Welcome to A Hot Piece of Glass!

WELCOME to my colorful corner of the world! I write here about the things I make, in glass, fiber, metals, and whatever else I can find to play with!

**And if you want to read more about me, check out Adventures In Living!, my personal blog, or The ScooterMom, where I write about my adventures on two wheels! If you're interested in medieval, ancient and Renaissance glass, check out my history blog, The Medieval Glassworker!**

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Experiments in the Workshop

This weekend I got some time to fool around in the workshop a little, playing with sheet copper and some discs I got in a few weeks ago. Inspired by an article in Art Jewelry Magazine, I tried out some foldforming and played around with heat patinas.

These will become earrings:

It's really hard to capture how really cool-looking the heat patina is on these....all shades of blue and purple and yellow...really, really cool. I wish I could tell you exactly how I did it, but really, heat patinas are fickle. I'm just happy they are similar enough to become earrings. They will be sealed with lacquer to keep the patina.

I also made this, a pendant. It was made out of a 2" copper disc, and the same foldforming and heat patina. It came out way better than I had imagined!
Again, really hard to capture the patina in a photograph. I haven't decided what the rest of this piece will look like yet.

I did some really outstanding etching on copper, too, but I didn't photograph that yet. Maybe in a few days. I need to make the beads for the necklace the etched piece will be, so I might just make you wait til I get that all done. :)

I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday weekend, if you were celebrating, and enjoy your week!

OOH! I almost forgot....I am looking to upgrade to a digital SLR camera....something not too terribly expensive, but that will handle macro photography as well as general-purpose family and landscape photography. Anybody got any opinions on this issue? Email me if you'd rather: ahotpieceofglass AT yahoo DOT com.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Birthday man, and Cupcakes!

Sorry I have been absent....the holiday this week has sucked up most of my time and I really needed the relaxation and hanging out time with the family. It's been a wonderful Thanksgiving with fun family time, plenty of leftovers and yummy good things to eat. I think today some of the turkey is becoming curried turkey salad, and I'll probably bake some bread later on. I don't do Black Friday shopping at all. I hate the way (some) people act and I don't really feel up to being in a crush of people. There's nothing I really want or need at the store THAT much.

Well, except for some 'Cars' plates and napkins, and maybe a bunch of balloons. Today is my son's third birthday! I can't believe this little guy is three already!

Here he is, all ready to go to a birthday party last Saturday for a little girl in his preschool class. We'll be having cupcakes and dinner out and a few presents later on today, and then my mom is coming tomorrow for even more cake and presents. It's a lot of cake, but I am a FIRM believer in marking one's birthday with cake ON the actual birthday. Every birthday should be a celebration.


And now for the jewelry and glass content today...

I make glass cupcake pendants, and some of you may remember this summer, when I started selling them wholesale to a local cupcake bakery, designed to look like their cupcakes. I didn't know how well it would work, but people do love my cupcake necklaces. Imagine my surprise when the owner of the shop called me a few Fridays ago and placed a large order for necklaces and rings! I delivered them on Tuesday, and here is what I made them:

Ten of their 'Plain Jane' cupcakes on sterling silver ball chain necklaces:

And ten of their 'Red Velvet' cupcakes also on sterling silver ball chain necklaces:

Then eight silver wire-wrapped rings, four of the 'Plain Jane' and four of the 'Red Velvet':

If you are local to Richmond, Virginia, then get thee hence to Pearl's Cupcake Shoppe, on Grove Avenue, near Libbie. They have some of the most fantastic cupcakes ever, and also my necklaces, which make great stocking stuffers and gifts for little AND big girls!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

When You Give Some Kids Some Mannequins....

....you have the Brandel Family "Adventures of Frank and Jane"!

This is Frank.
...and this is his lovely companion, Jane...
They came to live with us this week, along with their two little friends, the Red Imps...
Everyone seems to be getting along well, although there have been some issues with the Imps and attempts to push each other off the ledge...
I think Jane got a little bent out of shape about their behavior, too because this was the scene yesterday afternoon...

Shoving the Imps into the basket of pinecones was a noble attempt at silencing them for a while so Jane could at least TRY to read a magazine.
Frank just doesn't know what to make of all of this....

(and my oldest daughter cannot resist a goofy picture attempt)...

Honestly, Jane was exhausted from dealing with them, and Frank wasn't really much help.

Eventually, though, things got under control. One of those Imps even helped Kira with some homework last night...

...but they do get bored easily, and are prone to bustin' a move, even when there's no music...
Jane worked out her frustrations with some exercise and yoga (modified reverse plank)...
...and that helped, along with some quality time hanging out with Frank. Ultimately, though, Frank and Jane survived their first day here, and it was definitely a cause for celebration!

Stay tuned for further Adventures with Frank and Jane!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Shopping Neverland

A friend of mine recently told me about a fantastic place in our city where I could indulge my love for thrift stores, junk shops, and decorative arts. It's Liquidation Warehouse (whose web address is actually shopneverland.com -- how cool is that!?) !

