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Don’t Try This at Home – Playing with Hot Glass

30 Nov

Last night I took a class in hot glass making, here in Austin at East Side Glass Studio. The cool and fun Leigh Taylor Wyatt and Shara Funari were the fearless leaders of our newbie-to-glass group, which included Josh from Austin’s newest brewery, the East side’s Hops & Grain Brewery; and Richard who is also a writer – he is Mr. Smarty Pants at the Austin Chronicle. Video of my glass working at the bottom of this post – see how it’s done!

So, maybe I have a twisted mind or maybe I’m just demented, but I couldn’t help feeling as if it all sounded like an X-rated movie, as Leigh and Shara explained the process to us and demonstrated the equipment. From the “glory hole” to paddling, poking, keeping it hot, puffing and blowing…sorry. I thought it was funny. All of these terms are the terms used when working with hot glass, and always, always it is back to the glory hole. Named rather unfortunately, in my opinion, but quite amusing. Continue reading

Cooking up Deliciousness

28 Nov

If you have been following this blog at all, you know I love to cook. And to eat! One of my previous 30 Day projects, the “Locavore” eating local challenge, was all about shopping local, and cooking/eating local foods. I shared a lot of my home-cooked dishes and recipes during that challenge.

I’m also a fan of some of the cooking shows, especially the challenge ones like Chopped and Master Chef. I love the creativity some of these chefs bring, and I really enjoy finding products in the stores or farmers markets and trying out new recipes with them. So I knew that during my 30 Days of Learning, I wanted to take cooking lessons. Although I cook a lot, and feel that I’m pretty good at it, I’ve always thought it would be really cool to attain some more professional skills and tricks.

I’ve taken a couple of cooking classes in the past, whether when traveling (I learned how to make dumplings in China) or learning ethnic styles, such as two awesome classes I’ve taken at Thai Fresh here in Austin. So earlier this month, I contacted Central Market to see if I might attend a few of their cooking classes as part of this project. Meredith Beeman, the Cooking School manager, promptly replied that she would love to have me, and we scheduled some classes. Continue reading

A Thrilling Bird’s Eye View

26 Nov

Last Wednesday, I did one of my most fun and exciting learning adventures during this 30 Day project – I took a flight lesson!

Just before my flight lesson

Thanks to Matt Quillen at Streamline Aviation, I had one-on-one introductory instruction in airplane piloting. I have always wanted to do this, and was thrilled when Matt offered to give me a lesson. I’ve been up in small aircraft a couple of times (once to jump out, when I went skydiving for my 30th birthday), and in helicopters a few times. But I’ve never received a lesson or in any way worked the controls of any aircraft. Matt changed all that.

I arrived at Streamline, located in a hangar at the back private airfield of Austin Bergstrom Airport, at 9 am on an absolutely beautiful, clear, sunny morning. Matt, who started Streamline with his brother Corey, introduced himself and started with an overview of the airplane we would be flying. The late-model Diamond DA40 is sleek and high-tech; it’s about the size of a Cessna, which is the name most of us are familiar with in small airplanes. But the Diamond has every technology and is lighter, and is a great plane for flight training. Continue reading

Rhythm is a Terrible Thing to Waste

22 Nov

That is what is on the back of Grace Holmes t-shirt as I await the start of my first ballet class at the Tapestry Dance CompanyRhythm is a Terrible Thing to Waste.

Grace Holmes of Tapestry Dance Company

I’m wondering if Grace has any idea just how much rhythm might be wasted on me. Grace is the director of Tapestry, which has both a professional dance company and an academy with dozens of classes for beginners through advanced, in everything from ballet and tap to belly dancing, flamenco and hip-hop.

I just hope that those few years of ballet class I had as a kid will pay off. I haven’t taken a classical form of dance class in decades. But I do remember the positions, once we go through them. Grace is patient and kind; this is a beginning class and so everyone is at some early level, although most of the others have been coming for a while. The class isn’t slowed down for myself and the other total newcomer, but it’s at a level that we can follow. Continue reading

Upcycle for Fun and Fashion!

19 Nov

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a Community Yoga event at Rain Lily Farm just down the street from my place, with my friends MaryAnn and Katie. MaryAnn was wearing the coolest shirt, a soft lavender t-shirt that had been upcycled with cool criss-crossing latticework. Katie and I both loved it.

What’s upcycling? It’s turning something you no longer want or use, into something awesome!

It inspired me to take a look at a stack of old t-shirts I was going to give away, and think about re-purposing them. I got to doing some searches on Google, and found a number of different cool projects to do with old shirts. But true to my 30 Days of Learning project, I also thought there might be some classes or workshops in such fashion re-dos. Continue reading

Flaming Ovens and Popping Glass

16 Nov

I finally got to do it – work with molten glass straight out of the kiln, to create a beautiful piece of art.

With Kevin McGehee and one of his pieces

In my 30 Days of Learning, one of the things I knew right off the bat I wanted to do was learn something about hot glass art. Today I got my first chance, at SiNaCa Studios School of Glass & Gallery in Fort Worth.

Kevin McGehee, one of the founders of SiNaCa, showed me the studio and led me through the basic process for creating glass art. Kevin and several other local glass artists started the nonprofit in Fort Worth’s Near Southside district, as a community center in the glass arts for everyone from beginners to professionals. “This place is owned by the community,” Kevin says. “It belongs to everyone.” The facility, which used to be a gas station, consists of a glass specific gallery, a glassblowing studio, a kiln-forming studio and a cold working studio. Continue reading

What’s the Dancer’s Dent?

10 Nov

I’m a week into my 30 Days of Learning challenge, and so far I’ve been taking Spanish lessons, dance classes, and a new workout practice called the Bar Method.

The Bar Method takes the principles from dance – particularly ballet – and incorporates those moves and hard work into a physical fitness routine. There’s a reason those ballet dancers have gluts of steel and this little thing the instructors at the Bar Method keep calling the “dancer’s dent.” We work on it a lot when doing upper thigh work. It’s when that space at the top, outside edge of your thigh dents inward instead of outward. Basically, the exact opposite of what happens when we sit all day long, instead. Continue reading