Bee Chaser. Market Walker. Chihuly Stalker?

Here is a recipe for making the most of the LAST day of your MOMcation in Seattle:

Step 1: Book a room at Sunset Hill Bed & Breakfast.

Saying good morning to the girls at the Sunset Hill Bed & Breakfast (an urban farm with their own chickens and honey bee hives).

Saying good morning to the girls at the Sunset Hill Bed & Breakfast (an urban farm with their own chickens and honey bee hives).

Step 2: Visit Chihuly Garden & Glass at the foot of Seattle’s famous Space Needle.

Unique view of Seattle's famous Space Needle.

Unique view of Seattle’s famous Space Needle.

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Step 3: Chase bees! The bumble bees in the gardens captured this Mom’s interest a little more than the glass actually did.

I discovered that the prospect of chasing bumble bees in the gardens captured my interest more than the glass actually did.

Step 4: Overwhelm your senses with a visit to Pike Market. A heavenly bowl of Chowder at Pike Place Chowder is a must!

Experience the overwhelming sights, smells and sounds at Pike's Market.

Experience the overwhelming sights, smells, tastes and sounds at Pike Market.

Purchase an irresistable Holy-Shit peach and as many packs of Cabernet Chocolate covered cherries from Chukar as you can possibly afford and carry home.

Indulge in an irresistible Holy-Shit peach and purchase as many packs of Cabernet Chocolate covered cherries from Chukar as you can possibly afford and carry home.

Step 5: Begin your Chihuly stalking adventure at the Northwest Outdoor Center on West Lake Union. Rent a kayak and paddle on towards Chihuly’s Boat House!

Northwest Outdoor Center on West Lake Union

Northwest Outdoor Center on West Lake Union. My hosts Lori & Doug at Sunset Hill B & B were the ultimate sources of helpful information. Even the guy I rented the kayak from commented that few people even know the exact location of this infamous Boat House I am seeking.

Step 6: Don’t let a little rain discourage your spirit of adventure. If you hang in there, it will blow over in no time.

Don't let the rain showers send you packing. Wait it out, and soon enough you can begin paddling.

Don’t let the rain showers send you packing. Wait it out, and soon enough you can begin paddling. I ended up waiting an hour and a half.

That's better! It's time to go for it!

That’s better! It’s time to go for it!

Step 7: Enjoy the view!

Enjoying the view along the way and don't mind getting a little soggy.

These houseboats are seriously cool! I could live here! Don’t mind getting a little soggy along the way. This is Seattle after all.

Chihuly's Boat House is straight ahead!

Chihuly’s Boat House is straight ahead toward that bridge!

Step 8: Pause for a moment of gratitude.

The goose bumps kicked in right here, when the storm had blown over and a little patch of blue sky opened up. Feeling an overwhelming sense of gratitude!

At this point on my journey I was already feeling an overwhelming sense of gratitude to my husband for his sacrifice so that I can enjoy a MOMcation. Happening upon this boat put an exclamation on those feelings, especially as the light began changing….

See the blue sky and the light changing?

Notice the blue sky and the clouds opening up?

So close! Paddle on!

So close! Paddle on!

I can't believe I'm doing this. I hope no one sees me stalking Chihuly. How lame is that?

I can’t believe I’m doing this. Am I really stalking Chihuly by kayak? I’m normally pretty level headed…lol But this takes my glass geekiness to a whole other level.

Step 9: Victory!

There it is! Oh glorious angels singing. Chihuly's Boat House on Lake Union, Seattle, WA. A thousand points of light shimmering off the water...

There it is! Chihuly’s Boat House on Lake Union, Seattle, WA. The heavens have seemingly opened up as I hear glorious angels sing their chorus. A thousand points of light glisten softly off the water…Thank you Lord for this moment I will treasure in my memory and this incredible end to my MOMcation!

Paddling on back to Northwest Outdoor Center, another rainstorm begins. It was pure joy sharing the water with countless sailboats in formation, practicing for a big race the following weekend.

Paddling on back to Northwest Outdoor Center, another rainstorm begins. Thankfully no lightening! It was pure joy sharing the water with countless sailboats who were apparently practicing for a big race the following weekend. What an unexpected treat! I heart Seattle!

