That’s a song, Bonfire Heart by James Blunt. If you know me, you know my story. You know that the hot shop is my true love, where I feel myself, where I feel whole, where I belong. We fight – me and the hot shop, sometimes we get violent and I get burned. But its where I always return to. It’s where at my darkest moments it makes me focus, express myself and sweat it out until the point of exhaustion which helps me to have a good sleep. It works my body so hard during the blow slot that I don’t feel how sore my muscles are until the next day or two.
I quit my job a week ago. I no longer felt safe, I no longer felt like I belonged, and it served me no purpose. With that comes a lot of healing to be done, some thinking, stressing, planning, and more stressing. What am I doing with my life? I think my blow slot yesterday demonstrated just that what exactly are you doing Toni Johnson…. what?! Well, I don’t know. But lets try this and find out – what’s the worst that could happen when you experiment in the hot shop? Some flop and some turn into Jelly fish or sea urchins… some after numerous flops turn into sea stars.
I talked to my older brother the other day, sometimes I FaceTime him and drink my morning coffee and get my dose of sibling abuse or rather honesty. He said why the ocean Tone? Not everyone likes the ocean. Umm pardon?! WHO?! Give me names? But I don’t just love the ocean… although it is the most beautiful anyway I love fall. I love the colours of fall. I love the fresh start. I love sweaters too.
I love when you walk in the trails and the branches and sticks intertwine and natures textures are just gorgeous. I love that no matter how hard I try I can never get the perfect impression… I love how big the trees are. And the smell.
Yesterday I made my mom and baby brother help me (they hate the heat). I said I am playing with fire and I need someone to stand by with this bucket of water… they helped. The hot shop smelled like a bonfire. I smelled like a bonfire. You couldn’t see through the smoke and one point, and as I was blowing the glass my eyes started to water. It was perfect. The pieces may or may not be but the day was perfect.
What a great time I have been having in the hot shop these past couple of months – with the upcoming garden shows I am doing I feel a little pressure now to complete some Tidal Balls and Sea Stars…. BUT! I made tumblers.
I love the thought of functional vs. things. What is the purpose of a crystal glass that sits in the cabinet and collects dust? Please promise me, if you fall in love with one of my cups that you use it! Use it for your chocolate milk, juice, soda water… wine! Use it. That is why I made it. Maybe I’ll interview potential buyers and ask “and what is your intention with this handmade cup?”
I attended a Rock & Gem Show in Port Alberni a while ago and purchased some beautiful crystals – I wish glass was compatible with natural stones but it isn’t. But I couldn’t get it out of my head, glass and crystals – the healings, the raw beauty. So I experimented – yes I did. I took time to relearn, learn, and let go and try something new. And as most experiments go the first few tries are ugly but you see the idea, the potential and you keep at it. For the first time in a very long time I got out my sketch book and I started scribbling ideas. Functional/healing – crystals. Something was there. I used clear glass to really feature the crystal, the crystal of choice of course is amethyst, one of my favourites. My thought is the person drawn to the cup is looking for the energy from the stone, whichever you’re attracted to whether it be amethyst, clear quartz, rose quartz, etc. you would get what you needed when you drink from the glass, and when your thumb makes connection with the stone. Perhaps thats function on a whole new level?
I didn’t stop there – I have been playing with the chakra colours for a little over a year now and I thought how can I incorporate that into my functional tumblers – well. I made murrini– its layers of colour pulled to create repeating patterns in glass. Some glass blowers are pretty serious about their murrini and cane pulling but I am a little more laxadaisy (made up word?) and enough the organic look of glass vs. the perfect and disciplined. Regardless, I made Chakra coloured murrini and had been experimenting with that and decided to start there – chakra murrini tumblers. And maybe a crystal, a rose quartz crystal. The color blew out and at first I was disappointed but now I love how the colors blend like they are painted with a brush. They are soft and each are different. These might be my favourites if I had to choose.
Continuing with the chakra colours I thought maybe the murrini isn’t saying what I am trying to show – so I poured the frit (glass colour) on my table in a line and rolled my pipe on top to pick up every colour of the chakra and continue that way. Love. Needless to say they turned out beautiful and am excited to make more.
These guys will be on display among other new pieces yours truly and Vicki have come up with at our up coming show – where you ask? Why Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens Art & Bloom Festival of course! May 18, 19, & 20. Saturday & Sunday 10am – 5pm and Monday 10am – 4pm.
Not the sad blues! I charged the furnace with every piece of glass I could find that didn’t work out or scraps from the pipes of any colour including white, black, green, pink… any colour I have ever worked with in the hot shop I saved in buckets just for this week.
I ended up with 8 big buckets of glass that really should have gone into the garbage but to glass blowers – glass is precious. It is expensive and is coveted. As a result all the glass in the furnace is now blue. A beautiful transparent blue that makes for great castings.
If given the choice I would rather sand cast over blowing any day. Don’t get me wrong I don’t mind making balls and jelly fish but the casting – there is no comparison really.
Because the castings are so thick it takes longer to come down in temperature – the wait is approximately 2 days. But oh so worth it! Photo credits and video credits go to by brother Dakota… my family, my assistant, my rock.
TLG just celebrated its 14th year! What an adventure, the knowledge we have gained, and still the knowledge we seek is awesome. Glass is where its at there is no two ways about it!
