Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hold the front page.........

I am pleased to announce that after 11 months the National Health Service has responded to the complaint that we made about the treatment that Mum received in our local hospital! They simply have no idea how to deal with people. I seriously wonder if they have any idea what condition she is in now. 
The letter is full of 'we are sorry' statements, but eleven months is beyond a joke. I gave up long ago trying to get an answer out of them. They are a law unto themselves accountable to nobody. I hope that if I end up in there I will have someone looking out for me. 

The sad thing there are lots of good people who work for the NHS and they seem to be hampered by the lack of staff and the red tape surrounding everything that happens.

I will sleep easier in my bed tonight knowing they have finally replied........NOT!!!!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Last Night and Kiln Gate!!!!

Tonight was our last night at Uni, I had hoped to sign up again but unless you renew within a millisecond you are too late, so I think I will wait until the autumn now. We have some stuff to use in our own kilns but I will miss my Monday nights with all the odd strange people who were in attendance!!

You know how it is when you start a new course, you start as the new girl and have to get to know people. On the first week we were shown to our seats by the instructor, but what we hadn't realised was that the seats she had decided we could use were used by other people, so straight away we were treading on someone elses toes!! We managed to claim those seats for three weeks and then we went in and found that someone else had got them and we were relegated to the seats near the wash up. It was sitting in this position that the true characters in our class revealed themselves. Just about everyone had to wash something at some point in the evening so we were in their line of fire for everything. 

Just about everyone was working on their own projects, and they were all very different. There was Mr little bits, he sat in the same place every week, was reluctant to talk to anyone and all he did was tack fuse hundreds of tiny pieces of glass together. Tonight we found out he was turning all the elements into a huge hanging chandelier  construction which was lit by LED lights. Despite us trying he barely exchanged two words with us the whole course. Then there was Mrs Union Jack - who nicked our seats. The first week we arrived she was making a very intricate union jack out of glass, she worked on that for weeks. Then she spoke to another lady one night and accused her of breaking one of her moulds, that caused a few fireworks!!
There was Mr shiny frit, who made intricate symmetrical designs on the glass and was very proficient, he accused me of disturbing the frit on one of his pieces in the kiln (I hadn't). There was Mrs Cracked pieces who every week tried to make a second lampshade to match the first that she had already successfully created, it was not something that was going to happen, every week she came in to a variety of failures, she did manage one night to get one out of the kiln complete only to drop it while sand blasting it!!! Lastly there was a  lady who thought it was fine to walk around passing comments of the standard of everyone elses work!! including calling Debbie's very messy work and mine 'organic' (for organic read crap!!!) There were some nice people there including the lady we started with and a very nice primary teacher and her friend, but its the odd ones that make life interesting. 

Here is the outcome of last weeks experiments, I am pleased with the chickens and hearts but the coins were a step too far, they were too thick and caused the glass to crack, lesson learned!!
Last week I only put those few things in but this week it was kiln gate, seems that we all had the same idea last week, do as much as possible resulting in loads of stuff to go in the kiln. Deb and I did more than that we made some coasters at home, so I had a dozen coasters plus another 'organic' circular piece. There was a bit of a rush on to get stuff in the kiln, the teacher had to intervene after there was a lot of thinly disguised tutting about 'certain people' taking up more than their fair share of the space. I didn't feel bad, there was a woman doing panes of glass for her front door and they were huge!!!

So tonight along with all my coasters I made a circle and slung on it paint, some bubble powder and water, lets see how that comes out!!!!

Decorated thumb prints by Beth and me!!!

I made the one on the right and Beth the one on the left.

My messy circle waiting to be cooked, I am hoping that there will be little bubbles in there as well for an interesting effect. We can go back next week to recover them from the kiln!!!!
I will miss my Monday nights in the mad house. 

Friday, February 24, 2012


Beth is a star!!!! Back on November the 30th when we all went on our day of action, Beth came along with me because her teachers were on strike. We got her all kitted out in her UNISON tabbard and she designed her own placard! After the march through Hertford I took a photo of her along with a load of others and I sent them off to the region. I didn't think any more of it until a friend went on a course at the brand new UNISON building in Euston road and reported that there was a wall sized picture of Beth in the foyer!!!!

