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.
December has been a strange month. The time seems to drag when we are keeping to ourselves but at the same time is it possible that it's just a couple of weeks until Christmas? We are trying our best to buy local and online shop as much as we can as we cross off items from our Christmas wish lists.
The virtual sale in November was very successful. Doing the Facebook live was nerve wracking but in the end it was so much fun and I have a super response. My earrings seem to be a hit, especially the studs and I'm so pleased that they have taken off. I received lots of earring orders and just this week had 5 separate commissions come in for Christmas and I've even received three more commissions for the New Year. I'm hoping that Spring will bring new opportunities and another virtual sale.
I want to thank everyone who supported me over the past year. The positive comments, helpful feedback, sales, commissions...I certainly felt the love.
Sending my love and best wishes for a very Merry Christmas, happy holidays and in the year to come may we be able to gather together for a great big hug!
Take care and be safe.
2020 has been quite the year. With everything crowd-oriented being cancelled artisans are finding that one of their crucial sources of income has disappeared - Christmas craft markets. When I was working full time I limited myself to three Christmas markets plus a mini show at my workplace. My plan was to enter more shows once I retired however 2020 had other ideas. So I find myself faced with trying to come up with an alternative and the best option for me seems to be virtual.
I put aside my fear and trepidation and decided to dive into the virtual marketplace.
I'm still a newbie at this and didn't want to bite off too much so I'm starting small.
Today I launched my first ever virtual show and sale and tonight I'm trying my hand at my very first Facebook Live, I'm super excited but also incredibly nervous.
Going virtual was a bit more complicated than I originally thought. I had to revamp my entire website which was a much bigger undertaking than I anticipated. It took me days and days to get it right and thanks to my very internet-savvy daughter, Sarah, I think I finally have a site I can be proud of. There is still a lot to do but for now I'm very happy.
Bob used the Facebook Live session as an excuse to expand his toy library and bought a gimbal, something I had never heard of before. If you're a newbie like me this is a hand-held stabilizer that allows you to take smooth videos with your smart phone. Actually it's pretty cool and we've been playing with it in preparation for tonight. We purchased the Vlog Pocket 2 by Feiyu and I highly recommend it as a great compact entry level gimbal at $100 (look at me being all techy!)
I'm all set up and ready for my internet debut.
Wish me luck!
I can't believe that it's been over 2 years - my sincere apologies for my lapse in blogging. A lot has happened since my last entry. Work turned into retirement, we did some travelling, additions to our family, a new artistic endeavor oh yeah... and we're in the middle of a global pandemic!
For a moment though, let's back up a bit.
In early 2019 I applied and was approved for an early retirement package. After 20 years with the Ontario Public Service, specifically in the Ottawa Crown Attorney's Office on December 23/2019 I started a year long, salaried buy-out. How sweet is that - stay home and get paid! Sadly, that year is quickly coming to a close and I officially retire and start collecting my pension on January 1, 2021.
Up until the end of 2019 things were pretty much the same. Family, friends, work, play, travel, spending time in the studio playing with glass.
For years we dreamed of spending the cold Canadian winter somewhere else - preferably somewhere without snow. In 2018 we spent 3 weeks in Portugal scoping it out as a possible destination. We rented a car and drove through the whole country and fell in love. The decision was made, this was where we wanted to spend our winters.
In early October of 2019 we booked our accommodations - one month just outside of Lisbon and the second month in Albufeira. Our first month was for travel and exploring and our second month was set aside for relaxation and time on the beach. Dreams really do come true!
Before we left, I was looking for something that I could take with me, something portable that I could have as a creative outlet while we travelled. After all, my torch, a propane tank, oxygen concentrator and several pounds of glass and tools are not considered travel-friendly . I often talked about taking up painting and so I enrolled in two Fall sessions at the Ottawa School of Art - An Introduction to Watercolour class and a Travel Sketching class. I was hooked and with a small portable paint box, some brushes and my sketchbook I was all set for our trip.
Below is a sampling of my Travel Journal - it contains small sketches and thoughts about our trip.
We had lots places in Portugal that we loved visiting but perhaps our most favourite was a beautiful estate called Monserrat in the picturesque town of Sintra. We travelled by bus there not once, but twice just to wander and enjoy the scenery. Robert was in heaven snapping photos and trying out his new lenses and filters and I was happy to sit, take in all the beauty around us and attempt to translate it into a sketch or two.
We certainly maximized out our travel in the first month, we even managed an extended weekend (4 days) trip to Barcelona. Luckily this was in February before the Corona virus hit and unfortunately, it hit Spain very hard. We spent many days on buses, trams, street cars, ferries, trains and walking here, there and everywhere. After all that travel and exploring we were happy to spend our second month at a more relaxed pace. Reading, walking, picnics on the beach. It was heaven. We were well into our second month when the Pandemic started to hit the world very hard. Countries were shutting down and appeals were made to those travelling to return home and so we did.
