Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Still crazy busy. I have two or three commissions to work on. Sales in the shop have picked up since Thanksgiving and I have to get some new work out too. I'm starting to panic about Christmas already. Yikes!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


It is one of the busiest times of the year for me as the long silence can attest to. I have been working in the studio a bit, mostly just finishing up some commission work and doing some annealing for hire.

I recently finished up my first repair commission. A friend of mine had the cap break part way off her pendant stained glass lamp. At first, I thought this would be a very easy task, but the longer I worked on it, the harder it became. Stripping the old solder and foil off the glass was a bit of a challenge, but getting it off the cap was even more difficult. Eventually I learned, through trial and error, how to do it. And clearly, if I had known how to take the actual electric fixture out of the equation, it would have been soooooo much easier.

It was a long operation, partly because we undertook a studio rebuild right in the middle of it, partly because of my inexperience at repair, and in large part because of creeping equipment failure. But I finished the job and it looked really good. I was very proud of my work and sweated the whole way in the car, driving down to North Carolina, that it would get damaged somehow from the way I had packed it.

This lamp must be cursed. Not five minutes after I returned it to its rightful owner, after having spending six months in my shop under repair, it tumbled to the ground and broke. That crash damn near broke my heart.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Successful Event

There are times when we take on a task we feel that we will be able to accomplish without flaw. Then life steps in and reminds you that there are no perfect moments, only the hope that we can acheive our goals.

I can tell you that I am a very lucky person. The Art Fair I hosted this weekend went far better than my expectations. Much of this was due to the sponsoring body coming together on the last several days and throwing themselves on the work that needed to be done. I felt almost superficial when the event was determined a success.

One of the highlights for me was the success of the artist who took up my challenge to produce a secular leaded and stained glass window that might have been commissioned for a great house in the 15th or 16th centuries. As a stained glass artist, I know exactly how difficult my challenge was and found that the artist who chose to take me up on it was able to exceed my expectations. She even exceeded her own and was able to produce a piece that everyone who saw it was able to pronounce a gorgeous work of art.

I am proud of the success of my event. The head of our group came up to me afterwards and thanked me for proving him wrong. He never believed that my concept would work, but he did believe that my previous track record made me the best possible person to make it work if it could.

Originally this was going to be a one-off event. However, everyone I have heard from both at the event and since has stated that when we do this next year that they will be there. I am actually considering doing it again. Call me crazy, because it will be hard to top this year's effort. Wish the crazy lady luck!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Where Upon I Go AAAAAACKK!

I haven't had a lot of time to do glass over the last week because I am running an artists' exhibition on Saturday and the details have sort of taken over my life. Right now, I have about 50 artists scheduled to show up and I'm still scrambling for prizes and dorky stuff like extra toilet paper and paper towels for the bathrooms and making sure my caterer has everything she needs because she's driving 4 months pregnant all the way from New Jersey to do it.

Usually I really enjoy running stuff like this. I'm a regional arts officer for the non-profit I belong to and these functions are my bread and butter. For some reason though, I really can't get into this one. Maybe it's because of the time of year. I always get depressed in the fall, which is odd because autumn is my very favorite season.

At any rate, this close to the event it can be compared to a rockslide. It's going to happen whether I'm ready for it or not. I only hope that my artist friends are happy with their experience. Wish me luck!

Monday, October 20, 2008

What's up in the Shop?

I made a new sushi plate this weekend in shades of blue. It's patterned after a green one that I did that was very popular, but I don't like it as well in the shades of blue that I chose. I think that I will focus on doing some round dishes for a while. The square ones are boring me.

I bought some xanthian gum to make liquid stringer last week. I need to boil it up and let it sit before I can use it, but I'm really looking forward to trying it out. There's definitely some cold combing and some freeze fusing in my very near future.

Ornaments seem to be really popular right now. I sold out all of the ones I posted already so I might think about doing more for the holiday. It depends on whether or not I have any fiber board left. though I suppose I could make a mold out of something else if I put my mind to it.

