Happy New Year!
Well I wished for a successful Christmas season in my last post and it definitely did not disappoint. I had a number of very successful outings. All Saints in November, a talk and sale with a local Seniors Group, the Fisher Park Christmas Market in December and finally the Loretta Gallery Show and Sale. I also generated a lot of sales from my Instagram and Facebook posts which is always nice. I can't tell you how appreciative I am for all the local support I get. Ottawa rocks when it comes to supporting local makers.
I had the privilege of reconstructing a beautiful necklace for a client. This was a cherished piece that belonged to her Mother and was bought in Murano. Sadly it broke and some pieces were lost. With the help of a photo I managed to recreate the necklace much to her delight.
Sharing my passion with a group of local Seniors was a real highlight for me. There is nothing I love more than talking about glass and helping people truly understand what it is that I do. They were such a great audience, totally engaged and had lots of fantastic questions. This was a first for me and I hope to be able to do it again.
Another first for me this year was completing my first cat portrait. This was a real challenge and certainly tested my confidence but overall I was super happy with how it turned out.
So, after a busy and very successful Christmas season it's now on to a new year. I've been preparing for a baby shower for our new grandson who is due to arrive at the end of April. I learned how to make borosilicate hearts and made 24 little hearts with a blue center that can be hung in a window. I love them and we're giving each guest one at the shower as a thank-you gift. For now they're a bit of a secret but I'll try and post a photo of one soon.
We are also getting ready to head out for a winter getaway so I'll be taking a break from the torch for a little bit but plan to take my watercolours with me and painting will be on the agenda for the next little bit. However, as is my custom, each new year I clean my bench and get it ready for another year of creativity so I'll definitely be counting down the time until I can get back on the torch and play with glass.
This has been a summer to remember for our family. We lost both of our Mom's within a few months of each other and although they were advanced in age, you are still never prepared to lose a loved one. Robert's Mom was in her 101st year and my Mom was in her 98th year. Both women were the loving center of our families and will be dearly missed.
As a result of all the upheaval, I didn't go near my studio for the bulk of the summer and in fact finally got back on the torch for the first time in October! I must admit that my studio is my sanctuary and I was happy to be back in front of my torch and creating again.
Thankfully it wasn't all sad times. In mid-September Robert and I headed off on our first travel adventure since we came home from Portugal at the beginning of the pandemic. We have been planning on a trip to Croatia since 2018 and we finally set out for a two and a half weeks of adventure including many stops in Croatia, a day visit to Montenegro and another day visit to Mostar in Bosnia. We loved every minute and it felt good to get back to our shared love of travel.
The past couple of weeks have been busy with preparations for a couple of Christmas craft markets. Icicles, snowmen, Christmas trees and lots of earrings are in the works.
It's been a while since we did a craft sale. Fingers crossed for a successful Christmas season.
For a while there, it seemed like 2022 was just going to be more of the same. Covid, masking, vaccinations but as summer approaches, I believe that we can finally see better days ahead. Masking restrictions are being lifted and people are getting their lives back to normal.
We certainly were not immune to Covid. I was hit at the beginning of April and let me tell you, it was no joke. I was very sick. Robert got a much milder dose but now, between our vaccinations and having tested positive we feel like we have super immunity.
With life returning to some semblance of normalcy, we're happy to be out riding our bikes, playing golf and I have resumed my weekly Tuesday Torch and Lunch get togethers at Loretta with my "glass mates".
The last few weeks I have been working on a special project for Nortel. Jean gave me samples of the new frit blends from Val Cox. The request? Make some beads and show what these frits can do. Being a self-confessed frit junkie, this was right up my alley! I have had so much fun doing it. Keep and eye on Nortel's website for the photos.
In the meantime, here's a sneak peak
So, what's next? Well, this coming Saturday I'm participating in my very first outdoor craft market. The Hintonburg Community Association is hosting ArtsPark 2022 at Parkdale Park. There's a ton of stuff going on including an Artisan Market from 10am - 4pm. It's rain or shine so luckily I was able to borrow a tent (no sides but a roof). All this to say, pray for sun! I'm super excited and busy trying out some new displays (photos to come).
Who knows, this could be the start of something new.
I sit here adding to my blog in the week between Christmas and New Years and I can hardly believe that another year is almost over.
As 2020 came to a close there was hope that we would see more "normal" times in 2021 - sigh - however, this was not to be. I was hopeful that we would be able to participate in some craft shows but that didn't seem to be in the cards. I continued to work away in my home studio and at Loretta - it's hard to stay away when glass and fire is a driving force in your creative life.
