Heart Happiness & Fallingwater

All I can say about this last weekend is, WOW. 

Mr. RCG and I had a fantastic trip to Pittsburgh and Fallingwater.  First, we delivered a gorgeous custom piece to an incredibly amazing customer (and artist!) in Pittsburgh.  It makes my heart so happy and warm to hand my work to a such a super nice (not to mention excited!) client...  Seriously.  

Click here to see what she thought about the finished piece!
She's also an amazing artist - I highly recommend clicking through to her portfolio!

THEN, we headed down to Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater - such an inspiration!  The weather was clear and cool, the tour guide was amazing and there were Yellow Throated Vireos singing in the surrounding trees...  What a perfect morning.

...I think these photos speak for themselves...  Such an incredibly inspirational place!

Birds, Glass, Life

I've been busy.  Really busy.  In the past few months, I have taken a lifelong interest of mine (birds!) to the next level and officially started birding.  If you've met me before, you know about the excitement I have for birds...  And if you browse my website or follow me on Instagram, you'll know that I often use birds as subjects for my work...  It's a bit of a beautiful obsession. 

Me, in my early years of bird love.

Me, in my early years of bird love.

A few weeks ago on a bird walk, a friend and I flushed out a Green Heron, who flew up to and politely posed for us on a branch.  Taking a photo from that encounter, I designed and made the most intricate stained glass panel in my portfolio (to date)...  Huron the Green Heron, Lord of the Lake!

Huron

Huron

Huron has opened up some new opportunities for me - he's going to be shown in a gallery along with other bird and bird conservation related artwork!

Ever since I started birding, I have been increasingly interested in migrations and conservation.  I watched The Messenger on Netflix (a great documentary about what migratory birds face on their twice-a-year journeys - it highlighted some of the perils which I already knew about, as well as many other factors of human influence which I hadn't heard of before).  The film educated, inspired and saddened me.

I also read a book called, Birds Art Life, A Year of Observation, by Kyo Maclear.  A book about an artist who finds solace, wisdom and inspiration in watching the tiny lives of birds, Kyo's insights and observations resonated with me on so many levels.  I've read through it twice now. 

As my ebird observed species list grows, I've been making more and more glass birds.  I've also met some amazing people who have inspired me to join the support for bird conservation - I'll be donating a percentage of each sale of one of my new Mod bird suncatchers (my own twist on the artistic style of Charley Harper)  to the American Bird Conservancy!  I'm putting together an information sheet to go with each piece, and I hope that these birds help excite others the way they're exciting me!!

New species are being added each day, and I'm working on some rather detailed warbler pieces.  Here are my first round of feathered friends; today I am working on: Indigo Bunting, Scarlet Tanager, Baltimore Oriole, Chickadee, Blue Jay and Towhee.

What species would you like to see???

Under the Sea

Just finished up a custom piece of a mermaid...  She turned out rather pretty - I'm very happy I used the iridescent white glass for the moon!

My Fuzzy Valentine

Last week I had a bit of a creative slump.  Sometimes ideas for projects just bubble up through my head like carbonation, but last week my creativity felt more like a sinking brick.  The more I tried to force the ideas to materialize, the farther from reach they became.

Until I sketched up this guy.

Fox Sketch

Most of the time when I draw something I'm excited to make into glass, I have a feeling it'll turn out cool.  I was pretty excited about making the fox, in part because I found a pretty awesome piece of red/clear glass for him.  As I cut and ground each piece of glass to shape, I had a feeling he'd turn out pretty alright.

Fox in progress

I can't even begin to express how excited and almost shocked I am that he turned out like THIS:

Finished Sleeping Fox

The really cool thing is that he looks just as handsome when he's not backlit...  And you can see the fun bark texture that I sculpted into the solder!

Front lit fox

I really love how the background snow and shadow glasses change texture and color when the piece is lit in different ways. 

