Friday, July 24, 2009

Here's a Tobacco I Can Like!

Light Tobacco color glass by Gaffer, that is. Spare you, and spare me, the debates and opinions about tobacco, the plant, but give me Tobacco, the glass!



Actually, I guess we're gonna have to talk about tobacco, the plant, if I'm gonna tell you exactly why I love this glass. Dried tobacco leaves have different textures. The "trash" leaves at the bottom of the stalk can be so crumbly and raggedy. The smaller "tips" at the top of the plant feel pretty gummy, even though they are dried. The big, smooth "lugs" are the leaves from the middle of the stalk, and they can be beautiful. Those leaves feel smooth and pliable. They have such incredible tones of rich, warm browns. The whole look of those leaves is akin to leather, especially the way the browns move in and out of one another. There will be the dark lines which were the veins of the living plant. There will be the occasional lighter patch of browns with a moth wing texture. There will be little spots that look like nothing so much as bits of burled wood.
When I pick up this face sculpture, I see so many of those characteristics. It instantly makes me say "cigar." I am not a cigarette smoker, but there have been times in my adult life when I have enjoyed smoking a good cigar. I don't think I've done that in a decade, but this glass makes me want to find a tobacco store and buy a single nice cigar. I don't want to smoke it. I just want to look at the wrapper leaf, smell it, touch it, visually drink the rich brown colors.
As I sit here writing this, I am realizing how sad I would be if tobacco were no longer cultivated anywhere. . .almost as sad as I get thinking about the effects of smoking too much of it. I've had family members whose deaths were most assuredly hastened or complicated by years of smoking, so I'm not here to glorify cancer sticks. What I am doing is realizing, once again, in yet another situation, that moderation is a good thing. I find that I can't completely wish away the existence of the tobacco plant. I find myself wondering how Native Americans actually used the plant hundreds of years ago.
A quick search of tobacco leads me to a new-to-me word, entheogen. In a nutshell (and it could be a fairly cracked nutshell, you never know with what you read online), tobacco was used with reverence and as part of rituals. I hope that is accurate, because that notion pleases me. . . it somehow squares away the varied opinions (both bad and good) concerning this plant. Ah, see, moderation.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Here's Your Portal to a New Day

The moment you awaken, the tilt of the sunlight on the shades reminds you that it is a new day. It's easy to forget that, once you get up and start the morning, though-- to do lists with only half the lines crossed off, cats meowing for their chow, kids racing around while you try to figure out what to fix for breakfast, coffee perking so long that it walks on its own because you forgot what you were doing. The hubbub of real life is why we need tangible reminders, symbolic pieces we can pick up and hold in our hands. When you stop for a moment to do that, you give your mind permission to quiet itself and reflect. That's what this Portal is all about. The rosette was inspired by symbols in Mississipian art (Southeastern Ceremonial Complex, if you like to explore things) and thoughts about shamans "traveling" to other worlds. Those thoughts melded with idea that altar objects and tiny shrines and momentos are important to us because they bring symbols to life for us.


That's as far as I got rambling about the meaning small tokens can have for us, and I know that there are as many reasons for appreciating and having these things as there are "things." This tangible reminder tangent has been percolating in my brain lately, though. Somewhere while googling and cruising sites mentioning altars and altar objects, I ran across a person who said the altar she set up in her living room served as a physical reminder to her to live the way she wants to live. We all do that, here and there in our lives, don't we? A treasured picture of the kids on our desk reminds us of why it's good to be a grownup with responsibilities (and of why it's good to learn to leave those responsibilities at a reasonable time so you can be home to see the school play). A seashell from that trip to the beach mentally transports us to a sunny, happy place (and gives us a respite from a less sunny day).

