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Friday, August 31, 2012

A Noisy Empty Nest

There comes a time in most families when the children grow up and begin an independent life.

Having been a first time mom at age 36, I was able to postpone everything about parenting, including the empty nest. But it has happened. No longer do I have my art critic, fashion and technology consultant conveniently living in my household. My husband is great in many ways, but his computer knowledge, although comprehensive, is getting dated. Windows he knows, but Macs leave him in the dust.

So the part about the noise....
I had imagined that things would be quiet at this stage of our lives, but what you may not know is the phenomenon known as live animals left behind!!!

This is the story:
Many of our children finish college and can't land that career job immediately like we did "back in the day". I finished college in 3 1/2 years in the 70's and immediately had several offers for art teaching jobs. I also got married the day I finished college. I could not imagine living home with my parents. Back then we had secret lives and had to protect our parents from knowing too much about our  lifestyles.

My daughter, Shasta, along with many talented young people, with or without teaching certificates, get jobs in the food industry. Not that there's anything wrong with that, except for the low pay. Hence, they live home. And in a perfect world, you enjoy them as a new live in best friend. And that's how it was for us.

You also feel a little pity for the child's sad financial situation and displaced social connections, so you agree to let them have a pet, so they don't get depressed, with the agreement that the pet goes with them when they move out. That sounds good, except the reality is that it doesn't always happen. For instance my friend's daughter moved to the wilds of Costa Rica with her surfing boyfriend and could not take her Beagle, "Cooper". Shasta now has 2 house rabbits. "Rocky", a big French Angora baby, was feeling a little depressed and needed a companion, thus "Rosy" arrived. For now they are here. She is waiting for the new roomies to get to know her first  before she attempts to introduce them. Most people have never even heard of a house rabbit.

The bonded pair live together in a penned area in the upstairs art and sewing studio and use a litter box. They are allowed to run around the room with supervision. Electrical cords MUST be covered for this activity. Just ask Rocky about that. Our bedroom is beneath the studio. Now you would assume a rabbit, being naturally silent, is quiet. This is true. But its movement that creates sound such as smashing, biting and shaking their metal pen, and thumping.

Tuesday night at 3am, after an exhausting day of interior painting, moving furniture, and a long drive, Rosy decided she was pissed about something and kept up a rhythmical THUMP for quite a while. Fortunately Joey the rooster was asleep. So Bill went up and found nothing wrong.

In the morning, because she and Rocky now share everything, the litter box was full.
That was all!

The stained glass rabbit, at the top of the post, was a custom piece made this spring. The violets are fused, and the details are painted and kiln fired. It is 6 inches high.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Secret Country Mill

Tucked away in a remote corner of Monmouth Co. NJ is Walnford, a park with a fully functional restored mill and house. Its location is very close to busy Rt. 539, where hordes of ocean loving tourists head towards the Pine Barrens, in route to the world famous NJ beaches, but have no idea of its existence. It is lovely, functional, and museum like in its presentation of facts both historic and mechanical, thanks to the wonderful Monmouth County Park System.

I had seen it in the 1970’s, in the early years of Off the Wall Craft Gallery, my business then located at the newly restored and repurposed old mill in Allentown, NJ. The Walnford Mill was run down and the the house on the property was still being used as a residence. I visited it again in the early 1990’s with my young daughter. The house was empty, the mill was locked, but it was teeming with domestic geese. Then in 2008, after I closed that business, I had the time to go back again. Wow. All the buildings were open with guides, restored to pristine condition, inviting, and full of life. The large secluded property offered lots of privacy to enjoy some peace amongst nature.

This piece, “Life at Walnford”, depicts an accurate rendering of the building with a lot of artistic license in depicting the trees and plant life. The muddy shoreline and the geese everywhere is based on the memory of pleasant and playful times there with little Shasta.

This Friday my stained glass piece, “Life at Walnford”, will be featured in Bordentown, NJ, at the Artful Deposit Gallery’s new show, “Along the Delaware River and Crosswicks Creek”, July 13th to Aug. 19th. The opening is July 13th, 5 – 9 pm.

Here in Vermont I have tried to create a life that feels as good as those visits to Walnford.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Vermont Summer Life or gardening? Kayaking or copper foiling? The temperatures are perfect and the outdoors seduces me.  New wild flowers appear and my vegetable garden needs constant nurturing. The chickens are loyal companions as we try to agree on where they can and cannot go. Chicken wire fences are appearing everywhere - prettier than dirt bath pits! Glass crafting often becomes a night time activity as I get into my zone, without any disturbances.