Anyway, those are just a few ideas I'm playing around with now. My creativity seems to be somewhat renewed with the colder weather. Heck, I'm even contemplating setting up the torch! It will be interesting to see how badly out of practice I have become.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Made of Win!

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I won the drawing for a tripod from Leah Glass? Well, here it is - proof positive that it was a fo-sure fo-real deal. There stands my brand new (and it really was NIB) tripod.

I've used it a couple of times now and it has really improved my pictures. I rarely have to retake shots because they are blurry. Seriously, if you were on the fence about using a tripod before, I'm here to tell you to go ahead and get one. This thing is awsome!

Now, before you get down on yourself for missing out on the prize, Leah does give-aways all the time. The current one is for a really cool boro pendant. All you have to do is visit her blog at http://leahglass.blogspot.com/ and make a comment. Go for it! You might be the next lucky winner.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Columbus Day Plans

Tomorrow is a Federal holiday and that means I get to work in my studio. Whoopee!! Number 1 boy will be in school and number 2 boy will be at the sitter's house. I have tons of plans. There are beads to anneal, a custom sushi plate to cut and fuse, a lamp to reassemble and a bunch of recycled beads to make into a project.

Plus I need to clean the shop and run some errands. Clearly, I have more projects than time.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Jogging my Creativity

For the last two weeks, I haven't had much gumption to get out into the shop. Life has been a whirlwind of boy scout meetings, homework and chores after work. By the end of the day, it feels like I've left all my creative instincts behind.

Sometimes the best thing to do in such situations is go with the flow. Forget about trying to force art. It's always a waste of time to go out into the studio when I'm not motivated to try something new or carry out an established plan.

Today, however, I had a great conversation online with a couple of other glassies. We were exchanging tips and tricks and now I have a whole slew of great new ideas to try.

Unfortunately, my husband is catering a wedding tomorrow and my friend Amy is helping him so I will be with my boys and her daughter all day. Instead of going out into the shop, I will be going to a picnic and probably a street fair if there is still time. With luck, I'll still have some energy tomorrow night to go out and get some things done.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

On Fear

I got my flu shot today. Actually, I forgot it was flu shot day but fortuitously managed to wear a short sleeve top anyway. My friend who works here is terrified of needles, but hates the flu more so I went with her to distract her from the process. She has nearly passed out before.

This year, my friend did very very well. She got a little pale and shaky, but no nausea or dizziness. I have very proud of her, both for doing so well and for sucking up her fear and getting the shot.

Sometimes we just have to suck up our fear if we want to get what we want. Right now, I need to get out into the shop and create, but I am afraid that I won't come up with anything good. I really need to spend some quality one on one time with my concept book and just go for it. We'll see how it goes this weekend.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Camera Fail

I bought new batteries today and was trying out my new tripod when I discovered that the flash on my camera isn't working. I suspect it is burned out. Time to find out if I can fix it without replacing the camera.

It's always something.

Friday, October 3, 2008

I am in desperate need of camera batteries. I go through them like candy corn on Halloween. I've tried all sorts from rechargables all the way up to the uber-expensive specialty lithium batteries particularly recomended by the manufacturer and I still only get about 45 minutes of battery life. *Sigh* I have new product, but I can't get it listed until there are pictures.

These first few weeks of school have challanged my ability to work in the shop. I have a repair, two commissions and two windows to make, plus new items for the Etsy shop and shows. Perhaps I will just buy some NoDoze and not sleep until Christmas. LOL!

I have all sorts of new things I want to try, including metal enameling and silver bezel setting, but time is my enemy. All I want to do is go out to my shop, get it organized again and create until I fall asleep. Sometimes I resent having to go to work.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I'm a winner!!!

Faithful readers will recall that I referred to a fellow glassworker's journal a while back. Leah was giving away a tripod and all you had to do was post about it and comment in her blog. You can read the details here: http://leahglass.blogspot.com/2008/09/tool-o-day-tripod.html .