To celebrate Vicki and I spent the day together in the hot shop casting. We got out the ol’ sand box, got our hands dirty and we played. We laughed, bounced ideas off each other and had a fantastic day creating.
We have some applications out for the summer shows – we are crossing our fingers and soon as we hear back we will let you know because! We have some new ideas and you’re going to want to see them!
I was thinking about my life in general – I seem to be going through a transition, a cross roads if you will with my personal life, career, and school and was looking forward to this vacation time to clear my head. Sweat it out was my attitude. Answers come to me when I am in the hotshop, the heat, the music, the noise of the tools and the fan – some people jog – I blow. I felt I needed this time and was looking forward to it.
Sunday I found the glass difficult to work with only because I have been charging the furnace with recycled glass making it blue and chordy which is not easy to work with. I solved the issue by just shutting the glory hole off and casting for the afternoon – and what a nice time that was. I cannot wait to complete the beach memory pieces – I actually planned another day to cast later on this week. Emmma had other plans.
Yesterday I had a wonderful time in the hotshop, I had charged the furnace and blowing was a breeze. I broke out some new color and did my thing. Tried a few new ideas, sang to my latest playlist and turned my mind off to everything I couldn’t control. And then – my hair caught fire when a “chunk” of glass hit the side of my head, exploded and stuck to my hair. Thank God for safety glasses. The smell reminded me of my science class with Mr. Check… but I still don’t know what the experiment was for! Regardless – it’s just hair and it was time for a change anyway and the burns down my shirt will heal with a little lavender oil. I still classified my blow slot as a productive and therapeutic session!
Today I turned on everything and had a cup of coffee with my mom while I waited for things to heat up, we were talking about life and I think at that moment the universe must have finally been listening to me because with attitude I said “I don’t care, I don’t even like glass”… I lied universe! I lied! Of course I like glass – hell I love glass. It’s just funny how lately my words are taken so literal and leaves me disappointed, hurt and let down. When I went out to the hotshop, I turned on the tunes to my latest anthem Committed by Ivory Layne, put on my ratty gross kevlar sleeve I’ve had since college, prepped my new blue lagoon color (my fav) and pulled out my favorite hot pipe from the pipe warmer. I was ready to kick ass, art it up, and feel normal for a few hours. When I tried the furnace door, it wouldn’t budge – my heart sank and I knew instantly, the tears welled, and suddenly my sucky life just got worse – Emma’s temp was down to 1730 degrees fahrenheit. The glass was too cold. I forced the door open to discover her bottom element broken. There was nothing I could do but cry and well ignore the boot print on the front of Emma.
So now what? I can’t jog I have asthma (I don’t).
Is the universe out to get me? OR worse ignore me? Did the universe block me or ghost me? I am a logical and reasonable thinker, but one has to wonder after a while.
I’ll just sit here with my chamomile tea and come up with another plan. We will work through this and past this – as mad and heartbroken as I am at Emma I still love her.
I dunno if you’re aware out there but there is a bit of glass crisis… Spectrum 96 cullet is a thing of the past. What is Spectrum 96 cullet you ask? Spectrum is a glass brand, 96 is the coefficient rate of expansion… its the science behind melting glass and cullet is the glass chunks you melt down in the furnace to blow with. I have a full furnace of clear glass melting right now – like I said the last of the clear.
Friday, Saturday, & Sunday I will be using the rest of the precious clear glass and then charging the furnace with the recycled ugly glass until I can solve my glass dilemma.
If you have been in contact about memorial orbs this weekend is the weekend to make it happen – after I use the recycled glass, the glass will no longer be clear it will be a transparent steel blue in color and not idea for memorial pieces.
I plan on making urchins, sea stars and maybe a few other things… I am looking forward to the this weekend, the warmth, and just being home. Stay tuned for pictures!
I have had such a great week in the hotshop! The weather has been amazing, the glass has been cooperative, and my mind is relaxed. What else can a girl ask for!
Glass is becoming more and more harder to find. The glass I use is no longer made – and most would think its just glass! I have some old wine bottles you can have. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. So – instead of panicking (again) I have done what I should have been doing all along was sort my clear, and recharge as I go using half new glass half upcycled. But anyone who knows me knows I am a bit of princess. Regardless, I spent a day sandblasting the seconds and charged the furnace with the used glass. Not only did it clean up my shop a bit, it freed up my favorite bowl and has allowed me a few more days of blowing with nice, clean clear glass!
My week has been spent making Tidal Balls, some pieces for some Garden Art, and well terrariums. I want to create functional. I wanted something new. Sometimes – a nerd moment I will walk the garden centers, and look at all the beautiful plants. I even bought a few for my balcony when I saw the air plants. Then I found myself on Pinterest. Anyway – I tried it. I like it. I call it the TidalPus. You know like the Octopus but Tidal for Tideline… I’ll stop. These plants are misted a couple of times a week – no dirt, no fuss. My kind of plant!
Want to see them in person? Vicki and I will be at the Nanoose Bay Art in the Garden Show June 23 & 24!
What else have I been up to? Memorials. I have met some beautiful people that have shared their stories of their loved ones with me. I feel grateful I can create these treasures for people and maybe help a bit with the healing of their loss.
This week I did some with color, and some without. All of them turn out beautiful.