Well, what if we consciously left ourselves these reminders and tokens more often? While the snorting pig on the refrigerator door might be a practical way for dieters to use this idea, I'm really talking about using tokens and meaningful little pieces of art to trigger a good thought as soon as we see it. That's really what we're doing when we decorate our living rooms and plan our outdoor flower gardens, isn't it? Why not give ourselves permission to make this connection, as well as to make conscious decisions to make those connections happen on a daily basis? I'm going to do that, and I hope you will do it often, too. . . it can't hurt to take good care of your own happiness, can it :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Um, Yeah. . . Now I Have a Good Idea What They Were Plotting

Remember the other day when I was wondering why my children so desperately wanted Mommy to torch? Uh, huh, they were up to no good. No hard evidence for that time, but I can tell you what happened last night while I was reading (instead of torching, because I had one of those Mom feelings):
I'm in the bedroom reading, and all of a sudden I lose my hearing. No sound. I wiggle my toes to make sure I can hear that little whish-whish sound. I can hear it, so maybe I didn't just lose my hearing. I listen closely again. No sound of James' fingers tapping the keyboard while he plays a game or designs his own special Mustang or Camaro (check out Ford or Chevy sometime, it is fun). No Hannah Montana from the television, and no sound of Kate singing or digging through my desk drawers in search of craft goodies. I tiptoe around the bedroom corner to see what has happened and find my children watching the one television show forbidden to them. . . Family Guy. . . with the sound muted. . . they are attempting to read cartoon lips and are having a whispered argument about what the characters are saying.
Well, as they say, that's that. Soon as I can find the remote and actually figure out the different user options, they'll be able to watch television again. . .all four or five channels ;-)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Who Thought Up the Four Corners of the Earth?


Think about it. Okay, if you don't have anything better to do for a few minutes, or if you are in the process of procrastinating about something else and need a distraction, think about it. Maybe I should already know this answer, given all the different snippets about cultures and religions that I have read in the past three years, but I don't.
This rosette was planted on this piece of glass as a mini-homage to the symbols found in Southeastern Ceremonial Complex art. You can click on the link and read more about the Mississipians, mound builders, and Cahokia, but this is a wider topic, one that spans the immensity between those four corners of the earth. The rosette is really just another version of a cross, and the cross as a symbol spans time and earth. Someone had to be the first person to come up with the idea of crossing two lines to indicate directions. Actually, if you think about it, two directions (a single line) don't provide enough reference points to give someone directions, three directions (a sort of inside out triangle) would not allow for opposing directions (which have to make it easier to describe things), and more than four directions (say, the eight points on a compass that shows not only N, E, S, and W, but also NE, SE, SW, and NW) is really just an elaboration on four. As for the names and orientations of those four directions, they would eventually have to be universal, or directions would mean nothing.
Ah, but this must have been an idea that has been discovered many times over, by many people who were each facing the need to describe directions and indicate places. You almost have to argue that such a basic concept becomes elemental to cultures, too. It becomes not only a way to tell each other how to get to specific places, but also a way to organize your thoughts and beliefs about the world. Sun rises in the East and begins the day. Sun sets in the West and ends the day. Eventually, the connection is made with the inner world, with beginnings opposite endings and heavens opposite underworlds. From there, crosses in all their many forms seem a natural choice to symbolize the workings of the spiritual world.
Just think about it. How many people independently stumbled and rambled upon the idea of "the four corners of the Earth"? Amazing to think about, isn't it?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Okay, If I Had to Drive a Gremlin. . .

