Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow Day

That's me (in all black), competing in the A-Basin Enduro in 1998. It was a great day......10 hrs of skiing (black diamond, and double black diamond trails). The conditions were exceptional, and overall, we logged 55 runs (my partner, Portia, and I). I don't know what time that picture was taken, but based on my form (a little hunched over), I'm guessing it was many hours into the event.

I love to ski. I really love it.

Now that my Holiday season is over, I can focus on Winter. I awoke to 2 feet of snow this morning, happily donned my winter gear, and took Olivia (dog) for a "walk". It was really more a combination of shuffling on the plowed streets, and trudging through 3 ft drifts. It was a blast.

Now all I can think about is skiing. I don't know if I'm make a trek out West this year, but I will certainly be making a trek up North. And, I'll be doing it all with new Ski gear. Thanks to a hugely successful Holiday season, I will be treating myself to new skis and boots. It is long overdue, but much deserved.

It's easy to forget to treat myself to something this time of year. I spend so much time and energy on Tanner Glass, that I often lose sight of "me."

Today was the perfect reminder that:

1. Snow makes me happy

2. Olivia (dog) in the snow makes me happier

3. Treats are good.

Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Go Vote

I'm hitting the campaign trail......

The other day, I was notified that I had been selected for the Etsy Voter (Favorite Holiday Ornament). Apparently, my friend Tracy from SeaFindDesigns and SteppingStones had nominated me.
*thank you Tracy*
There's some stiff competition in this round of Ornaments......birds, owls, felt and sparkly things and more. But only one glassblower.

Why vote for me?

1. handblown glass is awesome
2. handblown glass ornaments are great year round! Hang them in your window as a suncatcher!
3. they're pretty and shiny
4. you like me (right?)

And, I won't sugar coat it......I'd like to win. So, if you'd like to see me win, please vote for me!

You can vote here
(I'd like to also say thank you to my awesome photographer, Charles Estabrooks, who took this photo a couple of years ago. He makes my work absolutely glow. To see all of the photos Charles has taken for me, you can visit my website

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Worcester, here I come!

Early in 2009, I received the unfortunate news that the Worcester Center for Crafts was closing for restructuring. Not only were they a wonderful resource for education and artists, they also had a rich history of running one of the best seasonal Craft Shows.

2008 was my third year as an artist at the Festival of Crafts, and was saddened that it was probably my last opportunity to exhibit.

And then......

I got a phone call in August (many months after their usual deadline for applications for the Festival).

They were opening, and the Festival of Crafts was on!!!

*phew* *hooray*

It has made for a very busy Holiday season, as I have already done one show, and have 2 more after this one. But, stress aside, I'm so grateful to be returning.

Hope to see you there!

Friday Nov 27: 10-5

Sat Nov 28: 10-5

Sun Nov 29: 11-4

(to read more about the closing and reopening of the craft center, read here)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Back in Business

There has been much concern expressed about the state of the furnace (thank you!)

The furnace (the source of all the glass) at the studio had to be shut down for maintenance.

In November? Yes. The worst possible time of year to have it turned off. This was unscheduled maintenance.

(Unfortunately, turning it off, and back on is not so simple. As you might recall from this blog post, it operates at 2100. So, it takes about 4 days for it to cool down. And another 4 days for it to get hot. All total, including the maintenance days, it will have been unuseable for about 12 days.)

As of now, the furnace is just about Hot, and we will resume working on Tuesday.

The most obvious question I was asked was:

What will you do? Two weeks with no glass?

And here is my answer.......

A lot!

Just about everything I make involves some type of Cold Work. Which means, it has to have additional thing(s) done to it when it is cold.

Bottlestoppers, Sea Stones and Oil Lights have to be ground (a process used to make things level or flat). Sea Stones and (some) vases have to be sandblasted (a process that gives the glass an etched appearance).

Bottlestoppers have to be glued (to cork or chrome plated stoppers)

And then there are the finishing touches.......

Ornaments have to be strung with ribbon, Chrome Bottlestoppers are packaged, gift boxes are stamped, Pocket Coins are packaged. There's a lot to do.

And then, of course, there are the Magnets and Hooks. Last Xmas season I sold over 400 sets (that's SETS, not individual) Magnets/Push Pins. I'm certain I would have sold more if I had the inventory. And this year alone, I have sold over 200 Hooks.

So, I've been busy. And in reality, have enjoyed this "cold" time. For, soon enough (10 days to be exact), I will begin my run of Holiday Craft Shows.......and will be grateful for all the Hot, and Cold time I've had at the studio.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Getting there.....

(on and off)

It's taken me a while (okay, a long while), but I have finally finished my pendants for my kitchen. It's definately one of the perks of being a glassblower.......I can make things. Cool things.

I not only learned that I couldn't decide on a design, but when all was said and done, I also could not photograph them. Believe it or not, there is a floral design etched on the glass.