Another friend went up there yesterday and took a photo of the photo!!! I am thrilled that my photo and Beth are famous!!

I am looking forward to the weekend, I have collected my last lot of glass from the glazier, I plan on decorating all my coasters before I arrive on Monday, I plan to put stuff straight into the kiln, in fact take the kiln over completely and then try and get the rest of the stuff sand blasted!! I have to work for a few hours tomorrow but Sunday I am going to a bead fair in the depths of Essex , so its going to be busy!!!! Happy Weekend everyone.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

This Weeks Glass.....

I love going back to see how my 'creations' have turned out!! This week my end of rods have all melted together very nicely. This time I laid down a base and then added the scraps on top, they have all melted into each other very nicely. No cracks or breaks this time, I have no idea what to do with it, but its pretty!

I put my flat disk back and slumped it into a bowl shape, not a hundred percent successful, but not too bad so I am pleased with it. Another 10 weeks should see me making a really professional bowl!! Sadly I only have one week left. 

I am particularly pleased with these little pieces, they have turned out very nicely. I hope to be able to stick bails to them and turn them in to necklaces or failing that fridge magnets!!

I had made plans this week to sandblast the backs of the coasters and circles I had made in the previous weeks, so I lugged them all back there and got dressed up in all the required garb.....

Mask and huge black rubber gloves, I went to the sand blasting cabinet placed the items inside shoved my gloved arms through the small holes in the cabinet, poked my foot underneath and pushed the pedal.... nothing. Tried again still nothing. It turns out they compressor had been switched off and we didn't have access to the basement to switch it back on again. So all that dressing up and carrying of glass for nothing. I'll try again next week.

In the end I sat down and made some more coasters, its a good way of trying out designs and seeing what works. Laura bought me some glassine paints so I wanted to try them out as well. 

So tonight's experiments, from top left, a funky chicken, a blue and copper heart which I plan on giving to Carl, the a yellow and copper heart I plan on giving to Beth. Bottom row 9 Danish coins, as I expect I will not be returning there any time soon. Another chicken and finally a two tone copper heart for Laura.

Lets see how they all turn out next week. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

All Change!

Last week we finally made a change to the living room, one I have wanted to make for a long time but we have never been in a position to do so, we finally replaced the horrible bars on the stairs. I have never liked the brown 'planks of wood' that adorned the side of the stairs and I wanted rid of them. It has taken us 24 years to get around to it!!!  I have very few pictures of the planks so I had to go back to 2008 to find this shot of Beth trying out her new school uniform to give you an idea. (doesn't she look cute??)
The only thing it was good for was blue tacking Christmas cards to!!!

So last Tuesday we had a chap come around and replace the planks. For a few days we were left with nothing - bit scary so I locked up the port, just in case. 
By the time we came back from the mini cruise we had beautiful spindles in place!!!!

I am so pleased with the finished article it has brightened the place up and makes a huge difference. I wish we had taken the plunge ages ago!!! Just need to clear up the rest of the room and try and sort out the electrics problem affecting the ceiling lights!!!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Home Again.

We are just back from our trip to Denmark. I was definitely worried about the decision to book a trip travelling north in the North sea, but as it turned out we had a good time!!
The drive to Harwich was easy and quick, the embarcation was easy and quick! We had a four berth cabin on deck 9, which as it turned out was perfect. We were close to the outside deck so we were able to pop out and take the very bracing air!!! We had bed and breakfast so on the first evening we bought dinner at the cafe. Fish and chips that most traditional of Danish food.

We went to bed around 11.30pm by which time we were heading into 'heavy seas' (that was the Captains description!!) Beth felt it was too much to sleep in the top bunk with the smallest of rails to keep her in bed, so we had to pull her mattress down onto the floor between our two beds. It was at that precise moment that the ship went one way and I went the other, landing up in a heap on Beth's mattress (and on her legs). I managed to hit my back on the side of Toms bed and now have a nice bruise to show for it!!
Tom seemed to be able to sleep as soon as his head hit the pillow, but Beth and I found it a struggle, we didn't feel ill or anything but it was an extremely lively night, with the ship tossing us all over the place. Lying on my side I actually felt as if I might roll out of bed at one point!! (I was thinking just how much my friend Sue would have enjoyed this!!!) It did eventually calm down and the rest of the night was fairly uneventful.

