Wednesday, December 30, 2009

sky works

This past year has brought some changes internal and external and in other ways, nothing has changed at all.  I might muse about that later.  For now, I think, I will leave my new community, my faithful readers dare I say my new friends? at this year’s end, this decade’s end, with a gallery of sunsets.  One of my first posts back in February was to brag about our sunsets out here at the country house, home now.  The back of our half-acre looks south and west across the 13 acre field behind us.

I had sunsets for every month except January (before the blog and I got in the habit of having my camera with me) and, for some reason, September.  For September, I used one from August and the one for January is actually one from November. But for all the other months, those pictures are from those months.













And one extra, just because I really like it and because it was really hard to pick just 12, or even 13 for that matter.

Tomorrow our daughter and the grandkids are coming out to shoot off fireworks and spend the night.

See you next year!

Monday, December 28, 2009


“Look at them before you eat them,” he says to me.

“Huh?”  I am nothing if not quick on the uptake.

“Look at them before you eat them.”

I cast a dubious glance at my hand.  I’m eating Cheetos.

“And...why?” I ask.

“You might see the Virgin Mary.  We could sell it on E-bay and retire.”

He quotes from the paper...

‘This past year, Texans have reported seeing the Virgin Mary’s image in a bird dropping on a pick-up truck’s side mirror in Bryan and in a dry cleaning company’s press in Harlingen.  There was a Jesus shaped piece of Cheetos reported in Dallas and images of Jesus in a Houston pizza pan, the bark of a Crystal City tree and the freezer of a Morton grocery store.’

Texas, where the wonders never cease.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

10 pins and 4 generations

The bowling party was a lot of fun.  I was reminded that we have been doing this for 8 years (not the six I thought) having started on Marc’s 50th birthday.  Now however, there are more birthdays than just Marc’s.  A cousin’s daughter was six today and a brother’s new wife (as opposed to the ex-wife) has her birthday tomorrow.

There were 34 related people there.  35 in total.  These are the generations and how they are related to Marc.

Generation 1:  Marc’s mother and father, divorced for 45 years (and yes the father that has disowned us, we’ve all gotten very good at not seeing each other over the years at these gatherings); an aunt and uncle.  (4)

Generation 2:  Marc and 4 of his seven siblings (one is deceased) and two spouses, 3 first cousins and two spouses.  (12)

Generation 3:  Two children and one spouse, one nephew and three nieces, 5 first cousins once removed.  (12)

Generation 4:  4 grandchildren.  (4)

Throw in an ex-spouse of a different first cousin and her grandson as well as a boyfriend of an attendee (3) and it was one big group.  If you divide it up by over 40 and under 40 the ratio would be 18/17.  If you changed the ratio to over 20 and under 20 the ratio would be 25/10.  Age range...6 - 84.

Marc actually has 16 first cousins (all but three on his mother’s side) and they all had a bunch of kids and now those kids are having kids and you can see how overwhelming it can be, especially for new spouses.  Like I was once.  Me who has only 2 siblings and one single first cousin and he did not reproduce.  Even the blood relatives have trouble with all the names and ways of relatedness when the extended family gets together as it does for the big life cycle events (bar and bat mitzvahs and weddings are the big draws, funerals too, guess).

Only one minor outbreak of drama involving his mother and father.  She wanted him to wish their son ‘happy birthday’ and as he has always done, the more some part of the family presses him to relent, the more stubborn he becomes.  It’s rather sad really.  He is an old man in poor health.  We have long ago come to terms with the situation, prefer it even, we don’t want the family to try and intervene on our behalf.  It is, after all, his loss.   That did not, however, stop his mom.  There was no yelling, Marc extricated himself from her grasp and the whole thing devolved into silent weeping.  First his father, then his mother and then she got mad and had one of her grandchildren drive her home.  God/dess, please spare me from becoming an angry and bitter old lady.