As of now, only one is installed (don't ask). Once the second one is installed, I will take some nice photos, and show you the before and after.

This was a budget remodel.......and worth every penny.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Odd versus Even

(don't ask me what the photo means. I was not a math major. Or a science major. I was an Art History Major. So, if you'd like me to critique the photo, I can. As a matter of fact, I'm not really sure what this photo is all about. Answers are welcome).

Sooooooo. I made it to 500 sales in my Etsy shop *hooray*.


What a nice number. A nice, even number. When I reached 500, I did a little dance ("little" being the operative word), and relished in the joy of seeing that number next to my Items Sold.

I was happy.

No sooner had my little dance ended.....and the nice, even number was gone. I had sold another item, and was now at 501. *hooray again*

Now, this certainly isn't a complaint, as I do LOVE to sell things, but I also have a thing for even numbers. I like them. When I'm working, I have to make an even number of items.......20 bottlestoppers, for example. Not 19, not 21. Occasionally I will end on an odd number, and it always is a little unsettling. But, I move on.

And when I put gas in my car, I try to end on an even number......but that's more of a game, really. To see if I can let go of the trigger at the exact moment that the price changes to an even, whole number. Most of the time, I nail it *hooray*

So here's something to ponder......looking at the photo above, I actually prefer the Odd one. It's more interesting. Hmmmmm, odd=interesting.

I may have to rethink my ways.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tick Tock Tick Tock

Time is running out.......

I am so, so, so, so close to 500 sales on Etsy! That means there is one, yes, one more chance to win a $30 gift certificate to my Etsy shop. See this post for details.


Tomorrow (Saturday October 12th) is your last chance to visit me (and some of my friends) at the Providence Open Market. So, get out there!


I am sponsoring a giveaway. Kelsey contacted me, and asked if I would take part. One look at her blog and I said "yes"! Head on over to her blog to see how you can win something from me!

Those clocks in the picture? Someday soon, one of them will be mine. Made by Uncommon, and I found them.......where else? On Etsy.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tweet Tweet

It has become obvious to me that I have a thing for birds. It's not that I every denied it, or even supressed it. I just didn't really think about it. But, a quick glance at my Etsy favorites will reveal the truth.

A bird house, a bird print, and a decorative bird take up the first 3 of my Favorites.

And a trip through my Etsy shop will yield 5 bird themed, make that 6.
Let's not get started on twitter, and all the bird references there (who would have thought, that at 37 years old, I'd be using the word "tweet" as a verb on a daily basis?)
Birds are everywhere......including a nice little nest under my bedroom air conditioner. I had planned on removing the air conditioner last weekend, but got a little nervous about disturbing it's home (okay, okay....I got nervous that it might fly into my room). It's already been established that I like birds, but not under my AC. Even Olivia (dog) doesn't really care for them living there. She is not as kind as me, and tends to bark loudly at them.
But, the AC must come out of my window, as it is getting colder these days. Wish me luck, as I attempt to safely remove it. May no harm be done to me, Olivia or the little birds.
I think I'll wear safety glasses.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Harmony: Adaptation of parts to each other, giving unity or a pleasing whole.
In August, my Etsy team challenged it's members to create a piece based on the word Harmony.

This was not a mandatory challenge, and at first, I did not think I would participate......

But, after giving it a little thought, I went back to the drawing board. Literally. You see, long before I was a glassblower, I loved to draw. And I still love to draw, but find that there is little time for that.

Charcoal was my favorite medium.....the more blurry the lines, the better. I loved shadows, fades and the little bit of structure I would achieve with charcoals.

But, now, I find myself really enjoying structure. And getting a bit more abstract. I'm inspired by Indian prints, and simple designs. So, for this challenge, I decided to combine my past and present, and really challenge myself to try something new.

I really like the contrast of using a sharpie (bold, solid lines) with the soft tones of the colored pencils. And the white background, white wood block and magnifying element of the glass (handmade, too!) makes these colors more vibrant.

It's a little out of character for me, but I like it.

If you like it (enough to own it!), you can buy it here

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


The furnace is broken. And Mercury is in Retrograde.

Now, I'm not a huge fan of astrology. I like to read my horoscope (Scorpio, in case you were wondering) from time to time. But, since this furnace fiasco, many people have been telling me about Mercury in Retrograde. In a few short days, I have become a believer.

For a glassblower, there is no other piece of equipment that you'd like to see broken. The furnace is the core of our work. It keeps the glass molten, and without it, there is little that can be done.

Is it fixable? Yes.

Can we do it? No.

So, we must wait until our "furnace guy" is available to come to town to fix it. At this point, it looks like we won't be back to 100% for 5 weeks. (*gulp*)

I know what you're thinking......but Christmas is right around the corner!!!!! I know. I KNOW.

Fortunately, I live in the land of glassblowers. There are many studios in Rhode Island, and a good number of them will rent studio time. As best I can tell, I really only need a handful of days to keep my inventory in check.

