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!**

Friday, August 17, 2012


This is, inexplicably, what I have been doing off and on all day. Carving a lino block. I have always loved linoleum block prints, with their primitive and intricate style. Way back in the fourth or fifth grade, I remember carving one for the very first time in art class. I also remember all the safety instructions about handling the Speedball carving tools, and how you "should always cut with your free hand behind your carving hand" so as to avoid stabbing yourself when the cutter inevitably slipped. Those blocks were HARD to cut, unlike the soft rubber-ish material I am using these days. I never stabbed myself with the cutter, but I remember other kids who did.

I fell in love with this image from one of my Pinterest boards. It comes from a site called The Typothecary, with other images of Celtic animals included. The origin of the image is Celtic Art: The Methods of Construction, by George Bain. I've been searching for an image of a horse with some kind of Celtic influence for a tattoo for myself, and I found this one on Pinterest and loved it. I'm not sure if it's going to ultimately end up as my tattoo the way it is drawn now, or if I am going to modify it, but I loved this enough to want to do something with it.

The other day, I treated myself to a 'real' bound journal for art journaling purposes. It's a Moleskin journal, with watercolor paper as the pages, since I knew I wanted to try some wet media in it, and haven't had much luck with other journals holding up to ink and paint that well. I'm not even sure how I came to be carving this stamp, it's just I was sitting in my sewing/crafting/artmaking area and I found a piece of carving block, and then I thought, hey, this would make a great stamp for the cover of this journal! With a soft lead pencil, I traced over all the lines of the artwork, and transferred it onto the block by burnishing it with a wooden spoon. It transferred beautifully, and then I got to work carving it. I only have two blades for my little Speedball handle -- one thin and one wide -- so it's hard to get the careful detail I want. I might have to go in search of, or order more, blades that carve a thinner line so I can get the spiral detail inside the horse without taking out too much material.

There is something ridiculously meditative and addictive about carving the blocks. I sat for a long time, just following the lines with my tool, and etching out the image, once I'd decided whether to make it a positive or a negative image. And I also thought of another image to carve, too, so as soon as I can draw that one, I'll work on it. The horse is almost completely carved now, and I will find a scrap of wood in the garage to glue it to, so it's a rigid stamp, and not a floppy piece of rubber block. I will make a few test images, carve away anything that I don't want to have show up, and then print a white or gold metallic image on the front of my journal. Then we'll see what else I can put this horse on....a tshirt, maybe, or one of my thrifted denim skirts that is too boring all by itself....or maybe I will make a wall hanging...lots of possibilities.

I've almost finished carving now, and I'm going to figure out where I can buy a better assortment of blades in smaller and larger sizes, so I can do the fine detail work it needs. And then, I can start printing!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Changing horses

Hey everyone! I hope your summer has been going well, and you've gotten to do all the things you wanted to do. I know some of you are prepping for BeadFest right now, and one of these days, I hope I get there myself! I'm still up in the air about ArtBLISS, since we now have to unexpectedly spend a huge chunk of change on a new heat pump to replace the one that attempted to set itself on fire last weekend. Boo!

On the artmaking front, I have really REALLY enjoyed participating in the Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap. I tried out some techniques I haven't used before, and made this postcard, with the swap theme of 'Discover'....

It's built on a Timtex base for stability, and has appliqued cotton fabric, free-motion stitching, thread tracing, rubber stamping, and acrylic paint. Since I don't have what I would call "actual painting skills", I am pretty happy with how the paint parts turned out, and thrilled with how the rest of it turned out. The back of the card is a medium-green linen, on which I wrote the following Joseph Campbell quote:
"I say follow your bliss and don't be afraid and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be."
I hope the recipient, in the United Kingdom, will be happy with this work. I can't wait to see what my partner has made for me!

The great thing about this is that I am going to do more of it. I already have an idea that combines my glass beads with fabric and paint, so I will post pictures when I make another one. Maybe I will bind them into a kind of art journal, I don't know.

