As much as I love creating stained glass windows, the delivery and installation makes me twitchy. I obsess about all the things that could go wrong-- I could be carrying it out to my car and drop it, I could get into an accident on the way and it could get destroyed, it might not fit, the client might not like it, and on and on-- it's torture, all of this craziness is manufactured inside my own head. After listening to me rattle off my worries, my husband just smiled. He's heard it before and knows I will have a sleepless night (or two) in the days leading up to an installation and there's not much anyone can do about it. I delivered this window, and another not pictured, this week to a client who was taking care of the hanging and installation himself and he snapped this picture even before cutting off the extra chain. We took a few minutes to stand back and admire it and then he said to me the thing that I love to hear most; he said, "it's even better than I expected!" Then I breathed a huge sign of relief!
Do you know the ninety- ninety rule? It says: the first 90 percent of the task takes 90 percent of the time and the last 10 percent takes the other 90 percent. Ok, don't think too hard about that. The point is, the end of any project always seems to take much longer than expected. I had finished most of the construction of this stained glass window, a corner of which is shown in the background, a few weeks ago. But then I had to attach the steel rebar to the back of the piece to keep it rigid. And paint the patina onto the metal to darken it. And stain the frame. And attach all the hardware onto the frame. And fit the window into the frame. And then the chain... I spent hours on the chain. Most of the chain I found was very lightweight & decorative but the window that it must hold weighs 30 lbs so that wouldn't do. Some looked ok but was plastic and some was coated with weird rubber in bright colors. I finally decided on this nice, hefty chain but it was extremely bright, shiny zinc and it needed a lot of help. I applied two different kinds of patina to darken it so it matched the lead came of the window. It needed to soak in each patina, then to dry and then finally I hung it outside and sprayed it with clear coat to protect the color. Besides me, I bet no one who sees this window when it's installed next week will even notice the chain. And that's the point, I always want to make a window that feels like it has been in the space forever and is meant to be there. So if it took 90 percent of my time to finish up these final details, it's worth it. I can't wait to see it hanging in its new home next week! As soon as I get some professional photos, I will share them. And you will know to take a second look at that special chain.
A friend of mine, a middle school art teacher, asked me to come meet with her "Master Artist" students. They are preparing to make art windows that will be permanently displayed in the front of their school and my friend wanted me to talk with them about what it's like to be a professional artist. As I was pulling together some photos and "show and tell" items to share with the kids, I started thinking about my "job." Making commissioned work is very different from creating my own art. When I am commissioned to make something-- a window, jewelry box, fused dish, etc.-- the piece must please my customer in terms of size, design, style and color. I listen and collaborate with the person for whom I'm making it and use their inspiration to steer me through the process. When I'm making my own art, I get to decide what and how I want to create. I've been fortunate to have some great clients who have ideas about what they like but have given me artistic freedom to make something really special. By continuing to explore glass and metal, I am able to provide a broader array of options and I was happy to share both the business and the art side of what I do that with this enthusiastic, talented group of kids. I can't wait to see what these Master Artists create!
This Saturday, February 18 from 7-9 pm, is the opening for Enrique Zaldivar, the current exhibiting artist at Transformations Gallery (491 Middlesex Ave., Metuchen). The first time I saw his artwork, it grabbed me with its vibrant colors and energy. As he was hanging his show, I mentioned that at their openings, many artists will give a talk or slide show explaining the process they use to create their work. When he asked if we would allow him to do a painting demonstration, I was thrilled! While I love to hear about an artist's process, watching it live is even better. He explained that he likes to work fast and avoid much mixing of the paint to keep the colors bold and I think this will be fascinating to watch. He also arranged for some musician friends to come and play. The warmth of this show is exactly what a chilly February night needs- I hope you can make it!
A few weeks ago, I bumped into a friend at an art gallery opening. She had taken a photo of someone looking at my sculpture and wanted to tag me on Instagram. Only problem: I didn't have Instagram. A few days later, I was explaining to a customer how I created a sculpture he had just purchased. He wanted to know if he could look at images I posted on Instagram while I was creating it. What? This again??? The truth is I would rather be working in the studio than posting about it on social media. But I understand, I have teenagers! The world is very media focused and with a visual art form, I should probably get over myself and take the plunge. I added it to my list of things to do and then, when a big snowstorm closed schools yesterday, I decided to ask those teenagers for some guidance with Instagram. So after lots of questions (what's with all the "following" and the hashtags?) I am happy to report I am now on Instagram. Follow me for some fun behind-the-scenes images!
