Tuesday, September 25, 2018

A surprise trip to Butterfly Wonderland

Yesterday was our two year anniversary.  The last two years have flown by, and I'm so lucky to have Thomas in my life.  As a surprise, Thomas took me up to Phoenix this past weekend for a short hotel stay, a great dinner at Arrogant Butcher, and - best of all- a visit to Butterfly Wonderland.  Thomas told me to pack my camera, and I'm so glad he did!  I took hundreds of pics of the thousands of butterflies in the conservatory.  I left filled with lots of new butterfly species to explore in my own work.  Here are a few highlights: 
 A Clipper, Parthenos sylvia
 Madagascan Moon Moth, Argema mittrei, freshly emerged 
 A Malachite (one of my all-time-favorite butterflies), Siproeta stelenes
 Morpho peleides.  (While Morphos are most widely known for their iridescent blue color, the ventral view of their wings is just as gorgeous.)  

 Another all-time favorite butterfly, the Paper Kite, Idea leuconoe.  I love watching these butterflies in flight; their size makes them seem like they'll fall right out of the air if they stop fluttering even for a second (but they don't).  
 A Royal Blue, Myscelia ethusa.  
 A Tiger longwing (I think?) Heliconius hecale 
A White Peacock, Anartia jatrophae 

Brown Siproeta, Siproeta epaphus 
Common Birdwing, Troides helena cerberus  
Doris longwing, Laparus doris

Summer trip to Corning, NY

My big trip this summer was to Corning, New York to take a class with Jason Howard at the Corning Studio.  The class focused on hollow stemware in borosilicate glass.  I chose this class for several reasons, the first being that I don't do much hollow work and it's very far out of my comfort zone.  I was certainly challenged by the new (to me) techniques and I learned so much.  I've known Jason for years and love his work.  He held nothing back in the class!  We spent the first day working on flaring feet for stemware, starting with a small bubble of scalloped tubing (which is a lot harder to work with than regular tubing), opening a small hole, and then flaring it out by spinning (evenly) to get it to flare into a flat foot.  It's terribly fun when it goes well, and comically torturous when it doesn't.

As part of the class, Corning live streams a demonstration from instructors.  If you'd like to see Jason's demonstration of a Tazzo (wide flat bowl shape), click here.  The demo lasts about an hour, and it's time well spent: it's a joy to watch him work on the torch!

Below are pics of a couple pieces and parts I made during my time there.  Hopefully next summer I'll return to Corning for another week-long class! 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Custom Butterfly Mezuzah

I have had the pleasure of working on a few extra-special, heart-centered projects lately, and I'm excited to share this one with you.  A dear friend of a dear friend of mine, Emily, messaged me to ask if I'd be willing to make a butterfly-themed Mezuzah for her new home.  After lots of emails discussing ideas, colors, and form, we settled on a design, and I got to work! 

In case you aren't familiar with them, mezuzahs are decorative cases that hold a scroll with Hebrew verses from the Torah.  They are meant to be positioned inside the doorway of a Jewish household, to "write the words of God on the gates and doorposts of your house." 

We planned the sculpture for the mezuzah around a section of clear borosilicate tubing that would hold the Torah scroll, with foliage that created a framework for the butterflies.  You can see that at the top and bottom of the piece, I added two holes through which screws could attach the piece to the wall.  (I also made two glass covers for the screws to attach once it's installed.) 

I'm so very honored that Emily asked me to work on this very special piece for her home.  The entire process was a joy. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Blue, Blue, Blue

This is a quick post, to share a few pics of the necklace I finished a couple weeks ago.  This is in the same style as the other large butterfly wing necklaces I wrote about a few posts back, using macrame with waxed linen, perle cotton, flameworked borosilicate glass wings, onyx, Czech glass beads, and spinel.  I'm delighted with how this one turned out!  Please contact me for purchasing info if you're interested in this lovely piece!


New(ish) hobby: Temari balls

As is the case with many creative types, I've realized that I'm happiest when I spend as much time as possible in the creation of something- be it glass, my garden, food, crafts, you name it.  I like having several open projects at at time, and like having at least a few projects that I can work on outside the studio, often when my husband and I are relaxing together after work.  Last year, most of my projects were for our wedding in September of 2016.  (We made a LOT for our wedding, but that's for a separate post.)   As last Christmas approached, I wanted to make some non-glass gifts for family, so I looked to my craft "bucket list" (the list of things I want to learn someday), and remembered an article I read about Japanese Temari.  I had no idea how deep the rabbit hole was... 

