North to Alaska! A Working Vacation…

August 12, 2010

Welcome to Palmer Alaska

Half Moon Creek is an amazing glass gallery, Bullseye Resource Center and studio.  The owner/partners treated me like a queen and lined up a full class of incredible students.  Four days together without a hitch or a glitch.  I adored each student and the tiles they produced were nothing short of inspirational.  I can’t stop thinking about my experience, it was one of those adventures that I’ll remember the rest of my life.  The land and the people.

After landing in Anchorage, we headed south along the shore.

I’ll try not to overload you with over 1000 photos that I took, but only a few to tantalize.  I arrived a day early and took a quick trip south of Anchorage to find glaciers, whales, bear, moose, eagles, and everything wild that I’d read about Alaska.

broken off glacier

I found a glacier just before going into the tunnel leading to Whittier.  Or a piece of one, broken off, I later learned.

Elk at Wildlife Refuge, south of Anchorage, Alaska

I found elk, bison, caribou, and moose at the wildlife refuge but never saw one in the wild.  Didn’t see any bears either.  I was really looking forward to seeing a bear.

I took hundreds of photos, but don’t want to spend my time processing & editing!

It rained and clouds settled in during my entire week there, with rare exceptions.  I didn’t care, I was THERE.  In Alaska!  I planned to experience every moment, in the moment from my class to the daily treks after class.  The sun only sets for a couple of hours in August, so I had all day to teach and all night to explore.

Morning of Museums around Palmer & Wasilla

We played tourist to the hilt, going to all the museums in Palmer & Wasilla before class began and generally exploring the area.

Summit Lake in Clouds

Hatcher Pass was so cloudy and rainy we couldn’t see Summit Lake just beyond the wildflowers!  Can you see it?  We didn’t see Independence Mine either!

Little Susitna River

Which river photo to show from our drive back to town…..how about this one!

Knik Glacier from our B & B

View of Knik Glacier from our B & B….

Knik Glacier with telephoto

And zoomed in.  A spectacular view every day in spite of clouds or rain.

First day of class

Day one in class saw a full slate of students working diligently, modeling glass paste and getting to know one another.  Chris and Christian had the studio well stocked and our every wish was their command!  Not to mention the catered lunch with truffles for dessert!

Using Steider Studios Glass Medium as a binder for small components

We had one kiln filled with beads, buttons & cabs; and another kiln filled with small sculptures.

Susitna River

Day two, I forgot to pick up my camera in class, we were so busy producing samples and discussing possibilities.  That evening, still playing the role of tourist by night, we drove out to Talkeetna, the staging camp for Denali, hoping to see Mt. McKinley.  No sun, no mountain view.  But the clouds made for a dramatic view of the river!

Will the sun shine today?

Day three of class … yep, more clouds with a wink of the sun.

Samples from Day 1 Powderology

These are samples from day one of Powderology, our second day together. Two more kilns full of tests yet to view and discuss!

Viewing samples, comparing notes.

Excited students dove into their samples with gusto, curiosity, and risk-taking attitudes.  I think I surprised them with how much could be done with powdered glass!  I caught a couple of them talking about exhaustion!!

Matanuska Glacier

That evening we drove out to Matanuska Glacier.

I am so inspired by the colors I can’t wait to start my ‘Glacier Series’!

Still light at the B & B, I grabbed a few shots of surrounding color.

Last day of extended Powderology course

How many different ways can you visually say the same thing?  Using wafers; full vs tack fuse; kiln-carved; and so much more.

Working with glass powders

Last day of class everyone worked long and hard to finish all the experiments they wanted to tackle.  We filled three kilns plus a load of wafers earlier in the day.

At the end of the day…

Ten very happy students and one extremely happy instructor that last afternoon!  Who looks more spent, me or students?!!

Reindeer Farm

After class we headed out to the Reindeer Farm.  Had high hopes of seeing Santa, but alas he was vacationing in a warm sunny part of the globe, we were told!  Do you know how expensive it is to ship an antler home?  A gift for my garden!  OMG!

