Thursday, December 31, 2009

Busy day! Ethan stopped by to give Sherry her Christmas gift, a very nice flamingo candle holder. This will be a nice addition to her flamingo collection. Just when Ethan left, Sonny came by on Star. We fed Star up on apples and carrots, tried to give her a sugar cube, and sent them both on their way. We finished foiling the Starry Night in Blue Ice panel, and will solder and kame it tomorrow. Sherry completed all of her panels (waxed and polished). Tomorrow she will solder the Starry Night while I "tag&bag" inventory, hook up the truck, and do all of the last minute stuff necessary to prepare for the show. We had a nice walk across the scrub to "Paradise" where we absconded with some "Mother-in-law" plants, a really nice succulent. Someone has been raping the place, taking all of the large palms and etc. they can carry out on a swamp buggy.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sherry continued work on two 'fleur-de-lis panel while I keep up the work on the Starry Night in Blue Ice. I did something I never do this afternoon,. I took a nap. When I got up at 4PM we decided to shut down the studio, and take our evening walk.
Yesterday we notice a nice trail cut through a control burn area on the northeast side of the wildlife management area, adjacent to The Fisheating Creek. We came across the Baby 'Dillo, and got a couple of shots of him before he scampered off into the scrub. The trail through the control burn and into the cypress swamp was well cut, seldom used, and a very pleasant walk. As the dark was catching up with us, we decided it was a good time to turn around and head back home under the beginning of a full moon.

Another pair of Painted Buntings showed up today at the feeder. Now we have two pair.
This is the earliest we have ever seen them. Hopefully, the other two pair will show up too.
We also had two pair of American Goldfinch this morning. This necessitated me moving an additional feeding station to the Live Oak. With only one feeder, the Goldfinch scare off the Buntings. The Bluedog works hard all day keeping the squirrels off of the feeders. Even though I put cracked corn on the ground, the squirrels still wreck havoc on the feeders. Of course the feeders have to be taken in at night, on account of the raccoons will tear them apart. This necessitates getting up early to put the feeders back up, as the birds really need the food on these cold mornings.
It is very cold here this morning, again. 48F., but is predicted to get up into the mid-70'sF. Yesterday evening we cleaned up along the side of the creek, and opened up an area for some more banana trees. These next will be the larger, standard sized banana trees, placed behind the dwarf Cavendish that are established in this area.

This morning I was up at 3AM, and managed to get some data entry, balance the books for November & December, and review some show filings. I have gotten the old Dell up and running again. It is now up and on-line. Now I can use this old thing to listen to Computer Radio during the day, as opposed to taking the new Sony out to the studio every morning.

As soon as it gets light, I am off to get started on the Starry Nights in Blue Ice. I really need to get this done by tomorrow, as we need it for show inventory.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Merrick's panel, taken with natural light (direct natural light) streaming through the glass.

Really cold this morning. 39F! Too chilly to hurry outside to the studio. The Painted Buntings showed up today. One pair was at the feeder. Sherry completed work on Blue Moon Egret while I continued cutting and fitting Starry Night in Blue Ice. I fired two commercial dicro rondels (split). They will be ready tomorrow, at which time I will finish cutting, grinding, and fitting, and begin foiling on Starry Night. I should be able to solder on Wednesday. This one is different from what we normally do. We will see how well it is received at Los Olas.

Sherry went to town and got some grocery's and free books at the Library. "Red Badge of Courage" , by Steven Kane. I read this in Jr.High back in the day. I look forward to getting into it again.

We had a nice walk this evening, and Sherry got some good (phone) photos of a baby armadillo. I would like to get some with the Canon. It seems as if when I bring the camera, I end up needing the binoculars, and when I bring the binoculars, I need the camera!

