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Archive for June, 2012

Last week, we were visiting family and friends in Minnesota.  It was great to get away, relax, visit, and see new things.  When my husband first suggested going for 12 days, my gut reaction was instant panic at being gone for so long.  Could I really be away from my glass art for that long?  I survived.

However, I did start to wonder if what I once thought was a passion for my work was actually an addiction.  I googled both of these terms:

  • pas·sion.  n. 1. A powerful emotion, such as love, joy, hatred, or anger. 2. a. Ardent love. b. Strong sexual desire; lust. c. The object of such love or desire. (www.thefreedictionary.com/passion)
  • ad·dic·tion. n.  the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.  (dictionary.reference.com)

Hmm, in all honesty, it is both and I am proud to admit it.   It is wonderful to be able to be passionate and love something you are able to do regularly and enjoy it.  And perhaps a side effect of passion is addiction because I enjoy creating and experimenting with glass so much that I become enslaved to the high I get as I open the kiln to see each new completed piece.

The good news is that I did succeed in being away from it for those 12 days, but the better news is that the change of scenery and new experiences generated many new ideas.  We’ll see what pieces I create soon!

Have you thought about what you love to do and whether it is a passion or an addiction?  Please share.

On a side note, I have always wanted to see a moose and for some reason they have always evaded me.   While in Minnesota we went moose hunting and we found not one but two,  a cow (female moose) and her baby.   Yeah!!!

Moose Cow and her Baby

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Yesterday, I had the honor of attending my nephew’s high school graduation which was wonderful.  Aside from watching all the young men and women look so proud and happy to be graduating, one of the highlights was a speech given by their Literature teacher.   From the comments, I deduced that the seniors voted for one teacher whom they wanted to speak at their graduation and he was chosen for very good reason.  He was eloquent, informative and extremely motivating even for those of us who were adults well past our high school days.

His speech included a brief journey through his life after graduation when he was trying to “find himself”, the life he wanted to lead, and the all-too-often-forgotten happiness he wanted to glean from this life.  I am sure this talk sent many of us down a path of remembrances.

I read regularly many blogs and forums and repeatedly see questions and comments about when it is right to give up your “day job” to become a full-time, money-making artist.  Too often these posts reveal a dissatisfaction in their current “day job.”   This reminded me of a job change I made over a decade ago and my current boss whom I was leaving sent me the link to a poem by Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken.(1)

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I also look back fondly at my last job as an Engineering Director where I had the privilege to manage and work with many wonderful people and who will always hold a place in my heart.  My transition was not generated out of unhappiness, but rather out of restlessness to try something completely different, fusing glass.  🙂

Whatever path has led us each toward our current undertakings, it is our path and we have each chosen our own path to forge and walk.   These seniors showed hope and excitement to be moving onto a new path no matter where each of their paths may lead.   To those of you contemplating shifting your jobs, making a change to your living locale or whatever, pick your path and go wherever it may lead you and enjoy the change.

Did you pick a new path recently?  I would love for you to share what changes you made.

P.S.  I always like to include a piece of fused glass, so am including this piece because I love the swirls which remind me of taking a path.

Green Swirls Fused Glass Vase (available in my Etsy store)

(1) http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Road_Not_Taken

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Tools are a luxury.  Tools save you time.  Tools make your life easier.  Over the last few years, I have slowly acquired these tools as I learn more about glass fusing and which could really help me and I thought I would share.

Wet Disk Grinder  The tool I use most is my 6″ Wet Disk Grinder.  It has a flat surface which can accommodate sanding the edges of most glass pieces flat.  I works especially well for jewelry pieces.

At some point when I have a real studio and am willing to hand over the big bucks, I will buy like a 12″ or larger one, but for now, this is my first go-to tool and therefore gets used almost every day.

Glass Grinder  My second most used tool is my glass grinder.  It was actually my first purchase and I bought it used.  It can be used to shape edges, as an example, if I wanted to make a flower petal, I would first do a rough cut just using my hand tool glass cutter and then finish the shaping on the grinder.  It is also nice for sanding inside curves since the grinder itself is curved and comes in different sizes which I can easily change.