Step 10:  Pair your juicy peach with a fine bottle of Nectar Creek Honeywine Mead as you fall asleep to the delightful sounds of chickens.

Enjoying my HS peach with a special bottle of Mead. The perfect ending to a day of Bee Chasing, Market Walking, and Chihuly Stalking!

Enjoying my HS peach with a special bottle of Mead (with a nod and wink to Anne Nye) on my last night in Seattle. The perfect end to a day of Bee Chasing, Market Walking, and Chihuly Stalking!

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2013 Warm Glass Magnet Exchange

This is the first time I had the pleasure of participating in the Warm Glass Magnet Exchange through www.WarmGlass.com . The exchange has been taking place since 2002, where 120 (!) glass artists exchanged small glass magnets with each other.  2009 Magnet ExchangeAs a participant, you agree to make as many Magnets as there are participants, and submit information on “How it was made”.  In return it’s like Christmas all over again when, in late March, you receive all your glorious samples that each participant created. Not only do you learn from performing your own experiments, but you benefit from all the lessons that others have learned while making their glass goodies as well. Beyond cool!

For the 2013 Exchange, we had to make 49 Mags. For my simple entry, my inspiration was the Bumble Bee as they have enchanted me for quite some time now. It all began when my daughters took great interest in the catch and release of bumble bees off of my rose-bush a few summers back. When I saw how fearless my daughters were in their efforts, and realized how focused the bees were on simply doing their own work rather than resorting to stinging their antagonists, it began opening my eyes to their remarkable world. Since then, I have enjoyed chasing bees around in an effort to develop my macro photography skills. I just can’t get enough of observing them and have not been stung yet!

I took a favorite photo from last summer which I altered in Photoshop Elements, and submitted it to Amy at http://inplainsightart.com/files/decals.html to have printed out on waterslide decal paper to be fired on glass. It was exciting to merge two of my creative outlets into one project.

One slight drawback to these decals, I discovered, was they do not use the color white in printing. As a result, I had to rely on white substrate to allow for any white details in my imagery to show up (in this case the bees wings). A thin white base was absolutely essential and in fact, some of that POP of white was lost in the translation from the original photo to this application on glass.

Sample Tile Experiments

For the tile on the left, the decal was fired directly on white, then clear capped on a second firing. You will note some trapped bubbles and a dulling of the pinks. The tile on the right was actually done in a single firing. The decal is on gold iridized face down on thin white. The shimmery backdrop, though hard to really see in this photo, gave it a really nice sparkly effect that is visible through the wings and parts of the flower as well. In my experiments I made the pleasant discovery that the magenta pinks from my picture stayed most true and popped more when fired directly on an iridized surface. (Sorry not pictured…)

For this magnet exchange I pre-fired the base tiles. Thin white was topped with gold iridized face up.

Photo3

Next I applied the decals per the instructions found on Inplainsight Art’s page. Thank you Amy! : http://inplainsightart.com/files/decals_apply_fire.html Photo4

Photo5Finally I fired on the decals venting and directing air out of the garage during the stinky burn off process. Photo6

What I learned:

BEE sure to take a picture of the finished product! In an effort to submit my magnets it before the March 7th deadline, I forgot to take a picture!

BEE true to thyself: Even though the use of decals feels a little bit like “cheating”, I am satisfied with the results of merging my multiple interests of glass, bees & botanicals, and photography while also trusting my instincts.

BEE Ever Curious! I wonder what the decal would look like fired on an iridized white background with clear cap?  What other technique could I employ that would effectively communicate the sweet light that was on the bee’s wings?

BEE Thankful! I’m thankful for all I learned and for the opportunity to share this experience with 48 other glass enthusiasts. I’m looking forward to receiving my little box of treasures in the next couple of weeks!

