Friday, December 31, 2010

Fridays in PA---- Tiffany Lamps Come to Reading Public Museum

10 weeks ago I was displaying my stained glass, while also being on my annual Walking with God Retreat, when I was told about an exhibit I may want to see. The Reading Public Museum had a display of Tiffany lamps. Soon a letter came in the mail from my new friend. It contained info on the museum and two discount passes. Then craft show delirium hit home.

With my winter break from teaching dwindling and the show ending date (1/234/10) approaching, Mosaic Woman and I took a day trip yesterday to check out the lamps. The museum put on a wonderful display and I was curious if it would spur me to finally design a Stratoz lamp. Maybe? To do it right it needs to be complicated and that means costly. The Tiffany Lamps sold for 1/4 to 1/2 of the average US salary back in the day. Can you imagine? Don't think I would charge that much.

I also was looking for a facebook profile photo shoot opportunity. The last two had been standing behind and peering through sculptures, so as I walked the museum I kept my eyes open for the location of my next profile photo. Mosaic Woman took the photo of me peering through a ceremonial table from the Philippines. The museum had much to look at other than the lamps and I got to say some glass caught my eye: A stained glass tribute to Irvin F. Impink, who donated land for the museum, which greets you as you climb the stairs.

Happy New Years!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Science Mondays--- ALL

Mosaic Woman gave me All of Science for Christmas. She just may know me very well.

In the past few years, I have taught the following courses: Biology, Physics, Anatomy, Geology, Ecology, Earth & Space, Zoology, and something I have come to call Social Science.

"What, no Chemistry'" you say, well you would have to go back to my very first year of teaching to see that on my resume.

"No Meteorology, no Botany, no .... " well give me time I do have to keep the horticulture program flowing.

I dig science. And I have a job where a small group of students, who need a bit more attention than the average group, get to spend a few or several years experiencing my passion. Maybe it is a good thing I never got that doctorate I planned on but never even started.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Seven on Sunday--- Night

no flash needed

1. Above: at night, no electricity, our neighborhood lights candles and make use of our porches: my hand, Mosaic Woman's candle.

2. For some, the event that brings about the most joy is the Winter Solstice. A time to celebrate the end of the lengthening darkness. This year, that long night had quite an event:

Stages of Lunar Eclipse  12-21-10

3. As for me I tend to be so annoyed by the approaching cold of January and February that the return of light isn't enough, however, I so adore being able to sing this line, A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, a few nights later on Christmas Eve surrounded by friends.

4. Nat King Cole singing my favorite carol:

5. I told my students that every day consists of a night which is 24 hours long. Stars come out at night. We just call it daytime when the closest star comes out.

6. Only once in my life did I stay awake from the time the sun set till it arose again. I was an undergraduate student studying ecology and my class did a 24 hour stream watch.

7. A nightmare is a goblin that ruins our pleasant night of sleep.

Bonus: and for those cool moments when you are uncertain if it is day or night, feel free to use the word crepuscular. (for MD)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Crafting on Thursdays--- a growing collaboration

Today I drove to Ambler where I met a man who proved to be a happy client. No photo of that collaboration, because his wife will open it on Christmas Day. I designed the lettering then cut out 42 pieces of glass to spell out what the client wrote down on a slip of paper. Mosaic Woman took those pieces and creates a mosaic. This is the collaboration that produced a JOY, HOPE, JAZZ, GARDEN, and House Numbers.

The photo above is an example of one style of picture frame made by Mosaic Woman. A couple of years ago one was bought at a craft show. Several weeks ago the client e-mailed us to ask for 25 frames. At that point we were in the midst of Holiday craft show delirium, but as I did with the above mentioned project, I encouraged her to take on the commission. I said I would help, and help I did. I painted the wooden frames. I was given several types of glass of one color (she did red, green, blue, and earth tone frames) and I nipped and nipped and nipped to produce tiny pieces. Then I cut out 4x6 pieces of clear glass for each frame and helped to put them all together.

