Wednesday, December 28, 2011

So much glamour in the glass business!

What an exciting and glamourous day I've had! I did get to sleep in and hang out in my PJs in the morning, which is always an awesome thing! Then it was straight to the studio to finish the Baptismal Bowl/Font for Zion Lutheran Church. 

So here's how it went; 1st Step; I measured the disc about 75 times to make sure it was a solid 18.75" perfectly round. I ground it about 4 times to make sure it was perfectly round. Did I say it had to be perfectly round! OMG! Finally had to pull out the old cut a circle out of paper trick to lay over it. That proved to me it was done correctly. This time I was determined to measure correctly. (The lip of the last giant bowl had to be ground, beveled and polished after the slump, because I didn't double check the measurements before the slump.) So OK...lesson learned!

Here is the very glamourous machine I used to grind the disc a billion times!
2nd step; I changed from 80 grit for the take down on the lap wheel, to 200 grit and did some refining, and a slight bevel on the edges. 3rd step; I hand padded with the 400 grit diamond pad 2 times...I should call that thing "old yeller" 'cause it's always there supporting my me, like an old friend...and it's yellow. BTW, that pad really works your biceps. I'm sore!

4th step; Sandblast the top with 150 grit silicon carbide to create a smooth silky finish. That also had to be done 2 times, 'cause it's easy to miss spots on a large surface. 5th step; A good hose down and wash. OK, I did that twice also. We just couldn't have any black grit showing up on a transparent bowl. That would just be wrong! 
This is the super high-tech level I use to make sure the disc is level on the mold.
The 6th step; spray coat the stainless steel mold with boron nitride spray. Remember to open the door or go outside...and you are supposed to use a respirator. I'm going to claim amnesia on that...I did open the door to vent the room and have air exchange. Kids, don't do this at home! Always practice safe glass! The 7th step; level the mold with a straight level - side to side, and then front to back. Then double check that. Nothing is worse then a wobbly bowl.

Here is the disc sandblasted and on the leveled mold, ready to slump!
The last step for me was to get the disc into the mold without disturbing the mold position and without hurting yourself in the process. I use 2 suction cups for this. Then I use the bubble level between the suction cups to position the disc in the mold so that the disc is level in the mold. Once that's done, all you have to do is clean the disc like crazy again with alcohol to remove any flecks of boron nitride that you might have disturbed, or any dust or errant molecules that might be lurking on the surface. At this point I'm usually ready to be drinking the alcohol!

Anyway, then you set the kiln! ....and Voila...!!! 2 days later you have a gorgeous big freaking heavy bowl that is 3/8" thick. Easy right? Sure, just ask the heating pad I'm leaning on....Also, imagine how glamourous I look while doing all of this. 

All in all, after all the steps, I feel happy and accomplished. Hundreds of little babies heads will be sprinkled with holy water and begin their lives surrounded by joyous parents and loved ones. They will hold hands, kiss, and rejoice...all in front of my bowl. It makes me feel like I'm a part of all of those occasions to come!

Try not to puke from all the sentiment ... I'm a sap!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Dichroic Glass Field Trip!

Today Stacey and I ventured to Round Rock, Texas, just north of Austin, to meet with our buds at Austin Thin Films. Glen and Eric were jovial hosts and gave us the techie tour, which of course I loved...'cause I love all that physics and chemistry stuff. We got up close and personal with the vacuum chambers, which I totally could have curled up and taken a nap inside of...'cause again, I love the science stuff. I tried not to act like the biggest science geek of all time. I think I kept my cool. I actually think Stacey was fascinated, which was kind of surprising, since molecules aren't really her bag. I, on the other hand think the periodic table is science porn!

Too flipping' Cool!!!!!

So after the tech show and tell was over we set to it! is now a Dichro Magic distributor, and Wired Designs will carry the full line of products too. We really do like buying local! So here's a little peek in on our shopping experience.

Shopping for 2" x 8" in all the standard and premium colors on black and clear!

Yes... We will be selling the muy famouso scrap bags!

Pulling scrap in Coe 90 textures and Patterns!

We'll have the Magic Boxes and Sample Sets too!

