Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Right On Track

After fighting the snow for two weeks, things are going back their their rainy normalness. Thank goodness!
I managed to get the train soldered before Christmas company.I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I'll get it in the mail this week. The photo is up against a window, with lots of snow outside, so the white wispy for that first plume of smoke and the clear globs for the lights show up white. My guess is, I'll make this one again and put it in the local craft store.
Next is the Raven Steals the Sun. I'm pretty excited about that one!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Yule Never Know Until You Try

At the last minute, I heard about a local craft show. I thought..well why not. I may not sell a thing, but I'll be participating. It's a very small community and if folks don't participate, it doesn't happen. There were about 9 vendors. The economy here has been worse than many areas. Lumber prices are down, and the local logging firm just shut down for several months. Salmon fishing has been restricted. That pretty much puts a chokehold on the local economy. Many folks come out just for something to do. The weather was predicted to be awful and it was that in full force. Did I mention there was no heat in the hall where we were? It was a bit nippy.

I quickly made a bunch of little stained glass Christmas Tree ornaments, two painted candles, a few painted glass ball ornaments. I also took three of my medium sized stained glass panels. I didn't expect to sell any, but it was interesting to watch folks as they looked at the stuff. Never having done a craft show, it was all a new experience. The experienced crafters there were very encouraging. I don't know that I'd do it all that often, but it was fun to try. I sold three stained glass ornaments, which is about as good as anyone else did.

I'll be starting the stained glass train next week. It's been snowing here all week, and I've been doing the Christmas baking and jam making. 10 pts of strawberry and 10 pts of raspberry. Yum. Next is pecan brittle and cookies!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

On The Right Track

I've been looking at a gazillion train pictures. Steam trains, skunk trains, narrow guage trains, diesel trains, bullet trains. I even found some very cool stained glass trains. I contacted Steph Harper from Harper stained glass http://www.harperstainedglass.com/ to see if she sells her patterns because I really really liked her trains. But at this point, they're not available. Rats! If they become available and I can afford them, I'd still buy them in a heartbeat.
I went back to the photos and narrowed it down to two, and tried to make patterns from both. One is much more complicated and would have over 200 pieces, and the second would have about 85. Guess which one I picked.

Yeah...I'm a wimp. I'll go with the train on the trestle. I'm not sure what glass I'll use. Straight black won't let any light through. I go to the glass store tomorrow and I'll see what my options are.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Training Exercise

I went down to see my kids and granddaughter last week, and worked at a fundraiser this last weekend, so not much glassing got done. And before I get started on the new project, let me just run a little plug here.
We just had a Holiday Bazaar Arts and Crafts Fair for the St James Family Center. The center's primary function is a non-denominational day care center. But wait..there's more.. In a very poor county, this is the only licenced day care. The fee schedule is on a sliding scale, and many of the children here are "scholarshipped". They have balanced meals, breakfast and lunch, ECEAP programs (early childhood education..similar to Headstart) Their parents know they are in a safe, clean enviornment, with trained caretakers. If you've been a working parent dropping your kids off at daycare, you know what a concern that is. The SJFC has a bus that takes the children to and from the elementary school. But they also do free nutrition classes for the community as well as parenting classes, childhood health care seminars, children's safety jamborees. They run the only Domestic Violence shelter here, and sexual assualt crisis intervention. For a very small community, and with very little funding, this center has broad shoulders, and carries a very heavy load. You can learn more at http://www.stjamesfamilycenter.org/index.htm . Funding is always difficult and any donation, no matter how small, is a great blessing to us.
And now back to our program.
I think the next project will be a train for my brother, specifically a steam engine. There are a few patterns out there, most of them pretty complicated. I tried to find some pictures on the internet, and there are a few possibilities.

I'm not sure I have the skills to turn these into patterns, but I can try..the worst that can happen is that I decide to buy a pattern from someone more talented than I, or use a free one. I don't know that it's possible to have a simple pattern that doesn't look like a cartoon. Stay tuned...film at 11.

