Today was the first day of the Buckland Abbey annual Winter Food & Craft Fair. Today was a lot quieter than the Friday was last year. Probably has to do with the economy and lack of disposable income. We are hoping for more traffic the rest of the weekend.
We like to have a lot of items that are priced so that people can afford them. Anne always stocks items that she says are “for the kids to buy as gifts.” Our Christmas ornaments start at £,2.50 – very simple but pretty – and go up from there.
I spent most of today in production mode – made stars and my first sheep and dog ornaments. Both kilns are on and I should have these out for sale tomorrow afternoon. I was going right up to the last minute as I wanted to completely fill the kiln with a few more critters, but Anne was turning the lights off on me!
Last week I did a couple load of wreaths (my best seller), many Christmas trees and lots more icicles. We are selling the small wreaths mounted on a handmade Christmas card.
Tomorrow I’m assembling a new “Icicle Swag” with large icicles and silver chain – it will have five icicles and be made to hang on a mantle or in a window. There will be a limited number available. I’ll share a photo once I get one put together. I’m quite excited about the design.
I’ve also made tealights and many scenic hanging ornaments.
Tomorrow I’m going to take a bit of time to take photos of all the different things I’ve been making. I am really bad at remembering to take photos as I make things.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I had high hopes for things taking an upswing in 2022, after two years of lockdowns and everything else, but here we are in a right fine mess.
I sent a donation to Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders – the link will take you to their page on their Ukraine programs. We have donated to this organization for many years, as well as to the Red Cross. If you can, please donate to organizations who are providing support to the Ukrainian people.
As we live next to a naval base with nuclear subs, I’m not too stressed – if the nukes fly we’ll probably not even feel it – instant vapourization, thankfully. I’m not keen on trying to survive a nuclear winter in a post-apocalyptic world.
In other news… it is Spring. Daffodils and snowdrops everywhere and I’m starting to see flying bugs now too.
In the glass studio I finished my first clock – it is on a 12″ transparent base and is a rose trellis. I’m happy with it! It is on the living room wall now.
For the last several weeks I’ve been making thousands of glass “dots” to use in work I’m planning to start soon. I figure that the more I make now, while sorting out scrap and bits of random frit (glass crumbles,) the less time I will have to spend making them later when I start making Christmas decorations again. It is time consuming and bending over the kiln to put the tiny bits of glass in, then pick them out again the next morning is killing my back… but, no one said art wouldn’t hurt! LOL
We’re two months into the year so it looks like it will pass quickly for me again. I’ve been in the UK for six months now, but it honestly feels like I’ve been here a lot longer. I am loving it here (except for the Covid and war in Europe, of course!)
My long term plan was to travel all over Europe using the UK as my base, but that was before we entered the pandemic. Now I’m thinking I’ll travel west – Isle of Man, Isles of Scilly, Ireland and Iceland and explore up and down Great Britain – once I’m comfortable with the idea. I’m still not comfortable with crowds and unmasked people. Still have my mask on outside the house.
So far… it is okay. Betty White died yesterday on December 31, 2021 – so at least we aren’t going to blame 2022 for that.
Another year that seemed to be longer than it really was is now over. I really am hoping this pattern will end soon. Time is supposed to go by faster than this.
I have to look back at my posts on social media and in my day-timer to remember what actually happened. Parts of the year seem to be many years ago rather than just months.
2021 was both a drag and exciting. In no particular order (I tried to be chronological but it got messed up!) these are the highlights.
My final semester started in full lock-down in January – we were 100% online until mid-term.
In February I was notified that I was the recipient of the 2020 Sabat Family Scholarship for Academic Excellence in Fine Art ($1,000) by Durham College.
My midterm marks were 91%, 97%, 98%, 100% and 100%.
I received offers from three schools to complete a degree in Fine Art
from IT Sligo in Ireland (which is now becoming Atlantic Technological University) for a BA (Hons) at the Yeats Academy of Arts, Design & Architecture. This is a one-year (Sept to May) add-on to get the degree – they gave me credit for three years advanced placement.
from the Arts University of Bournemouth in the UK for a MA Fine Art. This is a 12-month program full-time. They also awarded me a £5,000 bursary for tuition. (They suggested the MA, bypassing the BA, due to my three year advanced diploma and over 20 year career in the arts!)
from Plymouth College of Art in the UK. Their offer was for a BA (Hons) but they would only gave me credit for one year so I would have to complete a minimum of two more years with them to get their degree – I declined this offer outright.
