Thursday, May 24, 2018

Studio Helpers

I'm not sure this will come under the title of helpers exactly but it is what it is.  My husband, long officially retired (?) from toymaking and major art shows finally found some renewed art passion.  It's been awhile before there was something he could enjoy again.  Knifemaking and forging is something he can do and take breaks with.  The forge has to heat the steel up and so he gets breaks in between hammering.  Hammering isn't so good for him either so our oldest son found him an old Murray power hammer and it takes most of that out of the equation.  Whew!  Good, right?

These are the types of knives he makes.  Some are regular and some are Damascus.  He is especially fond of making the Damascus and for that especially he needs that power hammer.  He loves doing this.  Nah, he's not selling them but it's gratifying.

It's gratifying but the power hammer is frustrating.  Not to him.  To me when I need to work.  Me and especially to my eldest "studio assistant".  Yes, everyone has assistants, right?  Damn right! 

So I'm working on setting these pieces in hoping they will be juried into the shows later this summer.  I don't have time to make some glass that I would set.  It would be a bit before I could perfect what I'd like to present.  It's not that I couldn't maybe get the glass ready.  If I worked diligently at it I might.  But I'd never get the glass and set it in time to participate.  I've decided to instead work with something that fits the theme's "reflections" and something that has tripped my trigger for a lifetime! 

When I was a kid my grandfather used to attached glass reflectors to my bike.  He told me they were gems.  I kept those reflectors - I love them.  To me glass, in any of it's forms, is exactly like gems.  I don't much tend to make any distinction there.  My "perceived" value is the same.  Over the years I've collected a wide variety of reflectors but more recently came across an entire stash of them.  So that will be my focus for these pieces of reflection.  My history, my perception, the reflections.

What's holding me up?  Studio Assistant.  This is how the power hammer affects my one of two beloved furbabies.

Trudy's reaction to the power hammer.  "Oh NO Mom he's making noise!"

Trudy is 14 years old.  She's never been particularly skittish until she started to lose her vision.  But, we never thought it would get like this.  I work in the round.  My tool bench is made up of several work areas that are created in a large semi-circle so I can go from designing to fabricating and so on.  There isn't any room to fit me and two dogs into the area.  Shhhh, don't tell Trudy that.  

Don't worry, she comes first.  When this starts I decide whether I'm at a point I can stop or if hubby needs to stop for a moment so one of us can settle her down.  

I love them both, but helpers?????  I need to hire out next lifetime.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

First Skill Share

One of the things I've done since moving to North Carolina is join the wonderful team at the North Carolina Glass center.  Those who belong to the ISGB (International Society of Glass Beadmakers) know that because of a recent article I wrote for their digital magazine Evolution.

To say I'm having a ball is an understatement.  I am a studio monitor in the flameworking shop.  NCGC has a hot, cold, and flameworking shop.  We also have a gallery that is filled with the art of 30 different glass workers.  It's simply filled to the brim with talented and sharing people.

To this end the Executive Director, Gallery Manager, and Shops Manager (maybe others) designed a program for the in house people called a "skill-share".  As I said, there's a plethora of talent and many have stepped forward and submitted a specific skill they thought the group might like to learn or see demonstrated.  For being willing to jury and demo the artist gets to be the "featured artist", and have  one person show in a section of the gallery, complete with announcement and opening.

With NCGC being in the Arts District of Asheville it's very much a sweet deal for all of us.

Honestly, how many of us artists have longed (glass and other wise) for the good old days when techniques, glass types, and reactions were shared openly.  I know I have.  It has gotten to a point with the general glass community of beadmakers that I feel bad if I ask about something I see that I feel is done well or has a stunning color combination.  Within a large part of that community things have become guarded, tutorialized, or become class driven.  Honestly, with some techniques I can most certainly understand this.  There are artists who teach who have a style that is simple so unique to the genre that they deserve and have earned the right to offer it as a class.  Their skill level with this style or technique is so unique among us that this is the correct way to offer it to the rest of us.
But, I've been around long enough to know when something is a "repeat" of a technique that has been around the block since the beginning.  Do I think there are those that still deserve to instruct others, absolutely.  But I also don't think so many interested newbies/ or ancient beadmakers should be rebuffed for asking questions.

Okay, that's my Op Ed - I'm off track a bit.  The NCGC is a breath of fresh air on this.  They are a sharing bunch.   And once again I feel as if I have something to contribute AND something to learn!

First skill sharer was in the flameworking shop.  Matt Tyner.  Let me tell you - he is beyond talented and incredible sweet to boot.  I enjoyed the first skill share.  I will enjoy many more.  He showed us how to do wig-wags and blowing techniques.  I had extensive torch-envy.  Not only for the torch but the way he set it up to move.  I was blown away.  Here are some photos from that first session.

