Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Party's Over

 The 2019 American Hosta Society Annual Convention has come and gone   It's over.  Done.  Finished.  

All the weeding, all the cleaning, all the preening, all the planning, all the running is over.  All that remains is my extremely sore back as a reminder that it ever happened.  I overdid it this time, sad to say.  When I get up from sitting down, I cannot straighten up without sound effects.  I closely resemble someone who is searching for coins on the floor, in fact, I could put this new posture of mine to good use helping people locate items they've dropped.  Hey, a new career. 

I woke up around 7:30AM this morning and am truly enjoying just sitting here writing this post.  What a relief not to have to race around this rock pile looking for weeds and whatever other catastrophe might be needing immediate attention.  Adrenalin can carry me just so far, apparently.  I will fully admit it, this ol' girl is exhausted.  Carl is still sleeping, which is very unusual for him.  Though I've never had a hangover, this is what I imagine it feels like.  Remind me to never get drunk, it's not worth it.

Also, note to self to never volunteer for another major garden walk in June, especially in a year of unending rain and cloudy skies.  Carl reminded me that seven weeks ago, we still had snow on the ground, and that's very true, we did.   

April 8, 2019, seen above, and the snowbanks that wouldn't die.  See the pipe ball, shivering in the dirty snowbank?  It was another two weeks before the snow finally melted.  

 Here's approximately the same view, June 15, 2019, the day of the hosta convention tour.  The pipe ball looks much happier now, doesn't it? 

I'm bone-tired today.  The phone rang and on instinct I picked it up without waiting to see if I knew the number.  I don't do that any more, that's what we have caller ID for, good grief, I'm really off my game today.

"Hello, is this the golf course?" the male caller asked. 

I sat there, perplexed, holding the phone.  

"No," I croaked out.  "No."  Wow, I scared myself, I sounded like a bear growling.  

The man on the phone stammered, "Oh, I must have the wrong number."  

"Uh-huh," I replied.  

"Sorry," he said.

"Yep," I said. 

Sparkling conversation is to be had here today, I can see that.  


Saturday, June 1, 2019

Sunrise, Sunset Windows

So here it is, two weeks away from the American Hosta Convention in Green Bay.  In fourteen days, we'll have the honor of 500+ people touring the ol' rock pile.  Is the weeding done?  Is the garden ready, you may ask?  

You may ask, I'll allow it.  NO.  

So, with all of this work to do, what am I doing sitting around writing a blog post?  

I'm waiting for the sun to shine, that's what.  Like most of the rest of the country, we've had rain and lots of it.  I feel deep sorrow for the farmers; I cannot recall ever seeing a year like this one; fields are virtual lakes, no crops in the ground, truly a tragedy.  The last I read, I we are at least six inches above normal and we had another bout of thunderstorms training through all night and into today.  With the promise of more to come today, a 70% chance! and also midweek!  Ugh. 

I've been weeding in any garden I can find that isn't in standing water at the moment.  Imagine my surprise when on a stroll through the garden (with an umbrella in the pouring rain) movement caught my eye.......a mother Mallard duck with eleven impossibly tiny ducklings in tow, running as fast as she could urge them to follow her through my hosta bed by the Escarpment.  

Mama Duck was doing a frantic squawking, 'Look at me over here!  My wing is broken!!' routine as she feigned serious injury walking sideways and holding out one wing at an awkward angle to draw the attention away from her brood,  She needn't have worried,  I simply stopped and marveled as they made their way down the ramp to the Formal Garden, around the circular stone wall and up the steps to the lawn/lake and freedom.  Yes, my garden is so wet, it's hatching out ducks.

And I have something else to admit.  We whipped up two more stained glass windows.  I know, I know.  In May?  With a very important tour coming?  And a house about to be torn apart in July? Yes, we are truly insane.  But I need to distract guests from the garden itself, see.  Barnum & Bailey had smoke and mirrors, lions and tigers, oh my, but we have stained glass.  Will it work?  No, but hey, we're always trying.

Since the round tree grate window was finished a few days after Mother's Day, we were on a roll.  With rain almost every day we set to work creating stained glass windows for the driveway tree grates.  This is something we've wanted to do since we bought the grates in 2011.  In other words, a long time coming.

Since the grates are on the east and west side of the driveway, I felt a 'Sunrise/Sunset' theme would be appropriate as it would also work with the radiating pattern of the cast iron.