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Here’s a Lovely and Informative Blog post about Bumble-bees. Did you know male bumblebees don’t have stingers? http://nativeplantwildlifegarden.com/bumble-bees/

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Frances and Michael Higgins: Honorable Efforts in Studio Glass

Curiosity killed the cat, but where human beings are concerned, the only thing a healthy curiosity can kill is ignorance.                                             Harry Lorayne

thehiggins_03For quite sometime now, a nagging question has been plaguing me in earnest about the subject of Higgins Glass. In a previous blog post I fessed up to my Higgins Glass facination and truly credit Michael and Frances Higgins for sparking my own soiree into the fused glass realm. The burning question for me has been, where do the Higginses fit into the conversation about Studio Glass? Well…You know what they say curiousity did to the cat!

This question has sent me off on an odyssey of discovery into texts that museum curators and folks with PhD’s in art history have written to answer my seemingly simple/innocent question.

I first posed the question to Henry Halem who was kind enough to entertain my humble question when I had the fortuitous chance to meet him briefly at SOFA Chicago last year. His response was that they “made ash trays” and “were not all that involved with GAS (Glass Art Society) from what he could recall.” Not entirely satisfied with that response, I left SOFA continuing to ruminate on the subject.

If the reader is unfamiliar with Higgins Glass then I highly recommend an excellent article by Donald-Brian Johnson that I just came across which includes a precious glimpse at some lovely images taken by Leslie Pina that showcase the incredible artisry (and NO, they are NOT all ash trays *wink @ Henry*) of Frances Higgins, one of my most beloved glass heroines, please visit this website:

http://www.antiquesandauctionnews.net/Article+Display/The+Artistry+Of+Frances+Higgins/

So yes,  I have clearly and unabashedly approached my investigation from an utterly biased viewpoint. I do so adore Frances! Little did I realize just how complicated my question was going to be to answer.

First you must define “Studio Glass” and not everyone agrees on that definition. Just pay a quick little visit to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Studio_glass and scroll down to the discussion on Studio Glass as it unfolds. Not the greatest source of credible information, but it illustrates my point that there is much debate and lack of agreement taking place about this very subject. Some have adopted an “Americentric” or exclusionary (blown glass only) way of looking at Studio Glass while others see a greater continuum, a bigger picture that includes folks like the Higginses as well as non-Americans in the conversation about Studio Glass.

I recently read and thoroughly enjoyed “American Studio Glass 1960 – 1990” by Martha Drexler Lynn ” (Hudson Hills Press, 168 pages, $40) published in 2004, where, in the context of her discussion in the book, she opens up the definition of Studio Glass to include “work made by any practitioner working outside the factory and using any technique, hot, warm or cold.” p. 14.  Consequentally, that would include folks like the Higginses, Edris Eckhardt, Heaton, and others in the overall conversation about Studio Glass. Quite a refreshing perspective lending credit to the fact that there were independent glass artists already working with and exploring glass before the infamous Toledo Workshops were held (which the Higginses attended BTW) in 1962. These trail-blazers were experimenting outside of industry in what I now understand is called the “proto-studio” setting, with limited resources and without any formal instruction or training available to them at the time. They were quite ahead of their time and perhaps are deserving of a shards (heehee) more credit that they have gotten along the way.

None of this is to take away from the very significant contribution Harvey Littleton made to the American Studio Glass Movement. Clearly he took things to a whole other level…a subject worthy of it’s own blog post. Indeed my hat is off to him!  However, I can’t help but notice how the lives of Frances, Michael and Mr. Littleton were intimately woven together. According to one of their chosen successors, Jonanthan Wimmer,  ‘Harvey would sleep on their couch when he would visit’ as the history of Studio Glass in America unfolded. Drexler’s more inclusive definition of “Studio Glass” just sits better with this Higgins fan.

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For further exploration on this subject:

  • Anyone with a remote interest in fused glass art or the pioneering, mid-century modern fused glass efforts of Frances and Michael Higgins will be charmed to learn about a very special DVD that was made in 1996 as they approached their final dance with glass.

The informative DVD titled: Higgins Glass: A visit with Frances and Michael Higgins, is something I became aware of after meeting Ed & Marth Biggar when I took a class on Bronze clay at the Bead & Button Show in Milwaukee. The DVD is exclusively available from Ed and Martha Biggar’s website here—> www.edandmarthabiggar.com/higgins.html.

