Lately I have been really fortunate to have commissions lined up. I like being busy so it’s a great feeling knowing that I will be steadily working on jobs at least through next spring. Because of that, I often can’t accommodate projects that have really tight timelines. There’s just one of me and custom work takes time! So when I got an email asking if I could make a stained glass family tree for a client’s mother’s birthday, I took a deep breath before reading the date he needed the piece to be finished. And I exhaled when I saw it was January! That seems like a really long time from now and don’t be fooled by the fact that I started working on the leaves already. I have a few days between the arrival of some necessary supplies for the current commission I am creating so I decided to be proactive and make these now. After I take them out of the kiln, they will be waiting in my studio for a few months until I am ready for them. The leaves are one of the last components of the family tree as they are where I paint the names of their family members. Then the leaves dangle from little rings that I solder along the branches of the stained glass tree. I will share some photos when I get started on the main part of the project, at which point the actual trees outside will have all dropped their leaves.
You know when you have one of those "works in progress" and it seems like it's been "in progress" forever? I'm living that! It's not that I'm not making progress, just that, to almost anyone's eye, not much has happened. Looking back at the photo of this lamp that I posted on July 27, you would be forgiven if you said it doesn't look too much different from this photo above. But it is very different and that difference is solder! Solder is the silver-colored metal visible in this photo but not in the other one; it is the metal holding all the pieces of this lamp, and any other Tiffany-style stained glass piece, together. It adheres to copper but not to glass which means that if you wrap each piece of glass in copper foil, the heated solder will stick to the copper, joining the whole project. It's an amazing metal because it becomes practically liquid at around 400 degrees. The "practically liquid" part is what has made this work in progress move very slowly lately, that and the curvature of the lamp. Because when the "practically liquid" solder is heated onto a curved surface, it wants to run down the sides of the curve. I'm not exaggerating when I say that each night as I've gone to bed for the past week, I've seen solder running down the curves of my eyelids. Truly! But the lamp is now off the fiberglass mold and I am able to start attaching the hanging hardware. There's still a long way to go but I'm really looking forward to what comes next: decorative metal work!
If you've been at the Old Franklin Schoolhouse lately, you've probably seen the 3 signs that advise that "more art is coming." Inside Transformations Gallery, we are getting ready to hang our next show, "Doors," featuring the work of 27 artists in a variety of media. And while we are really excited about that, we also can't wait to share our brand new outdoor exhibit space! The first pieces of outdoor art will tie in with the indoor show and this photo shows the "blank canvases" that will be transformed by 3 artists interpreting their vision of what doors mean to them. We are days away from revealing the selected artists for the outdoor exhibit and, I can tell you, you will be impressed. After these humble doors are transformed by the selected artists, they will be mounted in the exhibit space to allow visitors to walk through them as our first pieces of sculpture. This project would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of my co-curator, Judy Weinberg, and BIL president extraordinaire, Tyreen Reuter, who secured a grant from a the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. Much more info to come as we prepare to unveil this outdoor exhibit space.
I have a confession to make: I am addicted to podcasts. I spend so many hours each week with my hands, feet and eyes busy-- in the studio, running, driving-- and podcasts which are free, diverse, and entertaining are how I roll. This one, Getting Curious, is one of my favorites. Jonathan Van Ness from Queer Eye has fascinating ("gorgeous!") guests and is a amazingly good interviewer who gets deep but stays funny throughout each episode ("cute!"). Some weeks, I listen to him every day. Depending on my mood, I have another 20 I turn to. These are my go tos:
When I want someone to tell me a story, I turn to: The Moth, This is Actually Happening, This American Life, Strangers, Snap Judgement and Story Corps
When I want to get some perspective on history, I love: Slow Burn
When I need some inspiration, I tune in to: Inflection Point, Trained, The Science of Happiness & Magic Lessons
When I feel like getting smart: Hidden Brain, TED Radio Hour, Invisiblia, Stuff You Should Know, 99 Percent Invisilbe, Fresh Air, Note to Self, Radiolab and The Drive
When I only have 15 minutes but want to be entertained: Song Exploder is perfect!
and because I still am a criminal justice major at heart, I can't get enough: Ear Hustle, Convicted, Caught, Atlanta Monster, In the Dark and S-Town
I'm sure it's annoying (sorry, family and friends!) but I am constantly recommending particular podcasts to people I feel they would resonate with. And I would LOVE to get your feedback! Do you love podcasts too? What are your favorites? Wait, I can't hear you! Let me take my headphones off...