Right near Virginia Commonwealth University, downtown in a section of old, old buildings, is this gem. The buildings are incredible; HUGE with massively high ceilings, and are all brick. Walking into this place is like walking into a huge costume and prop department on some movie lot or theater campus. The woman who greets you as you come in even says, "have fun! Let me know if you need help with anything....and don't forget to look UP!" The ceilings are indescribably high and all kinds of interesting stuff is hanging in the space above your head.

It's amazing in there! There were some antiques and stuff like that, but mostly there were piles and piles of stuff that used to be display items and decoration in large big-name department stores.
This picture is at the entrance to the 'Christmas Room', where there are tons and tons of sparkly and beautiful decorations of all kinds. This photo does not even remotely do justice to the extreme sparkliness of this place. All the lights and shiny Christmas ornaments, glittery trees and garlands...it's wonderful! And, one of the owners tells me this section of the building used to be a public icehouse. So fascinating!

I know there's someone out there who needs a bust of Napoleon with a neon hat brim...

Recognize the old Bloomingdale's shopping bag logo behind me??

There were more kinds of manniquins than I knew existed....and they had huge boxes of just parts...hands, legs, arms, heads...

For you, Kerry! Lots and lots of cool-looking (but a little too expensive) old suitcases!

Oh, and if you were wondering where Cloud 9 really is...I think I found it...

There was TONS of great stuff, and so much of it could have found a home with me, but I was good, and restrained myself. My total haul consisted of four heavy crackled glass ornaments for my kitchen window, two really fun wooden poseable mannequins, and a "neck" plastic display -- I needed something to photograph necklaces on, and this will work great! I just need to paint it or cover it in some way.

I think I'm going back tomorrow, with Noah. I got an idea for a Christmas present for someone...
These earrings:

And these earrings:

went up in the Etsy shop the other day...if you want to wear them for Thanksgiving, order 'em quick! I'll even ship for free (for those earrings) if you order them now!

Just sayin'.

**Convo me when you make your purchase and I will refund the shipping fees!**

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Musings

So it is Monday once again......

*Got to get back in the saddle this week and get stuff listed in the shop.

*Don't know the outcome yet of the show I had work in this weekend. Hope it was decent! From all reports, the traffic was good, and sales numbers were not too shabby.

*Spent Friday night through Saturday night on a trip to North Carolina to visit some of my husband's family. It was a great time, but I am STILL recovering! Lots of food and family, and beautiful weather down near Charlotte!

*The hotel room we had was terrible. Ugh. Awful. Thank GOD we only stayed one night.

*I've been thinking a lot about how to move my business up to the next level....what exactly that entails, what I *want* it to be like...what I can plan for next year, how to manage the finances so it's self-supporting...

*All this thinking can be exhausting, and overwhelming.

*I forgot to show you all my Halloween necklace this year....and it didn't make it into the shop because I was...well, I forgot...and I like the necklace so I might keep it.

*Hoping for some studio time later today, but so far, it's not looking good.

*I feel terribly disorganized today.

*But, there's potato soup cooking away in the crock pot. That's a good thing.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Whimsical Wares!

Today (Friday 11/12) and tomorrow (Saturday 11/13), my work will be in a great new art and craft show that is being held here in Richmond, Virginia. I'd like to introduce you to Whimsical Wares!

This great show is being held at the Smoketree Community Center, which is located at 11100 Smoketree Drive in Richmond, VA 23236. The show is open from 11am to 7pm today, and on Saturday from 10am to 3pm. Lunch will be offered in the cafe, and there will be a huge variety of beautiful work to fill all your holiday shopping needs. We have original paintings, printmaking, mixed-media sculpture, ironwork and blacksmithing, woodworking, jewelry, cards, unbelievable pottery, and some of the best polymer clay millefiori work I have EVER seen! Amazing stuff, all of it made by a group of local artisans (including me!).

I took a few quick cell phone pictures this morning just before the show opened...sorry for the less-than-stellar quality...everything is SO much more amazing in person!

My display

The amazing polymer clay millefiori work done by Carolyn Schallmo

The stunning pottery of Steven Summerfield

The show!

Yes, this is my little Noah, helping out!

So, come on out this weekend and get your holiday shopping list taken care of, have some lunch and enjoy a unique shopping experience. Your loved ones will get a terrific handmade gift that is one of a kind, and YOU will be helping to support local artists and artisans.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Well, it's Tuesday

So, I've been working on my Art Every Day month pieces, and truth to tell, I haven't shown any here because I haven't finished any yet. I've been grabbing a few minutes here and there to work on some journal pages and some jewelry pieces, but nothing is completely done enough to show. I'm occasionally scatterbrained when I get several good ideas all at once!

Anyway, I realize that I actually HAVE completed a few things in the last few days....if you look at beads being 'complete' even if they are not made into jewelry. For some reason, I have been very interested in focusing very intently on the beads I am making over the last couple of days. By this I mean that I have been spending a lot of time in my head, rummaging around in there, and so the beads I have been making have been detailed, large, complicated to make on my torch, and have consisted mostly of very very small dots and thick layers of encasing. I love working with dot designs, as most of you may know, and encasing is one of those skills that I feel you really have to work on and practice. The base bead has to stay warm throughout, but develop a solid skin on the outside so that the encasing layer can be applied without smudging the base. I've also been playing with a variety of methods to get the encasing layer to go on evenly and cover the base bead as completely as possible.

