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!
Here it is, mid September and the sun is shining, the weather is warm and I am finishing off the final few weeks of 3 months sick leave. Things have been a little upside down this past year. Bob underwent a full hip replacement and I received a cancer diagnosis of the kidney. We are both in great shape these days after a few months of recovery and the future looks bright!
One positive about being off is that once I got back on my feet I have been able to spend lots of time at the studio. It's my happy place and I'm certain it's part of the reason I am back on my feet so quickly. The arts sooth the soul.
I am busy preparing for the 10th Annual Ottawa Glass Bead Show on October 15-16/17 at the RA Centre. I missed last year because of our trip to China and this year I'm looking forward to participating again.
I was disappointed to hear the the Fisher Park Craft Sale won't be taking place this year and so I will have to find another venue for my Christmas time. This will be my mission for the next couple of days and I hope that I haven't missed the boat.
Well, the last couple of months have been very exciting. The Glass Shoppe Studio relocated to 911 Richmond Road and is now called GSS Flameworking Studio. It's a beautiful location and much more conducive to walk-in traffic. It's much closer for me - just a hop, skip and jump down the road from the house - how convenient is that! One of the wonderful additions to the studio is a gallery space and I am so please to be showing my work there along with a group of wonderfully talented artists. I can't wait to see what the future holds!
(below are some shots from my gallery display)
Recently my sister-in-law asked me to make her a necklace. The request was for a deep purple and bright green colour combination. These arena't colours that I usually work with but I found that creating this piece helped me flex my creative muscles and work outside of my colour comfort zone. I posted a little piece on my lampworking FaceBook page showing the process that I go through when I make a piece of jewelry.
I had a lot of fun creating this piece and now I must say good-bye as it makes its way to Hamilton..
2016 has arrived and brought with it new creative opportunities and big changes in our family. We are looking forward to becoming grandparents in February and a wedding is in our future in the Fall of 2016 so it will definitely be a busy time.
The New Year also set me on some new creative paths. I took two workshops in blowing glass beads. This gives the opportunity to work with some beautiful large beads that are hollow and so make the finished pieces much lighter. It's definitely an art and I am finding that practice doesn't always make perfect but I'm getting there, very slowly. The pipe we use is called a Carla Dona pipe and it's named after its creator. Grace brought them in for us all the way from Murano. They are a beautiful tool and I just hope that I can do it justice.
I am the first one on the right, closest to the camera. We are working on our seed bubbles which is the foundation of the hollow bead.
Some of my first pieces:
I'm looking forward to all the New Year has to offer and looking forward to stretching my creative muscles. Stay tuned!
Well, the Ottawa Glass Bead Show and the Fisher Park Craft Sale are now both over and it has been a whirlwind of activity. Both shows were a huge success and give me the encouragement that I am on the right path. Now I busy focussing on getting ready for Christmas and the arrival of our first grandchild in February - very exciting times!
I continue to work on perfecting my florals. I promised some examples and here they are:
They seem to be very popular at the sales and I'm going to continue perfecting them in the New Year.
Last week I also started down a new path in my lampworking journey - I took an introduction to blowing and although it was very challenging, the hollow beads, blown on a small pipe are beautiful and will add a whole new facet to my work. I'm taking part two of the class this coming week and then it will be weeks of practice to try and get the technique under my belt. I'm excited and look forward to creating some more significant pieces which blowing allows because the beads are hollow and therefore much lighter. In the meantime, I am off to do some Christmas shopping, baking and wrapping. Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!