Friday, November 14, 2008


I decided to finally do a project for me. We're building an Arts and Crafts style house. The first step is to build an apartment over the garage, and that's the step we're currently on. I wanted to do a transom insert for the door. Since we are in the Northwest, it didn't make any sense to do a prairie style window, although they are beautiful. I couldn't find one that I liked so I decided to try to draw another pattern. It would help if I had an imagination. I like the look of the MacKintosh roses, so after staring at several in a variety of forms, I put pencil to paper. After the fact (of course) I learned that the roses can be cut from one piece of glass if done properly. Heck, I was having a tough enough time cutting those curves. I did get to use my strip cutter for the first time. After making several ghastly measuring mistakes, I came up with a method that worked for me.

I used Spectrum rough rolled/Champagne for the background, and muffle glass for the flowers, leaves and stems. I hadn't used muffle glass before, and I like it, especially for stylized patterns. I have to say, that stylized patterns aren't my favorite, and geometric designs are much harder than those that are more free-flowing. It demands more accuracy, and so far, that's not my strong point. One other thing I didn't think of at the time and that is , the transom window in the door has 6 panels, and I made this window with 12. Things that make you go ..doh! But it was fun, quick, and I learn something with each one.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Super Solder

Saturday morning, I headed out to Chinook to the Inspiration Glass store to pick up more background glass. It's a stunning hour drive, even in a mild rain. While I was there, they were teaching a beginner class. Well, these women were doing beautiful soldering. No lumps, bumps, pills, spikes,,none of the things that plague my solder. So I was very careful to observe just how they were holding the soldering iron and the solder in relation to the glass and each other. Sup rise!! I was doing it all wrong. It's a tiny shop but they teach a variety of classes there, including decorative soldering and a class they call Super Solder..that's the one I want.

In the winter it gets to be a little scary. The arctic storms roar through the Columbia River mouth, sometimes at 90 mph. Trees crash across the road and rain pounds so hard you just can't see to drive. So classes will have to wait until spring. I managed to get out of the store without too much credit card debt and drove back home.

Sunday I finished cutting glass, and foiled Monday night in front of the TV.

I finally had some time yesterday morning to solder. It definitely went more smoothly (no pun intended) using the new method. I still get too much solder going, and I'm not really happy with the way the iron fluctuates temperature, but as I've read, "It's a poor craftsman that blames his tools." I'll just have to make more projects so I can practice more. Oh darn!

I had never used lead came to wrap a project before so I was a little nervous about doing that correctly. I was worried about securing it properly to the glass, and about attaching the chain in a way that was secure. So I very carefully measured the diameter..21" just like I planned, and multiplied by pi. OK so I cheated and used a calculator, but hey, I wanted it to be accurate. Then just to be sure I added a 1/4 of an inch, thinking if it were too long, I could always trim it shorter, but if it was too short, I was in hot water. I'll e darned if it wasn't 1/4" too short anyway! I apparently didn't figure in the occasional irregularity in my "round" project. I wrapped the lead from bottom to top, thinking that the weight would be cradled instead of pushing on the seam, made a patch, and soldered the thing in there as best as I could.

Then began what I refer to as....The Chain Fiasco. I wanted to keep the handy hanger attachments for the chain away from any seams, on the glass and on the exterior lead came, so I put them at about 2:30 and 9:30. That seemed really secure, only to discover we would not have been able to hang the darned thing without the chain cutting across the glass..even if hung by two hooks (which I plan to do). So back off it came, and I re-did the chain. Learn something every day. I'll get it boxed and shipped off this week, with hanging instructions for the maintenance folks at the apartment building.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Blame It On The Rain

Remember that nice neat, new work space from a couple of weeks ago? It's toast. I started Mom's Callas today, and I have stuff everywhere. When I get going on glass, everything else grinds to a halt (a little glass humor there). Dishes sit in the sink, vacuuming doesn't get done, dog is on her own.

I began this morning by tracing the pattern onto the fasson paper. That was at about 11:00. I started cutting glass right after that. At 3:30 this afternoon I decided I should probably eat something. It's the Famous Glass Diet..you don't eat glass, you just don't eat. I get so darned wrapped up in what I'm doing, I forget to eat. Well, I don't exactly forget..I was hungry. I just didn't want to stop. I'll eat right after this one piece.

So at 4:00 I had a banana and a yogurt and called it good.

By 5:00 my hip was complaining, and the cats were squeaking about dinner, so I called it quits for today. The sun is setting, and if I didn't live a gazillion miles from everywhere, I'd expect some trick-or-treaters. I figure I got about a third of the glass cut today. Like an idiot, I didn't buy enough of the Spectrum Clear Rain Water for the background, and will have to take three hours tomorrow morning and make a round trip to the nearest glass store. I hate that! On the other hand it is an excuse to browse through the glass bins and see what I can't live without.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mom's Callas

Wow..two posts in one day!