In the future, I'll want to remember that simply looking out the window into the forest behind my house is a quick cure for the creative blues...  My current inspiration is to bring the nature inside!

This fuzzy dude is for sale in the Purchase section of my website!

Happy Valentine's Day! 

How To: Fix Broken Pieces of Glass Within a Finished Panel

Yesterday, I set about working on a modern-look forest scene of birch trees.  I cut, ground, foiled, polished and then patina'd the entire piece...  And promptly dropped it.

And so, I have this opportunity to a) gain some more experience in replacing broken glass, b) take a few photos and blog a tutorial (the first time I had this experience, I frantically googled every tutorial I could find, and found that each one taught me a small nuance that the others didn't - maybe I can add to the internet's library of knowledge, here) and c) try to learn from this, make the best of a stupid mistake and see the sunny side (instead of screaming and throwing the panel across the room).

Start with your sad broken piece, a glass cutter, a pair of pliers, your safety glasses and all of your most positive energy!

Ouch!  I actually ended up breaking 5 pieces of this panel when I dropped it.

Ouch!  I actually ended up breaking 5 pieces of this panel when I dropped it.

Step 1:  Use your cutter to score the broken piece in all directions, from edge to edge.  Go crazy with score lines but be careful not to run onto any of the next (unbroken) pieces.  Please note that I'm not using my "good" glass cutter for this part, as I don't want to accidentally hurt the cutting wheel by running it multiple times over pre-existing scores.

Make a cobweb of scores!

Make a cobweb of scores!

Step 2:  Flip the piece over and use the ball end of the glass cutter to start cracking some of your crazy score lines.  You will need to be patient with this - the scores don't always run easily in small, cramped areas, and it's tempting to start waling on the glass.  Make sure to again stay within the solder lines of the broken piece and don't accidentally crack its neighbor!

Tapping the score lines from the back.

Tapping the score lines from the back.

Step 4:  Once you have some of your scores cracked and some pieces in the center start to fall out, flip the piece back to the front side and survey your damage.  Tap out any loose pieces with the ball end of the cutter, if you can.  Don't forget that you're creating a ton of tiny shards of glass, and some of them may have flown up into the air!  Keep your safety glasses on and your face away from the project and don't shred your hands in an attempt to sweep all those shards off your workspace. 

It's a major breakthrough!

It's a major breakthrough!

Step 5:  Time to use some finesse and a lot more of your patience.  Your pliers will be helpful in getting a good grip on the edges of the broken piece.  Try to pull each piece out carefully, without disturbing the copper foil on the adjoining piece of glass. 

Careful, there!

Careful, there!

Remove Broken Glass

As you pull pieces out, you'll find that you can gently wiggle many loose with your pliers.  A few may not be cracked/broken enough to remove, so re-score if you need to, flip the piece over, tap away with the ball end of the cutter, and try to get all of the glass out of its foil edging.

Remove Broken Glass

If you have successfully cleaned out all of the broken shards, you should now have a glass-free hole where your broken piece was.

It's (an almost) blank slate!

It's (an almost) blank slate!

Step 6:  Flux up the copper "frame" which the glass left behind, and (carefully!!!) heat the solder line until you can pick at the inner edge with tweezers. As the solder heats and the foil starts to release from the neighboring foil-wrapped glass, gently pull the the foil away.  Go slowly, make sure the solder has released the foil before pulling, and peel it away from all neighboring pieces of glass without disturbing any of the foil on surrounding pieces.

If you accidentally pull or rip the foil from a piece which isn't broken/being replaced, you will have to clean and re-foil the edge of that piece.

Make sure not to disturb the foil surrounding the piece of glass next door!

Make sure not to disturb the foil surrounding the piece of glass next door!

You can use the soldering iron at an angle to "unzip" the old foil from its neighbor.

You can use the soldering iron at an angle to "unzip" the old foil from its neighbor.

Removing Copper Foil
Remove the foil from all the way around the open space!

Remove the foil from all the way around the open space!