I also made a new wrapped-rope bag, which I finally finished. I love it. It's my purse/tote, and I can put quite a lot of stuff in there.

 Plus, it's orange and turquoise, which has to be one of my most favorite color combinations this summer. I think I've adopted orange as my own personal color lately -- I wear it frequently, and work with it often in glass -- and putting it with turquoise just makes me happy.

 See? I wasn't kidding. Lots of stuff. My iPad, wallet, phone, a journaling notebook, and there's still lots of room left. I need to make a purse organizer because it has no interior pockets, so my phone gets lost in there pretty often. And my pen and sunglasses, too.

I adore the fabric tassel I made with scraps from the bag itself....cut into 1/2" widths and stitched together at the top, it is a fun decoration for sure. I added one of my glass disc beads and some perle cotton.

I debated shortening the tassel, but I think I like it better long. I know it will fray, and that's kind of the idea.

Below is a closer shot of the texture of the bag itself. It's made using a sort of rag-rug technique, where I wrap strips of fabric around cotton clothesline, and then spiral it into shape, stitching it down with a fairly wide zig-zag. It's fun to see the bag take shape. I learned the technique from this book, It's A Wrap!, and it's fairly easy. It just takes time to complete it. I've made two bags/totes like this, and I'm thinking to make at least one or two more for Christmas gifts.

 And a shot of the purse strap, which is cotton webbing I embellished with slices of the bag fabric. It's a messy, scrappy, fraying thing, but again, that's what I was going for, so it's fine. If it frays TOO much, though, I may have to go back over it all with more stitching. So far, so good at the moment.

I wish I could say I have new glasswork to show, but I haven't fired up my torch in a while. The summer's been hectic and hot, and I just haven't felt inclined to make any beads. I'm starting to get ideas, though, and I do have a show coming up in September, so as soon as the kids go back to school, I am blazing my torch up!

I still need to generate the funds to buy the oxygen concentrator to run the new Bobcat. Shouldn't be too hard...there's a show in September, and another one in November, and other random opportunities for holiday sales, so I should be able to raise the $400 ballpark figure without too much trouble. :)

I'm sure you've noticed a scaling-back in my posts here. I'm rethinking my business right now, and trying to figure out how much I really want to do. I know I enjoy making work for sale, and going to a few shows each year to support my glass habit and hang out with artist friends. But I haven't submitted work to magazines, nor have I spent much time in any self-promotion to increase sales or my visibility as an artist. I'm fine with that, as I have been for a while. I just can't balance it all (whew, why is that so hard to admit sometimes?).

Recently, I've had an opportunity to get back into riding horses, something that is near and dear to my heart, even though I didn't really learn to ride until I was twenty. I've been off horses for twelve years, and when my middle daughter, Wren, started riding this year, I realized I really really REALLY wanted to get back to it myself. So about two months ago, I did. I've been riding once a week at the lesson barn where my daughter is riding, taking lessons with Wren's instructor, and re-learning whatever I used to know about horses and riding. It's been an incredible experience, and I am so grateful to my husband, who makes it even remotely possible.

This is me, on Sail The Bay, who is usually called Sailor. He's a 17.2 hand Belgian/Thoroughbred cross gelding, and he is owned by a really nice 16 year old boy who takes lessons at the barn, too.

I really love this sweet, gentle, giant of a horse. He's tough to get and keep moving because he's so huge, but he's great for my over-40 adult rider confidence level. I can't wait til tomorrow, because I have my weekly lesson, AND I get to wear my new boots!

So that's where I'm at these days. Still making stuff, and having fun. I hope your summer has been fantastic, too!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Postcard Swap!

It's summer. It's too hot for just about everything, including melting glass. Yes, it's true.
I am suffering. I need, NEED to make some art.
This is becoming a desperate situation, folks.

So, I am going to give Beth Nicholl's Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap a go.

It's a quarterly swap of postcard-sized artwork based on a central theme. This quarter, the theme is, "Discover".

