Archive for November, 2008

Yes we can!

This was too cute not to mention. Last Wednesday, Child One came home from school saying her teacher had played them the Obama acceptance speech and forwarded through the thanks to get to the “bit that was all him saying, ‘we can’ over and over”. “He said, ‘Yes we can’ ” I corrected. “No, no. Bob the Builder said that!” piped up Child Two, determined to contribute when she saw an opportunity. And indeed he did. So there we have it, Barack Obama cut down to size -and to sound-bite- by a three-year-old. Is America broke? Can we fix it? Yes we can! Well, well. So the really big question is of course whether the great orator of modern politics acknowledged his source, or is Obama a plagiarist of toddler television?  That aside, it was a pretty great speech. I’ve been feeling upbeat all week, and I’m not even an American.

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– and I have seriously stalled on making the decorations. I somehow didn’t get any made over the weekend at all, or any today. I sent off a cheque for the big Christmas fair too, so I am now really and truly committed to doing it. Yikes, help and double-yikes.

frit decorations

So here finally are some -not very good- images of the aforementioned decorations. The cat looking out of the window at a snowy landscape is about 2.5 inches across, and the others are just under 2 inches. There are various others – quite a lot of different trees (in the snow, with red berries/baubles) and several snowmen (wearing fedoras, assorted bobble hats and scarves of many colors, and at least one deviant snowman actually smoking his pipe – complete with 1mm wide smoke rings [why?] ) as well some angels, and black cats turn up around the place from time to time…

These frit scenes are “painted” with the following technique and tools:

  • a teaspoon
  • a cocktail stick
  • a tweezers
  • a small paintbrush with a sort of spatula/chisel end (this is lifesaver)

For a really frustrating, fiddly, self-torturing experience, the results of which will be well-nigh invisible, proceed thus: take a small amount of fine or powdered frit on the end of the teaspoon and knock it off with either the cocktail stick or the end of the paintbrush, depending on whichever you happen to have in hand at the time, trying to get it as closely as possible where you need it, and in a thick enough layer (you always need significantly more powder than you think as it seems positively to disappear when it’s fired). Reposition the frit more accurately with the back of the brush and very carefully sweep excess away from the painted area. Doing this without proper precaution just swirls the dust around as it moves in the faint draft you create (I did say it was tedious work), and any slightly out of position brush hairs also drag through the design. For powder, gently level off the domed frit you will likely have (no dome probably implies not enough powder). To finish sharpening the outline of the shape, use the chisel end of the brush again. Proceed to the next color. When all powders have been applied, add any grain frit elements (eyes, baubles, etc.), dropping them on one grain at a time with the tweezers. A single grain of fine frit will often stick irritatingly to the tweezers, but can usually be knocked off with the cocktail stick which you are already holding awkwardly in the other hand. Pray that you do not have to do this – it’s the most risky part of the job and if you get it wrong, you can have a lot of reworking to do. Don’t drop that cocktail stick! Alternately, try using a fingernail (but be warned, the frit can end up just transferring onto that, which is the main advantage of the stick).

A note on sorting frit: be aware that there is quite a wide variation in the sizes and shapes of individual grains within a given size, at least with the Bullseye frit I use. Take a small spoonful and sort through it for, say, a likely pair of eyes that match (somewhat).

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Half-term is over!

And the Ospreys are into the semi-finals of the Anglo-Welsh Cup (that’s Rugby Union, for the pitiably ignorant out there), which is one of the good things to have happened this weekend. Also, Child One returned unscarred form France and the little ones were much, much happier all day yesterday as a result. We made sushi for dinner and have reached the point where almost all the glassware used was my own work. Some of my very first efforts, some plates that I intended to sell, but started using instead, and a couple of odds and sods and prototypes. I’m reminded that in my first flush of glass enthusiasm I did attempt to make – very dangerous-sounding – glass chopsticks with dichroic ends. Possibly luckily, I quickly saw I couldn’t get them thin enough and round enough and abandoned the idea. Those prototypes were broken down into cocktail stirrers, and very nice they are in that role. I might even resuscitate the idea as a holiday gift item. Why not?

After all, I’m now entering the blind panic zone of Christmas preparation. I have a few fairs lined up, and no idea how much stuff to make, which items will do well, how much they should all cost… I’ve never really done this before. Last year I had just started out and I peddled a little dichroic jewelry at one of the local primary schools. Now I have a whole range of things, and at least one “proper” craft fair to take them to. As the venue charges real money and requires public liability insurance (as well as filling out an absurd ‘risk assessment’ form – aggh!), I don’t particularly fancy shelling out the big bucks, driving half-way across South Wales and running out of stuff at midday. I should be so lucky. What I really mean is running out of the stuff people want and being left with a load of items that aren’t right for the market. Ah, well, we’ll see. Got to try, I suppose. Meanwhile, note to self: go round to the local craft shop that has got some of my stained glass hearts and get them back. At this time of year, I have a much better chance of selling them myself – and they are taking a ridiculous 150% mark-up, which I didn’t care about so much during the slack part of the year, when I figured at least the hearts were being placed in front of a few eyeballs they wouldn’t have met the gaze of in my kitchen. But I damned well care now, when getting those ones back will save me making a million more…

Photos of all these pretty things when I get to it.

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