Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I am the crazy cat lady

My husband has been calling me the crazy cat lady for years now. Honestly, I really like this title.
I had an idea a few weeks ago to try some new colors with my stained glass kitty cat faces. I thought they might be cool to build in pinks and greens and yellows-its not even winter here and I'm already thinking of spring colors. I told a friend about my idea and she suggested that I try patchwork kitties-mix the colors up a bit. So, I gave it a try. This is the second Pastel Patchwork kitty that I have built and I have added this one to my Etsy shop. I just love them and I'm thankful that she suggested the idea, they are so fun and bright.

This kitty has very pale green eyes. I have another patchwork kitty that I've cut up and will have finished in the next few days. The new kitty will have aqua blue eyes and aqua blue glass along with other springtime colors.

I've also added an Orange Tabby to my shop. This one is so bright with some sun behind it--its like its on fire! The eyes of this one are an emerald green.

And-I've finally completed my Snowy Owl suncatcher, now I just need to get it packaged to ship. The whites are actually very bright, it looks like I've got some shadows from my backyard trees cutting across parts of it here. I'm very excited about this piece and hopefully I'll be able to recreate this and add it to my Etsy shop.
Hoping everyone has a wonderful week. The weather has been absolutely wonderful here in Tennessee.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Crank up that woodstove, daddy-o!

Yup, that's what the kitties say when it starts getting chilly outside. The very first winter that we spent in this house, we used this fireplace--well, as a fireplace. Its beautiful to look at a roaring fire but it would just burn up the wood without ever really warming up the house. Granted, we do have a central unit, but after receiving the first bill for heat we had to find another way to stay warm. For the second winter, the husband rigged up this idea--connect a woodburning stove to the chimney via stovepipe. This set up is pretty ugly, really, but it does warm the house and the kitties think that its the best thing ever. The empty fireplace hole becomes prime sleeping territory.

Out of the 7 insiders, there are only 4 that are true fans of the heat. Biggum (above) just loves it and winters are the only time that he really lets it all hang out.

Another big time fan of the heat is my Bubba. He likes to stretch out and take up the entire space.
Little Weetie really enjoys spending time in here in the evening--after she's wore out from harrasing the other cats all day long.

20 year old Granma is pretty dignified in her heat gathering activities. She's much to proper to sprawl out like the other heathen cats.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Its Vulture Time Again!!

Its vulture time again!!

Every year in the fall, I get to witness a really cool natural phenomenon right from my front yard. These are all vultures--both Turkey and Black Vultures-in a gathering also known as a vulture kettle. Its not what you might be thinking-these birds aren't all out looking for dead things to eat. Instead, they have searched out special features of the natural landscape...
The neighborhood I live in sits on top of a hill overlooking the Tennessee River. The wind currents lift off of the hillside creating thermal currents-or rising columns of air. The vultures seek out these thermal currents which lifts their bodies and allows the birds to soar effortlessly for hours. In the times that I've watched them I've seen very few wing flaps.

Kettle of Vultures

As the birds start decending from the sky they take up roost for the overnight in trees across the street from me--very tall trees on a hillside not close to any homes.

These are all Turkey Vultures, easily distinguished from Black Vultures by their underside wing patterns. With a wingspan of 69 inches (175cm) its quite an impressive bird and also a very valuable member of the ecosystem since they are part of the clean up crew that feeds on animals that have died.

Its really a delight to see these birds flying about and doing their thing. The only one around here that gets freaked out about them is my dog--I guess she thinks they're out to get her.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Things that fly....and things that swim

For the past week, I've been working on this custom order Snowy Owl suncatcher. I was on a role, half way through having all of the glass pieces foiled up when I realized that there were things about the face that I really didn't like, but I couldn't put my finger on what those things were. I left the project alone for a day or two while I went over the problems in my head and finally came up with a solution. So, back to work today--I fixed the problem pieces and I can continue onward.