We did it while creating new projects to take to shows. The shows are made so much easier because we are in this together. When the show ends we both have our jobs to do to get the booth torn down into the pieces that will fill the Fit. We do this slowly and mindfully. And so far peacefully.

We are in this together. We are Nutmeg Designs and we break glass.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Jazz on Tuesdays: Louis Armstrong for this season

My bedtime reading has been Louis Armstrong's autobiography of growing up in New Orleans. Autobiographies make me wonder about all the moments that can shape a person.

47  142/365  Louis Armstrong's Trumpet
The man's trumpet as seen this summer at the Smithsonian

I finally got around to placing my eclectic collection of Christmas music onto my iPod. Louis has a strong presence:

So have a Cool Yule:

Bonus, Get the hear Dinah Washington sing before Louis closes it out with Christmas Night in Harlem

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Seven on Sunday: Houses

Yesterday Mosaic Woman and I went to find some glass to cut up and place into the 25 picture frames she was commissioned to make. One source is to find a cheap frame at a thrift store. Yesterday we found one which framed these words:

And if you be unwilling to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
Joshua 24:15

2. I am sure if I read what surrounded this verse it may change my impression, but for now I like the openness of what this one verse expresses. As for me, who or what we choose to serve is not as important as what that decision leads us into and how we respond once we get there.

3. I live in a one bedroom two studio house. We are beginning to wonder why we sleep in the largest of the three.

4. The houses that caught fire last March. Two of the five have been inhabited once again. Finally the other three are being reborn. These construction dudes are showing up when I leave for work and are wrapping things up after I get home. I would be so cold and tired. I hope they have warm houses to go home to when their work is done.

5. The house of our dreams would be a Craftsman with funky paint on the outside and amazing woodwork inside:

6. From one of my favorite CD's, jazz singer Jon Hendricks takes on a Gospel classic:

House comes to us from an Old English word, hus, meaning dwelling, shelter, house.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fridays in PA---- Gwynedd Friends Meeting House

Gwynedd Interior Lezenby Architects, LLCCLezenby

I have ventured into Gwynedd Friends Meeting House more than any other house of worship, which I have not gone to worship on a Sunday.

I have gone to lead retreats on the spirituality of gardening, to listen to music at coffee houses, to attend retreats, to walk a labyrinth, but most of the time has been to be part of group spirituality. Friends have emerged from experiencing this for many years.

Tonight, I came into the group having emerged from craft show delirium--- 6 straight weekends. The delirium can get one more focused on making sales than the desire to create art with the talent God has blessed me with and then celebrate the connections it allows me to make with people.

So I broke out of the silence and spoke of delirium and then spoke of four of the many connections I made during the six weeks. Then closed my eyes till responses flowed toward me. I spoke of wanting to relax into the craft and not feel a need to "create sales."

The delirium is lifting, the spirit is descending.

I dig Gwynedd Friends and my friend, Connie Lezenby, who not only was the architect who designed an addition to the meeting house but also has taught me what I know about group spiritual direction.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Science Mondays --- Now!

Neil deGrasse Tyson 2 photo by Greehawk68

I am digging Nova Science Now and the host Neil deGrasse Tyson is a wonderful host. Is he the Carl Sagan for this time? An astrophysicist with passion and a desire to have the universe speak to us.

When he was 9 years old he was taken to a planetarium and when the lights dimmed the universe "called to him." And he has been in love ever since.

I also dig Nova's The Secret Life of Scientists which highlighted Dr. Tyson and he tells about that day as a nine year old hearing his calling, about his passion for wearing art inspired by that very same cosmos, about his science, and answers 10 questions.

Apparently he is one of the faves on Colbert:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogMarch to Keep Fear Alive

anyway, my students and I are digging it and I wish the man in front of the camera keeps being joyful and passionate about science

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Crafting on Thursdays--- #6 The Water Tower Show

I am tired. It seems to have hit me this evening. Teaching and crafting have dominated my life from morning to night for 6 plus weeks but there is light facing me. This weekend we do our final show for 2010, the Water Tower Show in Chestnut Hill,

then 8 days of teaching and I can spend some time building up my stock, going on day trips with Mosaic Woman, and getting some rest.