The high today was 70F but you would never know it. It is suppose to warm up tonight. I hope so. Now that the Buntings are back, I would like to see it stay warm. They do not like the cold! Sherry also saw what she thinks was a Indigo Bunting. Idid not see this bird, but it is possible, as they do sometimes travel together, on they're way north.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A chilly Monday morning in Palmdale. 58F with a high of 70F. We are going into a "cold spell" here, with highs expected to reach only into the upper 60'sF. This morning I started on the last little bit of water on the Merrick project. After all of the cutting and grinding was complete, I turned my attention to the Blue Moon Egret. Sherry finished two Dragonfly Bevel Panels, repaired "Starz" (this will be the second repair on this panel. We have got to get this thing out of inventory and sold ASAP as it does not travel well at all), and began foiling the Blue Moon Egret, while I got the electric repaired on the RV (battery charger & lights). Once that little task was completed, I started work on another "Starry Night" in Blue Ice. We shut the studio down at 5PM, took a nice walk around town and returned home to a chili dinner at about 5PM.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday in Palmdale. Unload the car and straighten out the Studio. A quick walk around the yard to see what has happened since we left two weeks ago. The Century Plant is in bloom and the Honey Bees are working hard to gather the nectar. The Grapefruit tree is producing a really heavy crop this year. The tomato plants that Tom the Cabinet maker brought by two weeks ago have gotten established and are doing well. The pole beans are up and growing fast. On the non-food front we have a beautiful pink bloom on a little air plant that Sherry planted in a Live Oak Tree. The citrus all look great, and the Bananas are really taking off. The County finally came by and dug out the creek under (and around) the bridge. Not great, but I guess it is the best we can hope for. Sherry went in town for "vittles" while I got the studio in order, and got the Merrick Panel laid out on the light board. I started cutting in the water line, but did not get far before we decided to take a walk over to the Prevatts for a Holiday visit. Sherry and Nancy discussed Jess & John's wedding cake, while Todd and I admired his kennel and the nice pack of Hog Hounds he is currently building. He has a good stock of Catahula Leopard hound he is currently working with. We left the Prevatts and walked home to a big pot of home-made venison chili. Tomorrow, more work on the Merrick panel, a little yard work cleaning up along the creek, and maybe plant some of our tomato plants.
Up at 2AM on the 26th and out the door by 3AM. We have warm rain on top of cold snowy ground, so the Fog is thick as soup. We hit North Carolina by 6AM and I was exhausted! We stopped at the Welcome Center and I slept until 7:30. We hit South Carolina without a hitch, until we came upon a 2 mile back up due to a Bird Dog working a covey in the middle of the Southbound 95 lane. An hour later we were stopped dead for a wreck just miles from the Georgia Line. We followed a Tour Bus to detour around the wreck, but by than we had lost another 2 hours. To add insult, we heard on the radio traffic report out of Jax that traffic in Orlando was backed up in both directions and to expect an hour+ delay. This caused us to take 95 south to Port St.Luci and pick up Rt68 to Rt90 to Rt721 to Rt70 to Rt27 and come into Palmdale by way of Robinhood's Barn. We had something cross the road and Sherry swears it was a Bear Cub, but I could not tell for certain. We got in at 8:30PM. It took us 17 1/2 hrs!
Where to begin? Since I last posted, we did Christmas Eve at Capt. Bill & Miss Emmy Sonntag's, along with all the Haydens, Judy and her crew, Jess & John, and Sherry & I. A good time was had by all. We were up Christmas Morning at 6AM and traveled to Jess & John's. We arrived to John cooking a BIG breakfast with fresh eggs (they have Americana's, Rhode Is. Reds, and Sex links), home fried potatoes, home made country sausage, toast and fresh coffee. After we ate, we woke the kids and the gift orgy began. I won't begin to go into what the gifts were, suffice to say it was opulent. Later in the day we went out to the shooting range to try out our new Taurus 410/45's, and finished up with a wonderful dinner at Bud and Thelma Raley's. Ham, Turkey, Stuffed Ham and all of the trimmings. The Raley's are really great people and always welcome us warmly into their home. I very much enjoy talking to Bud about his WWII experience's as an anti-aircraft gunner. He landed on Omaha Beach at 8AM June 6, 1944. He is a great story teller, and he really puts you "in the fight" with his vivid account of his war experience. He tears up every time he gets to the part of losing his gunner, or the time he shot down a Messerschmidt and could see the pilot's face as he flew his burning plane into the deck. Sad tales, yet told with such emotion. I love history, and he relates these stories so well. After dinner we went back to Jess & Johns to say our good-by's. It was very sad, with lots of tears. We hate leaving, but we must return to our Florida Studio, and get back to work!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

