"Where Glass Comes To Life"

quote- Melissa Contover

Monday, May 24, 2010

Oh the carnage!

I am deep into production of those designs I should always have a quantity of.  Based on my last years figures, lizards are near the top of the list.  I had been trucking along for some time on simpler designs like the turtle, knowing I wanted to get going and have some success to look on without a lot of breakage.  Lizards are a trial.  My lizard design requires mental fortitude and deep concentration.  I simply refuse to take a short cut and am very picky about it sitting level and having the graceful curve and perky look I love.

This is the devastation in my scrap bucket from my latest attempts. 

Every lizard that makes it is a victory.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Mt. St. Helen's eruption video

A friend found this video posted that I thought was worth sharing.  It was and remains amazing to view the utter devastation and then the explosion of life that has followed.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May 18, 1980: 8:32 am

This is the anniversary of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. 

In an indirect way, this event is responsible for my opportunity to work with glass. 

My personal experience with the eruption was as a fifth grade student at R.E. Bennett Elementary School in Chehalis, WA.  I had at the time, the emotional paradox of being concerned for the human and environmental toll that was acting out in my close vicinity, juxtaposed with the utmost thrill of getting summer vacation four weeks early.  The ratio of excitement versus "oh god what a pain in the ass" was soon unbalanced as it became clear that for some undetermined period, we would all be forced to stay inside and/or wear dust masks while outside.  Ash was EVERYWHERE.  The world was all GREY.  (More so than normal.... this is of course the Pacific Northwest.)  One could think that nothing good could come of such an obvious disaster.

Except one Man with a vision.

Hank Claycamp.  Hank I'm paying my respect... don't think I  have forgotten.  For this post I will give you the short form in this legend, only in the interest of brevity and the knowledge of "always leave them wanting more...".   Hank was a young man with an interest in what was then a budding industry in the area and the intelligence and the foresight that all the ash blanketing the region was a goldmine waiting to be properly realized.  With some experience at the very early Pilchuck School of Glass under his belt, Hank built a furnace, and embarked on creating glass from the ash that was produced form the volcano, Mt. St. Helens.  The first few batches were pure ash; I remember looking over the few pieces he had remaining from those blowing sessions in the studio on display when I came on board his operation.  Gradually over the years he developed his recipe so he could use glass cullet with a quantity of ash, allowing him to not struggle with the difficulty of mastery that the pure molten ash required, as well as the knowledge that it was better to extend the life span of the material, given that the ash that had fallen was of a limited release, so to speak.

I was hired at his studio in 1991, and after a year of real grunt work I was apprenticed as a glassblower in his operation, thus beginning my obsession. 

Periodically in this blog I should revisit some of the stories and memories I have of this time.  The people I met (Patrick, Lloyd, Butch, all the rest of the crew, I know you are out there)  are all worthy of mention and we sure as hell worked to keep the operation going. 

Thank you all for letting me give attention to this interesting anniversary in my journey!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day and Glass Oops of the week

Hello all,

The work is going well these days, I am keeping up on current designs that are selling, I am developing new promising designs, and I am teaching more bead lessons as the word spreads.

One of the new designs that I am getting a good response from is single color hoop earrings.  As I develop this piece, I have tried several ways to finish them with a fire polish in the kiln.  This has proven tricky; how much heat do I need to do the fire polish without losing the shape I have already created.

That question being asked, this is what I was greeted by when I opened the kiln after my last test.


Of course what this has done is make me wonder if I can't maybe control this effect more and add a kind of tear drop hoop earring as ANOTHER piece for me to keep up on.  Hmm...cool.