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!


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