Friday, February 25, 2011

"I've got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom." ~ Thomas Carlyle

I am so tired I can barely walk... or stand or chew... Good thing my bed is very near by because I think I might just fall in that direction and hope I make it.  I have completed 5 days of The Shred, 5 days of blowing glass hardcore and 2 days of intense riding lessons.  It has been a glorious week but a very FULL week!

Sorry I missed yesterday... I was so tired I didn't think I could type... also my only hope of making it through Friday was to sleep as much as absolutely possible.  I figured you guys would understand :)

Here are some pictures from Wednesday's glass:
 A little of the bubbly anyone?  (you have to say it like Dean Martin would to a lady... makes it way cooler!)
 And, here is a an all clear graal blank.  It is a clear base bubble which I then put a clear bubble on inside out over it!  Way more exciting with color I promise!

Yesterday I blew glass all day in the factory with Vegard.  We continued to work on the graal pieces.  We tried some colors but had a hard time maintaining an even coat of color on the top layer.  We ended up with a few that looked like this one on the left.  
But I hope they are usable in some way... might be cool to play on the color graduation across the piece?  I did manage to make one really good one which is dark pupley/pink over white!  I have no idea what to do with those colors but I am sure I can come up with something!

After school I took a short nap, woke up, did my day 4 of The Shred.  Day 4 was not so bad, not only was I not nearly as sore but I had more energy then I had before at the end of the work out.  Then I went to my riding lesson! We did another kind of crazy jumper course! I rode Lady who was not in as bad of a mood as usual... maybe she is learning that Thursday night lessons are fun?  We jumped around 90cm which I think is just under 3 feet.  It was fun and hard, lots of turns and tight corners and Lady was going super fast! I think she would have liked to leave whole strides out in the two lines we had (which is very fast).  

I came home and crawled promptly into bed, well, I talked to Sam first which always makes me happy and sleep better :)  Then I got up super early on Friday and started all again!

In the morning we blew more graal pieces. I was ready to do something else, for one I was tired and also I was tired of doing the same thing over and over.  But, Vegard had been struggling with making the overlay bubble so he wanted to practice on that.  We blew three piece in clear where he did the overlay bubble as the assistant and I worked as the gaffer (boss blower) which was hard because my job is a lot more intense.  Today Marianne was back, she is the second year Nordic teacher and is usually the graal teacher around here.  We were a little concerned she would be frustrated with us for starting the graal so early or not getting her to show it to us.  But she seemed to go right along with it and was fine.  Of course the one she saw me do first was my first one ALL WEEK which got bubbles between the color layers which is what you absolutely don't want to happen! oops, oh well.  We finished the morning with me doing a really good one with an orange base and a blue overlay bubble.  I am kind of thinking of carving in coral in the bottom and then maybe some orange fish in the top part.  I will see how it looks Monday!

In the afternoon I went to the cold shop for some less physical work.  Vegard went to go grocery shopping while the kids were in school.  He has two little boys with Sigrid but she is currently away studying and he says it is torture shopping with two little kids.  I started cutting the pieces out for my Tiffany piece:
 This is where I cut the glass with hand held glass cutters.  I also used a round one but its not pictured.
 There are 20 + triangles and 30 + half circles.  I had to make a few extra just in case (those are the + it is a 20 sided piece with extra sticky-outy bits).
 On Monday morning I will assemble all the pieces and make a this:
 Except out of glass of course!
This evening I had a dressage lesson on Hilma.  I have never ridden her and all I knew about her was that she kicks... a lot.  She is super sweet and wants to be sweet all the time but doesn't like to go, stop, be on contact or have anyone touch her stomach.  She is also TINY compared to the other horses I have been riding which was kind of fun.  Here she, looking deceptively cute:

Now, I am off to lay in bed and watch Beauty and The Beast and sleep all day tomorrow.  Well, as Sam said,  except the 30 minutes I am awake to do day 6 of The Shred.  