. . .it would need to have its very own accessory, a matching battery powered Gremlin Mini-Me. Now, that is the way to make a Gremlin appealing to me! Before this discussion goes any further, let me add that this Gremlin and all the others at the AMO car show in Collinsville yesterday were very nice and were fun to see. My personal dislike of Gremlins doesn't mean I can't appreciate the hard work these people have put into finding parts, cleaning up, fixing up, perfecting, etc., their chosen AMCs! I can't imagine the sheer amount of time and hard work that goes into restoring an automobile, and those who finish such a project certainly have my admiration.
Definitely, I want to make sure people know this is just a personal opinion thing, this reaction I have to most Gremlins. In case I haven't mentioned it, you have to know about the ongoing "discussion" in our household, the one about some of the ugliest cars ever collected by gearheads with a fondness for American Motors Corporation products. The discussion is mainly about how much my husband (yep, AMC nut) loves the Gremlin he has setting in his garage and about how much I (nope, not that AMC nutty) fairly detest the thing (at least enough to enjoy making all kinds of snide remarks about its shape, color, whatever). Oh, there are plenty of AMC's that make me drool in admiration. Those would be Marlins, Javelins, AMXs, Rebels (unless they are pale yellow with NASA/duct tape silver upholstery), some Ambassadors, Rambler station wagons, and SC/Ramblers. But Gremlins or Pacers? Umm, no can do, and Ricky knows this. This knowledge that his wife's aversion to cars that resemble a pair of Hush Puppy suede shoes with wheels slapped on the bottom is exactly what fuels his glee when he's cruising eBay looking for old cars in need of a home. "Oh, Bunny, look at this one! It's within driving distance. It even has a Levi Strauss interior. . ." generally elicits a few pat responses from moi:
  • Ewwwwwwwwww! It's a Gremlin.
  • Hey, wait, though. . .I do like a Levi's interior!
  • But, still, it's a Gremlin. Ewwwwwwww.
I just can't help it. Please forgive me, Gremlin lovers! If it gets me any mercy, please, take into consideration that I do absolutely adore the Gremlin emblem. Such a cute emblem! It really gives those cars a special touch. Anyway, live and let live, and all that :)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Elephreakingwhat??

My advice to you: Don't do something just because you feel like you ought to take advantage of the opportunity even though you really aren't in the mood to do whatever it is.
Translation: The kids wanted me to torch (and what's up with that, by the way? nothing good, I'm sure, considering they must have been plotting to watch something on t.v. or youtube that I've told them is a no-no...). I needed to make a few more things so I can keep adding a listing a day in the Etsy shop. I had an hour to spare. BUT I wasn't really in the mood to melt glass. . .
and that's what breeds some really strange beads.
Elephreaking what? Elephreakingunfinishedsculpturethought, that's what.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Anybody Sleepy Yet? No? Then Just Read This. . .

Heh. Heh. Heh. I crack myself up.
It's been an entertaining but long day, so without much ado, here's the newest Etsy listing:


Some Enchanted Dream
Some night, as you are twisting and turning and trying to leave the problems of the day behind, you'll glance over at your nightstand and see the Enchantress. She'll remind you those cares of the world are not allowed to traipse into your sanctuary at night, and you'll imagine her begone-ing and shoo-ing the stragglers out the door as you drift to sleep.

The Enchantress just strikes me as a serene but really strong face, and I am proud to have shaped her from molten glass and pulled her out of my kiln. She is actually made of two pieces, but the collar and the face are both a combination of Gaffer clear glass liberally sprinkled with Cobalt and Gold enamel powders. Most of the enamel has been melted into the clear glass, and I feel compelled to make sure you know SHE HAS A LITTLE SHINE IN THE SUNLIGHT BUT IS FAIRLY DRAB IN THE SHADE OR IN ARTIFICIAL LIGHT. Hey, that's not a bad thing for a sleep enchantress, though, is it?




Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Princess Barefoot and the Black & Decker Pedicure

