Squirrel!

I stopped into Cline Glass looking for a stained glass lampshade. Turns out they don’t sell those there, but they do sell glass to people who make stained glass lampshades and they do offer classes to people who might want to learn stained glass so that they can eventually make their own stained glass lampshades.

Interesting.

So I started the class in late June. 3 hours a night once a week where we learned to cut, grind, foil, flux, solder and, oh yes, bleed.

On the first night of class we just practiced cutting random pieces of glass, which sounds easy, but there’s a finesse to it that apparently you acquire over time…

art glass shards

Be careful! This stuff is sharp!


While I cut my finger three times that night, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience! At the end of the night I had successfully cut out glass using my practice pattern (note piece #5 in the pattern – it comes up again):
stained glass test patter

practice pattern

The next class was where we picked our projects. I picked a cute, but rather complicated squirrel pattern. It was 25 pieces, lots of curves, and not a realistic pick for a first project. But, my sweet, squirrel-loving dog had just passed the weekend before and when I saw that pattern I thought it a sign from BEYOND that I was meant to make the squirrel. My instructor, Becky, was probably reluctant to talk me out of using that pattern because I was a little weepy when I told her why I chose it.

Cut..cut…grind…grind… With laser focus I cut out my little squirrel parts. I did not cut my finger even once.

Here is a picture of all of the pieces after I cut them. Remember piece # 5 in my practice pattern? That’s a complicated cut (for a newbie) and similar to my squirrel arm. It took me SIX times to cut it out without breaking the arm off in the process!

squirrel pieces cut out

squirrel cuts

In the last class we took our foiled projects and soldered them. And I got to walk out of class with my first finished stained glass piece! Ta-dah!

stained glass squirrel

Squirrel!

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Note from a cruising altitude of 10K feet…

washington delaware

washington crossing the delaware

I had seen tweets from @alaskaair about wifi on this flight yesterday (the inaugural non-stop flight from Portland to Chicago) and hoped that they’d have it on today’s flight. I couldn’t verify that they would because apparently the planes get switched out sometimes so…no guarantees (unless the whole fleet is wifi).
I packed a Plan B just in case: Freeman’s biography of George Washington (the condensed version – not the 7 volume set). I know just about nothing about Washington and figured that 3 hours inflight would give me at least a high schoolers clue about the man…but I digress.
When I got to the gate I asked the agent if this was a wifi plane…she though it wasn’t because she didn’t see any sort of antenna on it…neither did I. Really, boning up on Washington is not a bad way to spend the time.
But as I boarded I saw the wifi inflight logo:
wifi logo
…and I knew that immersing myself in Freeman’s book wasn’t going to be happening…or probabaly wasn’t. There was a slight chance they could forget to turn on the wifi (someone had tweeted that this happened on their flight before).
After we reached a ‘safe cruising altitude’ I whipped out my laptop to try the wifi. It was pretty straightforward, but the $7 charge on the last screen was a bit of a surprise…its not mentioned in the seat pocket literature. Still..$7 for 3+hours of entertainment? Sure!
So now I’m online, flying over this:
view from plane
and thinking about this vast country and how it was formed… So now I’m going to log off and read a little about George Washington.

Woodblocking – A Beginner’s Take

Ever since I went to the M.C. Escher exhibit at the Portland Art Museum, I have been intrigued with the idea of block printing. Until the exhibit I had always thought of Escher as the staircase guy.

Ascending and Descending

Ascending and Descending


..but the exhibit introduced me to a different side of Escher – a side that blows me away far more than any of his illusion pieces.
Snakes for example, was created out of three separately carved wood blocks – each carved in different ways to compliment the others and allow for multiple colors within the same print. One of the blocks was just the snake with the skin intricately notched out. The actual wood blocks were in the exhibit, behind glass that had dozens of little nose prints on it…you really needed to get that close to see just how amazing it was.
Snakes

Snakes


The day after the exhibit I went to Utrecht’s and bought a Beginner’s Block Print kit. If anything, the experience has made me all the more aware of what a genius Escher was.
This weekend I finally got a chance to try it out! One BandAid and 5 lobster cards later I can honestly say.. block carving is a very manual, but highly rewarding medium. I loved it.

