glassblowing

Art and Design, glassblowing, Uncategorized

Your Input Is Welcome


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I am currently working on a redesign of my website.  It has been a bit of an effort making new designs, then figuring out how to photograph and present them on the site. Today I am coming to you to see what you think about one aspect of my web design, which is for the large sun catchers I have been making and which many have gotten to see for the first time on Facebook.

 

My impulse has been to give these pieces names that are fun and inspiring.  In that same vein, I have tried to be creative with the descriptions that will accompany the pieces.  While I feel good about them, I’m not always the best judge.  What I am wondering is what you think?  Is it beside the point?  Does it help, set a tone, or is that not even necessary?  Would you prefer just the image of the work, and do you find it the text silly?  What do you think?  I really want to make this to be fun and inspiring.

I have put all of the descriptions so far for those large sun catchers called Orbitals below.  I have a few of the images that have been shot of them in the studio so you can have a few visual reference to see what it is that I am describing. I would love to hear your feedback, pro or con before we set this one in internet concrete. 🙂


 

 

Brava_Orbital_Sized

Brava

An Orbital is a world of sun-catcher color, done up large. Peaches, oranges, and gold’s vibrate like an early-stage sunset with highlight splashes of blues and greens.  A few carefully placed murine elements in bright red dot its landscape.  We lay on the color in patches, thread the highlights on, resulting in pieces that look related but are each unique.  Feel the warmth and bravery. Blown with sturdiness in mind, our pieces are not eggshell thin.  Made for the ages.  Made just for you, with our love.

 

·      Hand-blown in the U.S.A. at our Virginia Studio

·      9 Inches in diameter

·      Orbital hanger eye is sturdily built

·      Signed and dated

·      Sturdy Hook & Instructions For Hanging Included

 

 

Blue_Sky_Riot_Orbital_HR

Blue Sky Riot

Sometimes you just want to make a statement and aren’t in the mood for the urbane path.  You are ready for a riot.  We feel you. Solid fields of cobalt blue make their entrance with windows of gold, green, red and orange thrown in between gasps of deep blue bliss and a rumor of pink gold ruby.  Someone claims a fleck of purple makes an appearance, but you will have to hunt for it.  Remember, these are not punched out of a mold, my friend. We roll each one by hand and they bear the mark of uniqueness common to handmade glass.  Each one is a solid riot of color!

 

·      Hand-blown in the U.S.A. at our Virginia Studio

·      9 Inches in diameter

·      Orbital hanger eye is sturdily built

·      Signed and dated

·      Sturdy Hook & Instructions For Hanging Included

 

 

Caliope

Calliope

You have been all across our site and can’t make up your mind.  Calliope comes to the rescue in her broad reach of colors that will look great in just about any kind of décor (even if your décor changes-how cool is that!).  Includes blues, gold’s, greens, oranges and a flirtation with some pink ruby.

 

·      Hand-blown in the U.S.A. at our Virginia Studio

·      9 Inches in diameter

·      Orbital hanger eye is sturdily built

·      Signed and dated

·      Sturdy Hook & Instructions For Hanging Included

 

 

Earth_Wind_And_Fire_Orbital_HR

Earth Wind & Fire

Where else can you be confronted with all elements together in one place than here on earth?  Out on the ocean, split by sky, grounded in earth, and enlivened by fire, this Orbital bears banded blends of lively color ready to set your soul on fire as it cools your mind and helps your heart learn how to stand in the center of wonder.  Hand blown, each spot of color lays in its own way and melts, as it will, making each piece unique. The revolution begins here.

 

·      Hand-blown in the U.S.A. at our Virginia Studio

·      9 Inches in diameter

·      Orbital hanger eye is sturdily built

·      Signed and dated

·      Sturdy Hook & Instructions For Hanging Included

 

 

Mango_Multiverse_Orbital_Sized

Mango Multiverse

This Orbital will take your through an upward spinning journey from peachy oranges up into a multiverse of green, blue, and light sky blue. Is there anywhere you can’t go?  Hand-blown, each piece is unique, like a sibling all bound by the same design DNA.

