Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Blowing Glass in Switzerland

Glass Blowers at work in Hergiswil Glass Factory
July was a month to remember, as we were able to fulfill a life-long dream of mine, which was to return to my Dad's Homeland of Switzerland. I hadn't been there since I was 18, and after almost 40 years, we finally had the opportunity to fulfill the dream. It is a trip that I will cherish always, as I reconnected with my Swiss heritage. One of the stops on our visit was a glass factory. Russ tried his hand at glory-hole glass blowing for a bit, and we enjoyed touring the glass museum and even brought home the ball he blew, along with a commemorative glass plate. What a treat to see how they created glass in a big factory setting. We are so used to our Lamp-working Stations, it was a different experience to see the "heated" conditions these glass workers were blowing in.
A very large glass factory in Switzerland
Glass gift shops and a museum are also part of the business
They work round the clock, using giant furnaces that generate the heat needed to melt glass.
A Portuguese gentleman helped Russ blow a glass globe.
Prepping the glass to be blown.
The finished product, taken home as a souvenir. 
A commemorative glass plate we bought from the gift shop.
The rest of the week was spent exploring the countryside, enjoying the intense beauty of the surrounding mountains and the teal-blue waters, which were fed by the massive glaciers. I also got to visit some relatives that still live in the area. My Dad has passed on, but I really felt his presence on this magnificent trip, and cherish my Swiss heritage.
Scenic mountains and lakes adorn this beautiful country.
Quaint villages dot the countryside.
We spent as much time as we could hiking in the Alps.
Lauterbrunnen was on the way to Jungfrau, the tallest peak in Switzerland.

Inside the Jungfrau were some amazing ice caves, carved into the glacier.

Reconnecting with one's roots does good things for the soul. These pictures are just a sampling of some of the spectacular scenery the small country of Switzerland had to offer. 
Funny, how I said it would be "The trip of a Lifetime", but we are already scheming on how to go back when Russ retires.... Es ist so schΓΆn!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A Quick Tour


What's up with A Touch of Glass these days, you may ask? Well, this month I'm keeping the blog short and sweet, as we are preparing for a great adventure. (I'll explain more in July.)  We continue to stay busy with various custom projects requested by some local customers. Meanwhile, I've posted  a video of the latest works in our Studio. We hope this summer you have time to make some lasting memories. Until next time, enjoy!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

May Musings

 The month of May has given us a chance to get creative with new glass projects around our property, as this time of the year Internet orders tend to slow down, giving us time to hatch new ideas. And of course, when one has time to collect one's thoughts, there is much creative musing that goes on in an Artist's brain. So in May those musings were turned into the latest creations. The first few visuals show the beginning process of fusing glass in the kiln, and then a couple videos of the final projects place around the yard. I like to think Russ might have channeled a bit of the great glass artist "Chihuly" with these florals that now adorn our pondscape. But of course, he is an artist in his own right, just not quite as famous. 
Colorful scraps of glass were fused into flowers and leaves for a new garden sculpture.
Russ plucked a rhubarb leaf out of the garden and fused float glass over the top of it. 
The following videos are short clips of  the finished pieces adorning our pond area, and a small waterfall in our front porch area. (Russ blew and sculpted a whimsical glass frog and added it to the fused leaf project.)

The backyard bar area needed a face lift, so here is a sneek peak of the new "Cheers" insert. It was sandblasted on float glass, which was cut to fit the space. We still have some fine tuning to do on this one, but thought I would share the work in progress.
Sandblasted glass for patio bar area.
 We managed to break away from all the Spring clean-up work and projects in the yard, to enjoy Russ' new kayaks he got for his birthday. We enjoyed a weekend in the mountains with family and got good use out of the fun kayaks. So that about wraps it up for the month of May's activities. Until next time, work hard, play hard. A good motto to live by. 
Russ kayaking with our Grandson.
"Yours truly" enjoying the Kayak at a pond in the nearby mountains.