With the Meteorological beginning of Winter and the Winter Solstice behind us, we have completed the silver staining process. We utilized a rich amber stain, mixed with bottled water to a medium-to-thick consistency, applied and blended, and fired to 1000F, with a rapid ramp speed, no soak time. The stain darkened around the edges, and remained light to clear in the leaf areas, just as planned.

The next step is to get the components of the panel packed away, and get the parts back to the Florida Studio (without breakage). Once the pieces are laid out on the glass easel and attached utilizing bees wax, we will begin to lay in the water lines, and paint in the cattails and grass. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. The next step is to get the panel packed, and moved.

After the longest night of the Year, we say goodby to the Winter Solstice of 2009, and greet the New Sunrise over the Potomac River.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Finally, the sun returns and we are covered in a blanket of new fallen snow! The birds are busy on the feeders, staving off the cold. It is 28F here this morning, but should warm to above freezing as the day progresses. I continue to paint and fire. The last of the leafs (front and back) are firing now, and will be finished by days end. I have contacted Stephen Byrne of Williams & Byrne Limited, Church Farm Studios, located in Shopshire England, with questions regarding how to achieve consistency in stain color during the silver staining process. Once I have a reply, I will begin the silver staining process. This should take four firings in the kiln to complete all the panel. I will attempt this on Monday, I think, as it is time to head over to Jess & Johns to stuff ham, and spend the day with The Grandkids!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I continue to "leaf-in" the tree. Paint & Fire, Paint & Fire, Paint & Fire, Paint & Fire. And so it goes, until all of the front side of the panel is complete. I am firing to 1250F, soaking for 15 mins. and crashing to room temperature. I vent at 500F to 550F and once I reach 200F I open up the kiln and allow it to cool to 125F. Once cooled, I unload and wash the glass in preparation for the next painting, and reload the kiln with new glass for the next run. Each piece is painted with 5 colors on both sides, and fired 3 times. (Each color is dried before the next color can be applied). Once all of the colors are applied and fired (front & back) we will begin to apply the silver stain. Once the silver stain is applied and fired (approximately 1100F max.) the glass will acheive a nice warm amber stain, as shown in the cartoon. Not to get too far ahead of myself, this last is days away, at this time.

It began snowing last evening at about 7PM, and has continued through the night, and into today. It is predicted to snow well into Sunday. At 7AM this morning we had 6+ inches on the ground, with a stiff wind out of the E/NE at 10mph to 15mph. It is predicted to gust up to 40 this evening. We will see. I dropped Sherry off at Jess & John yesterday afternoon and came back to the studio to continue work on the Merrick panel. I fired until 1AM and then called it a night.

This morning I loaded the bird feeders first thing. The birds seemed happy about that, until the Grackles, Red Winged Blackbirds, and Starlings showed up to ruin the party. Before the hoards overtook the feeders, I had Titmouse's, Chickadee's, Junco's, Cardinals, Red Bellied Woodpeckers, Nuthatch's, Brown Creepers, and Sparrows. All polite, and taking only what they needed. When the Grackles, Red Winged Blackbirds, and Starlings show up, the eat everything that is not nailed down, and chase off any of the other birds that want to come to the feeder (except the Red Bellied Woodpecker, who rules the roost). Oh well. I guess they must eat too.

