Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanks For a Great First Show, Ottawa!

It's been over a week since the OGBA show! We were pretty tired by the end (not too tired to go straight out to a party afterwards, of course!) but it was a big success for us and Andrea and I both feel pretty great about the experience.

There were some pretty amazing artists involved in the show and I was really nervous! But everyone was so nice, and we had a good response from visitors. We even re-imagined out display a little, using the bronze-coloured drapery instead of the yellow-gold damask. I like the subdued colour better.

Our approach to display is always evolving but there are a few elements that I highly recommend: light, height and levels. To raise the table to hip height, we use 4 pieces of black ABS pipe about 18 inches long, and just fit one over each of the folding buffet table legs. It's dead simple and makes it so much easier to see our tiny work. For our levels, we use two of our transport containers (plastic suitcases) and lay a melamine shelf across them, before draping everything in fabric. It not only adds visibility and visual interest, but it gives us a hidden "cave" under the middle of the shelf where we can store packaging materials for easy access!

We bought some new glass and frit from Nortel and the Glass Shoppe that I'm looking forward to playing with. We don't have any more shows planned for the rest of the year, but we look forward to our next one, whenever it may be!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Post 100 - OGBA Show This Friday & Saturday!

My 100th blog post!!!

(Fireworks, fireworks, flag raised on castle)

Today, the OGBA show begins! (Ottawa Glass Bead Artists, not the Ontario Goat Breeders Association).

OGBA Bead & Jewellery Show 2010
Friday November 12th, 4-9pm
& Saturday November 13th, 10-6pm 2010
* A Showcase of ‘Hand Made’ Glass Beads , Jewellery & Bead Work *
Venue: Hellenic Centre, 1315 Prince of Wales Drive
Ottawa, Ontario

Andrea and I have been working hard and are proud of the new work that we have for this event. We moved the kiln onto the giant metal work table so that it would be easier to make off-mandrel work, and I made a great series of leaves and calla lilies. I really like the new workbench layout! It's ridiculously convenient.

Andrea has created a fresh batch of Captive Drop earrings and I'm very excited to see how they're received by the Ottawa community.

Other than the earrings, all of our new work is being offered as loose beads or pendants because many show attendees will be jewellery designers. However we're bringing a kit of wire-wrapping tools and sterling components so we can create custom finished jewellery for buyers as requested.

Wish us luck!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

99th post: Florals Galore!

We have five brand new, Ottawa-made florals that will be available at the OGBA show this Friday and Saturday!

This one has a twist: I added some small cane-florals around the main stamened florals. It added a lot of time to the creation but I like the effect! I'm also happy with the enamelled base.

This one is sweet, little and bright. I accidentally made it on a 1/16" mandrel, which was nervewracking at the time (it's very delicate mandrel for a focal!) but luckily it worked out. It's a benefit now, as a smaller hole diminishes the hideous spectre of bead-wobble. The vivid green, coral and pale pink palette isn't one of my typical colour combinations but I'd like to explore it more! I actually did make a matching earring pair that Andrea is making into Captive Drop earrings.

This one was the first floral I made in the new studio! It features my trusty black base and handpulled reactive cane base, with stamened flowers in white.

I love the background on this one! So rich and vivid. Blue does such wonderful things in glass. I'll never get tired of playing with blues.

This was the most recent one I've made, and also the biggest of the batch! I'm really happy with it. It has a rich background with frit, silver foil, reactive cane and goldstone, two huge violet florals with nicely flared stamens, and four smaller complex cane-flowers. It's something that one can gaze into and enjoy the depths and detail.

I can't believe I'm almost at post #100! Thanks to everyone who has been reading my blog. :) It's nice to have a place to talk through projects, track progress and generally nerd out on glass. :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Show preparations!

We're getting geared up for the Ottawa Glass Bead Artist show coming up Friday November 12th, 4-9pm & Saturday November 13th, 10-6pm 2010 at the Hellenic Centre (1315 Prince of Wales Drive). Since we got behind in preparing our studio we've been at the torch pretty much constantly all week!