Last night I desired to create something with a sheet of yellow/orange glass for the show. I cut out three pieces and placed it into the center:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

This is why ...

I pull out my cell phone and say I have someone to call, Mosaic Woman, who just helped me set up our booth is confused as I never use my phone.

The friend I call and his wife will have a hoot harrassing me for the next 30 hours because they keep seeing me outside of the booth and tell me I take too many breaks, but three times they stop by and and each time leave with something that speaks to them. Including two stained glass hearts, one for his meditation room.

Later I am awed by the fact that in the past year every heart I have sold big and small has gone to a friend. Our hearts.

Months ago a friend suggests a design in certain colors. Finally I take her advice and show her a photo on facebook . She tells me she will stop by and when she does I am not on break. But when I take a lunch break I run into her, and who else, my friend and his wife.

A very young boy enters the booth and announces he is going to buy something. I say, "OK," and glance about for a parent. He points to one, but it is too expensive. I point to one that is as cheap as I go and he digs it. Two crumpled bills appear in his hand. They look not quite right, but then I realize they are two dollar bills. Then a roll of coins emerge. Quarters????

No, it is a coin I have never seen before... Canadian money? He starts counting by ones. He hits 11 and the coins and bills fall to the ground.

I form a cup in my hand and when the counting hits ten, I whisper in his ear, "If you don't tell anyone you can have it for ten." He digs it.

I hold the piece up to the light:

He says, "My dad likes green," and leaves our booth.

This is why I do craft shows. See you at the Water Tower in Chestnut Hill this coming weekend?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Jazz on Tuesdays: 6 by Jimmy McHugh

The other week I checked out a wonderful CD by trumpeter Terence Blanchard: Let's Get Lost: The Songs of Jimmy McHugh.

and one from the CD that inspired this post:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A restocking frenzy has led to the following

Nothing like some great sales to inspire one to head into the studio. In the less than two weeks I have created the following which will head to Bethlehem, PA's Christkindlemarkt for their opening weekend this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Yes, I may be one toasty teacher after my long weekend.

The first project was my Jazz inspired Sunna's Dream Suncatcher. Which I blogged about here.

I then turned to the vines in amber glass (six varieties to be exact), which a friend inspired. First the Vine that Grew Longer design:

Then the original design:

Inspired by my dad asking if I was going to do anything special for the Holidays, I grabbed (gently) three types of reds and greens and cut out pieces to play with while listening to Nat King Cole sing Christmas tunes.

While I was cutting out those pieces I decided to restock some Dr. Ed Mandalas. A month ago I had 4 and thought I was way ahead of the game, but some emotional sales to folk who were touched by the story of this piece took me down to zero but we sent off the 30% of sales to pancreatic cancer research.

Before I sleep tonight I hope to have a second Dr Ed Mandala finished. This will be the opposite of the one below, the greens move to the outside and instead of the funky pink glass I have a piece of opalescent green doing its thing.

Some things come by chance. As I was foiling the above Dr. Ed Mandala, I noticed an imperfection that could not be ignored. As I ground a new piece into the desired shape, I saw a pile of red and green scraps. I chose some to grind into interesting shapes and then played with the pieces while listening to Nat King Cole. When I picked it up I saw I had created The Scrooge:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Jazz on Tuesdays... collaborating with Margaret and also The Jason Parker Quartet

When it comes to our signs, I have done words that resonate within myself: Hope, Joy, Garden, and now Jazz. Mosaic Woman, who has to approve my lettering design, works with me to choose a color for the letters and then I cut and grind them into shape. I hand them over and we talk backgrounds and I step away from the mosaic studio, which is OK, because that places me in my studio.

