Etsy Glass Artists ROCK!

Amy Keith made this great collage featuring the works of EGA members.
We're a fantastic group of glass artists from Etsy that work together to promote each other and our love of glass. I absolutely LOVE being a member, and having such an enthusiastic and supportive group of people to work with and talk shop!

EGA is a glass artist collective, comprised of glass fusers, glass blowers, lampworkers and stained glass artisans dedicated to fostering an appreciation for the handmade glass arts.


White Chocolate and Mocha flavored ice cream cones, hand blended....yum.
Im trying to make more of an effort to enjoy the better weather, sunsets and everything thats blooming. Getting an ice cream cone is a really good way to get me out there!

I took a walk across the old railroad tressel-now bike path. The sun was setting and the birds were out. Perfect!


soooo, The Dalai Lama was in town today....

You know, just your average day... I noticed there was a parade or some happening on my way to the post office to ship my Etsy goodies. Parades and happenings are common around here, so I kept through the traffic and mailed my things. Turns out, it was the crowd waiting for the Dalai Lama. Its just down my street, and I can smell the incense burning from here. I didnt get to see him, but I rationalized that at least I got to see the Polish Pope before he died.

Here are some sidewalk chalk drawings
made to celebrate and honor him:

How to achieve happiness
by The Dalai Lama
For a start, it is possible to divide every kind of happiness and suffering into two main categories: mental and physical. Of the two, it is the mind that exerts the greatest influence on most of us. Unless we are either gravely ill or deprived of basic necessities, our physical condition plays a secondary role in life. If the body is content, we virtually ignore it. The mind, however, registers every event, no matter how small. Hence we should devote our most serious efforts to bringing about mental peace.From my own limited experience I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion.

The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes. Cultivating a close, warm-hearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. This helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the ultimate source of success in life.

As long as we live in this world we are bound to encounter problems. If, at such times, we lose hope and become discouraged, we diminish our ability to face difficulties. If, on the other hand, we remember that it is not just ourselves but every one who has to undergo suffering, this more realistic perspective will increase our determination and capacity to overcome troubles. Indeed, with this attitude, each new obstacle can be seen as yet another valuable opportunity to improve our mind!

Thus we can strive gradually to become more compassionate, that is we can develop both genuine sympathy for others’ suffering and the will to help remove their pain. As a result, our own serenity and inner strength will increase.


Before and After Photos

Trust me, its a LOT of work to make things look pretty. Im so thankful that I have a photo program to help me touch up my pictures. There isnt a photograph that I dont fix (crop, change brightness, contrast, alter color) before presenting it to the world.
Im sure there would be a lot less to fix if I also knew how to properly work my camera. But that would require reading. Or sitting still.

Here's how about how I go about it. I want you to know that this isnt the BEST way, or an easy way. It just works for me.

-I take my photos next to my window, when it is bright out. Not sunshiney. Just bright. The whiter, the better- which is easy in the northeast. The sky is white (not blue) for 8 months a year. Perfect!
-I have my camera set to magnify. Its sort of like macro but I can't zoom, I have to physically get right up there, like a magnifying glass.
-I set the white balance to the type of light I have in the room, sunlight, lightbulb, cloudy. I watch how the screen changes with each selection, to see which mimics the actual color of the object the best.
-You may set the focus too, multi allows for all over, center for just the middle of the shot is clear, spot is for one little area. Decide how you want your photo to look. I use multi.
-I set the EV + or - for lighter or darker shots. I dont even know what EV stands for. Im not a professional, remember? It just works! If I set the EV to - or darker, then I can boost the brightness later without washing the detail out of the image. Play around with this.

Once I've got a picture taken, it still needs to be treated.
-Crop the photo. When I have a photo for etsy, I crop one square for the first thumb, and crop the others for the best looking product shot. I crop everything.
-Adjust the color. I find the area I want white and change it. The blue background on the left butterfly shot is what I need to base my other colors off of. I want that white, so I need to change it to a gray first (by adding some red and playing around). Or you canuse 'auto-adjust color'.
-Adjust the brightness and contrast. Sometimes my object looks pathetic, and tweaking this a little can help.
-Sometimes I use the saturation button. If my item looks hypercolor, I turn it down a bit.
Remember though, a lot of photos look fabulous because they are taken in great lighting or because they are not altered. Pick and choose.

Theres a million zillion ways to alter, fix, enhance photos with programs. These are just the very basics. Play around, find a good system for your needs.
One split second captures an image, but you can take the next step of how it will be seen.


My second attempt (25 years later).

Soldering. My mother taught me when I was four. I first made an owl out of three glass discs, one for the body, two for the eyes. She used to make these incredible stained glass panels all the time. We had a "stained glass workshop" in the basement and everything. She made my kindergarten classroom a panel of a panda bear on roller skates. My teacher hung it up and I was SOOO proud that my mom made it. Recently I went back to that old workshop, which is dusty and rusty now (my mother was somehow side-tracked by five kids, basket weaving, painting, quilting and writing a book). I pulled out some old soldering irons, and chose the least rusty.

This is my first attempt at soldering, again. So I suppose its my second. Or third, as I know how to MIG, TIG and arc weld steel and bronze. How different can this be?

I taught myself this time, I had some copper foil tape and the iron. I went to the hardware shop and found some flux and lead-free solder (pronounced sodder) from the plumbing department.

There were a lot of choices, I ended up going for the one that had the least amount of words on the package and NO LEAD.
I want a way to display my butterfly wings under glass. The blue ones get ruined with my resin, so I needed a better plan. This was my hope.

The first one came out GREAT! I smushed the wing a little, didnt add enough solder, and my foil wasn't wide enough. But it came out perfect (if you dont mind the glass eventually falling out)! The solder lines are smooth and clean. I realize now that I need a new iron. The heat stopped coming out of the tip, and I had to start using the upper part of the shaft. As you can see in the top photo, the iron is a mess.

But I'm learning. It always takes a few tries. Heres my next attempt:

This one has a bit too much solder on it, a little messy,as I was really excited from my blue ones success. I got flux all over it, and the wing got wet, as you can see. Looks good to me!

Overall, soldering and stained glass is a real artform. Its not hard, but its not easy. The craft and skill comes over time with practice. I think having the right tools might help. Something tells me the professionals dont use a rusty iron.