Don't laugh. Yet. I haven't actually done it. Yet. I do have to wonder, though. Which would be more expensive in the long run-- weekly pedicures, beaucoup $$ spent on foot lotions, or the emergency trip to the hospital when this Black & Decker idea goes awry?
We've already established that I am not a girly-girl. Weekly pedicures are out. It's not merely a matter of the expense, either. First off, I was lost the one and only time I got a pedicure. What do I do now? Where do I sit? How did I know you were supposed to pick your polish color right then? To make matters worse, the technician (what's the right title here? foot rubber extraordinaire? toenail scrubber? beauteous-uppus-footus person?) and I did not speak the same language. That's all well and good, until someone is trying to make you understand what she's going to do with your feet in that vat of roiling water! Seriously, I felt like a dweeb, and I couldn't even ask a question because who knows how to pantomime "sorry my feet are so rough and you have to touch them, and by the way, that slapping and beating on my fat calves is not really something I enjoy" ??
If pedicures, at least regular ones, are not an option, then what about all those special lotions in the foot care aisle at the local Wally-world? Six dollars for a tube of Miraculous Callous Remover, six dollars for a bottle of WowItWorks softening lotion, six dollars for a Callous Removing DooHickey with a handle, another six dollars for an already assembled Callous Removing DooHickey because I couldn't figure out how to attach the handle of the previous one. It all adds up, and I still haven't subtracted rough feet from my life equation.
You might think I'm carrying things a little too far when I contemplate using that Black & Decker sander and polisher on these sad soles, and you might be right. I'm just a tad bit flummoxed by this whole pretty feet dilemma.
Princess Barefoot was my "handle" waaaaaaaaaaaay back in the 1970's when CB's were all the rage. For those of you who've never watched Smokey and the Bandit or listened to C.W. McCall, CB stands for citizen band radio. It was fun, especially the all important decision upon just the right nickname for yourself. My father's handle was Baby Huey. It's been so long ago, I can't remember the handles my mom and brother and sister used. Of course, I remember mine-- Princess Barefoot. Never met a shoe I couldn't like, BUT I also never met a shoe I wanted to wear more than five minutes if I wasn't being stared down by a No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service sign.
Barefoot is the way to go. Pfft. Who cares if some guru somewhere can walk across a bed of hot coals? I can walk across a gravel driveway without flinching. Nay, in my better barefoot days, I could hip, hop, almost run across a short expanse of gravel.
Sadly, I can't do that any more. You see, I've grown up and realized these things. If I must wear shoes, then I'd prefer those shoes to be sandals. If I prefer to wear sandals, then I must be prepared for the inevitability that someone is going to see the bottom of my feet. If someone is going to see the bottom of my feet, then I guess I'd better attempt to keep the callous population under at least minimal control. If I wish to keep the callous population under some semblance of control, then I must not go barefoot. . .ever. A single day of going barefoot foils all the lotion slathering and foot soaking. . .usually within ten minutes. Drat it all.
You need some stock market advice? Let me suggest you look into petroleum. Petroleum, as in Vaseline or any other petroleum jelly, is going to see an upsurge in sales. Uh, huh. I've figured it all out. From now on, I'm going barefoot when my feet touch the ground, but as soon as I sit or sleep, my feet are going to be buried in a tub of Vaseline.
Hey, wish me luck, okay?
Oh, and I wouldn't ask to borrow any of my shoes. You know, just in case I did have to drag my feet out of the tub and put on footware. . .

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

SmokePetal the FireBlush Fairy

Remember sitting by the fire and noticing those little flecks of cinders floating up from the edges of the fire? Those were FireBlush fairies, second cousins to Cinderella and great-granddaughters of fire goddesses. Remember looking at them and wondering where they were going? They were dancing and playing truth-or-dare with their sisters, dares usually being along the lines of "dare ya to float as high as the wind will take ya" and truths revealing things like "your favorite mortal." Remember watching them as they rose and then fell to the sides of the fire? They were traveling farther from home than we realized. You see, FireBlush fairies are born in the outer embers of a circular fire. The "Blush" comes from the glow of the heat upon their cheeks, and it's a telltale sign of their intense craving for heat. The floating and spinning on warm currents from the fire is much like swimming in water is for us. It can be a gentle pastime or a grand adventure. So, next time you sit by a fire, let the twinkle in your eye be a signal to the FireBlush fairies that you love fire as much as they do. . .and don't be surprised when they invite you into their honorary sisterhood, for after all, they noticed the blush on your firewarmed cheeks, too!

Monday, July 13, 2009

I Don't Care If It's THE Best Seat in the House!

Stay out of my flowers, you silly ol' tomcat!
Tom seems to think he can flop down wherever his little fanny desires when he comes to visit our deck. Oh, you know I pitched a fit. . . but I had to take a picture first :)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Crust. Crusty. Crusted Over. Why Do These Things Instantly Appeal to Me?

