A Stained Glass Road Trip

What began in June as an I’m-going-to-strip-this-old-trim-off-10-layers-of-paint project has morphed into a whole-new-breakfast-nook effort. Let’s be clear: I could not have done this project without my Spousal Equivalent, the Jazzman.

When I got portions of the trim in the breakfast nook down to bare wood, we realized the bare wood in the living room and dining room—the “public areas” of the house, by 1927 standards—was a much higher quality wood than what was in the “family areas.”

Once that was determined, continuing the brutal task of stripping the wood to stain and varnish it made no sense. So I started looking at kitchen design magazines and Lowe’s paint swatches. I settled on Valspar Ultra White gloss for the woodwork and Bermuda Sand semi-gloss for the walls and inside of the china cabinet. I think the exterior wall, where the window is, will be an accent color. The preliminary choice is Jekyll Club Pulitzer Blue, a Valspar National Trust for Historic Preservation color. But I reserve the right to change my mind before the paint hits the wall. We’ve spent a couple of weekends prepping and priming the room, and are just about ready to go.

Ever since we “inherited” Mother’s counter-height bar stools, we’ve wanted a bar table in that room. We’ve gone back and forth as to size and placement. I want it facing the windows. The Jazzman wants it perpendicular to that wall, with one chair on either side. That way, he says, he can look at me when we’re sitting at the bar with our glasses of wine, solving the world’s problems. When one’s sweetheart says, “I want to look at your pretty face,” …. Well, it’s hard to argue with that!

I searched and searched the Internet for tables of the right size (24″ wide) and height (36″) and could find nothing reasonably priced ($100-150). Then I started thinking about using my artistic knowledge and skilled fingers. I’ve made glass mosaic tabletops before. True, I no longer have the bulk of the tools, but that shouldn’t stand in my way.

I checked out a couple of books from the library and perused my own library, settling on the “Night Moves” project from George W. Shannon and Pat Torlen’s “Marvelous Mosaics for Home & Garden.”

Now to accumulate the supplies. I visited the local Abstract Stained Glass studio and was distinctly unimpressed and disappointed. I was spoiled learning stained glass and mosaics from Genia Parker in Tucson. I knew I wouldn’t find what I needed in Youngstown. So I started exercising my Google abilities. When the Jazzman got called in to work today, I decided it was a good day for a road trip.

I chose two stores, knowing if I found everything in the first, I could skip the second. I started with Rennaisance [sic] and Rainbows in Middlefield, Ohio (“the fourth largest Amish population in the nation”). The studio was in the back of the owner’s home. The lady who helped me was very nice, but the selection of glass that suited my project wasn’t very broad. And there was an older man working in there—apparently the owner or the owner’s spouse—who was just, to put it simply, Very Strange. Unlike my standard of Ochoa Stained Glass in Tucson, this was not a studio I would feel comfortable working in. I bought one piece of iridized glass, but the coating was not consistent across the glass and I will have lots of leftover glass from this piece.

Taking my carefully wrapped sheet of glass, I headed out for stop #2: Leaded Glass Design in Cuyahoga Falls. To be succinct, “Wow!” “Home!” The nice people and the great selection of Tucson’s Ochoa Stained Glass, transplanted to Northeast Ohio!!

Joe, the owner, pointed out the locations of the various types of glass. He has a GREAT backlit rack on top of the storage bins with a 4″x4″ sample of EVERY PIECE OF GLASS IN THE STORE. You can see what you want. You can touch what you want. You can find what you want! GLASS HEAVEN!!!

I got more iridized black to use for this project. I’ll save the piece from Middlefield to teach the grandkids foiling or mosaics or something. I also got a reddish/purplish iridized, and an opaque black and an opaque dark red. And then, just because I could and because I picked up a tank of MAP gas the other day, I got three rods of Moretti, some mandrels, and a jar of bead release. Boston has been asking me for years to learn to make beads. The time has come for some elementary lampworking lessons.

I need to order some unglazed granite mosaic tiles from an online supplier and come up with a cutter and a nipper. I need to determine the exact dimensions of the table and have some plywood cut. And I need to expand the 10″x10″ pattern to fit the approx. 24″ x 40″ table.

Once those tasks are done, I’ll have a few happy days cutting and placing glass and then grouting.

Ah, creativity!

(And because I know you’re dying to know, here’s the answer: 142 miles)

Forget that Swirl Shawl!

Farm Field ScarfA month ago I posted my summer project. After knitting two or three of the swirls that would make up the scarf, I threw my needles on the table and said, “No, I Won’t!”

I pulled out every stitch I had done, wrapped the yarn back around the ball and went in search of a better pattern for that yarn.

I have never sewn or knitted anything for my guy. His skin is sensitive to much wool yarn, so scarves he purchases have to be of very fine, un-itchy wool. But this yarn—Jojoland Variegated Fingering Weight Superwash—should be gentle to his skin. Blossom Garden is a subtle variegation of brick red, steel blue, and bits of soft mustard and sage green. The scarf pattern I found has little broken cables that make it seem more masculine than other scarf patterns I’ve explored.

So that’s what’s on my needles now. It’s a little complex. It’s not a pattern I can mindlessly knit while watching television or carrying on a conversation. The pattern requires concentration, but that’s the only downside.

Here we go: 60 stitches times (4 border rows top and bottom plus 24 pattern rows knitted 16 times). Um, that’s 23,520 stitches.

That should take up any spare time I have this summer.

