“Wrapping” up Christmas – Moving on to the New Year

The rest of the mad dash to meet the Christmas deadline photos are below … As well as some pretty pics – fruits of all that labor.  The kids sure are spoiled monster brats – but whatcha gonna do?  I love them and want them happy …


I made candles … yummy winter scents that had the whole house smelling great.  Family packages full of things we make – candles, bowls, ornaments and wine … pretty!  Smile  And my trashed studio … it’s all cleaned up and ready for my next round of projects now.


So – having officially survived Christmas weekend – both at home and work … It’s time to start moving towards the New Year … what that means for me as a mom, nurse and warm glass artist … I tell myself every year that I won’t be making any silly resolutions – but I always do.  They usually come out sounding something like this – “I’m going to be a kinder, gentler me …”  And so goes this year’s resolution:  I will NOT get upset, pass judgment or take it personally when patients or visitors are dumb. 

Case in point – Christmas evening, just after starting my shift, I had a mother hit the call light just to ask me (the idiot that responded) when she and her child (the patient) could leave, as they’d been there “for 3 hours, and it is Christmas day [snarl] …?”   The new me will not immediately wonder who forced her, at gunpoint no doubt,  to come to the ER in the first place? 

As we’ve entered round 86 of the GI flu in my small community, the new me will not cringe when I see the 18th patient of the night with the chief complaint of “Vomiting x 2 (whole) hours” … 

I will not spend anymore time on wasted visions of making a magic wand, complete with pixie dust to sprinkle over people who present to the ER refusing all diagnostic tests but demanding to feel better …

The new me will not ponder over family lineage, trying to determine just how inbred a person is …

You get the idea … now to see how long it lasts … Smile

Back in the studio … I’ve had a coffin slumping:  Pretty bowls and spoon rests … I got a new mold for Christmas – and used that ugly ‘blue coal swirling blob’ blank to test it out.  I like the shape of the bowl a lot, and this ugly bowl will be a great addition to my work bowls in the studio …;  I’m working on my next round of blanks:  I LOVE this one – fall colors (my colors).  It is super thick, so that when I de-bubble, it will grow to (hopefully) a 14-15 inch blank (since I gave my last large bowl to my sister …);  Two other blanks (Shades of Amber and a greener Amethyst & Peridot).


I will also be focusing on what new projects and techniques I want to try … quenching glass, pressing glass, boiled glass, powdered glass … I’ll probably take a class on PMC.  Etching glass, painting with glass, enamel and glass … SOO many projects …

I’ll leave you with my Christmas photo … not so flattering, but it looks like I could be deep in thought over the New Year.  Actually, it was more ‘shell-shock post Christmas morning’ meets ‘lack of sleep numbness’ … Thanks John! Smile


Merry Christmas!

I can say that – and mean it, now!  I’ve about reached the bottom of my to-do list in preparation for Christmas … time to sit back and enjoy some Egg Nog (spiked, of course).

Grandpa will have no reason to yell at me this Christmas … here are his slippers:  Done knitting – looking like they’re made for a giant at this point; Fresh from the washing machine, felted … still need a ‘haircut’;  One done – one to go; Ready to dry – with 3 days to spare!  Ha!!  Smile


Got 99% of the gifts purchased – and wrapped!  Just need to pick up some stocking stuffers – which is on the list for tomorrow.  I’ll even have time to make some candles … Here’s my studio – turned into ‘wrapping central’, with a seasonal decoration – slumped bottle style:


I’ve been playing with some new color combinations in my production kiln … some good, some not so much … This first one must have reacted – it’s supposed to be transparent (with a small amount of opaque) blues, transparent amber and white … somewhere along the line it became a ‘blue coal’ swirling blob  – all black/gray and blue – not so attractive;  I’m liking the yellow/green blanks;  And there’s my daughter’s ‘Eclipse’ – now ready for slumping.

