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

Friday, July 29, 2016

Wild West Creations

Manzanita Burlwood really accents our glass wildlife

July has proven to be yet another busy month in the Studio. Along with the usual Etsy orders shipped all over the country, we restocked the store in Jackson Hole with a new selection of wildlife this month. Pictured below was part of the selection of wildlife we sent up there, including some fun wildlife ornaments.

Blown Glass Fighting Elk Scenes are very popular

Blown Glass Moose with cattails

Our Bucking Bronco Ornament can either stand or hang

Moose Ornament with Gold Antlers

Glass Cowboy Boot Ornament

White Water Rafting Glass Ornament

Pouncing Fox Blown Glass Ornament

Bugling Elk Blown Glass Ornament

Cowboy/Bucking Bronco Glass Ornament

Blown glass Moose Ornament

Blown Glass Trout Ornament

Russ also created a Southwest themed slumped, sandblasted glass bowl this month.

Southwest themed float glass decorative bowl

While we do have a lot of success when shipping our glass, every now and then we endure the hassles of shipping mishandling. The Daisy pictured below was so beautiful, but when the postal service broke it not only once, but twice, both us and the customer were at our wit's end and we have decided that is one flower that can't endure shipping. Anyone wanting this particular flower will need to personally pick it up at the Studio. We're just like any business out there, can't seem to escape a little drama here and there. But overall, the rewards of glass far outweigh the mishaps. That's why we keep moving on.

A Fragile Blown Glass Daisy

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Gone to the Fishing Hole

One of our Custom Blown and Sculpted Glass Trout Scenes
 What better time to get away to the local fishing hole than the month of the Summer Solstice? While the month of June was filled with honoring Dads on Father's Day, celebrating our anniversary, and spending time with our kids and one of our grandsons, there was lots of hard work in the Studio, projects in the yard, and keeping up with the gardening. So the last weekend in June we decided to stop working long enough to have a relaxing and fun "gone fishing" weekend too. We were able to make a trip up into the mountains nearby, in our new camper for the first time. We have been tent camping all our adult lives until this year, and I have to say, someone should have knocked some sense into us a long time ago. The camper allowed us to enjoy the great outdoors like it was meant to be enjoyed. I guess we aren't into the "inconvenience" that comes with tent camping anymore. It comes when you reach a certain age of sensibility, I suppose. We were much more comfortable and relaxed this time around, and look forward to many more weekends of convenient camping.

Enjoying our new camping experience.
 The past weekend was spent with our oldest son, his wife, and all our dogs. It was a beautiful couple of days with perfect temperatures, and the fish were biting consistently. It has been a long time since we could just relax and enjoy Nature's beauty. All the dogs were in heaven too, as they splashed in the water and chased sticks and birds.

A beautiful day at Palisades

The stringer was full of trout
 Well, the fun had to end. Now it's back to the grind for a while. I'm waiting in anticipation for the next getaway. It does a body good, to forget the worries of the day and just fish. Retirement is less than 10 years away and I have a feeling it will become the norm, to head into the hills at that time. Until then, we need to make a living. So off to complete more orders like the one below. Of course, when you love what you do for a living, it really doesn't seem too much like work. I hope you can find the time to balance work and play in your lives too.

A custom order for a client

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May Project for the Garden

Is it the last day of May already? I'm beginning to wonder how time keeps slipping away from me, the older I get. Time has had a way of eluding me lately, and I'm not sure how it slips out of my grasp so easily. Well, one last day to get the monthly Blog in. I'll make it short and sweet. 

Our garden sign from a couple years ago looked new, but needed a face lift this year.
This month has been so busy around the yard, sprucing up the trees, bushes and lawns, and planting the seasonal flowers and garden. After Old Man Winter has had his way with our landscape, it takes a lot of determination and effort to stay on top of such a large piece of property and the work that comes with it. Russ was busy with his own projects this month, so I managed to create a glass project of my own to spruce up the garden blocks. I was tired of repainting the garden sign every year, because of sun damage, so I decided to go with glass this year to see if it would last a little longer. 