This seems impossible; my baby is a senior. It's amazing how time flies- when Abby was starting Kindergarten, I was getting my business established. I remember how fast I would try to move during the hours she was gone (12:12 to 2:49 pm!) because I still wanted to spend the time she wasn't in school together. I feel so lucky that I was able to be sort of a hybrid stay-at-home mom/ home-based-business mom because I could work around (sometimes literally) my kids. Now my son is hundreds of miles away in college and my daughter is busy with her life more than she is hanging around the house, asking to go to the park. The hours I have available to work have expanded greatly and I still love the flexibility to stop work when necessary. But more than anything, I feel so truly grateful to have gotten to spend so much time around some wonderful people- I can hardly call them kids any more- and to have been able to watch them grow up. Time is a crazy thing- when it's a 2 1/2 hour Kindergarten "day" it can feel really productive if you get it together and make every minute count. But some how 17 years seems like the blink of an eye.
I'm so grateful to have gotten to explore Storm King Art Center yesterday. It has been on my list of "artsy places to visit" for years. My husband and I took the day off, drove up to the Hudson Valley, rented bikes, and peddled around the 500 acres seeing so many thought- provoking pieces. This sculpture, Three Legged Buddha, was one that got us talking but there was also an amazing exhibit: Indicators, Artists on Climate Change, which showcased the diverse work of 11 artists and their thoughts on this really important issue. Their approaches couldn't have been more different but that's what made it interesting. Climate change is something I've been thinking about a lot lately, especially after having hiked the glaciers in Iceland earlier this summer. Despite the serious topic, we still had a great time. Then when we were hot and tired, we went to the oldest continuously operating winery in America (history!) and finished the night with a Cold War Kids concert. I'm glad to be back in the studio today so I can rest! Hope your summer adventures are getting you exploring and thinking.
Most of the time, I have multiple projects in various stages of completion in my studio. It's helpful because sometimes there are delays in the process and, to stay productive, I like to switch gears to work on something else. Back in March when I originally shared about the hanging lamp which I blogged about again last week, I mentioned there were a total of 4 lamps I was making for my clients. This is one of two pedestal lamps that are part of that commission. I had worked on the glass panels for this lamp over a month ago and finally had the opportunity this week to create the steel frame. Truthfully, I'm a fair-weather welder and it has been really hot and rainy in the available days I've had lately to work on it. So the stained glass panels have been waiting patiently for a morning that didn't have a thunderstorm threatening and was less than 80 degrees at 9 am. I was able to construct the base and get started on the sides, although you can see that I only got so far and then clipped the whole thing together with binder clips, awaiting the next clear, cool morning. But it's a start! And in the meantime, I have been looking at it and pondering the ornamental metal portion that will be constructed to add interest to the top. And now I switch back to the hanging lamp. Or maybe the six sided pedestal lamp that will be similar to this one. We'll see! Stay tuned...
Back in March, I blogged about the process of beginning to make this hanging lamp. At that point, I was starting the design and thinking about how to transpose images from flat stained glass windows onto this curved shape. My clients have two lovely, historic stained glass windows in their home and wanted those existing designs to tie in with the lighting that I am creating. We decided on this shape and size and I got a mold onto which I would build the lamp. And then the fun began! (One note: this is actually upside down-- the finished lamp will have the larger circumference at the top but for building purposes, this is the most stable way to construct it.) The tulip shapes and the triangles are featured in their existing stained glass windows and were my main focus in developing this design. Then, in order for the flat glass pieces to be able to create a curved final shape, they had to be divided. I also wanted to incorporate a variety of complementary shades of amber and yellow since the lamps would coordinate with, but not exactly match, the existing windows. There are 352 pieces in this lamp and every one is hand cut, shaped, wrapped in copper foil (which the solder adheres to), and then soldered together. The pieces on the left side of the photo have not yet been copper foiled and, if you look closely, you can see little bits of silver solder on the right side where I have started tacking them together. It's a work in progress and there's a long way to go. But it's starting to take shape- literally!