The breakfast was fantastic a buffet with everything you could want. After breakfast we arrived in Esbjerg and I was shocked to see that the sea was frozen.

These photos don't really do it justice, some of the chunks of ice were huge 10 feet plus across, as we docked you could hear the ice bumping off the hull of the ship!!!

The day in Esbjerg was marred by the driving sleet and rain, it was freezing cold as well. We did manage a walk around the shops and found the ice skating rink (I was disappointed that they had closed up and the only people skating were school children with their own skates!!) Had the weather been better it would have been a better day out.

The high street was unusual every other shop seemed to be a shoe shop!! But we were saved Beth spotted a McDonald's so she was happy to pop in and check that they were able to produce a McChicken Sandwich in Denmark.

So all in all it was very good value for money and we can now say we have set foot on Danish soil!!
While we were away we had the stairs altered, we now have a lovely sparkly white banister with spindles instead of planks of wood. I am so pleased with it. We also have no lights down stairs something has happened there and we will be getting it looked at by an electrician in the morning!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

We are Sailing!!!

Its half term and we wanted to see if we could get a couple of days away , we have looked at lots of things to do and couldn't decide, we had just about given up when I received an email offering a mini cruise to Denmark. We looked at it and couldn't make our minds up, so we didn't book it. We thought a bit more and decided to go for it only to find that it had sold out. So I called the company and they confirmed it as sold out. So we thought that was it. two days later they called and said they now had a vacancy if we were still interested. It was a sign!! So we booked!!! 

We are leaving from Harwich this afternoon and arriving in Denmark in the morning. Even better is that the original offer was by one get one free, so you only pay for one adult and we assumed that we would pay for Beth, but the lady on the phone combined two offers, the BOGOF and kids travel free in the school holidays!!! so we paid the grand total of £134 for bed and breakfast in an en suite cabin for the three of us, absolute bargain!!

While we are away we are having some work done on the house, the banisters on the stairs are being replaced by nice spindles, so when we get back it should be all shiny and new.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday Night Uni Night!!

Tonight I went back to see how last weeks work had turned out, I was very pleased with it !! (if I say so myself!!) The circles have turned out well and so have the coasters.

Its clear that having a professional cut the glass for the coasters makes all the difference, they lined up well and look good in real life.  I think I am going to take them back next week and sandblast the backs, that gives a frosty look and the pattern is more prominent with a white background. 

This week I concentrated on some smaller items using up some of the small pieces of Bulls eye glass and dichroic glass that I had. I hope that they will come out nicely rounded and ready to turn into a pendant. I suspect that is unlikely in reality!!!
Here are the before...

I hope these turn out looking like flowers!!

I am curious to see how the dichroic glass looks after its been cooked!!

These two are made with float glass so its to see how they turn out.

This is less than one inch square so again it might turn out interesting, or not!!!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Cold Weekend.

This weekend has been a really cold one, over night its got down to minus 15, which is madness. The cold snap caused a few problems. Laura was in her kitchen when there was a big bang and the sound of loud hissing swiftly followed by water all over the kitchen floor. 
She tried to call the council but there was no reply (turns out they were very busy with burst pipes) So we headed over to see if we could help in any way. By the time we got there I had managed to get hold of the council and we arrived after the plumber!! As an added bonus the plumber was Nick, my neighbours son. So he had already switched off the water and was repairing the pipe. The pipe in question ran through an outside Cupboard so that was a massive design fault because it was unheated and froze, now that cupboard is stuffed full of padding and cardboard to stop the cold getting in as easily!! It was a shame because Laura's new carpet in the front room got wet, so we had to mop it up with towels. We had to take them outside and wring them out. One of the neighbours over the road popped out and offered to spin them in her dryer which was really nice of her, but there was a whole load more mopping up to do before we could spin them!!
On the plus side I had said that the kitchen floor needed a wash!

