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Saturday, March 19, 2011

OK, so here goes...

We have been traveling for about 4 months now, and everyone keeps requesting a blog, so I guess I'll try this out.

My name is James-JR for short. I began glass blowing January of 2010 out of a shed I converted into a studio in my backyard. I am now a traveling glass artist.  My girlfriend Kiley and I are traveling with our 2 road dogs Mizzi (a shih-tzu) and Kaya (a pug)  across the U.S. in our RV with a glass studio in the back.  We decided around Aug. of 2010 that we were going to sell everything we own and buy an RV and spread our love of glass and art as well as learn new techniques and skills from other artists who so generously invite us to come visit them at their home or studio.  So far we have had wonderful experiences everywhere and this adventure has truly shown the kindness of the human spirit.  Since leaving Illinois, I have been extremely fortunate to be able to add several new members to the list of people I call my glass family.  I'm excited for my family to continue to grow and  to continue this crazy adventure in my life.

SO far we have been to Pensacola Florida to visit Rob at Liquid Arts- everyone was AWESOME!  We had a blast in Florida and I learned so much!!  Rob definitely had a hard working crew and I made lots of cool stuff! Even got my first chance at playing on a lathe! Since we were there in December I made most of my Christmas presents there as well.  Even sold a few hummingbird feeders as Christmas presents for other people as well!!  Heres a pic of me(L) and Rob(R) before we took off to our next destination!

After we left Florida we stopped at the Bayou Sagnett State Park just outside New Orleans to spend some quality alone time in a quiet Park.  We were here for Christmas and New Years.  We spent a few days exploring New Orleans and the surrounding areas, and celebrated New Years Eve on Bourbon Street.  What a great experience!    Heres a cute Christmas picture of me and the dogs, dressed as reindeer!
 This is one of me and Kiley at Jackson Square in New Orleans, exploring the French Quarter!

After leaving good ol' Nawleans we headed to TEXAS!

Our first stop in Texas was just outside of Houston, to meet up with Matt, the owner of Bomdiggity Smokeshop.  He so graciously let me work out of his HUGE shop.  Got to spend a little more time on the lathe here again and got to see an interesting side of Glass art that I hadn't got to experience yet.  Matt is not only a great glass artist but he and his wife also own and operate a head-shop, so I  was able to get an idea of how that end of the glass business was maintained.  We also got to spend a few days riding motorcycles, which is always nice Especially in January! The weather in Katy was definitely on our side.  Before we took off Matt picked up some of my work to add to his collection at the shop, so if your in the Katy Texas area be sure to hit up BOMDIGGITY SMOKESHOP!  They have an awesome crew and a great shop!  Heres a shot of us before we took off!
                                          L-R Cody, Me, Matt, John
When we first arrived at bomdiggity they were having a local tattoo artist airbrush the walls to make the shop a little more colorful!  It was looking AWESOME when we left.  You can see the finished products on their facebook!!! This is right before we took off!

After leaving Katy we were on the way to Austin, Tx.  to visit glass artist, Joe Blow.  The shop location was awesome!  A nice private little spot with a little funky tree grove, a few frolf baskets, and some farm animals on the side to add to the scenery.  All the artists at this shop were awesome!  Very friendly AND entertaining!  We were only in Austin few a short time (10 or so days) and there was so much to learn from the talented group working here that I did mostly observing.  I learned SO much, all the guys here were so generous with knowledge and information and extremely helpful in the progression of my art! I am so grateful for the generosity of this group!  I was introduced to some basics of carving glass, as well as observed (and even did a little) sandblasting. I got to do my first artist collaboration of our trip here as well, it was a great experience and the finished product turned out awesome!  Check out my facebook for pictures of our collaboration and other pictures of my work.  We also throughly enjoyed chowing down at some of the local favorite food spots! We didn't get a chance to really explore Austin while we were there, so were excited to get back visit with the crew again and maybe see more of the city!   Here is a pic of me and Craig-Joe Blow before we took off.

After we left Austin, we went to visit my friend Matt, at MAD glass studio.  Matt just became the owner of a new studio recently and I was excited to see his shop!  He is located in Denton, TX and has work at some of the shops in the area, but his studio is private.  Shortly after we arrived Matt invited me to go with him to Amarillo to Flame One Productions where a group of glass artists were working on a collaboration project for the C.H.A.M.P.S. glass greenhouse instillation.  I had a great time watching these amazing artisits work making several large soft glass fruit bowls and vases that held glass flowers and pieces of glass, there was even a lizard! They also made this already incredible work of art into a working all glass fountain!  It was an awesome experience watching them assemble the project.  I also got a chance to play with a little soft glass!!  It was so much different than my boro, but still so much fun! I got to make a paperweight and a little squiggle sculpture.  We came back to Denton to get some work done.  Luckily I was ready to work, because we got snowed in at the shop!! For 3 days!  I'm lucky to have my home on wheels that was parked right outside the shop.  We had a blast with Matt and can't wait to go back!  We took off at the same time as he was leaving to go to set up the project at the C.H.A.M.P.S. competition, we wished him luck and snapped a quick picture.   
We got word later that the boys won the competition! I feel so lucky to have goten to be able to watch the creation of the winning  piece!! Congrats to the crew for all your hard work!

After we left Denton we headed to Lubbock to visit my good friend Shawn who I have been friends with since we both lived in Illinois, long before I started blowing glass. We were planning on only staying to visit for a few days while I waited for a glass order to be mailed. Shawn and his wife are super busy with their full time jobs as well as planning the arrival of their 1st baby (coming in Aug! =) Well, a few snags along the way delayed my order and we ended up staying 10 days! It was so nice seeing some familiar faces though so I definitely wasn't complaining. I was having trouble with my venting not clearing out, and was worried about blowing glass in my shop, so with the genius of Shawn and I's minds we tore out some cabinets, and created a  vent in my shop that I am 100% confident is completely efficient.  Heres a look at us hard at work!!(pardon our mess!)

