Sunday, December 30, 2012

Looking Back at 2012

Christmas Lights Bokeh

I can't believe I'm looking at the back end of 2012... didn't it just start? There are times when this year when screaming by and when it went crawling by...

2012 was a busy year for the life list. I crossed off EIGHT items! 

6. Go back to writing good old-fashioned letters

.8. Get paid for my photography or a photo of mine.   

I took publicity photos for a friend's concert in December. It was a lot of fun and I'm still sad that I missed the concert itself (see #73).

13. See a movie at a drive-in.

33. Get over my fear of needles and join the Bone Marrow Donor Registry, and maybe save someone’s life.

51. Try my hand at non-camera related visual arts.

52. Locks of Love. I'd love to be able to help someone out by growing my hair long again.

73. Enter a photography competition. Bonus points if a finalist or winner.

81. Learn how to blow glass.

I also made progress on a few other items:

-Knocked off Kentucky, Ohio, South Carolina and Oregon off the states list, leaving only 19 left.

-Knocked off Cuyahoga Valley, Mammoth Cave, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite, Lassen Volcanic, Crater Lake and Redwood National Parks off the National Park list, leaving only 20 left.

-Registered and got oriented for Habitat for Humanity - but yet to have had time to work on a job site yet.

What will 2013 bring? Hopefully more state visits, maybe a national park and crossing off a few more items on the list.  Out of 100 or so, I have 17 done which isn't too shabby since some of them are purposely meant for life down the road. Maybe I'll re-evaluate the list in 2013...

Saturday, December 29, 2012

52 Week Project: Week 52

I cannot believe how fast 2012 went... the year is mere days from being over. So much has happened - but that's a post for another day.

I had heard about this mural from our local paper, and once I saw it, I knew it would be the finishing photo.

52 Week Project: Week 52

It's a mural on South Broadway, on the side of a metalworks building. The mural is done by Peat Wollaeger, an internationally famous St. Louisan who is famous for his graffiti eyez. (A few degrees of separation - we both went to the same middle school - years apart, though).

Eye-catching isn't it? (Sorry, I couldn't help myself...) But joking aside, I wanted to capture this because  it is urban art at its finest, mural work on the side of a building (something I really want to see come back) and I see it as a great way to end the project, looking to the future, 2013 and a new 52 Week Project.

Check back for a 2012 wrap up and a 2013 52 Week Project!

Monday, December 24, 2012

52 Week Project: Week 51

Time off work, plus the holiday season, equals lots of great photo opportunities. I had some great ones on December 16th in downtown St. Louis at Citygarden. And on the other end of the week, I crossed off a life list item, blowing glass.

This is the winner of the week - I almost chose the glassblowing but it's been featured plenty recently and I will very much treasure the experience and accompanying photos. This was one of 60-odd photos taken at the Citygarden and this was one of the last ones I took. I just like how the art naturally frames the other art.

Citygarden Holiday Lights

Runners up:

3rd Degree Glass - Ornament   3rd Degree Glass - Ornament    3rd Degree Glass - Ornament

I've actually already taken shot #52 because I knew exactly what I wanted to take to round out the project. I may post that...

Plus,  I think I've settled on Photo Project 2013. More to follow.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


81. Learn how to blow glass. 

I am SO excited that I got to cross this item off. We have a fabulous glass factory in St. Louis - located in the Central West End. It's called Third Degree Glass - and in addition to having glassblowing/kilnworking shops, they have classes in said items and "Third Friday" free celebrations with music, art and firespinning. You've seen the firespinning and firebreathing on this blog before, I think.

When I got the email about the ornament class, I signed up as soon as I realized that I didn't have to work and that I could achieve my life list goal. I had no idea what it was going to be like, but I knew it happened in a half hour and if they let kids do it, it must be safe enough for someone who is a bit afraid of heat and fire. So not only was this about crossing something off, but conquering a minor fear of extreme heat and flame.

We had three great instructors: Jon, Mike and Addison. That allowed two teachers to guide two pupils at once, and the third was on "loop" duty - creating the final top loop to the ornaments that we were making.

They were kind enough to allow me to take pictures - most of them are from other people's experiences [with permission] because obviously my hands were full during mine. It was a lot to remember - they review a lot of safety, do a demo of how it all happens and then let us do it. I think I've remembered everything properly - but it kind of happened quickly and you're guided fully at every turn.

It starts by dipping the blowpipe into the glass from the furnace. It's almost like honey. Molten honey, that is.


Then we put it in the "glory hole" and warm it up a little before dipping it into the glass bits that provide the color:



Then you stick it back in the "glory hole" and melt the glass on there. One thing you must know is that you are constantly rotating the pipe. Constantly. It's hard to remember sometimes - but you can correct it by letting it sit and un-droop.


