I admit it. I'm a cat lady.... After our last senior cat passed away last fall it's just been too empty around the house, especially working from home. I've always raised my cats from kittens, and have been patiently waiting for kitten season to start. At last, a rescue group I've been working with texted me that some kittens were available. So many older cats need good homes too, but I just can't resist the babies. So meet Bella & Beau. Absolutely adorable litter mates. I have to discipline myself not to play with them all day and get my work done! Show season starts in two weeks! I'm excited for that too.
While in Cincinnati for Astrid Riedel's classes at Brazee Studios, she mentioned in passing having visited Thompson Enamels across the river in Kentucky. Astrid raved about a little enamel museum next-door to Thompson and enjoyed a tour of the enamel plant. Intrigued, we stopped on our way out of town to Thompson, to buy some enamel and got a little tour. Very interesting to see what they do, how they do it, and appreciated the institutional knowledge among a relatively small staff. Then we went next door to the W.W. Carpenter Enamel Foundation, which houses an amazing and unique collection of enamel art and more. We were so taken with this facility we had never heard of. The work on display is collected from all over the world and included fine art as well as craft. Really amazing. My photos below aren't great, but I hope they illustrate the variety and entice you to visit sometime.
In addition to the enamel collection, the W.W. Carpenter Foundation includes a store for Thompson enamels and enameling supplies, classrooms and workspace for workshops and a metals working studio. Tom Ellis, resident instuctor, with a 30-year career as enameling expert and educator, juggles many hats to keep the facility going. The foundation is named after its founder, the late Woodrow Carpenter, who dedicated his life to the art and science of vitreous enamel. Carpenter invented lead-free enamel and other glass products.
Tom told us he, Carpenter's daughter, and other supporters are working to raise the profile of the facility through social media, more classes, and other marketing efforts. Popular metalsmith Richard Salley is going to be teaching soon, and some well-known enamel artists are lined up too. The roomy space, great equipment and inspiration from the museum make this an underused resource. Help these great folks and spread the word! For more information www.wwcef.com.
We just got back from close to a week in Cincinnati at Brazee Studios where we had the great good fortune to take 3 classes with the talented South African flamework artist Astrid Riedel. What a fantastic experience. Because she lives so far away, it was an opportunity that doesn't come along every day. We are still marveling over everything we learned and anxious to put a lot of new techniques into practice.
All of Astrid's work is amazing and her large off-mandrel hollows are my favorite. The necklaces and lentil beads on the black sheet of glass were her class samples and a selection she keeps to wear.
Bill did really well in the off-mandrel hollows class. He was blowing rounds and large flattened discs much better than me! The goal is to get to the quality of Astrid's hollow disc bead in my hand in the third photo. It was my souvenir purchase. I'll keep it at my torch as inspiration!
Brazee studios is a roomy, friendly place. Josh Bass (center) was our contact, coordinator and guy Friday. A prince of a man. So organized and helpful. We received our supply list way in advance of the class, which we really appreciated. They supplied all but a very few things, like the XL lentil press and your own basic flameworking tools. The studio also carried the best selection of Bullseye lampwork rods I've seen outside of Bullseye Portland itself. They also had a nice selection of thin sheet glass too. So we stocked up on a few things. The studio is located in a fun neighborhood, with some great restaurants and coffee shops all a block or two away.
Cincinnati has a nice skyline. It reminded me a little of Pittsburgh with the stadiums on the riverfront and the bridges. Bill took this panoramic photo from the Kentucky side of the Ohio river. We didn't have a lot of time to look around, but the folks are really friendly and they love their craft beer. On the way out of town we stopped at Thompson Enamel and got a little tour of the plant. I will do another post about that in a day or two. There is an enamel museum that I think is a little known secret. More about that soon.
In closing I would encourage anyone to take classes with live teachers when you can. Not only did Astrid teach us new techniques, she also corrected some of my bad habits that will only help me in working more efficiently moving forward. We just loved her. Thank you Astrid!
Working on a little box clasp. A lovely component to a statement bracelet but fussy to finish. Lots of sanding, fiddling, sanding, fiddling.... but when you hear that click of the tongue - VICTORY!
We have long wanted to add some non-jewelry accessory items to our repertoire. I'm so happy to introduce this little ring box as our first prototype of some new ring boxes to come shortly. Bill has long been a talented wood turner before I lured him into the world of glass. He has been making pens for graduations and retirements, boxes, bowls and more. It is a waste of his talents not to incorporate some of this into our work. Right now, these little ring boxes are the perfect companion to what we are currently doing. Our little prototype is made from cured hickory from our property. I am adding my glass hearts to the lid and loving the combination of wood and glass. I also have some wood bangle bracelets on my bench, waiting for some silver embellishments. It is all part of many new things we are working on for the coming year. These few winter months without shows are critical for some time to tinker and think.
Happy New Year people! I just wanted to check in before spring arrives. This is the time of year we work on new pieces to be professionally photographed for jury applications. I have various works in progress with all sorts of silver & soldering, along with the glass and my handmade glass cabochons. Yet I needed a break from that messy business to just put together something simple with some bold and beautiful beads I've been hanging onto for the right bracelet. Valentine's Day put me in the mood for this. Fun to pick up the artisan stamps and decorate the heart. It's been a while for that pursuit.
As for shows this coming year - we did something like 22 juried shows last year, which was really too much for how handmade all of our elements are. And Bill still has a real job too. So this year, I'm applying to fewer and the chips will fall as they may as far as acceptances go. Jewelry is a really saturated category. I'm applying to the ones where customers really showed us the love, and one or two new too. I'm already looking forward for spring and the show season to start, as well as blocks of time to just be.
I'm pitifully late in getting my store stocked here. We had so many shows that I just couldn't find online time and traction this year. But the good news is I'm at it now, adding a few things every day. Customers have been asking about earrings, so I have a few in various categories. To prevent visual chaos, I have separate categories for flamework, kiln-fired (fused glass) & metal & stone earrings. At shows we merchandise each case by color way. Customers have confirmed many times how much they like that, because glass jewelry delivers beautifully in coordinating with specific outfits. But here, I think this helps find what you might be looking for, more than poking around by color in a search.
Also some hollow glass flamework necklaces that were very popular this year, as well as bracelets. Keep checking back, I'll be adding more through early next week. Then, a break for some holiday family time cheer. New designs coming up in the New Year. Thank you to everyone who came to our shows and supported our little business. We are so very grateful.
Crafts at the Cathedral this weekend in New York City at Cathedral of Saint John the Devine. Fabulous setting full of wonderful juried handcrafted items. Thursday 1-9. Friday 10-8. Saturday 10-6.
We hope you will join us at the last outdoor show of the year for us, before we move to some events indoors. This is a new show for us in Newtown, PA, Bucks County. We absolutely love the setting of this farm, turned arts center, at the edge of a lovely park. Food, music and wonderful art. Kids activities and live demonstrations. We are in booth #70. The weather looks promising - high 60's and low 70's - sunny! http://tylerparkarts.org
We are looking forward to returning to the PA Guild Fine Craft Show this weekend, Fri - Sun. We will be in space #8 again across from Barnes and Noble. Hope to see you there!