Monday, 30 March 2009

I'm in! Oxford Handm@de fair, here I come ...again!!

I'm booked up so I do hope I can see you at HANDM@DE at the Oxford Town Hall on Sunday the 29th November '09. After a very successful event last year I have got myself a stall to show and sell my wares in a lovely venue. This could be the only show I do this year as I have other avenues I want to explore. Shows can take such a long time to prepare for and are so much hard work! By November I should have lots of lovely new glassy goodies to sell. Wish me luck! :)

My stall at last year's Handm@de show

Saturday, 28 March 2009

And relax....!

It may not look like much but this took all day! At least I am back to having an organised workspace. I can tell the next time I am back in here (probably early next week as I have 25 pairs of cufflinks to make!) I will really want to get down to working. I can feel all the stress and tension starting to lift and it feels like a much more creative space now. Spring cleaning really does wonders! I filled a bin bag full of accumulated junk, managed to fill another with cardboard I'd been hoarding unnecassrily which I can now recycle, as well as a whole bunch of paper, also bound for recycling. I try to do 'my bit' as much as possible and already recycle glass and plastic bottles but I noticed the paper and cardboard skips too so no excuses now! Hope you're having a good weekend. Maybe I will treat myself to some time out tomorrow :)

These photos show just part of the studio. I cut and assemble glass from my stash on a table under the window so at least I have a view while I work. The kiln is next to that table and I also have a sofa in here for when needs must! There are a couple of shelves where I pop inspirational items as well as being a museum to my very first pieces. Can't throw them away! The cupboard you can see to the right of my shelving is crammed with boxes and packaging, and another cupboard contains all my slumping moulds and drill bits and pieces :)

Ok, so it isn't all over completely. I still have all my paperwork to trawl through, the dreaded data entry and filing away for Mr Tax Man. Ah the joys of running a business :P

On a mission, a show & a new experimental style

The mission is... TIDY THE DARN STUDIO! Goodness me it is a bit of a mess. Well, after my break from glassy activities the studio turned into a bit of a dumping ground for 'stuff'. Today is the day I sort it out (probably will take more than one day to be honest!). Spring is the time for tidying and as it is now officially spring, it has to be done. I can't really work and be creative in there either while it's all of a muddle so it will be quite theraputic to go through all the things I have accumulated and declutter.

I've also just been reminded by a bit of paper I found to book up a show, namely 'Handm@de: Oxford' which I did last November and turned out to be pretty successful :) [Old post here]. Thought I'd best book that one up and hope it is just as good this time around. It is not until November again and by then I expect to have some new designs and styles. I will post details when I am all booked up for it.

I was playing around with an idea I had for some 3-d textured work and tried the idea out on some cufflinks. I am pleased with the effect and will try out some more development work on this style to produce something 'a bit different', as usual! Watch this space... :)

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Delayed post

I wanted to post about my latest 'make' a while back but as my mum reads my blog I had to stay stum! Reason being is that I finally got round to making her that square dish/plate I promised her. The colours she'd hankered after were purples and greens and she likes quite simple designs. I was a bit challenged as she's a tough crowd. She knows what she likes and isn't afraid to say if she doesn't like something I've made! So, with all that pressure I was a bit stuck for a while. However, after playing with my glass and knowing I wanted lots of plum transparent glass in the dish I ended up with something I was happy with. Simple but with a bit of decoration too. Luckily, she loved it! It was half of her Mother's Day pressie. PHEW!

Monday, 9 March 2009

Back from my travels

...Flickr photos here...

Kraków, or "KraKUUF" as it's supposed to be pronounced, was AMAZING! what a beautiful city. loved the mix of the perfect 'old town', the jewish area 'kazimierz' and the rundown lived-in suburbs, beautiful in their own crumbling grandeur way! food was amazing, drinks fantastic, prices a dream, public transport fun and people very warm and friendly. it was such a comfortable city to be in. i never once felt threatened and that is a very rare thing in a strange country and such a big place. wished we could've stayed! the bars/cafés were perfect too. each one totally unique and not trying to be cosy and funky at the same time like bars back here, but just being like that! i am hooked on Zubrówka (bison grass vodka) and apple juice - tastes like apple pie! also got into cherry vodka and banana juice. so much so i bought a bottle of each vodka back with me and went to the polish deli today for banana juice while my puncture (ugh) was getting fixed. as you can see from the first photo, the hot chocolate was pretty special too - so thick :P