Sanding old paint off the wood block.
First I had to sand down the old paint on the wood blocks. Then I re-stained the wood blocks. Next, I used our glass cutters and cut letters out of pieces of glass scrap left over from previous projects. I fused the lettering in the kiln overnight.

Cutting lettering from glass scraps.
Then I coated the glass molds with MR 97, a mold release spray used to help the glass frit come out of the molds, once they are fused and slumped in the kiln.

Glass molds need to be sprayed before use.
Next, I used a variety of crushed glass frit to fill the molds. I used butterflies, dragonflies, ladybug and flower molds for this project. 

A selection of crushed glass frit was used to fill the molds.

 And the picture below is the final project. Kind of whimsical by design, and hopefully will stand up to the harsh high desert climate for more than a year this time. 

Completed whimsical Garden blocks made with glass.

Well, that's about it for this month's blog. Now I'm headed out the door to ship more orders we processed off the website this busy month of  May. Until next time, happy gardening!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Taking Earth Day to Heart

A beautiful tree blossoms this Spring in one of our local parks.
This past weekend "Earth Day" was celebrated in our community. While the weather wasn't very cooperative for an outdoor celebration, just the act of celebrating the Earth causes one to pause and reflect how each of us as individuals can do our part in being good stewards of the land. I am reminded by events like these how important it is that we each do what we can to conserve and take care of our planet. And since moving out to the country a few years ago... I have seen in our own lives, the gratification that comes from working the soil. Also planting trees, flowers, gardens, and recycling has given us a sense of purpose and responsibility for our own patch of land, minuscule as it may seem for our planet's overall health. 
A double rainbow delights us after a thunderstorm.
Spring has a way of  reminding us everything old and washed out can become new again. Mother Nature displays awe-inspiring rainbows after a sporadic thunderstorm. We are busy planting new seeds in the greenhouse and taking care of our young "ugly" chickens so they can give us fresh organic eggs later in the year.
New chickens in their awkward, "teenage" phase. 
Just beginning to see plants coming up in our greenhouse.
We use the blue barrels below to water the greenhouse and chicken trough. When a fresh rain falls, it is collected in our rain gutter and stored in the containers for future use. 
Our water barrels help us recycle rainwater.
We also try to reuse as much as possible in our Studio to prevent waste. Below are two pictures that show how we take old scrap glass laying around, and cut it and rearrange it in various patterns. Next, it is slowly heated in the kiln. The end result has taken the scrap glass and turned it into a functional glass vase.

Kiln heating up scrap glass
The end result is a pretty decorative vase.
 Probably the best way our Studio helps recycle unwanted waste, is to "upcycle" used bottles. Below are a few samples of the many 100's of wine bottles we have flattened or slumped in our kilns. I hand engrave a design on them, and accessorize with bead work and copper wire to dress them up. Now they have gone from trash to treasure, as they are functional kitchen art that can hang on the wall or be used as trivets. 
Wine bottle art 
We have many designs and sayings to choose from.
Dragonflies are popular.
An affordable gift to give.
A great accessory to the kitchen.
These two are slumped together, and make a great trivet.
We have plenty of options of the bottle art to choose from in our Studio, as an affordable gift to give. We also have many other uses for the bottles, such as drinking glasses, tiki torches, wind chimes, or hummingbird feeders like the one pictured below.
Many functional uses for old bottles are available, including hummingbird feeders.
Finally, to go with a recycled theme, the vase and platter pictured below were created from old float glass, or window glass, that would have been discarded and taken up more space in some land fill. This process gives it a whole new life. We really enjoy taking the time and effort it takes to turn trash into treasure. Hopefully we will continue to think of new ways to be good stewards of the Earth and recycle. 
Turning scrap window glass into functional art work.