Posts Tagged ‘Gaffer’

14
Feb

Success in the Studio … and Beer!

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Frit

9 February 2011

My last day in California. And, a day of triumph. I have learned so much this week—honed some skills I’ve been building for six years, and jumped head first into others. I’ve had to remember, relearn, unlearn and develop muscle memory—both physical and mental! I have gained tons of confidence and am very proud of where I am. And, today (with Kyrana’s prodding and assistance) I plead my case to the gaffer and convinced her I was ready to make a tumbler. I knew I needed coaching—the only reason I hadn’t tried a little clear cup the night she left me to practice snowmen—but I was confident I wouldn’t need a further bail-out. I knew I could make my own bubble, now. I knew I could do all my own gathering and marvering. I was pretty sure I could handle the jacks and the papering (although it turned out that the papering was my weakest spot). There were a couple of other areas that were still pretty foreign (dealing with the blow-hose), but I figured I could do what I was told to do. And, Shannon would punte and ultimately break the piece off the punte if I got it that far. So, after some quiet convincing, she gave the project her blessing and redirected the rest of the afternoon into that flavor of teaching. I went first, then Minda, then Kyrana.

It was a bit grueling, and at one point, I wasn’t sure the little thing was going to live, but when all was said and done, I put a charming little purple cane and white frit covered glass into the leer! Other than the punte and break-off, Shannon didn’t touch it. I was ecstatic … elated … and so, so grateful! The tears of relief (that I hadn’t disappointed the gaffer) and of joy and of pride were quick to the surface, and hugs all around were heartfelt and full of thanks.

Minda, too put a little cup in the leer, but it was her first attempt ever! She had more help, much like Ginger and Kelly and I all did six or so years ago on the Bristol floor when we first began our apprenticeships. But, it was very straight and indicative of how quickly she seems to pick up the movements she’s learning. Kyrana’s cup also went into the leer, with only one false start and a small bit of help. She has logged many more hours in the studio than I have, but had never tried a cup by herself. We were all so proud—of ourselves and of each other!

Shannon and Kyrana and I celebrated by going to a book signing we’d had our eye on, and then to the third of Shannon’s favorite local brewpubs—Hoppy Brewing Company. There, I had the best selection of beers I’d had all week—of the nine tastes in the flight, I loved over half of them, and only didn’t finish one.

Great friends, personal growth and success, awesome beer … beautiful glass, fabulous weather …  dinner parties, lunch parties, and ice cream … six fun dogs, a few cats and a couple of chickens … it’s been an incredible week!  Tomorrow, I go home.  Glad to be going home … but so sorry to be leaving here.

~MB

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7
Feb

Let the Beauty …

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Words to Live By

7 February 2011

 

Is it any wonder I love these people and the creativity and beauty created in this glass studio?

This banner hangs on the wall above the leer in the Girl Glass studio—I absolutely love the sentiment it teaches.

 

I assisted today with a few vases and bowls … and learned the basics of doing lip wraps!  That was a really big deal, and something I am hoping to get good enough at doing, that I can help Shannon do more of that sort of work at Bristol this coming summer.  It was rather high-pressure learning, though!  It’s a process that requires speed and confidence and very, very hot glass.  And, I figure that writing about it will solidify it in my head, so dear readers … bear with me!

 

First,  I gather a little tiny bit of clear glass (dipping the pipe down into the crucible of 2000 degree molten glass, the consistency of honey) and marver it smooth at the marver table, and then push down on the very end, so it barely provides a hot, sticky tip to the pipe.  Then, heat that up again, and go to the leer to pick up a waiting color chip.  So far, not terribly unlike the first part of what I did over and over again the day I took those color chips and blew all the bubbles.  The color chip then gets heated up in the furnace heat and marvered.  But, instead of marvering it to let it cool, to gather over it (like I did the other day) the marvering on this must be super fast and ideally I form the colored glass into a sharp point.  Then, back to the heat to ensure as much fluidity as possible, and immediately thereafter, present properly to the gaffer, with the pipe at just the right angle, and the hot, pointed tip of color right where she can grab the pipe with her pincettes and tag it to the lip of the piece she’s working.  She controls the whole thing, then, requiring one flip of the pipe from me, before she touches my glass to hers.  My job then, is to carefully follow, doing nothing, really, but focusing, and supporting my pipe, while she spins hers, allowing the colored “lip” to “wrap” all the way around the piece as it turns.  Then, when complete, she quickly forces the end of my pipe down and away, requiring me to be both flexible enough to go with the push, and solid enough to control the hot pipe until any remaining trail of glass is severed and I take the pipe to the giant trash can of blow pipe storage.

