Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Slip Casting ~ Disaster

Well, I said it'd been a long time since I did slip casting
and here's the proof!
The plaster mold actually went well but I did not clean the release out of the mold
well enough so it acted as a resist.  
The slip was poured in and left for 15 minutes
 but that was not enough because the slip skin was thin.

Ah well!  Lessons learned.

I'm going to clean out the release, let the mold dry & then try again!

Good thing Mother's Day is a month or more away!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Slip Casting ~

I'm doing some casting again. 
In the past I've experimented with glass casting but have been wanting to return to my "roots" of ceramic casting.  I haven't done slip casting in many years but a long time ago (in what seems like a galaxy far, far, away) I worked exclusively with clay.  Throwing, slab work & slip casting. 

These are good things to know for a glass artist as it's allowed me to make my own molds as well as repair or reproduce molds I like rather than purchasing expensive molds from a dealer.

I was hanging onto a pair of William's first little red boots...sob!
So cute that I just couldn't bring myself to throw them away.
SO....I thought I would make a plaster cast & then slip cast it as a vase!
Mother's day is coming up, right?
A gift to me & my Mommy.

Here's a picture of the first half cast in plaster.  It's coated with Vaseline (used as a release)
& ready for the second pour of plaster.  The boot is coated as well as the plaster.  It's very important to really coat the plaster otherwise the second pour could stick!

This was much more messy than I remembered! 
Yikes!  I need to finish this up this weekend so I can clean the studio get back to production!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Queen Bee Alert

It's almost time for the spring packages of bees to arrive.
Packages typically arrive around the middle of April so in
March I get itchy to check the hives & see how the girls have done over the winter.  
This past week it was finally warm enough to pop the top & take a peek inside. 
Usually I rap on the side of hive first & if all is well & gentle hum accelerates.

Unfortuanately, when I rapped there was no answerinh hum.


This is a freaky picture because the bees look so healthy & perfectly perserved!
But....unfortunately, they are dead.  They were down to this little bit of honey in comb.
The queen & her attendants were clustered around it.
We saved the queen & this piece of the comb for William's science project.

Usually, we just shake out the few that are dead onto the grass for the birds to feed on but there were 10's of thousands!  A large colony can have well over 60,000 bees living inside it's walls & these were both big & healthy hives going into the fall.

I had high hopes for them this year!

Unfortunately, there were just too many bees & soon we had to put them in a trash bag.
We said a little blessing to thank them for their environmental work & then put them into the compost pile we've saved for our worm composting.

I've never seen so many bees!  It's a double edged sword with a large & healthy hive going into a long winter....there just isn't enough reserves to get them through to April.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Equinox ~

The spring equinox seen from the Canary Islands.
(In a long exposure from the Canary Islands, sun and stars streak the sky on last year's vernal equinox)

Happy Spring!
The equinox represents a balance between the seasons & of daylight ~
we're entering a balance of day & night!
It's the time for new beginnings, growth, birth, & celebration!

Spring is a time of great celebration in many cultures. It's the time of year when the planting begins, people begin to once more enjoy the fresh air, and we can reconnect with the earth again after the long, cold winter. A number of different gods and goddesses from different pantheons are connected with the themes of Spring and Ostara.  The pagans of Easter celebrations did just that: celebrate. They produced an atmosphere of giving and happiness, a renewal of life. A time of sex and love ~ hence the image of the "egg" symbolizing a renewed fertility in all things from seedlings bursting forth from the earth to babes to more esoteric forms of renewal within our minds!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Are you in your Zen?

If you can start the day without caffeine,

If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,

If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,

If you can eat plain food every day and be grateful for it,

If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,

If you can conquer tension without medical help,

If you can relax without liquor,

If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,
If you can start the day without caffeine,

Then You're Probably the Family DOG!
Have a great Sunday!

Friday, March 18, 2011

They're BACK.....for dessert?

This morning the Mama & calf came back! 
They are feeding on my cotoneaster shrubs & have them eaten
down below the top of the fence.  This poor hedge doesn't have a chance!

If you look closely you can see our lit white lights along the top of the fence.
It's probably about time to take them down but it's really nice to have the extra light in the early morning when we leave to walk to school....or to add  a little ambiance to dinner time?

OK ~ move on now girls!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Is the Accordion the New Cool?

Do you think the accordion is the new "cool?"

The past few years I've noticed the accordion featured in a bunch of children's cartoons ~
The Backyardigans, Dora the Explorer, &  the Wiggles to name a few.  It also seems like I'm hearing it more in music & on commercials ~ or maybe I'm noticing it more because I play?
I have to admit that I like it when my son notices these things too...."Look Mommy!  There's an accordion like you play!"

Yep, it makes me a little cool in his eyes.

So, today when I was checking out some upcoming Minnesota events, I noticed this great poster for the Minnesota Orchestra's 2011-2112 concert season.

Look closely.  Look in the lower right hand corner.  See it????

See the strolling accordionist?

The best part is that player is portrayed as normal person strolling down the street & not a weirdo in lederhosen or a dead guy being handed his
accordion in hell ala the Gary Larson cartoon.

The accordion has arrived people!!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

It's Spring!

The sun is out & I'm planting seeds ~ in more ways than one!
This is a set of patterns I'm designing for a new line of dinnerware,
votive holders, & an interior fireplace surround...maybe

 It's in the planning stage.

What do you think?

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Moose is Loose ~

The moose is loose in the hood!

Even though Anchorage is a city of nearly 300,000, & we live in the downtown
city center, we have moose wandering through almost daily.

We get used to seeing them walking up & down the sidewalks, stopping to
eat the hedge & poo on the deck.  Yep, when you live in Anchorage you could have 1,200 or more pounds of moose standing on your deck ~ good thing we reinforced it for a hot tub & then never got around to installing the tub!

