Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Looking Good in a $50 Apron

Would you pay $50 for a shop apron?  I thought the idea was crazy until I saw one in action during my recent workshop at Corning.  Ethan Stern was teaching in the hot glass shop and doing a lot of cold working as well.  He had a great looking apron and everyone was inquiring where he obtained it.  Come to find out he was selling them as well.  

So why buy one?  Three things come to mind.  First, the wonderful idea of turning up the corners to create a funnel for the water to drip down between your feet instead of directly on your shoes.  The second is the straps.  I've been using a decent $10 restaurant supply house apron.  It has a string that goes around your neck and ties behind your back.  I'm not good enough to tie it, and it digs into my neck after a while.  It constantly needs adjusting.  Ethan's have wide straps - about the size of seat belts that don't require tying.  Finally, the coverage, especially near the shoulders/arm pits are covered much more effectively.

Here is a picture of me modeling my cold working set up.  Note that the face mask is more for the total effect.  I usually use paper masks.  I find the Bose noise-cancelling headphones work amazingly well around grinding equipment.  Also, a fourth cool thing about the apron - it has a phone/iPod pocket on the inside!  I think it will take a little while for all the wrinkles to settle out.

And here is me working away.  

If you want one of these, contact Ethan via his email.  His website is here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Time to Make the Donuts

I've been interested in making food items in glass for quite some time.  My goal is to ultimately make sushi and sushi accessories such as plates, soy sauce bowls, and chopsticks in a fairly large scale.  One of the people I respect in glass, and certainly has a bunch fun making his large scale food, is John Miller.  John makes large scale works of things like hamburgers, french fries, beer bottles and other great items.  The hamburger alone is probably 20" across and must weigh 50 pounds.  

I made some small sliders - more on that in a future post, but John is the king of diner food and I wanted to create something of my own.  I settled on donuts.  Over the past few months I've been making various jelly donuts.  These include chocolate glazed and powdered strawberry stuffed, as well as chocolate covered cream stuffed eclairs (we call them long johns in the midwest).  

While I was at Corning recently, I took advantage of the great photography skills of the resident photographer, Ann Cady, to get these great photos which show off the idea.  Ann's business is called ARC Photographic Images and her website/contact info is here.

Now all I need is a nice cup of coffee...


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Back Home from Corning

I just returned from The Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass where I participated in the workshop on glass casting led by Richard Whiteley.  What a great experience!!!!  I've now been privileged to attend 10 workshops at The Studio and I think this one ranks up there as #1.  There are too many things to go into - suffice it to say that if you ever get a chance to work with Richard - take the plunge.  It will be rewarding.

First off, workshops at Corning have a "teaching assistant" whose main job is to herd the cats (workshop participants), fire the kilns, and generally keep people from doing silly stupid things.  We had much more than a TA though.  Heike Brachlow was our TA for the session.  She should have been considered as co-instructor.  She did so much more than the typical BA.  She is a world class glass caster in her own right.  Check out her work here.  One of her movement pieces was featured on the cover of the Bullseye catalog #7.

Check out Richard's work here.  Richard treated the workshop more as a very abbreviated class he would teach at the Australian National University.  This is very different from what I've experienced in past workshops.  There was an equal amount of thinking/planning as there was actual hands-on work.  At first, I questioned this approach but I think it was much more effective.

Richard and Heike were sticklers for safety and health practices - requiring dust masks, eye and hearing protection.  Here is a picture showing how we usually saw him during the day.

And here is a picture of me working on a mold.

I'll post some additional topics about the actual pieces I made during the workshop in the near future, along with photos.  

Sunday, August 12, 2012

I'm off to see the Wizard

My bags are packed, the car is loaded, the cooler is full of Diet Dr. Pepper, and I'm just about to depart for the beautiful town of Corning, New York.  Seven and a half hour drive, give or take 30 minutes.  I'm taking the Richard Whiteley workshop "Addition and Subtraction" over the next two weeks.

Above is the picture from the Corning Museum Of Glass website for the course.

I can't wait...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Richard Whitely - Watch Out Here I Come!

