Kiln-formed cmall cone bowl

Jay’s fab five

Set of six lunch or dessert plates
Seaforms lunch plates
Last week I told you about my five favorite fused glass creations of 2013. Jay told me what made these five kiln-worked projects his picks for the year.

A couple years ago he had made a set of dinner plates in the same blue tones as his first square plate, which had sold so fast it’s a good thing I didn’t waste time photographing it. A couple admired the dinner plates while they were on display in March and asked if we could produce a similar set of smaller plates. Jay enjoyed the challenge of adapting a larger plate mold to produce the right size and shape of smaller plate, and with a little experimentation he resolved that. We shipped the completed set of “Seaforms” 8″-diameter plates to Philadelphia in May. They were to be the buyer’s 48th wedding anniversary gift to her husband. I imagine the couple celebrated in June by having a sandwich, salad, or dessert, or perhaps all three as a candle-lit tete-a-tete.

Kiln-formed platter
Red & Charcoal Rimations
Another early 2013 project was destined to be a wedding gift for a New York City couple. After perusing their wedding registries online, I recommended using red, charcoal, and white as colors for a platter to coordinate with their china and accessories. Jay’s “rimations” style seemed to be a good fit, too. After testing the idea on one or two small projects, Jay created this dramatic 12″ x 17″ platter.

1217P11 fused glass platter
Flow Gently platter
He named a second platter among his favorite projects of the year. Although he used the same “rimations” style, this platter has a very different effect than the earlier one. Mindful of its delicate color scheme and almost dreamy mood, Jay dubbed the platter “Flow Gently.” He’s happy that he achieved both nuance and “movement within the larger area” of the platter.

Kiln-formed cmall cone bowl
Turquoise Spiral cone bowl
Jay put a twist on his “rimations” techniques when he created a little bowl that resembles a cone-shaped pinwheel. Primary colors of blue (turquoise), red, and yellow make the bowl lively. The way they funnel and swirl to the small base pulls a viewer’s eyes into the bowl. A happy buyer may be right now sliding a spoon into the bowl for a taste of vanilla ice cream, following the creamy contrast to the colorful eddy all the way to the bottom.

Kiln-formed pasta bowl
After achieving a variety of effects with his “rimations” overlays most of the year, Jay switched gears in December and tried one of my favorite design modes. He also used one of my favorite colors, Wedgewood blue, but he combined it with a dark sea blue against a background of greens. Playing with a new style is what Jay says made this project memorable. We dubbed the pasta bowl design “Seamist.”

Kiln-formed platter

A few of my favorites

Kiln-formed pasta bowl
Coffee-and-cream Confetti
At the beginning of this year Jay and I looked back to reflect on what we had created in 2013. Each of us selected our five favorite pieces and talked about why we particularly liked those creations. Here are my five, in no particular order.

This pasta bowl’s colors are creamy and warm and there’s a lot of depth to the design. It makes me think of caramel fudge sauce on vanilla ice cream or iced coffee with milk. Sweet and satisfying.

Kiln-formed bowl using Starfire drape mold
Red & Turquoise Spiral wavy bowl
In the almost-four years since my colors were inspired by two weeks in Morocco, I return again and again to combinations of red, amber, and green and/or turquoise. I love the spiral that winds through this wavy bowl. The bowl also marks our second success using the drape mold.

12" x 17" fused glass platter
Starry Sky platter
Late last winter a new customer asked me to create a four-candle bridge similar to one I’d already made. It was one of two designs inspired by a photograph of Nebula M17, made entirely of frit (no cut pieces of glass other than the base), with layers upon layers of color. In response to the customer’s request, I looked for pink tones in the photograph and incorporated them in the third incarnation. Thus “Nebula” and “Spitzer’s Eye” were followed by “Summer Sky.” The customer and I both liked what I created for her and I decided to try it again in a larger format. This time I worked on a white instead of clear base, which brought out the colors in a different way. This fourth interpretation of the telescopic nebula photograph is “Starry Sky” platter and it’s a stunner.

11" fused glass serving bowl
Blue & Marigold Confetti classic bowl
During my first year of glass fusing I made a couple bowls in which a mixture of white and clear glass pieces on top accentuated bold frit color contrasts. Last summer I returned to that method but chose new color combinations. Among the rewarding results is this serving bowl that I very much like. It’s a party bowl, a celebration with blue and marigold confetti.

Kiln-formed platter
Neutral Squares
Shortly before the end of the year I created this square platter that hasn’t yet been exhibited. In the darkening days of December I envisioned neutral tones with a hint of soft color, and this is what I got. I like the way the platter contrasts order and randomness. Speckles are scattered across overlying grid patterns while a bit of pale sea green appears among the greys and tans. The results are refined yet intriguing.

Tulips and grape hyacinths


Ever since my brother Paul’s funeral, I have been noticing beauty. Paul was a beautiful person. Even in my grief I experienced his funeral as beautiful. As Confucius said, everything has beauty but not everyone sees it.

Alligator and manatee
Manatee at Blue Spring
I’ve looked back through the past year to recall how much beauty I noticed. The year started beautifully while we were visitng our daughter’s family in Florida. One day Jay and I took our then 8-year-old grand-daughter to Blue Spring State Park near Sanford. That beautiful day we saw manatees and much more, and basked in our time together.

Entrance gate to Philadelphia Flower Show
When a South Dakota friend came to visit in March, we all went to the Philadelphia Flower Show. “Brilliant” was beautiful and fun, as was time with Ruth.

At the piano
Making music
Our son’s family spent Easter weekend with us, making beautiful music of all kinds: mealtime chatter, conversations with our son, woman-to-woman talk with my daughter-in-law, toddler play, and calls for “Grandma” and “Grandpa.” Even the impromptu piano “compositions” were music to our ears.

Mary Ann & Fred
With my godfather
Old friends
At the monastery
In April we returned to South Dakota for the first time in a number of years. How blessed it was to be with my godfather again and with friends in Watertown, Madison, and Sioux Falls. Their faces were even more beautiful than I remembered.

Tulips and grape hyacinths
Tulips in the snow
It was a snowy May 1 when we left South Dakota to visit a sister and brother-in-law in Iowa. Each of the next two days brought snow to south central Iowa but that didn’t deter us from visiting the Pella Tulip Festival. Tulips and grape hyacinth were all the more beautiful for withstanding their snowy blanket.

Popponesset sunset
Cape Cod sunset
We had some beautiful, relaxing days with Jay’s sister on Cape Cod in mid-summer. Our days were filled with reading, conversing, cooking and eating good food together. In the evenings a walk on Popponesset beach was a pleasure before the day ended.

Scarlet runner beans
Beans and blossoms
Not everything grew well in the garden so we treasured what did grow all the more. We’re still eating of the bounty of squash in the closet, beans and berries in the freezer, and a couple remarkable tomatoes still ripening in a cool room.

Autumn scene
Dam at Bear Creek
During a fall excursion to one of our galleries we took along a picnic lunch and found a picturesque site to eat. Our memories are even more beautiful than the photo Jay took.

Pine grain and handle
Trappist casket detail
The year ended sadly, but sadness does not preclude beauty. “Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy,” wrote Anne Frank. The beauty of Paul’s casket particularly struck me. It was a simple pine casket handcrafted by Trappist monks of New Mellary Abbey at Peosta, Iowa. Jay placed my fingers on a corner and we noted that the joint was so smooth it couldn’t be felt. That beautiful pine box consoled me.

In the coming year I will follow the advice of Marcus Aurelius. In the Meditations he says, “Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” Yes, let us run with the beautiful stars this year.