This recently completed custom piece depicts early fall on Lake Bomoseen, our local water playground, with a big view of some of the Taconic Mountains, particularly Bird Mountain. I used glass painting in the water, some of the tree and the sailboat bottom. The tree is fused.  

My experience is that when riding on a boat of any kind, with or without a motor, you are swept away to a place in the mind that feels like vacation.  That is why we came here!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Stained Glass Design from Children's Art

It was my pleasure to create a panel for the Mettawee Community School, West Pawlet, Vermont  and to honor the founding principal, Nancy Marks.

The entire project was done from start to finish through e-mail communication. Design proposals were edited and sent for approval without the customer coming to my studio until it was finished.

This is 5th grader Lexa's full size watercolor painting:

For further reference I was given a photograph of Haystack Mountain as seen from the school:

This is the design I proposal I sent by e-mail. :

The writing and some details were painted with vitreous glass and permanently kiln fired before assembly.

Above is the finished stained glass window.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Chicken Art in Brandon

It is a tradition in Brandon, VT to get attention as an art community by the visual impact created by generous volunteers and members of the juried cooperative group of artists exhibiting at the Brandon Artists Guild. I am very proud to be a part of this group. It is a lot of fun to interact with these talented people as we gather together for painting projects. This year we are asking the question,
 "What's Hatching in Brandon?".
 It will be a big visual impact in the town and a lot of colorful FUN!!

In addition to decorating the town, the Brandon Artists Guild will be showing and selling themed art work by the members in a variety of media. The following pictures show the progression of my piece. It started last year, when I purchased 16 baby chicks. They are my models and inspiration.

A Barred Rock and Rhode Island Red.
I named all of them, but eventually it became difficult to tell them apart.

We ordered 3 Silver Laced Wyandotte hens. I named them Barbie, Joanie, and Patty, after my sisters. When I finally figured out why they had fancy tails and crowed, I renamed them Buddy, Joey, and Patrick, and then called them the "brothers". We kept Joey, the gentlest, and found homes for the others.

I desided to use the composition of the first photo but switch the Red for Joey, keeping the chickens black and white with a contrast of "kaleido-flowers" in random spontaneous patterns.
I used all Bullseye glass that I recently purchased.

Dichroic glass has the unique characteristic of totally different color based on transmitted or reflected light.
For example a single piece of glass may be turquoise when light passes through it, and then a shimmering red when light bounces off it. Another is bright purple with light going through it, then becomes metallic gold in reflected light.

The opening for this show is May 25th at the Brandon Artists Guild

7 Center Street Brandon, VT 05733

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Brief Vermont Winter

"Ski Run Dream"

In the spirit of giving to a cause of great personal passion, I created this panel for the 2012 Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sport's Ski Challenge Auction. A square of white/clear swirly glass is painted and fired, with a layer of 3 soldered pieces behind it to add more color. The beveled border makes a prismatic brilliance. I observed a Tiffany window at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC where layers of glass were placed behind the panel to create enhanced color affects and softened lines. Tiffany studios created special glass with actual textures and colors specific for a project and painted details were used sparingly.

The stand was made by my friend Dick Kirby of Brandon. Dick volunteered on the Pico Mtn. Ski Patrol for many years, possibly starting some time in the 50's into the 80's. He is over 80 now and is very active creating fine metal work sold at the Brandon Artists Guild.

I typically volunteer at Pico Mountain, and occasionally at Killington, 2 or more days a week from Christmas to April. So it was very sad that the March heat wave melted away the remaining snow, bringing the season to a grinding halt.

It is hard to imagine how it would feel to live with a disability. Some of our children have lived with it their entire lives, but many of our adults have had to transition into difficult challenges and acceptance of becoming disabled. I worked with a partially blind young woman ex-Marine this winter from Nevada. Her vision impairment is recent and possibly related to serving in the military. She was very happy to learn to ski! Our clients get great joy and satisfaction in their skiing experiences. This is a gift we can give to them.

So now Vermont Adaptive has plans to build a permanent building for offices, equipment, volunteers, and clients at Pico. You can help with a donation through, then specify "Vermont Adaptive". Thank you.