Taken from the inside of the cover:

Frances and Michael Higgins worked for over 50 years in the fused glass field, renewing 20th century interest in this centuries-old medium. Insights into their history, their styles and techniques, and their lives together make this DVD a facinating view into their Riverside, Illinois studio; one that you will want to watch again and again. Perfect for artisans, collectors, or both, you’ll learn more about the Higgins and their work with each viewing.

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The Legacy Of Littleton and His Students

50thAnniversaryStudioGlass

October brought an enchanting visit to a little slice of glass heaven in Neenah, WI called the Bergstrom Mahler Museum  to take in: The Legacy of Littleton and His Students.  I finally have a little time to sit down and write about this glasstastic field trip with MCGAG as I attempt to shake off this lovely post-Christmas flu that has hit in full force. Lucky for me it came after the holidays, and lucky for you I am not contagious.

The highly informative exhibition runs from September 14, 2012 to February 24, 2013, so there is still time for glass enthusiasts to treat themselves to a visit!  The exhibition features the work of Harvey Littleton and his early students who further developed and shared glass as a studio art. Featured artists include Christopher Ries, Dale Chihuly, David Huchthausen, Tom McGlauchlin, Audrey Handler, Gary Beecham, Fritz Dreisbach, Michael Taylor, Marvin Lipofsky, Tom Philabaum, Roland Jahn, Colleen Ott, Henry Halem, John Brekke, Bill Boysen, Vernon Brejcha, Brent Cox, Jack Ink, Kent Ipsen, Dan Schwoerer, Colleen Ott, John Littleton and Kate Vogel.

Make time to visit if at all possible. You will not be sorry you did! It’s a beautiful setting, tucked away in a charming, off the beaten path location. I came away from the experience with a great appreciation for the Museum’s recent decision to focus entirely on glass in their collection. I especially enjoyed seeing what they have going on from an educational stand point with children and youth in their community. Oh that they were closer! I have four eager students who would be regular visitors. It is truly exciting to see so many classes offered to children to get them interested in glass as a medium! It may even inspire me to take on that task myself in the near future.

As if our visit to Bergstrom-Mahler wasn’t enough, we went on to tour glass artist Mick Meilahn’s studio in the middle of corn fields of Pickett, WI.  My glass artist friend Linda Oeffling at Rowenberry Studio wrote a beautiful post that goes into great detail including lots of fabulous pictures of Mick creating one of his giant corn pieces. You must check it out! http://rowanberrystudio.wordpress.com/2012/10/16/field-trip-as-promised/

Finally, on the subject of Littleton’s Legacy, CBS Morning News aired a delightful segment in September on the Art and History of Studio Glass. I tried to post the video here unsuccessfully.  Geeky glassfolk might enjoy visiting the CBS website for this informative video—–> http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7420246n&tag=showDoorFlexGridRight%3BflexGridModule

Thank you for visiting!

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SOFA Chicago 2012

SOFA 2012 did not disappoint. In fact, I think I am still recovering and processing what I learned and observed. The amount of “glasspiration” there was absolutely insane! When I walked in with fellow glass artist friend Linda Oeffling, I had to make a conscious effort to harness my excitement. I wanted to jump up and down and do back flips at certain points as I encountered one amazing piece of glass art after another.

Just when I thought I had some semblance of self-control, we floated into the Maureen Littleton Gallery booth, drawn in by a breathtaking piece with a $250,000 price tag by Maureen’s father, and father of the Studio Glass movement, Harvey Littleton. It was then that I had the very great honor and pleasure of being introduced to Maureen, John Littleton (Harvey’s son), Kate Vogel and Fritz Dreisbach! All my composure was gone with the wind at that point, but they graciously allowed me to capture that moment in photograph.

Kate Vogel, Fritz Dreisbach, Lucky Me, & John Littleton

Kate Vogel, Fritz Dreisbach, Lucky Me, & John Littleton

This moment would not have been possible were it not for a beautiful individual I met through MCGAG, Midwest Contemporary Glass Art Group named Louise Abrahams who did the introducing. Suffice it to say I am beyond grateful and this was the absolute highlight of my SOFA 2012 visit.

