Tree Boxes

I had a brilliant idea!  Well, we all have them from time to time, don't we?

Turn some of my glass on wood pieces into boxes!  These could be for jewelry, paperclips, found shells, pet ashes.... the list goes on.

Early Dawn Tree Box 2

Early Dawn Tree Box 3

I took chunks of tree limbs, cut off the bottom, slice into the edges of the rest of the chunk to create a cavity, then glue all those pieces back together.  Then take a slice off of the top of the piece from the inside to glue onto the bottom of the glass for the lid. Then, of course, make the reverse glass painting to fit the box.  Once glued together, the box is heavily sanded and has a coat of satin varnish to protect the wood.

Remember Me Tree Box

Remember Me Tree Box 3

So far I have only done some of my tree designs, but I could see all kinds of animals and even pet portraits for pet urns.  They are all around 4" in diameter and varying heights from 2-1/2" to 5".

Willow Tree Box

Willow Tree Box 3

Love them!!


This latest piece, titled "Shoreline" is an example of technique and material coming together to create a unique art piece. 

I am getting ready for a booth space I will have at the Monterey Bay Birding Festival this coming week and wanted to make a bunch of bird pieces and especially some shore birds.   While rifling through my extensive pile of wood pieces, I realized I have some great driftwood pieces - perfect for shore birds.

Also, do you remember the double sided hanging birds I made a month or so ago? And the totem I made just last month?  Well, they brought together two techniques that melded together to create this shore bird piece.

I cut two exact outlines of the shape of this Black Necked Stilt.  The beak is quite thin and was quite a challenge to cut.  Next I painted the details of the bird in my 4 part process, firing it after each painting stage as I do all of my reverse paintings.   But on the final firing I inserted a small piece of fiber paper a short way under the bottom of the bird to become the hole where the metal rod would be inserted.  Both sides of the bird are glued together and the rod is glued in the void space to create a "bird on a rod". 

The wood was sanded and varnished and came out a lovely, rich, dark brown - which I adore.  A hole the size of the metal rod is drilled about half way straight down into the wood.  I then glued some well worn pebbles and  a couple of shells that we picked up years ago during a vacation to Catalina Island in a meandering path along the top of the wood.  The rod with the bird is inserted into the hole of the wood and Voila! "Shoreline" is born.

Loving this piece!!


"Shoreline"  Overall 18" x 4" x 10"

Shoreline 4

Broken Wing

Okay, so I finished the long task of adding the colored paint to all of the pieces of the totem last night. Added the frit and got them into the kiln just before heading to bed. 

I was so happy to be on schedule for getting the whole piece finished and to the show this weekend.

Until I dropped one of the wing pieces.


I have not dropped a single one of my reverse painted pieces and had it break.  Ever. Of course I have broken plenty of glass in my time, but this one killed me.  It hit another piece of glass in my lower shelf storage on it's way down which is probably the reason it broke instead of just bouncing off of my rubber floor mat.  Bummer.

I wanted to cry.  But Mark was quite reasonable and just said - "well, just re-paint it and we can get this done".  He was right.  Firing just this one small piece by itself I have been able to rush it through 3 firings today.  

And while the kiln was running Mark helped me work on the wood base portion.  He had gotten it sanded for me yesterday so today he varnished it and we fashioned an awesome base to stabilize it and I added wire wrapping with beads to tie the whole thing together.


You can see the all of the smaller pieces in the background cut and ready for sand and prep.


Close up of the wire and bead portion of the base.

These pictures are a little washed out, but this wood is stunning in person and I can't wait to see the glass all finished on it.  

Here is a little sneak peak of the glass pieces before the final firing which will happen tonight if I am lucky, but probably tomorrow morning.


Totem Pole

Regarding Totem Poles:

I have been mulling over ideas for glass totem poles for at least 2 or 3 years.  

I created the idea of the glass animal and pet totems that I custom make from a customer's photographs.  

I would love to see a full size mountain animal totem pole erected in my town and maybe some day I can get a grant or funding for a public art installation of one.


So, when one of the logs we carried home recently had a couple of sections that were of decent size in diameter and pretty darn straight I decided to take advantage. Keeping in mind that I wanted to be able to carry this piece easily to shows.

We cut a length about 32" then cut a flat face for most of the length on one side to apply the glass to.  I mulled over some ideas of what should be on my totem pole and looked at images online every evening.  I had originally imagined it with wild animals similar to what I have done in a smaller scale in the past.  But the faces I found online really took me to the crux of what I wanted - raw, bold colors and shapes.



I sketched out some faces and an eagle body.  Then I cut the glass to fit the shape of the wood.   Many traditional totem poles have an eagle or "thunderbird" on top. In this vein, I drew out an eagle head and wings.  The glass will be applied in segments with the head and wings added on in a unique way.  You will see as this progresses how it all comes together.  

Working on a flat surface as opposed to the artists and craftsmen that carve into the wood was more of a challenge than you might think.  It's hard to get the feeling of depth and shadow on a flat surface.  I am hoping the shading stage of my painting gets that feeling across.