On the river we have Swans, Bufflehead Ducks, Canada Geese, and Mallards, all with beaks tucked underwing, facing the storm.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Here we continue to work on our tree by laying in some leaf work. These leafs are painted in four different colors, utilizing four different vehicles (lavender oil, lemon juice, vinegar, and water). As the first firing (the branches) come out of the kiln, and another run goes in, the first run is painted in this manner. As the second branch run is removed and the third and final branch run is begun, the second run will be "leafed in". The panel is really beginning to take shape at this time. It is really exciting to see the separate pieces go in and out of the kiln.
My next step in this project, is to paint in the branches. These are to add depth to the cut glass (larger branches), and to "hide" the cut lines (solder lines), and cause them to appear as smaller branches. This painting occurs on the back side of the glass, again in an attempt to add depth to the finished panel. Each piece must be cleaned, painted and dried with a hair dryer before it can be placed in the kiln, and fired at 1250F. This causes the vitreous paint (which is nothing more than finely ground glass) to become one with the surround glass, at the molecular level. This is a bit of a difficult process, as the glass may well fail (break) during the ramp up to the desired temperature, during the hold time, or during the annealing process. We keep our fingers crossed during the entire firing process.

Cold as can be this morning. 30F. Chance of Snow beginning this evening and continuing through Sunday! They are now calling for 12+ inches. John is on call all weekend, so there goes our "target shooting" session. I have been fast at work with my painting on Merrick's Egrets. I now have the tree trunk in place, and all of the surround glass cut. I have selected a clear antique, which should take the stainers paint and the silver nitrate stain well. The striations in the antique glass will add some depth.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Paint, paint, paint, paint. Cut and fit, grind and fit everything but the water on the Merrick Egrets. Dinner at Jess & John's. Steak and Scallops. It was great. I will download the photos of the panel tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fog this morning on the river, but the Mute Swans don't seem to mind. I got a really early start on the Merrick's "Fisheating Creek Egrets" panel. They will be ready for firing tomorrow, as well as the egret in the Blue Moon panel. Sherry is off with Jess in Waldorf. Her car was scheduled for an oil change, and of She will be back soon, and we will leave for Outback, and Madison's Birthday Dinner. Sherry fired three masks, drapped a bowl, and fired some hummingbird dicrohic wings and tail. One of the masks did not make it. Oh well.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday's are always the best. Great to be back in St.Mary's County. Foggy with a high of 48F and a low tonight of 36F. Burrrr! Today Sherry fired up some glass torso's, while I did my first painting run. I finished (almost) my Great White Egret for the Blue Moon panel, and generally got the studio up and running. Sherry ran out to meet Jess & John, so they could sample Nancy Prevatt's wedding cake(s). They made their selection, and Sherry will place the order with Nancy, after the two of them (Sherry & Jess) decide on a style. I got the "leavings", and placed my order for my Birthday cake come January. Great Cake!

Tonight we drove over to the Raley's and had Poppa John's Pizza and movie night. It was great to see the kids. John has done a wonderful job decorating the outside of the house, and the inside is festive as will, with a Christmas Tree in every room. Very festive after no decorations at the Palmdale Studio. Here, we are really getting into the Holiday spirit.

We got another order tonight. Tomorrow I will build a box to ship it in. We are having such bad luck lately with shipping, weather UPS or USPS. Sherry is working hard with the shippers to correct the damages, but it is really starting to get to her.

Swans, geese, and ducks on the river this morning. I am anxious to see what the river will bring tomorrow!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Saturday was a really busy (and long) day. We left Palmdale at 6AM and headed over to Cape Coral to pick through some glass being offered up by a very fine Gentleman by the name of Herb. I was able to replace almost all of the glass that was destroyed on Friday morning, and Sherry picked up a load of Bullseye fusible. All and all worth the trip. On the way through Ft. Myers we stopped by North RV to check out a used Work&Play. Not what we were looking for, but the salesperson, Laura was very helpful. Next stop was the Lee Civic Center to walk through the Sun Coast Gun Show. We have been shopping for a Taurus Judge 410ga./45 cal. revolver and we found two at the show, one the Public Defender (2" Barrel) in Stainless, and the other a 3" Barrel, blued. Two very nice pieces! We returned to Palmdale, planted our tomatoes, closed down the studio and the house and packed for the trip home. Nancy Prevatt delivered three cakes for delivery to Jess to sample. Nancy really does a nice job, and worked really really hard on these wedding cake samples with three different types and two separate icings. She is a good kid!