Crust. Crusty. Crusted over. Why do these things instantly appeal to me? I can't resist a rust encrusted piece of metal. Any old broken tool or unidentified piece of whoknowswhat suddenly develops a voice and calls, even screams, to me to pick it up and take it home. I can't resist pictures of barnacle encrusted sunken treasures. If I still did the scuba diving thing, I'd surely get in trouble for grabbing the pretties underwater and trying to take them home.


Now, I have a new way to love the word "crusted." I am enthralled with adding a huge, gunked up layer of enamel powder to a piece of molten glass, then flashing it through the flame just enough to attach it. Oh, man, do you know how you feel when you first see something in person and realize just how cool it really is? You know you aren't the first person to ever see it or do it, but all of a sudden you feel like you've invented sliced bread! That's the way I'm feeling this morning. . . and it is a good feeling, even when you know how inconsequential your "discovery" is in the real world.


Of course, I'm going to have to find a better way to describe it, a way that doesn't involve the word "crusty." It's not a pretty word, is it? It doesn't appeal to most people, either. Funny thing about words, the right ones seem to enjoy playing hide-n-seek more than they should, LOL.




Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sucked into the Vortex...

Sucked into the vortex . . . of a good read.
Never seen the Broadway play. Could be living in a vacuum, all the pop culture I seem to miss.
Was the literature minor who absolutely adored reading Grendel. . .what a smartass, literary smack upside the head to Beowulf. Add Wicked to my list of good-to-be-bad stories worth reading.
I'd give you links, but hey, you can spell, and I have more chapters to read ;-)




Friday, July 10, 2009

Hidden Goddess, Hidden Goodness

With the first glance, I thought I would hide her. With the second glance, I realized she would not stand for that. She's my first attempt at adding glass powder to a goddess sculpture. The Forest Green and Gold Lustre combination I mixed in the salt shaker is a good one. It's the execution of the idea that requires some more practice.
For all you glass peeps, here's what I've learned (and not learned) so far about enamels:
  • I'm not sure what to call them, actually. Enamels? Some of the finely ground ones are labeled "talc," so Talcs? Powders? Frit seems to be for more coarsely ground glass.
  • Whatever you call them, they are full of possibilities! Sprinkle on top of molten glass, flash through the flame to attach them to said molten glass, and behold, you have created texture. Melt, swirl, blend, and behold, you have created a new color of glass.
  • So, Tasha, you were right in thinking I should try some of that pixie dust you tried to give me. . . a sprinkling of powder can create a sparkling frost on a sculpture.
  • The blending is going to be my thing, I think. Midnight Blue and Cobalt powders melted into an ivory base turn into a gorgeously irridescent, deep blue shine.
  • Rolling the molten glass across a thin layer of enamel works fine for round or barrel or tab shapes, but it isn't going to work well for sculpted shapes. Rolling is great for smooth shapes, though, because you can roll and melt, roll and melt, roll and melt, to your intense color craving heart's content.
  • The salt shakers are going to be fine for adding enamels to sculpted pieces.
  • This is a silly little thing, but I quickly realized I need to be more ambidextrous at the torch. Getting all sides of a sculpture molten and quickly shaking powder over them is awkward if you try to do it all right-handed. I missed certain angles every time.
  • Practice and play, practice and play, that's gonna be the key to making the most of enamels.

For all of us, not just glass peeps, here's what I've learned about hidden goddesses and hidden goodnesses:

  • Hiding a less-than-perfect attempt at anything isn't really necessary. Hiding makes you feel like a less-than-perfect attempt yourself. Sharing your progress, no matter how tiny the steps, liberates your soul in an unexpected way. It isn't a matter of giving in and saying, "look at me screw this up." It is a matter of acknowledging the work you are doing to get to a goal.
  • Unless you make it a point to look for the goodness hidden in a situation, quick glances around you will only reveal the big, obvious aspects. However, if you train yourself to be more aware of the smaller details, finding the good ones becomes a natural response.
  • There is a joy to be found in leaving a goddess (or a goodness) hidden in a place where someone will likely run across it and find joy in it.

