Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mesa Temple

Michael holding up his new Christmas present

  Among the several stained glass Christmas presents I made this year was a picture of the Mesa Arizona LDS Temple. With seven siblings it can be a big hassle to get everyone a present, so we rotate who we get presents for each year. This year we had my brother Michael and his wife. They were married in October 2009 in the Mesa Temple, so I decided to make them a stained glass picture of the temple.
 Almost all of the glass is recycled. The bumpy blue in the water, the bumpy green bushes and the opaque green grass are the only colors that were not recycled. The temple and the wavy royal blue in the sky is made of light sconces, the windows were made of a vase, and the rest of the colors are made of bottles.
 Here you can see the neat swirly patterns that come from the light sconces.  These pictures were taken just after the soldering was finished.  The zinc frame and black patina hadn't been put on yet.

 One thing about using recycled glass is that bottles don't produce large sheets of glass.  So, large expanses need to be broken up into smaller pieces.  This is why the sky and water were designed with a wavy style.
One thing that struck me when we attended the wedding was the extra warm climate.  It was above 80 degrees in October.  I felt like I had to incorporate the palm trees into the picture.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Recycle, Reuse, Reclaim, Salvage, Upcycle: Words to Live By

Because I am pretty new to selling glass art, I have been checking out other people’s stuff online to see what they are making and how much they are selling it for. I have seen a lot of cool stuff out there, but I have come to the conclusion that people need to use a dictionary when they are describing their glass art. So in this blog entry I will attempt to define several “green” terms that are commonly misused or misunderstood. Whenever you see my description of my glass products, you will know that I follow closely the following definitions:

Recycle – Recycling is the process of reclaiming materials from used products or materials from their manufacturing and using them in the manufacturing of new products.

"Bones"- left over edges from flattened light sconces
 When a plastic bag is recycled into a new plastic bag, it is melted down and reprocessed into a new bag.  It may not be the same color, size or other similar characteristics to the original bag. It may have even been changed into something completely different than a bag like plastic car paneling, or polar fleece. When I recycle glass it means that I take old used glass and change it into a new object. When I make stained glass out of bottles, I first cut the bottles, then fire them in my kiln, then cut them to shape and assemble them into the stained glass piece. When I make tiles, I crush the bottles into powder and then fire them into molds in the kiln. Some of my recycled glass jewelry is made by simply cutting out patterns from bottles or vases and using just that bottle or pattern in the jewelry.

Reuse – noun 2. the act or process of using again. -
“Often, the most sustainable option is to reuse materials and objects already manufactured, either for their original or new purposes, rather than recycle them into other products. This decreases further energy and materials use in recreating them into a new form.“

People will often reuse bottles or vases by gluing, cementing, or painting objects onto them. The glass objects retain their original form, but are just decorated. The bottle does not undergo any major changes or processing.

The temple was made from recycled light sconces, but the
 sky was made of salvaged glass a lady was getting rid of.
Reclaimed – verb 2. to recover (substances) in a pure or usable form from refuse, discarded articles, etc.

Reclaimed means it has already been thrown away. Objects may be reclaimed to either be recycled or reused.

Salvage - noun 2. the act of saving any goods or property in danger of damage or destruction

Salvage may or may not have been thrown away, but without intervention would otherwise be destroyed.

Bottle bottom boxes are upcycled because the new
product is deffinitly worth more than hte original bottles
they are made out of.
  Upcycle - The process of converting an industrial nutrient (material) into something of similar or greater value, in its second life.

Upcycle is a new phrase that I have seen used for items that are both recycled and reused. I believe that to be upcycled the object should be worth more after the alterations have been made.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Recycled Glass Ear Rings

It’s about time I posted again.  I have been very busy lately.  We had a craft fair at the local Elementary School, and four different stained glass Christmas presents I’ve been working on.  Because some of the recipients of those presents read this blog, I will not be posting pictures of them for a little while yet.  Instead I have a few pictures of some of the ear rings we sold at the craft fair.  I have to admit that these are some of the worst pictures I have ever taken.  They were taken with my iphone and I’m pretty sure the lens was smudged, probably by one of my snot nosed kids.

