Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Peaks and Valleys

Time for another blog entry as to what's going on in the Studio....This month was spent organizing a variety of  different types of glass, and wrapping up our Yellowstone order, plus creating another float glass mountain scene. The wolves pictured below were the last of the glass wildlife packed up and headed to the Park Stores. I got to hand deliver all the pieces personally, and enjoyed a side benefit of Old Faithful erupting while I was there. The Park looked healthy and vibrant,with patches of snow still hanging on in the high country.
Our Border Collie Maggie seems to want to help with the work.
Howling wolves headed for Yellowstone Park
Once back from the day trip, it was time to focus on organizing glass in the Studio. Also, as seems to be the norm now, we have to attend to a constant stream of Etsy orders coming in every month, like the colorful teardrops pictured below. 

Swirls of color were added to these teardrops
It's always nice to get creative in the Studio and try something new. Russ actually had time to create a unique piece of new art work for one of our Nephews this month. Below are the steps taken to create the "peaks and valleys". Russ started out with a concept drawn out on paper. Then he used the new glass saw that we purchased at the Glass Expo a couple months ago, to cut away the mountain range and rolling hills in sections. This project was all made out of float glass.

First stage of the "Peaks and Valleys" Mountain Scene

Cutting into the glass with our new saw. Such an improvement from the old one!
The next step was to fire them in the new kiln, to heat the rough-cut glass down to a soft edge.

Float glass ready to be fired in the kiln
Kaowool was placed under the float glass' top edges for the mountain peaks. This technique is used to give them the contour and illusion of snowy peaks. Once fired, it peels off.

Kaowool technique
The kiln was fired up to 730 C to get the effect Russ was going after. The final stage was to sandblast the rolling hills that were placed in front of the mountain range. 

Firing the Float glass
The finished project is pictured below and will be used as a back splash behind their kitchen sink, and once installed, can be seen from their kitchen and living room area in their home. We're hoping it works with their vision of what they want for their home's decor. They live in a beautiful valley in Montana surrounded by rolling hills and mountains. It was a challenging but fun project to take on. 

"Peaks and Valleys"
Below is a different background for the picture. It was so big that taking a picture was a bit of a challenge. Looking forward to having it delivered this weekend. Now on to a myriad of other projects, because around here the fun never ends. 😊

Grass is always greener on the other side....

Friday, April 28, 2017

April Showers make for Long Hours....

We've had every kind of moisture you can think of this month. April showers are an understatement. Currently, it continues to snow up here. The good thing about grey skies outside, is we tend to focus better on the tasks at hand in the Studio.....
A few of many blown glass Yellowstone Wildlife sculptures heading to Yellowstone Park Stores
So quick! Hurry and get in a blog before the month is over! Why does it always go so fast? I suppose because we always have something going on in the Studio with a tight deadline these days. This month seemed especially busy. The order that has taken precedence this April is the Yellowstone order. We only have a few more weeks before all the wildlife sculptures need to hit their store shelves for the summer tourist season.  We are anxiously anticipating how well they will sell. It's our first real experience doing a wholesale order for a national park. We hope it relays to all parties as a positive outcome, and continues as a yearly contract for us. We think it's a nice fit, to partner up with them as we are always inspired to create glass Yellowstone wildlife when we visit the Park. Meanwhile, working as fast as possible, we've finished the Moose and Elk, and have moved on to the Bears. Russ is sculpting one in the pictures below.
Sculpting a Grizzly Bear in the Lamp Work Flames
Toasting his "buns"
 Russ also found the time for another project this month, and sculpted the horse below for a client .
Horse Sculpture blown for a client
We were fortunate to travel to the Glass Expo a while back, and enjoyed viewing many stunning works of glass art at the show. Some of our favorites are pictured below. We also purchased a new kiln and glass saw, and have many ideas brewing for future projects. Stay tuned.
Awe-Inspiring Fused work at the Glass Expo

Great idea for float glass

More Art work at the Glass Expo

A beautiful mosaic piece

Our favorite piece at the Expo

An unusual mixture of wood and glass

Another stunning work of glass art

I would like to dabble more in sand carving,  akin to this beautiful piece we saw at the show.
We were fortunate to combine our trip down to the Glass Expo, with a wonderful 80th birthday celebration for Russ' parents. It was a very special weekend to start off the month of April, celebrating the lives of  2 very special people.... A memory that we will cherish for years to come. 
Our parents celebrating their 80th birthdays together

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Time Marches On

And just like that, the month of March is fleeting. It's easy to let time slip through our hands, as we dabble in a variety of projects, both in the Studio and around our Property. This month's posting is short and sweet, as we really haven't spent much time in the Studio. We're finishing up loose ends on projects around the property, while we wait on a large order from the Yellowstone Stores to come through at the end of the week. So for this month's blog I thought I'd post some pictures of past projects we worked on for previous customers, to show the diversity we are capable of creating with both blown glass and slumped and fused glass.

Blown Glass Balls with Slumped and Fused Decorative Plate

Fighting Elk Scene
This month repairs were made to some glass that was damaged and broken. Past customers brought them in to have updated, including the blown glass Elk above, and the fun green Gecko below. 

Whimsical Gecko
The Swordfish below was a bit of a challenge to create, as the blue colored glass can be tricky to work with, as it tends to crack easily if it's not annealed right away.

Swordfish leaping out of the Ocean Waves
 The artistic piece below was sculpted in the Lamp Work flames a while back, and is still one of our favorite pieces to this date.
Labrador on the hunt for Pheasant
The floral bouquet pictured below, of tulips and daffodils, was sculpted this month to welcome in Spring. The pastel colors are fun to work with in the flame. I'd compare it to pulling taffy. Arrangements like these help brighten the mood of the room they are in. And that's about it for this month. Next time I write an entry, I'm sure we will be knee-deep in our contract to create a multitude of blown glass wildlife figures. So, off to finish a few more projects in the yard, before we head to the Studio for hours and weeks worth of work. Until next time, enjoy the Spring weather.

Spring Blooms sculpted in our Lamp Work Flames

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.