The Fiery Furnace & Me


I’m obsessed with glassware. However, in true bull in a china shop fashion, I’m less than graceful, so glassware doesn’t always love me. From glassware kitsch like Fire-King and Jadeite, to Irish crystal, Murano glass and Limoges. Sea-glass, Mercury glass, Carnival glass and hobnail. Chintzware, tea-sets and fine china. Ornaments and garden balls. Soda bottles and mason jars. By now I’m sure you’re glassy-eyed just reading this, and if so, I’ve made my point. But it’s true, I’ve always just loved and to be honest, hoarded, glass.


My big sis got a mosaic tile kit as a kid and I was so envious as she created the little ashtray project included. Toys were disturbing back then. Yes folks, you too, can teach your kiddo to make you an ashtray! Mosaic tile kits: making ashtrays cool since the 60’s!  One thing I learned from coveting my sister’s mad ashtray skills: glass-working requires artistry. In her case, it mostly required messy glue on the webbed backing and tricky tile layout. And dilemma-when you’re done, do you give it as a gift, or save it for a few years till you’re old enough to light up? In her case, she used it for jewelry, and thereby dodged a wicked habit.


Speaking of smoke, everyone knows where there’s smoke there’s fire…and that brings me back around to my point. Glass. And me. And the fiery furnace.

Last year for Christmas in my quest for creative gift-giving, I gave my husband a Groupon for a glass-blowing workshop. In retrospect it’s one of those times where I gave a present that was better suited to me…(like the time Homer Simpson gave Marge a bowling ball for her birthday with his name “HOMER” engraved on it…awkward.)  I could tell by the look on my husbands face that he was underwhelmed. But after one workshop, he was converted. The class not only taught glassblowing 101, but participants got to keep the treasures they crafted as a takeaway. In his case, it was an egg-shaped paperweight in Boise State’s renowned smurf-blue and bright orange colors. He loved the experience and declared it the best present ever! (And his paperwork has never flown off his desk  since.)

pics 3

The minute the Groupon was available again, I bought one workshop for my daughter and me, and one for my son & daughter-in-law to mark their first anniversary. (Which I think traditionally is paper…but I broke protocol and went for something more lasting.)

Happy First Anniversary!

Now comes the part where I’m going to have to insert a disclaimer. I absolutely hate to try new things. I am a foot-dragging-stick-in-the-mud when it comes to anything even slightly adventurous or just out of my comfort zone. So the fact I even committed to trying something new was a leap. But this is the year of old dog, new tricks, (see older post), and so I hijacked my artsy daughter sidekick to go with me. After picking my project and colors, those crazy glass masters handed me a poker where I was on one end, and the other was a  molten fiery blob. I quickly learned to slowly twirl the pole to hold the shape without letting the red-hot mass plop into the fiery abyss. It’s like toasting a marshmallow. A MARSHMALLOW THAT CAN KILL YOU! First one side gets globby, and you turn, turn, turn, (sing it like the Byrds,) balancing out the flaming goo and hoping it doesn’t go kaput. Next I got to roll the toasty blob into my color shards, then back into the fire, which is called the glory hole. (It reminded me more of a hell-hole…literally. Terrifying to think of hell as a fiery furnace when you’re actually NEAR the fiery furnace! Hopefully that’s as close to a singe as I will get.)


Me & the fiery furnace...
Me & the fiery furnace…


More twirling, and a couple more rolls in the glass chips-fast forward-fiery furnace-yada, yada-and we were to the glass blowing stage. A helper rolled the pole while I puffed down the tube to blow air into the piece so it could take shape. Actually, I was the helper, and the pole roller was the pro, but they let you feel like you are the creator and an artist in that moment. After following careful instructions of air/no air, (which I nailed, by the way) various scary looking tools were used to mold, snip, and bend, all the while the glass is about a zillion degrees.

glass 7glass glass 9glass 5                glass 8

For the finale, the fragile piece is nestled into the oven for hours and hours. Fingers crossed. Maybe a silent prayer.  (This is a Kim-project after all, and as I mentioned in my earlier post “Out of the Closet” I am craft-challenged.)