I applied for the Government of Ireland – International Education Scholarship and was notified I was a finalist for consideration.
I deferred the offers to 2022 as I didn’t want to continue in the pandemic caused “hybrid learning models” that post secondary institutions were/are operating on. It is a lot of money to attend school as an international student and I don’t enjoy online learning models.
Was able to get back into the campus studio mid-February to continue working on my Fine Art thesis project – I spent on average four days a week there!
I had three works in the Annual All-Student Juried Show at the Station Gallery in Whitby, ON which ran for the month of April. It was limited attendance due to the pandemic restrictions.
I was nominated (one of three students from our program) to represent Durham College’s Fine Art program in the national BMO 1st ART! 2021 art competition. The nominated work was my thesis project so I had to install it in the college studio to get photographs for the competition submission by the May 15th deadline.
April 16th was the last day of classes – my last official day of my Fine Arts – Advanced Diploma. I, however, continued to work on my thesis in the studio until June!
April 16th was also the day I received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine!
My final grades for my last semester at Durham College were 93%, 97%, 99%, 100% and 100%. Out of seven semesters I had four with GPAs of 5.0. My overage GPA was 4.98.
End of April we were back in full lockdown.
Received my credentials from Durham College in the mail. My diploma was sent in a cardboard mailer with a form letter. Pretty anticlimactic really. Ontario Colleges Diploma in Fine Art – Advanced, with Honours, from Durham College. On the President’s Honour Roll and College Honour Roll.
Finalized my thesis project and installed it in the studio on campus. As we were not going to have an actual gallery show due to the pandemic, I created a dedicated blog for my thesis – “Anthropocene of the Crime.” I put a lot of work into the project and not being able to have people interact with it in person was a huge disappointment – the blog at least lets me share that research and the 58 individual paintings that are part of the project, representing 60 threatened species. You can check out that blog here Anthropocene of the Crime.
June 14th we had our virtual show and artists’ talks with the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa in lieu of our Annual Grad Show. It was a live event -they now seem to have removed the links from their website which is a bummer, but it is still up on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nEaRwXsthU my segment starts at 57:07.
I applied for a UK Ancestry Visa (I’ve been planning to move to the UK since 2015 but got delayed due to various life events) and received it within a week of the in-person appointment at the Visa office in early July.
Received my second dose of Pfizer on June 28th!
Spent all spring and summer downsizing my life – selling and donating belongings, selling as much art as possible, scanning and tossing paperwork – in anticipation of having my entire life fit in three large suitcases (plus carry-on luggage.)
Sold most of my thesis paintings – kept three for myself which are in my room. My favourite ones, that I had been planning to keep, sold right away – which is because they were the BEST ones!
Booked and attended appointments in anticipation of leaving the country at the end of August. My flight was booked for August 26th. There were lots of medical and other things to deal with before leaving!
I left Canada from Pearson International in Toronto on August 26th and arrived at Heathrow, London around 10:30 a.m. on August 27th. I then quarantined for 10 days and two negative PCR tests. I’m living with friends in Plymouth, England.
We went on a week holiday to Yorkshire in September staying in a gorgeous cottage – we took daytrips to York, Bridlington, Harrowgate, Harewood House, the Wensleydale Cheese Factory, Bolton Castle, etc. Traffic was manic on the motorways – should only have taken 5 hours to drive there, but it took 11!
Got on with a surgery in Plymouth (that’s a doctor’s office if you aren’t English!) and got referred to Ophthalmology for my eyes. I am VERY impressed with the NHS. I’ve had two treatments in each eye to-date, with another already scheduled have been waitlisted for surgery prior to them switching treatments…
I’m working with Anne in her glass studio and having a load of fun creating all the fused glass Christmas ornaments for the shop and how starting on spring themed items. Current project is a clock with a rose trellis on it.
Got my booster shot on December 14th – this one was Moderna.
And I’ve just received my unconditional offer letter from IT Sligo for the one-year add-on for a BA (Hons) in Fine Art for September 2022 start. I’m not sure about what my final decision is going to be about going for the degree… the pandemic has messed up my timeline and caused a major rethink of my goals in that regard. I’ve got until March to let them know.
All the best to everyone for 2022. Fingers crossed we can get out of this cycle of pandemic variants and get back to free travel and movement!
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