Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February Forging Ahead

Even though winter is far from over in our high desert climate, we have managed to keep the home fires burning and are still plenty warm in the Studio, thankfully. February tends to keep us focused on Valentines. The first half of the month was plenty busy, between rose orders and giving glass rosebud lessons.

Creating blown glass roses and rosebuds are a common practice in our Studio for the month of February. 
 Heart shaped glass pendants were also created for some customers this month.

Sculpted glass heart pendants
 We have quite a bit of inventory building up in the Studio, which is a good thing. Some of our pieces have been selected to head out the door for upcoming Art Shows.

Completed Art Works in the Studio
 It's nice when things slow down just a bit after Valentine's Day. It gives us time to think ahead about various projects and also do a little creating, like the slumped and fused piece below.

One of our latest creations, a slumped and fused glass vase.
Now we can take some time and enjoy a little respite before we delve into new projects. We are hoping to hear good news from some stores in Yellowstone. The buyers may be interested in carrying our blown glass wildlife in their gift shops. We are waiting to hear back from them. If we get the green light, I'm sure the torch fires will be burning night and day. Until then, we will enjoy the calm before the next "storm". 

Glass Wildlife figurines akin to the real ones you would see in Yellowstone Park.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Winter of Our Discontent

A beautiful Idaho sunset in the cold of winter
What a long cold winter it's been, and it's only 1/2 over, as I know Idaho all too well! January is coming to a close, so one month down and at least 2 more to go until we see hints of Spring. So why not buckle down and get to work on projects in the Studio, and try to keep the January blahs at bay. We started out the month by creating  a slumped and fused piece for our 2nd oldest son for his 30th birthday. He has always had an affinity for the Tetons in the West, and we wanted to give him some wall art that would translate into his
appreciation of the great peaks. It is pictured below.

Slumped and Fused Glass - Grand Tetons Mountain Range
When the temps get below zero and we don't dare step out into it, we have a nice view of the cold landscape outside, enjoyed from the warmth of our Studio.

Some of our glass installations shimmering in the sunset
Slumped and fused glass was the highlight of the artistic piece below, which we entered in a Juried Art Show this past month.

"The Fabric of Light"
 The piece below was a process of many layers of Fused glass fired over and over in our kiln.

 We had a rush on glass snowflakes this month also, creating hundreds of snowflakes with various designs. The one pictured below was created with red glass to give a Valentine effect.

Valentine Snowflake
And now that January is coming to a close, it's time to focus on our glass roses and hearts, like the ones pictured below. A lot of work goes into making these sentimental gifts.

Valentine heart pendants with a luster pink glass rose
So to go along with the phrase, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade....When life seems cold and bitter, make some heat and turn up the love, whether it be in the Studio, or daily life. Here's hoping we're all enveloped in the warmth of  friendships and family in the months ahead, we need that kind of love now more than ever. Hoping for some reprieve ahead, and not just cold, dark, icy nights. (Literally and figuratively.) I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that nobody likes to deal with the harsh cold for too long. Unfortunately, it's here to stay for a while. Hang in there....
Sun Dogs accent an Idaho Winter Sunset

Thursday, December 29, 2016

So Long, Farewell, Goodbye 2016

Well, the end is near folks! To 2016 that is. 😏 What a year! We've had as many highs as we've had lows. I guess that is what you call a full life. We were tested to our limits in so many ways, but we're still here standing on two feet, so that is what I like to focus on. The end of the year is a time for us to reflect back and also look forward. Things happened this year that we could and couldn't control. No matter how hard we tried, some things just weren't meant to be, or we couldn't quite get right. As is said, "That's the way the cookie crumbles", "the ball bounces", "the way the wind blows," etc. We got through a lot of tough issues and experiences, but have much to be happy about too, as this was the busiest and most productive year to date in our Studio.

Merry Christmas Ornament
December was a busy month right up until the end. Filling orders, packaging them securely, and shipping them out in all types of weather, including intense snowstorms, were a priority. Tree ornaments were in highest demand. We used enamel decals on a variety of glass ornaments this year. We tried to have a wide selection of blown ball ornaments ready to go for this festive season.

A variety of commissioned glass fly ties
Specialty gifts were commissioned as well, like the glass fly ties on Manzanita wood pictured above, and blown ball ornaments with a sports theme, pictured below.

Commissioned Oregon Duck themed blown glass ornaments
Our enamel decals also added a festive look to our slumped bottles and fused kiln ornaments.

Slumped bottles for Holiday trivets, and Fused Santa Ornaments

Russ went above and beyond this month, behind the torches. We went through many tanks of oxygen and propane as we both did our part and worked to fill order after order. We actually had to shut down the business for a bit to enjoy the birth of our 4th grandchild and first granddaughter mid December.