The foil is gone!

The foil is gone!

Step 7:  Now that the old foil is gone from the open space, you will need to clean any excess solder drips and blorps (that's a technical term, trust me) from the inside of the hole with your iron so you can cut and fit a precise new piece of glass into the space.

Blorp-be-gone!

Blorp-be-gone!

Taking a moment to step back and survey the carnage, you will notice that I did an excellent job in cracking as many pieces as possible when I dropped my project. I've removed all of the broken glass and old foil and have readied the entire piece for the next step!

Nice work, Sue!  See if you can break more pieces, in stranger places, next time!

Nice work, Sue!  See if you can break more pieces, in stranger places, next time!

Step 8:  Trace the open space onto a new, replacement, piece of glass.  I probably could have simply measured the space in this case, since my pieces are measurable rectangles.

Cut, grind, foil each new piece of glass as usual.  Before foiling, test to make sure the glass fits well into the open cavity.

Trace New Piece of Glass to Fit

Step 9:  Lay the cut piece into its new home!  As you can see by the photo below, the new piece will need a little lift from underneath to match the height of the pre-existing soldered pieces (due to the edge capping as well as the full solder beading, the panel will sit higher than the edges of the new piece).

Don't solder yet!

Don't solder yet!

Some people use pennies to elevate their new piece, but my pockets were empty this morning, so I used a piece of 14 gauge wire bent to support the piece of glass, making sure it layed flat and level.

This guy elevated my new piece to the correct height.  Please excuse my horribly dry skin, I'll get that taken care of soon, I promise.  :)

This guy elevated my new piece to the correct height.  Please excuse my horribly dry skin, I'll get that taken care of soon, I promise.  :)

Ok ok, NOW you can solder.

Ok ok, NOW you can solder.

Since I had 5 replacement pieces, I repeated the process for each before starting to solder...  Making sure that they were all at the correct height before soldering into place.

Add All Pieces to Solder

Step 10:  With all new pieces in place, flux 'em up, tack them in and solder!

Tack Solder Corners

Flip over and repeat!

Please note that I planned extra-thick solder lines into my finished piece; I'm really not THAT far off with my replacement piece sizes!

Please note that I planned extra-thick solder lines into my finished piece; I'm really not THAT far off with my replacement piece sizes!

Holy carp - I think it's fixed!  Don't drop it again, dummy!!!

All Soldered!

Step 11:  Finish that piece!  Clean, polish and add patina (if you were using it).

Add Finish

Now no one can tell you ever dropped it! 

A Modern Birch Copse, fixed and fancy-free.  Purchase it here!

A Modern Birch Copse, fixed and fancy-free.  Purchase it here!

Warmth and Glass: How are they connected?

My usual inspiration stems from chilly things like cold clear water, mountains and autumn leaves...

So far this year my subconscious has been largely preoccupied with comfort, snuggling (hibernation!), warmth and security.  Certainly, looking back at some of my Instragram photos for the last few weeks, that's been the theme more often than not!

We have an active family of foxes in the woods behind the house who recently evicted last year's kit to work on this year's babies.  He has been noisily pining for his family and irritating the neighborhood canines for days...  But he's so cute!

We have an active family of foxes in the woods behind the house who recently evicted last year's kit to work on this year's babies.  He has been noisily pining for his family and irritating the neighborhood canines for days...  But he's so cute!

Ironically, as I write I sit in front of a smouldering bed of embers in the fireplace with a thick wool scarf (on the needles) to my right and my toasty little sheltie, Sundae, sleeping alongside my left leg.  It seems I have an abundance of warmth and comfort at the tips of my fingers - and it's definitely been inspirational for me this past week.

Sunflower Suncatcher - with warm yellows, oranges and browns.  Click here for details!

Sunflower Suncatcher - with warm yellows, oranges and browns.  Click here for details!

Sunburst Suncatcher - with heated reds and a fire that burns from within!  Click here for details!