It's not ideal, but it's the best I can do.......for at least 5 weeks.

Thankfully, Mercury will be long gone from Retrograde when that time comes.

(not soon enough for me).

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Olivia on the day I brought her home.

Just over 4 years ago, I adopted Olivia from the Warwick Shelter. I'll be honest, it was not a match made in Heaven......we had a rocky start, but with A LOT of patience, hard work, and a good dog trainer, we survived.

Now, she's not perfect.....she still likes to pull on the leash, eat stuff she's not supposed to, and *occasionally* ignore my commands, but I love her. Man, do I love her.

And we have some things in commom. Besides our mutual love of peanut butter, Olivia and I also share an affinity for Glass. As you know, I'm a glassblower.....I like to make things with it. Olivia seems to enjoy stepping on it, cutting her paws, and requiring emergency trips to the Vet.

(not at the glass way is she allowed there! She *finds* it while running around some local parks).

Three times we have rushed to the vet. Twice she required sedation, many stitches, and 3+ weeks of recovery. Not fun. I repeat.....not fun. For either of us.

It was after the first Vet visit (and Vet bill) in 2006, that I looked at her, and told her "she needed to start earning her keep". She just stared at me, unresponsive.

As I stared back, my brain started turning with ideas........and the ideas quickly became products. Mostly centered around sandblasting Paw Prints on glass, I added those designs to Sea Stones, ornaments and magnets.

Now, 3 years later, Dog and Cat themed items are a major part of my work. Good Dog and Good Kitty magnets have become a top seller at my craft shows and in my Etsy shop. And as I continue to expand the designs available for the Leash hooks, they continue to sell well.

The moral of the story? There are two.
First, inspiration is everywhere.
Second, necessity is the mother of invention.

And it looks like Olivia has earned her keep. *phew*

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Beat the Heat

The summer is not my favorite time to be a glassblower. The winter......ah, yes. But, the summer, not so much.

We can't air condition most of the's inefficient due to the space (big old mill building), and the fact that glass can't cool too quickly (and blasting cold air in there would cool it too quickly).

For those of you that have spent this summer in New England, you know that we have barely had a summer.......until now. All of a sudden, it's extremely humid and temps are averaging around 88 degrees.

So what does that mean for the studio? 100+ degrees. And remember, the furnace and reheating chamber are working at 2100 degrees, and the ovens we use are at 900.

It's hot. So hot.

And it kicked my butt.

My diagnosis was heat exhaustion (thank you, WebMD). After 2 days of working in those conditions, my body just said "no more, please", and shut down. Normally, by August I have acclimated to these conditions, and 2-3 days of working in the "oppressive" weather is manageable (barely, but it is). But not this year.

A day later, I feel better, and was back to glassblowing......but only a half day for me today.

(and lots of time in my air conditioned office).

Stay cool.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A little Thank You

As I near 500 sales on Etsy, I decided I would do something extra special.

A giveaway!


Everyone that makes a purchase between now (450 sales), and sale #500 will be automatically entered to win an item from my shop...........and, here's the best get to choose it.

The fine print:

~purchase(s) must be paid in full in order to be entered

~each item you buy will count as an individual entry (so the more you buy, the more chances you have to win).

~The winner will be randomly selected (not by me) the day I reach 500 sales.

~The winner gets to choose the item(s) of their choice (valued at $30 or less, including shipping). OR the winner may use the $30 towards a higher priced item.

~The winner will be contacted via an Etsy Conversation (you must be okay with being contacted this way).

I am so grateful for every sale.....and for all the friends I have made since joining the Etsy community in 2008.

Thank you!!!

Take a look at my Etsy shop

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Guinea Pig

This is the second order I have received for Wedding Favors........(in reality, it is the first, as it took quite a while to work out the details). It was a big order, and took quite a bit of planning on my part to get it done.

I like to think of it as my "guinea pig" Favor order. I made some mistakes, and learned quite a bit along the way. I have had large orders in the past (for different work, and mostly wholesale orders), and that knowledge certainly helped me devise a plan for executing this one.

I thought I would shared some organizational tips to for success, so if (and when!) you get a big order, you can execute it smoothly (pricing is a whole different subject!).

Feel free to add your tips in the comments!

1. Use an online calendar to mark important information (I used it to mark the dates I needed to order the cards, order supplies, etc...). And stick to it.

2. I created 2 files, one in my inbox, and one on my desktop to file all the information that was part of this order (correspondence, jpegs, etc...). It made it much easier to find what I was looking for.

3. I designated a storage bin for all of the supplies, and labeled it......and put it aside, so that I would not "accidentally" use them for other projects.

4. I always work on multiple projects at one time. But in this case, due to the amount of space I would need to glue and package, I was diligent about blocking time to work ONLY on this order. Having a clear, clean space dedicated to this order helped tremendously.

5. Take "in progress" pictures, and communicate with the customer. Had I not committed to doing so, I might have fallen behind. This kept me accountable.....and she loved seeing the whole process unfold!