Lucy Lyon Sofa 2012 copy

Lucy Lyon SOFA 2012

Toots Zynsky, one of my personal favorites!

Toots Zynsky, one of my personal favorites!

Gorgeous glasswork by Doug Randall

Gorgeous glasswork by Doug Randall

Ann Wolf SOFA 2012

Ann Wolf SOFA 2012

Lino Tagliapietra at SOFA 2012

Lino Tagliapietra at SOFA 2012

Paul Stankard SOFA 2012

Paul Stankard SOFA 2012

Sofa2012

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Soul Searching: Awakening to the Facinating World of Contemporary Glass Art

Glass geeks are keenly aware of the fact that this year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Studio Glass movement, whose humble origins I wrote about in my Holy Toledo post.   Much to the delight of glass fans, this milestone has brought glass into the spotlight and inspired hundreds of glass demonstrations, lectures and exhibitions in museums, galleries, art centers, universities, art organizations, festivals and other venues across the United States.

Well, be still my heart! This summer couldn’t have been a more fortuitous time to discover a lovely group of extreme glass enthusiasts like Midwest Contemporary Glass Art Group (MCGAG) whose mission is to recognize, support, encourage, promote and educate everything to do with art made from glass in connection with Collectors, Artists, Galleries, and Museums.  I became aware of MCGAG after visiting The Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass website and encourage other glass enthusiasts to investigate the offerings in your region. Though this group is comprised primarily of collectors, they have been a very warm and welcoming group despite the fact I am more of a collector at heart.

Into the Light: Illinois Glass, tour and talk with William Carlson, Rockford Art Museum 8/18/2012

Despite my busy Mom schedule, I managed to attend a couple of MCGAG’s mind bogglingly COOL glass field trips. My season of soul searching has been marked by spending any spare time I can muster, marveling at what I see established glass artists achieving in their work. I joined MCGAG on a trip to the Rockford Art Museum for the “Into the Light: Illinois Glass” exhibit (which just ended on 10/21) with special guest host, William Carlson (who resembles Chihuly without the eye patch…lol).  What a pleasure it was to hear him share his insights and observations as we toured the exhibit. To be completely honest,  it’s difficult to say exactly how much of what he was saying really “stuck” in my wee brain, as I was a little awe struck as I surveyed the collection of amazing works from Illinois glass artists including Carlson’s wonderful work.

I did walk away with some nuggets of wisdom and a deep appreciation for the great strides glass art has taken in the last 50 years. As my awareness and understanding of the whole contemporary glass art world expands, it just gets me more and more riled up to move forward with my own glass experiments, however they may pale in comparison to the masters! It’s still so inspiring to see their hard work up close and meet, in the case of Mr. Carlson, the intriguing, deep thinking artist behind the work.

I definitely intend to write about the other really memorable field trip to a little gem of a place called the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum next blog post. But for right now, my eyes are zeroed in on this Saturday, November 3rd, when some glass friends and I plan to attend SOFA Chicago 2012. This will be my first time there and I am trying my best to contain my excitement! For more information visit the SOFA website or click here:  Studio+Glass+50th+Anniversary for more juicy details. I’m looking forward to seeing this piece by Mark Peiser in person!

Mark Peiser
Passage #1, 2012
hot cast phase separated glass
and granite base
24 7/8 X 8 5/8 X 23 1/4 in.
Wexler Gallery

It is interesting to note that, Saturday November 3, 2012 has officially been proclaimed to be CONTEMPORARY GLASS ART DAY in the state of Illinois. I can’t think of a more fitting way to celebrate that fact than to head out to SOFA, wide eyed and wonder struck, and see first hand just how far glass has come in the last 50 years.

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Soul Searching: Part I

Well said, my beloved TMBG friends. Time marches on, does it not?

Many truly exciting things have happened during these last six months since my last blog post. It is going to require two separate blog posts be composed to fully catch my readers (do I really have any at this point? lol) up on the delicious details.