We did not however, make it to the movie.  Left in plenty of time but we had never been to this theater before, didn’t know exactly where it was and got lost in the parking lot of a huge ‘mall’.  I’ve never really been into shopping but exactly when did a mall go from being one big building to a bunch of buildings scattered amongst acres and acres of parking lot?  And the traffic in the parking lot was worse than rush hour.  By the time we found the theater complex, we had fifteen minutes to park, buy our tickets and get seats.  It took just one glance at each other before we were on the highway again.  

We’ll try tomorrow.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


from an early year, a small segment

Tomorrow is Marc’s birthday.  Marc comes from a large family and even his core family is large to me.  When I met him I could count all my blood relatives on my fingers, four generations worth.  His mother was one of six and she had seven kids by three different husbands. 

For the last six years or so all the different parts of it (in more or less completion) have used Marc’s birthday as the excuse to converge on Houston to celebrate everything...Hanukah, Christmas and not least, Marc’s birthday.  Sort of a Hanukaristmamarcmas.  It’s always been a three event gathering...pool tournament for the adults at a local pub, bowling party for everyone and then a party hearty at one or another of the brother’s homes.

Last year and this year, what with the economy and a couple of divorces in the family and (this year) the visit of one of the fathers (Marc’s, who has disowned us a story for another time), we are limiting it to the bowling party.  That’s fine by me.  Much as I love my adopted family, they have a lot of drama that seems to tag along with them, a lot of issues that should have long ago been shelved.

This is the one time of year for the core family, for the next generations to get together so as to know each other.  The family is scattered in Colorado and across Texas so the siblings and their children and grandchildren (as I said, in varying degrees of completion), gather.  We want the cousins to know each other. 

We bowl, we eat hamburgers and corn dogs and drink soda, we pass out gifts.  We will gossip about all the drama attendant on these affairs.  We are a presence.  

And if all goes well, Marc and I will be going to see Avatar on the way home.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas past

Christmas 1956, that’s me on the right.  I was 6 years old.

I’ve been thinking about doing a Christmas post, but as I’ve mentioned, it’s not a holiday that I celebrate now and most of my memories of those days are not happy ones, but when I was a little girl I loved Christmas as all little children do, those who are raised up in a Christian religion.  I especially loved the Christmas tree and the outdoor lights.  Back then, people used the big colored lights.  They would line their roofs, outline the windows, fashion stars, put them in the trees.  Some people would go monochromatic...all red or green or all blue  but never did you see all white because those big outdoor lights didn’t come in white.  We would put up outdoor lights and my parents always covered the front door as if it were wrapped up like a present.

My favorite Christmas activity though, back in the 50s, was buying and putting up the Christmas tree.  When I was a kid, trees were not sold at the grocery store.  Vacant lots would all of a sudden become forests, with the trees of all sizes and shapes and kinds set out in rows supported by stakes.  Other trees would be wrapped in twine and piled up.  My dad would take us kids out to help pick a tree.  We would run up and down between the rows of trees looking for the perfect one.  My dad would always buy a big tree, often taller than the ceiling so that it had to be trimmed down.

We would look at dozens of trees, we would make the attendant unwrap and shake out trees, we would look for holes, make sure it was balanced because this was before the modern tree farm where the trees are shaped into a perfect cone from sapling to maturity.  Now they are too artificial, too perfectly shaped, not a hole or errant branch to be seen, all identical twins so it doesn’t matter which tree you pick.

Finally, though, the tree would be chosen and tied to the top of the station wagon and off we would go.  We weren’t allowed to put it up right away though.  When we got it home, my father would cut several inches off the bottom of the trunk and put it in a bucket of sugar water for a week.

The next week, the rituals of hauling stuff out of the attic, the untangling of the lights, the unwrapping of the ornaments would ensue and we would decorate the tree.  Finally, my mother’s foil star and my father’s foil garland (remnants of their first tree) were put on and the ‘placing’ of the tinsel (we were not allowed to throw it onto the tree) could begin.  In the days to come, I would often sneak into the living room after everyone was in bed and turn on the lights and just sit in the dark and look at the tree.