Hmmm....so far, I'm thinking travel, childhood, searching, mysteries.....I haven't settled on what I'm going to do yet, so I am letting ideas percolate a little longer before I get started.

Sometimes it's fun to do something completely different. I opted not to be involved in the latest round of the Bead Soup Blog Party, mostly because I wanted a break from making jewelry. And I do sew, and I think this will be a great way to branch out a little with my sewing/mixed-media skills.

I'll post pictures when I'm done, and when I receive my partner's postcard (THAT part is so exciting! This is a totally international swap!).

Until then, keep creating....and if you want to join the swap, too, click the link above, or the button on the sidebar!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Good grief, it's been forever since I had anything of relative substance to say here. Not that I usually have incredible, high-level news, but still....

Summer is in full swing here, which means....I have made nothing recently. Well, nothing in glass, anyway. Actually, that's not entirely true.....at the beginning of June, I made these starfish beads, which I love love love! That's CiM's Creamsicle for the starfish, on a base of a variety of transparent and opaque blues, and some curdled ivory for the sand. Used Zoozii's SSL large trio for the shape (bead is made with the largest of the wells).

 And I FINALLY FINALLY was able to buy my new torch! A GTT Bobcat! It's so cute! And so much tinier than I expected! Unfortunately, for now, it's still sitting in the cupboard in my laundry room/workshop. I haven't been able to purchase the oxygen concentrator I need in order to run it. Hopefully that will be a purchase for this fall. After that, I will need to figure out a way to run it without scorching the wall behind my workbench. It's bee such a long road to getting this equipment, I can't wait until I have it all together and set up.

My oldest daughter finished eighth grade, and attended her first formal dance, which was exciting for both of us. She is so very beautiful, and I cried, I must admit, after I dropped her off at the dance. I think this is my most favorite picture of her that I have taken in a while.

After school was out, we drove to Miami to visit my Dad. THAT was a heck of a long drive, but it was a very successful trip for us, which means TRAVELING is now a real thing we can do without losing our minds! I'm very excited by the places we can go, and I learned a lot on this trip about how to make it all go well. Lesson #1 is: Make sure the iPads are fully charged and loaded with lots of interesting games, ebooks, and other stuff.

We used Savannah, GA, as the halfway point for the trip on the way down and the way back. I'd never been to this lovely city, and I was absolutely enchanted. My oldest wants to go to the Savannah College of Art and Design, so it was convenient to show her what college could be like in this place. The live oaks were everywhere, covered with moss hanging down, and everything was so lush and beautiful!

We took a wonderful tour by horse and carriage (our horse was Batman!), and learned so many interesting tidbits about the history of Savannah and it's people. There's the Savannah College of Art and Design's Welcome Center on the left.

More beautiful live oak trees!

Amazing architecture! This building is a shop now, but used to be a stable, built by a wealthy Middle Eastern man for his Arabian horses so they wouldn't get homesick for the look of their traditional stables! I got some great detail shots of the texture of the columns, too. Henry Ford bought the building and turned it into a showroom for his 'horseless carriages'.

No stop in Savannah would complete for the Girl Scouts of the family without a trip to the Juliette Gordon Low House on the corner of Bull Street and Ogelthorpe Avenue. Here we are posing at the iron gate in the garden. It's the 100th Anniversary of Girl Scouting in the US, and I am happy we got to visit  Girl Scouting's Mecca, and take a tour of the interior of the house. We picked up commemorative pins and patches for uniforms, too.

The rest of our trip was pretty uneventful, just a long ride home culminating in some wicked thunderstorms right as we crossed the Virginia border. It was so nice to be home, though, after a week away. Since then, I've been spending LOTS of time at the neighborhood pool with the little kids, for swimming lessons and general playing in the pool. My oldest has gone to her summer at her dad's, and most days, it's just me, and Wren, and Noah.