Four Chicks

In early June I continued working on a mixed-media collage piece on a phone book page that had begun at a most enjoyable art night a my friend Libby’s house. This whimsical portrait was another failed attempt at my great grandma and still isn’t quite finished. Big surprise! lol She ended up taking on more of a self-portrait like feel as her icy stare invites the observer to reflect on the life of a mother of four. Perhaps this will also give the observer extra special insight into why I have not had a blog post in the last six months!

In June, my mother, my four children, two dogs, a russian tortoise and I road tripped to Omaha, NE. The kids enjoyed the Omaha Zoo, Lauritzen Gardens, the Strategic Air & Space Museum, fossil hunting and hanging out at the KOA while I was away spending a dreamy couple of days with Anne Nye in her glass studio creating my first piece of glass art larger than 6 x 6 in. in scale.

Anne Nye & I in front of her show stopping Poppy. A dream come true!

I arrived with a photograph to work from that was taken from one of my husbands Alaskan trips and set about making him an extra special Father’s Day present which now happily resides above the fireplace mantle.  Here is the finished frit-worked piece on the left sharing precious kiln-space with Anne’s beautiful pieces, ready for firing.

Sharing precious kiln space with my favorite glass mentor and friend, Anne Nye.

With a hefty dose of gratitude, I came home from that trip so inspired and fired up with my head swirling with new information and ideas.  However, apart from finally getting my new kiln installed, that is about all of the glassy stuff I accomplished this summer. July and August were all about the family, soul searching and trying to learn Photoshop Elements. Summer involved lots of biking outings, playdates with friends, art camps, swimming lessons, piano lessons, two piano recitals, vacation bible school, Youth group, and backyard BBQs with lots more swimming, and multiple fishing trips to local parks.

Honey bees entering and exiting a local hive while honey is harvested.

I also spent the summer chasing bees and expanding on my bee identification skills after signing up to be a Bee Spotter  for the University of Illinois.  It was also on my heart to be able to take better close up shots of the bees for potential use in my glasswork at some point.  My husband and I took a Simple photography class with Nancy Merkling after retiring my older point and shoot camera and upgrading to a Sony Nex 5N. It was immensely helpful going through Nancy’s class and becoming more familiar with the new camera. I need to get my buns back there for more instruction.

Summer ended with a much anticipated vacation to our favorite island in northern Michigan.  We spent some quality time with family, geocached, fished, kayaked, square danced (7 yr Mitchell), attempted to identify plants, snake charmed (Megan caught and released at least 13!), and explored the island. To say that time on this very special island restores my soul is an absolute understatement (read Seek and ye shall find part I & II). A real highlight for me there this summer, was attending worship services in the charming little church with an interesting story behind its stained glass window that I wrote about on this blog in December 2011 in Seek and Ye Shall Find: Part I and Part II.

If the amount of fun one experiences directly coorelates with how fast time flies, time flew by at warp speed for our family’s summer of 2012. In part II of my post I will touch on the other really, truly exciting glassy related happenings. However, I promise it will take 6 days (or so) and not 6 months this time.

Panoramic view of Golden Rod in bloom by the airport on Bois Blanc Island, August 2012.

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Frog legs and Fellowship

This past week I had the extreme good fortune to FINALLY meet up with gifted glass artist extraordinaire and my friend Anne Nye in person for the very first time.  It was definitely a pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming kind of moment when I shared a most memorable meal with her and her delightful husband and partner in crime Richard at Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House in Naperville, IL. Not only was there unspeakable fun and fantastic fellowship, but the food was Epic with a capital E!

Anne came in from Omaha, Nebraska to teach Color Theory and Watercolor Technique at Ed Hoy’s in Warenville, IL.  I had carefully weighed the option of taking her amazing class or heading to Omaha with the family for a visit this Summer. As fate would have it, it’s a good thing that I settled on the Omaha option. Our twelve-year-old daughter took a recent fall and herniated a disc in her back. So we have had lots of ongoing doctor and physical therapy visits including two that overlapped with Ann’s class. So we are Omaha bound this summer!