Of course, some of these tips might not apply to you, but I'm certain you could tweak them as necessary.

Hope this helps. Enjoy!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Expo 2009

After a 2 year hiatus from exhibiting at the Craft Expo, I have returned to many familiar faces, and many new faces.

I love this show. Love it. The first time I participated was 9 years ago, and Tanner Glass was only about 2 years old. I was new to the Craft Show scene, and this was my first official "big" show. I immediately found a "home" here, and over the years have developed lasting friendships with some of my customers and other artists. It is the #1 reason why I love being here.

An added bonus is that I am able to stay with a cousin that I don't see often enough. It gives us a great opportunity to reconnect.

(Family is good.)

In traditional Expo fashion, the weather forecast is for temps in the 80's, and high humidity. It just wouldn't be the Expo without it!

If you find yourself near Guilford, CT today or tomorrow, make a point to visit the Expo!

See you there!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rhode Island Loves Us!

Handblown pieces by Suzanne Tanner of Cranston turn house- hold items into eye-catching accessories.$18;

The July issue of Rhode Island Monthly has featured eight talented Etsy sellers (including myself. Hooray!)

With a special mention of ArtsinRI (my Etsy Street Team)

Congrats to all those that were featured......especially my fellow ArtsinRI team members:

Pink Lemonade Boutique

Heather Jeany

A la mode

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Thanks, Dad

Soaking up the sun outside a Ski Lodge in Vermont. Not sure of the date, but I'm guessing it was the late 50's or 60's.

My dad would work Ski Patrol at various resorts in Vermont during College. He was the happiest when skis were strapped to his feet, and the snow was falling.

And I am the proud owner of that sweater. I love it.

The apple doesn't fall from the tree......

This is me, in 1998, at Arapahoe Basin. It was during a 10 hour ski race, the Enduro.

(one of the happiest days of my life).

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Quest: Part II

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, there was a second place that was a "must see" while I was in Murano.

It was the studio of Pino Signoretto, an Italian Master of glass. Mostly known for his intricate glass sculptures, Pino is often commissioned to do custom work.

This is the story of Pino's Studio:

As I left the home of Dino Tedeschi, with my new Jacks in hand, I set out for Pino's Studio. I just wanted to see it, but hoped for a tour. That alone would have been memorable.

(This was much easier to find, as I had passed it twice while searching for Dino's)

As I stood outside the iron gates, I could see through the courtyard, and into his studio. A few people were milling about, but I wasn't certain if one of them was Pino (this was in July, and it was possible that he was in the US, teaching a class).

I rang the doorbell.

Everyone inside stopped what they were doing, and looked out, over the courtyard at me.

Soon after, a young woman arrived at the gate. She was American (hooray!). Her name was Amber, and she was Pino's Assistant.

I introducted myself, and asked if it would be possible to get a tour of Pino's studio. She was friendly and welcoming, and said that they were done working for the day, and if I returned the next day, I could watch him work.


Sure thing. "I'll be back", I said, calmly.

I returned to the Villa in Venice, broke the news to my cousins that I would be unable to accompany them to the mainland the next day, as I had "better plans." And they plans were much, much better.

The next day, I arrive at Pino's, and I'm met, once again by Amber. She bring me inside, introduces me to some of Pino's assistants, and then introduces me to Pino. His English is not very good, but it's better than Dino's (thankfully). We have a limited conversation about who I am, where I'm from, etc....and we smile, and nod (a lot).

"somebody pinch me", is all I can think

As they prepare to start working, Amber takes me on a tour of the studio and gallery. I'm amazed, to say the least. And still in shock, a bit. I'll be honest. None of this was sinking in.

We return to the Studio, where Pino had started working on a sculpture. He is so skilled, it is awe inspiring. He is working on a small scale, very intricate sculpture. It requires precise movements, excellent control, exact temperature and a quick hand....and makes it look effortless.

Over an hour later, he's finished his sculpture. It is stunning. I ask if I can take a picture of Pino with it, before it gets put into the cooling oven. He agrees.....and stands up, holding the punty rod, with the finished piece attached to the end.

I snap a picture.

He moves to sit back at his work bench (where he is seated in this photo), and as he sits down, he hits the end of the punty rod on the bench, sending a shock wave through the punty rod. The finished sculpture fall to the floor and shatters.



It's not saveable. None of it. It's in a million (or so it seemed) pieces on the floor. The studio is silent, I'm shaking, and Pino just walks away, speechless.

*this was all my fault* is all I can think. Great. Just great. Now what do I do? Run away? Change my name? Cry?

Amber looks at me, sees the fear in my eyes, and tells me it's okay. I apologize profusely.

The next 20 minutes or so are just a blur......I think I've blacked it out of my memory. I decide that I've done enough damage for the day, and should head back to Venice. She takes me outside so I can say good-bye and thank you (and of course, "I'm sorry") to Pino.

