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Steider Studios:  Finished Birdbath

Happy Father’s Day Weekend to all the men making a positive difference in the life of a child!  I’ve been working on a bird bath that was commissioned as a gift for a special Dad this week.  Below are my process photos:

Steider Studios:  Paula's Birdbath phase 1

Powdered glass is sifted in a pattern on top of a sheet glass substrate, then lines are drawn through the powder.  Disc is fired in a glass kiln for about 16 hours.

Steider Studios:  Second Layer of Paula's Birdbath

Second layer of glass powder is added to client’s bird bath, mimicking the first layer, but overlapping colors will be richer.  Lines are drawn alternating with the under-layer design.  Additional red accent dots are added to balance how bright the central red ring turned out.  Firing schedule includes a slow ramp up, long bubble squeeze and careful annealing.

Steider Studios:  Birdbath photographed in shade before slump

Out of the kiln, a bit of cold-working (grinding the edge to eliminate any rough spots and to form a perfect circle) then it will be almost ready to shape into a bird bath form.

Steider Studios:  Birdbath outside in sunlight.

I auditioned it in my sunlit garden to make sure the iridescent sparkle in the glass showed through these colors.  Next I add some lines of gold duplicating those drawn through the powder, then it’s ready for it’s final firing.

Steider Studios:  Birdbath Shaping in Progress

To shape the disc into a functional bird bath, I ramp the heat up slowly overnight so I can watch it and control the process the following morning at my leisure.  Center of glass slowly ‘drops’ or sags through the open center of a ceramic ring.  At 1200º it took about 35 minutes – may have taken less time if I weren’t introducing cool air every 3 minutes as I peeked to watch progress.

When I like the shape, I quickly ramp down to the anneal segment, then wait until the glass is at room temperature before removing it from my kiln.  A potter friend made this ceramic ring for me in a larger size than commercially available.

Next up some pendant lighting and a cool outdoor fence/gate project!!

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Teaching at Half Moon Creek Gallery in Palmer Alaska for the third time, we landed in Anchorage with a side trip to Homer  scheduled first.  Cloud covered, we could see hints of blue sky causing our spirits to soar.  Each previous working vacation has been rainy, cloudy, and generally stormy.


As the sun came out, we knew this trip – our third – would be charmed.

Especially when we saw a moose along the highway before we’d been in Alaska a full day!

As we pulled into Homer, it was a bit dark, but hey….it was 10pm!

We splurged and stayed at Land’s End Resort Hotel, the last building on the Homer Spit.

Our room had a fantastic view and I braved the cold wind, going out on our deck often to breathe in the sea and sky.

Our first full day was long and early, beginning with a halibut fishing trip for my better half.  I had booked a birding excursion, but my trip was cancelled due to high seas.  So I Looked for eagles birds  on land….

…found some seagulls in a parking lot at 6:30 am after dropping my hubby off at the docks, then decided to treat myself to a latte since most of the birds were still asleep.

At Two Sisters Bakery I found one of the best mocha’s I’ve ever had!  Took their shelter from the rain, a warm cinnamon roll and a little wi-fi.

Next I went on a guided hike at the Wynn Nature Center and since I was the only one at 10 am I had a naturalist all to myself for an informative and personalized tour.

The views from Skyline Drive on my way back into town were breathtaking and I still had time to use my plastic at all the galleries, gift shops and book stores in Homer.

Back to my tireless hunt for birds along the sandy shore of the spit…

…found plenty of seagulls….

…and finally….the following day on our way out of town….

…after countless blurry images, this guy decided to pose for a few shots.  He wasn’t happy about it, but he did and I was grateful.

Later that afternoon in Girdwood, we took a short hike at the Historic Crow Creek Gold Mine, ending at the creek’s edge.  We stayed at a B & B and our evening meal just across the street at Double Musky Inn was one of the best ever. Thanks to everyone who recommended it!

Girdwood hosts the Alyeska Resort with an Arial Tram that takes you to the top of Mt. Alyeska, 2300 feet up in seven minutes….. with astonishing views.  When we were here last year it was closed due to high winds, so I was really looking forward to going up.

Not wanting to break our record of clouds and rain in Alaska, this was the clearest shot I had of  Turnagain Arm from the top of Mt. Alyeska.  Exhilarating, nonetheless!