Our tireless Master Blaster, blowing glass until just about the last minute of the year
 One of the last orders to go out the door before we shut down for the year was the commissioned piece below, "Rabbits in the Garden".

Bunnies in the garden
 We were more than relieved when we could shut everything down in the Studio and just sit back and enjoy our kids and grand kids for the rest of the holiday season.
We were lucky to have everyone home for Christmas this year and enjoyed the company of our grown kids and grand kids. We don't take these precious moments for granted. Time spent with family is a gift in itself.

Our family continues to grow
 Russ and I have also grown to appreciate all that is offered to us from Nature's bounty, at our place of residence. The highlight of Christmas day was witnessing the mighty Buck pictured below, standing majestically on the front part of our property. It was as if he was giving us a simple but noble gift of his majesty. Simple gifts seem to be the most symbolic, like the gift of the little child wrapped in swaddling clothes thousands of years ago. Simplistic beauty is holy in many forms. For me, this gift from Nature was the height of the Christmas season this year. 

A majestic Buck on our property, Christmas Day
I hope that in the new year we can continue to strive for that kind of peace of mind and tranquility as we face new challenges in the coming year, both in our personal and professional lives. It is easy to lose sight of what matters, in this often turbulent world we live in. The new year always brings a fresh perspective, and we are hopeful we can continue to create new artistic beauty through new glass pieces and commissions. We want to wish our loyal customers the very best in the new year, and hope to welcome many new clients as well.  We are beyond thankful for all of you who continue to show us your support and business, throughout our many years of working with this wonderful medium of glass art. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

'Tis the Season

Slumped and Fused Art
Lately I've got a bad habit of waiting 'til the last possible moment to write my monthly blog, through no fault of my own. Hectic doesn't begin to accurately describe what this month has been like for us in the Studio. First we had to prepare new art pieces to participate in a local art show, then create custom commissions for clients, then stock and restock all our ornaments that we are shipping through our Etsy storefront. Not to mention create custom blown ball ornaments for clients both local and across the country. I'm getting that stress knot in my stomach that tends to inflame around this time of the year. I suppose I need to focus on the end results, which is, that we are constantly validated these days both in the art world, and our home grown business. Makes it easier to lose sleep over I suppose. 

Our large Ornament rack holds lots of unique ornaments.
Set up for a local art show in November
We created a fun fused coaster set out of different hues and shades of red.
Red glass fused coasters
Bigger and more unique wildlife pieces were sculpted in the lamp working flames, like the pieces shown below.
Blown glass Owl on Manzanita Burlwood
A crystal clear trout making a glass splash out of the water
Blown glass Moose in Cattails

Sandblasted Mountain Goat on a glass rock ledge
While our Wildlife scenes are always popular, Russ went outside his comfort zone with soft glass, and spent hours and hours creating the Aspen scene below. A nice, thick piece was created by added layer after layer of various colors. The real Aspen log set it off perfectly.  Definitely one of the more intense pieces created to date.

Slumped and Fused Aspen Art Work
A real piece of Aspen bark was also used to help create a mold for the unique slumped and fused piece below. A light adds a soft touch to it.

Another unique glass Aspen piece
Russ was really pushed to his creative limits on the piece below. A client wanted a type of Salvidor Dali inspired piece of art work. This piece really moved me, almost to tears, as he described his inspiration behind it. Hours and hours of intense kiln time and flame working time were spent on it. Both ourselves and our client were extremely pleased with the outcome. 

This piece has many interpretations and levels to it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Another couple of unique projects are wrapping up this month, as two different clients wanted us to create their logos on the inside of their custom blown balls. Inserting the logo inside the ornament gives it a kind of floating-in-air impression. Lots of time and effort is being spent to get it to look just right. Hoping they are both happy with the outcome. 
Custom made blown ball ornaments
And of course, what would this time of year be like without our trusty source of income, affordable Christmas ornaments. These happy snowmen are just about to be fired in the kiln.

Slumped and Fused Glass Snowman Ornaments
Now if you will excuse me, I've got to rush to the Post Office to ship yet another car load of glass goodies. I need 4 sets of hands to get it all done!

Many packages waiting to be shipped out all across the country.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Pumpkin Patch

Black glass cat in our "glassy" pumpkin patch

I come from the generation that first fell in love with Charles Schulz's classic, "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown".  This year really dates me, as they are celebrating 50 years of the classic cartoon. Linus, Snoopy and the gang were a much anticipated Holiday treat that we first watched back in the 60's at both of our homes. Still to this day, I eagerly anticipate watching the whole Peanuts gang on Halloween night. Makes me feel like a kid again, and there's nothing wrong with bringing out the inner child now and then. Along those lines, while we didn't have much luck in our own pumpkin patch this year, (Only a few good pumpkins were picked) we enjoyed creating some out of glass, black cat included.