Some of these were sold at the fair and we still have some left.  If any of you are interested in buying some, I'm selling them at $15 per pair.  The hooks and wire are sterling silver.  These are made by cutting cross sections from bottles and then fire polishing them in the kiln.  I have many more of these in a variety of colores.  If you want something specific I can make them to order, just let me know what you are looking for.  Shown here are the more symetrical and matching sets if you want to see some of the more funky looking rings, just let me know.  Also, I am planning on taking more pictures with my "real " camera.  Starting with the new year these and many other products will be showing up on Etsy.  When that happens, I'll write another post to let you all know.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Garden Update

People have asked me to add more pictures to the blog and people keep asking about the garden, so I decided to do a follow up post about how our plants did this year with mostly pictures of vertical gardening.

 Here are the beans in front of the front window.  They cast a nice shade on the front of the house.  This system made them very easy to pick.

The beans grew all the way to the top of the strings and started looking for a place to keep growing

The pumpkins completely took over the pergola providing shade for the house and the hammock.  Check out how the pumpkins just hang there.  They didn't have any problems growing like that.  We didn't even have to support them.

 Another hanging pumpkin.  A couple of our pumpkins ripened really early.

The pumpkin seeds came from a pumpkin we had last year.  We planted 11 plants and grew 11 pumpkins.  Next year we will probably buy seeds to see if we can get more out of each plant.

Pumpkins on the roof.  Look at all that shade.  The vines didn't like growing on the black asphalt shingles.  They kept turning back towards the pergola and hanging down in the middle of the walkway.  I had to keep putting them back up on the pergola.

Here you can see the beans in front of the window, the pumpkin covered pergola with zucchini in the front as well as the salvaged countertop pavers.  The beans are sparse in the middle because a large rain storm came just after we planted washing away the seeds so many of the beans didn't germinate.

A view of the front yard from the street.  The tomatoes ended up growing well over the top of the t-frames.  We canned enough spaghetti sauce and ketchup for the entire year.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bottle Bottom Boxes

The first Bottom Bottle Box
Made from a couple of Whole Foods spice jars
I received a case of empty Bombay Sapphire Gin sample bottles. Probably the kind you might find in hotels and airlines. They are tiny. They are too small to melt for stained glass, so I decided to slice them up into little square rings to be melted for jewelry. After slicing several bottles up, I had a stack of left-over bottle bottoms. I took them inside and told my wife that we should try and come up with something to do with them. I left the stack of bottle bottoms on the table and went back out to the shop for a minute. When I got back, guess what, the kids had found them and started to play with them (doesn’t that always happen?) What they were doing was making little boxes out of them by placing one on top of another upside down. With a little experimentation, the Bottle Bottom Box was born.

Frosted glass adds a nice touch

I am still having a hard time with the hinges. There are no hinges in the stores small enough to work on the boxes, so I am making my own with old copper wire that was pulled out of a remodel job. They work fine, but I’m still experimenting with them. Right now I am trying several different bottle sizes and styles to see what people like. I have already given away a couple as birthday presents. I’m sure I’ll be making many more of these in the future.

Multiple sizes are available

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Manti Temple

Stained Glass Manti Temple

Trees in front of the temple
I finally finished it!  After a long and time consuming marathon of stained glass, I was finally able to finish the stained glass picture of the LDS Manti Temple.  This beauty took over 80 hours of work, but I was able to get it done in about a month.  The temple is made of light sconces I melted flat, the windows, roof, and trees are also recycled bottles I melted flat.  The sky and grass are made of salvaged stained glass I bought.  Even the frame is made of salvaged molding. 