On Twitter I have become friends with a great jazz trumpet player, Jason Parker and finally bought No More, No Less last week. When I threw a tweet his way saying how much I loved his music, he sent tweets of thanks and also a tweet announcing his Kickstarter project to record the music of Nick Drake. We decided to throw some support his way and encourage you to get to know Jason, his already recorded music, and his artistic hopes. Like I said, I dig Hope, Joy, and Jazz; and as far as I know Jason has nothing against gardens.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Oh, and please answer this one too. The interview continues

47  102/365 -- a Celtic cross by Margaret

The interview continues

"So, have you had any Missing Years? If yes, why did you leave and what brought you back? If no, please explain why you didn't leave when you were younger?"

My answer (for Di) : I left. I even left before a conservative Christian college kicked my blank off their campus for very good reasons. I was disheartened. I had been naive enough to believe that Christians acted like Christ did and so took my leave when I took in the imperfection that remains inside myself and others. Anyway, studying biology and environmental science (after the kicking incident) during the Reagan years did not help to draw me back. The only Christians I heard of during that time were ones who thought plastic Redwoods would satisfy my soul.

Years later, we moved to Scranton, PA. Mosaic Woman had landed a job at the University of Scranton, a Jesuit university. There she stumbled into spiritual direction with a nun, who had made private orders. Yes, a Jesuit nun. When we moved away from Scranton Sister Judy told Margaret about a place in Wernersville.

Soon after we landed in Lansdale, Mosaic Woman suggested we find a church.

I said, "Why not." My Missing Years had come to an end.

I think it is more complicated than all that, but I'm not the one who wants to be the minister at my church, but hey, feel free to throw out some follow up questions.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

How would you like this interview?

inside my church

I have been asked to contribute questions to be part of our church's search for a new rector.

  1. Please tell me about the last five books you read.
  2. What radio station do you listen to and why?
  3. What is written on the bumper stickers that you have placed on your cars?
  4. Do You Blog? Are you on facebook or twitter? How do you feel about social networking and church growth?
  5. Some say that stained glass peaked 700 years ago. Does it still have a place in churches?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Jazz on Tuesdays... Sunna's Dream Suncatcher

Come to our booth (upcoming shows) and you will see my designs have stories that can be read as you shop. But what about these new Stratozpheric Doodles in glass. How do they get their story when each is unique and do not come from a design that has the story?

Return to an old habit... Doodle while listening to music, and the music is the story. So, come to the North Penn Show this weekend and see Sunna's Dream Suncatcher.

Will you sense the Icelandic homeland of Sunna Gunnlaugs or will you remember a dream of your own. And what about those five tracks she calls "spins," where she and her band doodle their improvisations and nothing but improvisations, where do they show up? I met Sunna and heard her play when she came to the states. It was that night that I purchased The Dream. And now look at what has happened.

while this one is not on etsy, I just added this stratozpheric doodle to our online shop


Monday, November 15, 2010

Science Mondays--- stumbling onto a real shooting star, Mira

Entering my classroom I had my plans set for the week, but I wasn't sure what topic I would be teaching in 90 minutes. I knew that I wanted the students to practice taking notes from an article and I knew I would head to Science Daily , click on video, click on time & space...

And I would pick something and go from there.

Mira is a star with a tail, a Red Giant that is spewing hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen into the universe as it moves rather quickly to its future home as a White Dwarf. We have known about Mira for hundreds of years, yet we have only known about its tail for a few of them. It all has to do with how we are blessed that the atmosphere blocks so much UV light. It took a satellite mapping the universe's UV light to see the tail. Which is long, way long.

When I told my students that Mira was a variable star, many impressed me by saying "Cepheid." But I told them they were wrong and then explained to them that the universe has more variables than the Cepheids and in fact the others are called Miras.

So I stumbled upon a truly shooting star, which is planting seeds into a universe ready to create new stars and planets:

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sophia in silence, glass, scripture and hymn

at our etsy shop

In August when I returned from my eight days of silent retreat at Wernersville, I wrote about watching a day come into existence through my stained glass which was hanging in the window. The mandala had been made for my spiritual director for the week, who was once again guiding me into relationship with Sophia.