To give the reader some idea of what sparked this friendship, a couple of years back I was just starting out playing around with glass fusing in my wee little microwave kiln (Ha!) when I had the “new to me” idea of including glass in my collage work. Around that time I came across Anne’s website and was absolutely blown away by what I saw. Anne combined her background and love for painting with the bewitching nature of glass in her joy inducing work. She was paving a trail and doing things I simply had not observed anyone doing. I responded to the intrinsic joy that radiated from her work and became an instant fan.

Dream Pilot by Anne Nye - Mixed-media with glass inclusions

Here is the part where I will come off like a crazed internet stalker…I was so, SO excited about seeing what she was doing that I felt an instant prompting on my heart to share a copy of “Higgins: Poetry in Glass” with her.  It’s a true gem of a book that takes a special kind of person with a heart for glass as an art medium, to fully appreciate it’s inspirational qualities. It provides an insightful glimpse into studio life at Higgins Studio when Frances and Michael were very productive at cranking out a respectable and commendable body of work in glass.  After Anne received her gift, I totally freaked out when one of her awesome trees showed up in my mailbox! The rest is history and what I really view as a “God thing” that continues to enrich a growing friendship that I so appreciate.

Speaking of productive studio work, Anne’s body of work is growing as I type this. I’m sure something is currently firing in her kiln because she posts regular pictures of exciting kiln openings on her Facebook page. Check it out! What is hugely impressive as I have gotten to know her better, is to have a clearer understanding of the incredible journey that has influenced her to where she is today. Equally impressive is the fact she is mostly self-taught and fires her work a single time! Amazingly cool…Not only does she have an unquestionable artistic gift and unique vision, but she has to be one of the most focused, disciplined and determined glass artists with a distinct, joyful voice that comes through in vivid color that I have had the privilege to observe. Now I can officially say, the same holds true of the beautiful person behind the work. I can’t wait to see what my friend cooks up next!

“I am an artist and making art is what I do. It’s my profession, and my obsession.” – Anne Nye

A couple great links to articles to read more about Anne’s work:

http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Softer-Side-of-Art&id=5212708

http://therealchicagoonline.com/2010/05/06/living-the-dream/

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Holy Toledo, Batman!

Oh what an absolute treat it was to visit the Toledo Museum of Art  this past week! It was Spring Break in my neighborhood, so I took three out of my four kiddos, and met up with Uncle Paul and Aunt Judy to survey the glassy offerings at the Museum’s amazing Glass Pavillion. It was quite an eye-opening and drool inducing experience for me, like a kid in a candy store. At one point it felt like the heavens opened up and angels began singing as I got to see up close examples of glorious glass work I have only seen on the internet or in books.

The titillating experience began in the bathroom where they had the most wonderful sinks!  Of course this glass geek had to capture them on film. Love! My girls were equally impressed. It definitely set the tone for an amazing day of discovery in glass!

And so we journeyed forth to wind our way through the glass Pavillion.  The large, curvy windows on the building were most remarkable architectural glass specimens. Apparently we chose a time in transition for our visit, with many items having recently been moved around. Some, like this breath-taking glass sculpture on the left were missing labels leaving me wanting to know whodunit? I’m not complaining however, because part of the collection was closed off entirely the week prior.

I am now fully immersed in a copy of “Harvey Littelton: A Life in Glass”. YUM!!!!! I’m savoring and appreciating every word as my awareness of Toledo’s historic connection to the studio glass movement and of the key players in the movement continues to expand. This wall of glass installation to the right is titled “Vitrana” by Dominick Labino, a co-conspirator of the studio movement, was outstanding. It’s difficult to convey in words exactly how exciting it was to wander through the Contemporary glass section. I think I was most blown away by seeing Toots Zynsky’s  Filet-de-Verre Fused and thermo formed colored glass threads creation up close. So inspiring! It ALL was. I could have been content to spend the rest of the day camped out in there, drooling, taking it all in, and being introduced to glass artists work I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting. As it was, my family had to pry me away from this room so we could have a bite to eat before the glass blowing demonstration.

