Friday, May 26, 2006

Copper Soars grump grump grump

Copper chimes: a treat for the ears, and for the eyes. I use heavy copper for all my large chimes. They have all copper connections (no fishing line etc.), and most have a beach stone clapper for a sweet sound. The wind is not always blowing, so why not choose a wind chime that is also a work of art? For more information on this Kaleidoscope wind chime, or to buy it, Click Here.

Recently I was delighted when I took all my copper scraps to Vancouver, and sold them to a scrap metal company for almost $200 at about $2.00 a pound. Foolish me! Not paying much attention to the business world, it is only lately that my ears have started to perk up as each day I hear reports on the radio of record breaking copper prices. How slow am I? Obviously, as the price of raw copper goes up up and away, the price of the copper I buy for my work is also soaring. I went to buy some yesterday and only one word is needed: Ouch!

Somebody told me that as a general rule, artists should not raise their prices by more than about 10% a year. Someone should explain that to the copper market!

Not long ago, copper was on the market for about $.65 cents a pound. It's reaching $4.00 now. Gulp. Not so long ago, I could buy a length of copper for around $9.00. It's reaching for $20 now. Big Gulp! Apparently, just a taste of things to come. If I had the cash, I'd buy several thousand feet Right Now-- but that is not in the cards. I need that money for silly things (like food).

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Wired ~ Copper, that is

(To learn more about this home or garden ornament, or to buy it, Click here)

To make things like this...

...I use a lot of this....

Copper wire. Do I use a little? I buy it in 150 foot rolls. But there are seven strands, and I unravel those to make 1050 feet of wire. Each year, I use about two and a half rolls, or 2625 feet. Over the five years I have been working full time on this style of art, I guess I have used about 15,750 feet of this particular type of wire (I use other types too)~ that's almost three (3!) miles of wire. Yep~ I use a little of this stuff.

If practice makes perfect, my wire bending skills must be pretty darn close to perfect by now. Let's just say I'm comfortable with the technique.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Kaleidoscope Variation

A variation on my kaleidoscope wind chime. The rectangular style has been very popular, but I've been making them for too long, and it's time to explore. Here's the same basic idea~ beach glass inspired glass trapped between extra-thick plate glass in a tung nut oiled red cedar frame~ but a large diamond instead of a rectangle. For more information on this wind chime, or to buy it, Click here.

The whole point of my work is to make new, exciting things. But when I have a design that is popular, it's tempting to just keep knocking them off. They are never the same anyway~ the glass is always different, and the wood, too. But still. So after a while, I just have to move on. Explore.

Sometimes that is not possible, oddly enough. There is a store where for complicated reasons I can only sell framed glass. At first it was great that these sold so well. But after making thirty or more, something had to change. Since this was the only style that could be sold in this store, I raised the price to slow things down. They still sold really well. So I raised the price again, significantly. That did the trick. I did not want to devote myself to making only framed glass.

I've recently been invited by two stores. I never go knocking on doors~ can't stand that. These are people who found me, and wanted my work. That's nice. And I can sell whatever I want. That's very nice. Probably what I most enjoy about my work is dreaming up new ideas, and turning those dreams to reality. I don't want to make the same thing over and over and.... well, you get the point.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


Fused glass artist Karen Godin makes everything from nightlights to the most beautiful bowls and coasters. She made these windsails for me, and will be delivering them in person next week, all the way from Oregon.

Selling my art through the internet, I have met many wonderful people. A few have become good friends.

Karen Godin, an exceptional fused glass artist living in Oregon, bought one of my wind chimes quite a while ago. She mentioned her own artwork, and we had a couple emails back and forth. After maybe a year or so, I heard from her again, and we exchanged many more emails as we were both looking for good Internet markets in which to sell our work. It was fun to explore different sites, and compare notes. I got to know her, and her stunning art work, much better.

It turned out that although she was born in South Africa, she grew up in West Vancouver, only forty minutes from my home. After I got the idea of begging her to make some fused glass windsails for my wind chimes, it also turned out that she would be going to West Vancouver this coming week for her father's birthday. She made the most beautiful glass for me, and will be hand delivering them next week. Isn't that amazing?

I wanted to learn more about fused glass work, and was very happy that Karen just wrote an excellent tutorial~ even using the windsails she made for me to illustrate the process. Her skill and artistic talent shines through. I do look so forward to meeting Karen next week~ not to mention getting my mitts on these fabulous fused glass windsails!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Shop Talk

You likely have seen the bumper sticker on rusty old cars saying something like: Laugh, it's Paid for. Well, I could say the same thing for my main workshop. I built this in no time at all (you would never have guessed, right?) from driftwood dimensional lumber, reclaimed cedar shakes, free recycled windows, and a little plastic and nails from the hardware store. Total cost: under $100.

It ain't pretty, but it's home~ well, not exactly home. I do about 50% of my work in here. The saw is around back in a woodshed. And I work quite a lot in the garage, too. Picture taking, computer work and packing all takes place in the real house~ which fortunately doesn't look anything like this.

Would I like an attractive fully insulated well designed heated workshop? Sure. Would I like to pay the $40,000 plus it would take to build it? Nope. For now, I'm happy in my $100 hut.

Why not visit my store and see the beautiful things I make in my ugly hut? Click here.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


I don't mind admitting that I like everything I make. That's what makes my job such a pleasure. This large freestanding wind chime composed of a 60 pound natural beach stone base, 1/2 inch diameter copper supports, beach glass inspired artist-made glass and ten double brushed handcrafted copper chimes with beach stone clappers is right at the top of the pride scale. Yes, I admit, I love it!

For more information on this large freestanding double wind chime, or to buy it, Click Here.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Working full time as an artist at home, a job I love, it's easy to forget to take a break. Thank goodness for Yukon~ he's watching over me, making sure I take time to play.

Years ago I lived in the big city and worked at a 9-5 job. Outside of work hours, I never thought of my work at all. That 9-5 job was just a job. Now, as a full time artist, I think of my work all the time, and work pretty much all the time too. I love my work. Yep, I have turned into a (gulp) workaholic!

Apparently one issue for many people working from home is getting out of the pajamas and to work. Quite the opposite for me. My problem is putting work aside and doing the other stuff~ fixing things that need fixing around the house, cutting firewood, grocery shopping, cleaning things up... all the things that must be done, but that are less interesting than the latest art creation. Even taking time for a little fun is not high on my agenda.

So, thank goodness for Yukon~ my four year old hound. They say dogs are Man's best friend~ I don't know about that, but I do know Yukon is high up on my list of best friends (and a mighty short list it is, too!). If it wasn't for this big yellow golden retriever, I have no doubt that most days I would work the whole day (workaholic), and be the worse for it.

Most of the day, Yukon is content to sleep nearby, once in a while opening one eye to check on the odd things I do. But sooner or later, usually just when I am doing something particularly tough involving both hands, fragile glass, and power tools, he finds a ball, carries it over, and drops it at my feet. It's time for a little fetch. I appreciate that. It's a reminder that there is more to life than simply working away. And so I throw the ball. And everyday we go for a walk, a walk that often turns into a long hike.

Sometimes in the middle of a particularly interesting new work, I might begrudge him his fetching and his walk. But it is just a momentary nasty thought. Once out in the peaceful woods with my fine pup, I find my energy levels increasing, my head clearing. I can return soon enough to work, refreshed. And so we hike on.