Shannon Fennell's Blog

My life, art, travel, make-up, cooking and the occasional rant!


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And that’s July done.

This morning I remembered today would have been my mom’s 84th birthday. She’s been gone just over seven years and I think about her every day. I’m the age she was when we moved to Northern Alberta in 2000… hard to get my mind around how fast time has flown by.

The garden is doing great! The calendula are done and dead, and I’ve pulled them all now – this morning yanked out the last couple of plant that were still providing support for other things. They were so dead they needed to go. Can’t have the garden looking that neglected. Lettuces are almost done now, just a few plants of each left. I spent this morning transplanting all the small pots or pansies into the beds to fill in empty spots.

Surprisingly the primroses and bleeding hearts are STILL blooming! That’s really impressive. Unfortunately all the plums are being eaten by something – every one of them that I’ve picked has something imbedded in it and is grossly sticky. Oh well. Apparently other years they’ve wrapped the tree but no one mentioned doing it this year to stop the pests.

The zucchini (aka courgettes) are doing pretty well, we’ve eaten 4 so far. Apparently I was underwatering them, so we had a bit of a hiccup but they are now starting to set again. Same with the cucumbers – have had 12 nice ones, and they are starting to set again now.

The herbs are hit and miss. I got a lot of cilantro (coriander) off and they are now going to seed. The dill barely got 3 inches high before bolting – it is now in full bloom. I’ve planted more as I need it to make pickles. All the other herbs – parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme are great and still going. The chives aren’t really doing well so I will be moving them into a pot and hope for a better result. The garlic is growing but not sure what I’m going to get. I may leave it for next year to harvest.

The fennel is looking good BUT is nor putting on any size – they’ve been the same small size for over a month. I really hope they’ll start to bulk up soon. The hot pepper is blooming and bushing up, but the sweet pepper shed almost all the leaves – it is now starting to sprout new ones at the top so I hope it will actually flower before Autumn gets here.

The rose was stunning! It is done now though. Long stemmed red roses, just gorgeous. It is now the support for the sun flowers. The largest sunflower (there are three of them) is the height of the brick wall now and is setting the flower. According to the seed package they are 10 feet tall but I really hope they don’t get much more that 6 feet or the wind will break them.

I managed to get some photos of the fish in the pond! They were blowing bubbles that morning – quite loudly! And took a photo from my bedroom window looking down on the garden so you can see the layout.

At the studio I’ve started making Christmas ornaments as we were running low… yes, already! We put up a display a couple of months back of all our leftover stock. All the wreaths were sold, and lots of the small trees. The less expensive ones are very popular with the kids – £2 ornaments are perfect for them. Simple and quick to make little trees. The wreaths are £12 as they are more material and time to create and people love them.

The Christmas display at Serendipity Glass Design.

I really like the dot tree and will be making more ornaments using them. I just have to make thousands more green dots! The bottom two photos of the red/green frit ornaments and the big red tree with white dots are in the kiln now, so the photos are before firing. The red/green frit ornaments will be £3-4 and are small hanging ornaments. The red tree will be a tealight stand.

Hope the summer is going well for you too!


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June’s projects

I’ve been productive this month.

Spent a lot of time sorting out approximately 15 kg of scrap glass we acquired from another glass artist. Most of it was in containers by colours (i.e. “blue”) but not all of them by specifics (i.e. “transparent turquoise” etc.) I like my bits of glass to be sorted out so when I want something specific I can find it without digging through a large bin. It was a treasure trove! So many shades of blue that we didn’t have. I love both Turquoise Transparent & White Streaky AND Aqua Transparent & White Streaky – they are absolutely gorgeous and perfect “sky” glass for landscapes/seascapes. Watch this space to see what I do with all of it!

I made several lanterns in the last several weeks. All different – size, themes, etc. I’ll soon be making more as we’ve acquired a large selection of new lanterns of various styles. Some of these pictured are still available in the shop at Serendipity Glass Design.

I made another big bowl last week. I had one large circle of transparent sitting on my shelf so on the spur of the moment I decided to create a fruit bowl. I sketched it out on the “back” of the glass and then used tiny bits of scrap to create the mosaic. Working with scrap can be a challenge, in that sometimes you aren’t 100% positive if what you think the colour is, is actually what it is. Makes life interesting.