For now, here is a taste of one of the segments in the making--


I should be finished with this totem in time to have it at my booth at the Art on the Lake show in Big Bear this coming weekend.  I will post more progress and finished pics here, but if you are nearby please come and let me know what you think.  Maybe this piece will speak to you or I can make another one that suits you.  


Last fall we took a trip in our RV to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Santa Fe is a very art centered community.  The eye candy is everywhere.

One of the places we went to was a gallery with bronze, metal and glass.  The Shidoni Art Gallery has a large property and had outdoor metal gardens and was so much fun to walk around and be amazed by each different art piece.

In the bronze gallery we came across some shelves of small sculptures.  My favorite was a man who made little animals, some stacked on top of others, that were made into little pull toys.  Not for actually playing with, but just perfectly adorable little sculptures.  I wish I had written down the artist's name, but, alas, I did not.

But I always travel with my sketchbook and when we got back to the RV I made some sketches of birds on pull toy bases.  My idea was to make a double sided glass bird, mounted on a wooded base with wood wheels.


This idea sat in my book for all this time.  Last week I was looking through my book and when I stopped on this page, it triggered something.  I suddenly saw these birds flying in front of my window.  Bright and colorful.

So, some glass cutting, painting, fusing, glueing and some assembly.  And the two samples are finished.



You don't get the feel of the three dimensionality of them by looking at pictures, but they have depth and are fun to look at and touch.

Like I said, these two were my first, but I plan to make a bunch more in a rainbow of colors.  I am also thinking of putting them on metal stakes for garden art.  

Sophie and More

You remember that I had a booth at an art and craft show in Alpine, CA several weeks ago?  Well, a woman saw my sign and sample for custom pet totems and ordered one of her little dog, Sophie.  I could tell right away that Sophie was very special to them.  They had a small photo album with just pictures of Sophie in it.


They were also describing their backyard and we discussed ways for them to display her portrait. After some debate and deciding, they went with a tile portrait mounted on metal with a chain so that they can hang her outside on their stone wall, but still be able to move it around as they please if necessary.

I have also been busy making more pieces to show at art faires this summer.  I finished several last week that I had available at the Art & Wine in the Pines show in Crestline on Saturday.  And I am working on more for a show that I am doing called Art on Millionaire's Row in Altadena.

Blondie 3"Blondie"

There is an artists' reception on Friday night from 6 to 9 where you can meet all of the artists and purchase some art.  If you are around this weekend, please stop by and say hi.  The actual show is from 10am to 6pm on Saturday in the Library parking lot.  The weather should be perfect for it!

Majestic 1"Majestic"


Color Failure

I guess I should tell you about my failures as well as my successes here.  I had a somewhat major failure here this past week.  I am working on painting some more bird pieces and had 7 more that I fired over the weekend.

Out of 7 pieces, I got only 3 usable ones.  I have never had this happen before.  I have had some paint colors turn a slightly different shade before. Or get a bit darker than anticipated, but I have never had 4 pieces at one time not only change color, but become so completely unusable.  

Here is the problem - the yellow turned gray.  And with these birds it is quite noticeable and unacceptable.

Not only should this Lesser Goldfinch have a yellow chest, but the flower is supposed to be yellow!

You can't have a Yellow Rumped Warbler with no yellow on him...

Robins are known for their yellow beaks....

And this Kestrel should have yellow around his eyes and an orange/yellow mustache.

So, between the loss of time, paint, frit and electricity, needless to say I was a bit frustrated.  But, I am in the middle stages of completing these pieces again as well as a piece with two Magpies that I am excited about and 2 other birds as well.  Hopefully these will be more successful than the yellow catastrophe.

Wild Birds Unlimited

I am very excited to announce that I now have a small display of my bird pieces in the Wild Birds Unlimited store in Riverside.  You can see their website at or pick up some awesome bird loving stuff at their store at 10456 Magnolia Ave, Riverside, CA  92505.

Wild Birds Unlimited 2

I was contacted by the owners who saw some of my work at the Lake Arrowhead Gallery.  They thought that some of my reverse glass paintings of birds would fit well in their store.  They have never had any artists on consignment, so I am the first.  They brought in a special curio cabinet just for me!!

Coneflower Snack"Coneflower Snack" - Anna's Hummingbird

I quickly made about 8 pieces, added a couple from my stock at home and dropped off 10 wood pieces and 1 framed piece last Saturday.  Mary called me on Sunday to tell me they sold one.  Wow - pretty cool!  She also asked if I could make more hummingbirds since they were holding a seminar on Hummingbirds this Saturday (tomorrow - March 17th).  Of course I could.  I made 4 more pieces and delivered them on Wednesday.  I am quite anxious to see what the response was.  

Winter Plumage"Winter Plumage" - Hooded Oriole

Anyway, this was really cool - to be recognized for my art at a store that specializes in wild birds.  I am hoping the relationship works well, that they sell some pieces and make money for both of us.

A Mothers Work"A Mother's Work..." - Anna's Hummingbird