Our todays are so different from our yesterdays. No travel, wearing masks, virtual everything - meetings, shopping, visiting with relatives. We are waiting patiently for a vaccine so we can resume some semblance of normalcy. We hear through the news that advances have been made and a vaccine is on the horizon but we know that it will take months and months before we actually, stand in line, roll up our sleeves and get inoculated. In the meantime, we avoid hugging the ones we love, wear masks and stay at a distance to keep everyone safe.
With all the craft shows and public gatherings cancelled this has been a tough year for anyone who depends on them for a little bit of income (even if it is just enough to support the artistic habit!). I am so very grateful to those who have supported me through all the positive compliments and encouragement and by purchasing my paintings and jewelry. I am truly grateful. And now I am embarking into new territory and trying my hand at a virtual sale. It's an undertaking, to say the least and I would by lying if I said that I wasn't intimidated by the whole process but as they say, nothing ventured.
It's a new world. It most certainly is and through it all perhaps Winnie the Pooh said it best when he gave this little bit of advice to Piglet:
Take care, be safe and I hope to see you soon!
It's true. Summer is just arriving and I am busy filling out applications and paying fees for Christmas craft shows. I've been filling in applications and I'm starting to think about building up my inventory. This year I will be at the Glass Bead Show taking place at the RA Centre in October. In November I'll be showing at the All Saints Craft Fair in Kanata and in December I'll be back at the Fisher Park Pop-Up Christmas Market. I can't wait! Stay tuned for details in the very near future.
As I get closer and closer to retirement I'm dreaming of all the extra time I will have to torch and take advantage of lots of opportunities to sell my jewelry on a more frequent basis.
In the meantime, I've been working away in my little studio in the basement and creating some new pieces and experimenting with some off-mandrel work.
I've also been working very hard on my Instagram page, slowly building a following and diligently posting a new picture every day.
With the beautiful weather here my garden calls me and it will be hard to be indoors but I will make use of every rainy day that comes along.
I honestly need to be better at keeping up my blog. I decided this past month to revamp my website and couldn't believe that the last time I did an entry was September 2017 - tsk, tsk. So much has happened in the past 7 months! In my September entry I was disappointed that the Fisher Park Craft Sale wouldn't be happening but as luck would have it, two wonderful ladies stepped in and saved the day so the pop-up Christmas market was a go after all and a resounding success for me. I love the experience of meeting people, hearing their comments about my work and seeing repeat customers!
I also participated in the Ottawa Glass Bead Show at the RA Centre in October and debuted my latest creation - The Journey Bead. After taking a class with Janika Filipkova on using double helix glass, I spend lots of time experimenting with this beautiful iridescent glass that does magical things when introduced to other glasses and varying degrees of flame. The idea was to mark my journey from diagnosis of kidney cancer to recovery. The light and dark glass represented the journey and I encased a small cubic zirconia into each bead representing all the blessings that I received throughout my journey. In an effort to give back, a portion of each sale goes back to the Canadian Cancer Society and so far, they have been a wonderful success.
In the new year I was met with disappointing news. The Studio - GSS Flameworks was closing in March. My teacher, friend and mentor Grace Edwards felt it was time to retire, to spend time with her family, bond with her grandchildren and take time to do all the things she didn't have time for while running a business which meant closing the studio and relocating to London Ontario. I can't express how much of an impact this incredible woman has had in my life. She helped me find my creative voice and provided a place for like-minded artists to meet, torch together, share ideas and inspire each other. She brought in renowned glass artists from all over the world to share their techniques and help us explore this wonderful discipline. The glass community in Ottawa and I will miss her very much.
All this meant finding a new space to torch and after much consideration I decided to set up a studio in my home. I love this art so much. I'm not willing to leave it behind and with Bob and I being empty-nesters, we have lots of room in the house so we set about clearing out Bob's office in the basement and converting to a studio.
We headed off on a 3 week trip to Portugal in February/March and while we were away the ventilation system was installed, the studio was painted and furniture moved in. When we returned home we moved in the final pieces, picked up my new kiln and concentrator and hired a wonderful man - Ed Joy - to come in and install the propane and set up the torch.
It's been a very busy couple of months, between our trip and the arrival of our new grandson, I've only had two opportunities to torch but both times, it was pure bliss. How great is it to be able to walk downstairs in the morning, open the kiln and see my beads. This room is my little slice of heaven. We are still waiting patiently for spring to arrive. The weather is predicted to be awful tomorrow - freezing rain, snow, yuk - but how great is it to be able to head down for a couple of hours and lose myself at the torch. I am one very lucky girl - sigh!
Pursuing creative endeavors when and where ever possible.