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

“Blessed are the forgetful; for they get the better even of their blunders” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Damn Jillian! I haven't been this sore since I was riding like 10 horses a day! One summer I was helping my trainer who had broken his jaw (bicycle accident) by riding his horses for him... the first week was KILLER!  I got over it and I will get over this too! Day 3 of The Shred: check!  Maybe tomorrow I won't have to hold onto the handicap bar when I sit down on the toilet each time!  

There are no pictures today because Micke forgot to turn off the annealer last night and this morning all the glass was still blazing hot and we couldn't take it out.  So, tomorrow there will be LOTS of pictures of the same thing... clear graal blanks.  Sound exciting?  Yeah, I am not that excited either but the good thing about tomorrow is that Vegard and I get to use some colors and make exciting graal blanks!

We worked all day on clear ones, making sure we didn't get bubbles between the layers and getting the right shape and size... We finally decided after lunch to try doing it in color! We got a pinkish transparent color and tried to put a purpley/grey color over it.  But I messed it all up and smooshed it so much that is was unusable... or salvageable for that matter.  So we got the teachers to give us a demo on how to do it properly with color, turns out there weren't really any good colors to use in the annealer so they had to go find new colors and warm then and after all that was said and done we only had time for the demo before the end of the day.  But, tomorrow Vegard and I will start with red and white colors to make wonderful graal blanks! Now that I know what colors we are using I have started to make sketches of what I can carve into the blank before we blow it out again!  I sat around for a long time this afternoon sketching, well, procrastinating on The Shred, but still, it was productive sketching!

In the afternoon tomorrow I am going to go to the cold shop to start up my Tiffany style piece! I will take lots of pictures I promise! Then the late night jumping lesson at the stables. That is if I can drag my sore ass up into the saddle... uhg!  Now off to bed so hopefully I can get up at a reasonable time tomorrow and not 5 seconds before I have to be at school.  This morning it was a FRIGID -20C (-4F) here!!! This is what I picture Mother Nature looking like these days:
Yes, made of snow, blowing in your face and with a beard.

PS: If you are bored Google image search "ice sculpture" and you will see some amazing things and some pretty funny ones also.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"I just use my muscles as a conversation piece, like someone walking a cheetah down 42nd Street." ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger

Well, Jillian Michaels is kicking my ass!  All day I hobbled around the hot shop... cringing every time I had to stand up or sit down. It wasn't pretty.  Once I got moving it was OK, but the starting or stopping was bad news.  Don't worry, I did my Shred workout anyway today!  I moaned through the lunges and all sorts of other things.  I used some Fanta bottles for my weights today... I had no idea how much they weigh but after some google research it seems they only weigh about 1, yes, ONE pound each! So, I guess I need to drink them and find something heavier to fill them with... like rocks?  But, I am going to see if my arms are sore tomorrow from 1 pound... maybe I should start with that small of a weight?  I was surprised that my thighs are the most sore out of everything, but maybe it is because I didn't have weights... Anyway, day 2: CHECK!

I got up super early this morning and went to the cold shop early to talk to Rebecca and Tove about my Tiffany style piece I am going to do.  I think I am going to work on it Thursday, maybe all day, maybe just the afternoon, I haven't decided yet.  I am super excited., hopefully it will look as cool as I think it will!  

Then I went to the factory where Vegard and I watched the Masters blowing some huge ugly head things while drinking coffee before the hot shop was full of people.  Then we tried to make champagne glasses all morning.  The long, skinny, modern champagne glasses.  It was super hard to get them long and cool looking and not just weird.  It was also hard but the longer the glass is the further away the stem is from you when you are working and then the foot is even further away! Makes it tricky to find the center of pieces and not make it all crooked by mistake!  I am not sure how many survived.  We had a minor catastrophe in the annealer where one glass fell over, smashed into other glasses and knocked a bunch of stuff over... it looked like a mess, but maybe a few survived!