Christmas Eve would come and that is the night we had our Christmas dinner.  It was a formal affair at our house using the china and crystal and so we dressed accordingly, my father in his tux with his red cummerbund, bow-tie and socks; my mother in her evening gown and us kids dressed in our fanciest clothes.  I always thought my mother was so beautiful then.  One year when I was about 6 or 7 I asked as we sat down to dinner if it was Jesus’ birthday, why we didn’t sing ‘Happy Birthday’.  My mother thought this was so cute, she made us all sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.  And much to my later embarrassment, she did it every year thereafter.

Those were happy days then but they only lasted about a decade.  Somewhere around my 12th year, things changed and there was no more happiness in our house.  Seems the husband half of my parents' best friends was having an affair and when his wife found out, he named my mother as the other woman.  My mother, of course, claimed innocence, said he accused her because she had already known about the affair but no other woman, as far as I know, was ever named.  After that as the years went by, my father got angrier and bitter, my mother got depressed and totally self centered.  

Christmas would come but there was less and less joy in it.  Our family dinners morphed into some unreal expectation of simpering family togetherness.  No high spirited conversations allowed, no disagreements allowed, no loud voices allowed, no fun allowed.  As we got older, we kids began to dread Christmas Eve dinner.

Christmas Day was not always a whole lot better.  Of course we loved opening all our presents, would be excited about our gifts but after all was opened and my mother would be surrounded with gifts, 2 and 3 times the amount anyone else got, the inevitable depression would set in because she never got the one gift she wanted.  She would look at all that stuff and sigh because all she had wanted was a plain white slip and no one had got it for her.  My mother could squash happiness in our house faster than light.

I tried for many years to find the perfect gift for my mother, the one that would make her happy.  We all did, and we all failed.  I finally gave up.  Us kids grew up, married, had kids of our own.  I had grown away from Christian theology by the time I was 20 and left Christmas behind.  We still gathered as a family for Christmas Eve dinner every year but eventually both my brother and sister moved out of state and my sister’s grown kids followed her.  My parents were left with the non-Christian child and that was the end of Christmas Eve dinner.  

I didn’t miss it, had long ago stopped celebrating Christmas, but it was still a little strange, that first Christmas Eve that I spent at home, my own children grown, the first time in my life that I had not spent it with at least some members of my birth family.

PS...I’ve probably made this seem a bit more grim than it actually was.  Once we grew up and my mother no longer hosted the dinner, having passed the responsibility on to my older sister, there was a whole lot more fun.  And after I left home and had my family, I made lots of good and fun memories for this time of year, but Christmas was never a part of it at our house.  

I don't usually remember all that stuff but this is the first year that I have had a blog, that I started reading blogs and all those postings about Christmas and memories sort of dredged it all up I suppose.  

It's not a happier time of year for me, in fact scrooge-like, I tend to find it a bit hypocritical.  But neither is it a sad time for me.  Mostly, all the obligations of the season just make it hard for me to get my work done.  I'm very happy for others, though, who get so much out of it.  And it is nice to know that I have family and friends who love me and want to include me in their lives and I want to have them in mine.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

time out

All four grandkids descended on us Sunday afternoon.  I’ve spent a good deal of the time cooking meals, cleaning up the mess and washing dishes.  We also raked leaves, played games, made cookies, roasted marshmallows over the fire pit.  Today we torched the burn pile, we’re going to visit my sister and make pralines in addition to all the other meal preps and clean ups.  They go home tomorrow afternoon.  We’re having a lot of fun.  The grandboy slipped in mud while playing soccer at school last Wednesday, landed on concrete and broke his clavicle (hence the sling in the picture).

I managed to elbow my way to the computer which has been in constant use designing clothes by the grandgirls or the grandboy checking his facebook page, to make this quick post.  