 

*whew!*  So, it took me a lot of go-rounds to be useful and even so, I wanted more rehearsal before the real thing, but, I did successfully help with two little lip wraps that I cannot wait to see in the morning!  I wouldn’t say I’m good, yet.  But, I’m better than I was!  This week is all about that sort of journey … to gain confidence, to learn new things, and to show improvement with every successive action.

 

Tomorrow, I’ll take a photo of one of the finished pieces I actually helped make.

 

And, for anyone interested, my new friend Tina, a friend of Kyrana’s and Shannon’s, was in the studio today taking photographs and actually managed to snap a couple of me that I like, and that are already on Facebook!

 

~MB

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7
Feb

Getting Hot

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Pipes Getting Hot

6 January 2011

This is a common sight in the glass studio … an assortment of “pipes” propped in the tunnel of the furnace, being warmed for use. It is commonly considered one of the jobs of the apprentice, to make sure the gaffer always has whatever pipes she might need, at the ready. Blow pipes, puntes, and gathering balls were all used today as I assisted Shannon in making a number of vases and bowls.

My hand, by the way, although still showing telltale signs of my burning incident, is feeling much, much better.

~MB

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6
Feb

Twisted

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Twisted Chaos

5 February 2011

My photo today shows one step in the process of Shannon making a giant ornament, much like the one whose photograph is imbedded in yesterday’s KRuMB post.  She gathers clear glass twice, then adds color by picking up canes and shards and otherwise discarded glass bits, melts them, marvers them in, and then, before blowing, she uses the pincettes (pin-set-ease) to pinch and twist and curl the straight lines of color into swirls and random craziness.  This twisting part is my favorite!

In a frustrating “twist” of fate, I didn’t get to do as much in the studio, today.  I managed, after three minutes alone on the floor this morning attempting a snowman drill, to grab a hot pipe and burn the heck out of the fatty flesh of my left hand just above and just below where my rings sit.  I put the pipe away safely, and went inside to run cold water on my hand and tell the gaffer of my silliness.  After laughing at myself and chilling my hand under the running water, we went back to the studio together.  It didn’t take long to realize that having my hand anywhere near the heat of furnace or leer, was going to be a problem.  So, we came back inside for a while and I squished an ice pack around in my hand while we chatted about our respective futures and dreams of financial success.  When the ice pack wasn’t icy anymore, we went back outside and pulled some more cane, and then did three of these giant ornaments before the furnace was nearly empty and it was time to charge.  It worked out alright, I suppose, but I remain awfully frustrated with myself!

At least I can say that it was a rather relaxing day and my hand is feeling mostly better, now, nearly twelve hours later.   I have some residual redness in a few spots, and it’s a little uncomfortable, especially when very warm, but,  I’m confident that I’ll be back up to par by morning.

Notable about the evening were the sunset, and the dinner we girls shared.  I glanced over my shoulder and out the window shortly after Laurel and Kyrana returned home from their day of adventuring at the Farmer’s Market and the local arboretum, to see a brilliantly pink sky.  We all decided to march outside to see it without the hindrance of walls and window screens, and it was well worth the little walk down the street to take a couple of photos.  Once darkness fell, the food prep began.   Kyrana fixed four of the largest artichokes I had ever seen!  It was as they came off the stove from being steamed, and I carried them to the table, that I had to admit this would be a first for me.  I got the coaching I needed, as we ate them slowly, savoring the juicy, meaty tip of each leaf as we worked our way toward the heart of the giant vegetable.  Combined with spinach and salmon salad with avocado, it was a totally delightful meal!

~MB

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9
Aug

Kelly and the Puppy

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Kelly with the Puppy

19 July 2010

It was only out of love for Shannon and the desire to help celebrate her birthday, that I pulled myself away from the Park Hyatt Chicago, the air conditioning, the television, the mosquito-less shower, and, of course, my husband! He was ready for me to go, though! He claimed I was a distraction … 😉 I’ll take that label!

So, he immersed himself in his three-day conference, and I pointed my truck north (after paying $43 dollars for overnight parking!) toward faire and friends and family. We gathered at the lovely little park not even two miles from the faire site, surrounding a charming manmade water feature they call Lake Andrea. The weather was cool (where was this during the weekend?!) and a tiny bit drizzly, but under the giant weeping willow tree it was delightful picnic weather and picnic we did! Sean ruled the grill, and Amber ruled the guacamole and Ginger brought the wine … and I was a happy girl. My best photo from the event sadly isn’t one of the gaffer at her birthday party, but of Kelly with the new puppy, Randy. Are they cute, or what?

