Thursday, December 24, 2009

Oh, just playing with glass in the kiln...

I think that my favorite artistic creations are probably the things that make me smile or outright laugh when I see them. I have to humbly admit that I cracked myself up with the results of this little slumping experiment. I slumped a broken wine glass in the kiln, just to see what would happen. Hee hee - I loved the results, and I'm pretty sure that if I did it again it would never turn out as well!

Here are a couple of funky shots of the flat glass compared to a normal one -

I have a martini glass that needs to be slumped standing up, I do believe. So stay tuned for that.


Here are some more things that I've been doing in the kiln lately:

Snowflakes in the kiln, ready to fuse

Icicles made from roughly-matched scraps of art glass

Those icicles, after fusing

Just one little icicle, with a penny for scale

I was pretty happy with the look of the hammered copper wire for a hook. I made hooks like that for all of the icicles and hung them in a vine maple in our yard, along with a couple glass snowflakes and the wine glass.

And finally, I made a bunch of glass stars to sell at a very small craft fair (but only sold a few) -

These are a fundraiser for my P.E.O. chapter. All of the proceeds go to our scholarship fund for local women pursuing post-high school education. My intentions were to try to sell the stars from my Etsy store, but I just didn't have time to get that all set up. So NEXT year I will!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Glow-in-the-Dark Reflective House Numbers Project

Here is a funny project that I did at the end of the summer, only to somehow loose all of the photos that I took during the process. I've recreated my project a bit here and now for your amusement. You know it has to be good if it involves glow-in-the-dark paint and a material normally used by street painting crews, no?

It really started with the need to redo our house numbers on our paper/mailbox post. I have had this bag of reflective glass "beads" for many, many years just waiting for the right use to come along. These "beads" are what are sprinkled on top of wet crosswalk and fog stripe paint, for example, to make them really show up in headlights. A short while back I ran across the glow-in-the-dark paint at Home Depot, and since I have always LOVED glow-in-the-dark stuff, that had to come home with me. Those materials mashed up in my brain, and I knew what I needed to do for our numbers.

I cut our house numbers out of a scrap of fiberboard that is finished (smooth) on both sides. This is where I am missing all of my pictures, unfortunately, except for the lone one above. For the most part I used the scroll saw to cut out the numbers, filing and sanding the edges to finish them. I sprayed them with primer, and then gave them a few coats of the glow paint. After applying a final coat of the paint, I dunked the numbers into a little tray of the "beads" to coat them well. This picture shows you the size of the "beads" -

Here it is, the finished project -

I actually considered the reflective bead part of the project a bust, because when I drive up and turn into our driveway, my headlights don't reflect off the numbers like I had hoped they would. No big deal; at least we have new, legible numbers out there.

Last night I finally dragged a shop light out there to try charging up the paint to get a glowing-in-the-dark picture. I'm pretty sure that the people who drove by thought I was a crazy woman. But it worked, a bit -

The camera was influenced by the streetlight off in the distance so the shutter didn't stay open as long as I would have liked. The best thing was to see that when cars drove by, their headlights did reflect off the numbers after all. You just have to be at the right spot to catch it. Ha! See for yourself -

That was lit up by a passing car, not me!

I guess at some point I need to make a matching set for the other side....

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Making up for lost project pictures...

I finally got to a point this week where I could sit down and catch up on some blog posting only to discover that I can't find the pictures that I took while working on a couple of projects this summer and fall. DARN IT! I prefer showing the process and not just the finished project. How frustrating.
So in the meantime, while I figure out what to do with the images that I can cobble together, I thought I would just post the photo collage that I submitted when I applied to be in a local craft show that was held earlier this month. These are images of some of the different fused glass things that I've made in the last couple of years. I ended up backing out of the craft show, but I hope to someday sell some of these things in my (now empty) Etsy shop, I have a LITTLE bit of inventory. First step (still) is figuring out the whole business part of selling through Etsy. One of these days....
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Thursday, September 3, 2009

"Collection #1 - Salmon" -- the beginning of a new string of ideas

Oh boy, my posts on here have been few and far between this summer. I will start my catching up with this particularly exciting project that was accepted into the Kenmore Art Show last month. It was actually purchased! It was all very exciting.

