Thursday, September 28, 2006

cheap sex...

Today I had to run an errand to the university bookstore to buy notebooks for my lab. As usual, they have a bargain book table set up so I stopped and browsed for a minute. In one bin there were several copies of the book "Your Long Erotic Weekend Four Days of Passion for a Lifetime of Magnificent Sex ". On sale for a whopping $4.88. So what do you think? Cheap sex at the university bookstore!! I’m not sure why I find that so funny, but I do. Perhaps because Utah is such a conservative place? I think I’d feel silly if I were a student and ran into one of my professors while buying a sex book. Hmmm… does this make me too conservative??? I hope not!

I actually passed on that book, and bought a David and Mark Muench photography book about Colorado instead. (For $5.88... did I say bargain?) I know, wrong state, but I do have ties to Colorado, and the pictures in the book are just amazing. There is wonderful picture of the wild flowers at Rabbit Ears Pass. Years ago I took wild flower shots at Rabbit Ears Pass, I wish mine were half as good! I’ve always enjoyed photography, and my new picture book inspires me to work on mine a little more.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Why can't I make it work....

Are there simple things that just don't work for you?
There are seemingly simple things that I just can't get the hang of.
Like rubino glass.

For some reason I can't work with rubino with getting little black reduction specs in my glass. At first I thought it was because I worked on a hot head. Then I got a minor burner and oxygen concentrator. I was sure that using a torch with real oxygen would solve that problem. Ha! I was wrong. Then I was fortunate enough to aquire a second concentrator. Now, surely, that would solve all my problems. Ha, Ha! Wrong again. What is it about me and rubino?? Only it's not just rubino. I have the same problem with many of the furnace glass frits.

I make a bead, and apply stringer, dots of rubino or chunks of furnace glass frit. I twirl the beads in the flame and *poof* the glass gets that bright/gray spot, which I know is reduction. Quickly, I move the mandrel away from the torch head and try hard to oxygenate the bead and reverse the reduction. I see that bright spot change, but often not enough; I get a little black spec that just won't go away. It makes me crazy. I turn the gas down before I start. I try to keep the bead away from the torch head, but how far is far enough? Is 3 inches away enough, but 2 3/4 inches too close?? I'll swear that raised dots give me the worst time. If I can get them melted in before they reduce, I don't seem to have (much of!) a reduction problem. It's as thought that 1/8th or 1/6 inch the the top of the dot is closer to the flame must matter. Do millimeters matter when you work with rubino? They must because everything will seem to be going OK, and the second I change my hand position ever so slightly *poof* there's a black dot and it never goes away.

Other people can make beautiful rubino pink beads. Or use furnace glass frits. Do they work with a tiny, tiny flame? Or are they all using tanked oxygen? Or a different kind of torch? Or just better at holding the mandrel far out from the torch face? What is the secret?

(Can you tell what I worked on (unsuccessfuly!) this weekend?)

Thursday, September 21, 2006


I really do make beads!
I have been really into playing with metal and reactive glass lately.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Limits and creativity

Normally when I head up to the student union it’s just to dash in and use the ATM or grab some sushi to take back to the lab for lunch. Yesterday’s mission was to procure "Flogging Molly" tickets for my daughter, so I had opportunity to wander elsewhere for a change. Up on the second floor in the student lounge area they had a display from the architecture department. Apparently the U is considering changing their information kiosks; you know, the places on campus that get plastered with posters and notices of everything going about on campus. The architecture department had a student competition to design new kiosks and the results were on display. Each of the 20 finalists had a poster with a digital rendering of the student architect’s vision, along with a 3-D model of the project. It was fun to see how everyone’s visions of the project were so very different. The models ran the gamut from modern to traditional, organic to industrial, simplistic to artsy.

I imagine the kiosk project was fun because the possibilities seem so limitless. At the same time I wonder if the lack of constraints actually made the project harder because there are so many possibilities. I "dabbled" in architecture when I designed my second story addition when we did our big home remodel. (I hired a designer to draw up the real blue prints and make sure the addition was structurally sound.) That project was of course, constrained by things like the lay out of my existing home and yard, so my possibilities were somewhat limited. I think the limitations helped give me direction. I’ve often wondered if I had started my home completely from scratch what my vision would have been.

So do artistic types suffer from having too many choices? Or is this the thing that really sets apart the real artist from the rest of us? Are artists better equipped to sort out all the possibilities and intuitively know what to create, while the rest of us need some type of limitation to set our artistic vision in motion? The one thing I love about making beads is the seemingly limitless possibilities… so many colors, shapes, styles, techniques to work with. But sometimes I stand before my torch clueless and uninspired, totally overwhelmed by all the colors and supplies set before me. I seem to need some sort of limiting factor to set my creativity in motion. Perhaps I want to make a bead to match a new outfit. I’ll pick the colors and style to match the outfit, then create that bead. The next thing you know I’m inspired to create new and different things, things I wouldn’t have thought of or tried had I not limited my creativity to making that bead to match that outfit. I wonder if other people find creativity through limitation?