About Temari: These intricately embroidered cloth and thread balls have a rich history in China and Japan.  Originally made as toys for kids, Temari later became a folk craft, given on important occasions, or as an auspicious gift for the New Year.  Traditionally, temari are made with recycled materials- rice hulls for the core, yarn and fabric scraps to create the mari (ball), and then decorated with threads in intricate geometric patterns.  To read more about temari and their history, here are a few links: 

My first temari really sucked.  I hadn't learned yet about properly marking divisions, winding thread so that it doesn't unravel into a tangled mess, and laying out a design properly.  Geometric patterns on a sphere are NOT to be eyeballed.  As is the case with tile setting, a very small variance on one end of a project turns into a very large glaring mistake.  I learned those lessons the hard way (and am still learning them).  I do love making them, and I've embraced the process of learning, of making mistakes, of starting slow and enjoying the ride.  

This is my second temari, with a much simpler basketweave design (that still has quite a few minor errors).  

Instead of the traditional rice hull (or fabric) core, I've been using glass marbles as the core to my temari, and it gives them a really nice weight.  The process of these temari is as follows: I start with the marble (often only a 1" marble), then wrap it in LOTS of yarn to get the mari close to the size I want.  Then, I wrap the yarn with a LOT more thread, to completely cover the yarn and to provide a base onto which I can stitch/ embroider the design using perle cotton (it holds together a bit more nicely than embroidery floss).  The stitching starts with division lines, separating the mari into 4, 6, 8, 10, or 12 sections.  I took pics of a simple Uwagake Chidori Kagari (overlapping zigzag ) kiku (chrysanthemum) design.  This is a very common beginner design in temari, with almost endless variations to explore within this technique alone.   

Most I've kept, and some I've given away as gifts.  I doubt I'll ever sell the temari I made, as they are so time intensive, I'm still quite slow, and have a lot still to learn.  

This gray and tan toned set is one I hope to continue building- playing with increasingly complex divisions/ designs, all made to fill a basket  that sits on our dining room table.  


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Virtue Glass Flame Fest

Earlier this month, I traveled to Rockville, Maryland for Virtue Flameworks' Annual Flame Fest, an event in which they bring together teams of artists for a long weekend of collaboration.  I've known Matt and Amy, the owners of Virtue Glass, for many years, and was so honored to be included in this year's event.

The three days were intense, tiring, inspiring, and terribly fun.  The bulk of my time was spent working on a team with 4 other artists: Michael G-Check, Phil Sundling, Matty Phunk, and Rob Campellone.  Together, we created a wall piece that included parts made by all of us.  Rob made the green hollow disc that acted as a foundation for crows, hands, and branches (made by Phil and yours truly).  Matty spent hours painstakingly creating, cutting apart, and reassembling flat cane that acted as the frame for the piece.  Michael made the molecular bubbly elements and handled a lot of the final assembly.  Our final night- during the last leg of final attachments- went very late (this pic was taken at approximately 4 AM), but our piece was a success.  I had a wonderful time getting to work with these guys!

I also worked on a few smaller projects with other artists at the event: a winged "Goofball" creature with Joey Trankina; a colorful ruffle bowl with butterflies with Jason Gordon, another branched functional piece with Phil, and an articulated butterfly with friend Kim Edwards (https://www.kimedwardsglass.com/).  Photos below!

And a bonus: Robert Kincheloe, artist and friend, making popcorn in an enormous glass bubble on the lathe: 

Bigger projects: Butterfly Wing Necklaces

For years, I've been wanting to build some larger, more complex, more time-consuming pieces utilizing butterfly wings.  I stumbled along with a few different approaches, many using jump rings, but wasn't happy with the result- wire/ metal gave too much movement and not enough structure to the wings.  I knew the solution was in fiber- and I realized the solution was in a macrame technique from Stephanie Sersich (http://sssbeads.com/).  I've since made a few necklaces using this approach, and I'm delighted with how they've turned out.

The first necklaces used borosilicate glass, in shades reminiscent of the oranges/ ambers in Monarch butterflies.  I wanted to capture the imagery around Monarchs overwintering on trees; I just love the layers upon layers of wings!  Aside from the 40 or so glass wings in the necklace, I used vintage Czech seed beads and faceted onyx beads with the waxed linen and perle cotton.  This one is modeled by my dear friend Kelli, and found its forever home last year.  

The most recent necklace I finished was in shades of blues and greens, this time using my vitreous enameled, soft glass wings.  There's around 35 wings in this one, along with turquoise, apatite, sodalite, and fibers in muted blues and greens to match the wings.  I use a flameworked borosilicate hook as the clasp.  For as bulky as these necklaces are, they're surprisingly comfortable.  The fiber/ macrame provides quite a bit of structure and helps to distribute the weight evenly around the necklace.  The movement is a lot of fun, too- just enough to remind you that they're butterflies, but not so much that the wearer jingles every time they move!  

I'm working on a vibrant blue version right now- any color requests for the next necklaces?  I'm thinking pinks/ ambers/ purples might be next...