Doors from Barri Gotic in Barcelona

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear as it is – infinite” – William Blake

 Barcelona is famous for its beautiful  and varied architecture as well as  a number of breathtaking  buildings designed by modernist architect  Antoni Gaudi.  I was lucky enough to visit Barcelona a short while ago.   You can see pictures I took of Casa de Mila,  Sagrada  Famila  and Parc  Guell on my Tumblr blog.
The Barri Gotic is the center of old Barcelona and some of the buildings there reportedly date to the 13th century.   I saw many elaborate wood and metal doors in the Barri Gotic quarter with heavy metal hinges, massive door knockers and  knobs worn down from years of use.   We have all seen pictures of doors like that,  but the doors that really interested me were the ones covered with graffiti. They seemed to be out of place  yet at the same time I felt like they belonged right there in the narrow winding streets.  I took the pictures below as I wandered around with my camera.  I wonder what Blake would think of them?

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Nothing but Chandeliers: Context and Meaning

I am currently off traveling and taking interesting pictures I hope.  This week’s topic is chandeliers.   I don’t own a chandelier but they have always mesmerized me with their graceful Siva-like arms and multiple lights.  There were lots of ornate  glass chandeliers in Venice-in the shops, in hotels and theaters and in public places.  Not so many in Singapore but those I did see reminded me that it was a colony for hundreds of years. Why? A different context? Isn’t it interesting how an ornate glass chandelier means one thing in Venice and another thing in Singapore?  As you ponder this question, here are some pictures.


Glass! Refused and Recast

Glass Scraps
I am a natural born recycler and I love to play with glass.  Glass is very easy to recycle so long as you keep glasses of different C.O.E.s separate.    And when you do lamp working,  you always lose a few beads.  Instead of throwing the glass away,  I usually separate in into similar colors much as people save scraps of polymer clay and then I pound it into frit with my home made frit maker.  See a tutorial on how to make one here.    I bought some glass casting molds from Delphi Glass more than a year ago and finally got to try them out a couple of weeks ago.    Needless to say this is a whole new technique for me because casting and fusing use different skill sets.    I have been trying various firing schedules to see which work best and have been reading about the best way to prepare my glass for the molds.  The glass pieces you see in the molds here are too big.  When they melt, they won’t fill the mold and I will get sharp pointy edges because that’s how glass cooyls when there’s not enough of it.  Which means I get to cast the pieces again  adding more glass to the mold cavities and breathlessly waiting to see what I get.  I am learning how to cast fat, happy baubles and how to sand off rough edges and fire polish the glass.
Here are some of my first completed cast pieces (above).  I have a long way to go.  Everything in the post is made from Moretti glass,  dichroic and clear Moretti  and broken  or rejected (ugly) Moretti beads.  When casting or fusing old beads, you have to clean every bit of the bead release out of the holes or it will show up in the cast or fused piece.
Here are some fused pieces.  Most of these have been fired at least two and sometimes three times.  You don’t always get it right the first time, but you can cut glass, reassemble it and fire it again.
Two sides of one bead with a piece of dichroic on top and clear glass over all.
This was cast in a mold and I added millefiore and some dichroic and clear glass on top of the frit
Parts of this bead had swirls and dots on it.
This was a hollow bead of silvered ivory and cobalt glass.  The hole of the bead was that little bubble in the middle of the blue.
Here is some more silvered ivory glass.  See how the clear layer on the left piece magnifies what’s underneath?
Recommended book
Kiln Firing Glass: Glass Fusing Book One by Boyce Lindstrom.   It can be expensive buy it’s possible to find good used copies on sale.
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YouTube College of Crafting

If you are looking for information on how to make something, a craft technique, how to use a tool or ideas and inspiration, YouTube can be a tremendous resource. I have learned so much from watching YouTube videos. But I have also seen some videos that have me scratching my head and wondering about the people who posted them.
Some examples that come to mind: The woman who did a nice job explaining how to dye roving but then explained that she shot herself from the nose up so she didn’t have to put in her teeth. Ewww, did I need to know that? Then there was the young woman talking about a wire working technique. (This is a mistake; talking about how you weave a wire into a chain is like listening to a golf tournament on the radio.)
But the highlight was when she suddenly turned her head and shrieked “Give me a minute!” Was her house on fire? No, her mother wanted to go shopping and was waiting for her downstairs. Don’t keep your mother waiting girl! Get down there! Now!
OK, I’m on a rant. Don’t appear in a video wearing one of those headsets unless you are playing someone who flies a helicopter or works at a takeout window. And you don’t have to be Cecil B. DeMille to know that demonstrating a technique off camera as you chatter and occasionally give the viewer a peek is not effective.
Does anyone know what a tripod is? Shaky cameras give me vertigo, so today’s word is tripod. And if your kid keeps whining. “Mommy I’m hungry,” stop recording and feed the poor child. If your kids are beating the stuffing out of one another as you try to demonstrate how to crochet a lace doily, for heaven’s sake stop recording and separate them before they kill one another. Especially if they are both over age thirty. And get them into therapy. (And yourself while you’re at it.)
Finally, if you make a video in which you demonstrate soldering, put the cigarettes away! I actually saw a video of a man demonstrating soldering who chain smoked during the whole thing. That was last year and I am still having trouble breathing.
OK, now on to the good stuff; here are some YouTube channels that you can watch without retching, sorrow or nightmares and you can learn a great deal. Enjoy!!
Rio Grande has almost 200 videos on all aspects of jewelry making’s YouTube channel is full of information on mixed media paper art techniques.
Delphi Glass offers a tremendous amount of material the products they sell and on glass crafts.
Stampington and Company, the people who publish Belle Armoire Jewelry, Art Journaling and other magazines offer videos covering a wide range of techniques including resin, paper, jewelry, mixed media
If you are interested in seed beading or bead stringing, Beadaholoque has plenty of videos to get you started.
If Quilting is your passion, the Missouri Star Quilt Company adds new videos regularly.
Happy viewing!

I Stand on the Shoulders of Giants

“I stand on the shoulders of giants , ” said the evil feline mad scientist as he prepared to experiment on a hapless mousie.  And who are those giants? Victor Frankenstein, Henry Jekyll,Emilio Lizardo. . .  you get the idea.   There are those who would say I have too much time on my hands. Maybe I do.  But there are also those who know that a rich fantasy life  can be as rewarding a recreational activity as roller skating or cake decorating.

I started to make Evil  Dr. Meowovich  during Clayathon under the expert tutelage of Leslie Blackford.  One again, Plumpton was my Muse and he also served as paw and butt model. Well, maybe not butt model.  The butt model knows who he is.  Let that be our dirty little secret.

 The  lab  coat is a tip of the hat to  the James Wale version of Frankenstein.  Plumpton’s tail is not as big as the Evil Doctor’s, but he is equally capable of using it to knock over fragile heirlooms.

The knife comes to you by way of our old friend Norman Bates from Psycho. Plumpton did give some inspiration for Dr. Meowovich’s big tummy. The hapless mousie  comes courtesy of Plumpton’s prolific  career as a mouser.  At sixteen years old, Plumpton is retired and now works as a consultant and senior mouser.

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