We don't reopen until January 3rd, so theres lots to do with all of our loot before we're ready to sell it.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Best Last Days in the Studio at Wired Designs!

There are some days that go down in the record book! Today was the most wonderful day! As the year comes to a close, I am thankful for my friends and family, and the best students and clients!

Here's why:
  • The folks from Zion Lutheran Church approved the blank for their Baptismal Bowl. They said, "we love it!" and that makes me so happy! We decided to make it thicker and heavier, so I added a 6mm clear layer behind the design. It's in the kiln re-fusing now. Cross your pun intended!
  • We are doing a new sink commission for a residence in Stone Oak. The client brought in their marble countertop sample, for us to match. They have some technical issues to figure out first though. They want to undercount the sink, but not back light it, so color might be an issue. The marble sample is a combo of grey, cobalt blue, with white and deep green flecks. This isn't going to be easy...YiKES! But I am up for the challenge!
  • I got myself a holiday present! I've always wanted one of these super expensive riveting system tools, with all the goodies that come with it! So I decided to spoil myself and get it. Let's be honest, who else is gonna buy this for me, c'mon! So I have over a week of time off to play with it. It's stupid expensive ($100-for the basic unit, although it cost me $199 with accessories and shipping) but it's supposed to be awesome. I'm hoping that this is one of those times when you really do get what you pay for. I'll show you some stuff I do with it.
  • My mom is turning 75 in 2012 and I want to do something with her that is on her "bucket list." She's never been to Europe, and she's always wanted to go to Paris, so I found a cruise that I think she'd love. London, Paris, Bordeaux, Lisbon, etc. I showed her and she agreed to go!!! So off we'll year.
  • I got to work a half day today and I went home a made a stuffed pork roast with cranberry and apples, sage and white wine, and some other stuff. It's in the oven roasting now and smells delish! Nicole is coming over for dinner and we'll eat, hang, and plot the future of glass as we know it!
  • I am grateful for the staff/WD family; Judy (Who thinks she doesn't know what she's doing, but always does just the right thing.), Cathy (Who I miss while she's gone, because NO ONE can dish the dirt like she can.), Stacy (Who isn't arid as much since she's a full time student now-miss her!) Natalie (Who is the portrait of the perfect mom.), Nicole (Who juggles teaching, working, leading, and just being with finesse and style.) Stacey C (Who is smart, funny, and lately...made of steel!) I love them all!
More rambling about happiness and love later!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sometimes no glass gets done...

Like today.. It's been a long few days of closing out the books and making sure all the allocations are in the right place. I'm almost finished and ready to close the books on 2011! I'm looking forward to no more paperwork!!!

My year end thoughts are going something like this...

I'm finally ready to admit that our move to the new studio space was a gamble for us. It really could have gone either way, and oh boy, was I afraid of the change... but it was the best possible move we could have made! Business has been really good and very different! We've done more commissions in 2011 then in any other year. Our new location makes that so much easier, and the new wet room is a dream! I hope the trend continues in 2012! We're making a strong effort toward that type of business. We've joined Custom Made, a website and service connecting makers with customers, designers, etc. Take a look! has had a fantastic year! We've sold more kilns this year than we did in 2008. Maybe in 2012 we'll beat our 2007 record! We're adding Bullseye Glass in 10" x 10"s and 17" x 20" half sheets for shipping, frit and stringers. We're also adding dichroic glass from Austin Thin Films. We'll be entering 2012 with over 60 kilns on the site plus all the glass. We're really excited about it all. By the way, the frogs name is Phillipe!

We went to the Texas Art Educators Conference this year and it was a great experience. We represented Bullseye Glass and Jen Ken Kilns at the show and we visited with our friends at Paragon Kilns. Everyone was lovely! We love the art teachers! Can't wait to do it again in November 2012!  It will be in San Antonio next year, so that will be even better. We're planning on hosting an event at the studio! Hopefully Larry and his mobile glory hole furnace will be part of the fun! Here's a picture of our booth from the show.

I'm really looking forward to beginning 2012, new and free and ready to fly!