For a while there seemed to be some relief in sight as far as Covid was concerned and to my surprise I was invited to participate in two craft shows! The first one was the outdoor event in Cedar Hill Estates. It was an opportunity to wade back into the craft show waters. It had been so long since we were last out selling to the public and this event gave us the chance to brush up on our skills and ready ourselves for the big show! I was so honoured to have been selected to show via FreeWheeling Craft at a one-day Christmas craft fair at the National Arts Centre on November 28th. What an incredibly beautiful venue and the sale was a huge success. I broke a record for sales as did a number of other vendors. People were happy to be back out shopping, they were ready to spend money and support local makers. It was such a wonderful experience.
The next weekend I participated in a show and sale at Loretta Studios and Gallery where I have a part-time torch space. It was also a great success. Again, the people of Ottawa showed up to support the local maker community.
This year was a banner one for me. I am so blessed to have a loyal group of on-line followers who have faithfully supported me through the pandemic. This along with the three shows helped me have one of my best years ever and I am indebted to all those who bought, commented and encouraged me on a daily basis through my social media pages and showed up at the shows.
Just when we thought we were coming out of it, by early December it was apparent that Covid was, once again, rearing it's ugly head in the form of a new variant called Omicron and as Christmas approached the shutdowns were ramping back up.
Although this variant of Covid isn't as deadly, it is very transmissable and we are seeing record numbers of daily cases right across the country. With 1st and 2nd doses of vaccines in arms and a big push to get everyone in for boosters, we are trying to keep ahead of what seems like a never-ending and sadly, history-making time in our lives. Here is hoping that 2022 brings some relief.
But, enough about that!
My plans for 2022 are:
To get back to painting - sadly I have neglected my water colours and I'm missing them. It's time to spend some time with my paints in the new year.
To continue learning new skills in glass. I hope to be able to choose a few classes and add to my skill set.
I leave you with this - when I first saw it, it inspired me and I hope that, if you are a fellow maker, that it will inspire you as well.
It's been a minute and I have lots of news to share. I've been busy on my torch creating lots of beautiful pieces. In the winter I took an amazing online course learning how to work with Borosilicate glass to specifically how to make glass chains. These are stunning pieces that are surprisingly feather light, very impactful and very sturdy. Borosilicate glass is the same glass that your Pyrex bowls are made out of which makes it very durable. Making the chains is incredibly time consuming but at the same time so satisfying. After playing with formingthe links for a few weeks I made a necklace, which promptly sold much to my surprise. Since then I have made a few more necklaces and translated the links into other pieces of jewelry such as pendants and earrings. I just love the look and feel of this glass.
After resigning myself to the fact that I wouldn't be participating in any craft sales this year - lo and behold I was invited by a dear friend to show at an outdoor Christmas Craft Market in Nepean. I am super excited to be back in the saddle and looking forward to connecting in person with clients once again.
Speaking of clients. I just want to say how very touched I was by how many people reached out to me during the pandemic and purchased pieces online. I am so thankful for your support during pandemic and I look forward to seeing you in person in the very near future.
It's the beginning of April and already it feels like we are well into Spring. I shouldn't speak too soon though. Although we have been experiencing unseasonably warm temperatures it will be a bit yet before we are planting our gardens and wearing shorts on a regular basis.
We have just begun a 4 week Stay at Home order as Covid is still going strong in Canada and Ontario seems to be bearing the brunt of the infections. Toronto is considered a hot spot but unfortunately so is Ottawa and so we follow the rules and stay close to home except for groceries and medically related outings. The nice weather is a godsend at this point in time and we are finding lots of things to keep us occupied over the next month. Robert and I are scheduled to receive our vaccines next week (Wednesday for Robert and Thursday for me). I never thought I would be so excited to get a needle.
I've been spending lots of time in my studio and having a great time creating some new designs.
My "3 in 1s" came about after a friend encouraged me to give mask lanyards a try. Instead of making something that was single purpose I decided to try and make them a little more functional and added the eyeglass lanyard and then the conversion to a necklace.
I also ordered some new frit and I've been having a great time making beads with it. So far my favourite is Chapel Window - a beautiful blend of purples, pinks and aqua - so pretty, so feminine. Another favourite is Abigail - the colours in this frit are fantastic and play beautifully in the light.
And finally - I took a leap and ordered some new earring mounts called Trumpet ear wires. They came in the mail late last week and I immediately had to get on the torch to make some beads and try them out. The verdict - I LOVE THEM. I even modeled them for a prospective client. They are so beautiful and feminine and sit so nicely in your ear. I think that these earrings will be popular (at least I hope they are!)
I'm also busy putting together a Mother's Day promotion and setting up pages to inspire gift ideas for all the deserving Moms out there. So, with that, off I go to work on the website.