 Blue coal blob DeBubbling Eclipse blank

And a shot of the babies … we tried ‘gruel’ for the first time today, as they’re almost 4 wks old.  They weren’t too keen for it just yet – But Tunie loved it!  The babies are starting to realize there’s a bigger world out there than just their puppy bed … starting to think about exploring.  Smile


I’ll be working a bit over the holidays, but still plan on celebrating with family and friends.  Which is my wish for you – that you can enjoy quality time with those you love!  Merry Christmas!!


Back in business ….

Yayyyy!  My relays came today … and my production kiln is up and runnin’!


Isn’t that a beautiful sight!  Smile

These (x2) were the culprits … and there’s John with his fat hands replacing the relays in that tiny little crowded space – it was touch and go for a minute, but we did it!  Smile


Meanwhile, I’ve committed to knitting my grandfather another pair of felted slippers … He likes them and he’s not real subtle about DEMANDING a new pair just about every time I see him.  But, at 86, he’s earned the right to be … lovingly snarly. 


Had another great compliment today … we’ve been going to the post office and UPS store daily – lots of shipping going on.  The staff at the UPS store today surprised me when I stopped in … ‘Ohh – it’s you!  We spent a long time looking on-line at your stuff yesterday … it’s beautiful … all of it … just amazing … I especially loved the Christmas Bowl!’  (She really kept going on like that …) Then she called her co-worker over and started all over again!  Wow … I don’t know if John paid them to go on like this, but … it was nice!  Smile

Took the boys Christmas (clothes) shopping today.  Just can’t beat shopping with boys … we were done in less than an hour, blew a sizeable wad of money and off we went.  No drama, no hesitancy or indecision … nice!

Had some romp time with Olivia, one of our Neo’s yesterday … she loves the snow!  Gotta sniff at it and shove your face RIGHT in it!  Then she wants hugs and kisses … silly girl!


Limbo …

As an ER nurse, I don’t do ‘in limbo’ very well … but here I am … waiting for my part to come from the kiln company.  I called last week – customer service was great!  Very customer-friendly, and she assured me she’d get the part out to me right away.  (If you ever find yourself comparing kiln manufactures – I would recommend JenKen …)  So, now I’m anxiously checking the mailbox everyday … during the busiest mail season of the year, patiently waiting for my new relay switch.

With this extra time on my hands, I was playing around with Facebook, and am trying to create a studio page … if you’d like to see lots of pictures of glass bowls, ornaments, what-not … I did manage to upload those:  just search Clayton Hill Studio on Facebook.  Smile

I’m also wrapping up my gift to my uncle in Connecticut … every year we send a cheese/snack/candy basket, as my thought is everyone needs more empty calories around the holidays … so in keeping with tradition, I’m sending one of my bowls filled with Harry & David goodies.  Now to get it safely packaged and shipped … Disappointed smile

Christmas bowl/basket

I do have a couple of finished projects, from last weeks coffin slump, and I’ve been playing with beaded wire (on cheese spreaders – yep, trying to stay busy …) :

Latest ...new Pretty in Pink bowlBlue Poppy plate - iridescent glassLarge Coffee n Cream Bowlnewest Christmas BowlSlumped textured wine bottle with glass beaded knife

And I have one lonely blank … my youngest daughter recently ‘hung out’ with me in the studio, and this is her first glass project, waiting for it’s turn for a de-bubbling run …  She’s named it ‘Eclipse’ … hmm – think she’s a Twilight fan? 

Eclipse slab

Tomorrow I’ll be away from the studio all day (mandatory day shift in-service – my favorite!) … with Michigan’s recent snowfall, and current temperatures – I’d much rather stay holed-up in the house … playing with the babies – who opened their eyes over the weekend!  Smile

Yorkie baby 2.5 wks oldAwww ... teddy bear face!

Be Careful What You Ask For …

When will I learn?!?  I’m an ER nurse … this means I’m a pretty superstitious sort – and yet … It looks like I’ll be slowing down in my studio after all … I’m receiving a thermocouple error on my production kiln.  (Which means it’s not running – AT ALL….)

Thermocouple ERROR!!!