I apologize again........he looks at me, shrugs his shoulders and says "eets ok. Eet happenz".

I say "I know. It happens to me a lot." And he laughs.



He invites me to an Opening for a commissioned piece that night in Venice.

*clearly, he doesn't hate me, not even a little*

I meet up with Pino, Amber and a few others later that night for the Gallery Opening. It was pretty darn cool.

A few hours later, and a few glasses of wine later, I found myself sitting outside a cafe, with a handful of people (Pino, Amber, and others) drinking wine and listening to them share stories and jokes. Lots of jokes. I tried out some of my Italian (that I learned from a 365 "learn Italian" calendar.... not what I would recommend.) They laughed.

So, there I was, drinking wine and laughing with Pino.......and 24 hours earlier, I had hoped to get a tour of his studio. Just a tour. And 8 hours earlier, I was watching the remains of a demolished sculpture be swept into the trash.


Eight years later, as I retell the story, I still feel like I have to pinch myself. And it's one of the reasons why I pursued Glass. How could I not? In 48 hours, I had experienced more than I could have imagined. The Jacks, the book, the studio, the untimely death of the sculpture, and the was 100% inspiration.

And I learned that even the best make mistakes, recover from them, and move on to make something else.

What a day.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Need a Favor?

Twice this month I was contacted to make magnets as Wedding favors.

And, it got me thinking.......

That is a really great idea.

So, now I offer them in my Etsy shop

I've been part of Weddings in the past (I've made Bottlestoppers as favors, and Bud Vases as centerpieces)......but this is a smart idea. They are inexpensive (for a handmade, custom designed item), and they are FUNctional. Hooray!

I have to admit. The packaging is good. Really good.

I will also admit that I have a small obsession with little boxes, or any small, clever packaging. There are times that I look forward to receiving my latest copy of Retail Packaging (catalog) more than I look forward to receiving Anthropologie. Is that bad?
If you need a Favor, I can help.

Friday, June 12, 2009


There it is. Hidden in the photo.

I toyed with the idea of not posting the picture......after all, if I do this again, you all will know where to look. Or maybe you won't?

(Forgive me, as I am having a Princess Bride moment......."clearly, I can not drink the wine in front of you!")

I really had a good time with this sure to check back, as you never know when another will happen!

And, I have two winners. Nicole (aka Lillyella) was super speedy and found the listing about 10 minutes into the Giveaway. She was kind enough to let me continue on! Visit Lillyella's Etsy shop here

So, the second winner was Kristin (aka Kristin Crane). I knew she was looking long and hard, and I'm happy she finally found it! Visit Kristin's Etsy shop here

look for a feature on each of these winners in the next few days!

Congrats, and thanks for playin'!!!!!

Keep Searching

It may seem like finding a needle in a haystack.......

But, it's not that hard, I promise.

I've given many hints........but this one may just be the golden ticket.

Hint #7:

Look in the listings of my Top 3 Sections of my Etsy shop

For a recap on all the hints, and what you're searching for, look at my two previous blog entries.

Happy Searching!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hint, Hint...and I've sweetened the deal you need more hints.

Let's recap:
Hint #1: It's not a vase
Hint #2: It's valued over $8
Hint #3: It's not blue
Hint #4: It is not a set of magnets
Hint #5: I've told you that the word FREE is hidden *somewhere* in the, that could be anywhere.....title, descriptions, photos, material, tags.
(it is NOT in the tags)
Hint #6: It's not in the description
Let's sweeten the deal:
If you win.....AND you are currently a follower of my blog, you will receive an extra *goodie*.
See this post for more info on what you're searching for, and why you're searching!!
Happy searching!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Free Giveaway

The Deal-y-o:

~I'm giving away an item from my Etsy shop. Totally free to you.

How to win:

~One item from my Etsy shop has the word "FREE" hidden somewhere in the listing.
~Find it, and you will get that item totally free (for anyone! US or International!)

The fine print:

~You must Convo me when you find the item, with a link to the item
~don't have an Etsy account? No biggie (it's free, and easy to sign up).

This promotion ends June 14th, so get on it!

To sweeten the deal:
Winner will be announced on my blog/twitter/facebook, with a feature! (your Etsy shop, blog, etc...!)

I will provide hints as time goes on, so if you can't find it.......check back to see more hints.

Hint #1:
It's not a vase

Hint #2:
It's valued over $8

Hint #3:
It's not blue

Click here to view my Etsy shop

Monday, June 1, 2009


Myth: You have to have Mega Lungs to be a glassblower

Not true. One's lung capacity has little to do with their ability to be a glassblower. Working "hotter" has everything to do with one's ability to be a glassblower.
I find myself contanstly telling a newcomer to "get it hotter, get it hotter, get it hotter", as I watch them struggle to get a bubble in an ice cold gather of glass.