 

·      Hand-blown in the U.S.A. at our Virginia Studio

·      9 Inches in diameter

·      Orbital hanger eye is sturdily built

·      Signed and dated

·      Sturdy Hook & Instructions For Hanging Included

 

 

Green Optic View2 Sized

Milette’s Garden

Somewhere in the south of France, she tends her garden, humming a tune as birds fly overhead.  This Orbital has a beautiful emerald green with highlights of gold’s, peaches, splashes of sky, reds and blues. Like grasses woven one into the other, you could swear you feel the wind as it whispers to you from a faraway time and place.  Handmade with love, each piece is unique but made from the same landscape where Milette dreams.

 

·      Hand-blown in the U.S.A. at our Virginia Studio

·      9 Inches in diameter

·      Orbital hanger eye is sturdily built

·      Signed and dated

·      Sturdy Hook & Instructions For Hanging Included

 

Oceanic_Borealis_Sized

Oceanic Borealis

A deep ocean of blue rises up through its watery depths with streams of green and splashes of yellow/gold.  Changing in the light, colors interact and blend with each other in fields of watery wonder. Turn it this way and that, you get to choose exactly which view works best to remind you of aquatic dreams.  Made entirely by hand, slight differences exist that give each piece its stamp of uniqueness.  We make it just for you, with love.

 

·      Hand-blown in the U.S.A. at our Virginia Studio

·      9 Inches in diameter

·      Orbital hanger eye is sturdily built

·      Signed and dated

·      Sturdy Hook & Instructions For Hanging Included

 

 

Purple_Passion_Sunset_Orbital_Sized

Purple Sunset Bliss

Here is how this vision unfolds: streams of purple and pink ruby twist around the body of this Orbital, a sun catcher like no other.  It is punctuated with streams of orange/gold lit with flecks of red.  Like a sunset, the view changes as you turn these in the light.  Hand blown, each one has its own unique story to tell.

 

·      Hand-blown in the U.S.A. at our Virginia Studio

·      9 Inches in diameter

·      Orbital hanger eye is sturdily built

·      Signed and dated

·      Sturdy Hook & Instructions For Hanging Included

BG Optic Top View Sized.jpg

Sky Dream

Sometimes you have to stay in while it rains and let the sound surround you as you wait for a dreamy patch of sky to open up, teasing you into the light.  Ladders of gold sun dance through the clouds as you dream in poetry.  Let the muses take you in this woven work of emerald and cobalt.  Gold shimmers in highlights along the top.  Ribbed, colors fold over and blend dreamily.  You are getting sleepy…Made with love and born from fire, because ours are hand-rolled and blown, each piece is unique but bears the same patch of sky each time with a little more wind here, a little less downpour there.

 

·      Hand-blown in the U.S.A. at our Virginia Studio

·      9 Inches in diameter

·      Orbital hanger eye is sturdily built

·      Signed and dated

·      Sturdy Hook & Instructions For Hanging Included

 

Wavy Purple Top View Sized

Wavy Purple Plum

Purple, pink ruby and splashes of orange are woven like the tresses of a transcendental mermaid who catches you in her otherworldly dream.  Only love makes things like this.  Hand-blown, each piece has its own song to sing you.  Let us start the music for you.

Art and Design, glassblowing

Fall Workshops and Classes


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If you follow Stafford Art Glass on our Facebook page, you will  know about the slew of delays I have had in getting the studio back online again.  It has been kind of exciting, in a weird way, if only because of the significant improvements I have been able to work into the studio while waiting.  Oh, and the fingers I broke last Fall are doing very well, thank-you (the first of a few of the snarls time-wise!).

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Myself, I have tried to remain as Zen about this as possible.  While I very much want to have glass available to an eager group who has expressed interest in it, I also know that once I get in the thick of things once the furnaces are turned on and the gas bills keep climbing, it will be harder to make the changes that I have made this past Spring and  Summer.  These are all great changes, they just took some time (some longer than others!).