There hasn't been a lot of opportunity for art-making for me so far, and frankly, since we just got through the worst heatwave I can remember, turning on the torch has not even been on the list of things I want to do. About two weeks of temperatures over 100* F with heat indices of 110 and over makes for a very unhappy HotGlassGirl. I even overwhelmed our heat pumps by baking hot dog buns one day, so running a kiln and a torch would be disastrous. Thankfully, the heat seems to have abated for the time being, but it's still too hot to melt glass.

I've been sewing, though, and trying to get into art journaling. I can't seem to wrap my brain around where to start with it all! I've got a ton of supplies, but I'm at a loss as to how to get started. Anybody have any good suggestions/resources/tips/tricks??

Anyway, there's the update for now. Hope all of you are having a great summer and enjoying yourself and making lots of things! 'Til next time....

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Countdown to Arts in The Park

First off, I do not like the new Blogger interface. It seems hard to use. I have a Wordpress blog, and I am thinking of switching to that platform, as are a few other people I know. Anybody use Wordpress and have some words of wisdom regarding their preference?

Once again, I haven't blogged in a long time. To say that this portion of 2012 has been busy is a wild understatement. My day job has gone nuts (but recently got less nuts), and between that, the undergrad class I took, my museum training and work, my three children, and my husband, fitting in a whole lot of art-making has been incredibly difficult. Actually, impossible.

I'm getting an A in my class, though, so that's good. I wrote 15 short papers for it, and got great scores on all of those, so THAT'S good. I hated every single one of the tests. It's just about over now -- one last test on Wednesday -- so that's good.

Museum training is almost over! I can't believe it. The yearlong training program culminates in a self-written tour of 6 to 8 objects in the museum over 45 minutes, and my tour is May 17 at 5pm. If any of you are local and would like to come to the tour, please let me know privately. I haven't finalized the theme of the tour as yet, but given my love for Classical art, it will probably have something to do with that, at least partially. After the summer, I will take on regular touring slots each month, and I am looking forward to it!

Kids...whoa....busy, busy. My oldest did not get accepted to the art program she wanted to attend, but she is going to our local high school which has a huge art program -- four full time teachers! I think she's fine with it now, after a period of mourning. Personally, I think the local school will be a better choice. The neighborhood high school is ten minutes from here, while the art program is in a school that is 40 minutes by car from here, which would have meant a ridiculously early bus stop wait. She is not a morning person. :)

As for the glass....I did a commission for a friend of mine, 35 beads made into pendants with the initials "C" and "P" on them. Yes, the "C" beads are almost entirely gold aventurine. This is how much I love my friends. They were thrilled with the beads, and that made me happy, so it was worth the drama I had trying to purchase and get the lentil press delivered in time for me to make all those beads by the deadline

Art-making.....well, I have been making beads and getting work ready for my show. As per usual for me, I don't do anything unless I do it at the last minute. I'm making jewelry like a crazy person, getting stressed, and trying not to totally freak out. Thanks to a very generous friend, I now have actual honest to goodness display panels for my booth, but I have yet to haul them all out of the garage and set them up so I can figure out what I need to take and how it all works. That's tomorrow's project.

I've got a huge pile of copper bracelets made, and some in various stages of finishing, along with a bunch of earrings and some pendants to hang on ball chain necklaces. I really want to have more OOAK necklaces and 'statement' pieces ready, though. Not sure how that's going to work out yet, but if I don't get what I want made, well, I'm going to the show with what I have, and that's it.

And now I need to study for my last test in Art History.

Friday, February 10, 2012

New stuff to see!

A dear friend of mine is going out of town on her first "Girls Weekend" since....forever. Kelly was in the peace Corps, and worked overseas for years with Habitat for Humanity, and made many, many friends (she also speaks fluent Romanian, which is awesome!). A few weeks ago, Kelly asked me to make bracelet and earring sets for her to give to the friends joining her on the Girls Weekend, and of course I happily obliged! Here is the end result of my imagination, some yummy colored glass, and her faith in my creative vision:

UnMatched bracelet and coordinating earrings - bright blue glass with sterling silver

UnMatched bracelet of hot pinks and purples, with coordinating earrings - sterling silver

UnMatched bracelet and coordinating earrings in bronze and amber -- in copper

I am happy to say Kelly loved the work I did for her, and *I* loved that she gave me the colors and the metals she wanted, and let me go for it. Simple pieces, but pretty and different.