I'm back from visiting Mom this weekend. She lives in an Independent Living retirement center there, and has a 22" hexagon window in her dining room that needs a piece of stained glass, so this morning I got out a pencil and piece of paper and started drawing. She doesn't like things that are too fussy, and her furniture is taupe, brown, beige, and green.

She loved to garden and always had a back yard full of flowers,so I'm hoping she'll like this.
Yea, Ok, so I took the picture a little crooked...we'll all live anyway. It's not a hexagon (duh!), but it'll work.
We're expecting clear weather all this week (rains here all the time), so I probably won't start this until it does start to rain.

A Little Sidetrip

OK so this isn't about stained glass, but hey, it's my blog and I guess if I want to wander off for a minute, I can!
My granddaughter, Elicia is 10, and two states away, so when she asked if I would make her a Halloween costume, well..I'm a sucker, so naturally I said "yes". That's what Nanas are for, isn't it? Anyway my daughter took her pattern shopping. Se came home with a Colonial Lady pattern (McCall's 5414). Not exactly what I expected, but Elicia said she wanted to look like an elegant lady, and that one pretty much fits the bill.
I thought I'd try to put it in a historical frame of reference for her (too much info, by the way), so I said to her, "Elicia..this pattern is like the clothes that ladies wore during the time of George and Martha Washington. That's 250 years ago."
There was a long pause on the phone and she says, "Nana, I'm only 10."
So much for turning it into a history lesson.

So off to the fabric store I went. By the way, at what point did fabric stores stop selling fabric? If I'd wanted scrapbook stuff, or modeling clay or I dunno..decorations for my baseball cap, I'd go to Michael's. Sure wasn't much of a choice of fabrics at the fabric store. I gave up at JoAnns Fabrics and , oddly enough, found something at Walmart! Go figure.

Then I got a little carried away..huge petticoat, lace gloves, lace parasol, lace fan. But an elegant lady isn't complete without the proper accessories.
One of the neighbor kids just happens to be the same size, and was very gracious about being a pincushion..I mean..model for me.
So after not having sewn anything but a popped seam in about 10 years, it took me a week to make the darned thing. That old 1947 Singer sewing machine still goes like a champ!
I finished it time for my trip south to see my mom, and we all met up at her place. Elicia loved it, and doesn't she just look too cute!?
If I don't sew anything again until next Halloween. that'll be ok, but it was worth it to see her little face light up.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Defeated By Peacock Vanity

I often read a website for glassers, Stainedglassville (http://www.stainedglassville.com/) Most of the folks there are miles ahead of me on the skill, talent and experience scale, but I love to see what they are doing.

They have a monthly exercise where a member presents a design element or idea, and other members try to come up with an original adaptation of that element. So, like a teenager deciding that a good place to learn to drive is at the Indy 500, I drove on in.... only to find out.... I can't get the (*&^%$ picture to post because the photo file is too big. And because I'm a cyber-idiot, I have no idea how to shrink it or zip it or whatever it is that needs to be done to go.

Here's the design element, an original by one of the board members, Ingava.

So after dinner last night I started doodling. Now keep in mind that my artistic talents are dormant at best and grimly funny at worst. I was told as a kid that art classes are a waste of time and won't get me through college. Neither did all that science and humanities, but that's another story.

All I know about peacocks is that they make an awful screaming noise, they poop tons, and if they chase you, they're alot bigger than a chicken. So I put him up a tree, with really big leaves. What kind of tree? Umm...one with really big leaves. Then this afternoon, after dinking with it a while, I did a finish copy.

I really wish I had one of those programs that takes your photos and turns it into patterns, or even one that helps me draw patterns, or one that does that different-color thing. But I don't, and so far, I'm a little nervous about buying one because I'm a computer idiot. But back to the Peacock Challange...

I logged on the website, I typed up my comment, and tried to attach my picture. Hold on there, Francine! Your file is too big! Well....*&^%$ ..how do I make it smaller? I have no idea.

So I'll just post it here. If anyone can figure out how to pluck it out of here and put it over there, please feel free, cause I haven't a clue.