Everyone have a wonderful Christmas Day if you celebrate it and I’ll be back in a few days (hopefully after having caught up with everyone).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

home alone

That’s me today.  Marc is in the city going to a memorial service/wake for a friend.  Well, Ken wasn’t exactly a friend but he was the brother of a friend’s best friend, someone who we associated with on occasion.  We’re all actually surprised that Ken lived this long.  Ken was a drug addict, on disability from the government though I don’t think it was related to the addiction.  Probably helped to fuel it though.  I don’t have all the facts related to Ken because he sort of creeped me out and I avoided him as much as I could on those rare occasions our paths crossed, but he’s been on death’s door a couple of times.

So Marc is in the city...again.  Out of the last 6 days, this will be the fourth time he has had to drive into the city.  (If you don’t remember why we went the last three times, you can read my last two posts.)  It won’t be all duty as he is meeting up with our friend Craig and they were going to go by the opening of St. Arnold’s Brewery that just opened a place downtown.  I’m sure they will be in a fine frame of mind by the time they get to the wake.

But that leaves me here by myself.  I think this is the first day that I’ve had to myself out here.  It’s been a beautiful day, sunny, not too cold, no wind.  The first time down after that freak snow earlier in the month, I noticed that the large ferns that grew there had been hiding an opening under the house about the size of the palm of a man’s hand.  In retrospect, the cat had paid undue attention to that spot.  I’ve always thought that she had a way under the house but I had never been able to find it.

This is what I saw when I looked out there Tuesday late afternoon.  In case you can't tell, something dug a big hole.  Since it was still foggy and drizzly I just filled it in with bricks and concrete blocks as a temporary measure.  I was telling my sister about it the next morning.

‘Armadillo,’ she says, ‘we had an armadillo dig several holes under our house.’


‘Or could be a skunk.’


‘They’re nocturnal, you know’ she continues.  ‘Better hope you didn’t trap it under the house.’

Great.  Thanks, sis

So she tells me that the way you get rid of the varmint is to flood the hole.  That’s what she did, flooded the hole with the hose and the armadillo ran right out.  Works great if your house is on a slab instead of pier and beam.  Like mine.  So I just hoped that I didn’t trap an actual animal under the house, or if I did that it would dig it’s way out again.  

Well, I haven’t heard any mad scrambling and no new holes have appeared.  Although the cat was very insistent about going outside in the middle of the night the other night, and then she just sat there staring at the ‘spot’.  So, today, I pulled out the bricks and tried to get the large asbestos shingle off that had been pushed back so I could see what was what under the house.  It was still nailed in one corner though and wouldn’t budge.  Well, nothing for it but to fill it back in and hope for the best.  

Which is what I did.  And then I decided that as long as the fern was down and I had to dig anyway, I would go ahead and get all those fern roots out of that spot.  I have something else I want to put there and I don’t especially like those ferns.  They are tall and scraggly and the roots form a tight weave that eventually forces everything else out.  After about four hours, I had filled the hole and secured the shingle and dug out all but a corner of the flower bed.  Four hours was enough, especially combined with the seven hours of work from yesterday.  

I’m spending the rest of the day watching silly girlie movies about love and weddings all the way through without the channel being changed once!  If Marc were here, the channel would be changing constantly, jumping back and forth.  Ai-yi-yi  Drives me nuts.

I’m going to open a bottle of wine in a bit, put on my scruffy sweat pants, put my feet up on my brand new double recliner couch and ease my sore muscles.

I will be glad when he gets home though.  The house is much warmer when he’s in it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

long day ahead

I’ve been run out of the kitchen.  Obviously, my attempts to help instruct were not appreciated.  It’s not like I really mind.  I still have plenty to do to get ready for tomorrow.

Tomorrow we are going to do the first stage of the work for the altar window in the new chapel at John Wesley United Methodist Church.  Anyone catch the irony here...the non-religious person doing all this religious work?  What we are going to do tomorrow is to etch the 1 1/2" wide outline of the cross onto the existing glass.  This is a chemical process using a cream but messy in it’s own right.  You might recall I used it on the last job .