In it's molten state (in the the furnace), it's about 2100 degrees, and is the consistency of honey. As soon as you "gather" glass from the furnace, and begin to work with it at room temperature, it begins to cool. And it cools quickly. The colder it gets, the harder it is to work with.

Think of bubblegum for a moment.......

We all know it's much easier to blow a bubble when the gum is "new"..........chew it for a while, and it becomes harder to blow a bubble, right?
So, apply that to glass. New gum=hot glass. Old gum=cold glass.
Understanding heat, and being able to work "hotter" is just one of the challenges one has to face as they learn to blow glass. And increasing lung capacity? Save that skill for a marathon.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The difference a Display makes

We all know that a picture is worth a thousand words, especially when you are selling online. Good photos can make or break a sale. At Street Fairs, Crafts shows and Open Houses, we have the benefit of hands-on sales. Customers can pick things up, try things on, flip things over.

But before they can see it, they have to want to see it. That is why your display is integral. With 10 years of Craft show (retail and trade) experience, I have learned some things that work......and don't work. And I'll share some of them with you.

Before I do, I want to discuss my new Hook display......and how effective it was at it's unveiling yesterday. The display stands 78" high, and has 12" wide bifold doors. I placed it at the very front of my booth, so it was visible to passerby's, and to those that were approaching (because it was folded, it allowed for 2 vantage points, and 2 selling sides).

I'd estimate that 75% off the passerby's stopped to look at the hooks. Not necessarily to touch them, or buy them. But to look. And that is the first step in getting people to buy! The end result? The sales of my hooks increased by 200% from previous shows.

Rule #1: they have to see it to want to buy it.

The placement of the display was crucial. As was the arrangement of hooks. I was certain to hang the bulk of them at eye level, and arrange an assortment of styles and colors. I had a Price Key at the top of each board. It was easy to read, and noticeable. And it eliminated the need for price tags next to/on each hook (which can make things look cluttered).

Rule #2: keep it clean & clear

An organized, clean display is much easier for buyers to navigate. And is more welcoming. Period.

Rule #3: eye level, eye level, eye level

It bears being said three times. Have focal points that are at eye level!!!! Even if it's your Business sign, photographs of your work, or actual work. Put things at eye level. Buyers are lookin at many things as they walk a show, but I can guarantee you......they aren't staring at the ground or sky as they walk.

Rule #4: share what you've learned

Feel free to comment on display ideas that have worked or not worked for you!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

It's Show Time!

It's that time of year again.........Show Season. Time to load up the car, brush off the tent and start selling my wares in person. I have been fortunate to have success selling on Etsy, and I have gathered some repeat customers (and "met" some great people!).

But, nothing compares to that face to face interaction. To get feedback on my work, to see what people pick up, to see their reactions, and to see what they buy.....and don't buy, is all valuable information.

(I'm also unveiling a new Hook display today.....and will report back on it's success!)

This season, I have filled my calendar with shows......from May-Oct, I have 9 scheduled throughout RI, MA and CT. It will be a busy summer, but I'm ready! See you on the streets!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Birds of A Feather

(Chickadee by dsbrennan.

As a child, my dad would "round up the troops", and take us to the Resevoir in West Hartford for a Sunday morning hike. A rucksack filled with lunch, and 2 pairs of binoculars, and a walking stick was all he needed. It was his Heaven.......and my, well, not Heaven.

As we walked, he would point out every bird he saw, identify it, and tell us a little bit about it. He was good. Very, very good.

We would return home, and he would immediately go for his stack of bird learn more, and help him identify the few birds that he could not identify in the moment.

Truth be told, I liked the bird books. I would use them to draw.......I'd pick a picture of a Goldfinch, Chickadee or Blue Jay, grab my crayons and start drawing. And little did I know, I was actually learning, as now I can go for a hike, and identify some of what I see. It makes me happy, and makes me (fondly) remember those Sunday mornings in the Resevoir.

Our bird education was not limited to hikes, however. It seemed to be very important to my dad that his kids knew the difference between a hawk and a turkey vulture. So important, that he would pull over on the highway to point them out (fyi....turkey vultures have "fingers" on their wings). I can identify one a mile away now.

The reason I share this is because I just purchased an awesome 1983 bird book for $1. If my dad got his hands on it, he would read it cover to cover. I, on the other hand, will use the beautiful photos and illustrations for magnets and paperweights........after I read some of it.

Thanks, Dad.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Save A Lot

I try to be green........and save some green, whenever possible.

As a glassblower, packing materials are an essential, important part of shipping. I need to be certain that my wares will make it to their destination safely. Until recently, I used bubble wrap (kids love me for it), packing peanuts and new boxes. And sometimes I still do.