Here is my finished product. I would like to put more detail in the tail feathers, but I figured this bird was already too vain, and with the right glass it'll look fine. I also didn't like putting that second leaf behind his head and beak..I think it's distracting.. but I didn't know how to resolve the cut lines for the beak and the comb otherwise,without looking like stick-type lines. Anyone?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Neat Desk Is The Sign Of A Sick Mind

I promised to make my granddaughter Elicia's Halloween costume, so I won't be doing any glass for a week or so. But that didn't stop me from spending money on glass anyway!
Ed and I took a rainy day trip to Portland last Tuesday, and went through the Ikea store. That was our first time. We should have brought a lunch, or hiking boots, maybe a tent..at the very least we should have left a trail of breadcrumbs to find our way back out. Who knew? Of course we couldn't just go in without buying something. We found a table-top with an inset opaque panel that will make a great little lightbox, and the legs are adjustable for height and tilt.

I began setting up my new glass table by unburying my current table and piling stuff on the kitchen floor. Then I decided to move the plants around. Well you can't just pick up a plant and move it. Gosh, it needs to be repotted...look...the roots are growing out the bottom. Now I know I have a bigger pot here somewhere. Dang, now I need more potting soil. Hey..here's that pattern book I lost. Next thing I know I'm on the floor thumbing through it.

Eventually I managed to uncover the table, relocate the plants, throw the dead plants away, clean the cobwebs off the window sill , and get the old dining table out to the barn.

The new table is essentially two elaborate sawhorses that are adjustable for height and tilt, and a flat table top that lays on top. The top has a lip on the back to keep the top from sliding off when the table is tilted.

Look quick, while it's still pristine. Ed will build a light box under that glass panel, but until then, I have a gooseneck lamp that I can just shine up from the floor.

Here it is all back together. I have it set at 34" which is good for standing and working. If I want to use the chair, I'll just lower the table. And yes, I roll up the rug when I'm working on a project. This table is the same size as the one I had here, but I'm hoping to learn to light, trace and cut the pattern pieces more accurately this way.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Curses! Foiled Again!

I finished foiling late last night, and got the piece soldered today, but it's not the best soldering job I've ever done. Course that's not saying much because I've only been doing this for a little over a year.

Actually the problem started with the foil. I was tired and didn't have my (granny) glasses. The foiling wasn't as neat as it should have been. Also I used foil with a copper backing, and I don't like how it looks on the clear glass. I'm not sure what color backing is best for clear glass. Black? I was pretty happy with how the pieces fit together after they were all foiled though. To my stunned amazement, I didn't have to re-cut any of them!

Soldering is not my strong point. I'm not sure what my strong point is...but never mind that. The soldering doesn't have a pretty bead on top, it's flat in places. My only consolation is that I know where it will be hung, and the clerestory window is high enough up that nobody will be able to tell. I know...practice...practice...practice.
Ed will make a cedar frame for it and I'll get is mailed this week. It may be a few days late for the birthday, but hey..I can blame it on the Post Office! Happy Birthday Gene!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cutting Is Done

I finished cutting the glass this afternoon and will probably foil tomorrow evening. Once that is done, I'll re-check for fit. If the past is any measure, I'll probably have one or maybe two of the smaller pieces that I could cut more precisely, that won't show their nasty heads until all the foiling is done. This is the first piece that I've done that uses alot of clear (no color) glass, and I found it was harder to see my mistakes right away. Hopefully I will have time to solder it Wednesday or Thursday. Then Ed can make a frame for it next weekend and I can wrap it and get it shipped.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Slow And Steady

After several weeks off, I'm back at it today. The only problem is that I can't stand for long periods, and the foot-to-foot that happens from project board (left) to cutting board (middle) to grinder (right) is really tough on the hip.

Needless to say, nothing is happening in a hurry. I cut a few pieces, and go sit down. Cut a few more and stretch out...like that.. anyway, I did add a few pieces today, and hope to get all the glass cut by this weekend. Then I can sit and foil in an evening.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Too Hip!