Ring Saw  Hmm, I guess I will say the ring saw is my next pick.  I primarily use this for cutting intricate shapes.  You can use a stencil to draw on your glass the shape and since the blade on the ring saw has 360 degrees of cutting, you can fairly easily cut the shape out.  My blade has a wide kerf meaning it takes quite a large cut, so I don’t get real tight corners yet, but I think this also has a small learning curve and I am still learning for the intricate ones.  If you don’t need to cut shapes, you could easily do without this one, but yet it is such a nice luxury when needed.

Wet Belt Sander  My table top wet belt sander was a wonderful addition last year.  As I move into larger pieces, the belt sander is better for sanding the flat edges of a piece than the disk grinder.  It can also be used to shape things.  When I took a class in using Coldworking* tools, many students were using this tool to shape vases, flatten surfaces, and like me sand edges.  A very versatile tool.

All three of the above tools have their own water reservoir, but this one required a constant feed of water, so my husband crafted an input feed using a pressure sprayer, and then we have the output going into a large plastic tube which dumps into a bucket.  Perfect for my needs.

Tile Saw  For our never-ending home improvement projects, we had bought a tile saw which now gets used mostly for my glass work.  Since I didn’t buy it specifically with glass in mind, it probably is not the best for fine glass cuts.  But it has been great if I didn’t like a glass piece I made and wanted to cut it into smaller pieces to use in a new and different way.  I have also used the tile saw to cut up old kiln shelves to make my own damns for pot melts or thicker pieces.

I have read that perhaps the key element of a tile saw is the blade and all you really need to do is buy a better blade to reduce the jitter (meaning the movement of the blade which makes it hard to cut finer slices of the glass).   So perhaps a future purchase will make this an invaluable tool as am I am anxious to try pattern bars and I believe a good tile saw is essential for this endeavor.

Sandblaster  My most recent purchase was my sandblaster.  I am using this tool for 2 key purposes:  1) to blast away any scum that I accidentally get on a piece and then refire to a nice finish or 2) to give my piece a nice matte finish.  Because I am not yet trying to etch the glass, the blast gun that came with my cabinet is perfect for my use.  This tool does require an air compressor so keep that in mind when you factor in costs.  This tool has allowed me to resurrect many pieces from my “glass grave” container as before I didn’t have a good way to fix pieces that had visible flaws on them.  What a nice benefit!

Tools come with one disadvantage though – you have to take care of them.  Sometimes I feel like I do more tool cleaning than glass designing.  Well worth the price of the benefits they provide me.

I could easily survive with just the disk grinder and the glass grinder which is how I started out.  It is a pure luxury to have my other tools, and I value them all.

Most of my Key Glass Power Tools (Ring Saw, Disk Grinder, Belt Sander, Glass Grinder)

* I’ll borrow the definition of Coldworking from Jackie Beckman as posted in the WarmGlass Forums, “I’ll define coldwork as a term that includes any process we do to the glass to ‘finish’ it in a manner that does not include heat.”

Specific Tool Information:

  • Glastar 6″ Diamond Disk Grinder, http://www.glastar.com/catalog/grinding/discgrinder.cfm
  • Glastar Glass Grinder, http://www.glastar.com/manuals/starlet.cfm (very old model and no longer available, but there are many great new ones)
  • Gryphon Zephyr Ring Saw, http://www.gryphoncorp.com/index.php?p=ringsaw
  • Covington Table Top Commercial Wet Belt Sander, Model 761WBS,  http://www.covington-engineering.com/belt_sanders.htm
  • Harbor Freight Tools 7″ Portable Wet Cutting Tile Saw, http://www.harborfreight.com/7-inch-portable-wet-cutting-tile-saw-40315.html
  • Harbor Freight Tools Sandblasting Abrasive Blast Cabinet, http://www.harborfreight.com/abrasive-blast-cabinet-42202.html

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