In other news, I traded in my beloved Hyundai Santa Fe, which I have adored and driven for seven years (longest of any car I've ever had!), and bought this:

A 2012 Mazda 5 in Copper Red! Three rows of seats, great gas mileage, excellent reviews. I really like it a lot, although I do admit to shedding a few tears for the Santa Fe. I never once had any problems -- never! -- with my Hyundai, but at 145,000 miles, time was running out on it. And we needed a car that all 5 of us could sit in comfortably. My poor teenage daughter was jammed between the little kids in their booster seats in the Santa Fe, but now she will have an entire row to herself! And I won't have to put truck tires on it -- this one takes regular car tires!

I know all my show stuff will fit in there easily, too, so this makes me happy. I need to get leopard-print seat covers for it, though, as the interior is a VERY light tan -- not a fantastic color when you have little kids eating in the car.

And there's the news for now! What have YOU been up to lately?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Here I am...

See? I didn't fall off the planet, even though it probably seems like it.

Since Christmas, it's been a bunch of rushing here and there, getting stuff done, getting a routine back after the holidays, all that stuff. I've been enjoying my kiln thoroughly, and I've been making beads like crazy lately!


I do have a bit of (hopefully) interesting news and general stuff to share, so here we go, in bullet points for brevity:

* I started an undergraduate-level class in Art History. First step on the path to graduate school and possibly a new career. So far, I LOVE it. LOVE love love. I've never been so happy to write a paper before!

* My application to Arts In The Park was accepted, and I will be a vendor there for the first time this year! It's a huge two-day show at the beginning of May in Byrd Park in the city of Richmond. Maybe this will be the year I upgrade my torch!

* I am working out a schedule of creating enough stock for this show -- and I'm terrified I won't have enough. Ack!

* OOH!! I'm going to take a class from Richard Salley this May!! ArtBliss is coming up again, and I. Am. Going. (At least in May...) I am beyond thrilled that I will finally be able to stop trying to teach myself how to rivet and solder. Mastery of those skills will. be. mine. Plus, RICHARD SALLEY. He seems so awesome, and his work is fabulous!

* My oldest daughter has applied to the local arts magnet high school in visual art. I am hoping against hope she gets accepted, but I am worried her portfolio is going to be a little short. I can't get her to stop drawing dragons and mythical creatures!

* I am almost done knitting the Doctor Who scarf I started back in November as a gift for my oldest daughter. That thing is easy-peasy, but BORRRRRING! That's what's hanging me up -- boredom. I promised myself NO new knitting projects til this one is done. I have enough UFO's of all kinds already.

* This so-called "winter" is making me very unhappy. No snow, and a change to spring every three days is annoying.

* I am going out on Friday night!!! (just thought I'd throw that in there)

* Been playing around with baking soda as a way to make new, funky beads. I haven't totally figured it out yet (and I'm sure if I actually read something about the technique, I could master it), but so far, my experiments look pretty good.

* I'm also playing around with a way to try out different color combinations using paint chip samples. Sometimes I can't decide what to make, and then I sit at the torch and make a bunch of junk. Maybe preselecting my palettes will help me branch out, and also avoid getting stuck.

Hmm....I think that might be it for now. I'm NOT participating in Lori Anderson's Bead Soup Blog Party this go-'round, and although I admit to a brief twinge of "Aw, I didn't get picked!", I'm actually relieved to not have been chosen this time. I just can't fit one more thing on my plate at this time, and I'm happy to let someone new play! I'm looking forward to the big reveal in March!

Okay, I have to get to the museum and photograph some works for my paper. Glad to be back after my long break, and I hope all of you are enjoying the start of 2012!


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