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Randy Pausch~Last Lecture

This is over an hour long, but really inspiring and well worth the time. I laughed and cried at the same time. I aspire to be a Tigger, but definitely have my Eeyore days.  To everyone, Follow your dreams!

Lampworking, still a great unknown to the masses

I always have a difficult time explaining what I do to strangers. If I were to say, “I am a lampworker,” I am most likely rewarded with a confused or blank stare. Flameworker and torchworker gets pretty much the same response. If I say, I make glass beads, that doesn’t really cover it either. It gets closer, but the world at large is highly uneducated about this particular craft. So my latest explanation goes something like this: “I work with hot glass on a torch, making glass beads, mostly for jewelry designers.”

The usual response is along the lines of “Oh, you are a glass blower?”

Me: “The same idea, but we are not actually blowing glass (usually), we are making solid pieces on a much smaller scale, using a torch instead of a furnace.”

Then there are the other people. Those who are somewhat familiar with lampwork, but not beads or marbles. The latest encounter I had was just the other day. My car broke down and I had to call the tow company to get it to the shop. It was a 100 degree day and even though my house was less than a mile from the breakdown spot, the driver decided to take pity on me and give me lift. On the way we chatted about what I did for a living.

Me: “I work in glass, making beads and marbles.”

Him: “Oh, like those people on that HBO reality tv show that make glass sex toys?”

Me: “HBO has a reality TV show about sex toys?” I don’t have HBO and I never heard of that. Where have I been?

Him: “Oh ya, and they do VERY well, the owners have a yacht and host all kinds of parties promoting their toys.”

Me: “Really? huh. Ya, kinda like that but we don’t make sex toys. Though I know a few people who do.”

Him: “Ya, they go on and on about how they are the toys of choice and very durable, never wear out.”

Me: “Good to know.”

Now I am thinking, yachts? I could make sex toys, if I switched the glass I use. I even have a big enough torch. I can just see it. Someone asks my mom or dad how their daughter, the glass artist is doing. Answer, “Oh Deanna, she is very successful, you know she makes sex toys now.” Maybe not. (Not that there is anything wrong with that.)

How about the time we pulled the rv into a campground in Colorado Springs? We got into a conversation about what we did for a living while checking in for our month long stay.

Us, with the usual: “We make glass beads and marbles on a torch.”

Him: “Oh, do you make bowls? I have a friend who does.”

Us: “Oh a few times with our fusing kiln, but that isn’t what we normally make.”

Him: “I’d love to see them. There is a huge market for bowls and spoons around here.”

Us, now we get it: “Oh, we don’t make pipes. Just beads and marbles.” We have actually made a few bowls, as in a candy dish type bowl.

Him: “Oh, too bad.”

Then there was the time we traveled up to Victoria, Canada from the Olympic Peninsula. Getting through customs was kinda tricky.

Customs: “Why are you here?”

Us: “To visit friends.”

Customs: “How long?”

Us: “Overnight.”

Customs reading our Texas licence plate: “You’re a long way from home.”

Us: “Not really, we live in an RV and it is parked in Washington.”

Customs: “You live in an RV?”

Us: Nodding

Customs: “Occupation?”

Us: “Glass artists.”

Customs: “Self employeed?”

Us: “Yes.”

Customs: “Did you bring any work with you?”

Us: “Yes.”

Customs: “Pipes?”

Us: “No, we make beads and marbles.”

Customs: “Do you plan to sell any work here.”

Us: “No, just to show to our friends.” Which was true.

Customs: “Do you own a home in the states?”

Us: “No.”

Customs: “Any ties at all to anything in the states?”

Us, finally getting the picture. “Oh ya, family.”

Customs: “Okay. Pull over to the side please.”

We did and waited an hour and half while the inspectors went over the VW bus with a fine tooth comb and ran background checks on us. The agent asked to see our work, then kept asking where the pipes were. I swear he asked Greg four times. I admit, we probably looked questionable with the 71 VW bus, both of us having long hair, and the fact we were vagabond glass artists. Finally we were cleared and drove off, laughing our butts off. A sense of humor is a good thing.

