...well, almost. :)
Since last Friday I have been staying with my friend Julz in Bath, Michigan. She has a beautiful home on a property in a lovely rural area. It was so relaxing after my busy week in Memphis, to hang out and torch in her barn, visit the horses, watch wild deer in the garden and start reading Harry Potter! We had a torch party, where I got to meet another online 'imaginary friend' Lindsey, and a few other folk and we got a last minute booking to go and do a class in Chicago with German beadmaker Anastasia (that link is well worth following - it leads to her Glassartists.org gallery, and her work is amazingly beautiful). The class was fantastic, and I cannot wait to finally see the beads I made later today (One of the other attendees is bringing them to the gathering). The torching this week has been a big change for me, as I have been garaging beads in the kiln for the first time, instead of batch annealing. At the class I even worked off mandrel for the first time, and took components out of the kiln to use on a bead. Hopefully it has given me enough confidence/inspiration to work out how to garage with my kiln at home, which doesn't have a bead door (so you have to stick your arm in a hot kiln - scary!)
On Tuesday we headed off to Chicago again, but meandered our way there, stopping at a winery for tastings, and handmade chocolate truffle shop (can I just say, Yummmmmm) and a fresh fruit stand for great cherries. We went into Chicago, and looked around Millenium Park, then hopped on a trolley bus up to the Watertower and the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art. We looked at the first floor galleries before being distracted by Jazz and dinner at Wolfgang Puck's, so we never did see the rest of the Gallery. Then we window shopped our way back down Michigan Avenue, and headed out to our hotel, which is very cute.
Today we are off to Minneapolis, and the ISGB Gathering, and I will get to meet so many more of the beadmakers I have been chatting to online for almost 5 years. Its going to be a blast!