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!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Butterflies on a Sunday afternoon

I've been trying so hard to stay focused and stay in my shop and continue working on my frog and not wander the countryside looking for nature's beauties. It worked for awhile, but Sunday afternoon this lovely blue butterfly landed in my yard and I knew that it was all over. I put my stuff away, grabbed the camera and headed to a local county park to see what was happening. I admit I have a problem~I'm a nature junkie and have to get my fix but I really don't think I need help...sometimes my husband thinks I do...
By the way, the above butterfly is called a Red-spotted Purple. Its considered a mimic butterfly~~it mimics the coloring and markings of a similar butterfly called a Pipevine Swallowtail. The Pipevine is toxic so by mimicking it the Red-spotted Purple avoids being eaten up by birds.

Here's an update on the frog suncatcher taken Monday afternoon. All of the pieces have been foiled and with any luck I'll have this piece soldered on Tuesday--if I feel up to it.

Back to the Sunday butterflies. This butterfly is the Pipevine Swallowtail. I caught up with it on the shores of the Tennessee River probing the sand for mineral salts. This is a common activity in butterflies. Unfortunately, this one wouldn't open its wings so I could show the similarities to the above Red-spotted Purple. The undersides are just gorgeous. This butterfly looks pretty fresh like its just come out of its cocoon recently.

Another flying beauty found probing for salts is what I think is a Tawny Emperor. Their markings can vary somewhat within the specie. The patterning and coloring are just gorgeous.

Similar to the bold orange and black Monarch~this is another mimic butterfly. This is a Viceroy butterfly. Monarch butterflies are distasteful to birds, so again by mimicking the colorings and markings of another specie this butterfly avoids becoming lunch.

While checking the shoreline of a smaller river that feeds into the Tennessee River, I spotted this beautiful American Lotus. Funny, I have never ever seen this lovely flower up close and personal and just by coincidence I'm working on the frog suncatcher that has a yellow water lily as part of the background. These types of coincidences happen fairly often to me. A few years ago, I was working on a different dragonfly project. The day that I started cutting the glass pieces a very large dragonfly flew into my shop~this is before I put a screen door up. Hummingbirds have made their way into my shop also~around the time I was working on hummingbirds. Good thing I have the screen door up now--I'm going to be working on a bigger owl project soon.

Another lovely find for the day was this Cardinal Flower in bloom. This wildflower is a favorite of hummingbirds~insects find it difficult to get at the nectar in this long narrow tube like flower. Nice to see this flower in bloom, hummingbirds are starting their southward migration and by having little pit stops like these flowers, those amazing flying jewels stand a better chance at reaching their wintering destinations.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Its been kinda froggy for the past few days

I've been wanting to redo this frog/dragonfly suncatcher for the longest time. I designed it last year and built just one of them, but there were things about the pattern that I wanted to make changes to before I'd build another. Finally, I sat down and figured out what was bothering me and got things straightened out.
A few days ago, I got started on the process. I made my carbon copy of the original and started picking out glass. Right about this time, my neighbor came over to drop off a loaf of bread his wife had made. He saw what I was working on and bought it for her as a surprise Christmas gift. Wonderful for me, I won't have to take a million and one photos to get five right like I would if I posted this suncatcher to my Etsy site.

These are most all of the glass pieces that are going into the suncatcher. I've glued down the paper pattern pieces to the glass. I'll save the pieces that are cut off and sort them by color. One of these days I'm going to give mosaics a try.

The pieces have been thinned down a bit--here's how they look after I've cut them by hand with a glass cutter. Some of the angles of these pieces are a bit tight and the type of glass is not all that easy to cut by hand~I'll leave these for the glass saw. Since I don't have any extra of some of this glass I don't want to take the chance of trying to cut it by hand and having it break in the wrong place.

Here are the glass pieces cleaned up a bit more with the glass saw. Its a wonderful tool~I use it quite often. A must have in my shop.

I started grinding the pieces for the frog first. The eye is a black glass glob that I've grinded down on both sides and also the bottom to make it a bit shorter so it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb. I like the idea of using a glob--or glass gem, since its round it has a certain amount of reflectivity in that it catched the light and reflects it. This spotted glass is wonderful for frogs. I'm so glad I came across a piece of it years ago in the scrap bin of the stained glass shop that I took my one and only class at.

Here's the detail of the dragonfly. I've used a light green glass glob for its head. This one I couldn't grind the bottom of since it will show--it will look all scratched up and dull. So, this will stick up above the rest of the glass pieces a bit. The wings are an iridescent textured glass with the textured side up and the body is 7 individual pieces in light green.

Here's how things look as of this afternoon. Next, I'll wrap all of the pieces with copper foil, solder the front and the back and wrap lead came around the entire piece. I'll solder two loops near the top of the piece for a chain to be attached and I'll darken all of the solder lines and lead with black patina.
I'm always excited to get a project like this done. I'll post photos again as the process continues.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A little bit of time on the river

In the middle of last week, to celebrate our anniversary, my husband and I paid a visit to the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge-Busseltown Unit~just a couple of miles away from where we live. The river is pretty peaceful and quiet during the week, I'm sure it was pretty packed for Labor Day weekend-boats of all kinds, jet skis and people enjoying the last holiday of summer. Sometimes, we get lucky enough to see a big barge moving product up and down the river.
Looking south and looking upriver. Sounds funny, doesn't it? Rivers in North America are supposed to flow south-this one doesn't. The Tennessee River flows southwest out of the Knoxville area, west across northern Alabama, then takes a turn north and flows through West Tennessee until it dumps into the Ohio which eventually empties into the Mississippi. We've spent some time swimming in this river, but its not all that clean. You come out of the water feeling that you need a shower.

Lovely golden yellow wildflowers are in bloom all over this area.

Across the river are some nice looking bluffs. The water reaches pretty good depths near these bluffs, usually 50-60 feet deep. The Tennessee River splits the state of Tennessee into three sections- East, Middle and West. We're on the West Tennessee side looking east at Middle Tennessee.

A good find for the day included this White Tail Dragonfly. It was patrolling a small area looking for prey. I got to watch this one as it munched down whatever it had caught. After its meal it was off again looking for another victim.

The purples of autumn are starting to bloom. I'm not sure of what these are but they are very pretty. I was kind of bummed out--when we visited about a month ago there was lots more interesting things in bloom. A lot of it got mowed down, probably in anticipation of all the weekend visitors that were going to use this area for their good times.

Here's an interesting wildflower~Heart's-a-bustin, or Strawberry Bush. These haven't busted yet, but when they do the seed head opens to reveal purple insides and bright orange seeds. I'll have to remember to come back and get a shot of these once they pop.