Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Outside the Studio Doors

We've been in our home for over 6 years now,  and I'm finally *finally* getting around to planning for the area outside the studio doors.  I'd love to do a stamped concrete patio, but can't because the French doors to the left have pipes running underground that lead to our septic system and if we ever need access to that, I wouldn't want to break the patio up.

So I'm pondering other ideas such as a bricked patio or something else. I'd also love a pergola for part of this area as well as some beautiful seating and an outside firepit for our awesome view of the mountains.   This would be mostly an adult area to kick back after the kids have gone to bed (yeah right, the kids usually outlast all of us!!)    We're on just over 5 acres, so there is a lot of potential for fun areas and I'm currently working on a hideaway fairy garden in a lightly wooded area which is almost halfway to completion.   I'd also like an extended play area for the grandkids (4!!)  with maybe a tree house and fort (hey Chris, Keith and Danny, I need your help with this!),  planning on some really fun projects I saw in Lowe's and their own little mailbox that I'll hide notes and little treasures in. I bought some molds for stepping stones and garden borders which I'll personalize for them with glass and other wonderful things.

One potential plan I'm playing with in my mind is using the right half of the space for a stamped concrete patio (about 13 feet across by 12 feet out) and the other half for a pergola and fire pit area.   If you can visualize it, it would mean the spaces adjoining each other.    Oh, and don't forget the beer cooler.

So .... I need more ideas for this space because right now the space is bland and boring and too vanilla!!    Anyone have any ideas for this space? It's approximately 26 feet across and I'd like the patio to be no more than 12 to 14 feet long and something I can DIY.   And affordable would be oh-so-good :)    Come on, bring those plans on!    If I love, love, love your ideas and use them, $50 and $25 gift certificates to my Etsy shop http://willowglass.etsy.com could be yours :)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Kali's Curveball

2012 started badly. I'm writing this post as a narrative because it's been hard to keep my head (and heart) together.

On January 2, our little brown rescue dog, Kali, was savagely attacked in our yard by a feral cat. We immediately rushed her to the vet clinic (it was just after 5 p.m. so of course our regular vet was closed for the day, isn't that always the way?) We were told that she had trauma to her right eye and were given drops to release the pressure and some painkillers and told it would take a week or so for her to heal. A couple days later, my gut told me things weren't getting better and we took her to her regular vet. More exams, more pills, more drops and told her recovery should be 10 days. Kali is always my shadow but in those 10 days, she was like a crazy glue stick. If she wasn't in such pain, I think I would have taught her how to cut glass, she was that close by all the time. I hope you are as blessed as I am to know dog-love, there is nothing like it.

I am one of those people who sees the glass as half empty and frequently battle depression (despite my attempts to turn it around). I think I knew from the very beginning that she would be blind in that eye and that was o.k. with me, because I still had her and things could have been much worse. My husband on the other hand is a Pollyanna and is frequently in denial as to the reality of some things. I don't always whistle a happy tune.

After 10 days and then 14 passed by, I knew she was in trouble. She was still in pain and her spirit was damaged as well as her eye. I noticed that she was walking with her body to the right wall to compensate for the lack of sight (to give herself boundaries). Back to the vet we went and were advised to make an appointment with a dog opthalmologist. Fine. Get us in asap. Anything for my dogs. Of course, the appointment couldn't be made for another week and this opthalmologist was the only game in town (actually several towns). And of course, he confirmed what I knew all along, Kali was indeed blind in her right eye. We were given 3 options, one which I wouldn't even consider. The other options was enucleation (complete removal of the eye) or having a prosthetic eye put in for cosmetic reasons only. The prosthetic could cause future problems (infection, possible rejection by her body which would mean another surgery to remove it, etc.)

As you can imagine, I did more than a fair amount of research in January and knew that for Kali, enucleation was the best and most humane thing for her. My spouse was still in denial and "couldn't do that to her". To me, a prosthetic is merely a cosmetic fix and honestly, Kali does not care if she looks like she's winking all the time. I don't care; the day I rescued her from the side of the road, she also rescued me and I was strong enough to do what was best for her. Within 2 days, she had her surgery scheduled. She had her eye surgically removed in February with no prosthetic put in. I do not give a flying crap what people think and what their comfort level is. She is beautiful to me.

Her recovery went as well as it could although she hated the collar she had to wear for 13 days). We moved a mattess onto the living room floor as she couldn't go upstairs to the bedrooms or downstairs to the studio. I think her being confined in that way was the worst thing for her. I moved all the furniture (couches, etc.) in the living room around so she couldn't get onto them. After 10 days when she was able to jump small heights, I moved the couches back around and the first time she jumped onto one, I held my breath but she smiled that doggy smile and took a nap. After another 13 days, she was cleared, her stitches were removed, and she could then reclaim the beds for naps. Life was good for my pup again.

We're travelling this road of adjustment together, Kali and I, the rest of my family, and Kali's 2 dog "sisters" Daisy and Lanah. Life is a bit different now, she's not quite as feisty as she was before and is always with me. In time, hopefully that will change because Kali is a warrior, fierce and independent.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I live in a part of the country that has
four distinct seasons and from now through March is my least favorite time
(I much prefer Spring and Fall). The last couple of years in particular, I've had a really hard time getting through the
bone-chilling and hard Northeast winters. Driving is
treacherous here on the unpaved back roads in Cow Country and though I love my house and acreage,
I don't know how many more winters we'll withstand here. New York is a tough place to live and though I'm a native and have been here all my life, between the winters, the roads and the taxes (don't get me started), I think it might be time for a change.

Does the Winter inspire you to create more or do you hibernate? I find myself alternating between being creatively active and just wanting to snuggle under a quilt with good books. The library has been one of my favorite places since childhood and I still go every week. My library of choice is the Cheney Library in Hoosick Falls, everything a small town library should be with a great selection, friendly staff who are always ready for a chat about books, good hours, and access to the online upstate NY library system, so for what isn't on hand in the libary, they can get for me within a few days. Ironically, the book I'm reading right now is Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah. I highly recommend this author and I'm working my way through her books now. Time for a few chapters and a cup of tea now!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Nichrome Wire and Glass Fusing

Nichrome wire is a high-temperature wire which is perfect for using with fused glass as it will remain intact at temperatures up to approxim...ately 1700 degrees Fahrenheit. By using your hands and/or jeweler’s pliers, high-temperature wire can easily be formed into any shape and secured in place with suitable glue  (a little bit of Elmer’s white glue works just fine) in between the layers of glass and fired in the kiln in order to create cabochons suitable for jewelry designs. You can also assemble your creation directly on your kiln shelf if you have steady hands and position the wire in between the layers of glass thereby avoiding the gluing process.

As the glass begins to slump in the kiln, the wire will become permanently encased between the layers of glass. After the firing is complete, the nichrome wire will appear somewhat discolored
and dull, and you can give it a gentle buffing with some steel wool to quickly restore the luster. The projecting outer end of the wire can then be used to attach the fused glass piece to a jewelry finding or whatever else you're creating. (my photographed piece is a small chime piece)

I'd suggest using the wire with glass other than transparent because with transparent glass the wire will show through, which is not attractive! I've used this wire for jewelry pieces, ornaments, suncatchers and chimes of light to medium weight, but wouldn't suggest it for heavier weight pieces.

Get some nichrome wire and check it out!