The Inscape is the result of a discovery I made early in my glass career. It was part experimentation and part discovery and part happy mistake. The glass was cut open to reveal something marvelous inside. Who knows how many of these I had made with these same beautiful forms that had slipped inside the glass like that. From that one point of discovery came a welter of ideas. Inscape Geode, Inscape Egg, Andromeda Geode, Andromeda Egg, the Andromeda Monolith. It cracked the sky of my world open creatively. These pieces have been used for corporate jobs, trophies, sold in a catalog, online, and through countless galleries from New England to Seattle, and London England.
So today I honor that discovery with a picture I found of a piece I did about eight years ago that suggested yet another direction with my Inscapes. The piece, shown below, is a special type of Inscape that I did so it had multiple facets. It was different from all others like it. One of a kind. But here is where new ideas form, build, grow, and inspire.
I now have a presence on Tumblr, a rather feisty sort of place where images tumble like fish during spawning season. How do they do it? How do people post so much information? Ah, it is the mobile generation! Okay, so this is my stab at it! More pics, less yackety-yack! For content in the Tumblr-universe, check us out there:
All of life is a journey. We come, we grow, And we go. In between is what we consider our life. Many feel like when you are done, you are done. This is it, there is no more. Certainly our five sense, if we rely on them alone, would seem to suggest there is nothing more. I am of a different sort because I have been fortunate in some ways to see with more than just my physical eyes. For some of you, this will seem silly, but it is only silly until you have those brushes with something larger, something inexplicable, that your understanding can change. The world was once flat, too!
Several years ago I had a family come to my studio who blew ornaments before Christmas. Husband, wife, and two darling daughters, about ten and five years old. They each blew glass. It was fun. The Dad looked like he wasn’t doing so well, like he had been sick. But the glass, he really loved. He in fact did the one thing many people do who fall in love with glass; they ask if they could come and sweep floors or help in exchange for more instruction and fun with the hot stuff. He explained he wasn’t sure when he would get a ‘good day’ again but if he did, he would like to come again. His daughters had just exclaimed in unison upon his completion of his piece, “that’s beautiful, Daddy!”
Rob never came back, though, and I wondered what happened. His wife contacted me in the early Spring to explain that Rob had succumbed to cancer. She was calling to see if I would be willing to make some pendants for her and her daughters as a way to keep him close during this hard time. She explained that her husband Rob had enjoyed the glass so much and had talked at length about the experience to people afterward that she thought it would be a fitting way for all of them to remember him; doing something he always wanted to do and got to do!
I had never worked with crematory ash and explained I would have to run some tests to make sure I could do it in a way I felt good about. In the end I made an Inscape Geode for each of them that had a river-like form running through the piece which was his ash. I thought this was a fitting way to use the ash since our journey takes many dips and bends while we are here. The pieces really looked great! I made pendants, too, which were a first for me, but being able to provide a way for this family a way through their grieving process was itself an honor.
When the day came for the pieces to be picked up, I handed the pieces to her and her daughters to look at in the gallery and we talked about Rob and his life. Being able to celebrate his life in this way felt so right. The family has pieces of glass art that helped to keep the memory of a loved one close.
More recently, I was approached by two different people I know who me asked if I could make glass beads and if I could create them, using ash. The beads were to be a way to scatter ashes all around the world for their father who had passed. I thought this was so novel that I instantly agreed. Then not long after this, I was approached by an old college friend. The order began with a pretty middle of the road series of colors and ended with a batch of some really cool works that are in the first photo on this post and are sprinkled throughout. They turned out to be some of the coolest pieces of jewelry I have made thus far….cosmic, subtle, nuanced…and beautiful! I was glad that his widow agreed to try a creative route and granted permission for me to use images of her pieces to show here.
I am now practiced at adding ash to glass. Normally glass and ash do not play well together, but there are some instances where it works very well. Using good old observation, testing, and common sense, I have developed a way to make this a good pairing. This makes scattering ashes easy since you can carry the ashes in your neck until you reach that special spot (or spots). It makes creating closure for family easier, a way to pay final respects, in a sense. The beads I have decided to call Journey Beads. It is a fitting name I think, and if you consider how the pendants turned out, perhaps also a cosmic journey for our loved ones. So perhaps Cosmic Journey for the pendants? I am mulling that one still.