1:30AM we are up and rolling and out the door by 2:20AM. We had rain all of the way. Gas was anywhere from a high of $2.62 to a low of $2.35. Traffic was light most of the way. Sherry slept until we were deep into Georiga (about 7:30). The trip was uneventful, and generally good. We arrived in Abell at 5:10PM. 14 hrs. 50 mins. ! Best time ever! The KIA really kicked as I ran between 70 and 80mph all the way. Gas mileage work out to between a high of 32mpg and a low of 27mpg. Mileage really dropped in heavy traffic, with all of the acceleration / deceleration.

We unloaded most of the glass supplies, turned up the heat, and settled in for a night by the heater. It is cold! 40F. That's hard after leaving 75F this morning.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tragic event this morning. Everything I did yesterday on the Merrick Commission is lost! I laid-out all of my glass on my light table when I shut down the studio last evening. Last night a box of 3" X 3" bevels fell off of the shelf and shattered everything, the glass and the light table! Two days of work, gone. I was all set to begin painting, and had really worked myself into the right mind-set. When I got word from Sherry this morning, it was quite a let down. I salvaged what I could (glass wise), and started in on a piece for inventory. I think I will call this new piece "Blue Moon". It is a painted white egret, with the blue moon being a fired commercial dichroic disk. I got all of the cutting and grinding done. I will paint and fire the egret while we are in Maryland.

We walked back to the east side of town again, and collected a large basket of Ball, Mason & Kerr jars. We are soaking them in a large container in the yard. When we return we will clean and store them. Hopefully, we will have a large crop of beans to fill them with.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

This is gonna have to be short this evening. I threw my back out, so I am going to get horizontal and put some heat on. Sherry finished her commission, and it really turned out nice. A really pretty piece of glass. We could not make it up to the west side of the creek today, so maybe tomorrow or Saturday. We did take a short walk through the scrub on the east side of town, and found a pretty good stash of Ball Jars! Really old, and have been there for a long time. We will return tomorrow and collect them for our "stash" of canning supplies. Ball jars / Atlas jars are always a good thing to have around, and a bonus find.

I spent most of the day working on the Merrick commission. I hope to complete most of the cutting / grinding / fitting by tomorrow night. I'll take the pieces that get painted, along with all of my painting supplies to Maryland, where I will spend all of my time painting and firing in the kiln.

Hi 86F, Lo 64F! Thick fog this morning, burning off to a partly cloudy day. Well, here we go. Out to the studio and back to glass!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

After our chores were done, and the studio shut down for the night, we headed out for our evening walk. We decided to try the Shell Road in the Fisheating Creek Wildlife Management Area. The shell road is the old Rt.27 bridge. Today it is the dead end at the south side of Main Street. It leads down to the creek, through the cypress swamp. We were hoping to see some big gators, and boy did we get our wish!

This old boy is a really big gator, 8+'. He just laid there, while we photographed him and his friend.

Sherry worked the day away on Lynn's commission. The commission consists of a 27.5"X27.5" panel with antique depression era glass and jewelery. I continued work on Nan Marricks' Fisheating Creek Egrets, repaired the motion light, and fired some industrial dicrohic. Tom the cabinet maker stopped by around 2pm with 7 Big Boy Tomato plants. After Tom left, Evelyn came by with some homemade Guava Jelly. We rewarded her with a tomato plant! I mailed Mrs. Elizabeth Folken's Nautilus Shell in a Blue & Clear Baroque surround. Mrs. Folken is 93, and her granddaughter (who lives in Scotland) purchased it for her. We packaged it and sent along a kind note in her granddaughters stead. Mrs. Folken is a very sweet lady we first met in Mt. Gretna Pa. She is a real sweetheart, with tons of loving children and grandchildren. We wish her all the best this Holiday Season, and look forward to seeing her again next August in Pa.!

Sherry continued on with her project, while I collect some calamondin fruit for mixing my paints. This tart little orange (about the size of a quarter) is extremely acidic. I use the juice when I am laying down other paints mixed with either lavender oil or white vinegar. The calamondin mixed paint with not bleed in the presents of the lavender oil paint. The mix of lavender oil and calamondin makes for some wonder scents when I am painting. Because of it's high acidity, I have used it as a flux when soldering. Our calamondin tree is quite large, and produces year round, year after year.

