I found an old safety tip sheet from Canfield. It's full of good advice, but it amused me nonetheless.
While I sell my products online, the majority of my income is from craft shows. This season is over, and now I'm getting myself prepared for the holidays. I'm looking forward to Christmas trees, Yule celebrations, friends, family, and holiday treats! It's rough doing the craft show scene when you have a full time job on top of your own business. Thankfully, I have friends and family (including my sweetie) who step up and help me. I am eternally grateful to their love, support, and helping hands! It is no exaggeration when I say I couldn't do it without them.
One thing I've come to appreciate this year even more so than ever is my customers. I had several customers return from last year, and even more who visited me and purchased from me at multiple shows this year. One such customer even purchased my favorite piece in my inventory, but I was happy to let it go to her because I knew she appreciated it as much as I did. Creating and then selling art can be a difficult process - I make things I love and it's sometimes VERY hard to let them go. But the awesome customers I have make the whole process easier.
If you're a crafts person and you want to start doing shows, feel free to email me. I'm happy to share what I've learned over the years. I continue to learn with each show, and it's a process that's getting easier as I get more shows under my belt.
Now that this show season is done, I'm back in the studio creating, organizing, and refilling my soul only the way that working with my hands at a creative endeavor can do. I have more ideas and projects I want to tackle than I have hours in the day, but I'm looking forward to sharing as many of them with you as I can.
My customers make my heart swell with love. They are amazing, loving, caring people, and knowing they use some of my work to express their kindness just blows me away. Just in the past month, I've had a family buy an awareness ribbon for their son who survived childhood cancer, a woman buy an angel for the woman she was buying her house from because the homeowner had to sell after losing her husband of 58 years. And most recently, I've been contacted about angels for memorial gifts for infant loss. I can't find the words - the loss is heartbreaking and the kind gestures of strangers are so heart-filling. I'm fairly certain the English language simply fails at the ability to express what I feel right now.
In the month that a lot of Americans choose to express their gratitude, I will express my own. I'm grateful. I'm grateful for the stories shared with me by my customers. I'm grateful they reach out to me in order to express their love and kindness to others. I'm grateful to see such beauty and caring in my fellow humans. It's sometimes hard to remember that there is so much good in the world when we've been taught to focus on the bad.
Thank you. Thank you all for being the beautiful people that you are. I acknowledge and honor your wonderful hearts.
So it doesn't sing as well as Soft Kitty from Big Bang Theory, but the kiln is here and working and not damaged and I love it. I'm still in the learning curve, getting used to how the new kiln heats and how to program it, but thankfully it's pretty easy. So what happened? Olympic shipped my first kiln, and the freight company, Southeastern Freight Lines (SEFL) practically murdered it ...
If this were a small purchase, I wouldn't have cared. It probably would have been fine with the gouge in the side, but the base was bent so badly it had to be replaced. The folks at Olympic were FANTASTIC. I couldn't have asked for better service from them. SEFL, however, was a different story. Had it not been for Olympic, I would have had to pay for 2 kilns plus over $1000 in shipping costs. SEFL is staffed by, in my experience, mostly incompetent people. No one ever called me to notify me that a driver was coming to pick up the damaged kiln. No one ever called me to notify me the new kiln would be delivered. They denied my claim for damage, and then proceeded to bill me over $700 to pick up the damaged kiln (which Olympic took care of). In one transaction, I got to see both extremes in company quality and customer service. From the shining stars, to the dregs of society. SEFL has been added to the list of companies I will NEVER do business with again. On the other hand, I'm an Olympic customer for life.
So I've been happily catching up on my bottle backlog. Almost all of my bottle molds fit in here at the same time. I can actually fit more in than are pictured below, but that was my first firing. Everything turned out great!
So with all this space, I'm getting new ideas. I'm thinking bigger! I can't wait to get all my ideas baking so I can share them with you.
There are two construction methods for stained glass. One uses lead came (that's what you see in entry doors and kitchen cabinets). The other is copper foil tape which is primarily used for suncatchers and stained glass panels, although came can be used for these as well. In my years of doing stained glass, I have only found two brands of copper foil in the shops near me. The first in the photo is Edco brand copper foil, although you won't find their name on the packaging. The second is VentureTape. The stained glass store I "grew up" in only stocked VentureTape, so it was the only thing I'd used until I found the rather generic looking Edco foil. Over the years, I was constantly frustrated with how thick and difficult to work with the VentureTape was. It was cumbersome and easily split on the concave curves of glass pieces. The black and clear adhesives seemed to work OK, but the silver adhesive barely had any tack to it. It was a struggle to get it to stick to the glass. The lack of proper adherance with this foil only got worse over time and I've had to throw away rolls of VentureTape foil because the adhesive just didn't stick, and it was only a few months after I'd purchased it. I used it because it was the only foil available and I didn't know there was anything else. ... until I stumbled across that generic baggy of copper foil. I don't even remember where it was that I found it the first time.