Here’s what I did:

First I traced and transferred a picture of a lobster onto the linoleum block (its linoleum in this beginners kit…). Then I started to carve it out…very slowly..

starting to carve out picture...

starting to carve out picture...


Once I got the first cuts in, the rest was easier because the ‘trough’ was already dug around the image (the part that requires the MOST concentration).
mostly carved!

mostly carved!

I inked it up!
lobster5

And just like that – I was making lobster cards!

lobsters everywhere!

lobsters everywhere!

My two fancy ones were the dark green one (because that’s what an uncooked lobster can look more like…),,,

an uncooked lobster

an uncooked lobster

and this two-tone one. I inked the block with orange and printed it and then I inked the block with dark green and nearly got it to line up…nearly.

two-tone lobster

two-tone lobster

Tweeting the Classics

homer

Today I got a dm from my friend Paul, pointing to this Boing Boing post on musing over what Homer’s Odyssey might look like on Twitter. Last fall I was wondering the same thing as I started reading Homer’s Iliad as part of a Portland Library reading series. I did a short recap of each of the 24 chapters (books) via Twitter, trying to present the main characters and plot of the chapter in…(gulp) 140 characters. Some were more successful than others and I don’t expect that anyone could actually follow my tweeted version if they didn’t already sort of know what The Iliad was about…but hey, it was a fun time trying! And here’s the result…in something less than 3360 characters… The Iliad by Homer via Twitter

To Catch a Thief

vinegar
Being a bit of a foodie myself, I find this story pretty funny. My brother, Joe, is the store manager at a gourmet grocery store in Bend. Apparently for about the last year, someone has been swiping the high-end balsamic vinegar. It has gotten to the point that they’ve put up a surveillance camera and dubbed this person the Balsamic Vinegar Bandit. The story has now been picked up by the AP.

“A sign hangs amid the bottles of vinegar at Newport Avenue Market. It’s simple, to the point: “Thanks to the Balsamic Vinegar Thief this area is now under surveillance. We will get you.” The last sentence, it should be noted, is underlined…”

Here’s the rest of the story.

Moving on Up!

Its been about two months now that I’ve been training for that 1/2 marathon.  I can keep to a pretty consistent schedule…Two short and one longer run each week, gradually progressing upward.

Progression of training for 1/2 marathon in May

Progression of training for 1/2 marathon in May

This screenshot here is from Gyminee, where I’ve been tracking my progress.  Its a pretty cute site and I can track not only my runs, but also nutrition, weight, etc. Really though, this little running graph has turned into such a source of motivation for me.  If that’s all the site ever showed me, I’d still sign up…  hmm.. OMG!  I’ve got to go work on an something awesome.  More later.

Where Do the Hours Go?

***ALERT: THIS POST CONTAINS SIMPLE MATH***

Lets see…There are over 8500 hours in the year.

If I break out all of those hours…here’s what I’ve got.time1

Ok. I’m asleep about 3000 hours/year…but that’s not negotiable.

And I work about 2000 hours/year…and go to a little school, and I do a little commuting..and a wee little exercise…

So holy cow! I’ve got about 2700 hours/year that I can’t account for. If you divide that 2700 hours into 12 months..I’ve already spent about 225 hours in January doing what?!? Well, I did do that graphic above (I don’t really know Illustrator…so it took me longer than you’d think).

Like sand through an hourglass…but no more! I am going to schedule about 400 of those 2700 ‘lost hours’ with volunteer work – that’s 33 hours/month doing what I promised to this new administration. And I’ll keep it all in a little graph…because I’ll still have way too much time on my hands…2300 hours to be exact.