Our last morning the sun came out!

We woke to sunny skies on our last day.  Yes, this is what the sun looked like.  Did I say the landscape is incredible?  Awe-inspiring?  Beyond spectacular?  The memory takes my breath away.

Our view coming into Palmer Alaska

Our last drive into Palmer was gifted with a sun-filled sky….joy  still welling in my heart to see this photo of it!

Collage of projects

Back at Half Moon Creek unloading kilns, giving a final critique to everyone who could be there & packing up my tools & samples.  Wish I had been more diligent with photography in class to show you how much our students accomplished!

Hatcher Pass

Then we headed back to Hatcher Pass to see what we missed due to cloud cover the first part of the week.  I could show you a hundred more pictures, but will try to refrain!

One last view of the first glacier segment

And a speed trip back to Whittier, where it was still cloudy, and raining; accompanied with the eerie news of Senator Steven’s plane crash.

It was the trip of a lifetime and I can’t wait to go back.  For the incredible people, the enormous landscapes, and next time I really, really hope to see wildlife in the wild. Oh, and Denali.  And Valdez.  And Seward.  And Homer.  And bears!  Next summer I’ll  bring Powderology Plus back to Half Moon Creek!  Alaska is awesome, I can’t wait!!  Thank you Christian and Chris for the invitation, you were wonderful to work with!

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12 Responses to “North to Alaska! A Working Vacation…”

  1. Mindy Says:

    What a great review and photos.
    Sign me up for Powderology Plus!
    You’re a marvelous instructor and resource! I learned so much and can’t wait to dive in. My fireweed wafers are already fused and slumped into a plate!
    Chris, Christian and all the gals at Half Moon are awesome!
    If it rains tomorrow, we will tie the record for most consecutive days of rain… Your pics are awesome, but you really need to come back in late May and see the sunshine!


  2. Marge Says:

    The pictures are awsome and thank you so much for sharing them. Visiting Alaska is one of those far away dreams for me…but someday!

    In your photos, you showed a picture of pre-fired glass powdered beads (?) in the kiln, but I didn’t see any post-fired beads, I would love to see how those turned out.



  3. Thank you so much Marge, I gave out a lot of info & wanted to be sure everyone understood everything, so failed to pick up my camera often enough in class. You’ll have to trust me that the beads turned out fantastic! I especially remember Brenda’s torso! Any students are always welcome to send me photos to compile for a future post, by the way!!


  4. Mindy, it’s so great to see you here! It was my honor to lead your incredible group! Really looking forward to seeing all you do with powder!! May? OK. Whenever you say! I still have a lot to see of Alaska!!


  5. Margo Crane Says:

    Such awesome photos. I’m home sick! Your powderology class sounds like a lot of fun, too!


  6. Thanks Margo! The landscapes were incredible, all I had to do was ‘point & shoot’!!


  7. Patricia Says:

    You left me without words!Just amazing! I love every single photo.Glad you had a nice time there,…Who couldn’t?Thanks for sharing


  8. Thanks Patricia!


  9. Karen Says:

    Wow!!! What a spectacular synopsis of a whirlwind trip!! The pics were stunning, even WITH the clouds and rain! My mind, I’m sure, can hardly do it justice in the sun. The pic you showed of Hatcher Pass on the last day was beautiful, but I was also surprised at how vibrant the flora was during the week despite the low light and clouds. Thx for letting us see your trip thru your eyes. I can’t wait to take one of your Powderology classes!! Your students created the most beautiful items!! They should all be very proud of themselves!!


  10. Thank you so much Karen! It was a 4 day class, so students had time to try all sorts of powder techniques. Wish I had thought about picture-taking more often in class! I need a class photographer, lol! Hope to see you in class!!


  11. Gorgeous photos! I wish I could have attended this class. It looked like lots of fun.


  12. Thanks so much Doris! I’ve had so much work this summer that I’ve been unable to keep up with my 365!


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