Sunburst Suncatcher - with heated reds and a fire that burns from within!  Click here for details!

I find that simply gazing at one or two of the right pieces of glass can make even a gray, rainy (or icy) day seem bright, toasty and comfortable.

What have you been doing to stay cozy?

Holidays and New Year Plans

2016 has been a year of incredible change.  I started the year with a full time job and the hope that some day I'd be able to take a bit more personal time to work on my passion for stained glass design and creation.  I end the year with a new business and more plans and project ideas bouncing around in my head than I can keep up with!

I've been rather busy for the last few months designing, cutting, grinding, soldering, shipping, planning and feeling incredibly excited about the new year ahead...  And I am so thankful for all of the support and opportunity which has come my way! 

I am looking forward to seeing what 2017 holds for Rockcrest Glass.

New Stuff for Etsy

So, I am now working full time in my glass studio!  I've been keeping things lively with a bunch of new designs and also have a new, large custom panel coming up.  Here are a few things I finished and added to Etsy last week....

I have also been experimenting with smaller, ornament sized items which I can offer for less but are super fun to make and look at:

Fall Experiments

Here are a few projects that I've been working on over the past few weeks...  A few falling leaves and a few Celtic / Sailor knots.  I have a few more falling leaf designs in mind for the upcoming few weeks...

Falling Tulip Poplar Leaf

Falling Tulip Poplar Leaf

Falling Oak Leaf

Falling Oak Leaf

I posted more detailed images of the Falling Leaves here.

Small Knot, Green

Small Knot, Green

Small Knot, Purple

Small Knot, Purple

The glass always looks so much different in different lighting.

The glass always looks so much different in different lighting.

Lake George and Georgia O'Keeffe

One of my favorite Georgia O'Keeffe paintings is from her Lake George series of work...

And with an impending family trip to Lake George, I wanted to make my own glass piece, inspired by the Georgia O'Keeffe painting.  The design is my own, but with heavy influence, obviously. The mountain and landscape lines are of Black Mountain and Slim Point (Silver Bay) from a photo I took myself one day on a kayak trip.

I am so happy with the way it turned out!

Not Glass, but Balloons

For our 10th anniversary, I booked a hot air balloon flight for us in Glens Falls, NY.  We were scheduled to fly in a morning flight, but due to potential pea-soup-fog conditions in the morning, we ended up going the night before.  Here is a very very small sampling of the 200+ photos I took during the evening...

John got to help set the balloon up...

John got to help set the balloon up...

There were two other balloons launched at the same time as ours, so we got some good views of the other groups!

There were two other balloons launched at the same time as ours, so we got some good views of the other groups!

Us, with balloon in background.

Us, with balloon in background.

There wasn't a whole lot of wind, but the clouds and colors in the sky were INCREDIBLE.

There wasn't a whole lot of wind, but the clouds and colors in the sky were INCREDIBLE.

Nice view

Nice view

Sunset, from about 20 feet from the ground.

Sunset, from about 20 feet from the ground.

To wrap it up, we landed ever so gently in a cow field.  When we got back to our car (in a large, deserted K-Mart parking lot), the balloon operators cracked open some bottles of champagne for us.  I can now cross "drinking celebratory champagne in a K-Mart parking lot" off my Things To Do Before I Die list.  Classy!

Paper Cranes and Mobiles!

An adorable friend with the last name Bird is expecting in August...  So I made her a family of birds!  These paper/glass cranes turned out so well that I will be making more in different colors as ornaments, whathaveyou.  I've made actual paper cranes in the past, so I got to making a crane, then drafted my own design from the dimensions of the actual crane.  I think that they worked out so well, I'll be doing more origami-inspired patterns!  More photos in the gallery here.

Baby Bird Crane!

Baby Bird Crane!

I also learned how to make mobiles with steel wire...  That was so much fun and I can see more mobiles in my glassy future!

