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, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day Metalsmithing!

Some of you know of my love for medieval history, and the fact that I participate with theSociety for Creative Anachronism periodically. Memorial Day weekend in my local group means it's time for a Gem Joust event -- a large tournament held over the three days of the holiday weekend. Every year, my friend Don Downie, who is a silversmith and goldsmith, makes the tournament prizes, and delivers them to Richmond directly to the tournament. He usually stays with us over the weekend, and for the last few years, this has resulted in metalsmithing lessons for me.

Last year, I mentioned I wanted to learn to forge a copper bowl, so he told me what tools and supplies to buy and taught me to saw, hammer, shape and anneal. We used 16ga copper sheet, and it was a bear to hammer, even after annealing. I didn't get nearly as far as I hoped, and the bowl is still not finished. I love it, though, because it was my first.

My first copper bowl, May 2010

This year, I had been talking to him about soldering, but I still wanted to work on my copper-forming skills. We went to the tournament on Saturday, and hung out with people, schmoozed, chatted and had quite a few laughs with people I don't see often enough. Right before the prizes were awarded to the winners of the tournament, I photographed them for him. These are silver with rose gold accents and set stones -- a ruby and a sapphire. They are solid and heavy and beautiful!

Aren't they fantastic? Don's work is really amazing. And, he's a great teacher and wonderful friend.

Sunday, after we dragged ourselves out of bed, had breakfast and generally woke up, Don and I talked about raising and sinking and the things he had been teaching other people lately.

With an 18ga copper disk and a homemade dishing "stump" and a couple of hammers, he taught me to do this:

I'm hammering a raised design into the bottom of the bowl, so it has several more cycles of hammering and annealing before it's done. My arm is tired! It's really physical work, and I love it. The design will be a spiral tree, a motif that is really prevalent in most of my work already. I'll definitely post more pictures when I'm done.

In addition to the actual teaching Don provided, he also gave me my very own portable dishing 'stump' and wooden forming stake.

A landscape timber cut to about two feet and drilled deeply with a paddle bit becomes the stump where you begin to raise the bowl.

A deck finial, drilled, becomes a forming stake.

And you can conveniently screw the stake to the stump to make working easier and to keep things together.

Needless to say, this, and learning the technique of hammering a raised design to sheet metal has set my creative fires burning. I think some quality time with the sketchbook is in order.

And I need more hammers. And more sheet copper.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Good grief!


I finally am able to access my Blogger account and post something. I don't know what the heck is going on with Blogger, but I am not pleased. granted, you can only be but so upset with a service you aren't paying for, but I am beginning to think I might switch this blog to another platform, like Wordpress. I don't know, it's more of a gut reaction at the moment. Still considering the details.

For those of you who have been having trouble with Blogger, what do you think? Planning to stay? Switch? And if you switch, to which platform are you going?

Anyway, I've been making earrings. Still in love with copper!

I think the last set is my favorite. I love those hammered disks and the blue beads. I hope to get them all listed in the shop soon, but if you want any of these pairs, let me know!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, May 20, 2011

End of the year....

I'm being totally swallowed up by the end of the school year stuff for my kids!!

Thanks for the support on the Tardis contest; I'll be back soon with something (hopefully) interesting to share.

OOh! before I forget.....I think most of you know that I applied to the training program at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to become a volunteer tour guide. Applications were accepted until the end of April this year, and then museum staff chose from the applicants a number of people to come in for an in-person interview. I was selected to interview, and will be doing that this Tuesday morning!! I'm so excited!

I have no idea what to wear.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Anyone who knows me knows that I am a great big geek. I have a particular love for the BBC television show 'Doctor Who', which has been on the air for YEARS.

Central to the show, besides The Doctor, is a vehicle in which he travels, called the TARDIS, which stands for 'Time And Relative Dimension In Space'. It's shaped like an old British police box, in which one could call for the police if help was needed on the street. In the show, the TARDIS shows up in many likely and unlikely locations as the Doctor travels across time and space.

This year, the BBC is holding a contest for fans to make their own TARDIS, and put it in an interesting place. My whole family loves this show, and I thought this would be a great project for myself and my eldest daughter and my husband to make. However, we promptly forgot about the contest until recently. The deadline is May 15, and in the form of a last-minute brainstorm, I single-handedly created our entry.

If you go to this link: Where's The Tardis?, you will find photographs and a description of my entry. Please click the 'Like' button if you are so inclined. I really, really want to win this contest!

(The winner gets a private screening of Doctor Who for 50 people, AND copies of ALL the Doctor Who episodes currently available on DVD.)

Thanks, guys!

Oh, and for those of you hardcore fans, I am currently working on Dalek beads, smaller versions fo the TARDIS for earrings, and a weeping angel. What else should I try to make?

Friday, May 6, 2011

State of the workshop

I posted the lovely shot of my "bead table" for Bead Table Wednesday the other day, and I thought, you know, that isn't the only place I work on my art. Lacking a real studio or my own dedicated workspace, I take over various places all over my house. A corner of the kitchen is my jewelry-making space. My lampworking stuff is set up along one wall of the laundry room. And my 'metals shop' is actually all over my husband's workbench in our small garage space. My little kiln is in there, too, and the poor guy has no place to work on his own stuff.

Someday, I will have my OWN studio space, where I can put ALL of my art stuff in one place, leave things out while I work, and keep them there til the project is done, and not worry about little hands or animals messing around with my stuff.

Until then, I have this:

My dad, who is a contractor, saves me all his leftover compound wire

Kiln doubles as stand for handheld torch station

Sawing, pounding, quenching, pickling

And my trusty bowling pin. I don't like to be without that!

Yeah, it's messy. But at least I have a little space. It could always be worse, right?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


It's Bead Table Wednesday....and this is my current bead table in it's current state. Actually, it's the space next to my fridge. Note the detritus of 'real life' all around. And my sketchbook. One of them, anyway.


I've been making stuff! I got about six pairs of earrings made, and as soon as I get some good photos, I will show them to you. And then I will list them in my shop. Yay!


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