Well, I go in this morning to have my hip roto-rootered, so glass is going to be on hold for a month or so. I tried to get all of the glass cut for Gene's piece before this morning, but that didn't happen. It just hurt too much to stand at the counter. Here's what I have done so far:

The clear baroque glass as the background looks a little limp laying flat, but I think once it is done and up into the light it'll be good. The glass for the swords doesn't even begin to show itself off until the light is in it. One good day of glass cutting is all I need to finish, then an evening of foiling. I've tried cutting glass sitting down, but it just doesn't work for me. Depending on how long I'm on crutches will determine when I can get started again...maybe a month. See you then!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

People Let Me Tell Ya 'Bout My Best Friend

Let me introduce you to my best glass friends. Mr. and Mrs. Dustpan, and Ms. Safetyglasses. I can't tell you how frustrating it is to be cutting a piece of glass and have it make that tiny horrible popping sound as you cut, because you've been too lazy to sweep after that last cut...and now...you've just busted your new piece in half on some microscopic shard. I have said some very bad words...some of them out loud..when doing this. Now I sweep after every cut. And yes, I tried those grid things..not working for me.

The safety glasses? Never NEVER never never never ...ever.. cut or grind without them. Not even a little. From here, it's an hour to the nearest medical aid. I don't think I want to try to drive with one eye, while the other eye has glass razor blades in it. Nope, just don't want to.

So back to the project: I sure hope I can phrase this so that it makes sense!
The pattern is drawn on the fasson paper, and the original pattern is pinned and squared. Ready? Stop. Look. Look at your pattern and pick a side, preferably with a larger edge piece. This pattern doesn't really illustrate that because all the sides are more or less the same, but I decided to start with the left side. I like to work from top down or left to right, partly because I want my world to be symmetrical, and if little things are off balance (like crooked pictures on the wall etc) then the world starts wobbling on it's axis. Eventually the Earth wobbles so hard it spins out of it's orbit and goes spinning into space and we all get into God knows what kind of trouble. Sorry..I wandered off.. In any case, on this piece, I cut out the outermost piece on the left of the pattern. I slip it under the block plates so that the right edge of the fasson pattern piece lines up with the pinned pattern, then using a fine-line pen, I trace the inside edge of the block plate. Double click on the pictures to enlarge them, if it helps.

Trim away the excess, peel the backing off the fasson paper, stick the template on your glass and cut the glass. Check the fit on your pinned working pattern, adjust if necessary. I use the grinder to knock off any killer edges, and make any adjustments.

From there I've decided to get a good solid corner going, so I pretty much do the same thing again, only from now on I slip the fasson piece under existing glass edges.

I trace along the edge, trim off the excess, and cut the glass. Now the folks that I learned this method from use push pins between every piece of glass to leave space for the foil. I found if I do that, there is too much space and my pieces don't fit well. My guess is that has more to do with my inexpert glass cutting, rather than their method being faulty. So what I do is put pins in where it looks like it needs it, about every third line. Scientifically and mathematically querulous, I know.

After several pieces, it begins to look like this:
By the time all the pieces are cut, you'll have a good sense of how it all fits, and if there is one piece that barks at you, or just looks wrong, take it out, slip a piece of fasson paper underneath and trace out a new template. I dunno..it's working well for me. The only serious frustration is when I cut a fasson piece off the master, then forget to trace it against the existing glass pieces before I cut the piece out of the glass. Darn!
Here's the deal...
Yes, this method is slower than others.
No, I know that's not how the pros do it.
Yes, it works for me.
No, I can't guarantee it will work for you.
Yes, I probably forgot something important.
No, I don't remember what it is.
If you mess up, nobody dies!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

On Your Mark . . .


I am not a teacher, instructor, mentor, or any other..or. The only thing I am is a rank beginner, and frankly, I expect I'll confuse the heck out of most of you.

I'd like to try to demonstrate the pattern making technique that seems to work for me. I may evolve to a more accurate and refined skill later, but this is working so much better than what I was doing first, that I'm pretty happy for now. I've heard that using a template is a beginner technique..well.. that would be me!

First of all, I use a large sheet of Avery fasson paper. I'm not sure I can describe this stuff, except to say that it comes in big sheets (27"x38"), and it's like contact paper except it stays by pressure rather than stickiness. I hang mine up on the wall ala pushpins, because if you roll it up or lay it around, it comes separated from the backing. I've tried without success to find a source on the internet, and get mine from The Glass Lady store in Vancouver, Wa. If they ever stop carrying it, I'm toast.