Last night, I got the message that she had the drawing and I won!!! She is sending me my very own tripod free of charge! And guess what? Leah is having other giveaways too. In fact, she's giving away some cool glass pieces right now so hop on over and check her out.

Better pictures, here I come. Thanks Leah!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008


I'm probably going to take part in the Saturday Night Sale (SNS) on Etsy tonight. It starts at 5PM eastern. Check out my store tonight during SNS. You might just find something you love!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Studio Status

I've been breaking a lot of glass in the studio lately. Sure, you have to break glass to make my products, but it should be controlled, directed breakage - not random shattering. Sigh. I'm feeling creatively inhibited. Clearly, I need to go do some production work and not worry about coming up with new ideas right now. I'm just afraid that production work is going to make me go bonkers with boredom.

Instead, I've been focussing on other things. My house looks marginally better, and I've been spending more time with the kids. We've been socializing a little bit too. It's nice to spend time with friends but I can't help feeling guilty that I'm not doing other "things that need doing".

I guess being overwhelmed would hinder creativity, now wouldn't it? Got to get a foothold and forge one.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I love Hampton Roads!!

I joined an Etsy Street Team today. Street Teams are great for group promotions. Just check out this Treasury! http://www.etsy.com/treasury_list.php?room_id=10731 See! They even put in my blue mod pendant. Sweet!

Aaaaand.... I made my 10th sale today! What a milestone. Today has been an awesome day.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Why do we do this? Enquiring minds want to know.

Selling your art can be a headrush and heartbreaking all at the same time. The other day, I made four lanyards and put them up in the shop thinking they would be a good draw because I didn’t have much at that price point. Imagine my elation when three of them sold within 24 hours!

First of all, it’s good to know that it’s a marketable item. Clearly, I need to channel my energy in that direction for a while until I have a decent inventory of them. On the other hand, something I thought would be a good draw (and it was!) wasn’t in the shop for very long. And, I really liked them. I mean, I like everything I sell, or I wouldn’t bother; but these pieces made me super happy every time I saw them. Selling them within 24 hours of listing meant that I had to give them up.

When I send a package to a buyer, I make a production of wrapping, and writing the thank you card and address labels. Sure, I could print something out, but if you’re buying from the artist you deserve a personalized experience and I’m happy to give it to you. There’s also a certain amount of mourning because I’m sending you something I love. Fortunately, I have the pictures to remember it by.

Today I got feedback from a buyer that really made me happy. I always worry that when I send things to someone that they will end up as clutter – neglected and eventually unwanted. My buyer wrote back to tell me about her project and how perfectly her purchases from me were going to work for it. I can imagine those pieces now in everyday use, loved and cherished.

This is what we work for.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Photographing your Wares

You know, one of the greatest challenges in setting up my online shop has been getting good photos of my work. Remember, your customers are trying to figure out what you're selling in a glance. You have only a few seconds to grab their attention. They can't pick your product up and fondle it so you have to make an instant positive impression. If anyone pays attention to the scrolling pictures in the sidebar, you can often see that I've taken 20 shots of the same item just to get five

There are a couple of things to remember when taking good pictures.

1. Find a good background. Now, I haven't settled on the look that I want for my shop yet and I continually try out new things; but consistency just plain makes your shop more appealing. I like to use posterboard and scrapbook paper because they have a nice smooth finish and a variety of designs. Try to avoid taking pictures on your carpet (ewww!) or unpressed fabric. You don't want customers to think you've put your products on an unmade bed.

2. Take pictures in natural light if possible. Either by a bright window or outdoors works great. Morning light casts the fewest shadows, though I've been known to take pictures of my glass in the afternoon to showcase the colored shadows. If you are like me and your daylight hours are swamped with work and childcare, then a lightbox is a good idea. You can buy them ready made, but I just cut the top and sides out of a cardboard box and taped white tissue paper to the sides. A couple of clip lamps on the outside and a sheet of posterboard on the inside gives a bright, seamless background that really showcases your product.

3. For close-up shots, use the macro setting on the camera. On most models, that's the one with the little tulip flower. It allows you to get good closeup shots without blurring.

