Sunday, November 30, 2008

Peace Offering - Work in Progress....and SNOW!

Here is the start of my work on Peace Offering...a window I'm doing for Milo Stephens. I wish the lighting was better as everything looks much darker than it really is. The red and green glass is beautiful as will be seen when the window is complete and light shines through. In the meantime, I plan on posting my work progress, as I did with the Peace Angel window.

And today we had our first real snow of the season. Out where we are, we have about 18" plus drifts! These are pictures of our back yard. The poor basset hounds have a time navigating this stuff. My husband shoveled a path for them, which helps.

Kathleen's Etsy Store

It's taken me a while, but my Etsy store is open for business. I hope you'll check it out and let me know what you think.


Christmas ornaments

It's been a busy weekend. Hosting Thanksgiving dinner, putting up the Christmas decorations, working on projects from my stained glass to fused glass.

Here's a picture of Christmas ornaments prior to firing them in the kiln last night. I'm waiting for them to cool so I can see the actual results! The stars are a representation of the Texas state flag and were ordered as gifts for relatives. The lone Christmas tree ornament was a special request.

Peace Offering, my stained glass commission, is progressing and I hope to post a picture of that later today.

Oh yes, and we are in the midst of our first winter storm....looks like we've got 8" of snow and it's still snowing! Perfect day to be home.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Eve and I'm Exhausted

Hello my friends.....

Ever since this past weekend, I've been working on re-claiming the house in preparation for tomorrow....the Thanksgiving gathering. I'd much rather work on my glass than clean house, so now I'm paying the price for that indulgence.

Thank God for the wonderful man I am married to....he helped me, in more ways than I could have hoped, to get things ready. My studio is still in a state of 'creative chaos', as is his dark room, but we're ok with that. In our living room, he hung some beautiful new photographs of his from our fall trip to the Tetons. They just take my breath away. I'm in the middle of a new stained glass commission and looking forward to posting some pictures of it by this weekend. The kiln has had a rest from my frenzy of fusing since its repair.

All in all I have so much to be thankful for and tomorrow will be a great day... let's hope our weather behaves, but the forecast doesn't sound good.

Best wishes to all the friends in my life. Here's wishing all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving. I'm thankful that all of you have entered my life, as I truly am a richer person as a result. Thanks!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I've been tagged!

Well, I've been tagged by a very talented artist, Karen, whose blog is A Visual Journey. Karen ~~ I want to thank you for selecting me as one of the artists you tagged and I am flattered that you thought enough of me and my work to 'tag' me. Please visit Karen's blog as I find it very enjoyable and informative; I love following her writings about her journey as she paints so many beautiful things.

So, here goes....The Rules for tagging are:
1. Put a link in your posting about the artist that tagged you.
2. Write 5 -7 unusual things about yourself.
3. Tag 5 - 7 other bloggers and let them know.

Unusual things about me:
  • I changed careers from being an insurance adjuster to a computer programmer. Course I'm working on my third career in art now.
  • I have a huge phobia of all things bee/hornet/wasp...etc
  • Two years ago I spent 9 months training and showing our youngest basset hound to achieve a Rally Novice Title. Dog shows are way too much work for a non-professional dog handler as myself. We did earn the title, but I have retired from the dog show ring
  • 10 puppies don't intimidate me in the least; guess that's why I/we have 3 basset hounds. I love dogs and even though we have bassets, the bigger the dog the better for me.
  • My husband and soul mate is younger than me in age; however I know we have the same maturity level (kids at heart) and zest for life.
These are the artists I've tagged....I hope you enjoy their blogs as much as I do. They are very talented individuals.
MarilynM - My New Sky
Deborah Younglao - Daily Silk Painting
Karen Zima
Sharmon Davidson
Tracey Clarke

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Book - "Success Now! For Artists"

I ordered this book a few weeks ago, "Success Now! For Artists" by Renee Phillips. Today I was finally able to make some time to start reading the book and it's been hard for me to put this book down.

Great advice, encouragement, support. Set goals. Have a business plan. Manage your money. Wow! Ok, obvious stuff, but sometimes I find it necessary to be reminded of those things....a good thump to the head sort of..... For any of us experiencing self-doubt or that lovely floundering feeling that comes from time to time, I think this book is a MUST READ.

I ordered this directly from Manhattanarts and Renee even autographed it!

My point is I have found a great deal of inspiration from what I've read so far and it has helped me to feel more focused about my work. Just wanted to share.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Christmas Items

A friend at my day job asked me to make some Texas Stars as Christmas ornaments. He and his wife would like to have them as Christmas gifts for their friends/relatives living in Texas.