As I sit here, the furnace is actually on  its second melt, which means that it is producing excellent glass, the doors to all of the furnaces and a kiln have been hooked up to pneumatic foot control (nice for when you are holding a blow pipe),which means they open and close without having to muscle them open and closed by hand. The vent hood has been enclosed for more efficient ventilation, a fan has been wired in for that vent hood, and some other equipment have also gotten some upgrades.

 

Over the course of the last several months I have ordered over 50 new glass colors, and I put in another order for over half of that amount just yesterday. I have ordered glass color that I think will make for really interesting pumpkins as well as expanded color choices for ornaments, increasing the choices ten-fold. Some of these colors are ones I have not used in my own professional production over twenty years of working in the field (so this is a big step). None of this has been cheap, but it makes for a better experience for all of the people who are eager to sink their teeth into some exciting new offerings at the studio. One of the upgrades has been making sign-up for classes or workshops something that you can do from your phone or computer online.

Beginning the first of October, I will be rolling out my new internet booking calendar.  This calendar will be available right here on this blog at www.staffordartglass.blog.  This calendar will allow you to book classes from the comfort of your mobile device or from your living room.  From now until the calendar goes live, there will be upgrades and changes being made to the calendar to make it more useful for most of the classes that will be taught at the studio. Even though it is up right now, changes are in the process of being made, so it is not just yet ready for prime-time (but soon!).

Here are some of the classes that will be offered beginning October 1st:

  • Blow Your Own Pumpkin – offered from October 1st through to November 18th. You can pick a thirty minute slot for a small pumpkin or two slots for a larger pumpkin (I will have examples of these two sizes when we get closer to our class roll-out).
  • Blow Your Ornament Ball (BYOB) from November 30th through to December 22nd.
  • Make Your Own Paperweight – available year round.
  • Make Your own Suncatcher – available year round.
  • Weekend Glass Blowing Intensive – the first weekend of each month (subject to minimum enrollment).
  • One-Day Glass Blowing Intensive – the second Saturday of each month (subject to minimum enrollment).

That said, this schedule is just a guide to make things easier for all involved.  However, if someone would like to make a pumpkin in January or even in May, all you need to do is look on the calendar and see if the time is available.  The same goes for ornaments. If you would like to blow an ornament in October to avoid making something in December, you are welcome to do that. The way the calendar and the classes are set up for single items, I have those designed so that an ornament can be made  within a 30 minute booking session (which is how the first calendar is set up—and yes, there may be individual calendars for different classes but I have to work out the coding for that first). Since all classes are individual and include one-on-one instruction (except for the one and two-day intensives) this makes scheduling much easier. In truth, it might only take 15 minutes to make an ornament or suncatcher, but I give you that time to make sure we cover all the bases while each and every person is here.  Likewise, a small pumpkin can be made in thirty minutes and a large one can be made in an hour (you would book two thirty minutes slots and let me know that you want to make a large pumpkin when you arrive). The elegance of the way these experiences are set up is that by doubling up on two 30 minute slots is you get the right pricing and enough time to make your piece.  It is a modular system I developed that makes scaling up simple and easy.

There are many things I do not know just yet about the full functionality of the calendar and how many options I will be able to include, but right off the bat I know that there are some options as I write this that will be available.  For example, this calendar will be able to utilize coupon codes so those of you who follow Stafford Art Glass at Facebook or on other social media sites like Twitter can grab coupon codes that will be announced there and bring them here for making your final booking. To take advantage of these, go to the site for Stafford Art Glass on Facebook, hit “Like” and get the latest codes and updates.  We are located on Facebook  here:

https://www.facebook.com/Stafford-Art-Glass-273860936858/

In instances where the calendar does not allow for the type of flexibility that I might have hoped, I will be announcing work-arounds in the event that someone wants something custom or different from the norm.  But as of right now, I am still learning how to make this calendar as flexible for your use as possible.  I am using one of the highest rated booking calendars out there available for the Word Press platform (it even takes payments) so I am expecting a high degree of functionality once I uncover all of the bells and whistles in the next few weeks.  Given how this past year has gone, I am a little gun shy about making promises about exactly how I expect something like the new booking system will work.  I just know that once I sink my teeth into it, I will be able to work through the software to help bring value to my customers.

