Glass Stepping Stones

While I was working on the redo of my front yard, I kept thinking that stepping stones leading to the stairs would be nice.  I shad seen some lovely ideas on-line that were made with glass and concrete.  I really liked them, but when I realized how much the glass would cost (over $100 for the number of stepping stone I would need), I decided I would skip making them.

Then, one day my sister-in-law texted me to say she was at a garage sale and the lady had a box of glass scraps for $5.  After asking, I found out that it was stained glass.  Unfortunately I can’t use stained glass for my fused glass projects (I have tried before and the glass melts poorly and has a dull, burnt look afterwards ).  But, then I realized that this glass might work for the stepping stones.  Not knowing what colors were in the box, I responded back to go ahead and buy the scraps – after all it was only $5.  If I couldn’t use the scraps that wasn’t too much of a waste.  But, if I can use it, that is a great deal for the glass.

When she dropped off the glass at my home, I was amazed at how much glass was there. The box has many colors and held over $200 worth of glass.  So, I decided to try making one stepping stone to see if I liked how it turned out.

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Circular mold with stones attached to contact paper

IMG_2390The first one I made was a circular stone.  After cutting the glass, I used contact paper to hold the glass pieces in place.  To hold the contact paper in the mold, I used spray adhesive. After mixing and carefully pouring the stepping stone concrete, I let the mold cure for two days. Unmolding was rather difficult, but once I did get the concrete out, I was really pleased with the result.

So, after numerous trips to Hobby Lobby to buy more concrete mix (using a 40% off coupon each time), I made a total of three large circular stones and seven square ones.

 

I still have a lot of  stained glass left over, so I may be trying some mosaic projects in the future.

Copper and Cedar Trellises 

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In my previous post, I mentioned that the contractor building my new retaining wall made several changes to the wall design. One of these changes involved the integrated stairs. The original design, which had been approved by the city, included a landing level with the planting beds.

 

 

 

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Unfortunately, because of the change made by the contractor, the stairs were considered unsafe. I needed some type of railing or wall to keep small children from falling off the side of the stairs. The idea of putting in an ugly wooden wall or boring metal railing was not very appealing.

After thinking about this problem, I came up with an idea for a trellis to be placed on either side of the stairs. These trellises would be made of cedar and copper to match one I had made two years ago for my backyard.

 

A couple of solar caps for each side and a clematis to vine up the copper and my problem stairway was no longer a problem.

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Front Yard Redo

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Sadly, things just don’t last forever.  With our house being nearly thirty years old, many of the existing features are wearing out and needing to be replaced.  Last fall, the carpet in the living room and dining room was replaced with maple hardwood flooring, making a big change to front part of the house.  A big improvement!

The next big project on my list was to replace the retaining wall and landscaping in our front yard. Interlocking retaining wall blocks, when originally designed, were meant to last about 20 years.  Our wall was built in 1989 and was definitely showing its age.  Over the past five years, several of the blocks had deteriorated.  When a block in the center of the wall would break down, I would remove it and transfer a block from the ends of the wall, covering the gap in the exposed ends with landscape rock.  This strategy worked for a while.  But ultimately, I could no longer postpone replacing the wall.  Too many of the blocks were now crumbling.

So, over the winter I designed my new wall, sought estimates from contractors for removing and replacing the old wall, and had everything set to go when spring arrived.  On May 2nd, I started working on prepping the yard for the contractor to come.  This involved relocated as much of the landscaping rock as I could dig out, and moving my perennials to our back yard in an attempt to save them for replanting in the new landscaping.

The contractor started on May 11th, with the removal of four large trees and the existing retaining wall.  The following Monday, he started to dig out for the new wall. Unfortunately, it started to rain mid-afternoon. . . and continued to rain for the next ten days.  Every day, the contractor would come and pump out the water hoping that he could start working on building the wall.  But, ever day the rain continued to fall.