So why is it called lampworking you might ask. The answer, back before they days of mixed surface oxygen torches, bead makers made beads on oil lamps, using glass that was soft enough to melt in those low temperature flames. So now you know. :-)

Post 4th of July

I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July.  We had a very nice time visiting with friends who were vacationing in New Orleans.  We went down and had dinner with our friends at Muriels.  Greg and I had eaten there once before.  I remember being pretty impressed with my blackened tuna, but Greg didn’t remember it as much.  So it was a bit of a surprise when we all ordered something different and all decided we had ordered the best thing on the menu.  We ate entirely too much, drank too much, and then they all had dessert with out me.  (Stupid migraines.)  It was very very yummy!

Then we watched the fireworks on the Mississippi.  The city has dueling barges, so we got to see in sinc, or almost in sinc exploding fireworks.  It was cool, accept it only lasted 12 minutes.  I think I would have preferred only one barge and a longer show.  Twelve minutes hardly seemed worth it.  Though we did get to visit with good friends, so it was all good…until we wanted to leave the parking garage!  Yikes!

We were on the 6th floor and it didn’t look good, (backed up at least two more levels) so we went to a bar and sat around drinking bottled water.  How cool are we?  Hey Greg had already had his share of hurricanes for the evening and I am a non drinker these days.  (Sucky stupid migraines.)  Anyway, we people watched until midnight, finally braved the parking garage and made it home about 2am.  The fireworks ended at 9:12 pm.  So the verdict is in.  It isn’t on the list of things to do next fourth of July.  But back to Muriels we will go.  Did I mention yum?

I hear it is suppose to be a slower week...

Not for me.  I am buried still in orders.  The sale last week was a huge success, thank you everyone!  I am working diligently at getting them all done.  I should be finished by the end of the weekend.  I hope so anyway.  However, today we have friends coming to visit,so no torching today.  Then on Friday we are headed to New Orleans to watch the fireworks on dueling barges on the Mississippi.  Should be fun.  I hope you all have fun safe plans for the weekend.  Get some rest, or party down.   We plan a little of both, then back to the torch.  Happy 4th of July everyone!

Going Green

In the face of $5.00 a gallon gasoline prices and ever rising energy costs the talk of going green is everywhere. I recently read that Toyota is having trouble keeping up with demand on it’s popular Hybrid the Prius. Hallelujah! Good job consumers. I’d love to have one myself, but had to face the reality, a $22,000 car just isn’t in my budget. When we were in the market for a car this last January, I did the best I could. Our car is a 2003 Nissen Altima and gets a bit over 30 mpg on the freeway. I tested it on my trip to Tennessee last month.

Other ways we are going green include:

Growing our own fruits and veggies

We planted two trees this spring

We compost

We only use those CFL light bulbs

I recycle my ink cartridges (I just mail them to HP)

Most of our electronics are on power strips to avoid vampire usage

Here is a big one. Everyday we see how long we can last until we have to turn the air conditioner on. It is so tempting to just leave the dang thing on all day and night here in Southeast Louisiana. A few days ago it got close to 100 degrees and yes it is very humid here. I am pleased to say we made it the whole day air conditioner less. The more we do with out the air, the more tolerable the heat is. (I can actually hear my friend Lisa thinking, “I am so not visiting her now.” Not to worry, when you come visit, we will turn the air on for you sissies. :-)

There are lots more things we could do to reduce our own personal carbon footprint, unfortunately we just can’t afford to do them at this time. So while we save up to do some of those things, like more energy efficient appliances and windows, we will be purchasing carbon offsets. Click here to calculate your footprint. Basically the money spent on carbon offsets goes toward developing and maintaining renewable energy projects. Our Footprint ranks an 8, still higher than the national average, and we don’t even commute to work. We still have much work to do.

Post the ways you are going green. I am always on the look out for things we can do better.

One last thing, Greg has some ideas on what those of you with SUVs can do with them when you can no longer afford to drive them.

1) Gut them and turn them into a green house. The beauty of this is when the sun shifts, you can move them to better sun conditions.

2) Gut it and install a water holding tank. Thermal water heating. We all know how hot those things get in the summer.

3) Low cost student housing

4) Great sports bar, big cushy chairs, air conditioning, cup holders, and built in TV screens

5) Or maybe a SUV house for kids, you know, like a fort. Just keep the windows rolled down, they will be fine. Instead of a tree house, it’s a SUV house.

Cool inks:

Greg wants one of these: Aptera

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