And the dots....I am a huge admirer of Brad Pearson's work (and he even lives in Richmond! I need to take a class from him someday), so I have been trying to incorporate some of his detail and technique into my own beads. Of course, compared to his work, mine look like they were made while I was drunk, but, hey, practice makes perfect, right? (and kids, don't drink and torch. Bad idea.)

Anyway, that has been my focus for the last two beadmaking sessions. I've been trying out different color combinations, too. I think some of these are successful. Some, not so much.

I'm liking this current focus on focusing. I am feeling very insular right now and spending a lot of time thinking. My favorite way to deal with a 'mood' or an introspective period like this is to hole up with some loud music directly into my head and something to do with my hands. Somehow I think this helps me work out whatever it is that's in my head. My mood and state of mind definitely informs the work I make at any given time.

At this point, I am going to sing the praises of Pandora. I absolutely LOVE listening to my Train station (ha!), and now that my husband has bought and installed our new media server, I am thrilled to be able to listen to my music in the house like we have a real stereo system! (How dated do *I* sound??) Music is an essential component of life, especially mine.

Oh! For any of you who are local to Richmond, VA, my work will be available for sale at Whimsical Wares, a new art show and sale that will be held this weekend, November 12 and 13th. It will be at the Smoketree Clubhouse on Smoketree Drive in Richmond. Open from 11-7 on Friday and 10-3 on Saturday, there promises to be a lot of really great work for sale -- jewelry, painting, ceramics and other fantastic gifts. You should go check it out!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Oh, there are so many things in life to celebrate! SO many! Just the fact that the weather here has gotten cooler and we are now coming into the holiday season is enough for me to celebrate!

But I think in this post, I am going to take a few minutes to celebrate what I think is a major accomplishment for me this year, although for some in the art jewelry world, I'm sure it's pretty minor.


I have always been an artist at heart. Always. When I was younger, it was only applicable to whether I could draw. I sure as heck could dance. I was thoroughly trained and beautiful. Plenty of recognition in my world. But that didn't make me an artist, really, said my young adult self. What baloney! Thankfully, I realized what was at my heart before I got to the end of my life! Now, I am an artist, in multiple media, to be sure, but that is how I describe myself, because *I* believe it. I don't really need to have anyone else acknowledge that fact, because it's essential to my soul.

Outside validation, though, is still pretty darn cool.

So today I am celebrating something I never thought would happen. In 2010 and early 2011, I will have six pieces of my work featured in five magazines. Two of the publications are out right now....

First was the September 2010 issue of Bead Trends magazine:

And the second is the October/November issue of Step By Step Wire Jewelry:

And the third should be available on December 1st, according to the website. I will be in the Winter issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry! That would be exciting enough, but what really takes it over the top for me is that two of my friends are also in the same issue -- Cindy Wimmer and Melissa Manley! I am so thrilled to be included in a publication along with such fine artists!

Edited to add: I just heard from another friend, Barbara Lewis, who is ALSO going to be in the Winter Belle Armoire Jewelry! That makes it even more exciting! I {heart} Barbara Lewis!

Check this out!

There's a little sneak preview for you, of one of the two pieces that make up that article. I have to admit it was a complete shock to see this, and I am thankful to Cindy Wimmer for sending it to me, otherwise I would still be in the dark about it! I cannot wait to actually hold the magazine in my hands and see the photography for my pieces....and see what Melissa and Cindy have in their articles, too! Only a few more weeks til it's out!

Sigh. I love celebrating things. This has been an especially fruitful year for me, personally and professionally, and I am just thrilled.

What are YOU celebrating today?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Art Every Day Month!

Today is November 1st (wow! HOW did THAT happen?!). It's All Saints Day, the Dia De Los Muertos, the first day of Samhain, and various independence and national days for a few countries. It's probably also the official start of the holiday shopping season, and there are only 60 days left until the end of 2010.

Today is also Art Every Day Month, which is an annual challenge event hosted by Leah Piken Kolidas, designed to encourage creativity and daily artmaking among all of us. I've been a subscriber to her Creative Every Day blog for a long time, but never have "officially" participated in AEDM. This year, though, I thought I would make the effort to really do a piece of art every single day in November.

So, today is the first day. It's 9:30a.m. local time, and I have created nothing yet, but a dream of my new kitchen island (which will be red). I'm debating between just making something every day, versus doing something structured every day, like a page in an art journal, or a piece of jewelry. I don't know yet, but hopefully by the end of today, I'll have something. I'm optimistic, if nothing else.

So, stay tuned and see what I come up with! The kids are out of school for two days and they are already hopped up on sugar from last night, so we'll see what ends up happening.

Hmm,...candy wrappers....


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