The Alyeska Hotel, viewed during the tram’s descent….which might be a bit scary if you’re in the front.  OK, yes I was scared, but only for a minute, and there were children onboard, so I smiled valiantly, held on tightly and loved every moment even though my white knuckles implied otherwise.

The gardens at Hotel Alyeska are spectacular….the roads in downtown Girdwood are under construction, so I just grabbed a latte and we continued our northern journey.

Almost to Anchorage we stopped at Potter Marsh, the southern end of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge with incredible views of Turnagain Arm.

Alas, I wasn’t having a lot of luck with my birding adventure this week, but I did find a few feathered friends to photograph.

The scenery was breathtaking … as it always is … in Alaska … despite gray conditions.

Our next stop enroute to Palmer was the Alaska Botanical Garden in Anchorage.  A lovely short hike with a warning that bears were in the area; but the only wildlife we saw were mosquitoes.  Fortunately I had citronella oil with me.

Can you tell I am completely enamored with the Himalayan Blue Poppy (Meconopsis)!  I’ve tried growing them to no avail, but here in Alaska they thrive.

With time for one more stop before arriving in Palmer, we chose to hike at the Eagle River Nature Center (you know I was hoping to see an eagle!).

We found baby swallows, but no eagles in sight.  The setting was gorgeous and we had a great hike!

My Powderology class is the reason for my being in Alaska.  Two days, ten students, 4 kilns filled twice, and a ton of fun at Half Moon Creek in Palmer!  Once again, I had a set of talented people unafraid to take risks, play and explore.  Does anyone in Alaska know what can’t means?  I think not!

A collaged collection of student work, I did not pick up my camera as often as planned.  We start having fun and I forget to document!  It was one of those magical classes where everyone connected, shared ideas, and laughed together.

And we all excitedly gasped as the kilns were opened in the morning!

Our trip to Palmer wouldn’t be complete without a drive up to Hatcher Pass for stunning views.  One last treat by our lovely hosts at Simon’s in Anchorage with a panoramic view of Cook Inlet, then back to our B & B to pack up.  All in all, the third time WAS a charm!  We loved every moment and want to again thank Half Moon Creek for offering another opportunity for an amazing adventure!!

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I must be in a summer daze.  Home from Alaska where I taught at Half Moon Creek Gallery, I managed to unpack and catch up with mail and messages but that’s about all I’ve been able to muster.  Oh I pulled a couple of weeds and straightened my studio and even sorted through the hundreds of pictures I took.  Yes, hundreds.  As in over 1000!  Once again, it was the trip of a lifetime.  Here are a few highlights:

I was in Palmer teaching my ‘Powderology‘ workshop and once again Half Moon Creek provided amazing and talented students for me.

Is it any wonder I love teaching there?  In addition to a large, well lit, well equipped space, they indulge my every whim!

Student samples getting loaded into one kiln.  Two additional kilns to load.

One morning we left for class early to enjoy the scenery and found this moose browsing along the old Glen Highway.  I was so excited that he posed for me as long as he did before turning and ambling down the highway!  No doubt students thought I was crazy, showing them my moose photos!

Day three of Powderology class found everyone hard at work trying to get as much as they could out of our last day together.  I think they all came away very satisfied.  They produced wonderful samples, expanded their repertoire, and are heading in new directions.

We had a few days between week-end workshops, so headed to the Matanuska Glacier.  We realized too late that we were on the wrong highway, so just enjoyed our drive and lunched at the Wildflower Cafe in Talkeetna instead.


The following day, determined to touch a glacier, we stopped at Exit Glacier on our way to Seward.

Following a trail in the rain, I had the whole place to myself.

The glacier is huge & surprising colorful on such a gray rainy day.

For perspective, can you see the hikers at the base of Exit Glacier?

The road was flooded when we drove in to the glacier, but going back out, it was worse!

Our wildlife cruise was cancelled due to high seas, so when offered a 4 hour tour of Resurrection Bay we took it, determined to make the most of our time in Seward.  It poured, and while most passengers stayed below guess where I was?!  Yes, getting soaked on deck looking for whales.   See them?

The whales were so far away and the bay so rough that all my photos are too blurry to share, but we found this bank of Sea Lions!

At the end of 4 hours I was soaked inside my rain gear.  My camera viewer was so foggy I could hardly see the image, so wasn’t sure I’d captured these sea otters.  You know I wouldn’t have missed it and had a fabulous day in spite of weather and cancellations.