4. Of course, to keep from shaking the camera and blurring your shots anyway, you need a camera rest or a camera stand. I've been using a plastic cup to balance the camera on, but I really want a tripod like Leah pictures in her blog here: http://leahglass.blogspot.com/2008/09/tool-o-day-tripod.html I covet! You should check out her blog because she's giving one away free of charge. How awesome is that?!

5. Photoshopping. Taking the perfect picture almost never happens. It's really handy to have some kind of photoshopping software available to crop, brighten and color balance your pictures. I use Picnick through my Flickr account, but Photoshop and Irfanview are considered really good too.

Sorry to bore you with photography again. It's been on my mind a lot lately.

Baby, it's hot outside!

It was so hot this weekend that I was reduced to working in my studio overnight on Saturday and it was still over 90 degrees in there. My eyes are still burning from all the sweat!

Apparently, I'm not incredibly creative in the middle of the night. The load that came out of the kiln was uninspiring, to say the least. I'm going to refire a couple of pieces, repurpose some of them and sell the rest as oops cabs. My husband reminded me that I do have a concept book and I really need to take it out with me when I plan on cutting a load for the kiln. As it was, I would have been better off cutting a dish and filling in around the edges.

Do you ever have a plan that just doesn't work out? I went to the glass shop to get some specific glass for a commission and discovered the new System 96 brown. It's not muddy like the old one and fires up to a nice, warm milk chocolate color. I paired it with some vanilla and tourqoise and thought that would be gorgeous but it doesn't thrill me. I like the brown, but I don't know what to do with it now.

Friday, September 12, 2008

So much to do

I have so many ideas brimming over in my head that I want to get going. I am itching to get out into the shop. There are two commissions to work on and my bench to clean and, and, and......

This weekend I need to put in two supply orders and work up new shipping rates on my store. I am totally eating shipping over here and it's killing me. *sigh*

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I'm going to deliver Addie's beads to her tonight and I'm going to ask her all about the project she made them for. My friend does reproduction Viking necklaces based on archeological digs. I think it's pretty cool. Not really my deal, but still fun.

I haven't been to an Arts meeting in over a month and I'm really dragging my feet about going. It's grim and rainy and I'd far rather be catching up on just about anything-glass, housework, my day job-than go be social; but I know that's just because I'm out of the habit. Hopefully people will let me just hang out and not teach.

Well, I guess I'd better start focusing on this project at work. I'm going to get reamed for not finishing it on time! I think I'm dragging my feet because the work load is too overwhelming. Counterproductive, I know. I didn't say it made any sense!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Things are Rolling

I'm feeling pretty good about this online selling thing. So far I have had two sales and one custom order. Now I need to go get some glass and some findings, because I'm out of what I need. I'm thrilled! My husband will grump. Oh well.

Ten Minutes

Ten minutes in the studio is as refreshing as a two hour nap. Last night was rough. All the men in my house were in foul moods and I was just D.O.N.E. so I went and hid out back in my studio.

I didn't do much. I put some friend's beads in to anneal. I can't believe how big Addie can get a bead on a hot head! She needs to concentrate on form, but her design elements are improving a great deal. She makes me so proud!

I also played with the new bottle cutter a bit. It's much easier to cut a beer bottle than a wine bottle. It is still tricky, but I'm getting better and better results. Given what I'm doing with them, it's not as essential to be perfect as I would eventually like to get, but having to practice with an eye towards it is good for teaching me patience. With two boys and a grumpy husband I'll never have enough of that!

After that, it was a little easier to go back into the house to face the testosterone blockade. LOL!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Treasury Madness, ya'll!


I'm in another treasury!

Whoo hoo!

My work has been featured in an Etsy treasury! Check it out!

And here's the one I just curated:

Monday, September 8, 2008


I sold my first piece on Etsy overnight. Whoo Hoo!!!!! I am over the moon, I am so happy.

Must. Focus. On. Work.

But I sold something. Wow!!!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

What's new?