I'll share more end of 2011 thoughts tomorrow.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Last Class of 2011!

Today was, as the title says, my last workshop of 2011. It's hard to believe how fast the year has gone. Today's class was beginning soldering and my students were awesome!  I could tell immediately that this group of folks was just gonna "get it!" So I demonstrated a more difficult beginning project and they all did a fantastic job.  Here's what we made.... there are matching earrings which we made first! In this class students learn to cut and sand the metal components, pattern and texture them, solder the metals together using a micro torch, remove fire scale with pickle, set stones in bezel cups, and then final add depth and color with patina.

This piece is copper, nickel, brass, and bronze with a red garnet set in fine silver.

I always love teaching this workshop because it is the gateway to making beautiful jewelry. Once the students have soldering skills, they can do so many things. They are only limited by their imaginations and skill level. Some of the students have real potential! I hope they'll come back and take it to the next level. I love to see what they create.

After class I went to Mitch and Judy's house for some homemade tamales and a wonderful holiday get together. Mitch made the yummy tamales and Judy created the wonderful atmosphere and poured lots of wine. We sat around a fire in their yard with kids and dogs running around and adults laughing, all under a clear starry sky. It was a lovely evening to cap off a great year of teaching!

I am indeed a lucky girl!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Busy Day at the WD!

Today Peggy came to pick up the bowl and she was the happiest camper ever!  I'm always overjoyed when I get the opportunity to make someone that happy. Here's the final picture of how the hanging system came out.  It's very old school. This way you can just hang it on a hook on the wall.

So between helping customers, juggling phone calls, and pushing papers around, I  managed to place a big fat Bullseye Glass order that should arrive here on January 4th!  Lot's o'glass coming here!

Then, lucky us....we received another commission to make 50 centerpieces for tables at a large local charity fund raising event in February!  Here's a prototype of the pieces. There will be 10 of each color scheme, red, cobalt, turquoise, purples, and greens. They are about 12" high and 7" wide at the top. They have votives in them for the event. It's going to take a lot of work, but it will be fun too. I'm excited.  We'll keep you informed of our progress and show you the pieces as we go.

Ok, it's off to dinner for mom's birthday! Mike's in the Viilage....Bulverde! YUM!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

An Awesome Day!

Finally, Peggy's bowl is done. It's slumped and looking good! I promised I'd show the hanging system fused into the back. If you look really closely you can see the lines from the 9 pieces where it broke. The hanging "tabs" will have wire through then so this can be hung like a picture!

Another upbeat note! Here's the fused disc for the Zion Lutheran Church Baptismal Font. Tomorrow is grinding day!

The white paper underneath will show us how the piece will look because the font has a base of white formica.  Can't wait to see this done!

Also, I was checking my Blog stats and saw that Lisa Meyer was following me, so I looked at her blog and saw this really cool stuff. She's one of my students and I am so proud of her! Check out what she's doing.

Tangerine Tabby - A Creative Life in the Texas Hill Country: New Work: This platter is a consignment piece for a friend. He and his wife saw a smaller piece that I had done and wanted one larger and in blue col...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cowgirl Heaven!

Sometimes when I make something and sell it I kind of miss it for a while after it's gone. I've found myself thinking about this piece today. My sister, who's birthday it is today, is the proud owner of this necklace/art piece. I really enjoyed making it, and feel like I should make another in the same genre, but I'm not sure it will be as much fun to make the second time around.

This piece was made in a 3 day mixed metals workshop with 3 of my students. It was our every Friday private party and we had such a great time. This piece has etched copper, soldered brass and bronze, a bezel set turquoise, coiled sterling and bronze, resin capture of an image and pearls, and a metal chain necklace.

I'm kinda missing the fun of it, but it couldn't live with a cooler gal than my sister! I hope she enjoys her birthday in cowgirl heaven!

R Rated Glass Cheese Trays

Yesterday I lamented my wine bootle slumping enchantment. Here is a peek at what the clients bottles ended up looking like.