Finally, when he was able to start, it was just before Memorial Day.  So, our wall, which was supposed to be completed by May 20th, wasn’t done until June 2nd.  And, to top off my frustration, the contractor kept making changes to the shape of the wall. Some of the changes I accepted, because to redo them would have set the project back several more days.  So, every change in the wall meant a change in the plant design that I had been planning.

After the contractor was done, I was able to take over.  Shrubs were planted, perennials transplanted from the back yard to the new front  yard, mulch spread, brick edging placed around all of the planting areas, and black dirt spread over the yard areas. A large maple tree was planted by Arbor Hills Tree Farm (glad I was home the day that they came as it was amazing to watch them dig and plant the tree in less than thirty minutes). After having part of our front sidewalk replaced and new sod installed, the project was done.

After adding some decorative elements, my front yard is now complete.  So, here are some before and after pictures as well as a short video of the project.

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Fused Glass Sun Catchers

I’m playing with glass again!  

I have read that it is best to put glass on a kiln shelf to make sure that the temperature around the glass is as uniform as possible. But, I have a small kiln with a bit over 4 inches of height, making using a kiln shelf only possible for fusing flat. Also, I have been wondering if I can “double up” and flat fuse a couple items at the same time, one on the floor of the kiln and one on an elevated kiln shelf. 

To test the effects of location in the kiln, I decided to make some sun catchers for my sewing room.  After cutting the glass pieces, I compiled one sun catcher on the floor of the kiln. Then the kiln shelf was elevated above it on 1″ posts. Two more sun catchers were put together on the shelf. The glass was fused following a contour fuse schedule. I selected contour fuse because I wanted the glass pattern be more distinct and crisp than full fuse would create. Also, I thought this temperature would better show if any differences would result from the location in the kiln. 

What a learned was that placing glass directly on the kiln floor caused the glass to reach a higher temperature. 

The sun catcher fused on the floor of the kiln was closer to full fused and lost much of its defined lines. Still pretty, however. 

The two sun catchers fired on the kiln shelf were truly contour fused – defined glass edges but nicely smoothed. 

These are now hanging in my sewing room window. I think I may actually make some more soon for the other window in the room. 

Garden Art – Fused glass flowers and butterflies. 

I’ve recently shared some of my art projects for my gardens. Over the years I have enjoyed making several other projects. This year, having to  redo a worn out front yard (retaining walls and plantings), I am relocating some of my older pieces of art.

So, I decided to post a few pictures of some flowers and butterflies that I made in the past.

Enjoy the images!

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Perpetual Watering Can

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I’m not sure where I originally saw this idea, but at the time, I really liked it.  So,  when I noticed a tin watering can on clearance at a local craft store, I thought that I would try to make one for my yard.IMG_2273

Supplies:  Watering Can, Beads, Fishing Line, button and hot glue.  Total cost was about $15.

The beads were strung on fishing line that was then threaded through the holes in the watering can spout.  To secure the beaded strands the the watering can, the fishing line was tied to a button that was larger than the hole inside the can.  The button was then hot glued to the inside of the can.IMG_2327

I was originally thinking of planting a flower inside the can, but when handing the watering can in nearly sideways, so I’m not sure that a plant would stay.  I may try to change how the watering can hangs, but haven’t come up with a good way to hang it at an angle.  Any suggestions?

 

History 101, Summer 2017

Summer vacation is over, but it sure was fun. This past week was spent with my youngest sons visiting some of the historical places important in our countries independence.  Along the way, we took in several museums and walk around a few prestigious college campuses.

New Haven Connecticut

Points of Interest: Yale University, Yale Art Gallery, Felice Varini Perspectives  Mural Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, and Yale Center for British Art.

Providence, Rhode Island

Points of Interest: First Baptist Church of America, Rhode Island School of Design, RISD Museum, Brown University, State House, and numerous historical buildings.

Boston, Massachusetts

Points of Interest: Freedom Trail, Harvard, MIT, Mass General Museum of Medical History and Innovation, and fireworks from the Esplanade.

 

New York City

Points of Interest: Storm viewed from our hotel Rooftop Patio, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian, including the Modern Native Fashion exhibit.

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