Transformations Gallery has put out a call for artwork for our upcoming indoor exhibit, "Doors." Judy Weinberg, my co-curator, and I have been developing this concept for a while. In January, our small town was swept up in the administration's policy to deport immigrants which lead Judy and I to have a number of conversations about doors-- specifically how they let some people in and keep others out. Around that time, we started putting another idea in motion that we'd been thinking about-- creating a small sculpture garden on the grounds of the Old Franklin Schoolhouse. Things started coming together about a month ago and we put the call out for artists to submit their own visual interpretation of doors for the indoor exhibit. We are also finalizing plans for the outdoor sculpture area, including harvesting doors from a historic building in Metuchen which will be provided to a select group of artists to transform; these will comprise our inaugural sculpture exhibit. More on that as it develops! We have received a number of interesting submissions for the indoor show and are looking forward to seeing how both shows come together. The submission deadline for the indoor exhibit is August 10 so if you're interested, we'd love to see what Doors mean to you.
Just having returned from 12 days in Iceland, I still am processing the time away and trying to put the whole experience in perspective. When my husband and I planned this trip to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, we had no idea that it would cap a particularly challenging stretch of time in our home. Needless to say, when we got on the plane, we were thrilled to be getting away, just the two of us. We drove the Ring Road which is a great way to see the country and offers a chance to experience the drastically different vistas that change about every 100 km. From glaciers to lava formations, from mountain to ocean views, each day was a different adventure. Some of the land is broken up by geysers that shoot out of the ground or boiling mud pits that smell of sulfur; in other spots, the volcanic lava cooled in such a way that there are tubes and caves where you can bravely venture inside. And then there is the light! As a glass artist, I am often captivated by daylight and, in Iceland in the summer, night is really only a few hours of dusky twilight. The light also changes dramatically depending on whether the sun is out or, as was the case frequently, it is raining a steady Icelandic drizzle. I took these two photos above at the same beach on different days-- the beach, appropriately called "Diamond Beach," is near a lagoon where chunks of the glacier break off and sail out to sea. I loved the contrasting textures of the ice chunks that washed up on the black sand beach but was blown away by how different the beach appeared, just a day apart, because of the weather. It reminded me of the importance of perspective: that when things appear dark, it's best to hang tight and wait to see how the world changes when the sun comes back out. For more pictures of Iceland, check out my Facebook page. Or just ask-- I'm happy to share more about it!
How are you planning to kick off Father's Day this year? Allow me to make a suggestion-- come run the Fuce 5! You will be surrounded by about 1400 runners, you will burn a bunch of calories allowing you to eat lots of delicious Father's Day treats without guilt, you will get to run the lovely streets or Metuchen, and, most importantly, you will be raising money for an incredibly generous, community-focused charity. To know the Fuccile Foundation is to love it; every year, it helps so many local families affected by tragedy. On Sunday, I will be in my usual volunteer spot at the 2 mile mark-- acting as a human timing mat, yelling out elapsed times and cheering on all the participants as they make their way along the course. Online registration is closed but you can still register the morning of the race at Metuchen High School (400 Grove Ave). I'll see you on the course. Happy Father's Day!
It's here! Barring any last minute tricks from Mother Nature, tomorrow from noon- 10 pm, downtown Metuchen will be filled with art, music and fun! The planning committee works tirelessly to create an event that has something for everyone and I am so impressed by their commitment to making it better each year. I am in charge of coordinating "Art Live" which this year includes: 3 painters, 2 potters, a paper sculptor, a bonsai artist, yarn spinners, and maybe even a surprise dance performance! Check out the website for more info and to read about the visual artists, musicians, and all the other participants that will make this an event you don't want to miss. Hope to see you downtown!