I call the piece, A Sophia Spiral Mandala, which doesn't just happen to have 21 pieces of glass. It has 21 pieces of glass because the design came to be after spending time with Sophia and a passage (The Book of Wisdom, chapter 7) that includes her 21 attributes:

22 For within her is a spirit intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, incisive, unsullied, lucid, invulnerable, benevolent, shrewd,
irresistible, beneficent, friendly to human beings, steadfast, dependable, unperturbed, almighty, all-surveying, penetrating all intelligent, pure and most subtle spirits.

This week I decided to make a new mandala for our craft shows. I cut out four pieces of five types of blue green glass and than pulled out the Youghiogeny glass for the 21st. As I was writing a blurb to describe the mandala, it occurred to me what that 21st piece is. As we grow to know God in all images, we spiral into ourselves, and what we find is our true self. And there is nothing I can put in that location better than a piece of amazing glass from western Pennsylvania:

I love how Ruth Duck takes her wonderful new lyrics and places them into melodies I adore. Here is verse 3 of "Wash Oh God our Sons and Daughters"

O how deep your holy wisdom! Unimagined, all your ways! To your name be glory, honor! With our lives we worship, praise! We your people stand before you, water-washed and Spirit born. By your grace, our lives we offer. Recreate us; God, transform!

Now close your eyes and imagine Sophia searching for you and you searching for Sophia and the amazing beauty that resides in us and so wants to shine in the light:

peace, hope, and joy be with you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

I have been asked these questions about myself

47  93/365  --- self-portrait success

It is likely that I am going to be a featured crafter on a blog in a few weeks, since I had to type up some answers, I will try a few of them out here:

1) Please tell us a bit about yourself – where you live, the name of your business. (and how you chose your shop name), what you sell, etc.

I live in Lansdale in a one bedroom two studio row home. My wife and business partner, Margaret Almon, came up with our name, Nutmeg Designs. Nutmeg has nothing to do with our craft, but all to do with an old nickname. Design is what we love to do. I primarily sell stained glass suncatchers and small panels. I collaborate with Margaret on mosaic signs. I design the lettering and numbers and cut out the pieces. Then I hand them to Margaret, who glues them down and does the background creating the mosaic.

3) Of all your creations, what is your favorite? And why?

My favorite design is now known as the Dr. Ed Mandala. It is named in memory of a good friend who died of pancreatic cancer. The last time I saw him in public was at a craft show and he bought a mandala. Soon after he died, I named it after him and have donated 30% of all sales to pancreatic cancer research.

4) What is your favorite possession, and why do you cherish it?

Got to go with two and they both came from my grandmothers. Mamie was a quilter and I own a few of them. She was the first crafter I knew. The Log Cabin quilt in blues, which she made for Margaret and I, is the one we use. From Mom Mom I got years of strudel and the lesson on how to make it. She taught me shortly before she had a stroke and that day spent in her kitchen is seen as a blessing for sure. I am the one who now makes it for our family.

5) Is there something special you collect? (If so, photos are very welcome!)

Back in the day it was baseball cards then books. Now it is craft with a special love of Scherenschnitte and art ceramic tiles. Some say I have a good jazz collection.

7) Where do you hope to be, personally and in your artistic endeavors, in say 10 years time?

Seeing my teaching career coming to an end and seeing my crafting career soaring. I want to do special projects where someone tells me of a concern for a loved one and I take that into my studio and create a moment of hope out of glass.

What do you want to know?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Science Mondays--- wartime measures double the universe

1955 Vogue Magazine Cover Photo by Dana Graves

Cosmic Times jumps from 1929 to 1955, because this happened.

So today I told the story of how blackouts in 1943 LA allowed a view of outer space that indicated there were two types of Cepheid Variables and thus the universe doubled in size.

I spoke of how when the story started Henrietta Leavitt, who was noticing what had to be noticed, was looking at Type 1's.

Shapely would venture into clusters of stars where Type 2's hung out. He would use a bit of parallax data using a nearby Type 1 to start measuring distant stars.