Here's another custom project that I did a few years ago. I was contacted by someone interested in my work~they had seen a different Largemouth Bass glass panel that I had designed, created and listed on ebay at the time.
There were a couple of requirements by the buyer-first, they wanted this panel to be 1/3 sky and 2/3 water. Second, the bass needed to be in pursuit of a frog that had made its way onto a lily pad~with the question remaining of whether the frog made it or did the bass snag it off the pad. Third, they wanted the letters 'H' and 'L' built into the panel somehow~these initials signified the pond that was on their property. Forth, it need to be built to fit into an existing enclosure.
I set about including all of these elements into the design and would email sketches to the client for approval since they were out of state. Once I had the final 'cartoon' drawn up, I sent a carbon copy to the client for their final approval and to make sure that the measurements were correct. I'm so glad I did this since I was given the wrong measurements but could easily make the corrections before I started cutting the glass. Because of this I still remember the measurements off the top of my head--this piece measured 20 9/16" wide by 29 9/16" tall. By the way-in this large overview you can see the letters 'H' and 'L' worked into the design--to the right of the bass in the swaying grass.

The thing about this project that kind of bums me out is that I didn't take a whole lot of photos of it like I should have. Here's the bass with all the glass pieces cut. I've used a taxadermy glass eye--just like what would be used in a mounted trophy catch.

Here's the detail of the frog--before the poor guy was given an eye.
My husband has been trying to convince me to redo this panel for our front door. As soon as I can find 2 months of free time to spare I'll be right on it~in other words I would love to redo this but I doubt I'll ever find the time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New glass in my shop-Cobalt Blue Star

While I'm waiting on a glass shipment for a custom project that I'm building, I decided to create and add this Cobalt Blue Star Beveled Stained Glass Window Panel to my Etsy shop. This design is truly my favorite to create, I have yet to come up with another pattern that I enjoy building as much as this one.
Shortly after listing this piece, I was notified that it had been featured on the Etsy FDL team's blog post on jewel tones from various Etsy sellers. Wow, how exciting for me, I'm really flattered that my piece was chosen to be included.
The following pictures show some additional details on this piece.

The center focal point is a clear glass bevel. I've surrounded the bevel with textured cobalt blue glass with the textured side facing forward. I tend to do this with much of my work, I think it adds just a touch more sparkle to the piece. The center 'petals' are surrounded with a different textured glass both in cobalt blue and in clear called Waterglass. Waterglass has a flowing texture that resembles water on a lake's surface. I've also used a pale blue textured glass in the background and textured cobalt blue glass with clear glass bevels in the border.

Once all the glass pieces have been cut, fit and foiled I will cut my frame for this piece. For square/rectangular panels I use rigid zinc came or frame.
This is cross section of the zinc came showing the 'U' channel. The outer edges of the panel fit inside of this channel.
I measure my came and hand cut the pieces using a hacksaw and a mitre box.
Here is the piece tacked down to a board using horseshoe nails along with the items needed to solder this panel front and back. From left to right: solder, flux, solder iron and a damp sponge to wipe the tip off during the process. Once soldered the panel is cleaned and polished and stored in my workshop while it awaits to be shipped to a new home (hopefully).

Friday, October 16, 2009

Asters~Its what's for dinner

A few days ago, I set out to do a little bit of exploring and see what was new in the wild kingdom. I went to two of my local favorite 'hot spots', areas that in the past have always had good things to see. At the first stop, a wild, overgrown area near a stream just a 3 minute drive from my house, I found the first of several Monarch butterflies I was to see on this day. What a complete surprise it was to see this beautiful butterfly on such a cloudy, dreary day.

In both places that I visited, there were wild asters in bloom all over the place. Part of the sunflower family, these blooms were being enjoyed by a number of different species.

The bees were also enjoying the small white and yellow blooms. Once these flowers dry they will provide winter seed for small wintering songbirds.

Ooops, I caught these two in the act! I saw them fly passed me together but didn't attempt to follow them. Just by coincidence I found the flower on which they landed.

The black-eyed Susans are fading away but are still adding some bright sunny color to the natural landscape. Another member of the sunflower family, these happy blooms have provided food for butterflies and bees and other insects while in bloom and will again sustain life once their seed heads dry and are munched up by songbirds.

Here is another interesting wildflower/shrub. Its a Heart's-a-bustin', or Strawberry Bush. Looks like they have busted alright. These seeds are eaten by browsing deed during the winter months.

