Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Close of a Winter Day

Autumn arrives in early morning, but spring at the close of a winter day. - Elizabeth Bowen

I know it's not really spring. I know we are in for more cold days, but it been so very spring-like lately that it's impossible not to feel like spring is near. About a week ago, I even noticed the first daffodils peeking out.

Of course, the weather in Greenville is entirely unpredictable. It may be 70 one day and snowing the next. Still, I can't help but gravitate toward the greenest sheets of glass...the yellows and the aqua blues. My glass work tends take on colors of the approaching season.

Today was a rainy warm leap day.

Blooming right outside the office.

A sunflower from last night's batch.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


To Create small books reflecting a sense of place that share one's experiences of Greenville County.

2 Main Rules

1. The book must be made from one A3 or A4 (ISO) sheet or card in equivalent US sizing and can be folded into the format you want.

2. Cuts can be made but the sheet must remain relatively whole- so not cut in half etc. clicking the link takes you to the UK site, SomethinkCollective for examples.

So, I decided last week to take a little break from working with glass to create a mini-book for a local Minibook Collective that I had read about. It sounded like it would be fun! I've put some of the information from their website above, but basically they want books that reflect the artist's personal interpretation or feelings about Greenville, SC.

After thinking about it for a couple of days, I jotted down a quick verse about what Greenville means to me. Bottom-line...Greenville is Home. It's not where I was born, but it is where I want to be. In fact, I've been here so long, that it is now more home than the place where I grew up.

I then started the process of figuring out how I wanted my book to look. The size was limited, so that was an easy decision. The only other rule was the sheet had to remain intact... I spent some time folding the page, and then sketching out the basics of my layout. I then moved my idea to the computer, using Photoshop and InDesign to combine photos I had taken with text and effects. After the design was finished, I printed out a test copy to double check fold and placement.

The next step was to have the file output to a single sheet of high quality stock. I then carefully cut out my book, scored and folded the pages. I used pastels, Prismacolor pencils, markers, pigments and findings to finish off my little book. Now, if I can just manage to get it turned in by the deadline!

Minibook dummy - basic fold and rough sketch.

Second Draft for position and fold.

Final - Cover

Final - Open to Gate Fold

Final - Opened Gate

Final - Inside Spread

Final - Back Cover


Tiny petals drifting down

the stream of hours,

Alone, apart

from garden flowers,

Swirls in a pool,

Lands on a stone,

Lifted by breezes

and carried along,

Comes to rest,

finds a home,

Falls among strangers,

soon to be friends,

Many paths to one place,

each journey ends.



Saturday, February 18, 2012

Stealing Second...

"Progress always involves risks.
You can't steal second base
and keep your foot on first."
Frederick B. Wilcox

A recent show where I had to be flexible and adapt to a different set-up on the fly.

I really enjoy working with glass. I love creating with it, experimenting with new glass and new techniques. Its just fun!

Soon after I started working with it several years ago, I realized that unless I wanted a garage full of my creations, I would need to find ways to sell it. And so, I began to explore the possibilities...friends, galleries, shops, art shows and festivals. It wasn't long before I sent in an application for my first show.

Now, after doing them for a few years, I think I've gotten better at it. I feel more comfortable with the application process. I have worked and reworked my setup, streamlining where possible. I've met lots of great people and networked with amazing artists. I am getting better at knowing how to deal with potential customers - there is a definite balance between engaging them and making them feel pressured to buy and uncomfortable.

But, the thing I'm still haven't figured out, and I'm beginning to realize I may never figure out is which shows to do and which to take a pass on. There is always the risk that a show will be a total failure. I've had more than a few of those. I had one where I didn't make a single sale. I was stuck there for 2 whole days and in the hole a $100 show fee and the piece I donated as a door prize...depressing.

Occasionally, the risk pays off. There was one show that I hesitated to do because it just seemed to have "dog" written all over it... ended up being the very best show I've ever done.

I would have to say that the best shows seem to be the ones that are organized, that stress marketing and advertising. These shows seem to have a buzz about them that make people want to attend. They usually have a cohesive look and great signage. They have volunteers that help you unload, direct you to your setup area, and even booth sit when needed. Some shows have a built-in clientele - think trade shows and conferences. These good shows usually have a little higher show fee and are juried and selective about vendors. They also may require vendors to have white tents, table clothes, etc. to create an certain look.

The worst shows are unorganized, have little advertising, obscure locations and terrible signage and buzz. In my experience, shows that aren't juried, aren't primarily about art (family festivals with rides and jumpy houses, health fairs, etc) are the ones to think about avoiding.

Of course, none of this is set in stone, I have been pleasantly surprised in the past. Sometimes, it's good to trust your intuition and take a risk. Because, no risk, no progress.

I've also found it helpful to anticipate what you can and learn to be flexible and adaptive. No show ever goes exactly like you expect - there are just too many variables...rain, wind, sun, a bad spot full of tree roots, water draining through your booth, neighbors that block/take part of your space, no customers, no sales, too many customers at once, no bathroom breaks, no parking near your spot, no place to unload, rude people who say loudly that they or their child have seen/made better and cheaper, and this list could go on and on.

So, I will keep trying new things. I will keep being positive, keep learning and growing, improve where possible, and to keep leaning toward second base.