So here's the skinny. First of all, in June I attended another fabulous Miniature Encaustic workshop taught by Larry Calkins at Northwest Encaustic Studio. Larry is so inspiring and full of tons of knowledge that he happily shares. Thanks Larry!! I had a new idea I wanted to work on and I was ready to roll.

I bought some chunks of sheet metal for a song and a dance at a place in Ballard called Very nice people there. My dad graciously cut my chunks up into smaller pieces for me on a large piece of metal-cutting equipment that he has access to. The metal plates that I used for this project are about 4" by 3" and probably about 1/16" thick.

About my new idea... After doing this miniature encaustic piece a little while ago -

- I wanted to do more salmon. Why not a collection of all the salmon native to the Pacific Northwest, in their beautiful spawning colors of course. I loved fixing this first salmon painting into its little protective box, and I had just the idea for a box to hold a collection of salmon paintings...

I LOVE rock collection-type specimen boxes. The kind of organization where each item has it's own spot. In an organized grid. Even the cloud chart on my dad's workshop wall. The cubbies at preschool. That was how I would organize my salmon.

I traced the outlines of the salmon onto pieces of tissue paper that I had placed on top of a thin layer of rolled-out printer's ink. I used watered-down white glue to attach the tissue paper pieces to the metal plates. Ink-side down. Then once the glue dried, I used watercolors to paint in the backgrounds, trying to make each one a little different but using the same basic colors. Here's a shot that includes one of the fish outlines without any watercolor added yet -

I kept working the backgrounds...

I eventually used watercolor to add color to the fish bodies. In this photo I've already applied a coating of clear encaustic medium to the top three pieces -

It really tones down the color of the watercolors! The wax is a bit cloudy at first but eventually clears up. But the fish images still are a bit stifled, even when the wax clears. But that is OK, because I was only half done. Or less then half-done actually, time-wise.

The next step was to add fine detail to the salmon by adding colored wax with a wood-burning tool. To do this I dipped the end of the hot tool onto a block of pigmented encaustic wax and drew and dotted the color onto my fish. I mostly accentuated the dark details in this way, but I also added color and white to the fish, too. I didn't do anymore work on any of the backgrounds after coating the watercolor with the clear wax. This photo is a great before and after example. The two fish in the middle have been "detailed", while the other four have not -

Yep, that was just the ticket to bring the fish out. What a difference!

Here is a spur of the moment picture of my wood-burning tool and the handful of different tips that it came with. And the regulator that I use to dial down the temperature. (If you use the tool plugged straight into the wall it is too hot.) -

A few close-up shots of some of the fish when they were all done and glued into the box, with "scientific" labels -

Too bad I didn't take any pictures of the creation of the box. I treated the surface in a way that Larry C. has demonstrated in a couple of his classes - you brush wood glue onto the surface and then "cook" it with a propane torch. You keep adding layers of glue and torching them until you are happy. It's a bit like roasting a marshmallow. You decide how dark you want it. I've added paint to the finished surface before, too, to make it darker.

One last shot of the finished piece -

I seem to have had a little problem with a fish-eye effect in some of the pictures. Oops.

I entered this piece in the Kenmore Art Show last month. I helped out with some of the set up of the show, and I happened to be there on the morning that the jurying took place. I saw first hand how many entries had to be juried out due the large number of beautiful submissions. I truly felt honored to be in the show. And then I was so excited to hear at the end of the week that my piece had been purchased!

I feel like this is just the beginning of a "Collections" series. I have several more collections of miniature paintings that I would like to create and put together. Now that I've said that outloud, I'll have even more motivation!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

"Bedazzling" a commercial bag to make it YOURS

I just submitted a couple of photos to a readers' photo gallery connected to a Seattle Times article about reusable shopping bags. One photo I shared was of one of my knitted plastic bag bags, and the other was of my favorite Trader Joe's bag that I blinged up with beads and eyelets, just to make it MINE. Thought I would share the photos of the Trader Joe's bag here for fun.

