Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Being a Teacher at Bead & Button, Class 1

Wednesday was a rough day for me, starting at 6:30 am when I ferried myself on my electric scooter over the roller coaster skyway from the Hyatt to the convention center, followed by my husband pushing a laden cart and my wheelchair. My classroom was in the far back corner of the show floor. Luckily, no carpet made pushing myself around in the wheelchair easier, because I proved myself reckless while trying to rearrange tables and chairs pushing from the back of the scooter. No further bodily damage ensued, thank goodness!

Soon we had the aisles wide enough for me to zip through, electricity wired in for all the power equipment, and all the boxes unloaded into a huge mass of supplies. My Garden Window class is a very tightly timed class, as we run the kiln four times to get the pieces all finished. I literally have a printed timeline that I consult to make sure we're staying on track. There are a few things that I typically get done before class starts that I didn't this time because of the extra room rearrangement, so I felt behind even before I started.

I, and especially the students, were extra lucky to have superstar Gordon Uyehara volunteer as my assistant for the day. Thanks, Gordon, it would have been much tougher without you!

First we drew the black outlines onto glass and fired the tiles.

Then we added color and refired. Talented group, aren't they? Everyone loved the glass painting part of the class. I think they could have spent all day doing just that part, so I'll have to rethink whether or not to change the class for next year.

By late morning however, we'd changed to silver clay so that I could show how I make my box design to hold the glass. I carefully loaded two shelves of silver into the kiln during lunch, without double checking the position of the thermocouple. Unfortunately, I blocked it, so the top shelf got hotter than desired. Chalk one disaster up to moving too quickly!

Some pieces had the dreaded (or loved) glitter effect that comes when the temperature is pushing dangerously close to the melting point, but not so much that a brass brushing wouldn't resolve the texture. A couple of box backs were so glittery as to loose all texture. And one lonely, thin front window melted into a complete puddle. I now know where the hot spot in my kiln is located.

Luckily, my victims were good sports and the worst pieces were replaced with my prefired sample pieces to continue on with the process. Several students took their pieces home to fire, so I can't show them all. These six all turned out quite nice, and will be even more lovely after patina and finishing.

As soon as class ended, we rushed to pack and vacate the room in the one hour allotted before the next class started. We hauled everything back to my hotel room, dumped everything, and I collapsed with my throbbing leg elevated. After an early dinner, we reloaded jewelry, books, business cards and postcards, and headed back to set up for the Meet the Teachers reception. Because of my accident, I didn't get a chance to make the things I'd planned to take for sale, but I did luckily have the earrings from my Month of Earrings Challenge. My table wasn't completely bare!

I didn't sell a lot, because I didn't have components, tools or kits available for this crowd of make-it-themselves types, but many people seemed interested in the classes. My textures got a lot of interest, so when those become available, I think they will do very well.

The reception ended at 11 pm, at which time we repacked again, toodled back to the hotel, stood in a long elevator line to transport both the scooter and wheelchair up to the room, and then collapsed into bed. I can only be thankful that I didn't get the two classes on consecutive days as I requested, but I had Thursday off so that I could sleep in the next morning.