As much as I love to listen to music, I have no real training or knowledge. Fortunately, for kids attending the public schools in Metuchen, they begin studying music in 4th grade and they have a lot of opportunities to participate in a very strong music program throughout their years in the district. The Metuchen Arts Council has been bringing well-known bands to perform here for years and they had a great idea-- why not connect with the Metuchen High School music program? Anyone with kids in high school knows how busy they are. So arranging this night was no small thing. I am thrilled that the high school band director, John Messenger, figured out how to make this work-- many of the kids are marching in a parade in Wildwood (2 hours away!)-- but will march and then get right back on the bus to come back for this performance. It's a lot of tricky logistics but they are so lucky to be able to have musicians of this caliber performing on their high school stage. And we are all really lucky-- the performance is free and open to the public. Check out the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra here and come see them Saturday night at Metuchen High!
You know the line, "It takes a village to raise a child"? Well, for prom last night, it took a village to dress this child. My independent 17 year old daughter decided she wanted to rent a dress online and found one she felt was perfect. She ordered it and then life went on. My son came home from college, he and my husband are job hunting, I continued working to finish a big commission; long story short, we forgot to notice when the dress didn't arrive. In our town, prom is held the Thursday before Memorial Day and the dress should have been here on Monday. However, Wednesday afternoon about 5 pm, my daughter came out to the studio and asked if she should be worried that her dress hadn't arrived. We called the rental place but no one answered. Because Abby seemed pretty relaxed, I tried to suppress my own panic. In order to have a "Plan B," I told her I would reach out to a friend whose daughter had loaned us a dress about 5 years ago. In an example of the kindness of people in a small town and the good of social media, she reached out to a few other people and by noon the next day, we had a dozen "Plan B" dresses.This stunning dress my daughter selected was a perfect fit and reminded me of how often people are truly kind for no other reason but because they can be.
About five years ago, I became part of a group of women artists who meet monthly, taking turns sharing the challenges of our businesses. Each month a different member is the focus of the meeting (we call it being on "the hot seat") while the others offer feedback and support from their own unique perspective. Some months, the advice and compassion given makes the difference in one of us getting back on track. This month was my turn to be on the hot seat. I am coming to the end of construction of the James Monroe wall sculptures and, fortunately, I wasn't in a place where I needed too much advice. So it basically turned into show and tell! As artists, they carefully examined everything I have been working on, asking lots of specific questions. They understand that even the mundane things, like welding rebar in the photo above, are essential. They focused on the tiny pieces of glass that make up the owls feathers, the pattern pieces that I used to create the river, and asked about the molds that I used to slump the river sections. I have been so deeply immersed in this project that it was fun to step back and share about it with people who really want to know the details. When I am working on something I really enjoy, I can talk about it endlessly and I often see the eyes of the person I'm talking to start to glaze over (sorry, Scott!). So I really appreciate being able to share with other women artists who appreciate the minutiae! Thanks, ladies!
The other day, my photographer friend, David Glasofer of Image Up Studio, came over to take some "work in progress" photos of the commissioned steel and glass wall sculptures I am creating for James Monroe Elementary School. The forecast predicted rain in the afternoon so when he arrived at noon, I was focused. For safety reasons, I weld outside of my studio and since I wanted him to take a few photos of me cutting, grinding, and welding steel, we jumped right in. When we finished, I hauled all my equipment inside and we took a break and chatted. Then he showed me the photos. I was shocked; how had he photographed my mother??? Occasionally, since I have gotten my haircut short, I see her face in mine. But there was something more in those photos: the focus in the eyes? the set of my jaw as I concentrated? With my mom, she was more likely focused on cooking than welding but the look was the same. My mother passed away in 2012 and, in the years since, my own efforts at motherhood have gotten much more complicated as my kids have become teenagers, learned to drive, gone off to college. It's crazy how the circle goes around. This Mother's Day, if your mom is still living, I hope she's close enough to hug. If not, I hope your kids are. But if that still isn't an option, hug yourself. They are inside you too.