From the beginning of my career in glass art, what intrigued me most was how glass appears to change as light passes through it. I love the way a stained glass window lights up differently depending on the time of day, the season of the year or even just changing weather. I started on a quest to build structures to hold up the glass pieces I created so they could capture light. When I discovered welding 3 years ago, I was hooked! I started making steel sculptures with an eye to the future on how I would complete them with glass. This piece (which I blogged about on September 16) started with a glass piece I fused in the kiln and then I went to work creating a steel stand that I hoped would be as interesting as the glass itself. The piece, "Into the Deep," was in my studio during the holiday season when one of my customers stopped in his tracks and stared at it. He said he had been looking for something "blue and interesting" to brighten up in a particular spot in his home. Yesterday I delivered it to its new home and we both spent time looking it as light passed through it. If you are interested in sculpture- both free-standing and wall sculpture- I'd love to talk with you about it.
My sculpture, "Post-Truth Apocalype," is part of Nails in the Wall's latest exhibit, Beautiful & Powerful. I began creating it in the days leading up to the 2016 presidential election as I was thinking about the direction in which our country was headed. I wanted to make a flag that represented the polarization of our country as people joined together into homogeneous clumps. In a summer workshop, I had created red, white and blue murrine and realized that ones that had been made at one part of the pull looked very similar to each other but quite different from ones made earlier or later, despite being made with the same material. I started grouping them and got a vision of a flag that seemed to me reflective of our political climate. I created the white glass background of the flag to have holes gaping in it where the pockets of unified murrines could huddle together. The steel portion of the piece started with old pitch forks placed, literally, as Left and Right hands. The steel threads of the flag are twisted and caught around the fingers as they pull apart the fabric of our democracy. Nails in the Wall is hosting an artists reception this Saturday, January 28 from 2-5 pm. I hope you can stop by and take a look at the art work that is both beautiful and powerful.
I am thrilled that my multi-talented cousin, Maddy Weber O'Connell, shared her beautiful artwork which incorporates the calligraphy of her mom, my deceased aunt, Gretchen Weber. Auntie Gretch created it in 1990 and its message rings just as true today. I had it printed poster-size and am bringing it with me tomorrow to Washington, D.C. for the Women's March on Washington. The mission of the march is to "unify and empower everyone who stands for human rights, civil liberties, and social justice for all." I am in full support of that mission and I know my aunt would be proud that her artwork will be there, representing her belief in the value of all people as well. I am also very pleased that when I mentioned to my family that I wanted to go to the march, my daughter, husband and son all said they wanted to go too. Respect for every individuals is a priority to me and I hope we can work together to start making that a reality.
Out of the blue, on Tuesday morning, my 12-year-old Portuguese Water Dog, Olivia, was unable to stand. She kept falling over and when she would try to get up, she would become exhausted and collapse on the floor panting. I carried her in my arms into the vet and he examined her carefully. He said she was severely anemic and he thought she might have a mass in her belly; he uttered the word "cancer" but said he needed to run some tests. Clinging to the hope that we had just been walking around our neighborhood the night before and therefore she couldn't possibly be that sick, I gave her a kiss on the nose and told her I'd see her later. In the afternoon when we spoke, the vet said she was resting and he planned to give her a blood transfusion on Wednesday morning because of the anemia and that he would call to let me know how that went and what the tests results showed. He called as promised except instead he shared the news that she had passed away late Tuesday night. My studio is directly behind my house so throughout the day, I often would stop in to take Olivia outside or get her some water. She always would sit with me while I had lunch and she was thrilled if I gave her a carrot or pepper-- she loved her veggies! For a change of scenery, she would come hang out in my studio just to be close by. Losing her so quickly has thrown me for a loop. While I am glad that she didn't suffer through a long decline, I haven't adjusted yet to her not being here. There's a little less joy in Paradise this week without my girl, Olivia.
My family & I just got back from spending 2 weeks in Australia over the Christmas holiday break. It was a beautiful time to be there-- we took off from chilly New Jersey and landed in the heat of the Aussie summer. Our days were full of adventures: snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, hiking in the Outback desert and exploring a variety of Australian culture. One hot afternoon, my family indulged me by participating in an Aboriginal painting workshop. They might have just wanted a chance to sit in the shade and relax but we all had a good time with lots of fun and giggles. I'm looking forward to translating some of the techniques and patterns that we practiced into future fused glass projects so stay tuned! But we all agree the highlight of the whole vacation was the night we had dinner under the stars at Uluru and then walked through "Field of Lights." It was magical-- Uluru itself is incredible. It's a massive red rock that rises out of the Australian desert and is sacred site for the indigenous Aboriginal people. As the sun set, the warm glow of the land changed to pitch darkness and the night sky was filled with stars. After looking up at them, we walked through Bruce Munro's art installation and looked out at the field of 50,000 solar powered lights that changed colors as we walked through. The photo above was taken by my son. But as with anything really special, photographs can just hint at how amazingly peaceful and simultaneously electric that night was. For that, we have to rely on our memories.