 I’m hoping for a simple fix, but … we’ll see.  (Must be time to learn about HOW kilns work … really would have been happy waiting to learn about it, though.)  I discovered this ‘little problem’ as I was trying to fuse my next batch of spoon rests … I think they’ll be pretty (if) when I can get them fused/slumped.

 Emerald City Spoon Rests (future)

I do have the coffin running with a large collection of bowls for slumping …

 Coffin slumping

There’s another pink bowl (special request) in there.  Fortunately for my Number One Child (that would be John, the DH) – my production kiln didn’t die before I got this made, as he gave away my other pink bowl(!) … could’ve killed him earlier this week!  Instead, I sent him to Lansing to buy more pink glass.  AND, he’ll help me fix my kiln.  Then, maybe after a decade or so … I’ll forgive him.  Smile

Pretty in Pink (II) bowl

I have some more ornament ideas I want to try … And – some fun projects with shattered bottle glass (recycled wine bottles) … So, I need my production kiln back!

In the meantime, I’m playing with decorating cheese spreaders … kinda cute.  And, keeping myself busy making some Origami Christmas boxes:

 New (beaded) cheese spreader Origami Boxes

I’ll leave you with him … He’s from a previous litter, but still … too cute!  Meanwhile, Tunie and pups are doing great – eating, sleeping (and pups are growing).  Looks like we’ll be having another litter of Yorks (from our Monet), due around (ON??) Christmas day … Smile


A time to reflect …

Saturday’s craft show was good.  And I learned so much that day … now, it’s time to figure out the best way to move forward.  We did well – not great, but good.  My ‘hope’ had been to sell so much, that I essentially cleared off my dining room table, making room for the next series of projects.  Basically an unrealistic goal, I know …

Our booth

We had tons of compliments … The best was the lady that said, as she approached our ‘thrown together’ display …“Ohhhhh – REAL art!”  While she didn’t buy anything – it was a great compliment.  It also pointed out that a craft show in a rural, country/farming community is probably not our best venue.  We were ‘competing’ with toy swords made of foam and pipe insulation/tubing, mason jar candles and decorations made from Christmas floral picks … Great stuff – just not ‘artsy’ …

My on-line shops have been steadily picking up traffic over the months compared to when I first ‘opened’ them, but … neither bazaars nor on-line sales are enough to even partially recoup costs of supplies I like to ‘burn through’ (ha ha) … To date, this is my most expensive hobby – by far (and John thought yarn was expensive! Smile) … While I certainly have enough supplies to keep at it for quite a while yet, I just can’t justify the ‘hog wild’ spending spree I’ve had over the last 13 months … So, my dilemma – trudge on and find some other venues (galleries, more ‘artsy’ shows, something else?), slow down (and maybe lose the interest/traffic I’ve built up), or walk away …

There are folks that make a lifestyle involving traveling from show to show.  With my current work schedule, our kids the age that they are, and our four-legged family – that’s just not an option.  I don’t think I’d enjoy it, even if it was …

The flip side I believe I know to be true – even though I’m not a ‘business major’:  Expect financial loss for at least a year or more  … As it’s just a hobby, and not a means of support – I certainly have time to reflect before I make any decisions …


Bubonic Plague …

So – I got my Tetanus/Pertussis immunization shot on Monday morning, and have felt like road-kill all week … sore muscles, achy joints, headache, my arm is red/swollen and John tells me it’s now including my forearm area … I’m either reacting to my shot or I have the Plague … While I’m glad I won’t be inadvertently  passing Whooping Cough on to some poor infant – I sure wish I’d known I was going to feel like this all week.