The steel and glass wall sculptures for James Monroe Elementary School are coming together in fits and starts. Some days I feel I've made a lot of progress and other days I just chip away slowly. This week I mainly worked on the river which will hang above the school's original sign (the only thing that didn't burn in the fire). I am creating it in 3 steel sections, each measure about 4 feet wide. Attached to the steel will be 3 undulating panels of fused glass-- every panel fires in the kiln twice, first to fuse the glass together and then to slump over a mold. Each firing takes over 24 hours. All of the steps of the process are really important but they are not very glamorous. I spent a day carving the slumping molds that go in the kiln. And I spent another day cutting and welding the steel corners which will give the glass a little extra support when it is finally epoxied onto the steel. It's progress but it doesn't look like much! Hopefully soon it will start taking shape as I put the elements together and I can share some pictures showing how it will look as it gets closer to installation.
photo credit: Judy Weinberg
On one of the cold, drizzly mornings this week, I met at Transformations Gallery with my co-curator, Judy Weinberg, and Jen Kelly, a BIL member who is helping us with a project. We were meeting with the owner and another employee of a Long Island-based company, Marshall Fine Arts, that specializes in services to the art world. Jen had found the company doing some internet research but we really didn't know what to expect. We spent over an hour talking through our project, during which time they shared with us about other projects they had done for the Met, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Whitney, the Newark Museum, Yale University and many others! Our project seems big to us but compared to what kind of work they regularly do, it's small potatoes. Even still, they took the time to talk through all kinds of minute details with us. The wealth of knowledge they shared was incredible and, not only that, they were two of the nicest people! As we finished talking, the owner (whose age I can't be sure of but who started his business in 1972) dropped to the floor in the splits! Apparently, this is his signature move and he does it in front of many of their sculpture installations- how unexpected! I can't remember ever being in a meeting that made me smile more!
This was one of those years that it felt like Spring would never arrive. As a warm weather lover, I often wait impatiently for it and even more so this year as I was eager to get outside to weld. I had done a bunch of prep work on the steel portion of the wall sculptures I am creating for James Monroe Elementary School and finally, just yesterday, I was able to start welding some trees. Two of the wall sculptures features trees and owls-- one has younger trees and baby owls and the other has more mature versions of each. As the pieces comes together, there's a lot of tweaking that happens in order to create balance and harmony. By using steel for the form of the sculptures and trees, I am hoping to highlight the strength of school community; I also love the way it plays off the quirky details of the glass owls. Earlier in the week, I created a design for the thirteen foot long river! But that's a story for another blog post and a project for the days when I relish the heat of the kiln as it fires up to 1450 degrees. For now, I am glad to be outside.
About a year ago, one of the major art glass manufacturers, Spectrum Glass, went out of business. Their departure left a lot of glass artists scrambling, especially when it came to fusible glass. All fusible glass manufacturers put a great deal of effort into creating glass that is compatible-- meaning it reacts to temperature changes in the kiln in the same way as others in the line. A consequence of using glass that is not compatible frequently is breakage. I had a very small quantity of the glass shown above that I wanted to use for my James Monroe Elementary School project. I am making a glass river that will visually join two wall sculptures on either side of the school's sign (see my March 2 blog post for more information). I thought this glass would be perfect but, unfortunately, by the time I went to buy it, there was none to be found. There was nothing that was even close to it with the compatibility I needed. This morning, as I was wandering around the glass store, I saw this gorgeous glass and my jaw dropped. Almost immediately, one of the employees came over to me and said they weren't able to sell it because they only had 4 remaining sheets. I'm not sure what changed his mind but the next thing I knew, he was calling the office to ask if I could buy one. And wouldn't you know it, they said yes! I can't explain how happy I am to have gotten this treasure! I had been waiting to start this section of the project and not really knowing why-- now I know. I was waiting for this!