This is my second prototype with the stars. I think I'm getting closer, but they still are not as I envision them. I was hopeful that the silver mica would appear better after firing, but it didn't. Thankfully I used some dichro to enhance them.

Tonight I'm working on the final component and that is the addition of the little start on top of the blue side. The intent is for them to represent the Texas state flag.

While I was at it, I also incorporated some fun jewelry pieces and other Christmas things, which I hope will turn out as I envision.

The Good News....The Bad News

The Good News is my Aspen Branch plate turned out so well. The definition I was able to create with outlines is exactly what I've wanted in my fused pieces. Peter McGrain's techniques are fun and I think have brought my work up a notch or two.

The bad news is the fuego bowl turned out 'ok', but somehow, I mistook some of the main glass as fusible and it was not. I'm just thankful that nothing happened to cause more kiln problems. I discovered that some of the glass wasn't fusible as I was looking at the tag to re-order some. Much to my dismay, it was normal stained glass...not fusible.

At least I can incorporate the non-fusible glass into a stained glass piece in the future.

For now, I'm glad I can pursue the Aspen Branch series and do more glass painting!

My Bowl from the Patty Gray Class

Here are a couple of views of my completed bowl from the Patty Gray class. I'm anxious to make more and try different styles.

I thought it would be fun to post pictures of some of the other bowls from the class too. You can see mine in the two shots. Some are still in the stainless steel bowl molds. So many wonderful ideas that came to fruition here. Great to see all the creativity!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

First Glass Paintings

Tonight two painting projects are in the kiln. I'm embarking on the Peter McGrain Vitri-Fusaille technique.

This first one, my Fuego plate/bowl, is one that I've always meant to display like stained glass....only in a bowl. I just defined the lines with paint that should fire black. I think that will make this piece really stand out. Once that's complete, I can slump it in the bowl mold....hopefully tomorrow.

This next one is my aspen branch. I worked on the outlines and I may do more to this after the paint firing. I'll have to see how the black outlines turn out and I may do a bit of a wash to it to incorporate more shading.

Right now less is more for me when it comes to painting on glass. I'm going to have to experiment and see what works.

Oh and I started to work on my commission for the Milo Stephens "Peace Offering" today. I'll post pictures of the work in progress on this piece too. I've been anxious to start working on this one!

Peace Angel ~~ Complete!

Here she is....The Peace Angel. Tomorrow afternoon she will be in her new home.

Until any of my stained glass pieces arrive in their new homes, I always feel the need to protect them. Do any of you feel that way about your work?

I'm very happy with the way this turned out. I find the lavender hues of her gown to be wonderful for the shading in it. Both angels' gowns and wings came from the same glass. It fascinates me, that I can create 'shading' with the color variations in a sheet of glass. My stained glass instructor taught me about that, and I owe her a debt of gratitude. Thanks can see her talent by visiting her website, River Song Art Glass.

In case you were curious about her counterpart, here is a picture of the Jubilation Angel I did a little over two years ago. Both will have a wonderful home in the Foote residence.

Friday, November 14, 2008

New Projects

Tonight I started a fuse that will complete a couple of projects from my Patty Gray class last week. The first is a triptych, another is a mosaic of sorts. I'm re-working a couple of pendants from my last firing. I'm firing both shelves at the same time. It's nice to have a kiln that will accommodate that type of work.

And I have a teaser....I completed the Peace Angel and tomorrow I'll have a picture to post of her with the sunlight coming through. She will be delivered to her home on Sunday afternoon to watch over little Robert Foote. Her companion, the Jubilation Angel, has been watching over his big sister, Rachael, since her birth a little over two years ago. My hope is that both of the angels will become family heirlooms.

Stay tuned......

Results of my First Firing since the Kiln Repair

Here's the result of my first firing, since my kiln has been repaired. Over all I'm pretty happy with the results. The circle will become a plate, but now I will be trying Peter McGrain's painting technique on it to form branches. This will be fairly simple to start out with and I'll see how it develops.

The other pieces are jewelry pendants. I had to re-work a couple of them and I'm staring a new firing tonight.

It's great to be fusing again!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Paragon Kilns RULE!!!!

I am soooooooooooooooooooo happy this morning. Spoke with my rep, Peter, with Paragon and he walked my husband and I through the rest of the installation process this morning. Once all was back in place, we plugged it in, turned it on, and started a firing schedule. My kiln started humming like a large kitten....just as it should. Heat came on to the elements and the familiar hum it makes as it fires was back.

I'm just ecstatic! I feel alive again (ok I know that sounds strange), but I felt I had been cut off from my creativity because my kiln wasn't working. AND I have TONS I want to do with my kilnwork after my class with Patty Gray and the painting DVDs.