SALE!! I've put quite a few items on sale in my Etsy shop until the end of October. All of my stained glass owl ornaments have been marked down along with all rainbow colored items including stained glass pieces signs, hot air balloon and small rainbow suncatchers.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy weekend.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Wings and things

I've tried for many, many years to get photos of hummingbirds, but they always move much to fast for me or leave the feeder just when I'm ready to get a shot of them. A few weeks ago, I got lucky. Right before I was to take this feeder down and switch it with a clean one, I took a break on my front porch-camera in hand. On this evening the activity at the feeder was pretty good. Here are just two of the half dozen that were flying around the front feeder~the activity at the back feeder was also good.

These are juvenile Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, the most commonly seen hummingbird east of the Mississippi River. They come to North America for their breeding cycle and I've been lucky enough to find one of their tiny little nest a few years back. The adult males with their shimmering red throats have already made their journey south to their wintering grounds. I'm jealous of the folks out West, they get a wider variety of hummingbirds. Strictly a "New World" bird, its always a pleasure to see these flying jewels. But these cute little jewels have an aggressive side to them and are extremely territorial.

The hummer on the left kept trying to get a drink of the sugar water mix~meanwhile the one that's in midair kept trying to get it to leave. A few times the midair hummer would actually try and land on the other's head to get it to go away.

After a little while things seemed to settle down and they realized that they could enjoy some 'juice' together.
As of today, we still have a few of these juveniles hanging around the yard. Soon, they too will be gone for the season. For the 10 years that I have been tracking their arrival and departure dates from three different locations in Middle and West Tennessee, the second week of October is when they usually leave for good.

Speaking of birds, here is my next project that I need to get started on. Its a Snowy Owl suncatcher and a custom order. Once its completed, it will measure nearly 14" diameter. The owl will be sitting on a snow covered log with snow on the ground around it. The background will be a deep cobalt blue with a full moon split in half by the trunk of a tree. I've been excited about building this piece for some time~but my customer requested that they did not want it until November at the earliest. I can't wait until its done, depending on how things work out I might build one for my Etsy shop.

Wishing everyone a wonderful, peaceful Sunday.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I love black cats

Yes, I do-I love black cats~but then again, I love all cats!! I just added three new black cat ornaments to my Etsy shop. The first two are the fat face style-they are 5" wide. One has glowing amber eyes. The eyes are glass globs and after I get them soldered I hand paint the pupils so each is a little bit different. The amber eyed cat has the look in its eyes like my cat gets when there's no food in the bowl.

Here is the green eyed kitty. These glass globs are really light in color~almost a pale lime green.
And the last kitty has really cool blue eyes. I've never seen a blue eyed black cat in person, but I know they exist. For this cat, I narrowed the face a bit. I really like the shape of this one. I had another kitty~a blue eyed grey and white kitty all handcut, but I needed to order some replacement parts for my glass saw before I can go any further with getting that one done.

And here's some real black cat love~two of my black girls loving up to each other.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Its time for pears!!

A few weeks ago my husband came home with a box of locally grown pears. He had stopped to help a man resecure the load on this truck and in return the man gave up these pears from his Granny's tree. Well, honestly, I don't have a clue of what to do with them all--I don't can and there is just my husband and myself--the kitties don't want anything to do with them. Except to maybe roll them around the floor. So, I thought to find some suggestions on Etsy's Etc forum. It seemed like the logical place to ask for all kinds of advice.

I got lots of great suggestions and links to recipes that looked super yummy--but I'm really lazy in the kitchen. I really don't like to be there very long, except in the winter. I enjoy cooking in the winter. Its still too nice outside for cooking.

The first suggestion that caught my eye was to bake some like apples. Great! I got the crockpot recipe book out and followed the instructions for baked apples:

2 Tbsp raisins

1/4 cup sugar

6-8 medium apples, washed and cored

1 tsp cinnamon

2 Tbsp butter

Mix raisins and sugar (I used brown sugar) fill center of apples. Sprinkle with cinnamon and dot with butter. Put in crock pot, add 1/2 cup water. Cover, cook on low 7-9 hours or high 2 1/2-3 1/2 hours. These turned out really good.