 We worked out a design for the 18" opening that would be rather quick (or so we thought) to fabricate, and went to work.  I drew up a rough sketch of what I wanted and Carl went to work on the math again.  When he was done with the geometery, Carl printed out several blank patterns and I colored in various color schemes.  I really liked the version with the blue background darker toward the sun's rays and lighter on the way out to the border, but that would require more pieces of glass (and more time) so I opted to go with my first concept of yellow background.

We had some very nice, bright orange rondels (mouth-blown pieces of art glass that are spun) that would work very well for the centers of the sun. 

We used Youghiogheny Stipple glass for the bulk of the project.  Stipple glass has a waxy, almost icy quality to it and picks up any light in glorious ways.  Even in low light, it is luminous.

We had a sheet of Youghiogheny #1109 on hand which ranges from bright, vibrant orange/red to yellows shot through with orange streaks.  Perfect for a hot sun design.

 Below is the background yellow with a few of the sun rays and rondel laid out on the light table.

Carl did the cutting for the most part and I pitched in with grinding to size the yellow pinchbacks we decided to use for the border and the rest of the background pieces.  He has a radius cutting jig which he created years ago and it works very well for circular cuts.  
The pinchback jewels are iridized and look blue when not lit from behind.  These pieces were in with the stash of glass we purchased from the retired stained glass artist in 2013.  High time we use them.

Carl cut out two red-orange hot suns:

Carl is checking on the size of the suns here and deciding if his math was correct.  He always has to do some adjustments and I will freely admit this is way beyond my skill set.

 Once he was satisfied the sizes were correct, I set to foiling the sun rays.

 I stacked the two sets of glass  together just for fun.
We have to number everything or we lose track of where it all goes.  I always think of stained glass as a jigsaw puzzle where you build the pieces and then assemble it.
We had just barely enough Youghiogheny blue stipple for the border.  By adding the yellow pinchbacks we were able to eke out enough blue.

Next up was figuring out the yellow background:
Carl cut and recut many of these pieces to get them to fit the way he wanted.

One background down, one to go.

Time to start fabricating the border.
Here we ran into some major issues with fitting inside the zinc came, but with more cutting and grinding, Carl was satisfied.  Sort of.  He's very fussy.

Time for me to start foiling again.

And yes, another admission of guilt, this foiling set up was on the kitchen table.  I ate meals on top of the stained glass and foiled for dessert.  We are dysfunctional with a Capital D.  Thank goodness for Netflix as I binge-foiled and watched at the same time late into the night.
One down, one to go.

Finally, the foiling was done on the first window, time to solder.

Carl does all of the soldering on the front porch to reduce fumes.  He also wears a respirator, too.

While Carl was soldering Window #1, I was foiling #2.

 Another round of late nights and rainy day work, and the second window was done, too.

While I was washing dishes, Carl hollered to me from the porch.  Actually, it sounds more like a muffled cry than hollering, due to the full-face mask he wears, but I came running.  He was done soldering one side of the window; he still had to finish the other side, but, as is tradition with almost all stained glass people, I'm sure........

It was time for 'The First Look' again.   

Yes, they're grimy and gooey, but there's nothing that can compare to the first glimpse.

Just at that moment, the sun made a rare appearance, so we scurried out to the road to see how the windows look with the tree grates.

Carl's still wearing his respirator here, we're that impatient to see if this will work.

Carl's trying to figure out if the window will fit and I'm taking pictures much to his dismay.  But hey, it's the process I have to document, right?

 The sun was finally shining for one solid day, so we had to stop playing and get back to weeding. 

At night, I would work on detailing the windows after dark.  I love to see how different light affects the shading in the glass and went a bit overboard with the pictures, but it was fun. 

Of course, it rained again, so back to the window. Here's Sunshine #2 soldered.

My next job was to clean, patina and polish (this time I used carnauba car wax) both windows.

 There they are, washed, waxed and ready to go in the grates.

 Carl will solder them into the tree grate frames as soon as it stops raining enough to do so.  I'm also debating adding some sort of protection to the windows, such as plexiglass, just in case. Having these on the end of the driveway might just prove to be too much temptation for vandals.  Not that we have had any problems lately, but well, you know how it goes.  Better safe than sorry, right?  
We started building the windows on May 18, 2019 and finished (mostly, except for installation) on May 28. Just in time for Audrey's third birthday!

She is growing up so fast.  Sunrise, sunset, indeed.