My girls very much enjoyed seeing glass blowing up close. In fact, it’s interesting and historically cool to note that they found three stray marbles on the floor that had likely come from the visiting resident artists’ work during the days prior. Now I have come to learn that these are quite noteworthy Johns Manville #475 marbles, which I understand Dominick Labino had suggested Littleton use when the original batch of glass failed during their history-in-the-making 1962 workshop.

There is a very interesting blog post from Glass Quarterly  which talks about the Art residency that took place this past week in Toledo commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Littleton’s 1962 workshops. Those stray marbles my girls came across (and kept after we asked permission) are about the best souvenir I could dream of my girls having to remember this special field trip!

Our dreamy visit came to a close as we took a little time to cross the street over to the main building where I was ecstatic to see this glorious glass sculpture by Venetian maestro Leo Tagliapietra. Though it reminds me of an epididymis (forgive…lol), it is titled “Dinosaur”, where, inspired by the fishes that inhabit the waters in Venice Leo’s homeland, he has attempted to integrate the fluidity of fish with the strength of the dinosaur. This was created in May of 2006 when the Museum’s Hot Shop opened up in the Glass Pavillion.

Well, what a most memorable way to spend a day! So inspiring and humbling at the same time. My work may pale in comparison, but seeing a larger picture of how the Studio Glass Movement has lead to me being able to more easily utilize glass as an artistic medium, and seeing the explosion of creativity that resulted from that movement, gives me huge sense of appreciation and a healthy dose of courage to want to keep up with my little experiments and improve the best I can along the way.

If you are a total glass geek like me, then I encourage you to take the time to watch this informative video on Harvey K. Littleton and the Studio Glass Movement.

Pioneers of Studio Glass from corecubed on Vimeo.

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Operation Stayfree: A Care Package to Kenya

I have a friend I have connected with through the wonders of the internet. We became email & Facebook buddies a couple of years ago after our Sunday school class explored what Christmas is like in Africa. He was kind enough to take time to help answer the many questions my students had at the time. Julius lives in the Kibera slums of Niarobi, Kenya  and has been active in volunteering in his community where many needs exist. Check out this video of the conditions people live in there. Even though the words are in Dutch, you can SEE the need. Watch for the train….

Julius recently shared this post on Facebook:

IT has become a luxury to them. To afford IT is a problem. Many end up engaging in pre-marital sex to get money to buy IT. The girls in the slum can’t afford SANITARY TOWELS. 

It was one of those comments on Facebook that shot right through the screen and pierced my heart. I simply couldn’t let it slip by without some kind of action. Julius’s comment prompted me to send out an email and Facebook message to friends and family regarding a collection I have begun of “sanitary napkins” (non-scented, non-tampon varieties) for a care package to Kenya or what I am affectionately calling “Operation StayFREE”…

Having never done this type of thing before, I have since learned all the wonderful details about the expenses of shipping, and the taxes/fees the person who relieves the package could have to pay.  I trust we will get that part figured out. Right now, Julius and I are working out the logistics of where to send it to.

Imagine my surprise and extreme sense of gratitude, as sanitary napkins keep arriving at my doorstep! It is a subject that really resonates with many women. In fact I have a friend all the way out in Maine who had a hysterectomy last year. She had a large quantity of pads that she no longer needs, and after hearing about this, she has put her pads in the mail to me! She was so excited to know they would be going for such a great purpose. Other dear friends who know me and trust I won’t go on a shopping spree with their money, have generously donated funds for the purchase of more product! We have $195 thus far! Praise the Lord 🙂

I would like to send the care package by 4/9. If by any chance you feel it on your heart to help as well, please go procure some sanitary napkins and get them to me by 4/9! Email me with any questions at Brandie@studiodunndesigns.com . Other helpful hygiene related items are appreciated as well, like toothpaste, soaps, etc.. If it’s easier for you to donate funds I will keep it all in an envelope and use every penny to buy additional product. We are also exploring the best way to transfer the funds to a trusted source in Kibera, so that they can purchase needed supplies there.

This process has really opened up my eyes to the great needs in not only Kenya, but other parts of Africa as well. It’s wonderful to know that there are groups like the one featured in this video, that a good friend made me aware of, who are working to help improve the situation and have a positive impact on the lives of women there.

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