Then when the glass is melted on, you use this wooden block to shape it. It's soaked in water. Sometimes sparks come up off of it, which is kind of fun.


This is what it might look like after that:


Then, you puff just a little bit of air in there and plug the back of the pipe with your thumb (this is done by the pros) and that pressure causes the end to bubble just a bit. I think that's what has happened in this picture:


Then it's back into the fire while you (the student) get the tubing ready to be connected so you can actually blow the glass.

Then the instructor sits down at the bench and grabs a tool (I didn't get the name of it) and coaches you on the pressure and rate of breathing in order to blow the glass to the proper size:

3rd Degree Glass - Ornament   3rd Degree Glass - Ornament    3rd Degree Glass - Ornament    20121222-IMG_0199

Then it's back into the oven again while the other instructor preps the other glass for the hook:

3rd Degree Glass - Ornament

This is what the ornament looks like when it is set down in the holder:

3rd Degree Glass - Ornament

Then it is separated from the pipe:


And then the glass added on top:

20121222-IMG_0073   20121222-IMG_0075   20121222-IMG_0078   20121222-IMG_0079   20121222-IMG_0082

Then it goes into another oven to "cool" because the glass and temperatures we were working in were 2000° - so room temperature is too great of a shift.

I'll update the post when I get mine back - I am really looking forward to seeing the fruits of my labor. I may have found a fun new hobby  - especially since I discovered that I didn't get burned or even close to it. The instructors were awesome - they explained everything, answered my questions, were good at instructing and yet laid back enough to not make you totally nervous. I look forward to learning from them again. This isn't the last-time I'll be at Third Degree... that's for sure.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

52 Week Project: Week 50

I can't believe that I'm at week 50 - so close to the end of the project! And I still have no idea what I'm doing for the next project. Probably another 52 week project - because even that is sometimes a struggle    with my work schedule.

But at any rate - this was taken in a dusk stroll in Forest Park. I didn't go to the park with a specific idea in mind. Just wandered around and see what caught my eye. I took many pictures, including ones of the Grand Basin - but this was the winner:

Forest Park at Dusk

Close runners-up:

Forest Park at Dusk

Forest Park at Dusk

amongst many many others. I really must do this more often! 

Monday, December 10, 2012


73. Enter a photography competition. Bonus points if a finalist or winner.

Well, I actually crossed this one off. I entered a local studio's annual competition for professionals and amateurs. It's called SEEN. It's the 6th iteration of this competition.  I kind of entered on a last minute whim, and only had the time and the funds to submit four photos. Photos are selected and judged by a blind jury - which is a good thing since it is a mix of people who take photos for a living and those who do it as a pure hobby, like me.

I'm still kind of in shock that one of them got picked. In addition to the honor of making it into the show, you could place first, second or third in your respective category and/or first, second or third overall.

Sadly, I didn't place but there were SO many amazing images that I was up against. I an purchasing the photobook of the show to inspire me for next year. To be in an exhibition with those artists, is truly an honor.

The piece that made it into the show is this one:

Yosemite National Park

I had it printed on metal at the suggestion of my mom and the woman at the lab, and I don't regret it one bit.

So here's to giving myself a goal of taking more SEEN-worthy photos for next year. A bonus point for making it into the show itself but next time I'd like to earn some for placing. Now that I have a little more confidence in my photography, I may try to enter more of them around town or otherwise.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

52 Week Project: Week 49

I actually made an effort this week - since my major soap film experiment the other day happened during Week 48 and I missed my own deadline.

It's a really cool set and I suggest you check it out.

I've put up a holiday tree - a real one, and it smells AMAZING. And I have a new macro lens to play with, so I experimented with ornaments.

Ornaments   Ornaments

But the main focus of my week has been our annual holiday show  - which is done completely by our ballet company. So I borrowed some pointe shoes and had a little photo shoot.

This one was runner up:

Pointe Shoes

But this one's the weekly winner:


It was a tough call - one of the tougher ones - I loved all 4 finalists for this week.

I can hardly believe that there's only 3 more weeks left - and I have no idea yet what next year's project is yet.

It's been unseasonably warm here in STL - here's hoping that there's some snow before the project ends!

Thursday, December 6, 2012


6. Go back to writing good old-fashioned letters.

In this digital age, I find it important to slow down and write by hand. In the age when cursive is not being consistently taught, it's lovely to take a real pen to real paper and write a heartfelt note to a friend.

One such friend, L, and I have corresponded now via letter for about a year. Sure, we still talk on FB or email and have even seen each other in person. We comment on each others blogs. But we're still taking the time every so often to mail each other a real note.

Letters from a Friend

We shall continue this tradition for awhile, I hope. I hope it continues to spread to other friends. I do make it a point of sending out real, physical holiday cards - I've been doing that for awhile. But this took a little extra effort and reciprocation on the part of a very good friend.