In the afternoon we got Micke to show us how to do a GRAAL!!!!! He gave some written instructions to have since it is a million steps:
 They also explained the nifty new tools we use:
Micke made us practice first in clear so we could see what we were doing with the glass and be able to judge heat and thickness and stuff like that.  I made two successful, but small, blanks in the afternoon! A blank is what you carve your design into before you reheat it and blow it out to be an actual usable piece.  We went back and forth where I was the gaffer (blower in charge) and Vegard was the assistant and vice versa which helped us practice all the different aspects as well as gave us a bit of a break because it was super hot working on the blank!  We are going to try again some more tomorrow, hopefully get to use some colors!

Here are some pictures of the glass from yesterday:
 I am not sure why they are slightly out of focus... I blame it on the weird lighting.  But, I found a matchbox!
Look at those straight legs!
 The dark piece is actually really dark pink/purple.  It was a complete mess when I made it so it might go in the trash... it is very crooked and not even when you look at it closely.
Just in case you wanted to see what it looked like from the top.  They are sitting on top of a big marver table which we use when we do the graals.  Very shiny and smooth :)

After school I needed to go the grocery and I decided that since it wasn't snowing for once I would walk the long way home and I hoped it would help my super sore legs.
 The fresh snow was so pretty! 
 It had been pouring snow all day so everything was very crunchy and crisp.
 The big river through Orrefors was still flowing but the pond was pretty frozen.
 I like this shot because you can see the snow on top of the ice formed on the side of the river.  You can see where the river was higher and formed one layer of ice then went down and formed another.
Just looking at those pictures make me chilly! I can't believe how people swim in waters like that!! I went home and put on a pot of coffee and sat next to my space heater after my walk :)

Now I am off to bed, hopefully tomorrow I will be less sore from The Shred but I doubt it.  I can't believe it is only Tuesday! I feel like I have done so much already this week which is great!

Monday, February 21, 2011

"Unless You Puke, Faint or Die, Keep Going!" ~ Jillian Michaels

So, remember on Friday how excited I was about making my first free hand wine glass which I even opened in the glory hole?!?!? Well... Here it is:
 Looks pretty good huh?  Bet you didn't even notice that it doesn't have a stem or foot?!?
It is what we call a new fancy stemless wineglass.  They are all the rage right now... 

UHG!!!! I AM SO FRUSTRATED! Apparently I let it get too cold when I put it in the annealer and the stem broke off! WTF!!!

So, today I worked all the day in the factory with Vegard, in the morning we practiced wineglasses free hand again.  We got our third different approach to making them shown to us today.  So far we have had Ake's, Micke's and now Marianne's way to make a nice thin wine glass.  I think I like Marianne's best, it feels most in control and not as likely to end up crooked... but we will have to see how they look tomorrow.  I saved a bunch and the annealer was packed with wineglasses at the end of the morning :)

In the afternoon we decided to work on something else, we played with color, made a strange shape that Vegard had dreamt up.  It mostly involved Micke showing us how to make it like 3 times... but that was good.  We were pretty tired by the afternoon.  We worked all day with no breaks except 30 minutes at lunch!  Bad-ass = us.

I also talked to Rebecca about this cool idea I have for a Tiffany style creation.  It is hard to explain but will be super cool if I can figure out how to do it!  I am going in early tomorrow to talk to Tove about it also and hopefully set up a time when I should have lots of teacher attention to make it! I have made a cardboard example and now just have to make it out of glass... sounds easy right?

