I spent the last few weeks holding down the family farm while my folks were away on vacation. I had been looking forward to it all winter. A chance to relax & enjoy some quiet time surrounded by the beauty & comforts of my childhood home. Always the optimist, I had myself convinced I would enjoy the same great weather I had enjoyed during my last staycation. I was expecting a warm early spring. Boy, was I wrong!
My staycation began with an ice storm, which led to "Snowmeggedon" followed by the "Wind Bomb." Lucky for me, Grandma keeps her pantry well-stocked & Grandpa is a man of great forethought. He began building this farm almost 50 years ago. Grandpa Pillywiggin is a man with a plan, organized & efficient. Naturally, his farm is built in the same manner. There's a system to ensure everything runs smoothly, and it does. But this time was a little different.
The neighbors (aka my safety net in case of emergencies) joined my folks for the first week of vacation. They're great friends so I was happy to feed their outdoor wood stove & their kitties while they were away. In country terms, the neighbors live "down the road a piece." Their wood stove setup was a little different, a little smaller. It required wood every 12 hours on the dot. I was shown the ropes. It didn't seem difficult aside from the one fill each day that would have to be done in the dark.
But, after days of heavy snow & drifting without a county plow truck down the road... OMG! I had to dig deep to find that tough little farm girl inside me. Thankfully, a small piece of her remains because I sure needed her that first week! She kept reassuring me, "You're a farm girl. You can do this!" Together, we shoveled snow, chipped ice, chucked wood and twice a day we tackled that nerve-wracking, 4-wheel driving, drift-busting adventure down a barely passable road to feed the neighbor's fire. It was a challenging week.
I was grateful when it finally quit snowing. It took a lot of the pressure off and I was finally able to relax a bit & enjoy my surroundings. The farm looked beautiful in a blanket of snow. It was still freezing cold but the sun was shining.
One evening I stepped outside to watch the sunset and was surprised to find the full moon putting on a much better show.
The snow & ice didn't faze Tucker & Belle. They always have a great time together. Belle tries to teach Tucker how to be a good farm dog. She took him on perimeter checks every day and taught him to chase squirrels away from the bird feeder.
I never lacked for entertainment with these two, but I could have used a little personal space. They're both recliner, bed & blanket hogs! Yep, that's me below. Buried under 150+ pounds of love.
If you want them to move, you better offer up a treat.
Belle says be quick about it!
Grandma & Grandpa Pillywiggin returned home safe & suntanned with a suitcase full of gifts from the islands. We shared our adventures over lunch, talking until it was time for me to head north, back to my own little house. I missed Jason. I was tired & my muscles were sore but as always, I was sad to leave my folks & the farm.
Perhaps my little acre sensed my hesitation to leave the farm? For when I returned, a beautiful Welcome Home was waiting in my own backyard.
With glass, I still consider myself a beginner. There is so much to learn, so many techniques to master, interesting projects to try. I'm a member of several glass art groups online. They're a great place to find inspiration & helpful tips from those in the know. After admiring some incredibly beautiful lantern projects online, I was inspired to try a few myself. I have to say, I was thrilled with the outcome of our first lantern - a Christmas gift for Grandma Pillywiggin.
I wanted a different design for each panel but I didn't want the finished project to look like a hodgepodge of mishmash ideas. So, I chose a theme and used repeating complementary colors on each panel. A wintery theme was perfect because
To make the snowflakes, I prepped the casting mold with glass separator, a must or the glass will stick inside the mold. This mold makes 2 different snowflakes. I found out during this project that one is a slightly larger than the other. I filled the mold with medium glass frit in translucent aqua & 2 shades of translucent turquoise. Frit is crushed glass available in powder form & in various sizes ranging from fine, medium to coarse. I used medium frit to reduce bubbling. Bubbles can be cool but not for this project. Bubbles would make the snowflakes appear slightly cloudy. I wanted them as translucent as possible.
Creating The Panels
I used irridized clear glass for each panel. I cut the 3 side panels first before I discovered I didn't have enough glass left for the door. Oops... Time to design on the fly! I had a piece of rippled irridized clear that was similar but different enough to stand out. Luckily, it was the front door panel so my mismatched glass became a "cool design element" instead of the odd-man-out.
I used a single layer of glass for each panel. Anything thicker would not have fit inside the frames. I also had to keep my designs away from the edges about 1/4" on all sides. Other than that, the panels can be decorated any way you'd like. I used scrap glass from other projects to decorate mine, trimming & playing with the pieces to create birch & pine trees. Then, I added details using black stringer and a mix of opaque, translucent & dichroic frit.
I managed to squeeze all four panels onto 2 shelves - one for each kiln. We programed the kilns for a contour fuse (about 1375F) to slightly round the edges while retaining the raised texture and kept our fingers crossed for the next 13 hours.
It worked! When I cracked open the kilns the next morning I broke into the happy dance. I was too nervous to watch Jason insert the panels into the lantern but he pulled it off without a hitch.
This was a fun project with endless possibilities.
My mind is awhirl with lantern designs.
More pictures & posts coming soon!
There's frost on the Pillywiggins!
But, we don't care.
Our garden still sparkles,
In the fresh northern air.
We still have hydrangea,
Blossoms & blooms.
And the weeds look lovely,
With frost on their plumes.
A few stubborn fruits,
Cling tight to their bough.
Tucker will get them!
Some way or some how.
There's frost on the Pillywiggins!
But, that's alright.
It was a beautiful day.
And a spectacular night!
Our garden, our photos, our words...
Life is good when you're a Pillywiggin!
Greetings! My name is Julie. I'm a bookkeeper by trade, an artisan by choice & the author of this blog by default. :)