Despite the watermelon rind interior ending up pink, I love it. Next one I’ll take the white from a labeled piece of glass! This bowl is now in the shop, Serendipity Glass Design, for sale at £75.

And here are a few photos from the garden, which is doing phenomenally well! I’ve been eating salad daily as I over planted the lettuce (should have succession planted, not all at once – I do know better, just didn’t.) I’ve got masses of baby cucumbers starting and the zucchini are setting as well. Not to mention all the herbs flourishing. Also, finally, the garlic has started. I was worried about it as it took so long, but it is looking good – but won’t be ready until late Fall.

As it is officially Summer I’m hoping the weather will settle into a calmer pattern. Although, I will not hold my breath – this is England after all. The winds really smack around the plants in the garden and the heavy rain beats them up! Not to mention walking the dog in the wind and rain isn’t fun.

Hope you’re having a good start to Summer wherever you are.


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Heading into Jubilee Celebrations

This weekend will the be designated period to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee here in the UK. Thursday and Friday have been designated as bank holidays (aka statutory holidays as they are called in other places) and Saturday is the big party day – community block parties, etc. Here on the estate I live on there is a community BBQ and party on Saturday afternoon. I’ll be staying home with the dog – still not interested in mingling with unmasked people in a crowd.

We put up Jubilee bunting out at the shop/studio for the occasion.

Have been working on more art over the last month – finished assembling my glass mobile yesterday and hung it up in the shop. Came out a bit longer than I was expecting in the end, but I didn’t want the glass pieces to strike each other constantly. I’m really pleased with it. I plan to make more but with fewer parts and more compact. I’ve figured out more efficient ways to make them now too.

I was planning to hang it in the shop window but it is too long to fit, so it is on the wall. We’re thinking of taking commissions using a “pick your option menu” for components and quantity, a header piece shape, colour scheme/theme, length, etc. with each option having a set price.

We accidentally ended up ordering three different types of chain for the mobile. I wanted stainless steel for it, but first order was miscalculated regarding link size (too small) so ordered a larger chain. Was supposed to be stainless… however it was aluminum and the links came apart easily simply by pulling. So, third try, got a good size and strength, even if not 100% what I was wanting. But it worked for this quite well.

I also finished up another batch of fridge magnets that are miniature acrylic and ink paintings of scenes of Dartmoor. The squares are approx. 2×2″, the larger are 2×3″ – I like painting little landscapes! I’ve got another batch with the bases done which will be sunrise/sunsets and seascapes/shorelines based on South Devon.

I’m also starting a series of slightly larger (4×6″) mixed media paintings (on canvas board and framed) of specific plants and animals that are resident on Dartmoor. First one in progress is of bracken, then I’m planning flowers (i.e. bluebells, foxglove, etc.) and bushes (gorse, etc.) and ponies and other native animals and birds. I’m taking photos to use for reference for these.

Tourist season has started, albeit slowly. Coaches are starting to come to the Abbey now so we are getting little waves of people looking for souvenirs and gifts. I convinced Anne that we should put out a small display of our Christmas ornaments and cards… last year she wouldn’t let me put out Christmas items until November (even though we had people who wanted them.) And we’ve been selling them fairly steady! I explained to her, when I travel I look for items that can be Christmas ornaments, and the people who are buying them are doing the same! Now Anne is suggesting maybe I should start making more wreaths (which is my best seller!)

I remerchandised the shop – my sense of order was somewhat frustrated. So I moved some displays around – moved light coloured items from a white painted shelf to glass so they were more visible, spaced items out more, rearranged signage, etc. I was pleased with the results and it is really obvious that people are now looking at all the displays whereas before they walked by some without stopping to look.

We’re hoping the weather is going to cooperate for the Jubilee weekend as so many events are outdoors. Fingers crossed. Hope you enjoy your celebrations if you are participating in any.


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April has been busy

I love Spring. All the shades of green start appearing, flowers start blooming, babies start arriving out on the moors… and the gardening at home gets underway.