So, this week will be a weird week as far as the gym goes... no one is here who goes to the gym really.  So, I have decided at the last second to try Jillian Michaels' work out.  I downloaded her 30 day Shred video... you, I mean I, have to do this super intense workout every day for 30 days BUT it is only about 20-something minutes! We will see how it goes, I am not sure if I can do it everyday for 30 days... but I will try!  I was thinking maybe I couldn't do it when I rode that day but then I remembered that Parker (from VA) used to work out and ride and run a million miles all the time, sometimes on the same days so I should buck up and do it!   Also, Jillian kind of reminds me of Parker with the long brown hair, being super in shape and take no nonsense style.  Except Parker doesn't look so scary as Jillian does in the below picture...
Note: I am not doing this to lose 20 lbs in 30 days... just for the exercise and to see if I can.  I did the first workout today and was panting and sweating at the end... I am not super sore, yet. I need to find some 3 lbs free weights... which I am not going to buy.  I was thinking maybe I could get some little soda bottles and fill them with sand or something... any suggestions?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"You sure this is the right blind voodoo lady who lives in the boat in the tree in the bayou? " ~ The Princess and The Frog, Disney

Valerie: Spoiler ALERT!!! Don't look at this if you don't want to see what happens to your Valentine's Frog/Prince!!!

Remember my V-day present from Jenny?  Well here it is... the Frog that turns into a Prince! Just add water, no kissing necessary!
 "its not easy being green"
 Added water...
 Now we have an albino frog... can you see the green stuck in his belly button?!?
 Slowly starting to bubble... toil and trouble... haha just kidding but it does look a bit like Nessy from Scotland!
 Then I got bored because there wasn't much bubbly action so I shook him... so all the water turned green, AND he started to bubble more!
 He had a hole in his side... lots of bubbles coming from there!!
 Then a few hours later... yes the package said minutes but it took HOURS... he broke in half!
 And you barely make out the little prince inside!
 The rest of the frog floated to the top in a gross white mushy way.
 And it bubbled for a few more hours...
 and hours...
 All that is left is the froggy feet it appears... maybe he will be a good swimmer?
 I decided that he was done... he looked a bit like King Triton and I figured that the mer-King was good enough for me.
 I dumped out all the green water and was left with this guy.  I am not going to lie he still looks a bit like a frog in the face... or a bull dog.  But the good thing is he is no longer green or slimy looking.  BUT TINY!
 The package then said to refill with clean water and wait 72 hours... after some math I figured that was a few days so I waited and waited and waited and then we got this:
 No wait, I think that was just a few minutes later... A few DAYS later he looked like this:
Bubbly and bigger!  I have now dumped out the water and he is sitting next to my bed drying... we will see what he looks like then!  I was telling Jenny about the prince and said "I was expecting the Prince to be bigger!" to which she, so cunningly, replied "thats what she said!!!" hahahahaha we are hilarious!

In case you haven't noticed there isn't a lot to do around here in Orrefors.  Also, if you are in the mood for a good movie I suggest:
The Princess and the Frog Poster
It is good in many ways, 1.  Who doesn't love Disney?  2.  It is set in New Orleans!  3.  talking animals, enough said.

Or if you are older than 10... and not a little girl... nothing wrong with either of those things... There is this movie:
Ondine Poster
Ondine was recommened to me by Jenny and I have to say it was GREAT! I just watched it today and really enjoyed it! Also good for several reasons: 1.  Colin Farrell has long hair and an Irish accent.  2.  Fairy tale set to real life.  3.  Good music... I can't tell you more but believe me!  4.  I am not the dude on Reading Rainbow so unless you do watch it, or know someone else who has, you do have to take my word for it!

"Riding: The art of keeping a horse between you and the ground." ~Author Unknown

Don't worry I didn't fall off!  I was going to tell you about my past two riding lessons, both of which were jumping!!