Sherry hard at work on Lynn's Custom Stained Glass Panel

First Entery

December 9,2009: I have decided to start this Blog, more as a journal than anything else. A way of keeping track, as the days seem to go by so quickly here.

Additionally, I thought this blog may serve as a vehicle for a Classic Glass Studios "Catalog" of new work, work in progress, and inventory, in the form of photos with captions, etc. as clients are always requesting a "Catalog".

So here we go: Yesterday we traveled to Port Charlotte, Fla. to Tim Millers Studio. Tim is a Glass Blower, and has access to some very cool industrial dichroic glass. We first purchased glass from Tim in March 09'. Last summer I fired some up and put it in a "Starry Nights" transom and it sold immediately. Sherry fired up some draped masks and two female torso's, and some slumped bowls. The masks and bowls sold immediately, the torso's have not. I fired two 7.75" rounds, split them, and installed them in a large panel with chinchella dichroic accents in a SI100B surround. The large panel (24"X36") won the "Herman Melville Award of Excellence in Glass" at the Port Warrick Sculpture & Art Festival, in Port Warrick, Virginia. We have had great success with the glass, as it is unique and unavailable anywhere else. With this in mind, we thought we should purchase another load. Tim is great, and loaded us up with double the amount we intended purchasing, with the stipulation that we pay up the balance within 6 months. That is a big help!

We got home and Sherry started work on a commission while I planted pole beans, peppers and cucumbers. Earlier this week I planted a Macadamia Nut Tree, a Pineapple Orange and a Pomegranate Tree. We have had good rain, so all of the citrus trees are doing well. Sherry's bananas are doing gangbusters! We are fast running out of space, so we are becoming limited on what (and where) we can plant. I now have over 25 citrus, as well as bananas, papayas, passion fruit, star fruit, mango, macadamias, and veggies. The grapefruit will have a bumper crop this year and the tree is bending under the weight of all of the fruit. The trees and veggies all grow well here, as we say, if a dog messes in your yard, you can cover it up with dirt and 12 weeks later you have a liter of puppies!

One of the problems with growing fruits and veggies here in Palmdale are all of the varmints that want to eat the fruit and veggies here in Palmdale. We have a gaggle of raccoons, as well as an invasive fruit rat from south Asia (another story), opossums, bob cats, house cats, skunks, black bears, wild boars and pythons! Not to mention the occasional alligator. Our relative position adjacent to the Fisheating Creek Wildlife Management Area gives ample "wild lands" for the critters to return to every night. Our neighbor Tod photographed a (approx.)450 lb. black bear. The bear has only three legs. When asked to speculate on the missing limb, Tod suspects an intimate alligator encounter. One (a 200 lb'er) was hit and killed out on Rt.27 two weeks ago. Our other neighbor, Joanne, had a python in her garden (right down the street). These large reptiles are great for rodent control, but play havoc on pets. During our evening walk a neighbor on the Creek side of town told of "...a large cat, big as a dog, ran across the yard last night (fully lighted by security lights)...looked light a small panther...". So who knows... Palmdale is a wild place!
So today...Sherry continues on her commission and I will begin work on mine (an on going work for Nan Merrick). Sherry had a very interesting project, a 28"X28" stained glass panel that incorporates mementos from our clients deceased mother, ie: crystal wine glasses, depression era plates, and jewelery. A very exciting project, that she hopes to have completed before we depart for Holidays. The Nan Merrick's project I am working on involves a lot of vitreous painted elements that have to be kiln fired prior to incorporation into the panel. I had wanted to get all of the painting done, and the firing to be done in Maryland during the Holidays....we shall see. The panel is well over 8 sq.ft., and is titled "Fisheating Creek Egrets" taken from a prototype completed in January 2009. It will become a full install in an arched window. Their home is located on Vanderbilt Beach in Naples, and is beautiful!

Well, that is it for today. I am going to really try to continue this. Oh, last...low 60F hi 84F. I love Florida!