The Etsy community has been so friendly and welcoming! Folks have been more than willing to give thoughtful critiques and ideas for improving my shop. In fact, so many people have asked for more sushi plates that I just had to start one this weekend.

Saturday was the remnants of tropical storm Hanna so I was sort of trapped in the house not wanting to treck out to the studio or risk running the kiln with the distinct possibility of power outages so I ran out this afternoon and cut a sushi plate out of a couple of shades of purple glass. It's simple, but right now simple is really appealing to me. It's firing as I type this. Tomorrow, if my mold doesn't need re-priming, I'll slump it.

I wish I had a bigger kiln so I could fire more things at one time, but that's part of the point of all this selling business anyway. Gotta pay for the cool tools somehow. LOL!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Treasured Images

Woo hoo!!!! I just snagged my first Etsy treasury. Check it out! http://www.etsy.com/treasury_list.php?room_id=6143

Friday, September 5, 2008

Photography Fail

I have learned a number of things about photographing my work today.

1. Always have spare batteries on hand. Yours will always fail the minute you start taking good shots.

2. Natural light is not optimal after 6pm.

3. If you need five good pictures, you should take at least 10.

4. After about 20 minutes of crouching down on the deck to take pictures, I start to shake even when I have a camera rest.

5. It is entirely possible to delete the only good shot of an item if you are rushing.

6. Husbands hate being ignored.

7. If you want more variety, use more props. Figure this out before the batteries die.

I'll get better at this one day. Heck, maybe I'll actually get a setup where I don't have to lay down on my rickety deck to take pictures.

On the other hand, new work is up in my Etsy shop. Click on the link on the right. You know you want to. LOL!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


My Etsy shop is open for business!!!!!! Come visit me at http://www.illusionfusion.etsy.com .

That is all.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Shop Progress

I started taking photos today for my shop. Clearly, I need to invest in some sort of tripod because I ended up deleting at least half of the pictures and there are still so many to take. *sigh*

I've been trying to brainstorm a name now for weeks and nothing is appealing to me at all. A few are OK. Two are even kind of amusing; but I have a list of about 15 names and none of them strike me as mine. I think I'm trying to make this harder than it is. I just really want this to be a successful endeavor and I know how important striking the right tone with the shop name is.

Suggestions welcome.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Hot Day at the Market

Wow! Today was so hot and humid but I had a ton of fun at the South of the James Market in Richmond, VA with my friend Christine from "A Hot Piece of Glass". She says the numbers of visitors were down because of the heat and the holiday weekend, but we had lots of folks come stop by the booth to check out the shiny stuff. Of course, I totally forgot my camera so I don't have any pictures of our work. I hereby hang my head in shame and promise to do better next time.

I was really happy to see how complimentary our styles are. She is a great sculptor with a torch and her work is so fascinating to me because I am a lazy lampworker. The flat glass pieces drew in the customers looking for more traditional works and together, we managed to capture about an equal market share. In fact, some pieces were so popular, Christine agreed to accept some of them on commission.

The good news is that I still have a decent amount of stock to open up my Etsy shop even if I am now out of entire categories of goods. LOL! If only I could straighten out what I want to do with my name and branding. Oh, and of course I need to take umpteen gagillion pictures and write descriptions. Ah, business life. I seem to recall now why I decided to go back to working for "the man" all those years ago. Still, even the extra work seems freeing to me. When the day job starts sapping my energy, at least now I have my art and my business to look forward to.

More as it comes..... Later!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

It's almost here.

The South of the James Market day is almost here. I've spent the last two hours pricing. I have to say that pricing is my least favorite part of this job, followed closely by wire wrapping. It's always challenging to jump into an unfamiliar market and a new customer base. Still, I am really looknig forward to spending the morning with Christine and her booth "A Hot Piece of Glass". I hope we have good weather for it!

Monday, August 25, 2008


Well, yesterday's shop session was far more satisfying than the previous one. I usually go in with a mission - assembling my tools and supplies in a rigid order and following the plan. This time I went in with no plan and just played with the glass the way my kids do.