Monday, April 30, 2018

April's Visit to the Glass Expo

At the beginning of the month we took a break from working in our Studio and headed South to Las Vegas, to the annual Glass Craft and Bead Expo. We wanted to highlight some stunning pieces we saw while there, created by other glass artists around the country. We enjoyed our short trip, and picked up some new glass colors, products and tools to work with in the coming year. We also enjoyed a visit with Russ' Dad in sunny Arizona while we were down that way. He took us on a tour around the Desert in his Razor for a day. It was a very enjoyable trip and ended too soon. Please enjoy the artistic pieces from other glass artists in this month's blog.
Glass Art at the Expo in Las Vegas
Intricate details

Dichroic Glass Masterpiece

Unique mix of Rock and Glass

Jellyfish Glass Lamp

Great depiction of  Earth, Air, Fire and Water

Fused Glass
Art work created with Glass Frits
And now we are back to work in the Studio, wrapping up a large blown glass wildlife order for Yellowstone Park Stores. Also, pictured below is one of the first attempts at Screen Printing  completed earlier this month. We are happy to report our client loved the outcome of the fused baseball with their favorite MLB team, the Houston Astros, winners of the 2017 World Series. Now that Spring is officially here, we hope you get a chance to get outside and enjoy your favorite outdoor activity. For us, there will definitely be some ball games involved. 
A piece created in our Studio, combing Fused Glass with Screen Printing

Friday, March 30, 2018

March....Full Steam Ahead!

A float glass train created in the Studio for a relative, who works for the Union Pacific Railroad.
And just like that, the March winds are blowing right through us, (literally) right up to the end of the month. You have to be tough to deal with the high desert winds that blow through Idaho this time of year. We have a relative who fits that description. He's about as tough as they come, and fits right in with his job at the Union Pacific Railroad. Our nephew asked Russ if he could come up with a glass design to fit the railroad spike/knife. It was to be gifted to our brother-in-law. Since our nephew has been a great supplier of the float glass, sending us old used window glass, we were happy to help out on this project. Another great example of "up-cycling".  Russ used topographical contouring to create the train's shape, and the wheels and front were scored with our glass saw. We think it will be an heirloom for generations to come. 
Screen printed glass Owl accented with glass enamels.
We managed to fit in a trip to Boise this month to visit our son and his family, and celebrate his birthday a little early. The owl pictured above was a house-warming gift that we thought could go alongside a computer-generated piece of artwork he had already created, using his graphic design skills. This project is one of the first attempts at screen-printing on glass. We will be showcasing more screen printing on our blog in the future. There is still a lot to learn, but we have the basics down, and it looks like a promising medium to add to the repertoire.
Spring is blowing into our Studio, new life everywhere!
 We have been involved in many different glass projects this month, that will spill over into April. Special requests are a constant now, and keep us on our toes. But there is always time to stare out into the backyard at the sure signs of Spring around here. (Besides the wind!) And when the Mallard ducks arrive, we know warm weather is just around the corner. Happy Spring and Easter weekend to you and yours!
The ducks always come back to our little pond every Spring.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

All the Feels in February

Our luster pink glass roses are on display in many forms this time of the year.
(This one was created in the past for a family member, for her wedding.)
This February turned out to be quite different than year's past in the Studio. Normally we promote our "Hot Date Night" for Valentine's Day. Couples sign up for an hour long session and learn how to make glass rosebuds. But thanks to our latest bundle of joy and 5th grandchild arriving a few days before, the lessons were put on hold this year. (Which suited us just fine! We loved welcoming him into the world. He's just perfect, and our little Valentine!)
Our fifth grandchild born in February
 When we came back from our visit with our kids and grandchild there was actually time to create some new pieces just for kicks. The decorative slumped and fused glass plate below is my new favorite. The light captures a new color every time I look at it, thanks to the iridescence. 
Multiple fused layers of Iridescence 
This upcycled bottle was slumped onto one of my favorite molds. A nice trivet or piece of kitchen art.
Slumped "Bon Appetit" Glass Bottle
Russ worked over the microphone from last month's blog, for a client's wedding cake top. It was sandblasted for the finished touch.
Sandblasted Glass Microphone

He also experimented with another scene, but is not quite happy with it. A few more trees painted with glass enamels should add the finishing touch to the first picture. Another customer requested a special winter scene plate that could hold a picture of her beloved pet. I added a picture of two of our furry friends for display purposes. Russ used glass enamel paint for the snowflakes.

