Saturday, December 7, 2013

snow jewels

So mother earth gave us her own reminder that Christmas is seriously coming.
BAM! Snow everywhere. Rad!
 However, it's officially time to panic and freeze my bum off making as many treasures as I can.
 There are only a few pieces in the shop this week as I've been pounding out individual orders
 (including one for Stripe in Santa Cruz eep!)
I will be taking individual requests only this week and will not have anything 
available after Christmas. For a heads up I will be traveling December 27-Febuary 12th 
and will be unavailable during that time. However I do have big plans for continuing 
Swiminsidethesun jewelry when I return, so stay in touch!

Send requests to 

  Once again it's open house here at Nicholson Blown Glass
snow, candy canes, mandarins, hot cider, and demonstrations

Sat/Sun 10-4
come get cozy!
xo. h

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

badass babes the sierras of Madrid with those tall trees and it's to The Decemberists? I'm so happy watching this.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Blowing Glass with Coke Bottles

here's a few shots of our own coke bottle experiments with glass artist Matthew Eaton

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fall forests

models: Adrian Butti, Alana van Altena
match necklaces and copper cutouts
fall 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

A maker of things

Spent the day painting the horse & goat shelter my dad and I have been working on for the past couple
 weeks and it's almost done, finally. Between working in the hot shop and losing the light early we've
 only been getting about an hour of work a day. But it's fun, I like the light that time of day. I think the
 realization that we can create our dreams and build our lives with our hands ignites a wave of personal
 empowerment in creative development. Making things brings me back to my roots. Spending time and
 hard work to give something life reminds me of the importance of process. To make places 
and things that didn't exist before, going from idea to something tangible, is a magical
 experience. The only thing that limits you is the properties of the materials you're working with, but
you learn to problem solve and make 'obstacles' work for you. There are so many windows for
 creation- from building, drawing, music, and dance, to painting a wall, hammering some nails,
organizing your space into a nest. And they all leave you proud. Accomplished. In some way, you
made something a little better, and that's cool. There are pools of creativity in everything on the earth.
Take pride in the things you create- even if it's just dinner. So get into it. Don't be afraid to spend some
 time getting your hands dirty. Make a million ugly things so the gems can come out- and if the word art
 or artist scares you, just get rid of it.
 Be a maker of things.



Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Today Alana and I took some shots of the necklaces that will be available this weekend at
 Nicholson Blown Glass during the Autumn Art Studios Tour, Fri//Sat//Sun 10-5. Come visit!
Happy November,

Thursday, October 24, 2013

forging: pachamama's face

Today was my first time forging.
Super fun, but a lot of physical work.

I started by cutting a 1'x1.5' sheet of 18g steel for the head

Using gloves and tongs, the sheet is set in the furnace (which is at about 2000 degrees)
getting the steel red hot to be formed.

Holding the steel in place with tongs over a wood stump, begin to hammer 
(using a ball pein hammer) the metal into the dip previously carved out of the stump.

Continue to do so while reheating periodically. The more times you reheat, the less
 time is needed in the furnace to achieve the same temperature. Above is the result
from forging, the rest of the face is worked on cold.

First I flattened all the large bumps by hammering over a steel ball for forming. 
After achieving a smoother shape, I used a variety of tools including
chisels and various metal forms to hammer over for shaping.

Working from both sides of the piece will give you greater control over the resulting form.
(i.e. pushing in the eye sockets from the front and popping the eyes out from the back)

And that's as far as I got today! A radical exploration of this new medium
and a solid reminder of how weak my arms are!
next time: should probably spot heat with a torch so I don't break my wrists off

 and that's what giant dirty man-hands are good for.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

via thislate

pachamama project: steel feathers

my next big project in the metal department is a large wall piece dedicated
 to pachamama (mother earth in quechua). I have started with some loose sketches for design 
guidelines and material choices and have chosen to start with 18g steel feathers that will fall from her hair. 

I began with a plasma torch to cut the shapes out, then sandblasted them for cleaning and a matte
 look. I then used a dremel to indicate where I wanted to braze (melting bronze rod onto the surface of the steel). After brazing, the rest of the steel was blacked from the torch. To remove the fire scale and clean the metal I used the sand blaster again, however it is necessary to tape over the bronze 
beforehand to protect it- the sand blaster will not remove the bronze, but it will dull it the same as any other surface.

Once the tape is removed, voilà! Now it's time to add the details with the dremel. I used a 
diamond bit (which you're definitely not suppose to use), which sort of worked out but wore it
 down..I'm not entirely sure what would be the best. Keep in mind that unprotected sand
 blasted metal picks up finger prints very easily, so keep your fingers on the edges while
 working until a protective lacquer has been applied.

To finish the pieces, I chose to do a heat patina using a portable propane torch for a blue 
purple coloring. The lame thing about heat patina's is they are pretty much impossible to maintain. 
They always look so bright when created, but darken and dull fairly quickly. Not
 to mention they need some sort of lacquer finish to protect them- which in my experience, darken 
and dulls them immediately.

my favorite result: loved the way using excess bronze over already-cut areas filled it in
 completely keeping the texture intense but solid and smooth (pictured above)
what I forgot: use a wire brush after the brazing to remove any lingering flux and fire scale
(it will give the bronze a cleaner look)
for the future: maaaaybe try a 0 or 00 torch tip for more control? (used a 1)

torches, sparks, and dirty hands. yup it's a thursday!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

design in metal

so far I am loving my design in metal class with Jim DeVore at Sierra College, although I have piles of learning and practicing to do. Our first project is to create a welded sculpture of our own interpretation of a pyramid. We are using oxy-acetylene with a 00 tip and a 2' x 1' sheet of 18 gauge hot rolled steel. As you can see, I have a long way to go. I definitely loved the process, but like most things, it's something you do over and over until you're really in tune with the medium and really start to understand it without thinking too much. I used a plasma torch, a very very rad tool, for the cut-outs.

My welds here are almost entirely "superficial welds," meaning I used too much filler rod and basically melted it on the surface without heated my base metals enough. I can pretty much just pull this thing apart. not good. I also learned- a bit too late- that I was adding too much oxygen to my flame, making the inner cone too sharp resulting in brittle welds. Since these photos I have taken my piece home, sand blasted it for cleaning, and used a hand grinder to remove all of the welding rod laying on the surface. Thursday I will try to smooth it all out and make the welds stronger. Anyways! there's my art education update.

and yesterday we had an amazing, windy, rainy day. perfect weather for blowing glass.

Thursday, September 5, 2013



Did a photo shoot with miss Alana for my new necklaces the other day which, of course, evolved to just being shots of that gorgeous being. We had some seriously golden light and that's right folks she's naturally that hot. 
Copper 2-piece chevron necklace with patina.
vintage bathing suit-thrifted, shoes-urban outfitters

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

lil inspiration

simply amazing.