Since we now had extra time, I was thrilled that we’d stop to take Alyeska Tram up to the top!  Alas, it was closed due to high winds.  We put it on our list for next year.  Yep, looks like I’ll be back.

A good night’s rest and we were off the next day to Denali National Park.  Overcast, but no rain!

Along the Alaskan highways fireweed blends bright pink into the landscape.

From our lodge perched high above Nenana Canyon, this is the road to Denali National Park.

Nestled into our bus tour at Denali we searched the scenic vistas for the ‘Big Five’ wildlife we hoped to see.  Bears, wolves, caribou, Dahl sheep and moose.

Dahl sheep were the first of the big five, but from afar they were mere flecks of white on a green field.

We spotted two groups of Caribou – Yay, checked off 2 of the big five.  Concealed in a bus we were too far away from the majestic animals to get much detail.

Around a corner and over a bridge we came upon the highlight of our trip.  An argument between a bear and a wolf over a caribou carcass.  There was a young grizzly and a second wolf also trying to get close but the older grizzly would have no guests at this meal.  Numbers 3 & 4 of our big five located together!  Park officials thought the wolves had killed the caribou two days earlier and the grizzly had claimed it.

A compilation of the younger grizzly trying to run the wolves off.  You didn’t think I’d post all 300 shots did you?

All in all, we saw 10 grizzlies including this last one at the edge of the road, eating berries!  We also saw #5 of the big five, a moose, but since I already showed you my shot taken earlier in the week I’ll refrain from posting another.  No rain, but guess what…it snowed!  We didn’t get a glimpse of the mountain, but we were so thrilled with our time in Denali National Park.  An incredible experience.

Back at Half Moon Creek for my next class, with several returning and a few new students learning how to Build a Better Pocket.  This, after all, was the reason for my trip to Alaska!!

Loading the kilns with student work…..

Our last day together we pulled out some excellent pockets from the kilns.  I heard great reviews with smiles all around.  Another fabulous group of students that I hate to leave.  I do hope you’ll all keep in touch!

Amazing isn’t adequate to describe the talent, generosity, and imaginations I met while teaching for Half Moon Creek!  Go there if you have an opportunity, it’s an amazing studio, gallery, and resource center.  Thanks again for another wonderful time!

Our last day snow graced the higher elevations.  Snow on Aug 8th?   I learned it’s called ‘Termination Dust’, terminating the summer season.  I can’t wait to go back!

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On March 12th a 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami hit Japan, wiping out many coastal towns.  I cannot fathom the heartache of those who lost entire families in this tragedy.  And I can’t stop thinking about it.

In the days that followed, I considered what I could do to help.  You can read my thoughts in this previous post.  I decided to make some sushi sets to sell in my Artfire Shop.

I started by sketching some patterns and designs, then ran some quick small tests to see which I liked best.  After narrowing it to these three designs, I asked for help from my Facebook friends to decide which sets to make.  They had to be made in between previously committed projects and classes I was teaching.

The two selected designs were scaled up and made into 6″ sushi plates with matching sauce dishes.

When I posted results on my Facebook Page, my friend Katie offered sushi presses that Wayne (of Sticks & Stones) had made to go with my sets.  A perfect addition, I happily accepted.

The sets are $95 each and consist of two plates that are 6″, two cute little sauce dishes that are 3.5″ to 4″ and the beautiful 3 part Sushi Press.  A sweet set for two, I think it will be quite romantic using them!  Or for family fare you’ll need two sets.

Click here to purchase the set above (Whirl Design on Black)

If you’d rather have the Whirl Design on white, you can purchase it by clicking this link.

If you like the white background, you can purchase the Wave and Lotus Design with a click on this link.

And if you like the black background with the Wave and Lotus Design shown at the top of this post, you can click here to purchase it.

I’ve given my time and talent, along with Wayne and Katie Cordrey to produce these beautiful sets.  I hope you’ll consider purchasing one or two.  100% of your purchase price will go directly to relief efforts.

Did I tell you the carving on the sushi press is the Japanese character for ‘peace’?

Peace to you and yours.  xoxoxo

The Glass Craft and Bead Expo hosts a trade show that delights the eye and can bankrupt your wallet.  I have wholesale accounts with many of the suppliers, so try to not overwhelm my credit card while checking out all the new tools and supplies.