Winter scene accented with Enamels and an added picture frame.
Winter scene, not quite finished.
Believe it or not, it is time to look ahead to the next holiday season, as we already have clients across the country asking for new ornaments. We are happy to oblige, as it's always fun to come up with a new pattern, like pictured below. Enamel paints are used as highlights to the glass.
New Slumped and Fused Ornament Creations 
Meanwhile, I am enjoying the quiet solitude of winter up here, along with the many varieties of  birds like the chickadees pictured below, that like to frequent our back yard feeders. I can't complain about being snowed in, as the winter has been fairly mild for an Idaho winter. There are already vegetables sprouting up in the greenhouse. Hopefully, we can fit in a cross country ski trek in the mountains before the snow melts. Until next time, enjoy the little things in your life, they really add up!
Chickadees like to hang out in our bushes when they aren't at our bird feeders.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Once in a Blue Moon

The month of January started out with a full moon and is ending with another "super blue blood moon".
January is going out with a bang, with it's "Blue Moon, Super Moon, and Moon's Eclipse occurring on the last day of this month. Otherwise known as the "Super Blue Blood Moon".  I don't know if that phenomenon is the cause of our re-energized attitudes, but it helps that we have been able to take a collective breath earlier this month, from the holiday rush of last year. We have been able to accomplish quite a bit in the last few weeks, and have re-prioritized what needs to get done in the Studio. We've cleaned up the holiday clutter, and are setting goals to create new projects with silk screening endeavors, later this year. We are still waiting on some key components before we can get started with this new technique that we look forward to working with, on glass. 

Right from the get-go, we started out the new year with a large order that kept us busy for a while, a commission from a Tennis Club in Texas. They requested tennis ornaments with a snowflake theme. We experimented and came up with this design, using soft glass and glass enamels. We filled the kiln up a few times to get them all done in time. 

Snowflake-themed glass tennis racquet ornaments fresh out of the kiln
Another customer requested an unusual wedding cake top to go along with her passion for entertaining - the glass microphone pictured below, highlighted in silver luster.

Blown glass microphone requested for  a wedding cake top
Russ enjoyed creating the blown glass multi-colored road runner, now we're thinking it needs a float glass cactus added on to complete it. 

Multi-colored glass road runner
And of course, many times in the world of slumping and fusing, what we think has turned into a complete fail, ends up turning into a "beautiful disaster". The layered piece below was meant to be a beautiful vase, but the colors just weren't coming together, so Russ totally changed his thought process and went a whole new direction on the scene below. He used standoffs to mount it in our Studio, and I have to say it looks spectacular standing out from the wall like it does...gives it a 3D look, and a much better outcome than the vase would have been. A happy fail. 

Slumped and fused glass art with enamel accents
We also like to take time to leave the Studio now and then and enjoy the Nature around our property in these winter months. And living where we do, we still get all kinds of wildlife coming into the yard this time of year, looking for anything that isn't covered up and ready to munch on. We've had to move our bird feeder 3 different times, as the deer can't seem to get enough, and we don't want them to get in the habit of expecting a free meal. I think Russ has placed it high enough now, that old Mister Buck can't reach it anymore, like he does in the video below. We love the deer, but have also realized it's important for them to eat what they are used to in the mountains, lots of fibrous twigs and branches, and as much as I hate to admit, not our bird food.

This herd is so fun to watch from a distance. We have to be careful going around the neighborhood at night, as you never know when they will dart out in the street. They seem pretty healthy from the mild winter we've been having this year. Unlike last year, when many of our deer and elk populations didn't have enough food to eat because of the devastating Henry's Creek Fire that was human caused a few years ago. I'm glad they seem to be rebounding this year.
Mule Deer Herd in our Neighborhood
So we come to a close of the first new month, in our new year, with the new blue moon, along with new ideas brewing for the coming months. Happy New Year!