A New Take on a Crocheted Rope

Beads - BeforeWhen I was taking care of the grandkids the other day, I took them to the local library for a little while. In the craft aisle, I found Bethany Barry’s Bead Crochet. Dear friend and fellow beader Bindy Lambell (here’s a look at some of Bindy’s beautiful beads) taught me bead crochet when she stayed at my home during the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show in 2007. I’ve made a number of bead ropes before, but always with size 6 or 8 seed beads of various colors but no variety in size or style.

When I looked at the projects in “Bead Crochet”, my mouth began watering. I had to be in Newbury, OH, on Wednesday morning, so I took the long way home and stopped at Bead Q! in Chagrin Falls for supplies. In my mind, I saw a rope out of lime and turquoise beads. But Bead Q! doesn’t carry a lot of seed beads or thread in the size and type I needed. I chose a bronze shade for the thread, then found 6mm pale gold bugle beads and 4mm pale peridot bugle beads. Moving to the wall where the strands of beads are displayed, I chose a strand of peridot chips, a strand of peridot faceted rondelles, a strand of small peridot balls, and the coolest strand of tiny orangey shells. On my drive home, I stopped at a Michael’s along the way and found size 6 seed beads in peridot and in clear with copper lining, and a size 1 crochet needle.

Once home, I sat on the porch, listening to the latest audiobook on my iPhone and stringing all the beads onto the thread with a big eye needle. I strung two size 6 seed beads, then a bead off one of the strands I got at Bead Q!, then one of the bugles. After two rounds of that combination, I strung four size 6 seeds, then a random bead off the strands and a bugle. That pattern continued – 2, 2, 4 – until I had 5-6 yards of beads strung onto the thread. Which seed beads and which bugles was entirely random.

When they were all finally strung, I moved upstairs, chose a movie off TiVO, and started crocheting the rope.

Unless I am making these ropes on a regular basis, it takes me four or five tries to get it started correctly. I chose to do a 5-bead rope, and I “cheated” by stringing 10 of the size 6 seed beads at the end of the thread, where I would start the single crochet circle. (The first rope I ever made was restarted 15 or 20 times, as I recall!)

My goal was about 20″ of finished rope. I worked about 12 inches before stopping for the day. Today (I always like spending my birthday making things with my hands.) I resumed my work immediately after breakfast and finished around noon. I would say the crocheting work took about 3-5 hours and the stringing took over an hour. The stringing is tedious, but an end is always in sight. The crocheting is mindless work once you get in the zone.

So there’s my birthday present to myself. Now I’m going to run downstairs and see if I can get a little lime jersey t-shirt dress finished in the next four hours. Then I’ll wear them both to my birthday dinner with my family.

Bethany Barry’s “Bead Crochet” – highly recommended!
Finished Necklace

My Go-To Gift

bow@www.wowMy older son visited from Dallas last weekend. In a Monday evening text, he asked if I’d like to have lunch with him on Tuesday. When I woke up Tuesday morning, I realized I needed a quick gift to send back to Dallas with him.

Zip It bagsI’ve made a number of Nancy Ota’s Zip It bags over the past few years. My grandchildren’s teachers received bags for Christmas last year. I frequently give them as gifts to friends who will be traveling.

My favorite use is for all the adapters one needs in this age of technology. No more digging through every pocket in my bag‐they’re all in one place. On our recent trip to Italy, I packed all my jewelry in one of the bags. I made one in the “Project” size to give to my girlfriend who is an event planner for organizations like a university fine arts department and a public radio station. She can keep all her information for an event in one place.

Nancy Ota designed these bags using Phifer PetScreen, a vinyl-coated polyester mesh that was created to avoid pet-claw snags on screen doors. You can buy it in black in rolls of 10′ or so in the screen department of your local Lowe’s or Home Depot. Or several stores sell it in brilliant colors for more variety in your bags.

I always use high-quality quilting cottons, as they will wear better over time than the cheaper and lighter-weight fabrics you might find in your local everything-but-the-kitchen-sink (JA’s) store. I find excellent themed fabrics at eQuilter.com. I frequently gear it toward an interest of the giftee. My son is a network administrator—his bag featured animals sitting at computer screens. My girlfriend, the event planner, received at bag with an opera print. eQuilter has an excellent search function. And when I find a fabric I like, they also have a “Related Products” button that presents the other prints in the line.

Fabric panelThe band of fabric, topstitched to the screen fabric, normally goes on the front, under the zipper. But for my son’s bag, I wanted to display more of the fabric print, so placed it on the back. And I like to edge the fabric panel with a quarter-inch binding of a complementary fabric. (When I couldn’t decide which hand-dyed fabric looked the best, I texted a photo to my friend, the graphic designer, for her input.)

Don’t forget to attach a charm or bead or narrow bit of fabric or embroidery floss to the zipper pull for a little bit more personalization.

Finished bagAnd here’s the back of the finished bag. On the front, there’s just the mesh and a black zipper.

The bag makes up (depending upon how organized you are) in about two hours or less. It’s the perfect spur-of-the-moment gift!

Summer Project: Swirl Shawl

Swirl shawlOnce I returned from my recent vacation to Italy, my time was consumed first by the Verdi Requiem, then by blogging about the trip. It’s amazing how much one can forget in 30 short days! I’ve been totally unmotivated by knitting or any other handcraft.

Then today I was cleaning up all artistic detritus hanging around the family room when I found a knitting kit I purchased a year ago on one of my taking-care-of-Mother trips to Asheville.

So the next knitting project is a shawl pattern from Jojoland.

It knits up in individual hexagons. Okay, so there are 82 hexagons, but if I tackle them one at a time, they’ll be manageable, right?

We’ll see how well these 82 hexagons hold my interest.