I made a few beads yesterday still experimenting and nearly setting fire to the desk. A piece of red hot glass flew off the end of a rod I was heating, in the past they have landed on the floor or in the cone of the extractor, but this time it landed on the desk and then bounced onto the oxycon, causing major panic! I was able to chuck water on it and stop any further damage but it was scary!!! Anyway the bead I was making when the 'accident' happened is in the photo above.Once it was cleaned it accidentally ended up on top of  another bead making it look a bit like an owl!!!

This week we are having a bit of work done at home. I have always hated the banisters and have wanted to get them changed into something more elegant, so finally this week we are going to have them replaced by elegant spindles!! something

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Updating my glassy things.

This week has been a busy one, in fact every week is busy rushing from one thing to another. This week has been harder because of the weather and the problems that causes. Monday night we still had a load of snow and the roads were bad, so I ended up on the course on my own again. I don't blame Deb for not wanting to travel, the conditions were awful.
The week before I used a ceramic bowl to slump one of my rounds of glass into. I wanted to make a bowl, well above is my first ever bowl!! Its wonky and a bit crinkly around the edges, but its a start!! I am actually quite proud of it for a first attempt.

The round above is the result of the Mica and pottery glaze experiment. I really liked the painting bit! What doesn't really show up is the shimmery effect of the mica. I hope next week to slump that into another bowl and see how that turns out!!

The square is similar to the circle in design and again quite sparkly. The circles this time are brown in colour. I have learnt that the ceramic glazes hold their colour when fired, but the glass paints I used on the blue and green bowl go translucent, both effects have a place.

Debbie bought me a book on fusing glass and I fell in love with a design that was on the front. It was quite intricate with lots of small pieces of cut glass used to make the design. The glass that we use is called float glass and to buy coloured compatible glass is very expensive, so I recreated the design with paint!!!  Using the same technique as before I painted on one side allowed it to dry and then flipped it over and put it on top of the second round of glass which was sprinkled with orange frit. I love the colours!! I also made 6 coasters to go with the two place mats. I can't wait until they come out of the  kiln!!!
Tonight we are having another snow storm, its about three inches deep in the deepest places and that over the last lot that hasn't gone!! Its nearly my birthday and its been a long time since I had snow on that day of celebration 

Sunday, February 05, 2012

The whole world has gone Snow mad!!!!

Well we woke up this morning to a good covering of snow and much excitement in the street!! 

It was that perfect kind of snow, perfect for making snow balls and snow men. It stuck together a treat and bought out the artist and devil in everyone!

We have lived here for twenty five years so over that time the people have changed and we have new people to snowball fight with. That said every time it snows we all end up out the front 'playing'

Hunny absolutely loves the snow, she chases every single snow ball and loves catching them in her mouth. She is out there playing will all the children . 

This year we have possibly made the biggest snowman ever, it was just so easy to roll the snow. 

Even I consented to a sneaky photograph!!!  Later in the afternoon a group of them went down to the lagoon to sledge down the hills. Beth thoroughly enjoyed it and came back soaking wet and glowing red!! The other good news for her is that the school is off tomorrow they say that they can't make the site safe for pupils and staff!!   

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Its Here!!!!

After a day where the weather men had been promising snow, they came good in the end. The latest forecast that I received in my email in box was snow arriving in our neck of the woods at 18.00. They were a little out, it started at 18.15 and hasn't stopped since!!! Beth is very happy. I am not sure how long it will last, I have one of those inside outside thermometers and its showing -1, but that's a bit warmer than when it started a few hours ago. 

This weekend hasn't been too exciting so far I am waiting for a batch of beads to come out of the kiln. I have been trying to perfect dots again. Right at the beginning I was able to do them, but I have somehow lost the skill. I have made loads and loads of dotty things today!!!

Thursday, February 02, 2012


There is something in the air, a strange feeling of anticipation. All winter has been fairly mild, but the first few days it has been very clear and quite cold. I have had to scrape the car and the thickness of the frost has been quite impressive!! The photo above was the frost on the roof of my car!! This afternoon I received a Met office alert predicting snow throughout the Eastern area (and it actually mention Herts!!!) So I am sitting here, temperature of  -3degrees waiting for the SNOW!!!!!!