~MB

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15
Jul

Cascading Flower Pots

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Cascading Flower Pots

14 July 2010

It was a full, and pretty wonderful day here in Wisconsin. It started with Kyrana’s pancake breakfast at the glass studio. A cup of coffee, some fresh-squeezed orange juice and of course, pancakes made with love. Then, I took my first turn of the season as the apprentice on the glass studio floor with the gaffer. We made little bodice coolers today, working despite the awful heat and humidity, but finally gave up around one o’clock. About an hour later, Kelly and I left the site to do a post office errand, and then go pick up Hazel, the cat. The vet tech presented Kelly with little vials of meds for the cat, and one containing the needle and eight inches of thread they pulled from Hazel’s stomach! Hazel seems a little slower than normal, but otherwise, just fine. And, it seems our chosen family rallied to Kelly’s aid and anonymously donated just about half of the $1300 vet bill—an amazing and much-appreciated gift.

Kelly and I spent the evening working—I put in another three hours beading on the forepart for the wedding order, and then decided to come on home, get my shower, and wind down before the big storm hits. Our weather radar shows a massive storm system just to our northwest —headed straight for us, as far as we can tell. High winds, hail, and a tornado watch are all a part of the forecast! The sound of rolling thunder has grown closer for the last couple of hours, and the rain has just started. If it doesn’t storm too violently, it’ll be perfect sleeping weather!

My photo is of the cascading flower pots in the MBistro. Kyle bought me the cool plant stand that makes this precarious-looking display possible, about three years ago at a home and garden show, and I’ve never used it. This year, as I was packing the trailer, it caught my eye, and I decided it would serve me better up here, where I do container gardening, anyway, and where the sun isn’t so harsh that it fries the plants!

I’m to bed, now. There’s talk of breakfast at Franks Diner bright and early in the morning!

~MB

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22
Apr

Dining Room Still-Life

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Dining Room Still Life

15 April 2010

As I made final preparations on the house today, in anticipation of Larry and Denise’s arrival, I moved this lovely vase of flowers and was struck once again, with both their meaning to me and their beauty. So, even though I used the rose as my photo for yesterday, I got the camera and tried to photograph the entire vase full of blooms. Unfortunately, the bouquet is just the right size and shape that I could not for the life of me make it look good in my photo without losing part of it of the edges of my frame. And, while sometimes that works, I didn’t like it today. So, I backed off, instead, and realized that maybe I could capture part of the surroundings and make it interesting. What I have is interesting to me, if not to others—a microcosm of our lives represented in stuff .  I’ve done this before with other places in our home, but it’s been a while, so … here goes …

The flowers of course, tell the story that I shared yesterday, of me being honoured by my friend, and our queen at Scarborough Renaissance Festival, Shannon.  I lovingly placed those flowers in a hand-blown art glass vase, made by my dear friend Shannon Jane Morgan of Girl Glass—the gaffer I enthusiastically apprentice with every summer at Bristol.    It sits on a coaster that’s part of a set of coasters Kyle’s parents brought us from Europe.    And that sits on my antique golden oak, draw-leaf table—the first “new (to me)” antique that I bought after moving in with Kyle.  Behind that, hanging on the wall, is a lovely oak shelf and the beautiful glass yard that hangs from it.  We picked that up at the Colorado Renaissance Faire just days before we were married.    The hanging shelf visible on the left came from the Arizona Renaissance Festival—the first faire Kyle and I worked together on the road.  It holds a couple of bottles of bubbly, gifted to us at our last Hogmanay party, and the tasting glasses we brought home from our first trip to the Messina Hof Winery.   I can see parts of two other beloved antique pieces: on the left, a fabulous little cabinet that houses an antique treadle sewing machine—a gift from George one Dickens weekend from long ago; and a small English sideboard that I picked up for a song a few years ago and which now houses our collection of  liqueurs.  On top of that piece is a wine rack, and heaven knows we love our wine.  That makes me think of our friend Jene, the winemaker at Fredericksburg Winery, who has gifted us with so many of those bottles in that rack.   On top of the sewing machine cabinet, and on the hanging shelf, are many of my houseplants, simple pothos ivy mostly, that I manage to keep alive, and that even Kyle has gotten pretty good at remembering to water while I’m away in the summer.   And, back over on the sideboard you can plainly see the commemorative glass from the Rahr Brewery created just for their award-winning brew we love so much called Iron Thistle.  You can even see, just the corner of a photo frame that holds some favourite photos of mine … a group shot of many of our dearest friends at Dickens, a beautiful shot of my little brother and his daughter (my niece) McKenna, and the one you can actually see of my mama and my grandmother on her 94th birthday.

Such wonderful memories … such rich experiences … such love of friends and family … all represented in one rather average photograph.  It’s just a dining room still-life to most.  But, to me, it’s a tiny glimpse of who I am.

~MB

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