This year I helped with a massive back garden overhaul and reconstruction which has been extremely satisfying. It is your typical terraced house walled and fenced back garden… approximately 20 x 22 feet so not all that huge, but we’ve got a lot of things in and are really thrilled with what we’ve accomplished.

We took 4 or 5 loads of stuff to the tip, put a lot in the regular household waste, and got rid of other things. Some things are being repurposed. We also scrounged up some paving bricks and stepping stones for free. And spent quite a lot too, on paving slabs, lumber, plants, seeds, etc. with some more spending coming in the next month when I have to pot up the summer plants.

Neither of us thought to take before photos, which is annoying as we were planning this serious project involving removing soil and sod, pavers, laying new pavers and moving others, adding concrete and generally building new things and doing repairs. But there you go. I am the worst about remembering to take photos of things.

I pulled out a large dead cedar shrub, yanked out other large shrubs and plants, and pruned a couple of boxwoods within a inch of their lives and a lot of other plants were seriously hacked back as well. We hauled out old plastic mini-shed, old planters, wood edging from around all the beds, metal, broken swing, etc. Anne tore up the old sod and dug out where it had been in order to lay new pavers – we filled up dozens of rubble bags with that. She also repaired the shelter roof which had been torn off in the winds storms back in Feb/March.

I had to dig out two manhole covers – storm drains apparently. I cleared away the dirt and other debris that had built up on top of them as access is supposed to be available. Well… Anne stepped on the top of one and the lid flipped up and down she went! One leg, down the hole. She was spectacularly bruised, but no other injury, thank goodness. They are now each covered with a large, heavy, paving slabs with a water fountain sitting on the back one. We filled the area with gravel to level up the slabs. Hopefully Anne won’t end up in the drain again.

We bought lumber to create new edging for the flower beds – I directed and Anne cut and screwed it all together. I moved pavers that I uncovered buried in various parts of the garden, cleaned them up and paved other areas with them.

I bought a large raised planter, more pots and lots of seeds and plants. We’ve spent close to four weeks all told and I’m calling Phase One complete now. The rest of what is planned is summer planting – so we have to wait for the warmer weather at the end of May.

The photos start looking out of the kitchen door, then work around to the dining room door, then towards the back fence.

My herbs and vegetables will all be in planters, including the large wooden trough against the wall – that’s my salad garden. The fish pond has been cleaned out, new filters in, new pond weed and the fish seem happy.

Anne bought a heated propagator . the heat was NOT required, but we didn’t realize that until the giant cucumbers and squash started pushing the lids off 4 days later! We’ve named them Audrey Three through Fourteen. We now have them in larger pots and recycled coffee cups… we won’t have room for everything that needs potting up! We can’t put the rest out until the end of May at least.

I’ve been productive out at the glass studio too this month, making more sunflower items – bowls, clocks, etc. We’ve been very pleased with the response to our Ukraine Appeal fundraiser – 50% of the sale price of all sunflower themed items is donated to the DEC Appeal/Red Cross.

Large Bowl (sold)
Small bowls in progress – second batch
Small bowls – two still available
Clock faces – hands and mechanisms will be added this week
Tealights, hangers and parts of a mobile
Mobile, laid out… awaiting the chain to link it all together

Spring has also been productive out on Dartmoor! All the babies bounding about, blocking the roads -but really, who minds waiting when you can watch a lamb or foal nursing?

The bluebells are out now too… but I haven’t managed any flower photos… yet.

Hope you’re having a good Spring.


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Sunflowers and more

Our two auctions of fused glass mosaic sunflower pictures are complete – one went for £60 and the other for £55, we’ve also donated another £18 from our sunflower sales. So far our total is £133 to the DEC Ukraine Appeal via the Red Cross in the UK. We have more sold which is still to be processed, and more items were put out yesterday. And I’ve more in the kiln!

50% of the sale price of all sunflower themed items is being donated to the Ukraine Appeal on an ongoing basis.

I’ve been making small sunflower pieces as fridge magnets which we are selling for £5. My first batch of seven sold to a customer before they were even finished! He saw them on the work surface where they were waiting for the magnets to be affixed and bought the lot of them! I’ve another 30 in the kiln so they will be out in the shop on the weekend.