I a little more than 96 hours, I depart for another visit to The Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass, in beautiful Corning, New York.  I attending a two week workshop with the great glass caster from "Down Under" - Richard Whitely.  You can see his work hereI'm really looking forward to it - however I've been putting off preparing to go.  Last time I took a casting class, I showed up with several molds ready to cast, and made a bunch more - all in a week's time.  

I guess I am getting lazy in my old age.  I know what I want to do, and have even drawn sketches - that will be the subject of an upcoming post.  But I only have one clay original ready.  I have a few originals in wood that I want.  And I have one wax of "The Rock" which I thought was the subject of a post from a long time ago.  But my mind is failing me - I don't see it.  So I'll post about that too in the near future.

The Rock is a nice rock I found in the backyard one day that was the perfect size for a suiseki display I was thinking about.  This is the art of rock display much like bonsai, although you don't have to prune and water the rock (unless you want to, of course).  I made a nice little display base that I cast.  I found a rock that fit perfectly on the base.  I made the two piece mold, mother mold, and even two waxes of the rock, but never got it cast.  I have the glass, the waxes, the original mold, and now a reason to do it.  

I can't find the picture of the rock and the wax right now - I did find the process photos of making the mold.  Here you can see the rock and the mother mold I'm cleaning up.  I poured a rubber mold as the next step, just to learn the process.


The other things I want to do are all over the map, and I'll not have the chance to do them all - but if I can get a few out of my head and into glass, I'll be very happy. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

ArtFest on the River - 2012

Williamston Michigan has held a small art fair/festival for a number of years, however the last one was in 2007.  I think it started in 2001, and I started participating in 2002.  There were a lot of circumstances that caused a four year hiatus, including a tornado that took out the park where it was located.  I'm very pleased that it's back and was held this past Saturday.  Check out the website here: ArtFest on the River.  One thing we all were worried about was the weather.  July can be a crazy month of heat, humidity, and rain.  It's been extremely hot here since early June, with the temperatures approaching 110 degrees Fahrenheit, and even higher on the heat index.  Luckily it was a nice breeze and only about 89 in the afternoon.  

I was the only glass artist participating this year, although there were some fused beads and things.  I did quite well, selling about 18-20 pieces.  The attendance was pretty good, but a lot of "lookie-loos" and "be-backs".  Everybody loved the pieces, but not as many actually plunked down cold hard cash for them.  Or should I say "cold hard plastic"?  I signed up for a Square account and got their free card reader.  I have a nice iPhone and it really came in handy.  Very few people carry cash anymore, and even fewer have checkbooks.  I can't recall the last time I wrote a check but its at least 3 years ago!

I had one person pay with cash, three wrote checks, and the rest used credit/debit cards.  I have my money in my hands this morning - and my bank didn't even put a hold on it.  Square promised to deposit my money on Sunday night and it was there.  I still have a hold on the checks, so this was worth the small fees they charge.  One thing of note that I didn't realize on the first transaction was that the reader plugs into the headphone jack.  The little thingie wasn't pushed all the way into the hole and wouldn't read the card.  In the heat of the moment, I just typed in the card number and it worked great.  It ended up costing me about 39 cents more but had a happy customer. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Planets and Planetoids

I've been exploring a rounded, closed form lately.  These aren't quite spheres like the marbles I've made, but spheroid which is kind of a squashed sphere shape.  These aren't solid, but blown.  Most of the ones I've done lately are between 9 and 10 inches across and slightly less tall.  They have a very small opening so aren't really useful for anything other than display objects.

After doing several of these, I began to notice some patterns evolving.  I was looking at some photos on the NASA site and the various planets looked a lot like my glass.  Or was that my glass objects looked a lot like the NASA photos?  The above reminded me of the moon Europa.  I'm working on a series now called "Planets and Planetoids" and exploring various colors and patterns.  Another one is shown below.

I haven't named this as I'm still looking at photos - but this one reminds me of some exotic undersea adventure.  I have a lot of these in various stages of completion - some will have highly polished openings similar to the Rothko series which should add even more interesting effects when looking into the pieces.