In the meantime, I’ve tried to stay productive in the studio.  Somewhere along the line, I decided I wanted to make more ornaments … I have 19 cooling in the kiln now.  With that much time at the grinder, I wonder when I’ll get sensation back in my fingers …

While trying to decide how to set up for the craft show, I’ve been taking stock of our stock.  We’ve made some 90+ bowls this year, 50+ dichroic cabs, 8 night lights, 30+ ornaments, 50+ magnets and 30+ slumped bottles (and a Partridge in a Pear Tree) … Wow!  I guess I really like my new hobby.  Smile  But back to prepping for the show – it’s amazing how small 10X6 feet is … In my head, we’d have room for so much more … Just not enough room, so we decided to skip the night-lights, as that display is too big.   I’ll try to take a photo or two once we actually set up, but you get the general idea … And, we decided to bring our electronic photo frame, filled with process pics and our stock – kinda neat:

Entry way rough 'display'  Slide show picture frame

The coffin loaded with future Poppy plates (iridescent glass) and ornaments:

 Ornaments and Poppy plates New ornament - pre-firing

The coffin loaded with the final batch of blanks for de-bubbling – which should give me time to slump tomorrow … um, I mean later today:

Last step before slumping

Time to sleep for a bit … Then I need to clean up this studio!!  But the Yorks say it’s bed-time (and poor Winston has some awful bed-head) …

Studio madness - where's the maid? Sleepy Yorks

Tick … Tock …

At the end of the day – a good story:  Tunie had her pups on Thanksgiving day … 2 boys and a girl.  On Saturday she went to the vet – she wasn’t eating, had a fever and I thought I could still feel ‘something’ in her belly.  She had an emergency section, as she had retained POC’s (‘fetal stuff’).  She is now doing great – as are her pups.  She’s back to her spunky, finicky self – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Smile

Tunie and her 3 babiesOur youngest son had the flu on Thanksgiving day – so his big ‘feast’ was Ginger Ale.  But he loved the turkey sandwiches on Friday.  All is healthy and well at home.  OK, not well – as I’ve started the neurotic dash for the craft show.  Even though I promised myself low-maintenance/no stress – I just can’t do it.  The kilns will run round-the-clock till the wee hours of the morning Saturday … More ornaments came out this weekend, bottles slumping as I type, and the poor production kiln will be running non-stop.  I’ve got just enough time for one last major coffin slumping (had one this weekend too) – so the blanks will keep coming …  And, I want to try to squeak out a few more poppy plates (in iridescent red, blue and peach).  And – I’ve got an idea that might work nice for an ornament I want to try … I know, I know … I make MYSELF crazy!

More ornaments New blue bowl

Dickens II bowl Blue Moon Bowl

Decadence II bowl Alchemy Bowl

 Speaking of which – this weekend certainly was (crazy) – at work.  I was in charge on Sunday (WHY anyone thinks that is a good idea, I don’t know) … Apparently in honor of the largest shopping weekend of the year, we too, decided to pick up the volume … At one point, we had received, triaged, and settled seven ambulances in under an hour …. uggghhh!  And, unfortunately, as we get closer and closer to the holidays, we’ll see more depressed, suicidal/overdose patients …  Bah Humbug!!  On a brighter note (??), I met a woman this weekend that I want to have adopt me.  She had a displaced wrist fracture (means broken REALLY bad).  I was a couple of minutes into triaging her before she casually pointed it out.  OH MY!  OUCH!!  When we got to (my) dreaded question in triage, “on a scale of 0-10, how bad is your pain?”  She, again casually says, “I have a pretty high pain tolerance … but this hurts … maybe a 5 …” as she flops her upper arm/elbow to bring her wrist up onto her lap!  My HERO!!!  Which is why I’m keeping my whining to a minimum … I got my latest mandatory shot at work (tetanus/pertussis booster) – and my arm is SORE!  Smile

Since it’s been so long since we ‘worked’ a craft show, we’ll be setting up our ‘booth’ in the dining room this week, to figure out how to safely display all our GLASS for perusing pleasure … (I‘ll have nightmares when I DO sleep this week about monster children with grabby fingers tossing glass bowls in the air …) But, I started tonight with our small jewelry box …

Jewelry box 

Time to make the donuts … um, I mean cut the glass … Smile  But here are a couple of photos of Tunie’s little Doberman Mice … no really – they’re Yorkshire Terrier pups!