I really loved this bag to begin with, maybe because it has my favorite green on it, but mostly because I love its crazy collection of images. It was a bargain at $1.99. And it was crying out to be embellished.

I was flat-out sick at some point after I bought the bag and needed something to do while crashed out on the couch besides knitting (what?!). This bead sewing extravaganza is what resulted.

I sewed beads around the name on both sides of the bag -

And I added beads here and there where the design called out for them -

I added these cool little eyelets where there was a funny grouping of little circles in the design -

There are some similar red circles that I bought red eyelets for but I never got around to adding them. Hmmm...

Here is a link to the article on the Seattle Times website:

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Big Raku Project

My good friend Carolyn invited me to come to her school last month to be a part of an amazing Raku project. She and her co-art instructor at John Hay Elementary School had arranged this project with Seattle Pottery, who provided the special glazes and all of the equipment for the firing. Every child at school (and some adults) made a piece of pottery for the project. They had a whopping 500 pieces of pottery to fire! They were all done in two long days.

Setting the scene -- this picture gives you a good overall idea of the set-up... in the corner of the school playground! Across the street you can see the old Queen Anne High School, which is where my dad went to school. (That school building has been turned into condos.) You can also see one of the three huge broadcast towers that are on the top of Queen Anne. What an awesome urban setting!!

Here are some of the ceramic pieces that are ready for the kiln. Lots of cute pinch pots in this batch! Carolyn and her co-instructor had already fired them in the school kiln and then the kids glazed their pieces. They were able to choose from White Crackle, TZ Copper, or Dolphin glazes.

Here's another view of the overall setup, with the kilns, the metal cans, wet towels, and plastic buckets full of crumpled up newspaper. That's Eric from Pottery Supply. He ran the operation.

Pottery Supply makes and sells these outdoor kilns. Potter Eric pointed out that they've made improvements over time, including putting a couple little wheels on the bases for portability. The top is like in inverted glass. It's made of kaol wool in a cage.

Glazed pieces were arranged on the single shelf at the bottom of the kiln.

The kilns were heated by a propane torch. Several firings could be made from one standard (backyard BBQ-sized) propane cylinder.

The flame fits in under the shelf, and the top part of the kiln is lowered down to close it up.

A digital pyrometer is used to keep track of the temperature. 1850 was the magic number. In this shot you can barely see orange flames coming out of the hole in the top of the kiln.

Meanwhile, Eric had an assortment of metal cans with lids that we would use for the Raku/reduction part of the process. My understanding is that you put the red-hot ceramic pieces into the metal cans filled with combustible material that you can seal. The combustible materials burn and the special glazes that were painted on the pieces do strange and magical things in the absence of oxygen in the containers.

These cans are ready to go for the first batch of the day.

These ceramic pieces are red hot and ready to be transferred into the metal cans.

Helpers are ready for Eric to transfer the hot pieces from the kiln.

Eric used tongs to transfer the pieces from the kiln to the cans.

Of course, the hot ceramic pieces immediately ignited the newspaper. A few/several pieces of pottery would go in each can, with a well-orchestrated addition of newspaper occasionally.

When a can was "full", the lid was slammed down and the cans were covered with wet towels to help seal them. They would hang out and cool for a while. The pieces were still pretty hot when Eric removed them from the cans, but they cooled quickly when set out on the pavement.

Carolyn is ready for the first piece of another batch, waiting to add the first of the newspaper when Eric gives her the word.

A hot piece being added to the can.

Nice shot of the flaming can!

Can is shut and ready for wet towels.


What a successful day!! Two of the glazes made amazing multi-colored metallic-looking finishes. One was glossy and one flat/satin with a strange bumpy texture in some cases. The third glaze was White Crackle. Eric had to blow on those ones before he transferred them into the metal cans. That way the glaze would craze (crack), and those little cracks would become black from the smoke in the cans. Any part of the pieces that weren't glazed turned black, which would be a fun detail to work with when glazing a piece....