I will be straight with you. I felt a little odd having Rob’s ash in the studio, at least initially. This feeling, I realized, was part of our collective fear, even loathing, of death. We feel this way because we are conditioned to think death is the end. It is, I believe, a transition that most do not get to witness…..except when they themselves make their own exit from this earthly stage. I have, however, found that each opportunity to help people in this transition had been in some way also an opportunity for me to help people through a challenging time in their lives.
When ash does come into the studio, it is carefully tracked throughout the entire process to ensure absolutely accuracy When using remains. The amount of ash needed for a piece is very small, less than a teaspoon for a pendant.
So the work continues. I am available for making glass to help memorialize your loved one. I have found this to be an unexpectedly healing process!
For those interested in having pendants made, most pendants are available starting at $85.00 piece And depends on color options and any necklaces that you may want shipped with the pendant. Please contact me for details on these options. Any ash remaining, no matter how small, is always returned to the customer.
This product is backed by a guarantee of your complete pleasure for up to thirty days from purchase. Pendants are made from high quality American made borosilicate, a glass known for its toughness and resilience to scratching, changes in temperature, and chemicals. This glass is so tough it is what lab ware is made from for chemistry laboratories!
The event has wound down and the studio was host to dozens of families and friends who came from near and far (one family from North Carolina up for the holidays) who took part in our multi-weekend glass blowing experience that included our BYOB (Blow Your Ornament Ball), and our Hotglass Weekend that was pulled together after many people began inquiring about times after the holidays when they could venture out and get their hands into the hot stuff and play with fire.
This season was so incredibly encouraging on so many fronts. It seemed that at every turn I kept meeting the most interesting and inspiring people all bent on helping support the studio in fascinating ways. One customer showed her work to her co-workers after I met her during a break from her work. In this case, she was a newscaster at a local television station, which garnered a short story about the studio on Christmas Eve telling about how we offer making your own ornament as a special during the holidays. I was able to meet many other people who have in their own ways helped to spread the word and make a difference for the studio. And just so you know, this isn’t about me, but about all of the interesting and excited people who came to lend their smiles, their stories, and their time in helping make this event one of the single best events ever (and we have had many, so that is saying something!)
If you look back through the last few blog posts, you can begin to see some of the pieces that folks just like you, who have never blown glass before were able to make with a little help from a seasoned glass teacher and blower. The results have all been fantastic! Pictures from the weekend are sprinkled liberally throughout this latest edition of SAG on WordPress. I have met inquisitive kids who talked about the chemistry of glass, who wondered about its long history, and who had interesting ideas about life, glass, and the pursuit of life’s simplest pleasures. It has been a real interesting and rewarding time being able to share time with so many people who were all connected by their love or sheer curiosity about glass as an expressive medium. When I think about the quality of experience, the caliber of people pulled in by the sheer gravity of glass and its beauty, I find myself hopeful about adding instruction at the studio as a key ingredient in just what it is that we do there.
We had a half price off sale where works went for a song and a second sale where pieces went for unheard of prices. If you know what my seconds look like, you know that our seconds are first-rate pieces that maybe were a little too small or slightly off-center. I talked to people about how they could design their own work for their homes, an opportunity that is unheard of in this age of the cheap mass-produced object. Helping to bring the real back to life can also help to enliven the soul and stir the heart. And THAT is not just a cheap throw-away but the honest truth.
For now, the pictures for this post are being worked on to ready them for the web. In the days that follow you will begin to see images from this weekend that help to paint a picture of just what happened and what went on! But to learn more check out this blogger who describes her experience in her recent post about her visit to the studio this weekend!
Please contact me directly for studio hours: our work is seasonal and sometimes the studio can be down for repairs, for example. Some days we are blowing glass while other days we are running errands or away at a show. Let us know when you are free to come see us and we can work something out that works for you.