The first time I tried Edco foil I was astonished by how easy it was to work with. The copper itself was thinner, and folded over the glass easily. <ding!> If I slowly worked the foil on deep concave curves, the foil might split from being stretched too far, but more often than not, the foil would stretch and not break. <ding!> The adhesive strongly adhered to the glass, and there have been times where I've had a roll of this foil open for over 2 years and the adhesive didn't dry out or lose it's stickiness at all. <ding! ding!> Over the years, Edco foil has been nothing but consistently excellent. I could be completely out of foil and I won't buy VentureTape if it's the only brand available. I'll wait to find Edco. Thankfully there are several places online that routinely carry this foil as well as my favorite local-ish supply shop.
It wasn't until this past year using the power of the Internet and a little digging that I found out that both of these copper foil manufacturers offer their products in different thicknesses. From what I can gather, the VentureTape is typically stocked in 1.5 mil or 1.25 mil. Edco seems to be either in 1.25 mil or 1 mil, but all three thicknesses are available from both brands. The thinner the foil, the easier it will fold and bend, so the easier it is to work with. It may also be the difference in the type of copper used. I've seen product descriptions for Edco that say they use "dead soft copper." This is the softest copper available and the hardness or softness of copper has to do with the manufacturer of the copper and the annealing process they employ. I would wager a guess that VentureTape does not use "dead soft copper" because it feels much more rigid when I work with it.
Are there other copper foil brands easily accessible out there, and what have you worked with? I'm always open to trying new brands, I just haven't seen any locally to try. If you're interested in hunting down some Edco foil, let me know and I'll be happy to help you find it.
So it's been a rough several weeks dealing with the claim process for my damaged kiln. It was delivered to me and it wasn't until we attempted to set it up that the really bad damage became apparent. It was unusable. The base was so terribly bent, it couldn't sit properly on the floor. There was also a huge gouge in the side of the kiln. I was a very sad glass girl. I opened a claim with the freight company on my end and promptly got in touch with Dave at Anything In Stained Glass (where I purchased my kiln), and he promptly got in touch with Olympic (kiln manufacturer). Olympic also opened a claim with the freight company on their end and immediately started building me a new kiln. The manufacturing usually takes about 3 weeks depending on other existing orders, but through their awesomeness, they fast-tracked it and they were able to ship my new kiln and base yesterday!
But what about the damaged kiln? The freight company denied my claim because they thought I was claiming too much. I only claimed the cost of the kiln and the shipping. I guess Olympic is having more success with them because last Friday a truck showed up to pick up my damaged kiln. Great, right? No. No one called me to tell me they were coming, so the kiln wasn't ready for pickup. The driver was nice and said they'd be back next week and I stressed to him that if no one calls me, the kiln won't be ready and I can't guarantee anyone will be here to receive him. Fast forward through the weekend, and now it's Monday. I took initiative and called the freight company on Monday because they've proven to be completely incompetent in several areas, and yes indeed ... they were coming to get the kiln that day. Their dispatch didn't call me. Again. Thankfully because I have a functioning brain, a wonderful boyfriend, and a generous brother, we were able to get the kiln packed up and strapped to the pallet before the driver arrived to pick it up. I told the driver when he arrived that no one called to let me know he was coming. He was astonished that dispatch hadn't called me. He said he told them several times that they had to call me - I believe him. I'm starting to think that the driver (same guy each time so far) and the girl who answers the phone at their main office are the only two competent people working for this company.
So what happens next? My kiln is about to hit their hub in Fredericksburg, VA. From there, it'll come to me. I'm assuming this will happen today because it should be in Fredericksburg within the hour and I haven't received a call from the freight company. Not getting a call from them seems more of an indicator that they'll be there than they won't. I can't wait to get this baby set up and show you all. Hopefully this time they will have managed to not destroy expensive equipment again. We'll see!
Stay tuned for the resolution. I'll be sharing the freight company's name, showing all the gory photos of the damaged kiln, and sharing photos of the new one and just how much it can hold!
We all have products we love using because of one reason or another. I'm going to start sharing my products and tools of the trade that I either can't or don't want to work without! I'm going to start with stained glass supplies and tools.
First is solder. I primarily work with 60/40 solder. For those of you who don't work with solder, this means the solder is 60% tin and 40% lead. There are manufacturers that use recycled metals and those who only use "virgin" metals. Both methods certainly have their merits, and I'll be the first one in line to buy recycled materials if they perform the way I need them to perfom. Sadly, I have not had that experience with solder. All of the recycled metal solders I have used in the past decade have been full of impurities which leads to "gunk" building up both on the solder lines and the soldering iron tip. This gunk, as I call it, can shorten the life of the iron tip and can permanently mark the solder line in the finished product either in color or texture. Only resoldering those areas will fix this.
On the other hand, I have consistently good results with the "virgin" metal solders, so I am happy to pay the extra expense for quality solder. I've been a huge fan of Canfield's 60/40 solder for many years and consistently get good, clean, shiny solder lines using their product. During my last visit, the good folks at Anything In Stained Glass recenty suggested another brand to me: Victory White Metal (or VWM on the label).
