out of glass, and how to make a hole or include a wire finding into our piece. We all totally loved using the grinder - it was completely mesmerizing to hold our little pieces of glass up to the grinding wheel and watch them get smooth and straight! Then we would either firepolish them or fuse them again with a backing to create a hole for stringing or attaching to a piece of jewelry.

When we were finished, Cheryl handed out a little certificate that stated that we had each completed fourteen hours of class in fusing dichroic glass. I laughed and told everyone that the sad part was that I would probably get more use out of this certificate than I would out of my four-year college degree! At least I got a laugh out of everyone...

It was such a downer to have to get up this morning and go back to work! But this evening, I'll sit down and look at the Delphi Glass website and figure out what I need to buy to start making these lovely little gems here at home. I can't wait for my next show at the Lake Placid Library - I hope to have a whole slew of these made into jewelry and ready for sale!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Let it snow, ha ha ha!

This is the view from our driveway facing the road. Note the 2' walls of snow that we created with the snowblower so that we could get the cars in and out! Hahahaa!! Sometimes I really love living in the North Country - like last night when it was still snowing an inch an hour, and we took Moose outside in the yard to watch the snow and listen to it hitting the power lines and shrubs...

So, no way was I going into Lake Placid yesterday during that blizzard, and I didn't make it in today either, since by the time that the roads were semi-passable (read: still snow-covered), I was (unsuccessfully) fighting a killer migraine. Oh, well, life in the Adirondacks...

Well, the other day I received my notification that Metis was accepted by the Mountain Lake PBS Arts Auction for April! My excitement was dampened with a bit of sadness at the thought that I will have to part with her, but I feel better knowing that whoever wins her in the auction will give her a good home. I am so excited to be a part of this!

And, my friend Mary Jane and I will be traveling to Vermont the weekend of the 23rd to take a class at the Fletcher Farm School of Fine Crafts in dichroic glass fusing! That should be a fun weekend. We get to spend two whole days melting glass, and then stay in a beautiful Victorian bed and breakfast. Wow. This is going to just be sooooo cool - and then once I know how to make these beautiful dichroic glass cabochons, who knows what my art will start looking like?

Speaking of my art, I have started on a disturbing trend... During the month of January, I found myself cranking out pieces like crazy, and I really did manage to get a lot of work done and posted on the website. But now that I am working on pieces for the Bead and Button Show and some new projects for Beadwork magazine, I find that I get to a certain point in a piece and then get stuck. I managed to bezel and connect all the labradorite cabs for one piece, only to get stuck on the strap. (And this after I managed to make two twisted herringbone tubes for the strap which took me close to 16 hours!!!) And then I embroidered and backed a brass collar from Designer's Findings with moonstone, mother of pearl and opal chips, only to find that I am completely stumped when I sit down to fringe it. And then there's the beautiful swirly brown piece I started last August when I went to the city with Min Ping and Min Yee and bought those funky tiger's eye rectangles - I am a mere twelve 2" rows of bead embroidery away from backing and fringing the piece, but every time I sit down to work on it, I'm stuck. I finally forced myself to sit down and start "Her Name Was Bunny..." for the Bead and Button show, and I'm managing that nicely as long as I don't think too hard while I'm stitching... I think I need to watch "Kinky Boots" again or at least listen to the soundtrack to get my mind back on track. Does anybody else every get stuck creatively? What the heck do you do to get unstuck?

Well, I hope everybody has gotten shoveled out by now, and I also hope that everyone stays warm during the deep freeze this weekend!