But, I have found some money and earth saving tips that have proven to be as good as the old standby products. And I thought I'd share them, as well as some of the "don'ts" I've learned along the way, too.
~visit (Free Cycle) to find bubble wrap, boxes and packing peanuts
~use paper shred instead of packing peanuts (to keep it tidier, I put the shred in plastic shopping bags, and tie them shut). Works like a charm
~use newspaper circulars as packing material/fill
~liquor stores are great for boxes.....sometimes I have to double-box my work, and these are perfect as the "inside" box
~talk to owners of local gift/craft shops.....many times they have work shipped to them (from artists, like me), and end up with a surplus of packing material
~use boxes that have been shipped more than twice. They tend to have been "beaten up" along the way and are much less effective
~use paper shred that is just loose in the box. Well, you can, but after receiving many boxes packed this way, I began to resent the sender(s). The clean up is ridiculous. And, they tend to settle A LOT during shipping.
AN EXTRA TIP (for those that sell at retail shows):
Save time, money and resources by using a Stamp instead of labels or "hot stamping" your gift boxes and boxes.
I ordered mine from Tearbearco ( Custom made, with my business name and Etsy address. It has more than paid for itself! (and takes me less time and effort than sticking labels!)
I welcome your tips for re-using packing materials......or sources for them, too.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day + Handmade

My first memory of Earth Day was in 1991.....while attending Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY. The neighboring State University (SUCO), had an all day event planned, with bands, vendors and lots of information.

To be honest......I went for the music. Some of my favorite local bands were playing, the sun was shining, and we were all excited about the prospect of being outside, listening to music and escaping our day to day college life.

But, the day quickly became more than music. It was inspiring and motivating. Recycling, the rainforests and global warming were the hot topics (and they still are, 18 years later). I returned to campus with a new found appreciation for our Earth, and a new beaded necklace.

I loved that necklace..... a simple, beaded necklace. Handmade. And I loved it (that bears repeating). From that point, I made a conscious effort to buy more Handmade products. I went to street fairs, and filled my jewelry box with handmade goodies (many of which I still own). I went to bead shops, and started making earrings and necklaces (many of which I do not I gave most of them away, or they reached an untimely demise).

I fell in love with creating. And I'm certain that April 22, 1991 is one of the reasons I do what I do today.

Happy Earth Day! And Hooray for Handmade!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Furnace work

I'm a "Furnace" glassblower. Why is that important? Because there are two types of glassblowers out there......furnace, and lampworkers. And we are very different. We work with different equipment, different materials (all glass is not created equal), and we make different objects.

I'm here to tell you about Furnace work. So, what better way to start than by showing you the Furnace.

It's about 6 feet tall, and 5 feet wide. And it runs 24 hours a day, operated by compressed air and natural gas. The idling temperature is 1950 degrees, and the working temperature is 2100 degrees. Yes, that's hot.

Why 24 hrs a day? Because glass has to be molten for us to work. It would take too long to heat glass to a molten state on an as needed basis.

(Open door)

Looks a little intimidating, doesn't it? To be honest, it is. Until you understand it. Then, it's just part of the process.

believe it or not, you can stand pretty close to it when it's open......just not for very long. Unless you want to get burned, or just singe some hair off your arms.

Inside the furnace sits a free standing crucible.......a ceramic bowl. It's made to withstand high temperature, and it is filled with approximately 150 lbs of molten, clear glass.

Here, the furnace has been turned off, and the door removed, and is a nice photo of the inside of the furnace.

A question we are frequently asked is "how do you get the glass in there?"
A: We use a powder/pellet, silica based product (that we buy, it's called 'batch'), and we use a very long shovel. I'm serious. And scoop the batch into the furnace while it's hot. We then spike the furnace temperature to 2350 degrees. Over a 16 hr cycle, the batch melts to molten glass. Viola.
By now, I'm certain you are now wondering how to get the glass out of the furnace. Well, that is a story for another day.

But, I'll give you a hint, it involves these pipes. Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Quest

8 years ago, I spent a week in Venice......Tanner Glass was just over a year old, and I was trying to find my place in the Glass world. I knew Venice would provide so much inspiration, but I had no idea how much. There were two places on the island of Murano that I could not miss visiting on this trip.

This is the story of the first place.....the home of Dino Tedeschi.

Dino made glass tools......the best glass tools (in my opinion). To buy them, you had to know someone who knew someone who knew Dino. Or you had to knock on his door. I chose the later option.

Armed with only a sketchbook, and a map (similar to the one pictured) I set out to find him. A daunting I don't speak Italian, and using a Murano map is about as effective as directions on finding a needle in a haystack.

Based on an address scribbled in my sketchbook, I managed to arrive at the doorstep of a toolmaker, named Dino. Wrong Dino. Through broken English and Italian, he directed me elsewhere.

Those directions landed me on the doorstep of a toolmaker, named Carlo Donna. Not Dino. But, I was getting closer. Carlo Donna was a leading toolmaker, spoke decent English, and knew Dino personally. I explained that I wanted to purchase some Dino jacks (his signature tool), and asked if he could help me.

He called Dino, told him what I was looking for, and gave me explicit directions to his doorstep.