If you subscribe to the blog, you will be kept up to date about any new classes or events happening that involve booking your place for an event.  While there will also be updates on Facebook, these can easily get buried under new posts. Word Press makes it so that you can receive updates through email as well as SMS (text message to your phone) which can be even more convenient for many of you. I can also provide class descriptions here that may be too lengthy for Facebook readers.

You will find that prices are inclusive for all of our classes. That means no pesky add-ons that you have to worry about. Anyone taking a class also receives 15% off all merchandise in the gallery as a special thank-you for educating yourself about what it takes to delve into the world of glass making.

In the meantime, until we reach the first of October, I will be working to produce samples of a full line of ornaments that will make deciding on an ornament color combination easier once you show for your time slots. I will do the same with sample pumpkin color combinations, too. Then, if you get here and can’t decide what colors you would like, I will have some samples that might make deciding easier.

Thank you all who have been following along for your patience!  My hope is that the changes will be welcome and will make everything just a little bit more easy. Here’s to a fun and exciting Fall!

Keep It Hot,

~Parker

 

#glassblowing #glassblowingclass #newportva #vaglass #vaglassblower #glasspumpkin #pumpkin

Art and Design

The New


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Blowing_0001_small_copy

Large companies can pour millions into new products each year, hiring experts called consultants to help direct them in their dream of new products and new directions for their businesses.  In the world of the artist, this too also happens, but on a mini-micro scale.  You wake up one morning and you say to yourself that an old idea that has been rolling around in your head and heart needs to be embarked on.  For an artist, this means hundreds of hours  of learning this new kind of work and who knows how much money poured into the effort.  When it comes to something like this, there is absolutely no guarantee of any sort of return.  You go by your instinct, your gut, and your wits.  And you want to know something?  My experience has been that many of my most compelling and interesting designs that I personally love often find only a luke-warm reception at least in the beginning.  I have actually shelved what would later become one of my most popular pieces for over a year before returning to it.  When it hit the shelves people looked at it like it was something from another world.  That is to say, they didn’t see it as the unique thing that it was; they saw it as unrecognizable.  This is sometimes the problem with the new.

Before a line of new work is even hot off the presses, it comes under no scrutiny, no flag waving crowds or lines of adoring fans.  Unless you can do something that often strikes most artists as utterly distasteful: you hype the living shit out of it.  You hype it so that normal people who have never bought art before sit up and take notice.  They take notice because, well, they are so tuned into the hype.  I am not talking about what an artist normally does to promote themselves. I am talking about what some people will do in order to bring in the crowds, people who might not have come in the first place.  These people are more drawn by the interest of others, the crowd, the feeding frenzy.  To do this on a large scale means celebrity or the feeling of possible celebrity.  And who doesn’t love a celebrity?  A quiet unknown who is rising through the ranks?  Still, its hype most often, anew form of hype that doesn’t look like hype but still…it is.

The truth is, there is a very small number of people who don’t see the hype, don’t care about the hype and buy with their heart.  And these people are actually the visionaries, the people there when the work was not hyped, was actually affordable, and are often of modest means.  the people who come rushing for the hype are the folks who will put down $40,000.00 for the “next big thing” because, well, it looks good on them or in their house.  What we are talking about is status.  It is also worlds away from authentic art making (unless you create artifice  in order to pander to the rich).