Friday

Today I shipped out an order of 5 Celtic knots...  And I plan to spend the rest of the day working on Origami cranes!  It's especially hot and muggy outside, so spending time in the cool basement with my glass will be a great end to the work week.  :)

New Stuff

So last weekend I finished the Clematis piece and it was delivered to its new home!  Hopefully Raoul the hummingbird has had a great first week in his new window...

View from the inside

View from the inside

View from the outside!

View from the outside!

You can see my own finished project photos here.

Now I am focusing on some new designs for the future...

Celtic knots!

Celtic knots!

Time to Foil

This weekend I got some quality glass cutting time in on my floral window project, and am now finished cutting and grinding - time to start foiling!  I'm giving myself the afternoon "off", but foiling commences first thing tomorrow morning...

The little hummingbird worked out especially well, with a special shimmery green glass.  The white/brown wispy glass around the frame turns out to look like a rustic barn wood frame...  Something I didn't anticipate, but now appreciate!

Photos have been difficult to get due to the icky fluorescent light hanging directly above the project assembly area... 

Raoul the hummingbird will be relieved to know that his beak will appear during the foiling process...

Raoul the hummingbird will be relieved to know that his beak will appear during the foiling process...

The shop manager, Sundae, makes sure there is little to no slacking off or texting during the work day.

GET BACK TO WORK!

GET BACK TO WORK!

New Project Progress

Last weekend was a good one - I not only found a "new" stained glass resource (to me, of course), but I went to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival on the MOST gorgeous day!

Watching my favorite part of the Sheep and Wool Festival, the herding dog demonstrations!

Watching my favorite part of the Sheep and Wool Festival, the herding dog demonstrations!

I could watch those dogs herd all day...

I could watch those dogs herd all day...

The glass store I "found" not only is a huge warehouse/library of glass, but it's within an hour of my house - I'm never buying online and paying for shipping again!!!!

A small peek at their Kokomo glass section....

A small peek at their Kokomo glass section....

Large format Spectrum Glass heaven!!!

Large format Spectrum Glass heaven!!!

My glass haul

My glass haul

So finally, with final dimensions in hand and pattern printed and cut, I got down to the basement this weekend and started to cut glass for the Clematis window!  I learned a new (to me) technique today, allowing me to cut many compound curves out of a single sheet of glass, so I can have a consistent "swirl flow" for the background of the piece!  This took a little trial and error, but I am so excited to be able to have a background that flows through the design. I won't be able to see the fruits of this effort until the piece is finished, soldered and hanging with light behind it...

Can't wait to start cutting the red glass for the flowers!

Gorgeous!

This last weekend was incredibly gorgeous and good weather for a family get together.  I was able to go back and take better photos of my Mackintosh Rose Lampshade (check out the new photos!) as well as enjoy some time with my favorite people (and dogs). 

View from the inside!

View from the inside!

Sundae's favorite place in the world

Sundae's favorite place in the world

Long walks were taken, good food eaten and quality time was had!

Rockcrest

Rockcrest

Easter 2016

Today was spent quietly recouperating from last week as well as finishing my latest small suncatcher, a White Mackintosh Rose, to add to my Etsy shop.  I plan to make a few different colors of these, and can't wait to work with all the different colors!  :)

The light, although not very bright in the background, allows for a good look at the streaks in the glass.

The light, although not very bright in the background, allows for a good look at the streaks in the glass.

This design is a spin-off from my earlier Rockcrest Lampshade design...  After I make a few color variations of these little guys, I may turn my attention to a few spin-off suncatchers from the Peacock Mandala I just made.  Waste not, want not in design work!

New Projects

As my new (larger) project takes shape on paper, I am working on a few small suncatchers to fill time - designs which I have derived off of previous custom work I've done.  Extra time this week for my own projects has been scarce, but I do have a little to show for my efforts...

Tomorrow, I'll solder and start cutting a new small piece...  Maybe another rose or a peacock feather?  So many possibilities and colors for both...