Now I'm back and couldn't be happier. Yep, Paragon Kilns Rule!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Kiln Parts Have Arrived!

I'm definitely learning more about the 'anatomy' of my kiln. I'm certain that is a good thing, even though the circumstances requiring it have not been fun.

The replacement parts arrived today, as promised. Yeah! Tonight, my husband helped as we replaced the relay and wiring harness. Now there are a couple of wires that, according to the manual, should be cut as they are for extra relays and mine only has the one. However, I'm not taking any chances and will call my rep first thing in the morning. Once I get the proper guidance from him, we'll complete putting "Humpty Dumpty" back together again. Then the next BIG test will be turning the power on.

I must admit I'm feeling optimistic about this now.

And Thank You my dear artist friends..... for your words of support and encouragement. That has helped me more than I can say. I too believe things happen for a reason. This has given me time to reflect about what I will complete and start afresh. It's all good.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Continuing Kiln Saga

My parts haven't arrived yet. I'm trying to find the bright spot in all of this. At the suggestion of a friend, I randomly opened "The Artist's Way" she had given me to this passage:

Recovering creatives commonly undergo bouts of fierce rage and grief over their lost years. When these creative kriyas occur, we desperately want to kick over the traces and get the hell out of life as it is currently constituted. Instead, make changes, small changes, right where you are.

That does sort of fit with my credo for now. The best thing I can do is work on those things I have stained wire wrapping. And I told myself last night that it's just going to take as long as it takes to get my kiln operational could be a week...a month....hopefully not longer than a month, but I don't have any real control over the time frame and setting deadlines is pointless given the circumstances.

I spoke with my Paragon representative this morning. Apparently UPS has no record of the previous shipment and he will personally re-ship everything to me today, UPS red, so that I have it tomorrow. He's upset with UPS, which I understand. I'm frustrated with wanting to work on all the new techniques I learned last week in Patty's class. Looking for the balance in all of this.

Tonight I'm attending a meeting of my local glass artist group, Glass Artists of the Pikes Peak Region. We are going to share examples of our work so the group will have some ideas of what to expect for the March 2009 show at Commonwheel Artists Coop in Manitou Springs. That should be a good distraction for me.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Patty Gray's Class at D & L

Tonight I'm operating on information overload. Today was the last day of the three day Patty Gray class at D & L Stained Glass in Denver. Awesome doesn't even describe it adequately....and I can't come up with the right descriptor right now because I think I'm still processing information.

It was wonderful. I think my work has been bumped up more than a notch or two! I have TONS of pictures to post. I thought about taking my camera for the first day of class, but didn't. At least I have pictures from the last two days and I'm so thankful we could take photos.

The main purpose of the class was to learn Patty's technique for slumping thick bowls. Since glass likes to seek a level of 1/4" when it fuses, we build our pieces 3/8" to 1/2" and put fiber dams around them to keep them at that thickness.

I'm posting a picture of my bowl, after the initial fuse, but before the slump. First attempts at anything, for me, generally show me what I need to do the next time I try something. This is no different. I was going for three leaves. I needed to build them higher and add some black or sienna for definition on my next attempt. Pieces of clear glass were placed on top to form a mound and when fused the glass seeks a level. Mine isn't as thick as some of the others. For a first attempt, I like the colors. Once I get a picture of the finished bowl (which I brought home tonight), I'll post that next.

I can't thank Patty and the staff at D & L enough for this great learning experience. Here's a picture of me with 'da crew.... From left to right is me, the awesome Patty Gray, Mo (D & L), and Steve (D & L).

Signing off for the night, I'm one tired puppy as this picture confirms!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Kiln Status

We're gettin' there.... The manufacturer of my kiln is Paragon. I bought this brand because of their reputation for known quality, durability, and customer service. I also felt it was the right size kiln for me at the time of purchase, which was in March of 2007. I'm happy to report I was right on all counts. Although I must admit I've been checking out larger kilns for the day when I need a second kiln!

The technician walked me through some additional troubleshooting this afternoon. It looks like the main power cable to the board may have had a problem that started this malfunction for me. They will ship out a new circuit board, cable harness, and two relays so I will have a spare. Once I get them, I need to call them back so they can walk me through the process and make sure we've found and fixed the problem.

I'm thankful and hopeful that my kiln will be operational next week. Paragon's staff is the best...helpful, courteous, and they definitely want the customer to be happy. Now I only wish they would have given me a little better price break on the replacement items, but ya can't have everything, right?

Happy creating. Tomorrow I head to Denver for a three day class with Patty Gray. Can't wait.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

Off topic, I know. And I won't discuss politics.

I just want to encourage everyone to vote, regardless your candidate. Your vote is important!