Monday, September 18, 2006

A day at the Fair

Yesterday I went to the fair. The Utah State Fair. For some odd reason I really like the state fair. I like to look at the livestock, the vegetables, the kitsch-y booths, the vendors selling miracle cures or miracle kitchen tools. Need your hand cast in wax? The State Fair is the place to be. Want to detoxify your body by soaking your feet in "high tech" water bath that pulls brown goo out of your feet? Or to buy a nifty new kitchen gadget that allows you to make the perfect salsa with ease? Yup. The state fair is your baby.

My kids are teenagers. My 17 year old son opted not to go with us this (how he loved the fair when he was little, it’s sometimes sad when they grow up), and my daughter wanted to bring a friend. The girls just wanted to ride the rides so after shelling out $18 each for ride wristbands my husband and I were to see everything else the fair had to offer.

We look at the livestock, what’s left at least, as it’s the last day of the fair so much of the livestock had to see. Tiny ones, fuzzy ones, straight eared, lop-eared. They are so cute. Then there are the monster bunnies. I think the monsters are Holland Lops, and they positively huge! Much bigger than my cat, and bigger than many small dogs. Every year I am so tempted to bring home a bunny!

Then we head to the agriculture building, where the veggies and flowers are now looking a bit past their prime. But the 100 lb watermelon is still big (but down a half a pound from its debut at an earlier county fair) and the giant pumpkins are massive; the largest was 718 lbs. This year the giant butter cow was accompanied by a butter girl and a couple of butter cats. Yum? There was a great big blue ribbon on a piece in the container gardening section; a succulent garden planted in a child’s red wagon, complete with a Barbie doll wielding miniature garden tools. Can you say kitsch?

I also really love the Home Arts building, with the baked goods and all the textile arts. Utah has many really excellent quilters, and I love admiring their a their work at the fair. From there we visit the Fine Arts building. I guess in Utah fine art is defined as painting and sculpture. My favorite part of fine arts is the children’s exhibit. Every year I am totally amazed by the talent of some very young children.

In contrast to the fine arts, is the Creative Arts exhibit. I guess Creative Arts is the catch all for everything don’t the know how to classify. Pottery, woodworking, ceramics, mosaics, stained glass (which many years ago was in Fine Arts, I guess it got demoted), jewelry, lego sculpture. Yup, I said lego sculpture. In among the gems, as there are always some very fine woodworking projects and pottery pieces etc., there are seemingly bizarre entries, like lego sculptures. This year there was a huge diorama of paper models of Star Wars space ships, all hung by threads in their own little cardboard box universe, or should I say universes, as the box was split in half so there were actually 2 alternate universes. The other bizarre thing about the creative arts exhibit is organization (or lack their of) of the displays, for instance stained glass was displayed together, but fused glass was spread throughout the building. Really cool creative artwork, sitting next to things that look like kindergarten projects. My husband was actually astute enough to notice the signs with the keys to the exhibitors. Their nametags were category coded by color: professional, amateur, kids, seniors, disabled. It was kind of a relief to learn that those school kid like displays were indeed made by kids, and that the poorly painted ceramic santa was painted by a disabled person.

One genre of creative art that I laugh about every year is the plastic canvas needlepoint. I dislike plastic canvas needlepoint, (I dislike plastic!) and there are always numerous plastic canvas coasters and plastic canvas tissue box covers and of course the requisite plastic canvas Barbie house. This year there was a twist on the dollhouse, - it was actually a giant plastic canvas Barbie boat (a yacht perhaps), complete with plastic canvas Barbie furniture. Quite the innovation in creative arts I’d say! At least this year I know, by it’s color coded card, that it was made by a senior citizen., so instead of wondering WHY anyone makes that plastic canvas crap, I have in my head this nice picture of grandmotherly figure making the perfect Barbie accessory for her grandchild. It makes the plastic canvas seem a little nicer!

The last big part of our trip to the fair is ride down the "Giant Yellow Slide" which everyone knows, because they make an announcement every five minutes is a "Utah Family Tradition". The announcements must be great marketing as the Giant Yellow Slide has become my family’s tradition!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Lets talk about the weather !!!!

What strange weather we have been having. It was 90 degrees earlier this week, and today we awoke to, you guessed it, SNOW. Not actually at my house, but up in the mountains. There was rumor being spread by my neighbor, that had I gotten up early enough, I would have seen snow in my yard. But it is Saturday, so I slept in, so I''ll just have to take her word for that.

I decided to walk my dog down to the park to take a snapshot of snow covered Mt. Olympus. I actually had to put socks on with my Teva's, and wear a jacket. Up until this last week I haven't worn anything but shorts, skirts and tank tops since May. Thursday I put on a t-shirt for the first time, with my shorts of course. As cold as it was today (51 degrees), I couldn't bear the thought of actually putting on pants so I walked barelegged in my shorts. I will definately need a couple of weeks before I can bring myself to pull on a pair of jeans. As much as I like the cold weather, the transition from skimpy summer wardrobe to real clothes is always a shocker.