The next pear treat I tried was Pear Crisp. HeatherScent suggested this recipe and honestly, I just love the way that she shared it~it just made me want to try it. So, with her permission, here it is:

Oh, I suppose you want the recipe!

Wash, peel and cut up a bunch of pears, enough to cover the bottom of a 9" square baking pan. Grease the pan first. Use REAL butter, please, not cooking spray or margarine or any of that funny business. Butter is the right thing to do.

In a bowl, mix 3/4 cup brown sugar, 3/4 cups rolled oats, 1/3 cup softened butter and 1/3 cup of flour.

By the way, I'm guessing at all of these measurements, since I don't actually measure when I cook. But even if thy are off, how wrong can it be? It's sugar and butter, that always works out nicely.

Mix that up nice and then dump it on top of the pears. Sprinkle with a whole bunch o cinnamon, and a little nutmeg too, if you're a nutmeg kinda gal. I'm not.

Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes (Oops, you should have pre-heated the oven. I forgot to tell you that). Serve it with real ice cream, for goodness sakes. Don't even think about putting Cool Whip on it.

This was really good! Hubby and I both enjoyed it, it was quick and easy and tasty.

We've gone through this box of pears, there is only about 6 left and they are now soft enough for table use. I really need to send him out again and see what other kind of fruits he might be able to bring home.

Friday, September 25, 2009

What's new in blue

It continues to rain here in West Tennessee, so I haven't had much of a chance to get out and see what's happening with Mother Nature, which is good because it has kept me busy in the shop. I've finally listed my new cobalt blue stained glass panel~Sapphire Star~with special thanks to the great folks at Harmony Glass. This piece measures 11 1/4 inches square--28.5cm and uses two shades and textures of cobalt blue glass along with one clear glass gem, four sapphire teardrop glass gems and clear glass bevels. Once the sun finally does decide to come out, I'll have to spend some time rephotographing this piece.

I've also been busy cutting and grinding all the pieces for this second cobalt blue panel. The center of this piece is a 30mm clear glass faceted jewel surrounded by 4 different textures of clear iridescent glass with textured cobalt blue glass and 24mm x 40mm clear teardrop shaped faceted jewels. Once completed this piece will measure approximately 12 1/4" square (31cm). With good luck and no mishaps, I should have this piece listed on my Etsy site early next week.

Iridescent glass is highly reflective, especially at night with just a bit of artificial light hitting it. In the day, it seems to give off soft hues of pink-yellow-green. A very pretty glass.

This is the 30mm center jewel for this panel~just under 1 1/2" diameter.

And this is the 24mm x 40mm teardrop shaped jewel-approximately 1" x 1 1/2".

One more project that I've got going on is this small sized frog suncatcher. I was contacted after posting my other frog suncatcher with a request to do one in a smaller size~this one will measure about 6 1/2" diameter. I'm really looking forward to completing this piece and if I can find the time I will do another to add to my Etsy inventory.
Looking forward to some sunny weather in the upcoming week. Hoping everyone has a wonderful weekend!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

What's next in the shop

With all the beautiful sapphire items for September being featured on Etsy lately, I thought I should put a new design together using some rich cobalt glass. I sketched up this new design recently~while waiting for pictures to upload. I originally wanted to build this piece much larger then what I'm building this one at~maybe I'll wait and see if there is a positive response to this piece first. Once completed, the above panel will measure approximately 11 1/4" square (28.5cm)
I ordered these lovely teardrop shaped smooth glass jewels. Once I started working on this panel I noticed that one out of the four is a lighter color then the rest and would really stand out once this piece is completed. I contacted the company and they will be sending an additional darker gem so I'll be able to continue working on the panel.

I finally completed my frog/dragonfly suncatcher~unfortunately, it has been cloudy or rainy every day since so I haven't been able to get really good photos.

My owl suncatchers are on sale until September 23 marked down to $35 each~here is the latest owl to be added to my Etsy store. You can see more pictures of it here.
I also have a Dark Streaky Brown Owl, a Grey Hoot Owl and a Snowy Owl.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy weekend!!