The end result is a beautiful creation of glass. Art in itself.

glass pics

All this from timeless sand, refined in the fire till the grains are smooth, the colors unique, the shape one-of-a-kind. It evolves under a masters hand into something amazing.

Kind of like us.


You use a glass mirror to see your face;

you use works of art to see your soul.

George Bernard Shaw

Finished Pieces
Finished Pieces


AARONTATE.COM  Aaron Tate Glassworks(206)387-9228
Song Reference: The Byrds Turn, Turn, Turn
(Lyrics taken from Ecclesiastes chapter 3 KJV)

Packing Made Easy!

This post came to me this week as I thought about the trip my family and I took two weeks ago.

We went on a trip to LA for 4 days and had a great time, but we were limited on the amount of items we could bring, because of the baggage fees that the airlines charge.  There were 7 of us, so imagine 7 checked bags at $35 each.  That was $245 we were not willing to spend both ways.  If we brought our bags on the plane as carryons we would only be charged $25 each for a total of $175 both ways.   Still we did not think it was worth it. The airline would allow a free carryon but it would have to fit within their specific measurements.  So we gathered all of the bags we had around the house measured them all, made sure we all had one and told ourselves whatever fits in this bag is what we can take on the trip with us.   We have 4 daughters so you can imagine the looks on their faces.  They were not excited.  Well they felt better when we told them that they could also have a large handbag, so whatever didn’t fit in their carryon they could put in their handbags/backpacks.  Needless to say we all implemented the steps I’ve outline for you below and no one complained about not having enough clothing to wear and even had room to shop and bring back a few items.  Talk about team work and saving money.


Here are my tips:

Find out what the weather will be like so that you know what type of clothing to bring.

Make a list of items you think you will need.  You can’t go wrong with a list, especially if you have limited amount of items you can bring. You can utilize already made lists like the one below or you can make your own list.


No matter what type of clothing you’re bringing, you will want to first decide on a base color or two, like black and white or red and brown. Once you make this decision you can choose the items that would coordinate with those colors best and allow you to mix and match outfits better.  The more you can mix and match the less you can bring.  Depending on what you are doing each day you may be able to wear a pair of pants during the day and change into a dressier shirt for dinner that goes with the same pants.  Or if you’re wearing a dress, during the day, you can change into a pair of dressier shoes and update your jewelry for dinner.  Be sure to bring layering items like a cardigan or light jacket.  This will allow you to get away with re-wearing some items and they will also help with the changing weather.


If you’re like me, shoes are usually the biggest problem when it comes to packing. I like to bring several pair (meaning 4 or 5 pair) so that I can have options, but with limited space I have to narrow it down.  So ladies, decide on which shoes will work best with most of the outfits and bring 2 or 3 pair if they all fit in your bag, and I make sure mine do.   Also think of comfort.  I know, comfort and Style don’t always go together, but I say why not.  You don’t have to be in pain to look good, so make sure those shoes look and feel good.

Shoes overflow from suitcase
My kind of shoe suitcase


Check items off your list as you collect them.  Try to collect your items a day or two ahead of time so you’re not struggling to find items at the last minute.  That’s no fun.  Once you’ve collected most of your items it’s time to start organizing them.  Put your shoes and any heavy items at the bottom of your bag.  If you have space in your shoes use it to store small items like socks, underwear, costume jewelry (rolled in something soft or secure in a Ziploc sandwich bag).


The best way to pack your clothing to gain the most space is to roll them.  Roll the soft items first and fold the heavy items and lay them on top.


Because you will probably be bringing back a suitcase full of dirty clothes on the plane another good idea is to bring a few sheets of fabric softener in a sandwich bag and take one out and lay it in your bag on the way home so that the bag smells fresh.


Remember that for your return you will need to make you carryon look as neat as it was before, even though you will have dirty clothes this time around.  Continue to roll them the best you can and add the fabric softener sheets as needed.

We implemented these tips and our packing was a success.  We were able to utilize space we usually wouldn’t and we were able to save money at the same time.  We enjoyed our trip and had extra money to spend.  I call that an all around successful trip.