As you can see by the white board we learned a lot.  Matt uses these techniques on many things.  I first saw a wigwag design early in my career by Fred Burkhill.  But that was nearly 30 years ago and it was so beyond my comprehension.  Matt was a joy to watch and I'm looking forward to seeing many others.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Newest Earring Batch

I'll get to all of the fun things that have been happening but here is the new group of earrings getting ready for the gallery.  There are only three styles in here but a whole lot of color and shine.  Off to get them carded up and priced.

I love doing these kind of discs.  Lots of layers - stripes of varying colors and plenty of visual impact. I've all silver wire work and handmade ear wires or posts.  I'll get a close up of those sandblasted beads another day.  Have a good night!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Uh Where has the time gone....

It's time I got back to this......I think about it, and don't do it.

No, I've not been sitting still on a rock out in the universe.  Oh, yes I have - literally, but not figuratively.  So, for the sake of getting up to date I'm going to spend a day going to through the events of the past year and see if there isn't some way to catch us up without losing site of what is currently going on so I don't get 'lost in space" again.

In the mean time - I've had three major  metalsmithing classes.  No surgeries, whew! I've become a studio monitor at a major a major Asheville glass studio, and gone back to teaching (in at least one medium).

Busy, yes.  But not too busy that I can't get back to this.

So, temporarily hang tough.  I hope you'll come back to once again check out what's new here.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Recent Run-In with Stamps

I can't say it's not a great time to use Navajo hand stamps - it most certainly is.  In keeping with my current fascination with reflector glass and the stamps I have created a necklace/brooch.  In the reverse I have used both a pin catch and the requisite necklace bail.  I wanted something I could wear both ways. 

There is so much more of this "line" of jewelry to come.  Some is on my bench in various states of being fitted with settings and so much more is in the sketchbook waiting to be fleshed out.  I really need to concentrate on what is already out there and then move forward - although I will admit it is always hard for me to do.  When the ideas are flying it is hard to focus.  But, it needs to be done.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


The Gathering was fabulous.  Old friends, acquaintances, new friends - - - so much to do.  I was pleased to room with Kathy Johnson.  What a ball of energy she is and delight to be with.  She's an old school ISGB member and so knowledgeable on who is who.  Not gossipy stuff - she does NOT do that....but when I would see someone I didn't know she generally did and I could then attach a name to an actual face of someone I had met on Facebook or who's work I had admired for years.

If you didn't go to this years Gathering you definitely missed out.  It reminded me of Gatherings from many years ago where we had all the vendors at our fingertips and plenty of classes to chose from. The ISGB had teamed up with Glass Craft Expo and the rest is history.  Glass Heaven.

I had a great class with Davide Penso and he was an Italian joy.   Masterful in what he did and who couldn't listen to the voice all day (wink wink).  I'm old, not dead.  I haven't used a blow pipe in years but eventually I was able to get a fairly decent bead out of it.  Practice, practice, practice.  Now that I'm home I will get back to it and see what I can do.  Baby steps - baby steps.

Here are a few photos from the show - More tomorrow.

Davide Penso blowing a bead

Me and Julie Couch (one of the presenters and instructors)

The Bead Show and part of the Expo (and the fantastic Barbara Becker Simon waving)
Rashon Jones working on on a glass goblet.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

7 More Days Until I take that ride to VEGAS

This is me getting ready for the Gathering:

Yup, this is me - hands over my head wondering about the changes I'm about to make to the necklace below.  I knew it was the wrong chain for the bottom but then decided I'd be better off making a solid drop for it.  More consistent to the vision of the work.
Please excuse the dental floss - it's what we put under stones that don't have a hole in the back - otherwise you can't lift them back out.

Finally, a more finished piece! I like the solid drapes better than the chain.  In the end I am sandblasting a bead that will be capped and hang at the bottom.  It's actually a sweet little necklace.  I'm giving it to the ISGB for the conference.  Silent Auction.  I hope it raises some money for whatever their future plana are.  They're a great group.

These are other pieces I've been working on, not set yet!  I'm finding the reflectors simply delicious to work with.  They're antique and reflect the light in such a beautfiul way.   And, of course, I'm going to a glass conference so it's doubly cool that they are glass and a glass that I love since they are bike reflectors and the very same kind that my grandfather tightened onto my bike.

Okay, onward and upward.  Only 7 days until I hope aboard that airplane!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Mechanisms and other goodies....

I had a great class with Richard Salley recently.  I seem to be really racking up the class hours.  It's always been great to work in metal but better when you can put your own clasps and things on a necklace or broach.  I will have to get a photo together of all of the items we made in Salley's class but in the meantime I thought I'd post a picture of a ring I just created.

I learned the technique from a friend Lynn while in Joanna Gollberg's class.  That's another perk of taking classes at this level.  People are very sharing and kind. 

This ring is a domed copper with a silver lining.  I love it!  I hope you do too.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Arrowmont - Closing act 2016 - last class session of this season.

Whew, my oh my!