I used VWM on my most recent panel and was very pleased with its performance. It stays nice and shiny and doesn't appear to have any impurities at all. It melts quickly, and I was able to get my desired texture into the solder for the tree trunk with very little effort. I'm going to continue working with VWM for a while (until I run out of the two pounds I purchased) and go back to Canfield (because I have more of that in the studio) to see if I notice a difference. I suspect I won't notice any appreciable difference and once my existing stock of Canfield is used up, I'll likely be switching to VWM for good. Why? It's cheaper than Canfield brand but performs just as well. Depending on where you buy it, one pound of Canfield solder will cost between $19 and $24 while VWM solder costs between $12 and $17. When I started, a pound of solder was around $6 and we thought that was high! I may not like the higher costs today, but I understand it. In the past 15-20 years, the cost of fuel has gone up significantly - this directly impacts the cost of every good and service. The increased fuel costs impact both the delivery of the raw materials and finished product as well as the production of the finished product. The cost of the raw materials to produce solder have also increased, so naturally the price will go up. So for hobbyists and stained glass professionals alike, anything reasonable we can do to cut back on expenses is a good thing. Personally, I'm not willing to cut quality, so finding quality supplies at lower prices is a big deal!
If you work in stained glass too, what solders have you used and what is your favorite?
I'm in the midst of searching for and applying to craft shows throughout northern Virginia for the remainder of this year, and I'm finding some really interesting shows that I never knew about! Mailing out applications to jurried craft shows creates the same stress and anticipation that my author friends go through when they send off a new manuscript to publishers. The waiting ... oh the waiting!
All of the shows I've done so far have been wonderful. I've had such a good time at each of them. My helpers have always been spectacular, the shopping is great, and meeting all the show patrons is such a rewarding experience.
When it comes to picking shows to attend/apply to, it's not always easy. It's even more difficult when two great shows are happening on the same dates. This happens more and more the closer to Christmas you get. The holiday shows typically start in late October and run through December. I'm already working on Christmas, Hanukkah, and Winter related items!
I do know I'm very much looking forward to doing the Northern Virginia Christmas Market again in November. The show organizers and other venders were a joy to spend the weekend with, and the Expo is inches away from Willard's BBQ. Best BBQ in the area! It's great fuel to get through the weekend.
I'll be sending a handful more applications out this week so I can hopefuly have 1-2 shows per month. Be sure to check out my Upcoming Events page to see where I'll be. I will be updating the page as I get confirmations from the shows, so you'll have lots of opportunites to find me and shop in person. The next show is McLean Day on May 18th ... hope to see you there!
I'm trying a new product as soon as it's delivered to the studio. It's called Dichro Slide. If you're not familiar with Dichroic Glass, it looks like this:
That's just a small sampling of pieces of Dichroic Glass, but it's brilliantly colored and gives a serious WOW factor to any finished product. A lot of glass artists use it to make jewelry and as accents on larger pieces. It is a sheet of glass (about 1/8" thick) with a Dichroic coating on it. So what is this Dichro Slide stuff and why's it innovative? It's because it's the Dichroic coating without the glass! The inventors figured out how to put the Dichroic coating on paper which you can then transfer to the glass of your choice ... much like those temporary tattoos we got as kids from the little vending machines at grocery stores at the entrance. Because it's on paper, you can use hole punches, scissors, decorative scissors, and craft knives to cut it into any shape you want. It's also nearly completely flat (instead of being part of the 1/8" thick glass), which means you can add layersBeing unrestrained by a medium is both exciting and terrifying to me. If I'm only limited by my imagination ... only I can limit the awesomeness of my projects. What if my muse goes on holiday and doesn't tell me? That's why it's scary, but not so much so to run away and never try or keep trying. :-) I can't wait to get my hands on this stuff! I already have a couple projects lined up on my desk, just waiting for the goods to arrive. Since it's coming from the other side of the country, I don't expect to see it before this time next week.
I've had an iPhone 4 since they came out. This phone has been resilient even through all the flying leaps I put it though over the last few years. But when it came to being time to upgrade, I did some quick research. I found a company that buys old cell phones for a fair price (in my opinion for this transaction). Assuming the USPS doesn't destroy the phone on the way to Gazelle, they will give me $150 for my old phone. Through AT&T, I was able to find the same model for $0.99. Of course, there's a $36 activation fee, but ultimately getting a new phone is going to result in a $113 profit for me. I'm OK with this! I'm also OK with sticking with the old model of iPhone for my business because I don't spend a lot of time on the phone and it allows me to use Square for purchases made by folks using credit cards. I quite enjoy the simplicity and speed of Square. I know other credit card processing for smart phones have come out since Square, but I haven't had any issues with Square to date so I haven't bothered to look into the other services. Technology has really revolutionized the way I do business. Before smart phones and Square, there was no credit card processing at craft shows. It was just too cost prohibitive. But now, depending on the show, over half of my sales could be credit card. That's a huge increase in revenue!
I'm a glass artist being touched by the beautiful world through the Internet and doing what I can to share that beauty right back.