Manti Temple west tower with light rays

This is by far the biggest, most difficult, and most rewarding piece I have made so far.  It has just over 500 pieces in it. 
Unfortunately there is no income off of this one; it was a wedding present for my brother-in-law and his new wife…they had better like it ;)  I hope to be able to start making more large pictures like this one soon.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Reclaimed Countertop Scraps

Again, it’s been a while since posting last, but here I am again. As you will see in the next few posts I have been very busy. In the Mitleider method of gardening it is important to minimize the amount of non vegitable life in the garden. This is mainly talking about bugs and weeds. The way to accomplish this is by weeding and pruning regularly and by not watering in-between the isles of crops. Because my garden is in the front yard where it is constantly under the scrutiny of anyone passing by, I decided that I didn’t want to have just plain dirt between my grow boxes. So, this is what I came up with:

I went around to several stone countertop manufacturers and picked the scraps out of their dumpsters. I did ask all of them of course (some not at first.) I used the scraps as pavers in-between the grow boxes. Because I am a glass fanatic, I put a mixture of different colored crushed recycled glass between the pieces. What you have as an end result is a beautiful, bug and weed resilient yard.

This process takes many, many, many hours. Each piece is a different thickness and has to be set and leveled individually. I didn’t cut any of them and just trusted that I would find one that fit. It was worse than a huge puzzle.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My Vertical Growing

Here are a few more pictures of the plants I am growing vertically...
The now mostly empty broccoli bed, the cabbage bed, the zucchini/crookneck bed, the tomato bed and then the pumpkin/watermelon bed.  The pumpkins are growing on up the pergola.  We have been able to fit a lot of food into a small space.

The pumpkins have outgrown the T-frame and are heading up onto the pergola.
A tomato plant trained to wrap around the string clockwise.
Same thing with watermelon.  The empty string is waiting for an acorn squash that had a slow start.
I put anchors in the face of the house to run a small cable.  I put a cable both along the top and the bottom and tied strings between them for the beans to climb up.
Beans guide themselves up
The beans don't need to be trained, they just climb on their own
The strings for the tomatoes.  Tomatoes are planted 9 inches apart then are split every other one up either side of the T-frame.  That way the plants get the space they need as they get bigger (as long as you prune them correctly.)  In the background are the beans growing in front of the house.
The cable at the bottom of the row of tomatoes, the string tied to the cable, and the tomato wrapped around the string.  
Tomatoes like this produce lots of even full fruit and keeps them off the ground which prevents disease
Pumpkin wrapped around the string, grown' on up
Even when the pumpkins are growing horizontally towards the pergola they are guided clockwise around the strings.  One tiny little pumpkin is starting to grow.
Do you grow your veggies vertically?   What system works best for you?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Update on Vertical Growing

Its been a while since I have posted, and I knew this would happen with a new blog.  Just like most things I start and don't finish.  But with some reminding and encouraging from my wife, I'm back.
So, I met with Salt Lake City's Mayor Becker about vertical vegitable growing in the front yard.    He said that he is in favor of the idea and that infact he is working on passing a series of green initiatives that will include vertical growing.  He didn't have a time line on when he will present  to the council, so knowing politics and red tape, it could be a while.  he assured me that I would be notified when it does happen though.
Meenwhile I have been very busy working on my own garden.  As you can see I have decided to grow vertically despite the current regulations.  I figure that if I get caught or someone complains, I will just apply for a varience.  I doubt that will happen because we have recieved nothing but compliments from people passing by.
In these pictures you can see that I have tomatoes, pole beans, zuccinis, crookneck squash, and pumpkins all over 2 feet tall.  Thats right those are 6 foot tall pumpkin plants!  Actually, these pictures were taken July 6th.  It is now July 14th and the pumkins are being trained up onto the pergola above the hamock reachin more than 8 feet tall. 
More posts and pictures of the garden comming up soon.
I'm trying to get this blog more noticed, so please link to it from your own blog or Facebook account etc.  The more people see what is possible in their own yards, the more people will decide to live more sustainably.