Sunday, March 29, 2009

I got my Wish!

Well, I asked for Anchorage to get some ash & yesterday we did! Here's a picture of the ash cloud from the Kenai Peninsula. The Anchorage Airport has been closed since yesterday & the newspaper reports that it will re-open after crews get the ash cleaned-up ~ provided the volcano doesn't blow again.

I'm off to collect some ash. My nephews live in Minnesota so this might be something interesting for them to share with their classmates. I''ll be sending them some of the ash, newspaper articles, a book about volcanos & I'm going to experiment with some of it in my glass projects. It's a great learning opportunity for all of us!
Here's a picture of my car before I swept the ash off & into a plastic bag.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Code Red!

Here we go again... Mount Redoubt is acting up & spewing ash over
southcentral Alaska. So far the ash cloud has avoided Anchorage but Alaska Airlines & probably everyone else flying in & out of Anchorage have canceled flights. The ash is like fine glass particles & dangerous to breathe. It's abrasive & tends to scratch surfaces so it has to be cleaned up with water...& when wet becomes like cement. It's a work-out to clean it up.
When Redoubt blew in the 80's Anchorage was hit hard with ash & I remember cleaning our deck off by shoveling the ash into trash cans. Now I'd actually like a little of that ash to experiment with in my glass work. Hmmmm...maybe I'll have to call some friends in Talkeetna or Homer & have them save me a little dust.

Our local newspaper has some great photos & information about the volcano so if you want to read more about it go to

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Are you Hip?

Glass belt buckles are the rage, baby! I've been making them for myself for some time & for fun thought I'd goggle it to see what's happening in the world. Holy moly! Glass belt buckles retail for upwards of $100! That's for opaque & transparent glass ~ not even dichroic. Here's a dichroic buckle that I made for myself. I love wearing them on my hipster pants.

I made a few that were in a "Bauhaus" / retro style design & color wise. I already gave one to a friend....for FREE! You lucky girl!! Enjoy it ;)!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Is it Spring Yet?

The days are getting longer & sunnier but we still have a lot of snow and ice. Last night my husband asked if I thought our son Will would like to go ice fishing? His Rotary Club was hosting an ice fishing event for kids at Mirror Lake just north of Anchorage this morning at 8:03 ~ that's daybreak.

I thought that meant he was taking Will ice fishing in the morning & I'd be sleeping-in. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way & I ended-up going along. Here they are ice fishing after auguring out 3 feet of ice!

When we got home I got busy in the studio & finished my "fireweed" glass panel. It has many layers of frit fired on the base glass at different temperatures so the layers look & feel three-dimensional. It's finished with brushed nickel channels & cable.

This is the first in a new series of florals & fauna.

I'm ready for spring!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Mystery Package!

This past week I received a package in the mail. A package I wasn't expecting. I looked at it & turned it over a few times & studied the return address which I didn't recognize. I also didn't recognize the handwriting. I always like visualize what's inside or remember what I ordered that has now arrived.

My first thought was that it was a return from a customer. A little negative you think? After 10 years in retail I'm still trying to recover. Don't get me wrong, I had fabulous customers & many who became good friends but every once in awhile you the get the customer that makes you want to turn the OPEN sign OFF for the rest of the day.

Anyway, as I opened this package I caught sight of some beautiful colors & fiber poking out. Oh my goodness! I checked the return address again thinking I had gotten something mailed to me by mistake & then I saw the note. It was from Kathy in Seattle!

Kathy is an artist's representative that I've known from the wholesale scene. When we were both at the Alaska Gift Show in January I traded her a glass piece for one of her handcrafted scarves! Her note said that she chose these colors & particular fiber pieces just for me ~ how cool is that??

Kathy recycles sweaters, wool, yarn & other embellishments that she then fashions into wearable art. Some of the fiber embellishment looks like it was felted on top of the other wool pieces. One feature of the scarf I really liked is that she used soft black velvet on the inside neck zone. Here's a close-up of the detail.

It feels great & looks wonderful! I wore it skating the other day & a hockey player (male) on the ice even commented on it ~ Now that's a compliment!
Let me know if you want to trade again Kathy. It's my new favorite accessory! Thanks again ~ you made my day with the mystery package.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

You Betcha It's Good!

Happy St. Patrick's Day from Sarah & all of us in Alaska!

Friday, March 13, 2009

What to do on a Sunny Day in Anchorage?

It's 30 degrees Farenheit (2 C) & very sunny. At our house, if it's sunny we head outside everyday at 3 pm for some exercise & fresh air. Usually we walk, sled, or play on the outdoor playground equipment but the past few weeks it's been beautiful so we've been skating.

My son, William has gone from standing up & pushing a chair around the ice to skating on his own to chasing me in a mere two weeks. Isn't it amazing to be young? I used to be a fairly good skater & can still make my way around the rink...& even in my old age I see improvements in myself everyday. I'm skating smoother, faster & can turn around to skate backwards while my child is chasing me on his wobbly blades.

Looking pretty confident & cool in those shades!

Aluminum 1220 F

So I thought I'd fuse another section of the aluminum can at a lower temperature. 1220 degrees is the melting point of aluminum per "The Complete Metalsmith" by Tim McCreight. Here's a photo post fusing at 1220 F for 15 minutes.

Good defination & retention of metal shape. Few air bubbles. Some scratches on the metal from the metal shears. Boring color.