At first it felt weird and I was mostly making "safe", process beads, just getting used to the feel of glass and fire again. It has been six months since we packed up our studio! But over the course of the week the groove started to come back and by the middle of the weekend I was feeling the love!

I've been having fun in a few designs with "threading" - heating the tip of a rod, then, outside of the flame, making a tiny anchor on the bead and quickly stretching and spinning a tiny thread of glass around the bead until the glass cools and snaps off. Repeat as necessary.

We also realized that we were out of business cards! I've attempted to design interesting business cards for us in the past but it's always ended up over-crowded and boxy. This time Andrea had some concrete examples of business cards from other artists that she'd been collecting. I worked from there and experimented with a split and angled design. I'm pretty excited about it - I think it's a breakthrough.

I'll have to write a phone number for people who don't have internet (raise your hand if that's you!) but that's what the plain back is for.

Stay tuned for photos of my first batch of Ottawa-made florals coming up next!!!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

New Studio, first incarnation...

In real life, it took a lot longer to get the studio going than it did when I imagined it in my head. Stupid real life!

It has been a productive month-and-a-bit since my last post. I was interviewed about Alaska's story (which hopefully was helpful to people going through the same situation, and/or to the Humane Society in terms of recruiting new donors and volunteers!). I also had to take her back to the vet for antibiotics for a nasty kennel cough she picked up (another side-effect of the overcrowded situation in the current shelter, which the new shelter will be designed to help prevent). I'm happy to report that she's fully recovered now and back to her old self 100%!

We also painted most of the first and second floor, which took forever, and unpacked and organized most of our stuff. Finally, once all that was under control, we were able to turn our attention to the studio.

I found a huge steel worktable on Kijiji near our house and spent an evening with Andrea trekking it home down the sidewalk on a dolly. (Clangy!) After that, my first goal was ventilation. I found a 715 CFM kitchen vent on Kijiji and after an epic quest to far Nepean, returned home with it. It was huge but covered in a thin film of sticky grease that took two hours of scrubbing to remove. It cleaned up nicely though and I'm kind of in love with it! It's a Japanese model called Sakura and the centres of the two fan grilles are shaped like cherry blossoms (which is what sakura means). Cutest fan ever.

My father spent a Sunday with me finding parts at Home Depot and installing it. It's wonderful to have a father who, at a moment's notice, can drop by with exactly the right kind of machine screws and driver bit for a job! The window was a slider and the vent duct and cover fit perfectly. We fed it through blue styrofoam sandwiched between two layers of plywood, which we custom-fit to the window hole. I painted the outer layer for protection. It's snug as a bug and looks sleek. And of course it really sucks.

We've decided to take a break on pursuing a natural gas line for now, as the red tape for that in Ontario is unbelievable. At first I thought I'd try the disposable tank and Hot Head approach, just until the show (two weeks away at the time). I bought a new Hot Head as my old FireWerks QuietTorch was dying. We made it work for a week but it was way too frustrating. The flame is so much more bushy, reducing and weak than the oxy-fuel torch. It was like trying to paint with a plastic brush when you're used to a fine-tipped sable! Of course a true artist can adapt to any tool but we were on a timeline, and I'm out of practice being an artist of any kind!

So Andrea took up the challenge and spent two days tracking down parts and connectors to get our big torch running. It's SO much nicer. Thankfully the oxygen concentrators seem to have survived the move - keep on trucking, little guys!

I also want to point out that most of my tools are hanging off rare-earth magnets from the vent! It's working out well so far.

We have the kiln and controlled going again and our old glass storage back in action. (Still being unpacked from their bubble-wrappy shrouds in the photo).

So many things we want to upgrade... (Including, you guessed it, insulating and drywalling the gloomy walls!) But for now, we are making glass again!