It is unbelievable that we have been under lockdowns, bubbles and isolations in one form or another for a year now! On the upside - it's March 1st and we are that much closer to spring - yay. Also vaccinations are going to be getting underway in earnest in mid-March so we are on our way although I don't think that they will be reaching me until June or July. Can't wait!
My Valentine's event was a big success - I was so pleased and pivoting to online promotion and sales has been challenging but at the same time rewarding. I was busy posting packages to New Brunswick, Hamilton and arranging for local pick-ups and drop-offs.
I introduced another element to my Happy Hearts collection - a little girl's birthday heart which was inspired by a smaller version of the birthday heart necklace. I made one for my darling little granddaughter's 5th birthday. After posting it on my IG account I promptly received an order for another one and so - Little Girl's Birthday Heart necklaces were launched.
I'm having lots of fun in my home studio - playing with frit, watching YouTube videos and trying new techniques. Another upside of the pandemic - lots of time to hone my lampworking skills. I signed up for a virtual class in May which I'm really excited about - it is working with Boro glass - a very different technique from what I do now. The class is all about making glass chains!!!!! How cool is that. I can't wait.
So, the other day I was posting some pictures for my Valentine's Day promotion. The photos included shots showing how you could personalize your hearts with different coloured crystals.
My Sister-in-law Kathy texted me from Hamilton - "I absolutely love the white heart with the birthday bead at the bottom. Could I order one for March".
I immediately texted her back - "Oh my gosh, I never thought of them like that, You're a genius"
She said, "I didn't read the whole post but saw the red for January, purple for February and clear for April."
This was a complete fluke but I told her in no uncertain terms that I was stealing this idea. It honestly never occurred to me but once I was given the inspiration, the concept started to take shape.
I decided to call them Happy Hearts (Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary, etc.) and branched out with options not only for birthdays but also anniversaries (Anniversary month plus optional birthday months of the couple), and finally, a Mother's heart (with her children's birthdays). I opted for Swarovski crystals to represent each month with the exception of June which is a small pearl. Their crystals are beautiful and sparkly and they have a series of beads that represent all the birthstones! How perfect is that.
I couldn't be more thrilled with the concept and huge kudos go to Kathy for the inspiration!
Here we are into February and still on lockdown however the snow is gently falling today and Valentine's Day is right around the corner. Covid has encouraged me to be more resourceful and so I launched an online Valentine's Day promotion. Only 2 days into the sale and I'm so pleased with how things are going. Lots of engagement and even some sales!
Pivoting to social media promotion and virtual sales has been a learning experience but also a rewarding one. I feel like I'm finally getting my online bearings.
On a more personal note, we've been spending lots of time outside - taking walks and trying out our snowshoes that we got for Christmas. The time outside breaks the monotony of being in lockdown and the fresh air is good for the soul and our sanity.
This is a short post - a little" how do you do" - and in closing I want to wish you all love, laughter and joy.
Happy February and Happy Valentine's Day.
Here we are, mid-January of a new year and so far we haven't seen a big difference from 2020. We are in the middle of yet another lockdown trying to get our numbers under control. December saw Christmas and New Years and those two holidays did us in. As predicted, the number of Covid cases skyrocketed across the province with new records being set daily. Last week we saw over 3,000 cases a few days in a row. Here in Ottawa we have been fortunate. We were doing very well with our numbers until the holiday season hit (consistently below 80) and although we slipped, our infection rate is much lower than those in the GTA and other parts of Ontario.
This lockdown means no trips to the shared studio space and I do miss my weekly torch-time with my friends. We share ideas, look at what each of us is working on and have lots of laughs over lunch. For now I will have to be content torching in my home studio. I count myself very lucky that I have this option as many of my fellow lampworkers don't.
I took the time to clean up my home studio, reorganize my glass and tidy up my bench. It's always so gratifying to start the New Year fresh.
I've been working on my tubular beads and having fun playing with frit and Double Helix glass. I found a small tutorial on Instagram a few months ago - Double Helix base, reduce, dot with clear, reduce again and encase. Super easy and lots of beautiful results.
Home studio is all ready for a new year of creating beautiful beads
Some examples of fun with Double Helix and multiple encasing
Making the best with what we have is going to be the new normal this year. We have a vaccine (in fact, we have 3!) but we are told that it will be at least spring or even summer before it is widely distributed. For now they are taking care of the front line workers and the vulnerable sector of the population (as they should) and we will patiently wait our turn.
In the meantime, I wish each and every one of you a very happy, healthy 2021. Here's praying for a time when we can all get together for a group hug because I really, really miss hugs! Be safe everyone.
Pursuing creative endeavors when and where ever possible.