See, my boys have an art box. It's a blue plastic shoe box full of crayons, glue sticks, glitter pens, markers, finger paint, play do, etc. When I color a picture, I pick out four or five crayons and color the picture. When they color a picture, they drag out whatever works. Did you know Spiderman could have a glittery web and play-do eyes? Yeah, me neither but it looked good and the kids had a blast.

So that's what I did yesterday. I dragged out all my frits and played in the scrap bin. I cut up former disasters into cabochons (breaking my drive belt in the process damnit!) and just painted with the glass. It's all very abstract and I shut the kiln lid with a sense of finality figuring that it was a wasted session. It was fun, but it felt like I had just run a load for nothing.

This morning, I went out to the shop to shut down the kiln and couldn't help but pop the lid. Imagine my delight when I found that every piece in there was going to be usable. When I'm not doing straight production, that rarely ever happens. It's just not possible to have every experiement come out - or so I thought.

Maybe it's because I went in and played instead of worked. Perhaps I was just due a lucky break. Doubtless, I have found some new techniques that work for me.

Now all I have to do is clean up the mess on my bench. I'm as bad as the kids.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Not Happy-Making

I'm usually excited when it's finally time to open the kiln and see if my design concepts work. This time Iwon't be. I just spent four hours loading the kiln with pieces for the upcoming market and I am really disappointed with the contents. Maybe it's because there are a lot of test pieces in there - ideas I wanted to try, but aren't sure about. Perhaps it's because I did a lot of fall-back pieces because my brain simply could not process what to do with the glass I had.

See, I've been out of the market for about three years. That's a really long time and technology and the customer base have both become more refined. I don't have the newest colors in my repitoire. My constant sellers are passe; and I'm in too big a rush to sit down and work on the new ideas in my head.

I think I need to spend some quality time with my sketchbook because I don't want to be the seller that has what everyone else does. I want to be the one that everyone else follows.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Preparing for the South of the James Market

I’m looking forward to maybe getting out to the shop tonight to put a load into the kiln. I figure it will take about three hours to design and cut a full load. There’s a huge box of materials for my recycled exchange project in the back of my car. I’m looking forward to getting those processed, but I really need to focus on making stock for the South of the James Market Fair next week.

Since I don’t have time to fire up the hothead before we go, I might just take apart one of my necklaces for some of my better beads to make into pendants and charms. It will give me incentive to get back to the torch later. Either that, or I’ll just do without the necklace, but I hate not having any of my own work to wear. My poor torch is so neglected. I’m just not in love with it. It just seems to take so much time to make beads when I can load the kiln up with fusing and walk away. Funny how I don’t mind spending 20 some odd hours of firing time on one plate, but I don’t want to take 10 minutes to make a bead. Yup, I’m weird.

Last night, I didn’t get home until nearly 10pm so all I had time to do was glue up a few pendants. They really don’t thrill me so I’m not sure how long I plan on keeping this product line. Sure, they’re fast and a good earner, but they don’t feed my soul. It’s too much of a crafty project and not enough of an artsy one. I am pretty proud of the one I made my sister for her birthday though. Hers is her first initial on some beautiful gold flowered paper. I hope she likes it. She likes very simple things so the paper might be too much. We’ll see.

Yes, I am stressing over this show. I don’t have enough of anything – particularly earrings. I don’t need to worry. My friend over at “A Hot Piece of Glass” will have plenty of stuff. I’m just crashing her parade for a day so it’s just silly to let it bother me. It’s just that I have so many ideas and so little time to enact them. So frustrating!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Just Because

I can't leave that test post at the top of the blog. I mean, that's totally lame, isn't it? If you're here, you probably want to know a little bit about me. I'm a long time blogger and a fiend for working in glass. My friend Christine invited me to Blogger to be part of a collaborative effort so since I had a profile already, I decided to put a project journal here. My main blog is over at Live Journal and that's where I write all about my kids, my life and my various hobbies. This space will be all glass, all the time. So watch this space for periodic posts on glassy goodness!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Can you see me now?