about that... well it was a bit of a 'mare! up at stupid AM for the flights from luton (they were cheap!) so left cheltenham around 3.30am and managed to hit a rock in the road, in the dark, in the middle of nowhere. joy of joys! especially as i'd taken out things like a torch and foot pump from the boot of my car to get the cases in! doh! who leaves a bit of drystone wall in the road anyway? normally i'd drive round such things(!) but i was partly zombified and no-one saw it until the very last minute - well, as i hit it in that unavoidable split second. hey ho. luckily i knew the bit of road we were on and there was a garage just down the way so we pulled in to assess the damage. flat tyre ahoy which we could only really see properly if my friend sally waved her arms about to make the garage security light go on! all the luggage had to come out the boot and my little brother and i tackled the wheel, panicked as were already a bit later than we wanted to be going to the airport and miles away. we must've looked a right sight! safe to say we managed it, though we thought the wheel was stuck on as none of us noticed for a while one of the 5 wheel nuts was still on the wheel! made it to the airport with time to spare and our flight was a little delayed anyway so we were fine...

the dots are there because we made it on the flight fine and to poland fine. however, don't trust budget flights! listed as 'katowice/cracow' on their website gave the impression it was a flight for kraków. WRONG! katowice has its own airport and so does kraków. katowice is over 100km from kraków!!! this we didn't find out until we were on polish soil. my own mistake really, i should've checked, but then i am not too hot on polish geography. a flight sold as one to kraków, you'd expect to land near kraków! anyway, this made for a bit of an adventure once we'd realised what had happened. a bus into town for 45 mins for about £4, then a train (once we'd communicated what we wanted in pigeon polish and sign language! - no-one in katowice spoke much english) for 3 hours, frustratingly doing about 2 miles an hour, for less than £2. so, we weren't too much out of pocket, just a little time poor! however, it was fun to see a bit of the real poland we hadn't planned on and it did feel like an adventure :) we had a 20 minute walk through 'planty', the park round old town to our hostel which was ideally situated and very nice - ARS hostel, highly recommended :)

we spent our time exploring the city, aimlessly wandering (but with the map to hand for when we got lost!), eating, drinking in some amazing bars/cafés and doing a couple of trips out of town. we did auschwitz and the salt mines on friday and saturday afternoon respectively. we had originally planned to fit both into one day but understandably auschwitz took a whole day. it was terribly moving and a real rollercoaster on the emotions. we all felt very drained at the end of the day. auschwitz 1, a repurposed army barracks, looked almost like a holiday camp in the sunshine so it felt very surreal. it was strange to even be there anyway but that was unexpected. the big camp (the most famous one) at birkenhau/auschwitz 2 was so vast. i wasn't expecting it to be so enormous, nor so close to town. it was very hard to get my head around it but i think i felt i needed to see it to be a witness, if that makes sense. there were some teenagers there from israel wearing flags as cloaks which was a bold and defiant gesture so that put a positive twist on things.

the salt mines were incredible! totally unlike anything i'd seen before. the tour was very informative but as with most tours, i felt a little rushed. you weren't allowed to go around at your own pace for fear of you getting lost down there forever! the way down was odd and made me feel dizzy. sets of stairs in sets of 5, always turning to the left, over 300 stairs. felt like we were doing the same thing forever! maybe that's what hell is like?! i was glad when we reached the bottom. coming up was also funny - in one of the miners' lifts, 9 people crammed into a space only comfortable for 3 or 4. it was very much like being a sardine! the mines themselves were beautifully lit and looked almost like a film set. very cool :)

all in all, i LOVED kraków and will defintely go again. there was so much we didn't have time for. i'd certainly recommend you visit and would advise you to:
  • use the fab public transport - very cheap, clean and regular.
  • don't buy the coach tours to auschwitz/the salt mines - they're easy to get to on your own steam (we went by public bus). auschwitz has info in polish and english so you don't need the tour - i wanted to go at my own pace and knew enough beforehand.
  • take a polish dictionary - our guidebooks were helpful but we could've used one for food etc, and maybe a phrase book. try to speak polish where you can, even if it is just 'please' and 'thank you' - the poles really appreciate it.
i've just paid the balance on my next trip to new zealand. eek! exciting!!

Monday, 2 March 2009

Swirly set of 6

Here they are, the set of 6 'Bubblegum Swirl' coasters made for commission. They're all wrapped up and ready to go to their new home. I got some great bubbles in this batch. Ah, the beauty of handmade :)

I won't be around for a few days. Finally off to Krakow. Can't wait! Have a good week :)