Thursday nights lesson was very exciting.  I have now figured out how it works... which is nice.  We are to get on and warm up in the little riding house (indoor arena) and then be ready to jump a course by 7:45.  We walk into the big ring and just start jumping and continue on for an hour and 15 minutes, sometimes more.  I didn't exactly understand this before and was always a little behind everyone else and confused why.  But not anymore!  I rode Lady, warmed up in the little ring then went to the big ring.  There was a course set up which we started out jumping a little jump and then slowly doing more and more jumps in a row.  Finally we ended up with the below course:
It started with 1 which was a stone wall jump, six strides (canter steps) to 2 which was an oxer.  A right, tight turn to 3 which was a scary jump made of a plastic drape over the poles designed to look like a brick wall then to the inside tight left turn over an oxer at 4.  Then a long gallop (where you really had to get going) to do  5 with three huge strides to 6.  Then a super tight turn back to 7 which was a triple oxer, can you call it a ramp?  It was 3 poles which got higher as they went back, making it wide and high.  Then a bending four stride line back over the oxer which is now number 8.  I don't know if I saw anyone get the last line (7 to 8) exactly right, it was a tricky turn with a slightly weird bending distance.  I know this is super confusing but hopefully with my wonderful diagram you can follow along!  It was very interesting lesson, everyone had struggles at some point... a few people almost fell off but luckily with this more advanced lesson no one did.  The horses were all acting a bit weird, being more scared then normal, or more grumpy (like Lady), or more excited and kicking out with their hind legs over some of the jumps!  I had to whip Lady for the first time quit a bit which she did not like, she wouldn't go forward, she was super grumpy but once we established that she had to do what I wanted no matter how much she bucked all I had to do was make growly "get up" noises at her during the course.  I have also learned that it is really hard to make the "slow down" noise which is a sort of "thbbbbt" made by blowing through your lips when you are freezing cold! I don't know how these Swedes do it but I can't move my lips when I am that cold!  It was a good lesson and I was pleased to ride Lady and it felt like I did a good job with her, which is always nice :)  I went home exhausted and got straight in bed!

Friday I worked in the hot shop all day.  First with Bjorn and Rosanne trying to do really ugly colored stems on the wineglasses.  I didn't make a single keepable one.  This might be because they are not the best assistants or because it is super hard to get color hot enough to make a nice stem.  After lunch I worked with Vegard and we got Micke to show us how to blow a wine glass all free hand! We blew the bubble which makes the cup, added a stem and pulled it all on our own, not stupid mushing tool and then put a foot on.  We did use the foot tool, I want to try to do a blown foot soon.  Then you put it on a punty, under the foot and open up the top bubble to make it shaped like a cup! It was AWESOME! It felt so cool to make one all yourself and know that it is really all your work and one of a kind! I kept my first one which was pretty damn good I would like to say :)  

Here are the glasses I had made on Thursday:
 They are supposed to have a straight stem which is SUPER hard.
 The one on the left it pretty but not straight... but the one on the right is good I think... well it could be straighter!
I was pretty pleased with these, they were tricky but look cool in the long run.  I think I like glasses where the stem gets narrower at the bottom better... I guess I need to learn all the fancy names for the different types of stems.    I forgot to take a picture of the ugly bubbly bourbon glass... I had forgotten I even made it until Friday night... whoops.  I will try to find it Monday and take a picture.

Friday night I went back the stables and rode Vaaaagner in another jumping lesson.  We didn't do as much, just jumped a little combination but it was fun and nice to ride a different horse.  I forgot what a weird canter Vaaagner has.  He feels perfectly normal to the left but when you canter to the right it is like riding a two man horse suit! 
Not very smooth to say the least! Also I forgot how much he goes with his head straight up in the air! It made me appreciate how smooth and nice Lady is even if she is a bitch sometimes.  I also got to see the teenager in the group, Lydia, ride Poseidon which was interesting.  It is always neat to see someone else ride a horse after you have ridden them... see what it looks like in addition to what it feels like.  AND! Lydia's mom asked me if I wanted to starting riding with them in their car to the Friday lessons! Yay, no more bus! 

PS: Sorry this is so late, I started writing it, got distracted and when I came back I couldn't get on the internet.  Turns out it wasn't the student house's fault for once but I had disabled something or other on my computer... yes, sometimes I am a computer idiot.  But its working again (a whole day later)! Hooray!