That's it for now. Hope you each are having a positively satisfying Friday!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Road Trip Junk

My favorite road trip anymore is the four hour one to my Mom and Dad's in Kentucky. A great big hunk of the drive is on the interstate. Interstates are quicker than winding country roads, it's true. It's also true that what they lack in personality, they make up for in boredom. Ho-hum . . . unless you realize life is what you make it, and you can make one of those long drives an island of the "different" in an ocean of the "ordinary."
Here's how that works for me. First of all, I make no claim that my ordinary eating habits are healthy. I accepted a long time ago that I like junk and cannot do the cold turkey give-it-up. Ah, but the roadtrip stop calls for something different or out of the ordinary. When I pull into the MotoMart in Cynthiana, Indiana, I'm ready for a break. The kids and I take our time choosing a drink and a snack. James goes for things like YooHoo or chocolate milk (or Dr. Pepper) and GobStoppers or Doritos. Kate likes a bottle of Bug Juice or an interesting bottle of water (flip top caps are a weakness for both of us, even though tap water does the trick at home) and Peach Rings or a Little Debbie oatmeal cake. For me, it's a Diet Coke or a bottled coffee drink or a flavored water and whatever strikes me as something different for the snack. Sometimes it's Turtles. Sometimes it's red licorice. This time it was these Cheese Wheels.
As for the Cheese Wheels, my opinion is "once every twenty years is enough." But, hey, that's the whole point of the stop, this trying different things and breaking up the drive with a bit of cheap entertainment in the form of a drink and a snack.
Now, I was going to write more and even add lots of links, but maybe the radio versus CD's part of the essay can wait for another day. Suffice it to say that I am not a radio listener during my everyday routine. Road trips are another story, though. That's when I get my radio fix (liberally interspersed with favorite CD's).
Howzabout you? What part of a road trip is your favorite?


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sunnnnnnnnnnnny!!





Sunshine.
Sunny day.
Sunflowers.
Sun!


Light blue and deep green complementing one another.
Deep bright yellow adding some punch.
I have a hunch, just a little hunch,
that Mother Nature might have whispered more than a few sweet nothings in the ears of artists over the centuries.
Whadya think?

Monday, July 6, 2009

...and the Pursuit of Happiness

The "pursuit" has ruled our little world this past weekend! I'd show you pictures, if I could figure out how to do it. In fact, I transferred the perfect pictures to my parents' computer. James, Kate, Elizabeth, and Matthew are jumping on the trampoline like four pieces of popcorn or four superheroes sans capes and tights. Smiles on every face, hair flying, arms waving in victory over gravity. . .pictures stuck in some file I can't figure out how to get Blogger to retrieve.
So, what would be in your perfect picture of "the pursuit of happiness"? I can think of so many things. Bet you can, too!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Please, Be Kind to the Glass Virgin...Well, "Almost" Virgin


^^^ Big hole bead with layer of Chalcedony and swipe or two of clear Gaffer on top
*****
Please, be kind to the virgin :) You will see bubbles. You will see murky colors. You will see whopsided big hole bead. Be kind. I'm almost a virgin at encasing, using reactive glass, and making big hole beads.
*****
Heehee, I said "almost a virgin." Kind of sounds like something a crooked politician might say, doesn't it?
*****
Ahem. Back to the glass. I do believe the lampworkers can be divided into two camps-- those who encase, and those who don't encase. In my case, I don't encase because I don't have patience. Zip. Nada. None. Encasing requires practice, practice, practice. It requires being patient enough to let the layer of glass you are encasing cool off just enough so that the molten clear glass you are spreading across it doesn't muck it up. Encasing is not for the faint of heart, I made very minimal attempts as a beginner, and I now avoid it like the plague. Fairly early in my lampworking obsession/compulsion, I discovered that I like to sculpt and that I like to write with stringer. Pshaw, who needs to work on encasing when you've got sculpting and stringer work to keep you happily occupied? Hence my description of myself as an encasing virgin, LOL.
*****
Reactive glass is another part of lampworking that I have avoided to a large extent. Again, the excuse is my favored sculpting obsession. I like to work BIG, and it seems a waste to use up lots of reactive glass on a sculpture when dark ivory does the trick so well and in such a classical-looking manner. I know from experience that building up a base of plain (ie relatively inexpensive) color glass and then coating it with the more expensive color does not work well for me. It tends to dampen the gracefulness of my sculptures, almost as if the second layer of glass is smothering the figure trying to come out of the ivory underneath it. Oh, thanks to the generosity of glass peeps, I have tried a bit of raku (before I sucked it up with the shop vac) and little pieces of other pretty-pretty glass. . .see? "Almost virgin."
*****
Big hole beads are another one of those really cool trends that had escaped my notice until Nancy Larkin sent me a beautiful handful of big hole beads. Oooooooh, now that is some pretty! I went to the hardware, bought some 5/8" steel rod, came home, and made myself some big mandrels. . . and actually made three or four extremely crooked big hole beads. That was a few months ago, right before I packed away the torch. "Almost" virgin strikes again :)
*****
So, toodles for now. The "almost" glass virgin has things to do. Wish the to-do list included torch time today!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Frit and the Vacuum Cleaner