I saved all year long for this one.  And to say the least my class with Joanna Gollberg did not disappoint in the least.  Before I get to the class let me show you a few pictures from Arrowmont.  If you haven't been there, start saving!  I've simply never seen a better equipped studio to work in. Private benches, foredoms, and the tools.  Holy crap - - - - the tools.  Let the pictures speak for themselves.

Our classroom, as taken from my bench!

Half of the tool room in between our studio and the one that Mary Hettsenberger was teaching in.

And this hall was just outside of our studio.  Inspiration was everywhere!

This is such a limited view of the expansiveness of the buildings on the campus.  There were buildings for woodworking and their studios.  Ceramic studios, printmaking/painting, and textile studios.  There are galleries all over the building.  Galleries in the halls, by the store, in the wood working building just before the studio.  Auditoriums - yup several of them.  Resident studios too.

I was excited by my class and in awe of the surroundings, can you tell?  

We were encouraged to visit other classrooms.  Not to be there when lectures or demos were going on but to visit in between and see what was going on.  The creativity was staggering.  Indigo dying, felting on armatures, printing in patterns, mixed media, wood carving, metals.  

Every night there was a presentation of some sort.  Teachers, Teachers Aids (artists in their own right), Residents, the Quilt show opening complete with wine/beer and a snack table that was as good, if not better, than any I'd ever seen at an opening.  The residents even had shows in their studios complete with wine and beer.  

I'm still basking in the glow of  a week long stay.  And to remind me of the wonderful time I had...Joanna left me with a little handiwork.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Lucky Me - I have won the Cathy Finegan Scholarship to attend the ISGB Gathering in Las Vegas 2017.

I've put off adding this to the blog.  And why would you ever do that Sharon????  Really!, huh - huh!
I've thought about that.  First, I wanted to wait until it was announced by the ISGB.  But, I still put it off.  I just wanted to jump up and down all on my own for a little bit.  I've done that for two weeks.  I felt like the Scholarship was the beginning of an incredible "lucky me" run and I wanted to save it for the last post in this Lucky Me series.  It could also be called a "very grateful me" series too!

Let me tell about when I first met Cathy Finnegan.  She wouldn't possibly remember it.  I've never seen a bigger ball of energy.  She was running around an ISGB Gathering and making sure everything was perfect.  I didn't much understand anyones role at that time but I was sure to ask who she was and I certainly admired her ability to multi-task.  Plus, she seemed to know everyone's name and have the same energetic smile for all of them.

Remember, my whole career (non-artist) was to observe the social interaction and behavior of nearly everyone around me.  Being the introvert I am I guess it never much turned off no matter where I was - but luckily using the observations only applied at work.

Years later after a Gathering I had the opportunity and pleasure to sit and visit at the after party where everyone was doing Karioke.  My roomie, Lillian Rogers was there, as were Cathy and her parents, Sara Sally LaGrand and many others.  She was as nice as I had suspected.  And, as the saying goes - the nut doesn't fall far from the tree.  Her parents were charming in every way.  So aside from being this fire brand she was sweet, her parents were the same way and I've felt like a silent supporter ever since.

We had to supply some photos for the scholarship entry.  One was of some of our beginning beads.  I don't know about everyone else but I have a string of them right by my bench.  I find they keep me humble and remind me that every time you learn something new you have to start at the beginning.

I was lucky and had an interesting batch of teachers on that round.  Toby Upton was the instructor. He was primarily a boro guy and hot glass worker but he was full of interesting info.  Filling in for Toby was Al Young.  Like wow, His work is in Habitat Gallery.  We used Spruce Pine batch from the kiln that had been pulled into rods for us.  I suspect the leftovers from whatever they were running.  But, what they wanted for for us to feel it was "non-precious" and could be manipulated and thrown away. We were there to learn techniques.  This is the set of beads from that class.

We learned to manipulate tweezers, pairing knives, scissors, and various tools.  It was great.  They've stood the test of time - physically and technique wise.  

Thank you first teachers.  And, thank you all of the teachers since then.  

What does the Cathy Finnegan scholarship mean to me?  I've been thinking about that for two weeks now.  It's not such a casual thing to me that it went without that thought.  To me, it's an acknowlegement of 20+ years of work in the field of glass, it's practice/ practice/ practice, it's being honored and encouraged by the ISGB throughout my career (I've never had them say, "no, I don't want to share how I did that!"), it's all of this and so much more.  In my quiet house I danced like a crazy person barking at the moon - in public, a smile and a wink - but I can tell you my insides are like jelly when I talk about it.  Thank you Cathy Finegan for being the person I knew you were when I first met you and your family.  There wasn't a scholarship back then.  I've seen many fine people since then apply and attend the Gathering since that time because of your contributions.

I am honored - I am molten glass container in steel - I am grateful beyond words, and I am humbled by being chosen.

Thank You * Thank You * Thank You