We don’t ordinarily work on site.  But both the processes we are using can be done on site.  After we drive for an hour and a half to get there.  I hope it doesn’t take more than 5 hours.  I also hope it only takes 3.  Because then we have an hour and a half drive back home.  We could have shortened the drive to 45 minutes but then we would have had to spend the night in town.  Which means we would have had to close up the house and schlep the cat back as well.  Seemed easier to go for the longer drive.

The other process is to glue the prepared jewels onto the existing glass as well.  We are going to try to get that accomplished in two days during the week between Christmas and New Year.  To that end I have also been selecting the colors and cutting the dicroic glass that is to be glued to the back of the various sized jewels.  I decided to arrange the colors warm to cool, yellows to blues.  I eliminated green so my colors are yellow, orange, red. pink, purple, blue.  Granted, I haven’t cut the purples and blues yet but it already seems a little weighted to the yellows.  Not sure what I think of that.  I guess it depends on if I can reconcile it with some sort of mythology or I decide it’s trite.

Of course, that only matters in transmitted light.  In reflected light, like at night, they will reverse from pale blue to gold.  Or they should and less than half of the total jewels have color anyway.

Oh well, long day tomorrow any way you look at it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

late to the party

This is what the snow last week did to all the bradford pear trees (of which there are many).

looking out over the 13 acre field

The last three days have been foggy, all day foggy with mist and drizzling.  Today was merely overcast but colder.  I can’t remember when I last saw the sun.  I am ready to have a sunny day.  The cat is ready to have a sunny day.  She goes from door to door looking for the one that leads to sunny and dry.  I know how she feels.

All this wet weather has brought some strange things out of the ground.

I have to make another foray into the city tomorrow.  I left, even after we went back on Monday, some crucial things I need to work on each job.  I mean, what are the odds?  Three jobs, three seperate things forgotten that prevent me from working on any of it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

the quest

After slowly accruing followers for the past 11 months, I was up to 76.  Until now.  In the last week, I have lost two.  One I don’t have the faintest idea who left even though I have poured over my follower list trying to see who is absent.  Someone.  Eventually my subconscious may drag up the icon.  It takes a while sometimes, to rummage through all the debris. The other was one of the pictureless and blogless followers that had only come on a month or so ago.  

Was I boring?  Did I offend?  Was there a test?  An audition?  There was a test, wasn’t there?  Maybe I should have mentioned that I don’t test well.  Set me up and I will fall flat on my face every time.  

Or maybe I failed the audition.  Hey, I can do better, I’ve been busy with work and all, just give me some advance notice.

An engraved invitation would have been nice.

See?  If I had only known I could have lined up some killer posts.  I could have weighted the dice and bribed the jury.  I could have danced naked around the fire.

I’m probably guilty of the occasional boring post.  And although I’m also probably guilty of the occasional offensive post I do not write to intentionally offend.  But I’m not exactly mainstream either.  You never know if I'm going to go after a dog pack with firecrackers or try to herd a snake out of my garage.

I don’t know which is worse, to be boring or offensive.  I’ve seen some boring blogs that have way more followers than fascinating little ole me.  I’ve  also seen plenty of blogs that I’m pretty sure would be offensive to just about everybody in this little town we now call home.  And they have hundreds of followers.  Really, it’s sort of a blow to the ego.

Maybe that’s it.  I should strive for boring offensiveness.

Now if I can just figure out what that is.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Those of you who have been reading me regularly for awhile may know that I don’t do religion.  I’m not an atheist or even agnostic, I’m just not a joiner and I have a lot of trouble swallowing all the ‘word of god’ stuff.  My questions about religion and spirituality started when I was fairly young and my journey to where I am now is the subject for another post but part of that journey was embracing Reform Judaism.  Not for myself so much but as a foundation for my children.  I fully expected them, as young adults, to continue their own spiritual journey just as I did but my daughter never wavered.  So it was that I found myself at temple last night for services on the first night of Hanukah.