Artists are often caught in this odd cross-fire of authenticity meeting popularity when things take off for them.  The desire to hype can get the better of some art dealers and gallery owners, and artists too.  Look, we all want to prosper, but at what price does this happen?  For those who “make it” there are now funds that allow a person to do so much more than wonder if they will make the bills this month or the next, whether the six thousand poured into the new line of work will yield anything of substance. The number of artists who were obscure in their time is right up there with the fervency of hype.  Renoir would say how he bought his villa with a painting of an empty vase sold ten years previously.  Picasso would sign checks knowing they would never be cashed because, well, his signature. It is indeed a strange world.

But look, the lifeblood of an artist isn’t the money.  It is the excitement over the next new thing, the new idea, the new process, the new way of saying perennial messages that have been born into each generation and recur in slightly different ways from one century to the next.  Our dreams are those of the Romans, the Greeks, the Pelleponesians, the Shakespeares, the kings and queens of Ur, all told now in a recognizable dialect.  Before it is a “thing” we are there in the innocence of the moment in the studio, scribbling on napkins, sending notes to friends, or making the discovery that could change a lifetime.  We were the true believers before anyone dared to even dream it.  It is this piece of our lives that the beloved collector wants a piece of…the early work, albeit a little rough around the edges, but is work that suggests that there are more pieces that will follow, and if the artist is lucky enough to sell enough to fund the next round of work, they do, and the work evolves.  And hopefully, the work evolves fast enough that it stays ahead of the curve so that the artist can turn enough of a profit so that s/he can make more….and survive to make for another day.  This is not an easy proposition because artists have to be both lovers and shrew business people.  I can tell you that it is hard to do both equally well, and as history shows us, artists tend to be lovers over the shrewd type.  This is so because it takes a huge amount of passion just to get your through the 80 hour days, weeks, months, that are required to become good at something.  And for an artist, this can mean remaking yourself with new techniques and ways of working every once in a while.  You don’t get there with shrewdness.  You don’t calculate passion or love.  You simply have to have it in you as a lover.  And like all great lovers, you can’t be thinking about dollar signs when you are throwing yourself into the next big thing.  To do this requires a singular sense of authenticity, passion, and love.  Anything else simply robs the work of the life that animates the work, that gives it that presence that is often unnoticed by the great unwashed but that the lovers of art pick up on and see.  It takes a lover to know a lover, even if one does not make art and the other does.

So it is that yesterday I had this “congealing moment.”  I know how that sounds, but I cannot think of a better term that feels so equal to what actually happens….The moment involved an idea I have had in my head literally for decades that involved a type of work that I have considered doing in glass.  I just wasn’t completely sure how I would do it.  My mind had been putting these pieces together off and on for a long time, but I just didn’t know exactly what the end result would be.  It was a bit like staring at Monet’s paintings of haystacks early in the morning…..they were images that had some shapes, yes, a suggestion of form, but were largely vivid blurs in my mind.  That really is how these kinds of pieces can be in our minds.  I know that other artists do the same thing because I see it in my art students.  They draw a quick sketch and then say, “I will “art it up” Mr. Stafford….you know, I will make it awesome!”

So really what is happening is there is something that is not completely fleshed out for the artist in their mental conception of the work that they just know they will get worked out in the final work. They just know, right? So sometimes that golden moment happens, that bit of genius that flows out into the work, and sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes we kind of waive our hands in the air, explaining a new idea without really knowing what it will be like.

(“Insert some kind of colorful awesomeness here _____”)

It isn’t that we are fooling ourselves as artists.  In fact, this sense we often have, that it will be awesome, is quite simply derring-do.  It is born out of confidence in ourselves, and it is ballsy.  As a result, I am loathe to be too critical of it. I was in fact in just such a place, parked with my idea for over a decade (at least) while this idea, apparently, gestated very slowly in my mind or creative spirit.  And then it happened.  It happened very quickly, almost too rapidly for me to even notice.  If I had been too distracted, it would have been gone and I might not have even noticed it.  Look, I have hundreds, thousands, of ideas a lot like this fleeting through me.  It is just how it is.  And most often, this happens in a state that is different form ordinary consciousness.  As a result, unless you sit with the idea and hold it there, it can literally just evaporate in exactly the same way that a dream you had last night is  nearly impossible to recall.  Steve Jobs once described all the things he “knew” when he was on LSD that he completely forgot when he came back down to ordinary consciousness….but he knew that it was something and he wanted to add a little piece of that in his work, which he did.  So, yeah.