So, who does one gift this too?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Everything is Different & More of the Same

Today started with a bang! I emptied the big kiln of 14 various and sundry bottles that someone paid me to slump, just to fill it back up with more of the same.  Then, just one more load tomorrow of the little buggers. It's not the most artistic endeavor I've got going, but it does pay the electric bill. 

'Tis the season for bottle slumping, and the festive jingle of glass cheese boards! This is what they're planning to make out of those recycled wine bottles. They look cute all dressed up like this!

When that was done, I got to start the next commission. I'm now contracted to do the Baptismal Bowl for the font at the Zion Lutheran Church here in San Antonio. It's a very old congregation, with a a beautiful light and airy sanctuary. I'm excited to tackle another one of these projects!

Here's what's firing in the kiln right now as I write. It will take about 24 hours for this firing cycle. It's 15 pounds of glass with gorgeous shards of light sky blue, light aqua tint rainbow irid, steel blue, neo lavender tint, clear, and true blue. I have high hopes. I'll post the pix of the finished flat disc when it comes out. It felt really good to put it together and get the kiln going. Between the hammer and glass tile nippers my hands were very busy this morning. 

Another project that has been fun to tackle is "Peggy's Bowl." This one I created with the client. Peggy picked all of the glass for the job, and then told me what she wanted and we put it together as a team. We both loved how the piece turned out. We slumped it into a specially made mold that made it look like crumpled fabric and it looked beautiful as a focal point on her wall. Then, suddenly a week after hanging it it somehow fell off the wall and broke into 9 pieces. Yikes!

Peggy brought all the pieces back and we set out to see what could be done. I felt terrible for her. She had tears in her eyes as she handed me her beloved creation. Give the state of affairs with the 9 pieces, I told her that I had no idea what could be done, but that I'd give it a try.

I know it's kind of hard to tell from this picture because of the glare, but I was able to put the pieces next to each other, add some frit and stringer and Wallah!  You can't even tell that this disc used to be 9 separate pieces! YEAH!!!!  It does look great if I say so myself. Stacey came in and asked me if I had re-made the piece from scratch!  Not bad... if it could fool someone who knows what to look for!  

Anyway... I'll be slumping this tomorrow into it's final shape. We'll used the same mold so it will have the crinkled paper look again. But, this time we're incorporating a stronger, more secure hanging system right into the slumping of the piece. I'll take a picture of that when it comes out of the kiln so you can see what we did. I think it should work out better this time. Fingers crossed!!

That's all until tomorrow! Ciao!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Here Goes Nothin!

This is my first official post! I've been really resistant to having a blog because I always think that no one really reads these things. I guess I though it was a waste of time. My best pal, Stacey has been bugging me to do this for years. She thinks it's a good thing since I am "in my head" a heck of a lot.  I thought it was stupid, that is... until I starting reading and following a few blogs myself. So my 2012 resolution is to blog every day. I'll share Wired Designs Studios related information as well as my own personal musings, and of course my progress with the Master of Art Education graduate course work at Texas Tech, and any art in progress or commissions.

This weekend I updated my website. It took a while but I'm getting there. Take a look and let me know what you think. MY UPDATED WEBSITE

This is what I've been up to this month:

 This bowl is for the Baptismal Font in the private chapel for the Sisters of Divine Providence Convent at Our Lady of the Lake. The bowl is 18 pounds, is 20" wide and 5" deep. It was one of the most calming commissions I've ever done. Even though it was heavy and hard to grind and polish, I smiled the entire time I did it. Hmmm?  I think I should continue pursing this kind of work, it's kinda Zen to do. Ironic huh? A big thank you goes out to Gini Garcia, who referred this job to our studio!

This piece is almost finished. I did this in Kate Mckinnon's workshop when she was here last week. This piece has fine silver metal clay components, copper enameled components, forged copper components, and bronze components, all cold connected with rivets, etc. This was so much fun to do! I was like a kid in candy land! Even though I was officially the TA for Kate, I did get to play with the students, and it was 3 days of perfection, fun, silly laughter, and great Kate'jucation. If you've never taken a workshop with Kate Mckinnon, get yourself into one immediately! I've been in 3 of her classes, and I learn something new every time! Follow her fun blog at KATES BLOG.