Monday, March 24, 2008

The Slow Life

I haven't written since March 13. My husband and I left town to visit our farm in Tennessee for some much needed rest and relaxation. It was wonderful to be in slow motion and now I have to get back into the "groove" of things. Although we did have work to do, it was a very different pace. When I need to "fill my well" and recharge my creativity this is where I go when I am at the farm: When I cannot go there in reality, I can visit that special place virtually. I call this place my secret sanctuary. My secret sanctuary is always featured on my web site, so if you want to visit often just go to

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cast Glass and "The Serenbe Project"/Inside the Studio

Today I wanted to show more of the process of "The Serenbe Project" I have posted an ad for interns. Last week I was contacted by the Redevelopment Authority of a small town located near where I live and they wanted to offer me space in a building that they will use as studios. The Auburn Rural Architectural Studio has completed a plan for the arts district in Bessemer, Alabama. This was good news for me, because I knew if my intern project was successful, I would soon be out of space. I am meeting with the director of the project tomorrow and hopefully will be able to use the space if interns want to work at their leisure. This space will be invaluable to me.

The first thing that I will do is to work out a prototype in order to define the process. The mold material that I had originally intended to use is not refirable, so I have ordered a material that is refirable. In a large project like this, the expense of using a material that is non-refirable would be prohibitive.

In the photo above, I am rolling out "sausages" in order to "dam" the mold box. This ensures that the investment material will not "leak" between crevices in the mold box. After the mold box was made, it was shellacked. The mold box is a minimum of 2 inches larger than my pattern. The pattern is made of No. 1 Plasticene and after you get the material warm, it is fairly easy to work with. Plasticene is an oil-based clay which does not dry. That means that it is reuseable as long as it does not have mold material embedded in it.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Cast Glass Leaves and Internships for the Serenbe Project

Internships are available for the Serenbe Project The following is the ad that will be distributed beginning tomorrow.

Internships available

Award winning glass artist, Donna Branch, Tara GlassArt Studio, is taking applications from individuals who wish to serve as interns on a project known as “The Serenbe Project”. Serenbe is a planned, sustainable, green community located 32 miles outside of Atlanta, Georgia (

The Serenbe Project will entail the casting of glass leaves and the installation of the leaves on an iron “white oak tree”. The project is to be installed in late October 2008.

An Applicant can be any age or level in their artistic experience and does not have to be a professional artist; interns only need to possess a good work ethic and a passion for learning. An internship could be accomplished with only a few hours per week and can be done at the interns own home/studio in the first phase. Interns may work on any phase of the project or the entire Project.

Experience gained by this internship will be knowledge of project organization, pattern making, mold making, making glass frit (crushed glass pieces), firing & cooling schedules, installation, experience in a public art project, and general studio practices.

If interested, please contact Donna Branch at or 205.477.6661

You may visit The Artist web site at

You may read about The Serenbe Project at

This ad will also be posted on the first page, right hand side, of the blog throughout the project

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Slow Movement....So, What is it?

According to Wikipedia, the Slow Movement first began when a protest against the opening of a McDonald's restaurant in Piazza di Spagna, Rome inspired the creation of the Slow Food organization.
The Slow Food Movement is part of the larger Slow Movement which has existed in some form since the industrial revolution. According to the slow movement is the perfect antidote for the poison of our current hurried, fast world and a great way to get in touch with oneself.
If you are unsure where to start, start slowly, and be sure to check here, The slow lifestyle is whatever you make of it. So, take some pieces of it and integrate into your lifestyle and discard others that do not work well for you.
For instance, the slow food movement heralds the enjoyment of regional flavors, regional produce and celebrates traditional regional foods, which are often grown organically. An interesting organization in the slow food movement is Southern Foodways Alliance, and of course, they celebrate "The Cornbread Nation", as every Southerner does.
I encourage everyone to learn about this movement and ways that we can improve our relationships, our families and our planet. It is very important that we all realize that by becoming a slow energy saver, we can focus on what we need to do relative to evergy saving to reduce energy use and pollution.
It's easy, remember, just start the slow movement with downshifting.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Slow Movement...So What's NEW In the South?