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Looking for a Bright Note

Well, my kiln needs a 'transplant'. While trying to trouble shoot the controller, it started smoking. Not a good sign when it comes to circuit boards. So, I removed it and will send it to the manufacturer for replacement. And I still don't know what the actual cause of the problem was. As my husband says, we'll see what happens when the new circuit board comes back and we install it. If it's still malfunctioning after that, we'll try to find an authorized repair service in the area. For now, my kilnwork has come to a halt and I am very disappointed.

Looking for the bright note in my day, I was able to solder the Peace Angel. I wasn't sure I could put a lead border around her, but after looking at her tonight, I think I can, so that will be my next step. I did get to see the light shine through the glass this afternoon and she's beautiful.

Things happen for a reason. I just don't know what that is right now in terms of the kiln malfunction. But I'll go forward with my stained glass pursuits and wire wrapping glass cabochons for now.

At the end of this week, I will be heading up to Denver for a three day glass with Patty Gray. D & L Stained Glass is having her come to teach her techniques for fused bowls. That's another bright spot for me.

Happy creating everyone.

My Kiln is Out of Commission

Right now I'm pretty bummed. I started to fire my latest batch and after about 1/2 hour my kiln sounded an alarm. It failed to fire to temperature. Well, it hadn't even really started. It was at about 138 degrees F when it quit. I will attempt to troubleshoot what I can, but I'm not an electrician. The instructions on what to look at seem good, so I will try that later today. I'm disappointed and hope it is something that can be easily fixed this week.

In the meantime, I took advantage of the beautiful weather we're having and did the final painting of our outside doors and frames. Does that qualify for plein air painting? No, I didn't think so. The bassets were most interested in my activity and for once, none of them drug their ears through the paint. Although the youngest one had a few near misses.

I'm taking a break and trying to generate positive energy so I can start soldering the Peace Angel. When I'm done with that, my husband and I will head to Home Depot or Lowes to buy a voltage/ohm meter for the start of the kiln troubleshooting.

Wish us luck!

Progress Reports

When I opened the kiln this morning, I was greeted by this beauty! I'm happy with the result and it confirmed why this glass is expensive too. Nice rich colors. The picture doesn't show how well the accents compliment the streaky parts of the glass, but they do. Several of them are iridized, which really adds a nice effect. Given this result, I will proceed with making the next two larger sizes. This piece is so 'fiery' that I think I may call this series Fuego.

As a mentioned a few days ago, I want to try Peter McGrain's glass painting techniques. I now have my aspen branch, of course.

This is my design template I used for cutting out the glass.

And I'm also posting a picture of the actual piece that just went in the kiln this morning. What I've done here is place the template underneath the glass circle and it becomes my guide for leaf placement. Once fused, I'll go back and paint in lines and other washes to create some of the effect I'm going for with this piece.

In my opinion, the cool thing about fusing is you can do things with glass (shapes, lines or lack of lines) that you just can't do in the traditional stained glass method. If all goes well, the fused blank will be ready for painting in the branches and creating some shading for the leaves. You probably noticed some other items with this piece. I'm working on some new pendant designs so I added them to this batch for the fuse.

If I'm happy with the outcome of this small plate (about 9" in diameter), I have two others in larger sizes that I will use for this series. I imagine I'll name this series The Aspen Branch.

Happy Creating All!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Work in Progress - Foiled!

In this case....foiled! is a good thing. Here's the Peace Angel, with all of the copper foil complete. Now the definition of the lines is clear. Soldering will be the next step.

In my multitasking process today, I still need to cut out another design for fusing tomorrow. With that as a goal, I may not start soldering the Peace Angel until tomorrow. That gives me a large time slot to devote to the soldering process and I can complete that phase, which is important to do all at once, if possible. Once the soldering is done, oxidation of the solder lines takes place almost immediately. It's important to clean those lines and apply the desired patina asap. I think I'll wait to start soldering until tomorrow.

At least she's almost complete and I'm very happy with the outcome so far. It's been a productive day for me.

Today's Fusing Project

I just put this piece in the kiln for fusing. I don't know what I'm going to call this series. I have plate molds for this shape in three different sizes. This is the first one, the smallest....about 9".

I'm using a Bullseye Streaky glass, with some colored flakes. This is the first time I've fired this particular Bullseye and I'm very curious to see what color changes, if any, I will see once the piece is fused. I find this glass gorgeous and tried to find nice pieces of accent glass for the design I placed in the left side of this. If all turns out well, then I'll use this same design and color scheme for the two larger plates.

A footnote on the Peace Angel, I'm almost done with the copper foil. My plan is to finish that phase today. I also want to work on another design for fusing so that will be ready for firing tomorrow.

It's the first of November (can you believe it?!?) and I'm multi-tasking.....