This project is for my brother-in-law who is in the St. Andrews Highland History Guild, which is a 16th century re-enactment of the court of Mary, Queen of Scots. He also has an ancestral interest in Norse history. Thus...Chantal Pare's pattern of Norse war helmet and swords.

I take my regular computer generated copy (8 1/2"x11") down to the local copy store and have them enlarge it to the size that I want, in this case 17 1/2"x20 1/2". I'm not worried about the size of the pattern lines. That will resolve itself.

I put the fasson paper on my work surface. I use a piece of sheetrock. It's (usually) flat, it's cheap, and I already had a piece. I put my fasson paper down (backing and all), then a layer of carbon paper. Remember that? Who knew we'd ever need it after high school typing class. Oops..they probably don't even teach typing in high school any more..or shorthand.

Ok so, fasson paper, carbon paper, then take the copy of the pattern, and put it on top of everything. Check your alignment, making sure the carbon paper has stayed in place and the fasson paper and top pattern are lined up, and secure it with push pins.

Now you trace every line, using a ball point pen, pressing heavily enough to give yourself a temporary case of carpal tunnel. Every time I make a pattern like this I think. "Gosh, I should buy a red pen so I can easily see which lines I've traced and which ones I haven't." Have I bought the red ball point pen yet? Um......no. But it's a good idea! Remember, it's just like signing for a speeding citation...press hard, three copies. To be sure I've gotten every line, I run over the whole pattern with my fingertips. You can feel an impression in the pattern from the pen, sort of like braille in reverse. Once you're sure you've gotten all the lines, unpin everything, take off the paper pattern, put away the carbon paper, and lift your fasson paper.

As you can see..or not..the fasson paper, being a plastic rather than paper surface, it's not a strong carbon mark, but it does take the pressure of the pen. Between the carbon marks and the pressure marks, though, you can see the pattern pieces. If you double click on the picture you can see better from the enlargement.

After I hang the fasson piece (usually on the wall with pushpins) I put the paper pattern on the sheetrock, and get out my layout blocks, push pins and my square.
Boys and girls, this is one of those places in your life where it is definitely hip to be square. I monkey with this thing until every corner is absolutely and perfectly square. Then I flip my square over and check it again. After I'm sure it is really really square, I go have a diet Coke, make a pit stop, come back and check it again, just in case the glass elves came in and messed with it while I was gone. Go ahead...laugh. It's been known to happen.

In the next blog entry, I'll show how to begin with the fasson pattern pieces. Tune in next time.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Herstory of Glass

So, when I retired at 53...yeah...I'm lucky...I wanted to be sure I didn't just up and rot, especially after moving into a new community, and away from everything I was familiar with. I wanted a hobby that would be emotionally rewarding and that would occupy my time in a positive way. I had never been artistic, but I had never explored that aspect either.

Glass in various forms has always drawn me. I knew I didn't have the room or the equipment to blow glass..something I didn't want to try to learn by myself, and I didn't know much about fusing or slumping glass. For that matter I didn't know much about stained glass either.

So, like so many, I bought a few books, a few tools, a little glass, and tried to put together a little project. I was so proud. I gave it to my friend, Kim, and she smiled and said "thank you" like a true friend should. Truth is... it was awful.

After that I decided to take a class, so I signed up for a project class in Astoria. I enjoyed it very much and learned a lot, but the distance (60 miles each way) and the winter weather and road conditions made it difficult get to. So I kept doing projects with only mediocre satisfaction. I just couldn't get the pattern pieces to transfer true to the glass. The pattern shears seemed very inaccurate, but if I used regular scissors, my project grew and grew in size.

I decided to make a surprise for Ed. Many years prior, he made a stained glass mirror, that he reluctantly sold when he had a commercial glass business. He had fondly kept the pattern, which I discovered in a box. "Hey.." I thought, " I'll make this for Christmas and surprise him with it." And I'll be darned if it didn't come out ok..not good...but ok. Breaking the strips was a nightmare, and prayers were said at every snap. The solder is a mess. But Ed was very gracious, and built the cedar frame for it and hung it up.

After that, I found a pattern that was similar to the barn we were building, so I tweeked the pattern a bit and did that one. As most things, practice helps, so the barn came out better. Ed says "You didn't put on the cupola or the dormer windows." I just gave him The Look.

And again, he made a beautiful frame out of old cedar fence boards that work perfectly.