This lady would have been 80 years old today! She was a woman who loved life and, as I was growing up, one of the most obvious examples to me was her zest to travel the world. She taught English as a Second Language (ESL) and was fascinated by cultural diversity. She never passed up an opportunity to try the homemade food of another culture and was always curious to determine where people were from by listening to their accents and looking very carefully at them. When we went on trips to foreign places, she refused to stay in fancy hotels, eat at Americanized restaurants or even rent a car. She wanted to "live as the people live" and was thrilled to be on a bus that was full of people speaking a different language and if they had live chickens with them, even better! She taught in China, visited her brother in law when he was in Russia, explored Turkey, Greece, and all over Europe-- always espousing her belief that people should travel light. When I asked how she could pack everything she needed for a month in a backpack, she said all she needed was "a pair to wear and a spare!" I love to travel too although I don't share her undying love of public transportation and I often pack as many as 4 pair of shoes for a weekend without a second thought. I am thrilled to be getting ready to leave on a big trip next week as my family heads off to Australia for 2 weeks. I know from traveling previously with my kids that we all share a bit of my mom's adventurist spirit. I'm sure the experiences of travel as always will enrich our lives and my art in so many ways; I know my mom will be walking with us as we go (probably teasing us that our luggage is too heavy). Happy holidays to all!
For those of you who saw my studio on Small Business Saturday and commented on how clean it was, here's a more realistic look. Many of you placed orders for custom quote pieces and I'm happy to report I am back in the groove of making them again! I made so many preparing for Small Business Saturday that I ran out of the key component-- glass frit. Frit is basically finely ground glass and it can be purchased in a variety of colors and fineness. For some other projects, I often make my own frit by throwing glass scrap in the blender and running it until the frit it the consistency I want. It beats the hell out of the blade but it's an easy way to make it if I am not concerned about the uniformity of the size of frit. However, in this case, uniformity is key-- it has to be powder-fine. So making it myself was not an option. I thought it would save time if I just ordered it from the glass store and had it shipped. And it should have; my orders usually arrive the day after I place them. Unfortunately, there must have been some major shipping meltdown because it took nearly a week to get here. Although I had many other things to do, I was really anxious to get moving on these and the frit step is the first one in the process-- nothing can happen until the it has been fired once in the kiln. So when the package was delivered late Tuesday night, I was thrilled! The kiln has been running non-stop since then. My studio is a mess but the good news is, almost all the custom orders for the holidays are now on their way to completion. Frit-astrophy averted!
Tomorrow, Saturday, December 3, is Eat, Drink & Buy Art aka "The Art Party of the Holiday Season" here in Metuchen. We have 20 artists this year, our biggest event ever! The fun starts at 6 pm in the Pearl Street Business Center, located at 16 Pearl St. We have painters, photographers, mixed media artists, a fiber artist, ceramicists, a soap maker, an illustrator (the talented Chris Reed who created this flyer), a glass artist... It's going to be an amazing night! There is free parking in the deck across Pearl St. and two local businesses, Black Belt Institute & Clicks N Bricks, are hosting "parents' night out" at their businesses during the hours of the event so you can relax and enjoy. In addition to great art, there will be complimentary snacks provided by Novita, and wine by the glass. You can get your holiday shopping done, catch up with friends and neighbors, support local artists & see a cool historic building all at the same time! Please stop by and say hello!
Are you ready to #shopsmall? I did a little small business shopping this morning at Gardenia's to get the beautiful flowers in this vase which is going to be given away to someone who visits Paradise Glass today! My studio, located at 19 Wilmer Pl., Metuchen, is open as part of Small Business Saturday today from noon- 3 pm. Hope to see you!
As I started gearing up for this holiday season, I was thinking about what new and interesting glass artwork I wanted to create. I have recently been exploring the process of photo fusion which involves printing words and photographs onto glass. I was also playing around with some new design techniques using frit (which is glass powder) to create interesting, multi-colored fused glass pieces. I decided to put the two processes together and came up with these "Glass Quotables." The photo above is one of my favorite quotes and I created the glass to have a strong, positive feel to add to the energy. I can customize them in a variety of sizes and colors and use whatever quote you find particularly inspiring. They can hang on a wall, in a window, or attach with magnets to your fridge. They make great gifts for others or can be created with a motto for you live by. If you place an order by November 26, they will be ready in time for the holidays. My studio will be open that day for a Small Business Saturday sale from noon- 3 pm. If you want to see the pre-made ones or order your own custom creation, please stop by!