"YAY! ANG is BACK in the SADDLE!"
-- Becky's Facebook reply to yesterday's blog post
Bless you, Becky, I think it ended up being more like riding bareback on a bronco and landing face first in the muck. Scratch that. It really wasn't a rough ride, it's just that the one measly bead I ended up making is muck-worthy, LOL.
I don't know about you all, but I remember well the fear of turning on the kiln for the first time, wondering if it would explode without warning because I had inadvertently pushed the wrong button. The propane tank didn't scare me so much, but when I finally tried an oxygen tank I felt that something's-crawling-up-my-back fear with each turn of the valve. Of course, practice and experience quickly alleviate the fears, and you learn to keep a careful eye on your equipment without worrying yourself into a perpetual state of twisted panties riding up your butt while you try to torch.
But yesterday?? Yesterday, I suddenly developed a case of the I'm-not-sure's. Screw the torch mount back onto the edge of the worktable. Check. Angle iron and a Great White torch can be a little heavy to hold with one hand while fumbling with screwing the nuts back onto the bolts, but check. (And let's not even talk about how strange that last sentence sounds!) Attaching regulator to propane tank. Check. Not hard at all. Oxygen tank and regulator. Check. If you don't get that right, oxygen bursts from the valve, so there ya go. Turn on the torch, light the gas. Check.
Adjust the flame next, right? PROBLEM! The flame is wobbling here, there, and everywhere. What the heck did I do?? Well, when you're unsure of yourself around this kind of equipment, the best thing to do is turn everything off and walk away for a while. Walk away, I did. Turn off all of my equipment, I couldn't figure out. DUH! The raised writing on this particular oxygen tank's valve has worn down through the years (it's a rental exchange, so ya get what ya get when you exchange tanks), I couldn't read or feel the direction of the arrows to "close" or "open," and all of a sudden my brain froze and couldn't remember which I should turn the valve. I know, I know, I should've been able to tell by looking at how the needles on the regulator moved when I turned it. Anyway, I finally called the hubby to ask him about something else and to slip in a weeeeeeeee little question about oxygen tanks, LOL.
When all was said and done, I had about twenty minutes left to torch something. That isn't much compared to the hour or more I'm used to torching to create one sculpture. But I *had* to make something, didn't I? I can tell you that was one funky little bead!
I can also tell you that this all brought back my frit and vacuum cleaner nightmare. See, I have virtually no experience with frit, let alone with reactive frit. Soon as I looked at that jar of Chalcedony frit, I remembered the vacuum incident. Amber from Naos Glass once sent me some raku frit so I could try it. It was in a cute little vial, and it was just enough to create a frit addict. . . if it hadn't accidentally been sucked up by the shop vac while I was cleaning around the worktable! Argh. I was mortified. Not to mention, at the time, I was pretty inexperienced with using a shop vac and didn't think to just open it up and fish out the vial of raku. Long after the vac had been emptied into the trash, I realized my mistake.
After the I-sucked-up-the-frit trauma, I just never tried frit again. . .
And that, my dears, is the longwinded version of why you don't get any glass goodie pictures from me today :)

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