Tunie baby Tunie baby Tunie baby

Happy Thanksgiving!

Since Tunie is still very pregnant and sticking very close – she gets up every time I do, the poor little heifer … now is a good time to sit at the computer.  We just might have Thanksgiving babies … how wonderful!

And – John surprised me with a new gift … It’s awesome!  And tell me – who doesn’t want a ‘Black Bull’???  (You’re jealous, right? Smile)  It’s a sandblasting cabinet … no more outside in freezing weather, dripping wet to sand the blanks … And – when I get around to it, I can play with etching glass too!

 Black Bull

I put some of my ornaments in the kiln last night … they turned out so cute!  I’m thrilled with these stupid little things!  The poor kids had to ooh and ahh at dinner over them … multiple times!!  I don’t know how long I spent bent over the kiln placing all the darn white frit (snowflakes and Santa’s beard) – on the plus side, it was probably good P.T. for my knee.  Anyway … here’s the before and afters:

 ready for cookin' Pretty little ornaments

 Aventurine tree Santa

'Frosty' 'Rudy'

I have a new blank running in the production kiln now … using a new color (pale gray), so – we’ll see tomorrow …  After sandblasting in the ‘Bull’, I should be able to get my next coffin run going … Yay – then slumping!! Smile

Spent some time (OK, a long time) rough cutting some spoon rests at the saw … ever since we broke the blade, I am very gentle with the saw.  Anyway, here they are – they’ll need to go in with the coffin run to flow them out (and thin them down), before they’ll be slump-able, but you get the idea:

 future spoon rests

And – I re-ran the purple and green blank that I was unhappy with in the last post … much better now:

 original - dark blank New - improved blank

I’ll spend tomorrow playing Martha Stewart in the kitchen – no studio time, but good family time.  I am thankful and blessed – a great family (two and four-legged), a hobby I love, a profession I’m proud to be a part of, and wonderful friends!  Oh – and after the flu on Monday – I have my health back!  Smile  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Tis the Season

Oh My Gosh!  Who snuck that full-moon weekend in there without warning me?!?  Lordy, this past weekend was tough!  And, to make it so much MORE fun … we have officially entered the next round of the (never-ending) ‘flu season’. 

Yesterday is an achy, feverish, nauseated, coughing, sniffling BLUR for me, as my MANDATORY flu shot did nothing to keep me protected.  But – unlike what (feels like) EVERY other member of my community does – I suffered at home, in bed alone without calling an ambulance or visiting the ER.  I guess I figure, if nothing else – the last 36 hours is a good weight-loss technique, as we enter the holiday season, and all that food.  And – I’m sleeping and napping like I’m ready for the nursing home!

So – work in the studio is getting off to a slow start this week.  I did work on a few quick and easy ornaments late last week;  A trinket sized rough blank in pink and blues; Did another coffin bottle-slumping – I like the textured clear bottles – and I LOVE this bottle – how cool!  Final slumped some trinket bowls and the (second) Amethyst & Peridot spoon rest; I completed a requested green and purple blank, but wasn’t pleased with it (I have it against my window/door, which is the only way the colors showed off) … so after cutting it up into little pieces – sweating like a pig, as my fever broke, at the saw – I’ve got it running through the production kiln again, this time with more whispy-white/clear.  We’ll see;  And a couple of quick pendants to add to our collection for the upcoming craft show.

More ornaments Pink & blue rough blank

Clear textured slumped bottle Silk screened slumped wine bottle - very Cool!

Trinket bowls Amethyst & Peridot spoon rest (#2)

Green/purple blank - I don't like it Simple dichro pendants

Did some of my favorite internet shopping … glass supplies coming my way, all the way from North Carolina!  $50 freight charge … ooooh those are gonna be some BIG boxes!  Smile   Shopping – a better cure for what ails ‘ya than any medicine.  That’s it for now.  My ibuprofen must be wearing off, or I’m working up to a hot flash … either way, must be time for another nap!