We are just over two weeks away from Small Business Saturday! It is held the Saturday after Thanksgiving when people traditionally begin their holiday shopping. This year it will be November 26 and Paradise Glass is excited to announce we will be participating with a studio sale from noon until 3 pm. The movement to #ShopSmall began in 2010, coincidentally the same year I opened my studio. The push to support local businesses is important to me as I live in a town with an actual "Main Street" filled with locally owned shops and restaurants. In many cases, the owners of these businesses are our friends and neighbors-- our kids go to school together and they are a vibrant part of our community. As is the case nationwide, there are also plenty of chain stores nearby and it takes some effort to resist the urge to turn to them for holiday gifts. But I'm taking the pledge to #shopsmall this holiday season and to support the people who make our community special. If your plans don't allow you to shop locally on November 26, check in with your local businesses on another day as you get ready for the holidays. Enjoy your turkey-- then come out and support the community!
One of my favorite art events of the year is fast approaching. Eat, Drink, and Buy Art, affectionately known as EDBA, is Saturday, December 3 from 6-10 pm. I am involved with the planning of it as well as having the pleasure of participating in it. It changes each year as we put a new twist on where it's held, what artists are featured and how the event comes together. This year, we are really excited to be able to use the Pearl Street Business Center, located at 16 Pearl St. This building is a piece of local history as it formerly housed Costa's Ice Cream factory and the owner, Peter Klein, is really engaged in helping Metuchen develop into a vibrant community for business and art. In addition to hosting the December 3 event, Peter is also creating a permanent art gallery that will have its first show featuring the artists who are participating in EDBA. That will run through the end of the year and then shows will change monthly. We also made the change this year from EDBA being an invitational event to being a juried art show. AND THE DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS IS TODAY! (Click here to go to Transformations Gallery's Facebook page for more information.) Some beautiful artwork has been submitted and we are looking forward to creating a show that will highlight that art inside this interesting building. If you are an artist, we hope you apply! If you aren't an artist, please come on December 3 to meet and support local artists. If you can't make it on December 3, be sure to stop by in December, meet Peter, and check out the new gallery!
A few years ago, I was talking to an artist friend of mine, commiserating about how we wished we had more support for our art businesses. As we were talking, we realized that working alone and trying to manage all sides of our businesses was a struggle we both shared. We had a sort of "ah ha" moment and realized we knew a few other artists running their own businesses and we could serve as a support system for each other. The group that we formed then has grown and changed in the intervening years but it is still a group of creative, community-focused artists who are passionate about their businesses and supportive of each other. We all do different kinds of art and have a variety of skills, personally and professionally. One of the women, Andrea Orlando, is a certified personal trainer who teaches Zumba and other dance classes. She is doing a fundraiser the day after Thanksgiving (perfect timing!) and it's sure to be a blast. Plus she is raffling off gifts-- something from Paradise Glass for sure!-- and has an awesome local drummer playing live. Wake yourself from a food coma and come check it out!
I had a crazy week spending too much time in doctors' offices and not enough time in my studio. The good news-- all is ok or will be soon! The better news, my sister, who didn't know anything about all this, sent me the loveliest little low-maintenance plant. It's called an air plant and (get this!) it grows in air-- no soil and only a small amount of water occasionally! Now that's my kind of plant. At this point I don't need anything else to take care of but I certainly appreciate the lovely splash of green and the weirdly twisty shape of this happy little guy who asks for nothing! I plopped him into a little drop ring vase that I had made a long time ago and had been sitting empty waiting for his arrival. Sometimes sisters just know stuff! Thanks, G! Happy Friday, everyone.
Often at the beginning of the commission process, my clients will ask me, "How long will it take you to make this?" My answer is that often the longest part of the process is the design phase. At that point, all the choices are being made-- we start with a black and white sketch to get the lines right. Then the questions begin: how do the proportions look to you? Is symmetry important? Does it feel too busy? How does the design of the piece look in relation to the style of your home? After that, the next step is glass selection: what colors do you like? How much light will come through the window? Do the colors look right in this setting? Should the glass be opaque or transparent? Do you like texture? Although working through this takes time, it is a critical part of the process for me to be able to create a custom window exactly how you want it. When the design is approved and the glass has been selected, I begin building the window with the knowledge that what I am making is completely unique for my client. Every window is the result of a series of personal decisions about what looks best to them and that's what makes this so much fun. This is the window for the couple in Stone Harbor that I blogged about on September 9 and will be delivering in a few weeks. I love the design they worked with me to create-- including the painted numbers-- and the glass they chose. We had sheets of glass spread out all over their kitchen and they were very thoughtful about their selections-- I think it came out beautifully. I hope they do too!