Fridge Magnets – fused glass sunflowers, size varies but approximately 2″ (6 cm) and “squarish”

I’ve created five more pictures that are now for sale, these are smaller than the ones we auctioned off. There are three in the plain wood frames, and two in the white frames.

Next work session I am planning to make windchimes using the same colours – it is a bit of an experiment. I know the glass has a nice ping, but playing around with the length of the rods to make it melodious will be interesting. After that I am moving on to create some bowls and tealights.

It is always exciting to open the kiln in the morning as glass can have a mind of its own, so it is a relief when everything looks like I intended it to!

Most of my time is spent preparing the glass I need to make all of these items. I spent days snipping yellow glass for petals, breaking up the blue for backgrounds, and cutting stems and leaves. But the hardest is making dots. For the larger items I am planning to make I need small round dots of glass to create the centres of the flowers so I have to make them. It means I need very small pieces of glass, which I put in the kiln neatly so they won’t touch and fuse together, then I have to pick them out one by one…

This lot is around 1200 dots, near as I can figure… so that means I performed a repetitive motion 4800 times in around a 24 hour period. My right wrist and shoulder are still sore.

Yesterday we created a new window display out at Serendipity Glass Design which is in the Ox Yard at Buckland Abbey (National Trust property – Sir Francis Drake used to live there!) with the sunflowers and tied in the colours of the other items in the shop.

If you are interested in any of the items I’ve posted you can message Serendipity Glass Design via Facebook or email at sales@serendipityglassdesign.co.uk


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Our second fundraiser for Ukraine

This week we are auctioning off a second fused glass mosaic picture I created to raise funds for the Red Cross Ukraine Appeal. 100% of the winning bid amount will be donated.

The frame is 33 x 28 cms and can be wall-mounted or free standing.

Auction runs until Friday, March 18th at 4 p.m. GMT. Further details and bidding is on Serendipity Glass Design’s Facebook page – Click HERE to reach the auction.

Our piece from last week went for the winning bid of £60 and it was quite a bit smaller that this work. This one took a full day to assemble, not counting all the pre-cutting of the petals and the rest! But I really enjoy the process even with the cuts, pokes and blisters.

Further sunflower themed items are ready to post once we get them mounted. These will be for sale with 50% of the purchase price being donated.

I’ve spent days pre-cutting petals, leaves and squares to use in the making of the sunflower designs and I have enough on hand to go straight into mass production starting tomorrow. There will be smaller framed pictures, standing panels, suncatchers, keyrings/magnets, tealights and possibly lanterns, coming soon.

12″ standing Sunflowers will be on sale next week.

Check in with Serendipity Glass Design on Facebook to see the latest items for sale as they are posted.


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Support for Ukraine

It is really hard to sit here in comfort and safety while watching and hearing what is happening to Ukraine and the Ukrainians fleeing for safety.

I did make a cash donation but it felt like there was no effort involved, if you know what I mean?

So this week in the studio I’ve been making glass mosaic sunflower pictures and items and we are auctioning them off to raise money for the Red Cross Ukraine Appeal.

We’ve got the first framed fused glass picture up on auction right now until Friday, March 11 at 4 p.m. GMT. Bidding and details are on Serendipity Glass Design’s FB Page at Serendipity Glass Design.

I’ve got another, larger, one finished and we’ll be posting the auction for that one on Wednesday.

And I’ve started making smaller items – small pictures, standing glass panels/tealights, suncatchers, coasters, and keychains – which will be for sale in the shop and online once they’re finished and fired.

The effort to physically produce these pieces makes me feel like I am doing something. The work of cutting and laying the glass gives me a feeling of satisfaction and a fair amount of back pain to work through. I ripped all the skin off the inside of my right thumb snipping glass and required four bandages for pokes and cuts – my one day record – yesterday.

My discomfort in no way resembles what the people of Ukraine are suffering – I cry a lot watching the news or doom-scrolling on Twitter. I have stopped turning on the news as soon as I wake up in the morning as I am scared to hear what the latest developments are. I catch up later in the day.

I hope you can check out the auction for my sunflower art on the link Serendipity Glass Design and share it with your friends and followers. Any support is appreciated.