The Slow Movement web site identifies the slow movement as a "movement which aims to address the issue of "time poverty" through making a connection." The South has finally arrived.

A lot of people are wondering "why" the slow movement. What is going on with people? Why are we so stressed? Why is everyone so irritable?

Everybody needs connections. We need connections to family, friends, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents. We need connections to community, to neighbors. Not to long ago people were very connected. Where I grew up, the family backyard was a regular meeting place. Many families grew their own food. What happened? Our society has become so face paced that we are constantly rushing off to the next meeting, next task, next errand. What are we doing? The Slow Movement a growing cultural shift toward slowing down...downshifting as it were.

Southerners, I think, have always experienced "the slow life" to a greater extent. Now, it is nice that the rest of the world is catching on.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Serenbe Project & Cast Glass Leaves

In preparation for The Serenbe Project, today I ordered new relays for two of my ovens and investigated casting materials and decided to use Castelot from Olympic Color Rods, Olympic Color & Supplies were great and very helpful on the phone. Castelot is an investment material for glass casting

Also I have written an ad for internships for this project. This will be an important part of the project and I hope that it will offer artists who have a passion for learning an opportunity to explore the anatomy of a project like The Serenbe Project. if anyone is interested in a Serenbe Internship, they can reach me at

Monday, March 3, 2008

Turn Your Passion into Profits

On Saturday I attended a wonderful seminar entitled "Turn Your Passion into Profits". There was so much discussed it made my head spin. My friend Julian Hazlett and I rode together. Once there, my very good friend, Debra Riffe, met us. Debra is an extraordinarily talented individual who creates original linoleum block relief prints and needlepoint art which also contains her designs. Her images are fantastic and can be found at Debra can also be found on Etsy at I thought that was very smart and like the idea of Etsy. Julian's work is at and he creates amazing tiles with women's faces. He is very talented and I enjoy his friendship so much. It is great to have good friends with whom you can discuss ideas and get other opinions. Julian, Debra and I have discussed starting a Salon. We talked about that may be one way that we could stay more focused and accomplish more. I like the idea. That is one of the things that was stressed in the seminar on make sure that you have a good support that you know will be honest with you about your work, goals, decisions. We learned so much. As I had previously written, I have really been working hard toward honing my business skills as an artist. As my time at my day job winds down, it is time to learn everything I can about doing an excellent job as a businessperson. Sometimes this is mindboggling to me. There is always this juggling act and so many hats to wear. Below is part of what we learned at the seminar which was sponsored by the Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham Alabama. The staff of the Cultural Alliance is very helpful and they are so intent on seeing the area artists succeed.

Michael Bell and Bradford Kachelhofer from The Modern Brand, LLC presented at the workshop and they were very knowledgeable. They can be found at They were very enthusiastic and had a lot to offer. We learned that you are your number one salesperson...that you represent your inform people about your art at every opportunity; the importance of networking; determining your audience; printing resources and web resources press releases.

It is very difficult to take care of everything when you are the studio owner.....then there is working full time. It is very difficult, but you have to keep your eyes toward your goal, do one thing at a time, and full steam ahead....and no, there are not enough hours in the day. Debra Riffe and I discuss this often. She is a great friend because she thinks critically and doesn't mind being "the devil's advocate". We bounce ideas off of each other and talk about keeping each other focused.

Today, on Monday, I had the pleasure to hear Truett Cathey, Founder of Chik-Fil-A. It was an amazing speech and was very uplifting. Birmingham Southern College, Samford University and University of Alabama in Birmingham Business Schools sponsored his visit. Mr. Cathey spoke of his convictions, both religious and moral. We were greeted at the doors with "the cows" and it was great. He spoke of living your convictions everyday, treat people like you want to be treated, and go the extra mile. It was a great lesson in business and in life. I came away from the luncheon, truly inspired to be a better person.

During this time that I have focused on business a little more, I have realized that I must develop other items so that I will have different price points. I think this is what the value of the Serenbe Commission will be because I will have the opportunity to discover. Now, I am designing smaller pieces. I am not finished with the designs, but am very excited about the prospect of this and it will be good for business.