Wednesday, December 30, 2009


In the last post I said I'd found the story I wrote back in 2001 about my adventures to the glassblowing factories and studios in Sweden.  This area is called "Glasriket" and I had a very long day visiting them in the dead of winter.  I said the post was long and I think I found a way around it.  I didn't read all of it, but it does have some interesting points.  I mention looking something up on the internet using "Yahoo", I have only dim memories of life on the net before Google.  

If you want to read the entire story, click the "Read More" link.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Deja Vu All Over Again...

So I was reviewing the posts from this blog yesterday in an effort to see where I've come from since I started this thing in late July. Probably haven't done enough blogging. My hope was for two or three entries a week. This will be the thirty-seventh episode of Glass Musings. Twenty-three weeks have elapsed. That makes a little more than an entry and a half per week. Better than I thought but less than I'd hoped.

One thing I did notice is that the last post seemed familiar, even as I was writing it. It finally hit me that I'd written about that piece before, or at least one that was very similar. Not entirely sure how that happened. Sorry 'bout that.

I got a new version of Photoshop for a Christmas present. That is something that I've been wanting for a long time. In order to better make use of some if its features, I decided to clean up or at least better organize my digital photos. I stumbled across a bit of writing that I did in early 2001 about a trip I'd made to Sweden in January on business. I had a free weekend as I had to be in Paris the next week. Rather than come all the way home and go back to Europe the next day, I made a side adventure to visit the glass blowing factories of the country. I had a lot fun, but there wasn't much glass blowing to be seen. That is the basis for the story I wrote. I plan on posting it here, but it will probably be in several parts as it is twelve pages long! I haven't quite figured out the best way to do that yet, but will come up with something.

Anyway, for a gratuitous image for this post, I'm including the map of the region called "Glasriket", which means something akin to "glass making area". Without reading the whole story to refresh my aging memory, I seem to recall that I made it to all but one of the factories or studios shown here on the map. The northernmost one, Lindshammar" seems to be the one I missed.

Stay tuned for the intriguing story of "My Adventures in Glasriket".

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas, Everyone

We are expecting a white Christmas!! I wish everyone a joyous Christmas and a wonderful new year.

Using Everything . . .

I've been cleaning up my hard drive and trying to organize some of my pictures, especially of glass. As I've previously written, I like to keep reference pictures of every piece I make. This makes a nice way to refer to what I've done, what color combinations work well together, and a hundred various other reasons. Having a good reference photo is not the same as what I'd use to submit to a gallery, juried exhibition, or whatever. Also, having good images of a piece is the only way to sell it on eBay and other sites. I decided to sell this piece earlier in the year. I just have too much glass and nowhere to display it all, nor do I have enough storage room to keep it all. I really liked this series of bowls and thought they would sell well. Unfortunately, the last two summers have been a bust at local art fairs - as they've been cancelled, changed, or I haven't been able to attend. So the pieces that I'd normally sell quickly were piling up. But to sell it online, I'd need better pictures than the one reference shot I had.

Now I don't pretend that these are the world's best photographs of glass. And they certainly could use a touch of Photoshop. Notice all the reflections and white highlights? I fact, I think you can see a reflection of one of my front windows in the upper part of this picture! I use a small table top light tent which provides a good background and keeps out most of the unwanted glare, but some is inevitable. But it already is a much better image. I took several pictures from all angles including the bottom to show my initials, year, and piece identification number. I won't post them all here, but they do show that this piece is unique from all angles.

Here is another view. The thing I like about these is that you can turn them every once in a while and get a whole new piece, without spending any money.

Which brings up the reason for the post. These pieces are made from leftover scraps of color. I gather up a bunch of little bits that aren't good for much else, gather them all together, twist and turn and cut and distort while hot on the pipe and then blow out the vessel. The only problem is that you never know what is going to happen. Which is why I like the process so much.

I noticed that I'm beginning to get a lot of leftovers gathering at the bottom of my tool box. Perhaps it is getting close to the time to make more of these.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cooliris Photo Wall

I've been looking around for a cool way to display the photographs on this blog in a quick and easy way. Why? Because I like to do things that are quick and easy - of course. The little "Favorites" over in the left side of this blog is kinda cool, but it's not easy to see, and I have to update it. This gadget is called CoolIris, and its from It took all of 30 seconds to create. As you can see, there aren't a lot of images here, yet, but there will be. This looks to be a really fun and interesting way to make your images available from public sites such as Flickr, Picasa, and others. I use Picasa as it integrates easily into this blog.