   As a thank you for letting us crash at their house for longer than expected as well as all the hard work Shawn put in helping with my vent I gave Shawn my first (and his) glass blowing lesson!  He was a complete newbie and caught on to the basics FAST!  which didn't surprise me at all, considering his past record! Ha Shawn is a hard working Nuclear medical Technician, a semi-pro tournament winning disc golfer, and is AMAZING at his newest hobby-BEER BREWING!!!  I got to sample his beers and all I can say is MMmmmMMMmmmm...his Oatmeal Stout (which i normally don't like) is KILLER! So i knew he would be a glass blowing natural-and I was right =)  He picked up the addiction quick hehe it was my secret plan all along I knew if I taught him a few things, he wouldn't be able to stop!  He found a shop near his house and bought his first set of tools and glass recently, I'm excited to see his progression!!  We got to do some more motorcycle riding in Lubbock..the weather was BEAUTIFUL...lots of 80+ degree days!   We explored a neat canyon (check out Kileys Facebook for pictures from lubbock and other stops in our journey) and got lots of great grub!  We were sad to leave the company of great friends, but we were needing to get back to work, so after this quick pic...we were on the road again!
After Lubbock we were out of Texas, and on to NEW MEXICO!  We stopped in at a neat shop called Grey Matter in Albuquerque and met a few of the guys quickly before heading up to Tijeras, NM.  We set up shop with Jason, from Nomad Crafts, at his sweet Mountain home.  We were only here a few days, due to some under the weather kids, and a tight schedule.  BUT we were able to bust out an awesome collaboration and Jason showed me how to make my own tubes, and we worked on blow-ins.  We had fun with Jason and hopefully can visit again soon!  Unfortunately our camera battery died right as we were posing for a quick picture, so i'll have to try to get the one Jason took!  

After we left Tijeras were headed down to Socorro, NM to meet Graham who goes by Mt. Burn.  A physics student at NMT, and glass blower in his free time.  We stayed here doing some VERY UNIQUE collaborations for a few weeks.  Graham had a very scientific style which paired interestingly with my whimsical nature inspired art and our individual ideas and styles came together very nicely to create some truly awesome pieces.  We had a blast creating the most collaborations I have done with a single artist, as well as picked up some great tips on creating complex pieces and sealing pieces together.  I got to bust out my newly purchased Smith Hand torch...its my new addiction! I can find a million reasons to use it and it has paid for itself already!  There were definitely a few times where our creations would have become extinct if it weren't for my trusty new had torch =)  My element in my kiln went out while we were here which was quite the calamity...Lucky for me Grahams, roommate David is a electronic whiz!  He got me put back together after the element arrived in the mail a few days later! (BIG SHOUT OUT to the crew at glass hive for all your awesome customer service, and speedy delivery!) David also helped me figure out my electricity usage from my kiln and oxy filler per day...Its approx. $6 a day to run both!  Not bad!  Graham was awesome as so incredibly generous!  We had an awesome time there!  Not to mention the scenery was AMAZING!  beautiful desert sunsets, mountains, and unique history made Socorro an awesome place to visit.  I was very inspired by the landscape and it came out in a new group of flowers, on sale in my etsy shop! We left the day we left Socorro we stopped in Albuquerque to try to do a few sales!  We stopped in a store called bird land, which didn't pick up any of our collaborations, but the owner grabbed a few turtle pendants, flower pendants, and wine stoppers.  He said since we were un-known artists he couldn't bring himself to purchase our more expensive pieces, oh well...if your in the Albuquerque, NM area stop in at Birdland and ask for TURTLE GLASS by name!! Demand he get more of my glass!! haha seriously though.... We also stopped in at Bentley Custom Glass--unfortunately the owner had some unwanted expenses fall in his lap the night before we came, some vandals shattered a window in the store front, so he was unable to pick up any glass, but he had a great shop, with only local artists and live glass blowing in the shop on Friday nights! Check it out and ask for TURTLE GLASS!!!! Support local art! Here is a pic of me a Graham right before we headed to our next destinations, this picture is a great representation of my feelings of our time in Socorro =) We had a blast!
Can't wait to get back for another visit!!
So after leaving Grahams, we headed to Arizona.  Which is where were are currently located.  We staying at a little RV park in Williams for the week, and gunna go up to the Grand Canyon this weekend for some site seeing--Kiley needs to play with her new camera =) so be on the look out for some awesome nature shots!!!

I know that was A LOT- but so much has happened on our journey so far there was A LOT of catching up to do!  My post from here on out will (hopefully) be MUCH shorter.  I plan on trying to blog daily to keep everyone updated!  Since We have been in Arizona I have been working a a lot of new turtles that will be posted to my facebook and Etsy soon, so be looking for it!!

Whew!  Ok- now time for bed!! PLEASE leave comments so I know i'm not talking to noone and wasting my time...also to keep me motivated to update daily!!

Much love, JR and Kiley


New End Studio said...

Saw you on the etsy forum so came to read your first post, thought about the great glass area down in Millville, NJ and also another one is the Toledo, Ohio museum of glass. If you ever get to those areas, please write about it. Hope you and Kiley have fun and stay safe on the road!

turtleglass said...

Were headed to the west coast right now, but were going to be traveling through the upper mid-west and on to the east coast towards the end of summer, we will most definitely try to visit both of those places! Thanks for the tip!

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