But I was still having the same problem with having the project grow, filling in badly fitting spots with solder, and the pieces just not fitting together right. I wasn't happy with how the pattern shears cut out the pattern pieces.
There are several early projects that I don't have photos of. I made that "Angry Bluebird" for my daughter Ellen. That one is pretty rough! And an angel that I made for my daughter Aimee. I also made a Chantal Pare celtic thistle circle for my sister. I've slowly learned to take photos of each piece, even if it's just to show the learning curve.

I started looking around for another place to take classes. Maybe if I learned a different way of cutting out the patterns, the projects would go together more smoothly.

I thought I would try a glass shop in Vancouver for supplies. The Glass Lady http://www.theglasslady.biz/ is owned by a very nice lady, Lori Alwine, who showed me a completely new way to cut pattern pieces for more accurate glass pieces. I won't go into it here except to say that it involves fasson paper and cutting out one pattern piece at a time, instead of cutting them all out at once, and uses regular scissors rather than pattern sheers. I chose this simple pattern for a class, since it had long narrow cuts as well as round ones. It has made the difference between glass being a frustrating experience to becoming a consuming joyful hobby. I'll give more detail during my next project, but if you live in the Portland/Vancouver area (it's 90 minutes for me) go check out her shop and maybe sign up for a class. They're wonderful folks.

With renewed confidence, I wanted to make our friend Dave, who is a SCUBA diver, a birthday present. And what better present for a diver than a shark? So after an internet search for the appropriate subject, I found a tiger shark that I liked and went to work. (Tiger shark, great white..what do I know?) Plus, this was the first pattern that I made myself... I was pretty stoked. See that tan glass at the bottom that makes the sand? Well if you double click on the photo you can see the detail (don't look too close.) The back of that glass is wavy, and when you cut it... that edge is like a serrated bread knife. I had bandaids everywhere. But it made perfect sand. Once again Ed stopped his other projects and made a frame for me, and we sent it to Dave.

After than I started a project for my granddaughter, Elicia. She will be moving into a house soon from an apartment, and I wanted to make her something for her room. Now Elicia is very...pink..everything..pink..so the glass had to be pink too. But I also wanted her to remember that she's never alone, even when she feels lonely, so .. here it is. The dove was taken from a beautiful work by Olimpia Perez. You can see more of her glass at www.glassbyolimpia.com. And while I'm at it, I should mention, that I now know it's very bad glass manners to use someone else's pattern without purchase or permission.

We have a Dollars for Scholars Sturgeon Derby and Rods and Reels car show here each year to raise scholarship money for local kids. I've volunteered the last several years and had a really good time. Nice folks run it and nice people show up. They raffle off items and have an auction. This year I thought I'd do a stained glass piece and donate it to the car show fundraising effort. It was raffled off and did relatively well. I think next year I'll also do a fish-themed piece as well and donate it for the auction side. I was pretty happy with how this turned out. My soldering is getting better, although some days are better than others. I used wire to make the steering wheel and door handle.

Finally I had a lull. I was looking at a magazine and saw a picture of Picasso's "Portrait of Francoise". Well it was gorgeous. Ordinarily I'm not a big Picasso fan, but the drawing was just striking. Maybe it was the beauty of the young woman. Maybe because my daughters have hair just like hers. All I could think about was doing that portrait in glass. So I started tracing. I'm no artist, and I'm still a beginner in glass, but I was driven to do this project. Now it's my favorite.

We had friends come up for July 4th this year. They were married last October in Carmel on the beach under a monterey cypress tree. Well, I though, maybe I could find a picture of the beach... I'm finding that making my own patterns is very rewarding. There are so many things that I can't make patterns of, and so many talented glass artists that make beautiful patterns and share them, Chantal Pare, for example. But when I can, I enjoy making glass projects from my own patterns.

The most recent is also for a fundraiser. The River Life Interpretive Center is a very small local museum. It used to be a school, and a meeting hall. The community works hard to keep the building in shape, and the Interpretive Center hosts many art and historic displays each year. They have an annual Wine Tasting and Auction. So, I found a good photo of the Center.

Yeah, thats me. The auction is in September, and I'm hoping it does well for them. I think the next project is going to be for my brother-in-law, Gene. His birthday is in October. I've got to give it all away..I'm out of windows!