Hey, big Momma
Walking down the sidewalk munching the cotoneaster.
Ooooo...she's giving me the stink eye ~ because the flash on the camera went off.  Can you see the steam coming out of her nostrils?  Mamma's not happy.

She's been busted before because she's got a "collar" around her neck.
Alaska Fish & Game collar & tag animals to track & monitor behavior, habits & territory.

Here's the calf in MY GARDEN eating the cotoneaster from inside the fence.

I see you there hiding behind the trellis!!

(S)he also fed on other foliage but thank the heavens the "baby" missed the apple & cherry trees in the front garden.  I have those trees shrouded in cheese cloth which has been the only way to keep the moose from eating them to the ground.  The bee hives are also there & come to think of it ~ it seems like the moose haven't touched the fruit trees since the hives have lived in an adjacent corner of yard? 

Spring is around the corner...just in time for me to plant the veggie garden for the moose!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Your Chance To Be A Winner ~ !!!

Check out this FABULOUS BEAD
It was made by Kim Rogers of Numinosity Blogger Fame.
Kim's doing a give away with some of her
collage' art & other things.

I was the lucky recipient of one of her give aways in the past
so I attest to the fact that it was over the top filled with goodies!
Check out Kim Roger's site & enter to win! 
You have until March 13th. 
Good luck to you but I'm hoping I WIN!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wine Bottle Boats ~

Yes, this post is about recycling again. 
Wine bottles again.
I keep trying to come up with new ways to recycle the bottles
so here's a twist on the wine bottle tray.

A new favorite wine is "Valley of the Moon" chardonnay.
It's crisp, smooth, & yummy with everything from salmon to pasta.
Flavor aside, it's also bottled beautifully with a silver decal that
is retrained regardless of temperatures upwards of 1500 degrees.

After the bottle is fused flat into the typical tray it's slumped into a mold~
I call it the bottle boat mold....I have no idea what it's really called?
Even after the second firing the decal remains & is fused into the glass.

The neighborhood boarding mine is called "Valley of the Moon." 
Cool, eh? 
The wine bottle boat is a popular gift item in Anchorage for all the downtowners.
I've sold them as fast as I can drink the wine...only kidding...sort of.
Anyone out there want to help me??  :)

After it's slumped into the mold it's now a!

Ta-Da ~ Side view! 
Look!  Even a cute handle was created from the neck of the bottle!
These are great little trays for nuts or dips & best of all the glass is being
recycled & kept out of the landfill. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sets ~

I have lots of new dichroic in stock so I've been making up some
pendant & earring sets.  It's a good way to test out how the pattern & colors
look after fusing at various temperatures before
 working it into larger pieces. 

I get to test out new glass &
create something to wear, sell or give away.

To match or not?
I prefer asymmetrical & abstract designs.

These colors make me hungry for spring!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Giving Back to Public Radio

I heard a comment recently made by someone who was talking about the proposed budget cuts to public radio.  It was something like...why is it when congress talks budget cuts they start with the "brain" first?  "Brain" being the voice of reason & intelligence that represents public radio.

Here's my disclaimer:
 I may be biased as I'm  liberal in my leanings & a supporter of
 public radio & TV. 
It's about all I listen to & watch so I feel responsible to
give back either through memberships or donations.
My partner also has worked in public radio for about 18 years. 
 I don't watch network TV.  I love CNN, public TV & listen to lots of music.

This is my art glass donation to KNBA ~ the first & only Native Public Station in a Metro Market!

The start of the layout (14" X 14") clear Bullseye Tetka base, black 3mm,
& fractures in marine blue & white.

I added a quote by Chief Seattle on the white glass:
"Take Only Memories, Leave Nothing but Footprints"
Added more fractures in leaf green, adventurine(sparkle),  & a variety of stringers.
I had sort of a nature theme in mind...can you see it?

Here's the glass layout pre-firing.

Post firing in the kiln ~ full fuse at 1500 degree Fahrenheit.

Close up of the quote  (iron oxide transfer process).

Final piece displayed in a custom black, powder coated, iron stand.

Check it out at 90.3 on the FM dial.  Thank you KNBA!
If you're in Anchorage & want to attend the Alaska Native Art Auction
to benefit KNBA please call the station for tickets & more information.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Gaining Light ~ Glass Wall Sconces

I'm working on a set of glass wall sconces to replace the
glass from another set
 I had made in dark colors ~ see the glass above.
Transparent cobalt, sky blue, spring green, neo-lavendar & aqua. 
The glass base is an irid clear and if you look closely
you can see the diamond pattern. 
This really added a nice shimmer when  lit.
Although I love these colors they were dark & didn't let a lot of light through. 
Nice & soothing in the winter & beautiful on a cobalt painted wall.'s spring time in Alaska
& I've been in a cleaning & painting mode.
The cobalt wall has been painted a buff color & with the trims white I wanted a lighter colored glass sconce on these fixtures.

The fixture hardware  is custom made & sold by Bullseye Glass Co. & sells for about $116 each ~  lamp fixture hardware (11.75" X 7.5").  This fixture hardware is made to fit the glass slumped over the lamp bender conic mold (#8740).

Here's a picture of the mold. 
 It's been brushed with kiln wash & is in the kiln ready for use.

I contemplated using many colors of glass but in the end decided to go with something light & neutral.  The glass base is clear tetka (3mm)  topped with white fractures, stringers (1mm & 2 mm in white, ivory, & transparent gold),  & frit in a variety of sizes & chunks. 
 I really like the bigger chunk effect.

Final glass after firing & slump firing.

Here's the glass mounted & lit. 
 I'm loving the color combo & the radiating light effect on the wall.