Thursday, February 16, 2012

Little Cat Feet

The fog comes on little cat feet? It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches and then moves on. - Sandburg

Yesterday I drove to work in this beautiful, mystical fog. Everything was blanketed with it. Pieces of the tall glass buildings were piercing through it with reflected sun - which created these odd shaped floating lights. It really was breathtaking. I snapped this photo after I pulled into the parking lot at work. I got in just in time to catch the sun rising, but before it got up enough to burn off the fog.

This week I've been focusing more on my day job. I've had several big projects to finish up, and my husband had the opportunity to work with us at The Schools Channel studio. He got the chance to use his considerable puppeteering skills on a project we are working on. He has been building puppets and performing since he was a child, and, forgive my bias, he is really good at it. As you can tell by the photo, he had a great time!

I did get a request for 2 heart pendants, so I've been working on getting those created and ready to ship this week. 

I also got a request for some design work, which I love to do. so, I'm looking forward to beginning that project as well. I will post more on that later.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Saturday with the Master Gardeners

 Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden. Robert Brault


Saturday was my second time as a vendor at the Greater Greenville Master Gardeners Regional Symposium. I was excited to get the opportunity to go back, because the first time was a great experience for me. 

This time, I went on Friday afternoon to set up and took my time putting things out. They had a whole bunch of volunteer help, and they helped unload my car, had a big cart waiting and even wheeled it into my spot while I moved my car. 

I spent a couple of hours setting up on Friday, so that almost everything was ready to go Saturday morning when we got there at 7:30. I even had some bags and tissue set up for the first sales. It's important in this kind of show to be ready when the first attendees arrive for the breakfast, since they will come into the vendor section before their first class or session.

We would get hit with a wave of shoppers between each of the early sessions. It was really too much for just me and Tim, so thankfully my mother also came to help out. Between sessions, we had plenty of time to regroup, rearrange, put out new stock, look at what the other vendors were offering and just sit and talk.

My booth setup for Master Gardeners Show.

 I also had time this time to hear more about what it means to be a Master Gardener. Being someone with very little natural ability to grow anything, I was really impressed with what these people do to be called a Master Gardener...classes, tests, volunteer service, and many hours of hard work. 

Mom "mans" the booth.

 Tim restocking the pendants.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Silent Monuments

Darell Koons - Michigan February Morn 
(watercolor) 10" x 14" $ 750
Isn't the piece above lovely.
It makes me wish I was there - walking up that road, snow crunching beneath my feet, heavy cold air on my face. It was painted by one of my college art professors - Darell Koons.
A few years back, I wrote the poem below in his honor. I really don't write much poetry, but sometimes the words will pop into my mind, and I jot them down real fast. I ran across it when I fired up an one of our old Macs, and wanted to share it here. 
Mr Koons is an amazing artist and an even better person. He is so very humble. I saw him give an artist talk recently, and he was completely down to earth and funny. If you have time, click on the link below for a look at some of his work.
Alone -
He sees them,
Silent Monuments
To a time that is past,
Weathered and worn,
Built to last.

Stark -
Still and strong,
Solitary Sentinels
Beckoning his eye
With hints of red,
Against cold, gray sky.

Steady - 
Brush in hand,
Master Artist
Capturing time on board,
With skill, patience,
And Glory to the Lord.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mystery and Surprise

Mystery is at the heart of creativity. That, and surprise. - Julia Cameron

One of the really fun parts of working with glass is the moment when you open up the cooled kiln. The pieces go into the kiln and all sorts of happy accidents and mysterious reactions happen in the intense heat - colors deepen, edges soften, shapes shift. It takes from an hour to several hours to fire a load of pendants depending on which kiln I use. After the firing is complete, I have to let the kiln cool before opening, that takes another 8 hours or so. Saturday, I created a big batch and fired them in my biggest kiln. It was like opening gifts on Christmas morning when I got to open the lid this morning. Below are pictures of the pieces inside the kiln and then some close-ups of the finished pendants.






Friday, February 3, 2012

Closer to Heaven

Climb a tree - it gets you closer to heaven. - Author Unknown



Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Every January, I read blogs and articles recommending a step back to create a plan for the year, to reevaluate and simplify. So, I've been thinking about why I spend time working with glass, why I create the things I do, where I hope to go with it...

I don't imagine I'm alone in sometimes wondering if it's worth it - from creating, to blogging, to selling - it is a lot of hard work. I do get overwhelmed at times - especially before a big show. I also get frustrated because I have so many things I want to try and there is never enough time. There are moments when I consider packing it all up in a big box, and pushing it into a dusty corner in my garage. 

But, I really would miss the creating (the selling...not so much). I love the process and the work. I love the happy feeling when I pick up beautiful new pieces of glass. I enjoy the discoveries, the challenges, the anticipation of opening the kiln to see what the heat has wrought. It's fun to have ideas humming through my thoughts. And It's fun meeting and talking with the other artists and customers at art festivals and shows. 

I hope to create art and jewelry that is unique, that is affordable, that is fun and vibrant and makes people feel happy. I don't think it's any deeper than that for me. 

I guess as an artist I'm not complicated, edgy or tormented. My work doesn't have some deep philosophical meanings and undertones. I just like what I'm doing and am pleased when others do too! 

So, my goals for 2012:

Create what I love.

Enjoy it when others love it too.

Try new things

Relax and enjoy the journey.