I confess I did come home with a few new toys…mostly from His Glassworks.

You can take quick classes on the spot at some of the booths, most of which are free.

Or you can register for a hands on workshop and take home valuable information.  Plus samples that you make in class and tons of notes to duplicate the projects in your own studio.

I couldn’t teach my classes without the support of Paragon Kilns.

Nor could I conduct a class without the generous support of Bullseye Glass!

The wonderful team at Delphi gave my students a host of design accoutrements for our projects.

Last, but not least, my students wouldn’t be able to ‘finish’ their projects without the support of Glastar!  I truly appreciate the generous support of these companies.

When teaching, it’s difficult remembering to pick up my camera, so there are only a few shots of my classes.

Most of my photos are during lunch, or after class and definitely on the run!

My students this year, without exception were incredibly talented, intelligent and FUN!

Thank you for taking my classes, I hope you’ll keep in touch and remember I’m available for you anytime.

I’ve spent this week catching up on processing and shipping orders and just yesterday finished unpacking.  I love teaching on the road, but am always glad to be home.

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It’s already the first of February and my classes at the Glass Craft and Bead Expo are filling up so it’s time to start ordering equipment and supplies.  Glass, check. Kilns, check. Grinders, check.  Class supplies, check. What am I missing, it’s too easy this year.

I always look for interesting new ways of working with powdered glass and accessories that will enhance student projects.  I was the first to introduce dicro slide in my classes and continue to include it.  This year I bought some fun murinni from Glacial Art Glass for students to play with and some cool new fine-line laser imagery from Dichroic Alchemy.  We always find time to play with chalks, dichro, mica, and more.

This year I’m teaching 4 different classes instead of any repeats (You can read about them on my ‘Class Listings’ page toward the top in the right hand column).  Without further ado, here they are:

Play Date with Paste:  learn how to sculpt, make pattern bars, and more with wet glass paste, aka glass clay.  Very fun.
Exploring Glass Powders:  an introduction to many ways of working with powdered glass.  I’m told this one can be overwhelming, there’s a lot of information to take in just one day.
Beautiful Butterflies:  create your own imaginative or realistic butterfly from the initial sketch to execution.  Includes making your own pattern.
Build a Better Pocket:  learn how to make your own original design with an assortment of decorating tools.

Each year gets better at the Glass Craft and Bead Expo. I love teaching and getting to know each of the people in my classes. I’ve had some truly gifted and talented students and made some great friends.

We’re at the South Point again making it ultra convenient to stay, play, dine, wine, and hang with other glassists.  March 30th through April 3rd in Las Vegas NV.  See you there?

From "Taking the Scenic Route" in January 2010

I’m sorry to see 2010 pass because it was a very good year for me!

The highlights were having my work accepted into the Museum of Glass Store in Tacoma and the Glass Art Festival in Sequim in addition to the usual art shows, galleries and shops where I sell my work.  I managed to get two on-line stores up and running at Artfire and Zibbet when 1000 Markets closed.  And I’m still very thankful for Tom Herrera of Prairie Star Designs pulling me into his project for Maryhill Museum – it led me to many more opportunities.

Steider Studios Glass Inserts for Maryhill Museum Windy Walk Fence ©2010

Teaching is always a pleasure for me.  My classes this year included Aquila Glass SchoolThe Dalles Art CenterHalf Moon CreekMaryhill Museum, Machine Embroiderers of Oregon and WashingtonGlass Craft and Bead Expo, and GlassHopper Patterns.   My Arts in Education project this year was with Henkle Middle School, making glass tiles for their skylight; and I had several delightful private students throughout the year.

Last day of Powderology at Half Moon Creek in Palmer Alaska.

I think my biggest accomplishment was fulfulling a 12 year study and search for the perfect glass medium with my launch of Steider Studios Glass Medium™.  It’s a thickening agent to use with glass powders to make your own sculpting and modeling paste or clay, liquid lines, freezing in candy molds and more.

Steider Studios Glass Medium™

Maybe now I can get back to that book I’ve been working on for too many years!

And just for fun, I’m nearing 500 ‘likes’ on my Facebook Business Page.  Won’t you go there and like me too?  If you have a business page, please post it there so I can ‘like’ you back!!

Thank you for spending your time with me & following my adventures.  If not for you, there’d be no reason for me to write.  I wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2011!!

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