I didn’t need LSD to get to that moment.  It was all there, fleshed out in the moment clear as day.  It was so complicated that I knew that in order to work it out, I would have to possibly spend months developing enough elements just in order to develop the work.  These pieces depart completely from everything I have done and dip into art.  How they are done is through a series of layers of imagery that are literally carved out of layers of glass at room temperature and then layered into the glass.  On the one hand, I could wind up with a cheap Venetian looking “fish bowl” (you know those….they look like fish in a bowl and are made by layering all these elements in them) or I could on the other, push the idea so far that I come up with the level of complexity I am looking for, which is not unlike a multidimensional “trip” through a dream world that actually is beginning to look a lot like how complex our lives have gotten today.  The trick, I know, as I waive my hands in the air, is to invest the “landscape” of these glass pieces with the level of complexity that keeps them from being cute or quaint and pushes them into new territory altogether.  And that, dear reader, is the hard part of art.  It separates the girls from the women and the boys from the men.  Hopefully in the end it serves to unite us all in a new kind of vision.  😉

So that is what is on the plate for now.  Naturally, I can’t say too much about it right now, not until I develop the work because until I do that it is much too easy for people to take an idea and run with it.  And that is the other side of the coin, but I will spare you that dimension of our work as artists.

The new work will mean that I will do something unusual, which is I will need to create photographs, images, and drawings, all of which will be put down on paper to form the basis of the imagery that will be cast into place with these pieces.  And to do them well will mean that the imagery remain crisp. That will mean selecting certain colors over others.  There will be choices that will have to be made that will be exacting, like building a three-layered canvas made of glass that you will be able to see through.  Some will seem like dreams, some like memories.  Perhaps some will fill the space with a sense of life.  Will they?  That will be up to all of the efforts made in the studio and out of it.  For now, there is a lot that needs to be done in the moment that will lead up to determining whether this work will be worth the time and trouble.  These are the untold hours, the invisible hours, that go to make a new line of work what it is. And this is the life of the artist.  More than money, more than anything else, this is what gets my blood pumping.

Art and Design, glassblowing

My Indiegogo Campaign Link (Draft Mode!)


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Mug3 Version 2#1
Proposed Design For Coffee Mug Design Perk on Indiegogo. ©Parker Stafford

The campaign for the Gaia Lamp is swiftly getting underway with a link to the campaign on indiegogo.  Right now it is in draft mode, which means that I am making adjustments and changes can be made.  If you have suggestions from perks to ways to tighten up the copy, I am all ears (and eyes)! This new design is really great, bringing  to your homes or someone whom you love, a warmth and creative flair!  Its art glass AND lighting all in one!  Everyone who has gotten to see them have all remarked how it transforms a room. Wonderful anywhere mood lighting is needed.  Bedrooms, foyers, living rooms, the possibilities are endless.  While there is one sample that shows the work, I have a number of different sizes from approximately 7″ tall (mini night-light version) to the full-sized version on the campaign site (approximately 12″ tall) as well as a globe in the works.  ALL of these design have been made before, just not as a light feature, so there is no question about HOW to make them.  This campaign is full steam ahead!  So….share this with your friends because the more coverage I can get, the greater the possibility that I can reach my goal!

http://www.indiegogo.com/project/preview/22b29132

Want to contact me to find out how you can become involved in this exciting effort?  It can be as simple as sharing this post and the links with your friends and fellow bloggers. It can also be more involved, such as reviewing copy, and giving design advice about the campaign.  There are perks available for this type of involvement!

Proposed Mug Design For Indiegogo perk. ©Parker Stafford
Proposed Mug Design For Indiegogo perk. ©Parker Stafford