Hubble and Humason (the mule team driver and later telescope master) would venture into galaxies other than our own and see Type 1's and use Shapely's distance formulas.

Then Blaade took advantage of those blackouts, and saw there were two types, he realized Hubble and Humason had used a bad "Yardstick" and now our nearest galaxy neighbor was 1.6 billion light years away. The whole universe had doubled in size.

Read the Science Times Edition

and more fashion of 1955:

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Have yourself an arts and crafts weekend in Allentown

In July I started up a conversation with Paul Gretian whose amazing photos happened to be at the same show as our craft. Later in the weekend he invited us to apply to the show his chapter of the PA Guild of Craftsmen puts together and so we will once again be honored to have our craft in the same space as his.

What is art what is craft? No matter. I am inviting you to have an Arts and Crafts Weekend in Allentown, PA.

The Craft show is happening Novemeber 6 and 7 at the Swain School. details

What I suggest is that you make a day of it and head to the Allentown Art Museum while you are in town for the craft show. It is great to hear that the museum is expanding, but sad to report the big connection is falling flat. You see the museum purchased a room that was owned and designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It was at this moment in the blog post where I was to connect arts and crafts, but the museum's expansion has closed the room from the public view.

And here I was to point out the specific painting by Arthur Dove which Mosaic Woman loves so much, but apparently not everything is easy to find on the internet. But here is a cool Arthur Dove painting of a sunrise:

Sunrise, 1924 by Arthur Doveby Micah MacAllen

The painting we saw at the museum reminded Mosaic Woman of mandalas, which she just happened to blog about.

and let me end with this: as I was writing this post, I was chatting with a member of the Swingle Singers on Twitter. I may just meet her and hear them when they tour the US. They take on many a genre and you can explore that, but this one caught my eye and ear. Have a glorious day and see you in Allentown

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Jazz on Tuesdays... needing a Mercer break

A few years back I was noticing that I was loving Johnny Mercer tunes.

Things have been busy here... teaching , retreats, teaching, strudel, Phillies, teaching, studio time, teaching. My flickr 365 has been fun but demanding and my growing tribe of supporters has led to lots of time looking at photos and less time reading and writing blogs. ebb and flow.

so I need a Mercer break. I hope you enjoy his lyrics to the music by...

... Jimmy Van Huessen

... Joseph Kosma

... Lionel Hampton and Sonny Burke

... Henry Mancini

Have a great night my friends.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Crafting on Thursdays--- friends invite us into new frontiers

After venturing into outside shows this summer and into September, we are taking October off from setting up booths because as soon as November hits we are off and running (show schedule).

With Mosaic Woman being laid off, I wondered how wise it was to take October off, but we have learned something. We need to venture into new frontiers.

Today we drove to Lancaster and back to find out that 6 weeks in a store which was only selling crafts led to no sales. Fortunately we had lunch with a new friend and did not mope about the lack of sales. We took a scenic route home and thought about what else had happened this month.

The night at the Ambler Theater was great. No booth fee. Free movie tickets. In half an hour before and a half an hour after the movie, Mosaic Woman sold many a mosaic. This all happened because of one of Mosaic Woman's best friends organized the event, inspired Mosaic Woman, and then invited her to bring mosaics.

Last weekend I went on a spiritual retreat. Last October when I was at the same retreat center I was coming off an 8 day retreat where I was fueled to create art. I spoke of this with a dear friend, who told the other retreatants that unless they asked to be opted out, she was giving me permission to put them on our mailing list. Since then several of these folk, who I have spent many an October weekends with, have come to shows and bought our craft. My dear friend invited me to bring stained glass and on the huge windows that form a wall at the Kline Center at Mensch Mill; my art never looked so good.

In 24 hours I sold ten pieces. But what really made my day was two very special pieces which I was beginning to give up on, headed into the homes of folk who I know. One my very dear friend.

I have never sold so much stained glass before in one weekend.

We need to explore new opportunities and celebrate the friends who invite us into them.

By the way, our ETSY shop is open and Mosaic Woman has been very busy.