Because this is a relatively a cool firing you can still see the layers of the Tetka. Not good but I was sloppy in my cutting because I really just wanted to see what was happening with the metal. So there you go! I'm not sure how I'll use it but the aluminum is free & know I know how it fires so time to come up with a new recycled piece of art!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fusing Experiment with Aluminum Cans

Anchorage is not known for it's recycling policies. Sad to say but recycling in Anchorage is far behind the times. When visiting my sister & her family in Minneapolis this past summer we were shocked at all the items they recycle. They don't only recycle, they clean the items & sort them, AND if they don't they get fined by the city!

In my small way, I try to recycle as many items as I can. I re-use all our newspapers, cardboard & boxes for packing up my wholesale orders. I save all the product boxes (popcorn, milk, etc.) from Costco, cut them apart & turn them inside out & re-tape so I can use the heavy weight boxes for shipping containers.

Unfortunately, I'm also a soda drinker ~ something I'm trying to cut back on. It's better than smoking right?? In the mean time I've been experimenting with cutting up the aluminum & thinking about how to use it in art projects. I was wondering if the paint on the can would fire off or remain? And if the aluminum would retain it's shape at various temperatures.

Because I frequently fire glass at a full fuse I decided to throw in a layered piece of aluminum can with Bullseye Tetka with a kiln load of other pieces. Here's the pre & post fire set-up with the "diet ke" can.

Hummmm..... interesting effect. It sort of looks like reptile skin. The picture doesn't really do it justice because the color is greenish~gray~dragon-like. I could see using it as a component part in a larger sculpture. what happens at a lower temperature, I wonder? Let's try a tack fuse at about 1385 for 15 minutes. I was hoping the paint or some of the color would remain at the lower temperature. Here's small piece of aluminum layered between two pieces of Bullseye Tetka pre & post-firing.

Kind of interesting. I guess I need to experiment with more temperatures. In the meantime, here's some facts about Aluminum that I should have looked up before I started ~ would have explained a few things ~ but hey, what's the fun in knowing what the out-come is before you experiment???
1. Melting point of Aluminum = 1220 F & 660 C (That explains a lot!! I knew it was soft, but not that soft! )
2. Aluminum (AL) is the most abundant metallic element on the planet & makes up 8 % of the earths crust.
3. Because of its resistance to corrosion, light weight, & low cost, AL is used in architecture, housewares, & packaging....and now GLASS!

I think I'll try another fusing at or below it's melting point & see what happens. Are you curious? I AM! Stay tuned for an update.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Monday Hell

Tonight, Monday, is my accordion group practice. I need to be playing through my music & trying to get some of it memorized. The group members have picked specific pieces to memorize. I have mixed feelings about memorizing; slight resistance due to childhood memories of piano recitals & knowing that it's a good exercise for my brain. I'll probably cave in to group pressure & memorize the music.

I have mixed feelings about the Gary Larson cartoon, too. It makes me laugh & then feel guilty cause I really like the accordion! I read somewhere on-line that after Gary Larson published this cartoon he visited the famous Petosa Accordion shop in Seattle & apologized. If my memory is correct I think he wrote the apology on a copy of the cartoon. Next time I'm in Wallinford I'm stopping bye Petosa's & checking it out!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Snowmen in a Boat

I'm in production & experimentation mode so I have random bits & pieces laying around the studio. It's my dream to be super organized & always have a studio that's neat & tidy but it's truly a pipe dream so I should just surrender to my own little reality. My studio may look messy but believe me "I KNOW WHERE EVERYTHING IS."

OK, back to "Snowmen in a Boat". I'm working at my desk & I look over to see my 4 year old son, William, trying on a mask. A glass mask. "Be careful honey, that's glass."

On the counter is also a basket of glass snowpeople ornaments that have yet be drilled for the hangers. William casually picks up the ornaments a starts stacking them in his hand & I say, "Be careful honey, that's glass."

Of course he just ignores me & keeps on trying to stack into the glass mask. I'm trying to be cool but geez that's a lot of work that I don't want to have to do a second time & it's glass! He could get cut if one was broken or he dropped in on the cement floor. It's times like these when I think about the teacher in me & try to take a deep breath & remember about all the teachable moments & that some of our best learning experiences are through trial & error. Big breath & a pause...

And he says; "Look Mom! There's snowmen in a boat!" And he's right! There they are all carefully lined-up in the inverted mask! Whew ~ Happy Snowpeople & Happy Me!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Accordion Cases can be Works of Art!

Most accordion cases are sturdy, utilitarian & belie the unique instrument stored inside. They're typically brown or black but one of my accordion cases was a brown plaid & had some large stains on one side. Sounds lovely, right?

Well, I decided to take matters into my own hands & embellish the case so I wouldn't be embarrassed to transport my accordion to events & practices. I'm a bit of pack rat ~ or organizationally challenged if you want to be PC ~ so I have a stash of "stuff" that I save for decoupage & mosaic. You never know when you might need canceled stamps, outdated calendars, or old dominoes!

Here's a picture of the first accordion case I embellished. Yes, there's more than one!
Here's a couple of close up shots of the detail. I especially like Loteria, tarot & regular playing cards as well as stamps, gaming pieces, old calendars, beads....& whatever else I can find or recycle.
Recycling greeting cards also decoupage well as do wine labels. I usually soak the wine bottles in hot water & then use a razor blade to remove them & place on wax paper until I'm ready to use them in a project.
The Frida Kahlo image is from a sheet of stamps from the US Post Office. They offer cool stamps with a large image of the artist or theme that also sticky-backed. The Harry Potter pin was from one of the book releases & I'd like to think he could appreciate accordion music. It's magical too!