Friday, July 25, 2014

The 2014 ISGB Gathering! Thanks for the memories.

I'm just back from an incredible week in Houston attending the 2014 International Society of Glass Beadmakers' annual conference in Houston, and will probably be basking in the glow for weeks to come.  In case you can't imagine what such a meeting might be like, picture a few hundred people from all corners of the world who are addicted to melting glass all converging in one place to take classes, catch up on each others' lives, play on the torch together at night, honor their members, hear amazing technical and inspirational talks, sell their work to the general public, buy tools and supplies, and generally have fun.  All of this while freezing in the hotel and hardly ever venturing out - ha!

This happens every year, and despite the sad sound of "Houston in July", I decided to submit a presentation proposal and also take a class.  I put together a presentation highlighting a number of years of collaborative work with metalsmiths, seed bead artists, and other glass artists, which also included a filmed demonstration of some of my techniques.  It was so much fun to recall the inspiration and creative processes, and share photos of the work in progress, and I really enjoyed my first time as a presenter.  The class I took was from UK bead artist Amanda Muddimer, and it was incredible.  More and more I find myself pushing myself to master precision work in glass (it's hard!), and her sundial and harlequin cabachon designs are both challenging and stunning.  I can't wait to translate these skills into my own designs.

The Meanies were front and center in my presentation as they were part of my first collaboration with Cyndie Smith.  At the show in Houston I showed them in a new way, as a botanical specimen collection.  What do you think?

Meanie cultivars.
My most recent collaboration, while not covered in the presentation, was to work with the amazing Joy Munshower (glass sculptor extraordinaire) on an aquatic-themed donation piece for the live auction the night of the banquet.  It included one of Joy's incredible octopus focals, plus some of my own hollows, electroformed shark vertebrae, and gemstones brought back from Israel a few years ago.  

The slideshow below includes many of my wonderful memories from the conference, and also a shot of Penny Dickinson (ISGB Southwest Regional Director) modeling our collaborative piece that she won in the auction.

Are you making lampwork beads and intrigued about the benefits of being an ISGB member?  Visit: to learn about the various levels of membership and their associated benefits.  I am deeply grateful for all of the opportunities to learn and grow that have come my way through this organization.  And if you're a Silicon Valley area bead maker please visit our local Silicon Valley Fireflies chapter's website to learn how you can attend one of our monthly meetings and become part of this wonderful group.

P.S.  I won a Paragon kiln in the raffle.

Straw Bale Garden Update: Week 15

I've been out of town for a week and the garden has skyrocketed!  I'll show you what's happening there, and then my next post will be about my trip to Houston for the ISGB Gathering conference.  It was FABulous!

How does my garden grow?  FABULOUSLY, thank you very much.
Yep, we've barely begun to start the harvest and I'm a convert.  This is already the best producing, healthiest, lowest effort vegetable garden we've ever grown here, and I'm still loving it.  The bales are getting drip irrigation once per day for about 10-15 minutes, and they seem pretty happy with that schedule.

Spanish Musica (a lovely flat Italian bean) and Kentucky Blue Lake beans are starting to ripen.
Persian cucumbers - love 'em!  This one is almost a little too big now.
The German Orange Strawberry tomatoes are nearly ready too, and they're the biggest we've ever grown.  Oddly, this determinate plant is one of the smallest of the lot.  The sprawling Sungold (indeterminate) has loads of tiny little tomatoes.  I'm starting to think I may actually need that tall trellis after all, at least for some of our tomatoes.
We've got a number of clusters of plum tomatoes, and some seem to have blossom end rot.  I ground up some egg shells and watered them into the bales.  I'm hoping this will work, since calcium is supposed to address that in soil, at least.
The onions are getting big too.  I may have to harvest some as green onions to allow the rest to bulb out.
OK, so technically these leeks are not in a bale, but they're looking great!  I planted them deep and slowly added soil around them as they grow, to make more of the tasty white part.  Like the onions they will need thinning.
Squash, eggplant, basil and broccoli.
We've gotten at least one yellow pattypan squash to date, and I need to harvest some basil to make pesto.  There is one eggplant in process, and the tiny plant has several more stunning blooms.  I can't imagine that tiny plant growing even one of those enormous vegetables.

We have had a problem with broccoli caterpillars.  I tried hand picking them every day for almost a week, but the moths just keep laying eggs under the leaves (ick).  I made a concoction of soap, water, and cayenne (it clogged the sprayer until I ran it through a coffee filter) and sprayed the top and undersides of all the leaves, and miraculously the worms have abated, but I see new eggs to next I'm going to try some Bt powder from Safer.  Broccoli is a lot of work!  I remember my dad growing it when I was a kid (organically?  who knows) and he would just soak it in a sink full of salty water to eliminate all the worms before we ate it.  <>  I guess another alternative is the floating row cover, to prevent the moths from laying the eggs.

I'm feeding worm casting tea, sometimes aerated, sometimes not, and I imagine that's largely responsible for everything being so vigorous.  And I feel warm and squishy all over every morning when I go out to walk among the bales and soak it all in.  This is truly food for my soul.


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