I don't ever remember snow or a cold snap quite this early in the season, geez, it's not even fall yet! I wonder if this is a sign of the winter to come.
I think I'll start shopping for new skis tomorrow.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Beads at the Fair

One nice thing about about having a creative hobby it that you aquire cheerleaders. You know; friends who like your work and encourage you. Stroke your ego a little bit. One of the girls I work with is a great cheerleader. She has been encouraging me to sell my beads (something I don't really do yet) at one particular venue; the Avenues Street Fair. She has been reminding me for months that I have to go with her this year and check it out and this was the big weekend.

The "Avenues" is an old historic neighborhood that runs along the north end of town from downtown up to the university. It sits on a steep hillside; 1st Avenue is at the bottom of the hill, and each progressive avenue is a step higher up the hill. The festival is up on 11th Avenue. Expecting a dinky little neighborhood fair, I was surprised when I got there that were about 200 booths; craftsellers, information, food (Thai food- yummy!), and bands playing at both ends and in the middle.

There were numerous jewelry booths, selling the gamut from imported to hand crafted. I could see why my friend though it would be a good selling venue. I was surprised to find a couple of lampwork bead makers in the mix. There was a woman from Logan (about 2 hours north of Salt Lake) who made beautiful boro pendants and beads. She had some pieces made from small, jewel tone, disc beads that were just lovely.
There was another gal, whom I'd met in a local class a couple of years ago, who was selling jewelry and loose beads; most of her beads were of the style I call "pretty little Corina beads". Small bright pretty detailed beads named after a once popular beadmaker known for that stye.

I'm always excited to meet fellow lampworkers. It's nice to chat with someone with similar interests, and it is so interesting to see what other people are creating in glass. As much as I like looking at other work I wish didn't always feel the need to compare my work to theirs. Being the insecure type my first thoughts are things like, "Why didn't I think of that cool color combo?" or "Why don't I make more of that pretty style?" and "Gee, maybe my beads aren't that good, maybe I should be making things more like theirs". These are silly thoughts because in reality there are so many different styles and types of beads. It would be boring if we all did the same thing, it is so much more interesting to develop our own styles. I'm never quite sure what my style is, but I do know that "pretty little Corina beads" must not be it. I rarely make those sorts of beads. I make them most often when I want to make a gift for someone, because I know that style is very popular. Other times make them just because I want to be able to say I can, that I have the skills to make those sort of beads. But I have to admit I struggle with tiny little encased detailed beads. I sometimes feel like less of a bead maker because this style is not my forte. Silly huh?

The evening after the festival I decided to make some beads. Inspired by what I saw at the festival that day I decided I should practice making some perfect, little, jewelry pretties. I'm not sure I got much past five, a couple of encased stripe beads, a few encased diamond type beads, a couple of (bad!) lentils. Nothing matching of course. (I am so set impaired!) Then my eyes gravitated to the little pile of enamels sitting on my marver. Next thing you know I'm making big enameled tab beads. And it felt good. They feel like MY beads. Hopefully, when I do get around to selling beads, someone will like them. For now, I'll just have to share them with my friend, my cheerleader, because I just know she will.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The world as I know it...

We all live in "the real world", but more importantly we all live in "our own worlds". Individual worlds created by life experiences, interests, actions and serendipity.

Some may find my world kind of nerdy. I have always found science interesting, I think I started asking for a chemistry set when I was about 5. I was influenced by some sort of Dr. Science or Mr. Wizard show that I saw on TV. I ended up studying science (botany) in college, and have spent my working career (since I was 17 - yikes) working in various labs.

One of the undergrads from my lab was sitting in the lounge at work perusing a copy of Audubon magazine. We chatted a minute, and I found out he'd never before heard of the Audubon Society. I was dumbfounded, a biology major who had never heard of James Audubon? Or the Audubon Society?? How could that be? In the 1800's Audubon described and painted all the birds in North America. It struck me as the kind of thing all biologists (even students!) would know. I polled my fellow lab members about this. The senior members, PhD students, faculty etc. of course all knew Audubon, but half of the young students in the lab had no idea who he was, most thought Audubon was a highway in Germany (autobahn!). I was really suprised that my "common knowledge" wasn't everyone's common knowledge.

This all got me thinking about how we all live in our own little worlds. In my nerdy little scientific world being familiar with conservation agencies, such as the Audubon Society is a given. We assume that people we associate with live in our world too, so it is a suprise to realize that there are things in "our world" that others know nothing about.

I guess there are many things in "the real world" that I'm oblivious to.
(Of course I don't know it! - LOL)

There are probably people out there that would be equally shocked to find that I don't know, what is to them, common knowledge. For instance, a few weeks ago I took the kids to see the movie "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby". I had no idea that this movie was about car racing and that in fact Talledega a real place. I'm sure that somewhere out there there is a NASCAR fan who would read this and shake their head in shock and dismay, stunned that someone had never heard of the Talledega Superspeedway. It's just not my world. At least I'd heard of NASCAR, which I bet is an acronym for, hmmm, I have no idea!
Living in our "own worlds", different as they are, may be what makes "the real world" a really interesting place!