They make a downloadable version that has some REALLY COOL features for browsing lots and lots of images, and you can browse your local images as well. Haven't had much time to play with it, but I will.

Friday, December 4, 2009

10,000 Hours - Really?

I came across an interesting book that I want to read today. It's called Outliers, and the author is Malcolm Gladwell. Here is the Wikipedia link to the book description. Although it seems that the reviews haven't been too kind, calling it simplistic, it did spend time on the New York Times Bestsellers list early this year.

The main theme of
examines the factors that contribute to high levels of success and that some people, what he calls "outliers", are fundamentally different and unique which are factors in their fame, fortune, and capability. One of the things that I heard about this book and what makes it interesting to me is what Gladwell calls the "10,000 Hour" rule. He posits that it takes 10,000 of practice to become a master of a subject. This applies to sports, music, art, and even jobs.

I'm not sure I buy that 10,000 is a hard and fast rule, but it got me thinking. That number is five years at a normal 40 hour a week job. In vocational jobs such as plumbing, five years is probably a pretty good estimate of going from an apprentice, through journeyman, and finally achieving master status. So I'm a little dismayed - I started my interests in glass late. I've probably only have two or three thousand hours over the past seven-plus years. I got a long way to go to reach that mythical 10,000 hours!

My question is - is this realistic to become really good at something, especially in the arts? What do you think?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Deep-Fried Turkey - mmmm Good!!!

OK, another entry that is not glass related. But it's close. I really love deep-fried turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. I don't know why, but it is much juicier and tasty than the traditional oven baked variety. I guess the dry heat of the oven dries it out. My family really devours it, and there isn't a lot of left overs.

I can't be sure, but the process of cooking it may be the most dangerous thing I've done in my life. Hey, maybe it is related to glass. Standing next to a vat of boiling oil, with a propane burner pumping out 100,000 BTU's of open flames, on a windy day, kinda reminds me of standing in front of a glass furnace. Both are hot. I can see how people burn their houses down with the process though. It isn't for the faint of heart if you value your life, limbs, and loved ones.

Anyway, I saw a TV cooking show called "Good Eats" where the host, Alton Brown, rigged up a
contraption to assist the process. It is hard to see in this picture but there is a metal cable and pulley system hanging off the bar clamp on the ladder. The turkey is brined in salt and brown sugar for 16 hours or so. No matter how well you drain it, it still has a lot of moisture in it. The oil, which I keep at or under 325 degrees, is just sitting there all nice and quiet. It looks innocent enough. But when you put the turkey in it, it turns into a roiling, spitting, bubbling monster.

Deep frying something as large as a turkey is a delicate operation and you need to GO SLOW. They don't tell you that in the directions that come with the turkey fryer. Although I'm not sure I understood a single word on the photocopied page that came with the bloody thing. Dropping the turkey in fast is a recipe for disaster. Lowering it slowly keeps the boiling over to a minimum. After a few nerve-wracking minutes, the whole bird is immersed and cooking away to a golden brown moist deliciousness.

The pictures are from last year's setup. Note the leaves - they fell early and then it was wet and cold from early October through April and the yard didn't get cleared. This year, at least, has been a nice fall and all the leaves are done - nothing to clean up in the spring. I had to clear a spot last year to set up the rig in case of fire. Note the fire extinguisher. Better safe than sorry.
This year, for whatever reason, I added a little too much oil to the pot for the size of the bird. The picture from last year is what should be the level of the oil. There is enough room to contain the boiling oil. This year, it was much, much closer to the top!

My pot holds a 12 or 13 pound bird perfectly. Any bigger and its rubbing on the sides. I measure using the "displacement" method. Oh, that's another reference to glass. That is how I measure glass for casting. Only this time, after carefully measuring, I got a little too much oil in the pot. When I lowered the bird, I immediately knew I was in danger land. It was bubbling over the top quite a bit more than usual. Luckily enough spit out and went far enough away from the flames that it didn't cause any problems.

Waiting the 30 minutes was very stressful. That's right, it only takes 30 minutes to cook the 12 pound bird. Then 30 minutes tightly wrapped in foil to rest, continue cooking, and drain any excess oil. I think the bird was tastier this year because of the excitement. I had to cook another bird for my daughter and her family. This time I took about 5 cups of oil out of the pot and it was much less stressful!