White Glass Frit accents our Snow Owl
We have also had our share of owls visiting the neighborhood this year, probably from the abundance of rabbits. Russ got inspired by the nightly hoots and created a cute glass Snow Owl this month.

Slumped and Fused Glass Vase accented with Fall colors
He also experimented with various scrap glass pieces and created a few new slumped and fused vases, including the one pictured above. 

Glass Display Stands in the Studio
It was time to update our display stands for an upcoming Art Show, so Russ used his welder for the base of the new stands. Then, using the scallop tool on float glass, he created the display stand pictured above. It accents the slumped and fused pieces quite nicely.

New creation of a slumped and fused decorative plate
Another iridescent and colorful plate was created this month. It has a riverbed of glass rocks fused and incorporated into this decorative piece.
Now if you will excuse me, I've got to be short and sweet on this month's blog, as we have lots of prep work before the first show of the holiday season. Here's hoping you found your own "Great Pumpkin" and have a spooktacular Halloween!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Sentimental September

Anyone who knows me knows my love of September, as it ushers in the most glorious time of the year, Fall. It brings out my sentimental side. Fall has a look, smell and feel to it, like no other season. Breathing in the crisp mountain air sends me back to another place in time, where I didn't have a care in the world. Except to rake up a giant pile of old, crunchy leaves and gleefully jump into that earthy Fall bliss with my siblings, back in the 60's. Still to this day, I eagerly anticipate our Fall drives into the mountains, as they remind me how symbolic the season is. It represents everything cozy and comforting, calm and peaceful, with it's glistening golden hues. It does a body good to break away from all the mundane day-to-day dealings of life, and pause to witness Nature in all it's glorious golds, reds, and yellows. The drive has come to be one of the highlights of my year.

Fall colors on our annual drive
Aspen trees were brilliant gold colors 

 Can't stay in the woods too long because as always, we have been busy working on many new ventures in the Studio. Russ worked on some new slumped and fused pieces and created a "Facehugger" wine glass gift for a customer. He liked the outcome so much, he decided to make a whole set for a friend's birthday gift.

Cutting glass for a slumped and fused project
Facehugger wine glass

Set of 4 unique glasses

Another multi-colored bowl was created this month, with a new shape slumped in the kiln.

Multi-colored slumped and fused bowl

The upcycled bottles below were also created for a customer, with a southwest design. We added glass chili peppers to them as an accent.

Artistic slumped and engraved upcycled bottles

I am also in the process of packaging up a large order and getting it shipped up to Alaska next week.

Many ornaments to pack up and ship

Before the holiday season hits us full-bore in the Studio, I'm hoping we find the time for one more drive into the mountains, as nothing gives me greater solace than this golden age of Fall, and all it's brilliant colors. 

A beautiful Fall drive in the mountains nearby

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August Fires

The Henry's Creek Fire roaring in the hills behind our property

August was not the most productive for us in the Studio, as we had many other things on our mind, including the largest range fire our region of Idaho has ever experienced. It started just a few miles from our neighborhood, and ended up consuming over 53,000 acres, in just one week's time. At one point, we were on alert for evacuations. As I write, I believe it is still not completely out, the paper says it's 81% contained. The devastation will have far-reaching ill effects, especially for the wildlife.  Their winter feeding grounds have been destroyed in the blink of an eye. They are saying it is human caused, which is really a red-hot-angry-button topic for me, but I will spare you, and not get into that can of worms on this blog. Suffice it to say, we had a lot to think about this past month besides our own torch fires burning.

Smoke has filled the air the whole month of August
Before the nasty fires started up, the month actually started out on the right note with a family reunion that was a long time in the making. It  was especially poignant to have everyone attend on Russ' side of the family, as our parents (in-laws) have been dealing with many medical issues this past year. It was nice to see so many family members come out and support them. And also, now that our sons are spread far and wide all over the country, it was nice to get a few moments of alone time with them after the reunion wrapped up. We managed a game of mini-golf at the same course they went to when they were young. Nothing makes us happier than spending time with our adult children.

Our sons enjoying mini golf
We also started and ended a few new projects this month, including these fun white water rafting ornaments.

A variety of white water rafting ornaments
And customers are already ordering a variety of other ornaments, I suppose to beat the rush that will soon be upon us in the coming months. 

Shipping out a variety of ornaments
For the first part of the month, the kiln was filled with these bulbs, as they annealed alongside some of our lustered hummingbirds. They were a special order for a customer who wants to incorporate them into a unique chandelier.

A custom order of bulbs and birds getting annealed in the kiln
Now that August and summer are drawing to a close, we are hoping the only "heat" we have to deal with from now on, comes from our own torches and kilns cranking out new projects.  A controlled environment is the best place for fires. Signing off for now, we hope you enjoy your Labor Day Weekend.

Firing a new project in the kiln