Going to services of any kind for me is sort of like watching performance art.  I don’t participate, don’t join in with the responsive reading but I do enjoy the sights and sounds, the music and the people.  Even when it’s in English instead a foreign language, all the different voices responding in their own rhythms makes it sound like a foreign language.  I’ll close my eyes and listen to the sounds waxing and waning like the surf on a beach.

Last night, after a ‘ridiculously expensive’ (my daughter’s description) latke dinner at the Temple there was a short service about the story of Hanukah with a choir of elementary school age kids who sang the prayers and Hanukah songs throughout the service.   My grandgirl Robin was in the choir.  

It was mostly pandemonium in the sanctuary with all the kids running around while everyone made their way from the dinner to find a seat.  People corralling kids, greeting friends, talking on their phones, other kids are hanging out on the steps to the bima.  I’ve always found Jews to be a bit irreverent when compared to the Christian services I attended as a child and it is one of the things that drew me to them.  My very first exposure, however, was going to Rosh Hashanna services at an orthodox synagogue with my boyfriend (who later became the Husband) and all through the services people were talking to each other, and to my eyes and mind, not paying the least bit of attention or respect.  I know different now but then, coming from a background where the church was sacrosanct and you entered in silence and respect and remained that way til you finally escaped, I was appalled.

Robin was already on the bima with the choir when we got there and joined Mom and siblings (Dad was at work) in the pews.  We all waved wildly at Robin and she waved back.  Robin is such a dramatic kid.  We were all a little amazed at how subdued she was up there.  When the director signaled for the kids to stand for the first song and then again to sit when they were done, Robin still stood, gazing out at the congregation instead of paying attention.  When she finally rested her gaze on her mother who was motioning for her to sit, she cast a glance at the other kids and plopped herself down.  From there ensued some typical Robin behavior.  When she realized her sister was taking pictures of her she held the song card up in front of her head, when her brother started making faces at her she’d stick her tongue out at him, after several songs she’s clutching her throat as if parched.  I think towards the end she was just mouthing the words instead of singing.  That’s my Robin.

After it was over, in the lobby, the Sisterhood had packaged up the leftover latkes and salad and pita bread and was selling them to people as they left.  Marc bought a package of the latkes and the pita bread and while people were streaming by us on their way out, our clan was standing in the big middle scarfing down latkes.

All I can say is, I raised them right.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

fall reading list

The Last Of The Wild West Cowgirls: A True Story by Kay Turnbaugh  - This is the story of Goldie Griffith one of the last cowgirls who performed in Wild Wests, early Rodeos and Circuses.  A historical reconstruction of her life as remembered in print and conversations and the memories of her children and other family.  She led an amazing life.  She boxed. She wrestled. She rode bucking broncos.  She was an actor and stunt rider for the brand-new western movies and much more.  It’s a good read.

Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan - This was a good story about the surviving spirit of a woman who arranges an art tour to China and Burma but dies unexpectedly before the trip departs and the adventures of her tour group that go on the trip anyway.  I really like Amy Tan but I think I enjoyed her other books that I have read more.

Ya Yas In Bloom by Rebecca Wells - more stories of the Ya-Yas as told by their children.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger - This is the story about a girl who meets her husband before he meets her.  Cleverly told and bittersweet.  I really enjoyed this one.

Whitethorn Woods by Maeve Binchy - Well, I’ve liked every story of hers I’ve read and this one is no different.  Wonderful characterizations, little vignettes centered around a little town with a shrine in the woods.

Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich - The further adventures of Stephanie Plum, Bounty Hunter.  Still making me laugh out loud.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant - An interesting story, historical fiction centered on the life of Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob, one of the patriarchs of Judism.  It was a good story and an enjoyable read.

Finger Lickin’ Fifteen by Janet Evanovich - See above, still makin’ me laugh.

Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood - The story of a somewhat neurotic painter who has come back to Toronto, the city she grew up in, for a retrospective of her work and she remembers her life from about 7 or 8 growing up during WWII to the present.  It’s very well written and I enjoyed it but I had no idea really, what to expect, when I checked it out from the library.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

webbed and jeweled

We finally made it home late Sunday afternoon, leaving the glue to cure for a day.  This morning as we were preparing to return to the city to finish up this little bit of business, it was warming, overcast, humid with a south wind.  I was headed out to the compost pile when I happened to notice a spider web in the span between the underneath of the truck and the concrete driveway.  I noticed it because it was all dewey and the light was illuminating it.

We have a flat lap that we bought and have plans to refurbish it and it too was on the driveway and also covered in spider webs, or rather a web and lots of crazy silk strands, all dewey and lit up.

I started looking around, my mission to the compost pile forgotton in the wonder of the moment, and I saw other webs everywhere...under the eaves of the house, enveloping a concrete sculpture of a small boy, in the trees, the brick pile, the ferns.

Some were complete webs but many were small tangles

or just single strands, some 4', 5', 6' long, draped among the foliage like garlands on a christmas tree, all jeweled and strung with pearls.

But not a single spider to be seen.

Monday, December 7, 2009

from the 'ask a stupid question' dep't...

One of the mothers who volunteer at my identical twin granddaughters’ school asked Jade if she and Autumn were twins.

‘No,’ Jade said, ‘we’re not even related.’

Sunday, December 6, 2009

finishing up

6 of 12 panels

After three very long days, the panels are done.  Backgrounds finished and jewels glued on.  I still need to trim off the excess adhesive but it won’t harden fully for another day or so.  I’ll do that on Tuesday and then we will deliver the panels to the art consultant.  Yay!

If you are just getting here these are the posts about this job that precede this one:

I had another question about the sandblasting.

Cynthia Morgan (who does some really nice cast and pate de verre glass work herself) asked...

the sandblasting in some of the images looks shaded (around the tree trunks, for example). Do you sandblast evenly across the entire glass surface, or do you actually go a bit deeper and shade/contour some areas? Or blend them in with previous pulled-off stencil layers so that you get a smooth contour?  The short answer is...yes.  There are three basic techniques; carving, shading or airbrush and etching (and these are my definitions/labels).  

carving - the longer you point the sandblaster at the glass in one spot, the more the glass is ground away, abraded away, and the deeper the spot gets until eventually you would have a hole in the glass.  The stencil controls the shape of this ‘hole’ and the distance, pressure, blasting grit, and time control the depth.  Think engraved glassware on an architectural scale.  There is a third dimension but it’s only about 1/8” - 3/16” deep.  The illusion of greater depth is the result of shadows on the edges and shading.

shading or airbrush - this is a surface technique using low pressure and (ideally) less sharp grit to achieve a tone that can go from a totally etched surface to a barely dusted surface.  In this way, by manipulating the various shades, great illusory depth or distance can be achieved.

etching - another surface technique using high pressure and sharp grit where it’s either completely etched or it’s clear.

So to answer your question about these pieces, yes the leaves and branches are deeper and contoured and blended and shaded.  No airbrushing really, just shading large areas and sometimes it’s a subtle difference.

The sandblasting is done so now we remove the rest of the stencil material.

And then we replace it with another, clear stencil material. 

This time I freehand a cut around the etched and carved areas about 1/16” from the edges of the design.

Once the second stencil is cut, I apply a chemical etching cream with a sponge.  (out of focus, sorry)

Wait 10 minutes or so and then hose it off.  (also out of focus, seems SOMEone has a hard time with this camera)

The few remaining pieces of stencil are removed and the panel is sealed to help prevent fingerprints on the etched surface.

Finally, the jewels are glued on.

Hopefully the art consultant will take pictures of the installation for me and if so I will post them later.  I'll take a picture of this panel and post it after I trim the excess adhesive.