I thanked him profusely, purchased a super sweet set of tweezers, and headed out to find Dino.

(as an aside, Dino speaks about 4 words of English, and I speak about 8 words of Italian. "Andiamo a sciare".......let's go skiing. Not terribley helpful in this situation).

I arrive at another doorstep, ring the bell, and the door is answered by a woman (Dino's wife). She is about 65 years old, little, and speaks no English. She invites me into their kitchen, sits me down at their table, and offers me some tea (I only know this because I said "si", and tea is what I was given).

Dino appears in the doorway, "ciao" is said all around, and he sits next to me and places 3 sets of Jacks on the table.

I picked out the ones I wanted. There was not a lot of talk, but there was a lot of smiling and nodding going on. It is amazing how well you can communicate without speaking. I managed to understand how much they cost......paid him, and was ready to say thank you, and good-bye, fully content with my purchase, and my experience thus far.

Not so fast.

He sits me back down, and places a small, red journal in front of me....and a pen.

*my heart is racing as I tell this part*

I open it, and quickly notice that this is a list of all the people that have sat right where I was sitting. Heavy hitters in the Glass world, from all over the world......had all sat at the same kitchen table, and purchased their Dino jacks. Some shared stories, some shared photos. It was amazing. Artists like Dante Marioni, Sonja Blumdahl, Lino Tagliopietra, and countless others. I was speechless.

And he wanted ME to sign that book? Um, okay.

I wish I could remember what I wrote (aside from my name and state). Regardless, the fact that I became part of that history is something that will stay with me forever.

I left the Tedeschi home, walked around the block, found a bench, sat down, and cried a little, as I was overwhelmed by what had just happenned.

I signed "the book."

It was at that moment, that I knew I was a glassblower.

(My Dino Jacks).

Sadly, Dino passed away a few years later. And his tools have become highly sought after.....

And these aren't for sale.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Coming Soon

The process.......

I am heading to the studio today, with camera in hand, in hopes of getting some good pictures of what I do.

After all, glassblowing is pretty darn cool. And, it inevitabely invites the question "how did you do that?" Much of what I do is based on ancient techniques. I just add my own spin to those techniques. Feel free to tell me what you'd like to learn.......
I'll start with the journey of a Sea Stone. To my customers, these seem to be pretty mysterious......
(and as we learned from previous posts, everyone loves a good mystery).
But before that can happen, I will share some stories about my Glass career, and provide a little insight and education about the studio, glassblowing, and what I make.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Mystery solved

The mystery plant in my backyard is no longer a mystery......thanks to the comments on a previous post, and from some super sleuthing.

As it turns out.....if I had really thought about it, this was no mystery at all. You see, I share my backyard with my neighbor (we live in a duplex, turned condo). And she planted the Day Lily last year. It was given to us by our fabulous next door neighbor, Robin. (thanks Robin!)

All I had to do was ask. And I got the answer. (move over Nancy Drew).

As for mystery #2? Well, the lone crocus is gone. Dug up and moved (by a critter?)

A new mystery begins......

Monday, March 30, 2009

Root, root, root for the Bud Vase

For years, I have been making and selling Bud Vases. "Perfect for a few stems from the garden," is one of my selling points. And it's true. I am not a florist, and I don't expect most people to be, either. So, the Bud Vase is the perfect solution.

Now, I have a new selling point for them......rooting plants. I have been using one of my own vases for years to do this (my mom does this, too!), and for some reason, it never occured to me to mention that as a selling feature.
Of course, you could use an old Smucker's jar, I suppose, but it's the perfect use for a Bud Vase, especially while we wait for our gardens to bloom.
Great vining plants:
Prayer plants
Grape ivies
Bonus: Rooting plants is a great way to keep costs down, while enjoying the beauty of having live plants in your home. Especially if you gather some cuttings from your friends.
A simple Internet Search will give you many tips on how to root.
Enjoy! And root, root, root!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Double Mystery

My garden is the source of much of my inspiration......color, texture, and of course, flowers. Flowers make me happy. It is also an escape from the everyday, a chance to dig in the dirt, and bring life to a spot where there once was none.

Yesterday (a particularly nice New England day), I ventured into the backyard to do a little clean up, and see how my perennials were coming along.

Here's where the mysteries begin.

Mystery #1: What is this?

Upon removing some dead leaves, I noticed these green (living) leaves. Clearly something is growing! I don't recall planting them. And although I love my garden, I am not a botanist.

Please help me identify this plant!

Mystery #2: Who, what, where?

This is really two mysteries, wrapped up into one.

A lone crocus. Never planted by me, and have never seen it in my 4 years here.

The peanut. It is not uncommon to find peanut shells around my yard. I have found peanut shells in my driveway, walkway, and on the sidewalk, but never in the garden.
Now, some of you know about my love of peanut butter.....but peanuts in the shell? Not so much.
I can probably solve the peanut mystery on my own, and in one word.....critters.
But the crocus? Still a mystery.